Monday, April 21, 2008

Democracy, Polls, and the Progress of Space Exploration

These came to me from my AIAA daily news feed, in this order.

Study finds U.S. losing space dominance.
ANI (4/20) reported, "A new study has determined that India and China, along with Russia, Japan and Europe are all set to reduce the dominance that U.S. has over space activities." The study was based on the Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity by the Space Foundation and the 2008 Space Competitiveness Index by the Futron Corporation. According to the trends, "the commercial space sector will continue to grow in comparison to government space exploration and operations potentially becoming the most important driver of overall space activities." Futron's Index especially "points out that advantages the United States has historically enjoyed in all three major dimensions of space competitiveness -- government, human capital, and industry -- are being narrowed by a an emerging India and China, a robust Europe, a resurgent Russia, and a steady Japan."

Space exploration ranks low on tech poll.
Space Politics (4/18) reported, "The Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority released a poll ranking the top priorities for 'technological breakthroughs' as perceived by the American public." Space exploration "made the list, but only barely: just three percent ranked it as their highest technological priority." A similar result was seen in the U.K. poll.

Democracy has its pitfalls. There was a time when this nation actually behaved like a representative republic, and the congress sometimes passed things for the good of the whole rather than following what polls were telling them. Alas.


Oh, and then there's this bit...

Richard Branson wants to conduct a marriage ceremony in space

Apparently Sir Richard is a notary public, in addition to all his other talents.

Think of the possibilities, though. Instead of going to Vegas for a quick marriage or Reno for a quick divorce, people could go to LEO or L5! There would be entirely new law practices set up to address the implications of zero-gravity legal transactions. Say one of the partners is afraid of heights--would that constitute coercion? Temporary insanity? The possibilities are endless!

What do you mean, nobody asked?

No comments: