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August 20, 2009

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One of the proposals of the Augustine Commission was supposed to be turning over *launch* to private companies. Private industry has investigated a lot of different ways of launching things besides the Big Dumb Booster approach, like air breathing planes, dirigibles, and laser launch. There's real capacity for launch improvement if these companies can compete for who launches NASA payloads.

Another idea is for NASA to maintain a "gas station" in LEO. They could pay a given rate for whoever brings fuel into orbit. This would have two benefits: 1. boost the commercial launch market, since they would know there is a market for getting raw material into space, and 2. make launching things out of earth orbit more of a commodity. Right now you have to build your own fuel, but if you could launch a dry ship up into space and fuel it there, you could get more and better launch systems.

There are serious technical issues with orbital fuel depots that need to be solved. But the engineering cost of most space systems dwarfs the manufacturing cost, so a common platform could help lower prices.

The battle of ideas is not won or lost in Congress, or even in elections, but in the long assessment of history. Just ask Qeng Ho.

The battle of ideas is not won or lost in Congress, or even in elections, but in the long assessment of history. Just ask Qeng Ho

I guess the point is to give and save as much as you can and make your money work for you like the good servant we should strive to be.

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