NASA, Trump, and Potholes
Ya, I know. Here I go with another post criticizing Donald Trump.
I have a backlog of three different blog entries waiting to be polished and here I am talking about Trump…again.
This time, the thing he said that set me off was this…
“In the old days (NASA) was great. Right now we have bigger problems, you understand that, we’ve got to fix our potholes. You know we don’t have exactly a lot of money. I love NASA. I love what it represents. I love what it stands for. And I hope that someday in the not too distant future we can get that going. Space is terrific. Space is terrific. … space has actually been taken over privately, which is great. …. Lot of private companies going up into space. And I like that even better. It’s very exciting.”
So, here goes…
Dear Donald Trump,
You should have researched NASA a little bit, instead of just walking shots across it.
I realize that as a real estate entrepreneur you’ve made your billions in areas that don’t see much of space, but the people you pay to expand your view to Presidential proportions should have briefed you. Since the “Space Coast” is located in Florida, and no Republican in history has ever won the Presidency without winning Florida in the general election, you need to know what really goes on there.
So, I will teach you, free of charge, how to use NASA to help you fix potholes.
- Launch Google.com on your web browser.
- Type “NASA Spinoff database” in the search window.
- Click “NASA Spinoff Database” or just click here.
- In the Topic Search window, type “road” and click the “Search Now” button.
- Let the listed technologies prompt you for great road improvement ideas to support.
The spin-off database might also help you find a way to round up 14 million illegal aliens, or even build The Great Wall of Texas. You won’t know until you look.
The most recent Commercial Space achievements that you touted as good things still struggle and need small amounts (proportionally speaking) of NASA help and funding to keep building their infrastructures. Some of them are pioneering efforts to drive down the cost of space access for everyone, not just NASA. This in turn will help the country find more money to fix potholes.
What most folks don’t know is that Commercial Space in the U.S. feeds off NASA intellectual property…data that is built with NASA funding. Lessons learned from designing, building, and testing the upcoming Space Launch System and Orion Spacecraft, for example, are handed down by NASA to their Space Act Agreement partners to spearhead their own designs and operations and not reinvent wheels.
The NewSpace effort is poised to lead a new space-race, a multi-trillion dollar industry that will rise from the recent and historic drop in launch prices to around $1,000 per pound. For several decades, private U.S. companies have built robotic research and communications spacecraft and launchers, for companies and government space agencies all over the world. I’m sure you already know how much money those folks make, in spite of the traditionally high cost of the launchers.
Universities explore the solar system and cosmos with cutting-edge robotic telescopes and space probes designed and funded by NASA, who also partners with other countries on a variety of projects like the International Space Station. People have lived in orbit aboard the ISS continually for 15 years. Over three hundred folks have rotated there for short periods doing unprecedented research, with Earth-bound impact, that can be performed no other way.
In order to stop funding Russia’s military technology network by hiring them to lift our astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program has been facilitiating private human spaceflight capabilities among companies based here in the U.S.
In 2017, those companies will start flying their launchers and orbiters, all facilitated and certified by NASA. Private space stations, with test articles already in orbit, stand ready to start construction as soon as private human spaceflight becomes available. Countries, corporations, and affluent individuals will be able to buy their own space stations and buy and fly spacecraft to take people to them at costs that are within your reach. How would you like to own and operate your own orbiting property? U.S. companies can lead this next space race, and it could reverse the trade deficit inside the span of two Presidential terms. You’ve said that you find that exciting? A few of your fellow billionaires agree with you and have already thrown their fortunes into the effort. Soon, through economy of scale and the reusable spacecraft of various kinds that are currently in development, the price of access will drop again to create a whole another layer of entrepreneur opportunities for millionaires to pursue.
Don’t think that it stops at close Earth orbit either. SpaceX will test a rocket next year that they developed for launching payloads to the Moon and Mars. That means that the crewed capsule that NASA is currently helping them build for the ISS would also serve as a privately funded, crew-rated Lunar lander.
This sudden surge of Commercial human spaceflight is not the NASA alternative, or competitor, or rival that your comments seem to imply. These companies, though in competition with each other, function as separate parts of a technology network with NASA at the center, serving them all directly as project facilitator, tech adviser, development funding source, test-bed, and first customer for their new products.
NASA does all this work, along with their various Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education outreach programs, for around $00.005 out of every dollar of the U.S. Federal Budget.
So, instead of using your experience as a shark to suggest ways to help NASA do more with their tiny budget, you use a two-word kill-shot on them! Fixing potholes? Really? Why don’t you say something useful, like offer to develop a block grant bill to fund NASA in order to make Congresspersons stop writing pork into NASA’s budget? Congress’ preferred space technology procurement process uses a small cadre of near-monopolies with bloated infrastructures, making NASA operations notoriously and unnecessarily expensive. Their cabal of mutual back-scratching currently works to kill projects that create competition in the space industry, by cutting funds to NASA programs that work to develop that competition. They care more about protecting their own empires than you do about solving our country’s problems, and that makes them one of those problems.
I’m sure a smart fellow like you can think of something constructive and innovative to do to help in the key role that NASA plays in our nation’s future economy.
Your humble space advocate.