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Old February 12 2013, 07:29 PM   #7
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Americans totally deluded about NASA's budget

FordSVT wrote: View Post
throwback wrote: View Post
I doubt highly that this country will finance a mission to Mars. I think that it will be done by a private enterprise. It's difficult enough to rationalize the need to build and maintain infrastructure in this nation with one party voting against it constantly because "the government spends too much money".
It's even more difficult to rationalize commercial interest in space when there is no money to be made.
That's just it, though: there's quite a bit of money to be made, from a great many different sources. There isn't a lot of money in space EXPLORATION at present, mainly because exploration is an initial investment that is made towards future space DEVELOPMENT, which is where the money comes from.

NASA does a lot of exploration, but not a lot of actual development.

What private company is going to be able to afford spending $150 billion to send some people to Mars without a relatively quick return on investment?
Whatever company figures out they can make a quick buck by selling a package-deal Mars mission to the highest bidder. Given the choice between spending four decades developing space technology or instantly having the prestige of sending your astronauts to Mars, quite a few governments -- Japan, for example -- would happily choose the latter. It gets even easier when you can get a whole group of countries to split the difference, with each of the contributors putting an astronaut and/or science payload on the mission. A six-man mission could be founded by a coalition of ten countries, each contributing between $10 and $20 billion for the entire flight.

When you consider that space exploration for its own sake is really just a form of high-class tourism, you can make a pretty effective business case by setting yourself up as a deep space travel agency and taking whole countries as potential customers to the most exotic locations. At the same time, that puts you in a position to sell "cheap seats" for visits to space stations and/or lunar outposts to non-governmental entities (or small, unpopular governments) who want to do stuff in space but can't afford to go to Mars.

The first steps on mars certainly aren't going to result in short term, massive colonizing and mining and construction on the planet.
True, but the next steps on the moon very well might.
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