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OpenMarket: Rand Simberg

  • Solyndra In Space?

    August 27, 2012
    Here we go again.

    It's unfortunate that so many conservatives are opposed to competitive markets in spaceflight, to the point that they are willing to make misleading assertions and come to unjustified conclusions about Obama space policy, one of the very few things that the administration has gotten sort of right. This time, it's at Big Government from George Landrith. To address all that is wrong with Mr. Landrith's post unfortunately requires a good old-fashioned fisking (warning: long post to follow):
    Despite the news and pictures from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, America's once great space program is on life support because we no longer have a serious manned space exploration program. We now pay the Russians $65 million per seat to take our astronauts to and from the...
  • Capitalism In Space

    August 10, 2012
    Over at National Review Online today, I have a piece on the current state of play in U.S. human spaceflight. It's worth noting that, even as Congress continues to keep us dependent on Russian for access to the International Space Station by underfunding the commercial crew program, the Russians just had another launch failure (their fourth in the past couple years), and their program is in disarray. If we lose a crew in the next couple years on a dodgy Russian rocket, we'll know whom to blame, but people like Kay Bailey Hutchison will be retired.

    What a...
  • The Other Scandal In Unhappy Valley

    July 13, 2012
    So it turns out that Penn State has covered up wrongdoing by one of its employees to avoid bad publicity.

    But I'm not talking about the appalling behavior uncovered this week by the Freeh report. No, I'm referring to another cover up and whitewash that occurred there two years ago, before we learned how rotten and corrupt the culture at the university was. But now that we know how bad it was, perhaps it's time that we revisit the Michael Mann affair, particularly given how much we've also learned about his and others' hockey-stick deceptions since.

    To review, when the emails and computer models were leaked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia two and a half years ago,...
  • Losing the Universe with LOST

    June 15, 2012
    The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) has been languishing in the Senate for decades, but led by Massachusetts senator John Kerry, there is growing (and unfortunately) bipartisan support to finally ratify it. Condi Rice's State Department favored ratification in the Bush administration, and (soon-to-be-ex) Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana has been one of Kerry's key allies in the effort. But yesterday, Don Rumsfeld testified that such an act could have dire consequences:
    “[Lady Thatcher] said what this treaty proposes is nothing less than the international nationalization of roughly two-thirds of the earth’s surface,” he said. “The major idea underlying the Law of the Sea Treaty is that the richest of the oceans, beyond national...
  • Tapping Space Resources

    June 7, 2012
    Over at The Washington Times, Bob Zubrin says that we need space property rights. Gee, I wonder where he got that idea?
  • Cut The Budget By Cutting Republican Sacred Space Cows

    June 5, 2012
    Over at Forbes, Cato's Doug Bandow says that the Republicans need to lead by example:
    Presumptive Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney talks tough on spending while proposing few specific reductions—he doesn’t want to anger anyone by targeting their favorite programs. He also promises to greatly increase military outlays, adding more than $2 trillion over the next decade.

    At least the House Budget Committee under Republican Chairman Paul Ryan passed a budget package including across-the-board cuts meant to save $310 billion over the next decade. Democrats wanted to cut far less and preferred to squeeze more money out of Americans through higher taxes. The GOP plan still is too little, but at least it is a start. However, it is...
  • New Space Property Rights Criticism

    June 1, 2012
    Over at the Space and Cyberlaw blog, Eric Dawson takes issue with my issue analysis on space property rights:
    Foremost, I think the terminology used by Mr. Simberg is disingenuous. The proposed legislation, as I read it, does not create a property right at all. By describing it as such, I believe Mr. Simberg is concealing some of the more important areas of the discussion. A property right has no value if it does not protect your interests from third parties. To grant a property right, a nation must have sovereignty or control over the property in question, otherwise the grant is meaningless. Assuming that the legislation is not intended to be meaningless, what would actually happen under this...
  • A Fit of Sanity on ITAR

    May 18, 2012
    Over at Space Politics, Jeff Foust reports that the House has passed a bill allowing the administration to remove satellites from the munitions list and move control of their export from the State Department to the Department of Commerce. The current situation has cost our launch and satellite industry billions in lost international sales, which could have helped quite a bit with the trade balance since it went into effect fourteen years ago. Unfortunately, there is no companion in the Senate. As Foust notes, such a measure has passed the House before (three years ago) only to die in the upper chamber, but since the recent...
  • The Constellation Empire Strikes Back

    May 14, 2012
    Constellation, the Bush administration's plan to return to the moon, was canceled a couple years ago. But not all of Constellation was canceled. The Orion crew module, designed to go to lunar orbit and back, survives, with plans to test fly on a Delta IV rocket in a couple years, and Congress, eager to preserve the Space Shuttle jobs base, demanded that NASA reinstitute a new heavy-lift launch vehicle to replace the canceled Ares V with the Space Launch System. So at this point, despite the cancellation, Constellation continues to waste money, except for the Ares I, the new crew rocket that NASA was developing. Derived from Space Shuttle and Apollo hardware, it used a new five-segment version of a shuttle solid rocket booster (SRB) as a first stage, with a new LOX/hydrogen upper stage. At the time of cancellation, it had been experiencing development issues, missing performance, cost...
  • Republican Space Socialism Update

    May 9, 2012
    Last time we checked in on this topic, House Appropriations Chairman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) was decrying the wastefulness of competition. Well, he's still at it.

    A couple weeks ago, the draft report language for the appropriations bill that includes NASA demanded both a reduction in that pesky competition and a return to the traditional acquisition process, rather than the cooperative use of Space Act Agreements that involves private investment:
    Commercial crew.—The Committee supports the goal of achieving independent and redundant access to the International Space Station (ISS) but remains concerned about many aspects of NASA’s approach to the commercial crew...


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