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Shuttle Endeavor
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5356

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:22 pm    Post subject: Shuttle Endeavor Reply with quote

This morning I took my bike on safe bike paths (built by local governments) down to Middle Harbor Shoreline park (built by another local government) and watched the overflight of the shuttle Endeavor--another effort by the Federal government. I must say that it was dramatic and moving, and reminded me that my father worked on the space program for McDonnell-Douglas--a public private partnership.

We know that the market would not have resulted in a space program in the 1960's, and we often forget that the space program generated a huge boom in technology that we see in many areas of the economy today. Here from an original critic, who at first labeled the program a failure, a revised esssay:

Quote:
The Economic Value of the Space Program (corrected version)

Posted by: Michael Mandel on July 19

Sigh. I had to retract and redo the original post, in light of some absolutely correct comments. The original version of the post is at the bottom, so you can see the problems. I clearly overstated my case there. Sorry about thatóMM

Yes, let us celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, an amazing human achievement.

But even as it lifts our spirits, let us ask a different, more mundane question: What was the long-term economic value of the spending on the Apollo program? The amounts spent were enormous. Consider this: From 1962 to 1972, when the last Apollo mission landed on the moon, space-related activities got 59% of nondefense government R&D spending. That was $176 billion (inflation-adjusted in 2009 dollars).

What did we get in return? The space program was one of the original big customers for integrated circuits in their infancy, helping give them a big boost. And hereís a long list of other spinoffs from the space program.

However, there are two points to remember. First, one key spinoff that we did not get was a viable private manned space industry, at least so far. One is developing, but itís not there yet. And the government manned space program has limped along since the Apollo program.

The other problem is that while we were spending at a rapid pace on space travel, we didnít put money into R&D in other key areas like energy and natural resources. (This omission had real consequences during the energy crisis of the 1970s).

President Kennedy acknowledged as much in his 1961 speech where he committed the U.S. to the goal of ďlanding a man on the moon.Ē Kennedy said:


This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, material and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread.


Let me be clear hereóI donít think the moon landing was a bad idea. To the contraryóIím glad we did it. And yes, the money spent on the moon program helped stimulate innovation.

But as an economist, I have to wonder whether the same R&D money, spent in other ways, could have had a bigger impact. Thatís a hypothetical question that weíll never know the answer to. But it would sure have been nice if the investment in the Apollo program had led to a viable private manned space industry in fewer than 40 years.


From a cost/benefit perspective, the US received $8 of benefit for every dollar spent on the space program. See an interested set of comments here:

http://www.freakonomics.com/2008/01/11/is-space-exploration-worth-the-cost-a-freakonomics-quorum/
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
Posts: 3609
Location: at a computer

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mac, you are a crazy Berkeley, Commie , Socialist, Latte drinking, NYTimes reading, Prius driving, McGovern pin wearing, Bikram Yoga loving, liberal nut.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naw, I have a windsurfing van. Too much milk in latte's, go for espresso. It was still wonderful to see.
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
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Location: at a computer

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mac wrote:
Naw, I have a windsurfing van. Too much milk in latte's, go for espresso. It was still wonderful to see.

It was, I saw it from my "air conditioned" office.
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pueno



Joined: 03 Mar 2007
Posts: 2703

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Shuttle Endeavor Reply with quote

mac wrote:
This morning I took my bike on safe bike paths (built by local governments) down to Middle Harbor Shoreline park (built by another local government) and watched the overflight of the shuttle Endeavor--another effort by the Federal government. I must say that it was dramatic and moving, and reminded me that my father worked on the space program for McDonnell-Douglas--a public private partnership.

We know that the market would not have resulted in a space program in the 1960's, and we often forget that the space program generated a huge boom in technology that we see in many areas of the economy today. Here from an original critic, who at first labeled the program a failure, a revised esssay:

You were able to breathe clean air, thoughtfully regulated by the government. And you were able to cross streets, carefully patrolled by the government.

And that 1960's space program set the foundation for Star Wars, in which a certain IWS person reminds us so very, very often that he was personally responsible for all its successes, achievements, and innovations... and during which he hurt his fingernail, for which he receives disability payment from our nasty, over-spending, thoughtless and stupid government.

It's astounding that certain people benefit from all these things made possible by our taxpayer-funded government, and yet they want to criticize and condemn it.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it was so wonderful, and generated such a massive return, why has it been stopped?
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coboardhead



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 1960

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes I wonder about the intangibles with the space program. The kid who is inspired to become an engineer after watching someone walk on the moon. Personally, I remember that day as one of the most important days of my life.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 14321

PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My closest college bud watched it, got advanced degrees in engineering and math, got an MD, flew several tours in Navy fighter jets in Viet Nam, learned to speak Russian, then became our leading astronaut ... all inspired, we presume, by watching those first flights. For the next several years, aerospace engineering firms phoned me with fat job offers at least once a week. My home town of Huntsville, AL grew from 15,000 to 150,000 people -- mostly engineers and their families from all over the world including Peenemunde's V2 program -- in just a few years. The biggest computer program on the planet, running on the biggest computer on the planet, was dedicated 100% to simulating every last piece, system, and foot of flight to and from the moon. Like when "Survivor" began airing >20 years ago, the world pretty much halted during those early space flight broadcasts.

We simply don't have the money for it now even if it were a popular idea. The moon was a piece of cake compared to Mars.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this a trick question?

Quote:
If it was so wonderful, and generated such a massive return, why has it been stopped?


It is, at some level, very sad to see people who cannot conceive of motivations or economic benefits beyond those that are quickly accounted for in the quarterly profits of corporations. An understanding of the inspirational power of arts and literature seems to escape their attention.

Now to the obvious answer to the snarky question. A list of benefits can be found here: http://www.problem-solving-techniques.com/US-Space-Program.html. They include those obvious to most, that the demand for minituarization in circuits boosted the transistor industry--eventually leading to the growth of the computer industry, and the launching of satellites that now provide everything from phone service and GPS to tracking the oil spills from mrgybe's favorite industry.

It is certainly true that a manned space exploration effort was not technically necessary to achieve these goals, but perhaps was necessary to inspire our reach into space. And of course, with the landing of robots on Mars, and the launching of probes into ever deeper space, we see that the space program continues in ways that, while still expensive, are much less risky of human life.

So many of the immediate benefits have already been internalized into the economy--and thus seem invisible to those whose faith is not stirred by music, the arts, or the infinite nature of space--but just by the chant that government can't do anything worthwhile.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it was so wonderful, and generated such a massive return, why has it been stopped?
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