The Imperial Space Policy?

Posted: May 6, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

reddawntemp39Congress: who needs ‘em?  From Science Insider

The Obama Administration has carved out a loophole in the recent congressional ban on scientific interactions with China that would permit most activities between the two countries to continue.

Why does such a loophole need to be carved out?  From what and for what benefit, especially when the administration is all about closing loopholes?

It turns out the loophole being pursued relates to a ban on scientific interactions (less delicately said,  specific prohibitions on the one-way tech and science transfer valve from the U.S. to China), which was a part of the recent 2011 budget agreement.

The ban says that no funds can be used by NASA or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company." It also prevents any NASA facility from hosting "official Chinese visitors."

The intent of that language seems pretty unequivocal.  However…

Appearing today before [a House…]panel to defend the Administration’s 2012 budget request for science, presidential advisor John Holdren told [Chairman Frank] Wolf that, in effect, the ban doesn’t apply to the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

Well.  Holdren then received a follow-up from subcommittee member John Culberson.

…The president just signed into law an absolute, iron-clad, and unambiguous requirement that none of the funds be made available to the administration may be used by NASA or your office… [to carry out] a bilateral policy with China or any Chinese-owned company. It’s not ambiguous or confusing. But you’ve just told us that you have embarked on a policy to evade and avoid this very specific requirement.

So, it appears loophole development is being pursued in the name of space exploration/scientific cooperation with the Chinese.  For example, maybe in order to go to Mars?  From Space News:

U.S. President Barack Obama views China as a potential partner for an eventual human mission to Mars that would be difficult for any single nation to undertake, a senior White House official told lawmakers.

Mars, eh?  Mars (where a manned visit is decades away, if ever) sounds more like an excuse to undertake an effort with China rather than a reason to do so. 

China hasn’t put a man in space for a couple of years.  Maybe they’re re-wondering what such an effort even gets them, other than prestige.  Perhaps China could set their space program aside and work on internal human rights issues, the nuclear weapons and prison-planet conditions in neighboring North Korea, or even an iPod/iPad/iPhone maker suicide prevention program.

Yes, it would be difficult for any single nation to undertake a Mars mission, but why would we/they even want to undertake it to begin with (although it’s likely to be more significant scientifically and to humanity than visiting an asteroid)?  Or better said, why manned spaceflight?

Let us first characterize the radiation environment.  After that, we’ll likely need to genetically modify a radiation-resistant astronaut.  It’ll make the trip—and life after it—more successful.




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