Chair Force Engineer

Friday, June 20, 2008


The people who knew me in high school and college would probably not recognize me today. This statement is most true when it comes to space.

There was a time when I was enamored with all things space. It was a part of the action cartoons I grew up with as a child. It gave me something to be awed by, and something to strive for, as I progressed through my education. I became a hardcore devotee of Robert Zubrin and his Mars obsession. I wholeheartedly embraced the Von Braun-ian vision of bold, nationalistic space programs that brought glory to the state.

Then a funny thing happened along the way: I started to work in the MilSpace community. And I quickly learned to hate everything about it. Not only did I learn to hate the military-industrial complex, but I quit being fascinated with space. It just seemed to me that there are too many priorities that need to be dealt with before space can be addressed. I viewed this priority shift in terms of pulling the federal government back from space, and from pulling myself back from space so I can focus on things in life which I now view to be more important.

I still have tremendous faith in the private sector. I wholeheartedly support the desires and pursuits of individuals who seek to explore space using their own money. But I no longer see manned spaceflight as an appropriate realm for NASA or for any federal government agency. I don't believe that taxpayer dollars should be used to enable some cocky fighter-jock's joyride beyond the atmosphere.

I believe that space will inevitably be explored once a commercial rationale exists do do so, or if there is an essential national defense need that can only be filled through space assets. Frankly, the justifications I've seen behind some MilSpace programs truly stretch the bounds of what could be considered a legitimate "national defense" need. I speak from the perspective that every national defense dollar wasted on extraneous space assets is a dollar that could be spent on ensuring that our armed forces have the best armaments, armor, and vehicles for the current conflicts in which we're engaged.

When I started this blog, I was still a committed believer in NASA, the Air Force, MilSpace, and the Von Braun-ian vision of nationalist glory. If you pay close attention to my old posts, you might be able to pinpoint the period in which I became the bitter, jaded individual I am today. It wasn't simply the realization that ESAS was an untenable plan for getting back to the Moon on the current budget, and it wasn't solely the increasing dissatisfaction I've had with being a pawn of MilSpace. But I think the confluence of both facts can probably explain it.

So now I've traveled full-circle, from Space Cheerleader to Space Critic. Feel free to call me a flip-flopper. You have my permission to dismiss me as bitter and my opinions as irrelevant.