Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hailing a Space Taxi

How were you planning on getting over to the International Space Station next time out?  You know that the space shuttle program has ended, right?  You know what... why don't you just go ahead and hail yourself a taxi.  What's that?  You think I'm being ridiculous?  Not at all.  With NASA stepping away, multiple private companies are competing to be the new space taxi.  They're even getting funding from NASA as well.

Personally, I'm hoping that all three of them wind up successful.  Boeing is planning space taxis for 2016 which, considering what we're discussing, isn't all that far away.  No complaints with Boeing, since I've flown aboard so many of their airplanes.  Certainly trust them more than a government designed ship.  Sierra Nevada is working on their Dream Chaser with the $1.1 Billion from NASA.

We're all pretty familiar with SpaceX by now.  The commercial enterprise already docked its Dragon Capsule with the International Space Station.  NASA was particularly pleased with how that venture went (after a little trouble in the beginning).  That was in May.  Now they're looking to create a ferry to the Moon.

So, here's my question: why should that be it?  Why just the three?  Granted, let's get them started, and get rolling.  After they prove it's worthwhile, maybe we should get grants in place for Lockheed Martin.  With a hand in space, telecommunications, electronics, aeronautics and energy, they might be the perfect answer to my thoughts about orbital launch and construction platforms.  UTC already works on fuel cell systems.  Who else might be out there, outside the top ten, that could be on the next wave?  The car industry has shown us that competition forces improvement.  So has the computer industry, and various other commercial industries.  So here's the deal.  What if we give out a couple of grants, and then let these companies hire plenty of new people, and drive our efforts farther?

What might just happen is that we wind up with companies competing to take humanity farther and father from Earth.  We might just find orbiting prisons and manufacturing and food facilities and even deep launch platforms.  What we also might find is an extensive new network of jobs.  Putting America back to work and jumping to the next frontier... now, isn't that a stimulus package worth doling out?

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