Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ready to break out of the post-Apollo doldrums

Good name for this era - post-Apollo doldrums.
UI and other students are likely to have a lot more such opportunities in the future, said Gregg Maryniak, former executive director of the X PRIZE Foundation, which sponsored the $10 million prize for the first privately funded manned space flight, won last fall by SpaceShipOne.
"For the first time in many, many years I feel a real resurgence in hope for the future ... right in your careers," Maryniak, now director of the J.S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis, told the students.
But Maryniak said the Bush administration's push to return to the moon and eventually travel to Mars is only part of the reason he thinks the nation has a chance to break out of what he characterized as its post-Apollo doldrums.
He said NASA's $15 billion annual budget – about what Americans spend on lipstick or pizza every year – is unlikely to ever do much more than double, if that.
"It's not enough money to make space happen on a strong and perpetual basis," he said.
But government programs can overcome initial hurdles – like proving the feasibility of bases on the moon, which might become resource harvesting and manufacturing outposts later – that need to be cleared to attract private investment, Maryniak said.
Oh yes - Tom Nugent is at SEDS, doing nifty things with robots and space elevator proto tech.
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