Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dennis Wingo and a Missive Manifesto

Because it is a genuine plea from the heart, clearly written in a rhetorical and personal style, I won’t fault Dennis Wingo for mistaking the notorious Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) for a U.S. Senator.

Congressman Frank makes that mistake often enough himself.

He can also be forgiven for a certain non-linearity in his passing mention of this nation’s important debate over “Internal Improvements” and the context of that debate. I commend it to you because we definitely agree more than we disagree over NASA’s disconnect with the American People. We apparently share the same ambivalence and reluctance to allow Political Will to break our hearts a second time.

If anything, I am perhaps more radical in refusing to be anything other than leery of Team NASA, a creature of Congress after all, but I don't wear this on my sleeve. As a facility of pure genius, I am awestruck by the individuals that this Sea of Relationships continually tosses up, and sometimes even for the bureaucracy itself and its taxonomies. It is alone among government agencies I admire, and is more effective and cost-efficient, and spends far less than newer agencies with ten times its budget that accomplish no lasting legacy.

As joyful as I was at the President’s Vision four years ago, my hope has been and continues to be invested in a long held contingency plan should NASA be made to fail, in much the same way Wingo warns.

Wingo is right in much that he sets before us in this "missive." Holding together a "movement" is self-contradictory, the timescale is too long, and the returns are poorly spelled out. Like Wingo, I could spell them out on a legal pad. Unlike Wingo, I've not been content to wait on NASA since 1977.

But enough commentary, because I've posted this so you might stumble upon this mostly well-written, mostly rational and cogent "missive" by Dennis Wingo. I recommend it as well worth your valuable time.

Mr. Wingo, represented elsewhere as "Space entrepreneur" and "founder of SkyCorp and co-founder of Orbital Recovery," has in this article written something heartfelt which is being picked up all over the Internet and circuitously self-referenced back to SpaceRef where it apparently originated the day before yesterday.

Establishing the Vision for Space Exploration
by Dennis Wingo

(Those who do not learn from history are doomed)

To those of us who have committed our lives to the proposition that the exploration and development of space as the means by which we can build a prosperous global civilization that will last far beyond our current limits to growth, recent events have a familiar and depressing feel. There is a principle in the entrepreneurial world that if you present a business plan to an investor that does not meet their criterion for funding, you dont get funded. The same principle applies to government spending with the congress, executive branch and the people fulfilling the role of the investor. Our national space agency has been trying to sell a business plan to the American people for almost forty years that they have continually decided not to fund. The investor has continually given feedback to the NASA entrepreneur with little or no indication that NASA has listened. This missive will provide examples of this forty year phenomenon and hopefully provide insight to NASAs leadership on what can be done within the context of the Vision for Space Exploration to establish a lasting effort to achieve national goals.

This is not a criticism about a rocket development effort, it is about the goal, the vision, and the return on investment for the American people. The investor does not care exactly how a company carries out its business plan, they just care about results and the exit plan. Successful great and noble efforts by nations follow this same path. The canals of the early American frontier opened up the Midwest to settlement and commerce. The national railroad of the 1860s was built in a time of desperate civil war but was funded because our leaders understood that the result would bind together and unify the nation for communications, settlement, and commerce. The Panama canal, the interstate system, the seaports, the airports, all of these government funded or supported efforts had a simple goal, increase our national wealth through the creation of an infrastructure unparalleled in world history in support of commerce and freedom of movement for our people. These are things that people readily understand and that congress willingly funds. These are templates and lessons that NASA must incorporate into its plans or the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) will join the other acronyms of space plan failure in the dustbin of history.
Read more HERE.

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