We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Onwards and outwards!

The stories are circulating. President Bush will announce backing for the NASA Prometheus Project during his January 28th State of the Union Address. This is an effort to design and build an advanced, nuclear based rocket engine for manned solar system missions.

It is a major step forward for those of us who have spent our lives fighting to open the high frontier. My preference is for everything to be commercial and private, but I recognize there is simply no way on Earth this kind of propulsion system can be privately built in the political reality we live in.

If built, it suddenly makes the Moon an economically feasible place to do business and Mars a place that is reachable for settlement within our life times.

Given what I know of some of the people whom the Bush administration brought in for space policy, I expected good things. Even though I have been aware of such ideas being floated for over a year now, I was not prepared for goodness on this scale.

I intend to buy one of them a pint the next time I’m in DC.

4 comments to Onwards and outwards!

  • Sandy P.

    We’ve got to give the kids something to look forward to and fire their imaginations.

    An entire generation has never seen a trip to the moon. We also need to make sure the flag is secure when the Chicoms go up. I wouldn’t put it past them to kick ours into space and plant theirs.

  • Julian Morrison

    Heh, even as an advocate of the anarchic high frontier I still approve this. Any way of getting offa this rock is good enough; once the species is spacebound, anarchy suddenly becomes an awful lot easier, regardless of who got us there first.

  • zack mollusc

    Deja vu. I am sure that this was going to happen in the mid seventies, a nuclear powered mars mission. Wasn’t it scrapped by the NO NUKES IN SPACE agreement of Carter’s? I seem to remember the space scuttle being built to transport bits for a space station/construction yard where the nuclear mars ‘rockets’ would be assembled. Or am I thinking of Thunderbirds?

  • Dale Amon

    The NERVA rocket engine was developed during Apollo for use as an upper stage for both building a moon base and going on to Mars. About another billion dollars was needed to man rate it, but when Spiro Agnew’s ideas for a Mars mission by 1980’s was scrapped… there was no mission for it. It was canned along with the remaining Saturn V’s. Nixon didn’t care because it was a Democratic project and we’d already beat the Russkis so he had no further interest. At that time there was pretty much a bipartisan budgetary feeding frenzy on as NASA got slashed and slashed again.

    The space shuttle was the only bit that survived the night of the long knives, despite attempts by Walter Mondale to kill it too. This is when the shuttle became a turkey: in order to save it NASA had to get the DOD to back it, and to get them they had to change the design to meet their payload and crossrange landing specs.

    There really was not much left by the time Carter came along. It’s Nixon on the Republican side and Mondale on the Democrats side who are to blame.

    BTW: the personal angle. My older sister’s husband worked on NERVA out at Jackass Flats and Frenchman Flats and I remember the pictures of the thing hanging on their wall.