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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dateline August 1, 2006, Space News from the Internet

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The good news is that some folks in Huntsville have done a real service by putting past moon data all together and in a convenient format. They get a Gold Star.

The BAD news, that only U.S. citizens, according to the website, are allowed to know what went on with the Apollo program 30 years ago. On orders, it appears, from the State Department. (I take the page's 'due to export restrictions' disclaimer as code for the State Department's ITAR office).

This is happening during the very week when the planet's largest, international lunar conference is being held - in Beijing, China.

I cannot imagine that when Congress put ITAR enforcement back into the State Department that they intended for Apollo data to be embargoed at the very same time our official policy is - on paper, at least - to try to get some international cooperation in getting back into space, to stay; and while the entire planet is in Beijing discussing how to do so. In the abscence of any other excuse - excuse me, explanation - it would seem that State's interpretation of Congress's direction is out of control. And it has already started hurting American space entrepreneurs in their rule-breaking efforts to make moving out into space economic ...and, therefore, sustainable, and permanent.

I do not 'blame' the lower-level folks who did the honest work to pull this great compendium together. I do, however, detect a lack of courage generally NASA-wide, regarding the third-rail word 'ITAR'. NASA's legal job is to increase American competitiveness in aerospace - and, to enhance national security, too, by the way.

But the way State chooses to enforce - or over-enforce? - a law intended to enhance national security is not being challenged by anyone, even when they clearly go so astray. There is no worse way to 'protect' our national security than to go overboard - either out of over-zealousness, or laziness (or both). That boomerangs back on us as a nation: on our entrepreneurs as they look for partners (and funding), and our technology, which we think is the best. With improper execution of Congress' direction, our technology will, over time, continue to decline vis a vis the the rest of the cooperating humans on the planet. And our security will continue to decline because of it.

So 'attaboys' to the Huntsville workers (of all genders!). But this very same act points out a lack of courage and, maybe even dedication, to NASA's missions - including the enhancement of national security - by some in NASA management.

The Space Frontier is not going to be settled by whimps, folks. Honest.

Dave Huntsman