[ExI] SpaceX launch succcessful

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Tue May 22 17:37:17 UTC 2012

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:48 PM Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
> This is very exciting! I suppose we shall see if taking
> the libertarian approach to space will work out better
> than the previous endeavors...

This is not a "libertarian approach to space" transport. It is, at best, a partly private approach to supporting a basically non-libertarian approach to space exploration. NASA isn't ponying up money it got justly to pay for a ride on SpaceX rockets. Instead, it relies on involuntary contributions from viewers like you. :/

A truly libertarian approach here would be one where no one's rights were violated [routinely and inherently] to get to space.

This is not to say all is not well with this plan. It's better than the old cost-plus contracting used to finance space launchers in the past. The big problem, though, remains: an involuntarily funded space agency is the big player in this market. (This is setting aside the nest of regulations and the context of wider coercive interferences in society.)

> (Ok, not ENTIRELY fair, since they are standing on the
> shoulders of giants...)  But time should tell... If SpaceX
> actually can create rockets that will go to mars and the
> asteroids relatively quickly, THEN we'll know this is the
> right approach.

I have no doubts that space transportation can be privatized. It might take a while to do, since the big players -- and this includes SpaceX -- rely on government support and this tends to distort costs upward. But I'm not really sure what you say makes sense. If one is merely looking at results, governments have already built rockets -- or paid for big aerospace firms to build them -- to get to Mars and the asteroids. Would this result -- many successful missions to those destinations -- prove to you that government is the "right approach"? (To me, it sounds like you're setting yourself up for the TVA response a proponent of government might answer you with: if you merely look at results, the TVA seemed to work really well. If you look at the whole picture, though, the TVA was (and is) great at making electricity at low rates for people in its district as long as it got a huge subsidy from the federal government to begin with. This is like me giving you
 a billion pounds, which to you put into a business that sells products below costs, but, hey, you've got a billion pounds to sink into satisfying your customers.:)

> The most interesting factoid for me was that SpaceX was
> founded in 2002, and that Boeing hasn't been able to get
> something going to this point. I will take this as validation
> that smaller groups of people can be more efficient and
> focused than large groups of people. I wonder how many
> employee years SpaceX has expended thus far...

I wouldn't make too many generalizations from such a small sample. Plus, I don't know, and from your comments I'm guessing you don't know, what the culture at Boeing is like, especially in their spacecraft division. It might be a lot like Amazon's approach to not having large groups of people working on one project. (According to a recent issue of Forbes, Jeff Bezos has a "two pizza" rule. Teams working on projects should no bigger than can be fed with two pizzas. Presumably, they've no heard of the paleo diet.:) Also, it could be that you're right and still that Boeing, given some stiff competition from start ups like SpaceX, might modify the way it approaches these projects. Remember, for a long time, the US space launch industry has been facing little competition* and basically does business under a monopsony, with NASA being the biggest market buyer for launchers, especially big launchers.



* Of course, this did change with communication satellite launches. And, also, the US military is the other big player here with launches of its satellites. Notably, that military, like all militaries, is also coercively funded -- as well as being the major coercer.

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