Hackernoon logoThe United States Lost the Space Race by@atrigueiro

The United States Lost the Space Race

It has been over fifty years since the Apollo moon landing. I watched it on TV as a kid; when I was a kid my country was on the moon. With the discovery of water ice on the moon, a self-sufficient base becomes a real possibility. We say we are going to the moon, but only if some corporation takes us there.

We are so sure of our American exceptionalism, we do not even recognize the fact that we appear to have lost the space race. American astronauts have to speak Russian. Can there be a more obvious indicator of that loss, than the fact that American astronauts have to speak Russian? We just have not had any lift capacity, so the Russians have had to shuttle our astronauts to the space station.

It is damn embarrassing.

Can scientists convince America that it should not cede a moon base to China! Frozen water has been verified in moon craters in very large quantities. Quantities that provide a moon base with all the raw materials for maintaining an independent existence. Water has its obvious uses, but it can also be split at the molecular level to provide fuel, hydrogen, and atmosphere, oxygen for the base. A base could be engaged in mining
operations, most likely, but many other high-tech projects as well.

With so much of America’s military budget geared to supply large foreign occupations, the United States lacks the innovations that would occur in the healthy research and development budget of a rich nation. America lacks the funding to push research and development projects, like the United States space program of the sixties. Ending foreign occupation could immediately fund a new push to colonize beyond Earth.

Rolling back the global military footprint releases money.

This funding should be directly pressed into re-energizing the American space program. The United States MUST regain its leadership in space because it can spark innovation as well as employ citizens. Patriots can spark enthusiasm when such a win-win scenario is explained.

America’s space program is so starved for funding that it leans heavily upon the Russian capabilities to get things done. This is one reason why being an astronaut in the United States requires one to be able to speak Russian. In the new multipolar world, the United States is foolish to have the Chinese and Russian space programs expanding, while America has retired its shuttles. All we really have from our government are words and promises on NASA.

Asking the private sector to pick up the slack is an insufficient response.
A renewed Space Race will create jobs that are at least similar to many of the defense industry jobs that will be lost in the Great Unwinding of America’s global military deployments. Not to mention, there are actually some clear military advantages to investing in our space program.

Doubters need only read Robert Heinlein’s "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". In that novel, Heinlein explains how the military benefits of the “high ground” continue in the paradigm of space.

America’s generals are preparing to fight the LAST war. If there was any doubt, the fact that so many “secret” American military bases were outed by Strava data, would disabuse one of any notions that the military is prepared for the 21st century. The defense contractors are the reason we lost the space race.

It is not profitable.

It is far more profitable to overcharge the Pentagon for high-tech weapons systems designed to win World War II.

America can do better. We do not inspire future generations by LYING to them. We inspire them by honestly admitting our mistakes as we hand off the baton, so they can do better. We are LOSING the space race.

Recognition of that is the first step to turning it around. Despite the title, I admit we have not actually LOST until we stop trying.

Previously published here.

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