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Old October 8 2012, 07:58 PM   #208
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

gturner wrote: View Post
They key to making the very light jet model work is to cut the costs of having a pilot by not even paying them, and the best and largest untapped forcable labor supply for that is our prisons. Training convicts to fly planes shouldn't be all that hard (they all want to escape anyway), so I'm thinking of floating an IPO called "JetCon."
Interestingly, I had the very same thought about colonization of the moon. Seems to me the key problem with permanent human habitation is the need to transport your base personnel back to Earth every couple of years so they won't atrophy to the point of never being able to return. If you send up convicts, you don't have that problem; nobody WANTS them to return, and if you allow the convicts to homestead and work semi-autonomously you've got a nice Botany Bay thing going for you. The only real issue is covering up the fact that ALOT of those people are going to die up there... but then, the lack of media coverage relating to space travel, combined with the lack of media coverage relating to the prison systems, pretty much means you could suffer 90% casualty rate and nobody would notice.

But more seriously, the key advantage of the private sector is that bad or inefficient ideas get weeded out much more quickly and efficiently than they would in a public funded bureaucracy, and when they don't get weeded out quickly the firm starts bleeding money until everyone realizes what a bad idea it is.
That's the biggest argument against Heavy Lift I've ever seen. After all, any given HLV with specs like the SLS is going to be hemorrhaging money from the day it goes operational; it will never be profitable, or anywhere CLOSE to profitable, and will in fact turn into a multi-billion dollar status symbol for an agency that struggles to prove that it is still relevant in the age of commercial spaceflight. Private payloads will NEVER fly on the SLS as long as cheaper alternatives exist, and the supposed advantage of the larger payload capacity and higher shroud diameter is completely blown away by the vastly higher launch costs and restrictive flight schedule.
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