“The more ambitious your space aspirations become, the more it makes sense to look carefully at using space resources. To me, this gets to the real debate behind the debate. Arguments over whether to use lunar resources or not really break down into one’s long-term desires for space—permanence versus transience, space-based versus Earth-based, pioneering and residence versus junketing and “just visiting,” opening up space for all versus exclusivity and restricted access.” Excerpt from Paul Spudis’ lunar resource blog.
What “we” as a nation aspire to accomplish in space is what continues to condemn Human Space Flight to the role of a political football. “We” want something for nothing but there is no free lunch; there is no cheap. Any large public works project is roundly damned by that increasingly manic tea party fraction of the population that considers government the great satan. There are NO such projects in existence except military programs. The last notable program was the Texas supercollider. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconducting_Super_Collider
Instead of unlocking the mysteries of physics we bought the space station to nowhere.
It is true that politicians support projects that bring jobs to their constituents or money to their re-election campaigns. It is also true the captains of industry pursue projects that yield the highest profits for shareholders and this is how they keep their jobs. Politicians are theoretically public servants while the public in reality serves industry. Picking out the two salient parties in this arrangement we find the public is made up of the many citizens and shareholders count as the far fewer wealthy elite. The “permanence” and “pioneering” is to be found with the many and the “exclusivity and restricted access” is to be found with the few.
In regards to space the last great prophet of the many was Gerard K. O’Neill, who initiated the space colonization movement in the 1970’s. The prophet of the few is that person who need not be named whose enthusiastic followers currently dominate the discussion about space exploration. Most of those who read my short explanation of reality have found themselves automatically lining up their opinions to the right or the left. “We” have been conditioned to do this and it must be understood that leanings in either direction have little or nothing to do with space exploration except as to how this bias is exploited by those with an agenda. Follow the money.
The first card that is always played in such discussions is to brand the person speaking about “the collective” a communist or socialist or bleeding heart liberal or something equivalent. The second card is the tea party “scream cheap” declaration that any collective action is simple theft from the individual and criminal taxation. The third card is the cult of personality that calls on everyone to just trust that entrepreneur who has taken on the world and is a gifted genius beyond our understanding.
Take those three cards off the table and let “the real debate” begin.