Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 14, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

GREEN CHEESE....I don't really want to get into a longwinded post about the whole moon/Mars intiative, but I guess the thing that really bugs me about it is that it's absolutely dripping with cynicism and political opportunism. If George Bush genuinely had a burning interest in space exploration it would be one thing, but it's pretty obvious he doesn't. He was just casting about for something visionary and inspirational, and this was it.

You want cynical? How about an initial funding proposal of $12 billion? When Bush Sr. costed out a similar program in 1989 it came to $500 billion. If you adjust for inflation and add in the usual cost overruns that means we're looking at a price tag of around a trillion bucks or so. Funny that Jr. took such pains to avoid saying that.

"Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy and thus far less cost"? Give me a break. How does all this stuff get to the moon to be assembled in the first place? (Hint: it comes from a nearby planet with a famously large gravity well.)

The moon "contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air"? Sigh.

In the end I guess David Appell expresses my thoughts pretty well:

This administration also reveals its inevitable link to the past....This administration fails utterly fails to understand that the frontier of science is not on some cold orb, but in nanotechnology, biotechnology, energy, climate, and information technology and in the confluence of these interdisciplinary sciences. That's where scientific advances are to be found, not on some dusty ball of insignificance.

If we're going to spend a trillion dollars on big science something I could easily be persuaded to support there are loads of better places for it than this. What a wasted opportunity.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, remember this post a month ago about how Bush is always proposing legislation that doesn't really have an impact until he's safely out of office? Add this one to the list.

Kevin Drum 8:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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