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Commercial Space: Spirit of Apollo or Spirit of Solyndra? – Yahoo! News

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When Andrew Chaikin talks about the spirit of Apollo, people listen. Chaikin, after all, wrote the definitive history of the Apollo program. He has invoked Apollo to weigh in the ongoing debate between commercial space and NASA.

What was Chaikin’s premise?

In an oped published in Space News, Chaikin found that the “spirit of Apollo” was not necessarily in NASA’s current space exploration program, but rather in the commercial space sector. He finds that the heavy lift Space Launch System is too evocative of the past, whereas innovation, the future, and the hope of space exploration lays in the commercial space firms such as SpaceX.

If this is so, why is Congress so skeptical of commercial space?

It is not, despite what Chaikin suggests, that Congress opposes commercial space. Congress is deeply skeptical about how the current administration is approaching the matter. In a recent hearing before the House Science Committee, Congress seemed to find not so much the spirit of Apollo, but rather the spirit of Solyndra, a commercial space sector too heavily dependent on government subsidies and without any firm private markets. Something cannot be called, strictly speaking, “commercial” if it is financed primarily by the government and services primarily government markets. Furthermore, the commercial crew program is not designed to send people back to the moon, but rather to build a space taxi service to the International Space Station. It is more evocative, therefore, of the “spirit of the space shuttle” than that of Apollo.

via Commercial Space: Spirit of Apollo or Spirit of Solyndra? – Yahoo! News.

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Written by edparnell

November 12, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Posted in Space

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