At 1/31/13 07:07 PM, Camarohusky wrote:
If you're looking to say private industry is doing better than NASA, show me a private company that has landed anything on a different planet.
Not to say NASA ain't awesome, because it's about as ball-tinglingly awesome as it gets, but Space-X's Dragon capsule is already successfully ferrying supplies to the ISS and is slated to be hauling human passengers to the ISS within a few years.
People generally misunderstand Government's role in big-think projects like space travel and bleeding-edge research. For shit as big as putting people in space, or shotputting a $2-billion nuclear-powered automated laboratory 354 million miles which provides little-to-no immediate ROI, only Government can fund that. Once they break through, only then can private industry take on the risks of that frontier.
Look at rail. It was an economic risk of epic proportions in the frontier days. No private industry would or could fund such a thing. But once the government paid for the first set of lines, private industry took over and it changed the face of America. Similarly (though it took longer) here, now that government has basically pioneered the technology necessary to explore space, private industry will slowly take over until they dominate and government will move on to the next big thing too risky for private industry.