Private sector achieves liftoff with rockets
Whether he meant to or not, former President Barack Obama has provided Americans with an example of how the private sector sometimes does things better than government.
Not always, but sometimes.
Obama presided over severe cutbacks in the nation’s space exploration program. The meltdown was so severe that when the United States wants to send people and material to the International Space Station, we have to ask the Russians to use their rockets to get them there.
But space is not just the province of government. It has many private-sector uses, including communications satellites. So after Obama jerked the rug out from under NASA, private firms began looking into rocketry.
On Tuesday, Feb. 6, SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral. The device is the most powerful rocket in use today. Its payload — a full-size sports car apparently sent up as a lark — is destined to reach Mars in six months, then orbit around the sun.
Meanwhile, NASA has been planning a Space Launch System rocket for Mars missions. SpaceX’s rocket costs $90 million. NASA’s version is expected to cost more than 10 times as much.
Perhaps NASA should just get on the SpaceX waiting list for a new rocket.
It doesn’t always work out this way. Wise public service in government calls for a willingness to take each case on its merits — pragmatism rather than ideology.