Congress often covers the exposed crotch of our human spaceflight program with the figleaf of science when it's an obvious lie to justify the pumping of billions of dollars into the belly of an ever-voracious aerospace industrial complex. And yes, of course space is dangerous.
On July 20th, 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took the most expensive selfie in history. As the apex of an 8-year, $130 billion effort, they posed in front of a camera and took a shot designed to do one thing - to show our free enterprise democratic system was better than the rigid, authoritarian system that wanted to destroy us.
We have a space agency desperately in need of purpose, whose employees and capabilities have been wasted for decades on make-work projects and dead-end PowerPoint pioneering placebos designed to do nothing more than keep the billing high.
We should stop wasting taxpayer funds on ridiculously expensive government missions to nowhere that return little value and blaze no useful trail for others to follow. Of course we should spend much more on science - and yes, use robots to do that science when it makes sense.
This is what the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) represents. Experimental, explorational science. Learning about Mars as a new world. Discovering new things that will tell us about the history of our solar system, help reveal the secrets of life, and continue blazing the trail that may someday be traveled by the rest of us.
We have an industrial base - one that, if made to take orders rather than being allowed in the vacuum of leadership to create them, if enabled by the elimination of cost-plus contracting to produce and achieve rather than waste and receive, could make something worth the cost rather than making work that costs us our dreams.
Life is an affirmation, not a defamation. Life means living. Life means taking that one tiny or giant leap beyond what you know you can do, or simply beyond what you know. It is in these moments that we live.
Your birthday happens each year on exactly the same day. It is a solid thing, a dependable thing, a measure of your life broken down into 365 subunits. For a Leaper, it is a bit different. For us, the basic assumption is shattered from the beginning.
The exploration of space: Be it by humans or robots, based on the best choice for the mission and the most efficient means to return the data and science sought. Most of the time, this will mean we send robots due to cost and danger. But sometimes, we will need the irreplaceable judgment and descriptive abilities of a person on the spot.
From John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, presidents have rhetorically opened the door to the frontier for us, and each time, we have turned away to fight over destinations, technologies, and timing.
I want to capture and express that passion I see in life all around me to go wild, to push into anywhere we can, and make of those places new domains for life.
I am a spacer. It is what and who I am. It is my cause and my life. I am not an enthusiast, a fan, or supporter. It is what I exist to do here on Earth. And there are many of us; some, like Elon Musk, are very high profile.
The Moon! Mars! Asteroids! Rockets! Helium 3! Space solar power! Space tourism! We go through fads, swarm around the hero de jour, and spend far too much time trashing the other guy's ideas in favor of our own.
NewSpace, commercial space - whatever you want to call it - is rising, with or without government support. It is rising in West Texas and on the Gulf Coast, in California and on the Virginia coast, and rising from the ashes of the old space program in Florida and in small shops and university labs in a hundred places in between.
I do not expect NASA to go out and build settlements and colonies. I do not expect them to give SpaceX all the money needed to colonize Mars. I do not expect them to realize the future of humanity is contingent on harvesting the wealth of the solar system overnight and suddenly subsidize my asteroid mining project.
Our greatest theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, recently declared that humans have no more than a hundred years to get off this planet to ensure the survival of our species. And when someone such as he does so, it is with an understanding not just of the science, but of both our tenuous place and our possibility in the universe.
Homo Sapiens is a frontier creature. It is what we do; it defines what we are. This has been true from our very beginnings. It is the core reason our progenitors wandered forth from the first primordial valleys in search of more room, better hunting, or more fertile soil.
The opening of space to human development and settlement is the most important activity of the human species. From hope to health, from wonder to wealth, the environment, and the very act of living, space is the future.
It is time to kickstart a new U.S. space transportation industry and time to spread that industry into space itself, leveraging our space station legacy to ignite imaginations and entrepreneurship so that we can move farther out, back to the Moon, out to the asteroids, and on to Mars.
By opening space, for the first time in our history, rather than inexorably extracting the blood of life from this oh-so-precious sphere in our quest for wealth, we will turn outwards and upwards, creating new wealth from places already dead, advancing into places where there is no life, and bringing its seeds with us.