NASA is fine with cute robots on Mars but if there is anything that fiascoes like the Constellation program and the James Webb Space Telescope have taught us, it's that NASA is not all that competent with big plans.
Projects that were once mission critical are now instead founded on the concept that there is zero tolerance for risk.
If we are really going to venture into the Final Frontier, the private sector is going to do it. But why would they? Does UPS want a big contract from NASA to do shipping? Are there enough rich tourists to fund vacations? What is the economy of scale on mining asteroids?
Tomorrow at 7:30 PM EDT/4:30 Pacific, "Cosmos" host Neil Tyson is going to lead a discussion on the privatization of space - and he doesn't even like that companies sell names of trillions of planets so we have some idea where he comes down on the matter.
The 2014 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History will explore this idea of “selling space”:
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director, Hayden Planetarium
Wanda M. Austin, President and CEO, The Aerospace Corportation
Michael Gold, Director of DC Operations and Business Growth, Bigelow Aerospace
John Logsdon, Professor Emeritus, Space Policy and International Affairs, George Washington University
Elliot Pulham, Chief Executive Officer, Space Foundation
Tom Shelley, President, Space Adventures, Ltd.
Robert Walker, Executive Chairman, Wexler&Walker Public Policy Associates
If you want to watch it streaming live, this link will be active tomorrow:
Should We Be Selling Space? The Debate