30 March 2000
Features - Tourism (None)
Mr Goldin's Unkept Promise: 6 Months and Counting
Proof of NASA's bad faith to US taxpayers
by Patrick Collins
It is now more than 6 months since Mr Goldin promised in front of a plenary session of the 1999 Space Frontier Foundation Conference to put NASA's space tourism report on NASA's web-site. But he has still not done so.

It is also more than 2 years since the report was published - NASA's first and only study on the possibility of the general public traveling to and from space, which is unreservedly positive about its feasibility and desirability.

As the delay lengthens it becomes ever more interesting - and more revealing about the pathology within NASA's leadership. Trying to prevent the public reading a report that they have paid for, and which states that for a fraction of a single year of NASA funding, a vigorous space tourism industry could be established which could grow into the largest commercial activity in space, is clearly against the public interest.

So long as this situation continues NASA cannot claim that it is even neutral concerning the possibility of the general public traveling to space. Mr Goldin's NASA is acting positively and deliberately to delay public access to space, in order to defend its short-term interest in continuing to receive $14 billion of taxpayers' money every year.

In view of the economic importance of developing space travel (which will become more apparent once the current 'Internet bubble' has blown itself out) this delay is extremely costly to US taxpayers.

Let's have some illustrative quotes. How about: "...generally available trips to orbit and week-long stays in LEO hotels now can be seen as certainly feasible." This accurate statement of fact of course contradicts Mr Goldin's own highly misleading and inaccurate prediction in late 1998 that a space hotel "...is not inconceivable in 50 years".

Another interesting quote: "The Federal government... should inform the general public about space travel and tourism possibilities; such communications should focus on the idea that ordinary people - not just astronauts - should be able to go on a space trip in the relatively near future as a result of government-private sector cooperation."

Coming from NASA itself, this is excellent advice, and is strongly in the public interest. It's just tough for the US taxpayer that the present NASA leadership doesn't care. And because NASA still has something of an "apple-pie" image many people assume that it's working in the public interest.

But the truth is that NASA is a nakedly self-interested, Soviet-style government monopoly, for which the over-ridingly important objective is to keep taxpayers' dollars flowing. For Mr Goldin and colleagues, every year's delay in space travel becoming a normal industry like aviation is another $14 billion passing through the pockets of NASA and its hangers-on.

And so long as Mr Goldin continues to refuse to make NP-1998-03-11-MSFC available on NASA's web-site, he cannot evade this accusation. If he had any concern for US taxpayers, he would obviously make this path-breaking report readily accessible to the general public and the media - as he publicly promised to do 6 months ago.
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Patrick Collins 30 March 2000
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