Celebrity astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t think much of citizen space exploration. He delivers a three-minute broadside against it in this video by Business Insider.

“Private enterprise will not ever lead a space frontier,” Tyson declares, “not because I don’t want them to, but my read of history tells me they can’t, it’s not possible. Space is dangerous, it’s expensive. There are unquantified risks. Combine all of those under one umbrella; you cannot establish a free-market capitalization of that enterprise….

“Those that are the kinds of frontiers that the history of governments have undertaken. The first Europeans to the New World were not the Dutch East India Trading Company. It was governments funding government missions. Columbus drew the maps…”

Dr. Tyson needs to read some history books. His knowledge of Christopher Columbus, and exploration in general, seems to be based the myths told in old high-school textbooks. Columbus was not the first European to sail to the New World. Queen Isabella did not hock the crown jewels to finance Columbus. His expedition was funded by Italian bankers.

Furthermore, Columbus’s maps were terrible. He thought the world was about 18,000 miles in circumference. Most educated people believed it was about 24,000 miles. That figure had been known since the time of the ancient Greeks. Columbus did his math wrong. Any educated person could have shown that, but Columbus simply refused to admit he was wrong. He failed in his mission to reach the East Indies, and he would have perished, along with his entire crew, if they hadn’t chanced upon a completely unexpected continent where they could rest and reprovision. What does that story tell us about citizen space exploration?

Absolutely nothing. Except, perhaps, that it’s a bad idea to hire a navigator who can’t do math. Which, of course, most of us already knew.

Throughout history, most exploration has been done by private citizens. Government expeditions, while not unknown, were the rare exception. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to lead the Corps of Discovery, but the territory which Lewis and Clark explored was already known to the mountain men and American Indians. In fact, Lewis and Clark hired private entrepreneurs (Indian guides) to show the way. That is a typical pattern.

It is a pattern we can expect to see repeated in space. In this video, Tyson implies that SpaceX is the only private company that’s involved in space. That is far from being the case. In the next decade, companies like Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace will enable thousands of private citizens to explore space. In the decade after that, we will see large numbers of people beginning to live in space, permanently, starting with low-cost habitats now being developed by companies like Bigelow Aerospace.

“Who are my investors? I’m not going,” Tyson says. “What are the risks? I don’t know.”

That  statement shows how poorly informed Tyson is about commercial spaceflight. The FAA regulates the commercial spaceflight industry under the doctrine of informed consent, which requires spaceflight providers to be fully disclose all known and potential risks prior to flight.

The fact that Tyson doesn’t know the risks is irrelevant, since he firmly states, “I’m not going.” We like to say that the space frontier should be open to everyone, but in reality, there’s one group of people who will play no role in opening the space frontier — those who don’t want to go. There’s nothing wrong with that, but folks like Tyson should not stand in the way of those who do want to go.

“What are the costs?” Tyson asks rhetorically, “We haven’t figure it out yet? We’ll never know. What’s the ROI? There isn’t one, because we haven’t done it before, and we don’t know what we might find.”

That is poppycock. To Tyson, every risk and cost is “unquantifiable.” In reality, there are techniques for estimating risk and cost. Someone invented math. They are not techniques that are usually taught to astrophysicists like Tyson, but they are well known to engineers and businessmen who use them every day. (Once again, we have to wonder why the government and news media repeatedly turn to astronomers like Tyson for opinions about space travel. That makes about as much sense as asking a meteorologist about air travel.)

In one of his most bizarre statements, Tyson says that space exploration has no return on investment (ROI) because it hasn’t been done before. By that logic, nothing that is done for the first time will have a return on investment. Airplanes had never been done before the Wright Brothers. Mass-produced automobiles had never been done before Henry Ford. Microcomputers had never been done before the Altair 8080. The iPhone had never been done before Apple did it. Does Tyson think that none of those things had any return on investment?

Everything that is done by mankind was done for the first time, once. If it’s impossible for something that’s done for the first time to have a return on investment, there would never be any technical developments.

Dr. Tyson is not completely opposed to commercial space, however — as long as private companies know there place. “What did SpaceX do? Are they leading the space frontier? No, they’re hauling cargo back and forth to the space station. NASA should never have been in that business.” That parallels statements made by the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, better known as the Aldridge Commission, which Tyson served on back in 2004. The Aldridge Commission wanted commercial space should play a role in the Bush Vision of Space Exploration, but only a supporting role.

The Aldridge Commission said that NASA should “procure all of its low-Earth orbit launch services competitively on the commercial market,” but with one important caveat: “The Commission also realizes that the launch of human crews requires extraordinary care and will likely remain the providence of the government for at least the near-term.”

Incredibly, the report containing this statement was published just weeks after Scaled Composites launched a human crew into space on SpaceShip One.

Tyson sees little value in astronauts, either.

“You don’t need astronauts, who are highly trained professional spacefarers to be hauling goods back and forth to space. The Post Office doesn’t have their own planes. What they do, for trivial things, if they want to move mail across the country, they rent space in the belly of Delta Airlines or American. The corporation will do it more efficiently, and they don’t have to worry about the business model for that. But if you want to move to a new frontier, you need the government, where space is involved.”

Tyson seems to miss the fact that Delta and American also have highly trained professionals, called airline pilots. Operating a modern airliner is not a trivial thing, as Tyson states, and pilots are there for a reason. In aviation, piloted aircraft are orders of magnitude more reliable than unmanned air vehicles. The unmanned space community seems to show deliberate ignorance with statements like this.

And if corporations are more efficient than government — as Tyson says — why shouldn’t they be allowed on the frontier? Living on the frontier is harsh, brutal, unforgiving — the sort of environment where inefficiency cannot be tolerated.

This isn’t the first time Dr. Tyson has trash-talked the idea of citizen space exploration. In a previous video, he set his sites on Virgin Galactic (and suborbital spaceflight in general).

“I’m a little worried because people see these spaceships that go up and down, above the Earth’s atmosphere where you can see the stars while the Sun is up,” Tyson said. “That’s the operational definition of space. So, they get to say they’ve been into space, but there is no comparison between going up above the air and entering Earth orbit. They’ll get a nice view of Earth, and like I said, they’re calling it space.

“They’re taking you one-eight of an inch above the surface. Yeah, it’s a view you’ve never had before. But if you’re going to send me into space, and risk my life doing it, whatever that risk level is, I want to at least go somewhere. Take me to the Moon, to Mars, or beyond. Don’t just have me drive around the block. We’ve been doing that for 50 years. It’s time to move on.”

No, Dr. Tyson — Virgin Galactic is not taking people an eighth of an inch above the Earth’s surface. They are planning to take people 350 thousand feet above the Earth’s surface. That’s more than 300,000 feet higher than you flew on your last airplane flight. Your survival time at that altitude, without a pressure suit or spacecraft cabin, would be about the same as on the surface of Moon or Mars. In other words, space.

Please stop with this “been there, done that” routine. You are not an astronaut. You haven’t been there, and you haven’t done that.

Written by Astro1 on September 2nd, 2013 , Citizen Exploration

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COMMENTS
    john werneken commented

    Ideology sucks.

    Shoud civilans, or anybody, develop spce respources of value to Earth, they will need government protection. We have that already, as far as the communications satellites go – mostly private things proteted by governmental agreements and commitments.

    And for space based stuff to gather paying customers, some sort of guild or government to pass on their bonafides will be needed. I bet you would not get on my airliner, if there wre no authority to attest to the liklihood that it was aitworthy, and the crew, trained and licensed.

    The thing about governments is that they like anything else are selfish, and government is not very good at responding to efficiencies or profits. If they are the only space-farers, only grandstanding things will be done there, and espoionage platforms.

    Reply
    September 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm
    Michael R. commented

    NDT should have stopped after the first three theorems of his argument: “Space is dangerous, it’s expensive. There are unquantified risks.”

    These are valid points which your blog response here mostly ignores; private industry tends to be strongly risk aversive, and where it must take on risk, it typically relies on the government (or the greasing of said government) to cover its ass and/or bail it out (note: see HISTORY).

    The Columbus issue is a little more fuzzy, historically speaking. Can we be sure that those bankers didn’t also handle assets for (or under the direction of) the royalty? [as governments and banks do today] Surely they must have done so, meaning that the true financial provenance “reality” of Columbus’s funding will remain murky.

    That said, I do certainly support private space enterprises, I just wish this myth that the private sector can do it alone or do it better (somehow) would cease; the private space industry flourishes due to incentives, tax breaks and the prior testing of technologies from or by the government (funded by the PEOPLE). Private space missions will rely (at least in the short to medium term) on Public-funded space technology and infrastructure (e.g., the ISS, as a logical staging platform).

    Oh, Private Enterprise will not be spending billions cleaning up all the space junk (“orbital debris”, aka “astro trash”)…no, they will leave that to NASA and Military (publicly funded)…just like they do it on Earth,

    Private space entrepreneurs are standing on the shoulders of public giants. A little less space libertarianism and a little more humble recognition of how you got to this stage, is all.

    Reply
    September 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm
      Astro1 commented

      “private industry tends to be strongly risk aversive”

      Saying so doesn’t make it true. Sean O’Keefe (the former NASA Administrator) said he never would have been allowed to take the sort of risks Scaled Composites took to win the X-Prize.

      The idea that the Spanish government was keeping its money in Italian banks falls under the heading of “wild theory.”

      “private space industry flourishes due to incentives, tax breaks and the prior testing of technologies from or by the government”

      ISS is not a “logical stepping stone” to anything except the poor house, It would be cheaper to develop a commercial space station from scratch than to refurbish and maintain ISS.

      “Private Enterprise will not be spending billions cleaning up all the space junk (“orbital debris”, aka “astro trash”)…no, they will leave that to NASA and Military (publicly funded)…just like they do it on Earth,”

      They will if they’re smart. That “trash,” as you call it, represents a resource much larger than ISS, which will be recyclable using new 3D printing technologies.

      Don’t let ideology blind you from seeing the possibilities.

      Reply
      September 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Michael,
      No, Michael, we can be fairly sure about where it came from and how. Yes, much of the primary documentation was destroyed in a fire, but we have sufficient secondary documentation to know that it was financed by three major sources: personal loans to Columbus himself, various Genovese families, and Luis D. Santangel. The funky parts that are unknown are what money Santangel used. He was a finance minister and treasurer of the church of Aragon but also had considerable wealth himself. Some documentation says he used a combination of his own money and church money. Other suggests he got personal loans from friends and family.

      What the crown provided were inducements: 10% of revenue that came from the discoveries, a royal title of Admiral of the Seas, and patents on the routes he discovered.

      What no one remembers is that the Spanish Crown was broke. It had just fought a war to kick the Moors out of Spain and was in hock to just about everyone. Yes, the Queen had put her Crown Jewels in hock but many years previous to Columbus to fund their army.

      They didn’t even provide the boats. They tried but the boats they offered were so bad the crews refused to sail them so Columbus found better ones.

      Here’s some more details:

      http://rocketforge.org/2013/01/10/lessons-in-exploration-from-columbus-and-the-spanish-crown.html

      Reply
      September 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm
        Hoyt Davidson commented

        Thanks for the history lesson – fascinating, and perhaps very relevant for our current fiscal situation. Our own highly stressed government can support and encourage private space exploration in many ways other than cash grants and contracts. Governments, with some international constraints and coordination requirements, can bestow exclusive or limited rights to corporations for exploitation of space assets, including not only land and material objects, but virtual assets such as done now for GEO orbital slots and spectrum rights. The transcontinental railroad would never have gotten built without massive transfers of land rights and protected route exclusivities to add to the government guaranteed bond financings. Give an investment banker a property right with high scarcity value and they will find a way to raise capital.

        Reply
        September 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm
    Hoyt Davidson commented

    It is not so much that private enterprise, as it is understood for all other industries (i.e. a Board with fiduciary duty to ROI focused shareholders), intends to lead space exploration without government assistance in some kind of break from historical precedent, but more like a growing group of extremely frustrated individuals, some of them quite wealthy and smart, being fed up with government doing space exploration so timidly and inefficiently. These space entrepreneurs, at least the serious ones, and the companies they have founded, are enthusiastically welcoming public – private partnerships to make progress; in Mr. Musk’s case, on more than one occasion and with great results. It is also the case that if you define space exploration as private industry duplicating what NASA did 50 years ago (e.g. lunar robotic landings, cis-lunar travel), then technology advances have brought the costs and risks down to levels where with some manageable government assistance and far-sighted investors private industry can relive NASA of these now mundane burdens. There are of course others with wilder and more optimistic expectations, and while I might cheer them on from the sidelines I have to side with NGT on their prospects. Still, even these visionaries have at times inspired governments and larger corporations to consider different missions, new business models and most importantly, to get on with it.

    Reply
    September 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm
    Michael McCoy commented

    Bitten by the celebrity bug, Neil Tyson has come to exude a pretentious arrogance — speaking down to us commoners.
    Reaching the edges of space is fraught with dangers — known dangers.
    But civilian/private/for profit space enterprises are on the near horizon, and will go forth.
    Mirroring the early quest for heavier-than-air flight, accidents will occur — as will deaths. The pioneers will pay the initial price as the bugs are worked out. But the journey into earth orbit will become routine for the adventurous citizen, and hugely profitable for the companies with vision, determination and the proven formula.

    Reply
    September 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm
    spacechampion commented

    NDT is free to be wrong. No need to create schism in the church of space over it!

    Reply
    September 3, 2013 at 10:19 am
      Michael McCoy commented

      Schism?
      If a schism arises from a discussion, so be it.
      The over-simplistic assessments of self-proclaimed experts should rightly be challenged — especially when they are demonstrably wrong.

      Reply
      September 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm
    Tom Heath commented

    One item neither of you mentioned was that the first Europeans to the new world where the the Viking explorers hopping from Iceland to Greenland to Nova Scotia or eastern Canada in general. Granted their settlements didn’t take hold. They where here first.

    Reply
    September 3, 2013 at 11:07 am
    Rick Boozer commented

    “(Once again, we have to wonder why the government and news media repeatedly turn to astronomers like Tyson for opinions about space travel. That makes about as much sense as asking a meteorologist about air travel.)”
    I had already seen Neil’s diatribe before you wrote your response. As an astrophysicist myself, I am embarrassed by his constantly pontificating on a subject that he automatically assumes has changed very little since the 1960s. Not everyone in our field of expertise is as ignorant about current spaceflight issues as he is. As a case in point I suggest my book, The Plundering of NASA, that takes the exact opposite stance to Neil’s position. Just my list of references in the back of the book is over ten pages long!

    Reply
    September 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm
    KatD commented

    I might note that Virgin Galactic has not taken anyone anywhere yet so what they are planning and what they accomplish are two very different things. Tyson has stated many times that he supports this private enterprise. But it must be stated that, if successful, it will not be exploratory missions they have planned, but expensive joyrides. Tyson is correct. Governments (USA, Russia, China), will be the funders of exploratory missions, not private companies.

    As Mitt Romney stated in the debate in Florida, if a member of his managerial staff proposed the mission Newt Gingrich proposed regarding a mission to Mars, he would fire him.

    Reply
    December 22, 2013 at 7:00 am
      Astro1 commented

      Tyson has not that he supports suborbital spaceflight “many times” — or even once. Quite the opposite. The “private enterprise” he supports is merely government contracting: hiring companies to carry government crew and government supplies to a government space station.

      When you resort to calling exploration missions “joyrides,” it shows that you have no valid arguments. Like opponents of early microcomputers, who called them “game machines.” They couldn’t see the value of democratizing computing, so they assumed there was no value. Namecalling is no substitute for valid argument, however.

      Every astronaut we know (public or private) has expressed joy at going into space. We see nothing wrong with that. But suborbital exploration missions will be more than just joyrides. They will allow us to learn new things about the Earth, it’s oceans, atmosphere, and surroundings. They will provide a window to the cosmos for astronomers. They will pioneer new technologies and create new industries. They will open the way for high-speed intercontinental transport, low-cost reusable space transportation to orbit, and, ultimately, large-scale human settlement of space.

      By contrast, what Dr. Tyson wants is much more of a pure joyride. He wants the taxpayers to spend hundreds of billions of dollars so he can go to Europa — while his inferiors, who are left behind, must settle for watching on teevee. He doesn’t want to share Europa with the rest of us; the socialist meme says that only the chosen government heroes can go. As a result, no settlements or industries would be created. The government expedition would bring joy to planetary scientists, for a time, but like Project Apollo, Tyson’s Europa expedition would be a dead end. Soon, the money would run Out, and the joyride would be over.

      Sure, Mitt Romney would fire Newt Gingrich for wanting humans to create a settlement beyond the Earth. He probably would have fired Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers, too. Romney has no background in technology. Neither, it should be noted, does Tyson. (Science and engineering are very different disciplines.) Romney did not offer any rational justification for his hostility to space settlement; merely a snappy punch line from his joke writers, intended to appeal to those who share his lack of vision. The future is not created by men like Mitt Romney. It’s created by men like Steve Jobs, Orville and Wilbur Wright, and Burt Rutan who see beyond the punch line.

      Reply
      December 22, 2013 at 10:42 am
        katd commented

        Astro1 “Tyson has not that he supports suborbital spaceflight “many times” — or even once. Quite the opposite. The “private enterprise” he supports is merely government contracting: hiring companies to carry government crew and government supplies to a government space station.”

        Private enterprise has always been contracted by the government from the initial days of the space program, i.e. the Apollo Lunar Module built by Grumman. This is nothing new. Tyson asserts that private enterprise has not and will not be the pioneers of exploration without government leading the way. It is governments that will be sending future astronauts to the FIRST manned mission to Mars, for example, not commercial enterprises such as Virgin Galactic.

        Apollo1: “When you resort to calling exploration missions “joyrides,” it shows that you have no valid arguments. Like opponents of early microcomputers, who called them “game machines.” They couldn’t see the value of democratizing computing, so they assumed there was no value. Namecalling is no substitute for valid argument, however”

        I see where you are confused. No one is calling space exploration joyrides. Some may be against the funding of a space program but certainly not me and not Tyson.

        Apolla1 “Every astronaut we know (public or private) has expressed joy at going into space. We see nothing wrong with that. But suborbital exploration missions will be more than just joyrides. They will allow us to learn new things about the Earth, it’s oceans, atmosphere, and surroundings. They will provide a window to the cosmos for astronomers. They will pioneer new technologies and create new industries. They will open the way for high-speed intercontinental transport, low-cost reusable space transportation to orbit, and, ultimately, large-scale human settlement of space.”

        I don’t see anything wrong with that, either. It appears you are confusing space tourism and recreational space travel with exploration.

        Apolla1 “By contrast, what Dr. Tyson wants is much more of a pure joyride. He wants the taxpayers to spend hundreds of billions of dollars so he can go to Europa — while his inferiors, who are left behind, must settle for watching on teevee. He doesn’t want to share Europa with the rest of us; the socialist meme says that only the chosen government heroes can go. As a result, no settlements or industries would be created. The government expedition would bring joy to planetary scientists, for a time, but like Project Apollo, Tyson’s Europa expedition would be a dead end. Soon, the money would run Out, and the joyride would be over.”

        You must have been tired when you wrote this. You think Tyson would want to keep the knowledge learned on a trip to Europa a secret? Knowledge not shared with his intellectual inferiors? Because that’s what he does now, right?

        Apolla1 “Sure, Mitt Romney would fire Newt Gingrich for wanting humans to create a settlement beyond the Earth. He probably would have fired Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers, too. Romney has no background in technology. Neither, it should be noted, does Tyson. (Science and engineering are very different disciplines.) Romney did not offer any rational justification for his hostility to space settlement; merely a snappy punch line from his joke writers, intended to appeal to those who share his lack of vision. The future is not created by men like Mitt Romney. It’s created by men like Steve Jobs, Orville and Wilbur Wright, and Burt Rutan who see beyond the punch line.”

        And the funding for exploratory space travel comes from governments. Unless you are confusing, once again, tourism (commercial enterprise), from exploration.

        Reply
        December 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm
          Astro1 commented

          “Tyson asserts that private enterprise has not and will not be the pioneers of exploration without government leading the way.”

          Yes, Tyson asserts that — and he is wrong. He didn’t do his homework. The majority of terrestrial exploration was (and is) undertaken by private parties, no matter what Tyson believes. Project Apollo was an anomaly, and Tyson is spreading misinformation.

          “You think Tyson would want to keep the knowledge learned on a trip to Europa a secret? Knowledge not shared with his intellectual inferiors?”

          There’s a difference between sharing “knowledge” of space and sharing space. There is no doubt Tyson would like to share some cool travel videos. That’s not the point. Tyson wants to spend hundreds of billions on a space program that the public can only watch and not participate in. The American people deserve more than that.

          “And the funding for exploratory space travel comes from governments. Unless you are confusing, once again, tourism (commercial enterprise), from exploration.”

          Once again, you’re engaged in namecalling. You don’t like commercial or citizen exploration, so you call them “tourism” or “joyrides.” Do you believe that aomehow makes them less valuable? It doesn’t. You don’t see any value in exploration unless it’s done by government? That’s fine. You don’t have to; no one is asking you to pay for it. But don’t think that people are going to be more motivated to pay for Tyson’s trip to Europa just because he attacks other people who want to go into space. If Tyson wants to go, he’s going to have to stand in line with everybody else.

          Reply
          December 22, 2013 at 8:38 pm
            katd commented

            Apoll1: Yes, Tyson asserts that — and he is wrong. He didn’t do his homework. The majority of terrestrial exploration was (and is) undertaken by private parties, no matter what Tyson believes. Project Apollo was an anomaly, and Tyson is spreading misinformation.”

            Nope. Who do you think funded the space race, including the missions that have followed since first launch? It was the USSR, and USA governments, that’s who. No private enterprise could have or would have undertaken such a task.

            Apolla1: “There’s a difference between sharing “knowledge” of space and sharing space. There is no doubt Tyson would like to share some cool travel videos. That’s not the point. Tyson wants to spend hundreds of billions on a space program that the public can only watch and not participate in. The American people deserve more than that.”

            The American people decide with their votes both want they want and deserve. That’s the way it works. The American PEOPLE fund NASA. Research grant money is funded by American taxpayers. No one is stopping ANY company or voting against ANY private commercial enterprise who chooses to fly people to space.

            Apollo1: “Once again, you’re engaged in namecalling. You don’t like commercial or citizen exploration, so you call them “tourism” or “joyrides.”

            Are you being intentionally dishonest? I LOVE commercial travel. NO ONE IS AGAINST IT. Please cite your source that Tyson is against this. Please cite one suggestion he has made that says whomever can afford it and wants to go should be stopped. It is a ridiculous assertion, but it is yours, so back it up.

            Apolla1: “Do you believe that aomehow makes them less valuable? It doesn’t. You don’t see any value in exploration unless it’s done by government? That’s fine. You don’t have to; no one is asking you to pay for it. But don’t think that people are going to be more motivated to pay for Tyson’s trip to Europa just because he attacks other people who want to go into space.”

            He has NEVER attacked commercial enterprise in space. NOT ONCE. Cite ONE time that he has said that Tito, Olsen and others who can afford it should NOT BE ALLOWED TO GO. And NO ONE said there is no value in exploration unless it is done by the government. Why are you arguing against views NO ONE holds?

            Apolla1: “If Tyson wants to go, he’s going to have to stand in line with everybody else.”

            Now you are just being silly. He will be extended an invitation long before you and me. Turns out he doesn’t want to go, saying he’s too old and has kids to raise. He also has an pretty important job. Lucky you.

            December 22, 2013 at 10:48 pm
            Astro1 commented

            “Who do you think funded the space race, including the missions that have followed since first launch?”

            I already answered that question. As I stated, the space race was an anomaly. An exception. Not the norm.

            Do you think NASA is the only example of exploration in the history of the human race? Tyson doesn’t believe that. He cites Columbus as an example of government-funded exploration — and he is wrong.

            Yes, the space race was exclusively a government undertaking — and a dead end. It was a complete failure, when it comes to opening space to mankind. 50 years after Yuri Gargarin and Al Shepherd, we have only six people living in space. That’s not a space program, it’s a rounding error. We need to try something different, not just keep repeating the same mistakes.

            “The American people decide with their votes both want they want and deserve. That’s the way it works.”

            The American people have decided not to send NASA astronauts to Europa. They have decided not to fund Tyson’s massively expensive “Penny for NASA.” So, what exactly is your point?

            “Please cite your source that Tyson is against this.”

            Already done. Watch the accompanying video, without your blinders.

            “He has NEVER attacked commercial enterprise in space. NOT ONCE.”

            Once, no. Many times, yes. Screaming about it all caps does not change the facts. Tyson sneers that suborbital spaceflight isn’t “real” space travel. He opposes private exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit, based on a faulty reading of history that says no one except government has ever done exploration. He was also a member of the Aldridge Commission which declared that human spaceflight should “remain the province of government” for the foreseeable future (ironically, just weeks after Mike Melvill earned the first FAA Commercial Astronaut wings.)

            December 23, 2013 at 12:06 am
            katd commented

            Apologies for calling you Apolla1 instead of Astro1.

            December 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm
    katd commented

    Astro1: “Yes, the space race was exclusively a government undertaking — and a dead end. It was a complete failure, when it comes to opening space to mankind. 50 years after Yuri Gargarin and Al Shepherd, we have only six people living in space. That’s not a space program, it’s a rounding error. We need to try something different, not just keep repeating the same mistakes.”

    Ridiculous claiming the space race to be a complete failure. And what are you suggesting–do you want taxpayers to fund SpaceX? Or Virgin Galactic?

    Astro1: The American people have decided not to send NASA astronauts to Europa. They have decided not to fund Tyson’s massively expensive “Penny for NASA.” So, what exactly is your point?”

    It looks to me like the American people have decided not to send NASA astronauts much of anywhere. So what is YOUR point? So far, it’s your claim that Tyson is against private enterprise in space–which, as you will see below, I’ve disproven.

    Astro1: “Once, no. Many times, yes. Screaming about it all caps does not change the facts.”

    Exactly. That is WHY I transcribed his EXACT words. “We should have had private industry go into space decades ago. I’m embarassed. We’ve been in space for 50 years. Why is it that only yesterday private enterprise has taken some initiative here? So I’m disappointed it’s taken them so long.”–Neil Tyson

    Astro1 “Already done. Watch the accompanying video, without your blinders.”

    You first. I transcribed his EXACT words for you. It was your claim that he is against private industry in space. Should I repost it for you?

    Astro1: “He opposes private exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit, based on a faulty reading of history that says no one except government has ever done exploration.”

    That is CLEARLY not what he said. He doesn’t think private enterprise will be able to ACCOMPLISH it. They lack the enormous resources it would take to pull off a trip to Mars. Unless you are suggesting taxpayers foot the bill. They won’t, of course.

    Astro1: “Tyson sneers that suborbital spaceflight isn’t “real” space travel.”

    Again, NOT what he says. Would you like me to transcribe it for you? As he states, “going somewhere hundreds have gone before is not exploration.” Either are joyrides into low space orbit. THAT is his point. And he’s right.

    Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 3:09 am
      Astro1 commented

      “Ridiculous claiming the space race to be a complete failure. And what are you suggesting–do you want taxpayers to fund SpaceX? Or Virgin Galactic?”

      Virgin Galactic doesn’t need the taxpayers to fund them. Investors are doing that. The word “private” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

      Government should be a customer, not an investor.

      “It looks to me like the American people have decided not to send NASA astronauts much of anywhere. So what is YOUR point?”

      Ignoring a very small number of astronauts on ISS, that is true. Yet, you put all your faith in government to explore space. As Mr. Spock would say, that is not logical.

      “That is WHY I transcribed his EXACT words. “We should have had private industry go into space decades ago.”

      You transcribed only *some* of his words. You carefully ignore other words, which do not support your point. Tyson makes it quite clear that when he says “private industry,” he is talking about allowing government contractors to carry supplies to ISS — something NASA is already doing. As you yourself said, government contractors have been doing that since the 1960’s.

      Tyson does not support citizen exploration of space beyond Low Earth Orbit, which he believes should be a government monopoly, and he ridicules citizen explorstion of suborbital space, based on his ridiculous definition that it is not “real” space.

      “He doesn’t think private enterprise will be able to ACCOMPLISH it. They lack the enormous resources it would take to pull off a trip to Mars.”

      Tyson is a scientist. Scientists are supposed to deal with evidence. Tyson offers no evidence to back up his claim, beyond some historical analogs which he gets completely *wrong* because he doesn’t *know* the history. He did not do his research.

      Gingrich, on the other hand, is a professor of history, knows his facts, and gets them right. Yet, you dismiss him based on a dumb joke from Mitt Romney?

      Shouting about “enormous resources” proves nothing. That is a qualitative statement. “If you can’t say it in numbers, it isn’t science. It’s opinion.” Here’s the point you and Tyson miss. You assume that it’s impossible to reduce the cost of space transportation and space operations. No one is saying private enterprise should spend as much as government would. That is a strawman argument. But private enterprise can, and will, find cheaper ways to do exploration.

      Elon Musk is developing hardware to send settlers to Mars. He isn’t planning to spend as much as NASA would. The Golden Spike Company is developing plans to send explorers to the Moon, for a fraction of what the BVSE would have cost. Constantly screaming that private exploration doesn’t have as much money as NASA completely misses the point.

      “Would you like me to transcribe it for you? As he states, ‘going somewhere hundreds have gone before is not exploration.'”

      And once again, Tyson’s statement is exceptionally ignorant. Thousands of people traveled the New World before Columbus — who Tyson considers considers the quintessential explorer. There were hundreds of natives waiting to greet him.

      Space (even near-Earth space) is huge. Larger than the Earth. We’ve been exploring the Earth for millennia, and we aren’t done yet. The belief that we’re finished exploring space because a trivial number of people have gone (“hundreds”) is nonsense. If only a few hundred people had visited Hawaii — most for mere days — no one would claim Hawaii had been completely explored. And Hawaii is a tiny island. It doesn’t begin to compare to the vastness of space.

      I *already* transcribed Tyson’s words for you. You seem to read quite selectively. But I’ll try one more time:

      “I’m a little worried because people see these spaceships that go up and down, above the Earth’s atmosphere where you can see the stars while the Sun is up. That’s the operational definition of space. So, they get to say they’ve been into space, but there is no comparison between going up above the air and entering Earth orbit. They’ll get a nice view of Earth, and like I said, they’re calling it space…. They’re taking you one-eight of an inch above the surface.”

      Again, this statement is exceptionally ignorant. We’re calling it space because it is space. Survival time without a pressure suit would be exactly the same as it is in orbit. If Tyson doesn’t understand that, they should revoke his PhD. It’s not going to be an eighth of an inch, but hundreds of thousands of feet. Tyson is misleading people with his silly globe and goofy analogy. Deliberstely. It is shameful, for someone who calls himself an educator.

      Tyson also says, “I want to at least go somewhere. Take me to the Moon, to Mars, or beyond. Don’t just have me drive around the block. We’ve been doing that for 50 years. It’s time to move on.” So, it isn’t clear whether he wants to go into space or not. In one video, he says he does. In another, he says he doesn’t. He appears to say whatever he thinks is entertaining at the moment.

      One thing that is certain, however — despite his bluster, Tyson has not been “doing that” for 50 years, except in his imagination. Tyson has never been above the stratosphere in his life. He is not a NASA astronaut. Listening to him bluster about how the taxpayers should take him to the Moon or Mars because he’s so bored with flights *he’s never even logged* is hilarious.

      Reply
      December 23, 2013 at 10:38 am
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