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RAGIN’ CAJUN? OR BLITHERING IDIOT? Noted space expert James Carville takes on future space tourist Lori Garver on CNN’s Crossfire (via NASA Watch):

GARVER: Well, the bottom line is is the space station is really our foothold to the cosmos. We are going into space. We are explorers just like we were in the west.
CARVILLE: We ain’t going anywhere. You may be going, but we is staying right here on old terra firma, I’ll guarantee you that right now!(emphasis added)

Please do, James! And while you’re at it, stay the hell out of our way.

Screamfest hosts rarely seem to allow a total lack of knowledge on a topic to deter them from making asses of themselves by pontificating on it, but Carville truly goes out of his way here. He seems to think very little of the Russian space program, or Russian industry in general:

CARVILLE: How about — you couldn’t pay me $20 million to get on something Russian-built and go into space. I bet you couldn’t pay me $20 million to get on Russian-built elevator.

And which manned spacecraft built in which country had the most recent fatal launch failure?

And sure, I’m as surprised as anyone to learn that a Soyuz spacecraft only costs $3 million, but Carville places great emphasis on this fact, suggesting that the price alone determines the safety, etc., of the vehicle:

CARVILLE: I think a commercial airliner costs like $30 million. And you’re saying the Soyuz craft costs $3 million? So, wait, if I go from Washington to New York, I’m on a $30 million airplane. And you’re going up in space on the $3 million craft?

That’s like comparing a tour bus with a racing bike. Only, here, you can only use the racing bike for one trip, to the grocery store and back, whereas the tour bus can take many more people on longer trips in relative comfort, again and again, until the structure begins to degrade and it has to be retired from service. If you look at the economics of it, the tour bus (ie: the commercial airliner) is actually vastly cheaper than the single-use racing bike (ie: the Soyuz spacecraft), simply by having a larger passenger capacity and a longer service lifetime. Any high-school economics student should be able to see that.

Not to mention that comparing a spacecraft and a commercial airliner is ridiculously inapt.

But perhaps an understanding of even high-school level economics is a bit much to expect from a leftie like Carville, who (predictably) goes on to drag tired class-warfare hot-buttons into (what passes for) his argument:

CARVILLE: But say if we need money for drugs. Should rich people be allowed to pay their way into trials?
CARVILLE: If we need money for pharmaceutical research — so a guy is sick. He says, I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you $20 million, but I want first crack at this drug when it goes to trial. They have drug trials.
Should you be able to buy your way into that, because clearly we’re going to need money for prescription health care benefit for our seniors. Should you be able to say, elk season starts on November the 15th. If you’re rich enough, should you be able to pay and start hunting on November the 12th?

Perhaps those questions reveal what it is that opponents of space tourism are really, at root, opposed to — namely, the idea that someone is (in their eyes) squandering a great deal of (their own) money on pursuing happiness through something that is merely “selfish fun”, rather than on some more “responsible” (ie: Comtean) end. But notice that for all the bluster from Carville and Park about these space tourists paying their own way into space but using taxpayer-funded facilities while they are there, John Glenn and his fully taxpayer-funded vacation in space, on a vehicle nearly a thousand times more expensive than a Soyuz spacecraft, was never mentioned. Where is the outrage, James? Or is space tourism only a “bad” thing when private citizens use their own money to pay for it?

(Park’s comments are also foolish, but they are of the usual “Just send robots!” variety, which misses the whole point of human exploration. Seen it before, shot it down already, who next?)

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