January 09, 2004

To The Moon!

Professor Bainbridge has noted that President Bush will shortly announce a major new space initiative including a permanent settlement on the moon and taking the space shuttle and ISS out behind the barn and shooting them.

Prof. Bainbridge seems to be taking space developments in isolation. They aren't. I've written before that President Bush's larger national security strategy has huge economic implications. The idea that the non-integrating gap nations are the premier national security threat facing the United States and that the gap should be shrunk and eventually eliminated implies a huge increase in the demand for capital and resources, especially energy.

Energy, unfortunately, is in relatively short supply. To create a globalized world we need vastly more energy available to supply these new economies, so much energy, in fact, that if you took off all the environmental constraints, all the limits on growth, and pour out as much effort as you could to provide energy using all available terrestrial sources, you still wouldn't have enough to meet the needs of the Pentagon's new map. We're talking about ~20 terrawatts, a vast energy stream that is just not possible even if we strip mine the planet of every available coal seam, run breeder reactors all over the world, and pump oil like there's no tomorrow.

In such a limited resource world, it makes sense and fits the national security focus of this administration to create a permanent presence on the moon for energy production and manufacturing (mostly for the energy production complex and any other space needs). Space is a vital component for practically getting us to a place of general safety where the entire world is interconnected and everybody has a stake in the health and success of other nations.

This is the great challenge of our generation and the space program, perhaps for the first time, will not just be about national pride and technical prowess but will materially contribute to the general welfare of the people by design instead of accidental spinoff.

Posted by TMLutas at January 9, 2004 10:41 AM