What inspires you? What infuriates you? What holds your attention? Perhaps the topic is space and if so, you may be interested in the ten most destructive space practices.
#1. Self-deception: man is the only creature who can deceive himself. As it is, we deceive ourselves all the time, whether we’re talking the space industrial base, benevolent government space organizations, or using borrowed citizen money for dubious political purposes often thinly disguised as “important space science.”
#2. Lying: lying is said to be tied to self-esteem and when your self-esteem feels threatened, the lying begins in earnest (pun intended). So how challenged was our space self-esteem (or self of steam) with the shuttle flyout and what are the space lies now being slung to ourselves (see #1 above) and others?
#3. Craving ego-gratification: a number of people love to argue about space (and if you don’t believe me, check out the comments at Space Politics). Arguing about space may satisfy some sort of Freudian need.
#4. Stealing: the idea of getting something for nothing (or little) explains the various state lotteries. It also explains unfair practices, industrial espionage, and intellectual property theft. Consider Boeing and EELV; Hughes and China; China; others.
#5. Cheating: see #4.
#6. Clinging to bad habits: government space “oversight” (or as industry would call it, “overhead”) is the poster child for this effort. Are the “government oversight” value added and costs worth the risk reduction? We have no definitive data, but by analogy, I’m not going to hang around the Hyundai plant and watch them build my car.
#7. Bullying: are you a “new space” actor? Then you’d better have world class lobbyists and political backing. Even with these, you still aren’t assured of having your efforts tarnished.
#8. Nostalgia: “Man, the Apollo years were sure great for American space interests.” Why do so many think we need to recapture our lost space glory which was really a manifestation of the Cold War?
#9. Fear: fear can be a motivator, but paranoia will destroy ya. With the shuttle flyout, some fear the U.S. will fail simply because we don’t have a ride to the ISS that was born in the USA. Please: there are better and more interesting things to do in space than to “explore” low earth orbit with the space station.
#10. Gambling with other people’s money: the real way to make money in, to, through, and from space is to sell the government space hardware and/or services. The way money should be made is by providing space goods and services (energy from space, missile defense, resources and materials from space, etc.) which make life better for people on earth.
Many people view space as a museum which must not be disturbed. That is surrendering the initiative to those (China, Russia, India, etc.) who may not feel the same way. What can the U.S. do to remain relevant as it regards space? Start thinking of space as a frontier and not as a commons.