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Right Idea, Wrong Reasons

An anonymous op-ed in this week’s East Texas Review comes to the right general conclusions about and prizes:

But it is becoming apparent that it is a venue that cannot be ignored for long. SpaceShipOne?s June 21 flight was surrounded by a rave-like atmosphere, where hundreds of space enthusiasts braved gale-force winds and arid desert heat to camp out and be there when the historic flight occurred.
Whether or not any company succeeds at meeting the Ansari X Prize?s requirements by its Jan. 1, 2005, deadline, this financial incentive has proven to be a great way of generating a large amount of public interest with relatively little cash outlay.

…but bases this conclusion on faulty premises:

In October 2003, China sent its first astronaut into space. With Yang Liwei?s 14 orbits around Earth, China became only the third country in the world to have sent a man into space. In what U.S. officials claim was an unconnected move [why describe it as a “claim” when the evidence indicates there was no such connection?], four months later, President George W. Bush announced a new U.S. space policy whose goals include putting a man on the moon. Again.

For the United States to repeat an accomplishment that is decades-old is no one?s idea of a technical achievement [because we couldn’t possibly do it better now or get more out of it than they did in 1969-1972…]. However, boosters in the government argue that a manned space program has one benefit. At a time when NASA?s scientific satellites are being quietly de-orbited due to funding concerns, a demoralized reusable launch program [what reusable launch pr– oh, they mean Shuttle…] is riddled with defense contractor scandal [what scandal is this?], and the United States must use Russian crafts to get to the International Space Station since no American shuttles are up to the trip [sure they are, for a while longer — but politically, the agency has to make a show of making safety improvements before flying them again], a manned space program could re-spark the American public?s imagination and thus fervor for space.

On the bright side, the author(s) didn’t toss out the fictitious trillion-dollar pricetag.

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