The Iron Logic of Government Space Traffic Control

Posted: March 25, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
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Why space traffic control should be a free public utility
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Comments
  1. Mark Gubrud says:

    Most of this excruciatingly slow robotic diatribe consists of witless mockery of a straw(wo)man. The creator of the video is probably an Ayn Rand fan, a person who believes (and will often say in so many words) he “holds a particularly accurate ideology and world view” in which there is no room for any notion of commons or social goods and government should do nothing but defend private property.

    By the end, exactly one argument has been made: That those who say the US government should take the lead in creating a system for space traffic management should explain why other nations and the private sector won’t or shouldn’t do it themselves given that they will benefit more than the US government will, being larger in total space activity.

    (The argument isn’t even made as cogently as that, but I’m generous.)

    Well, I don’t know of anybody who is saying the US government should assume sole responsibility for space traffic management; in fact, if the US tried to force any such system on the world unilaterally it would likely backfire disastrously. The argument is that the US government should take the lead.

    Why? Because it’s in the interests of the United States, as well as of other countries. Because although forcing our dominance on others will backfire, leadership is needed and if exercised intelligently and sensitively, it will be accepted and followed. Because a rabble of corporations and governments will not spontaneously self-organize in the absence of leadership; rather, the need for order will continue to be ignored until conflicts arise, and then they will become acrimonious disputes.

    And why should the US take the lead, instead of somebody else? Because the largest cost in establishing a space traffic management system is the cost to build the network of space situational awareness facilities capable of tracking active objects and debris and predicting collisions. That is a huge cost, and it is one the US government has already paid for to a large extent. Not a cost we are going to recover, but an investment we can put to good use by making its benefits available to the world community, in exchange for their cooperation in creating an orderly and peaceful system.

    So, I reckon that’s about 10 times as much substance as is contained in the video, which is enough for one comment.

    • Space Farmer says:

      So your assertion is the US should lead because the US should lead. BRILLIANT!!

      • Mark Gubrud says:

        Farmer, I gave two paragraphs of reasons. Is your position that having an orderly STM system that helps to avoid further incidents like the Cosmos-Iridium collision is NOT in our interest? Is your position that it would be more beneficial to the US if some other nation assumed the position of leadership on this? Would you prefer that somebody else build an SSA system that rivals ours? Or are you upset about the idea that some people might get a “free ride” on our SSA investments, and so out of spite you’d prefer that we write off those investments not reap the benefits of our taking the lead? What is your BRILLIANT argument here?

      • Space Farmer says:

        Mark, your two paragraphs of “reasons” were largely platitudes. The “Leadership” you mention would almost certainly follow the predictable pattern of meetings where those who lack meaningful equities in the issue call for the U.S. to foot the bill. Reasonable people are aware this is both unsustainable and undesirable. When something (like space itself) becomes viewed as essential, others (to include industry) will pursue solutions with great vigor. The fundamental issues are these: what’s the risk, who pays, and who benefits?

  2. Mark Gubrud says:

    “Platitudes” Oh, what a put-down. Well, honestly, I don’t have a much better opinion of most of your stuff. By the way, who writes your paycheck, bro?

    One point made among my “platitudes” which you seem to have missed is that, to a first approximation, the US has already footed the bill. There was more to that point, too, but I’ll just refer you back to what I’ve already said.

    So, as to your questions, Yeah, what is the risk here? I mean, just what do we have to lose? As to who pays, again, we already have paid most of the cost, and I’ll bet the additional costs can be paid on a more equitable basis — I mean, it’s worth a try (or is that too unreasonable of me?). And who benefits? — Well, to begin with, we do. And everyone else. Who loses? How?

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