A good article over at Reason by Ronald Bailey, the magazine’s science correspondent. He talks about the factors that explain why humans haven’t been back to the Moon since the early 1970s. It is, he says, because of a lack of profit.
Every time I write something about the incredible feat of putting someone on the Moon, as happened almost exactly 40 years ago, there is an inevitable chorus of criticism – much of it justified – about how the huge sums of taxpayers’ money involved rendered the project beyond the pale, even if the critics grudgingly accept what a great adventure the whole thing was. It has to be accepted that by “crowding out” private space initiatives in the way they did, government agencies both in the US, former USSR and elsewhere have arguably retarded more promising, long-term space ventures that might have got off the ground. The existence of large, politically directed agencies like Nasa do not help innovation, either. Consider how quickly the aircraft design process occured from the Wright Brothers and through to the jet age, and then compare the rate of progress of space flight over the past 40 years. It is not a flattering comparison. So this is precisely why Dale Amon is so right to comment on stuff like this.
The best way to honour the likes the astronauts, both the living, such as Buzz Aldrin, and the dead, such as Gus Grissom, is not to continue down the statist path of space flight. This is too important an issue to leave with bureaucrats.