Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting U.S. Space Exploration Back on Track

President Obama has recently announced a new budget for NASA with radically shifted priorities. The space agency would get out of the business of manned space exploration (leaving this task to the private sector) and focus on developing new space technologies. You won't often find me praising Obama, but I have to give him credit on this.

As I've written before, NASA is terribly inefficient at manned space. Government agencies are necessarily politicized; they tend to approach ambitious endeavors as opportunities to spread tax booty and their priorities have less to do with achieving the goal than satisfying constituencies, often for politically correct reasons, with fatal results.

Here's a short, interesting evaluation of the proposal—an interview with MIT's David Mindell, professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, as well as professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and director of MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society.