The item in the Erskine Bowles/Alan Simpson deficit reduction recommendation list about commercial spaceflight funding has been modified but is still incoherent: Deficit commission quietly edits a recommendation – Space Politics.
There is still no explanation of why they didn’t simply recommend a cut to NASA’s budget and letting NASA decide on the most cost-effective way to carry out its missions within that lower funding level. Instead they recommend cutting one of the few programs that would actually allow the agency to accomplish far more with less funding. === Stuart O. Witt of the Mojave Space Port and Greg Autry of UC Irvine address the odd resistance to letting NASA work with the fledgling commercial spaceflight industry to the mutual advantage of both: 2010: Space oddity – San Francisco Chronicle – Nov.28.10 (via Ian Kluft).
> In a world of declining revenues and budget-crushing entitlements, NASA as a sleepy jobs program for aging engineers is unsustainable. We understand that putting all our eggs into a newly woven basket of private space firms is taking a risk.
However, risk-taking has defined America’s space accomplishments. President Obama took a risk when he chose to fight the vested interests for this private-sector solution, and it would be mad to imagine a Republican-led House opposing it. Yet, in a “through the looking glass” moment, some GOP members are resuscitating socialized space as a high-tech pork delivery vehicle for loyal Southern states.
America’s industrial future requires access to space to be inexpensive, routine and reliable. That is exactly what federal, cost-plus programs do not deliver. Government has a valid place in fostering new technologies, not keeping them suspended in the cryo-freeze. Industries like rail, telephone and the Internet all benefited from policies that fostered private investment through the subsidized establishment of infrastructure, directed government contracts and favorable regulatory regimes and each industry soared free when government cut the cord.