2004’s legislative breakthroughs

In an article in this week’s issue of The Space Review, Jim Muncy looks back at two events that may be considered “breakthroughs for humanity’s future in space”: the approval of NASA’s 2005 budget and passage of HR 5382. Muncy sets a high standard for what he considers a breakthrough:

For this discussion, let’s define a “breakthrough” as the achievement of an outcome that not only surpasses previous results, but was actually beyond the realm of prediction. In other words, a breakthrough is when you accomplish something nobody thought was possible. And its greatest significance may be how its attainment changes, or even transforms, what people see as possible thereafter.

Muncy also reminds us that these successes set a standard that will be a challenge to top in the future:

Sometimes winning creates a lot more work than losing. But itís a nice problem to have. This should be an interesting year, thanks largely to two surprising political breakthroughs in 2004.

2 comments to 2004’s legislative breakthroughs

  • Hello, Jim,

    Excellent article, most of which I fully agree with — though I think you underestimate the true breakthrough nature of the X-prize. I do not want in any way to belittle the breakthrough political victories, espcially of the bi-partisan support for additional funding for NASA and the implicit support for human deep space exploration.

    However, I worry about the ever increasing Federal (and personal) debt, and impending global financial disruption caused by that, raising the bar higher in every subsequent year. As you correctly point out, it is very high bar now.

    Congress, and even less the President, have failed to make hard financial choices: they’re funding essentially everything while an ever larger part of the budget goes down the interest rathole and nobody saves for the future. Soon, Japan, et al, are going to decide to stop funding this stupidity by buying dollars. Very soon, Mr. Bush and Congress will no longer be able to avoid some very, very difficult funding decisions, between things like dropping very large and visible middle class subsidies (e.g., Social Security, freeway spending), leaving elderly widows starving on the streets (since their families racked up credit card debt rather than savings), or funding Lunar and Mars exploration.

    Those of us who want a strong space program have got to hope that someone with even the most basic accounting skills is appointed to talk some financial sense into this Administration, and to the American people. . . .

    — Donald

  • TORO

    The “breakthrough” will be simply getting humans to and from LEO … alive. The “breakthrough technology” will be survival, escape, and rescue – keeping the human alive if the rocket occasionally fails. In other words, the technology of crash dummy testing, seat belts, air bags, roll tests, etc. NASA did a crash dummy test in 1963 of the escape system, a true “leader” in the industry, ahead of its time – in the space age perhpas. But whereas the automakers have stepped forward in this field, NASA has stepped, has tip toed, has, well …