Commentary by Michael Mackowski
Sometimes it seems like members of the National Space Society live in a world separate from most of the populace. Sure, we have this special view of the future that includes people living and working in space, but that’s a pretty rare perspective. I would contend this is even true if you include folks who support space exploration in general.
My example comes from the July 8, 2013 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. A letter writer points out that despite the vast sums spent on manned space development compared to unmanned programs, the science return from manned exploration is trivial compared to what we get from robotic explorers. His conclusion is that cancelling the manned space program is in the best interests of America.
Clearly most NSS members would disagree with that and I think we are all familiar all the arguments for putting people in space, so I won’t repeat them. The obvious problem is that many other people, including those who support space exploration in general, do not believe in the rationale behind human exploration. Frankly it is a difficult argument to make, as it generally relies on non-quantifiable benefits such as international prestige or inspiring young people to do great things. This suggests to me that we are doing a poor job of communicating our fundamental vision of “people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth”.
I see a lot of energy spent arguing about Mars versus Moon versus Asteroids and what kind of rocket to build and who should build it or own it. I think the NSS as an organization, and we as individual members, need to get back to basics and find a more effective way to explain why a human space program is essential to our future.
Phoenix NSS Planning Meeting
The chapter officers and committee heads are scheduling a planning meeting for local activities at 10 am on Saturday, September 7, at a location to be determined. Please send me an email if you would like to join us, as we need fresh ideas and energy.