Monday, January 5, 2009

The problems with “The Future of Human Spaceflight”

James Oberg
The Space Review

’Tis the season for space policy initiative reports, and our Christmas stockings have been stuffed with them—of all shapes, sizes, levels of sweetness and/or complexity, with or without guaranteed satisfaction or your money back.

One significant contribution to this cosmonautical cornucopia comes from the MIT Space, Policy, and Society Research Group, titled “The Future of Human Spaceflight”. With an impressive list of contributors and coordinated by lead author David Mindell, the 15-page report is a preview of some much longer treatments to be published in coming months.

There is a lot to like in this report. It stresses the need for both basic science research in space and technology development to lay groundwork for future capabilities for more ambitious goals. Its attempt to define a logical metric of “goodness” for space policy vis-à-vis well-defined goals is a worthy effort. Both its broad perspectives and some specific recommendations are of great value.

But on the bigger policy picture, it promotes some non-historic and deeply troubling myths of space policy that have led to grief in the past and, if accepted for future decisions, could serve as a roadmap for frustration and disaster.

Recommended HERE.