Can private enterprise save the space program?


NASA has held a monopoly on human space exploration in the United States. It has been magnificent, and is now out of date. As the Director of NASA just admitted, the space agency should not have launched Discovery, because even after a billion plus dollars spent to fix the foam heat shield, too much foam still peeled off on launch. We fervently hope that our astronauts will return safely, but then we will have to rethink the entire NASA juggernaut.

Private entrepreneurs, like genius designer Burt Rutan, are now outracing NASA. (see link). Geniuses do not tolerate bureaucracies lightly, as we saw when Richard Feynman instantly spotted the cause of the Challenger disaster. There must be many more brilliant engineers and entrepreneurs out there who can  advance US space exploration. Our national secret weapon is personal initiative. The US Congress should therefore consider awarding competitive bids to private space companies to develop new space vehicles.

The shuttle program has been magnificent. Its day is now past. Let competition prevail.

James Lewis    7 29 05