Alternate title: Review of Eric Berger’s “We are going to the Moon”
As I mentioned in a previous post, this week I am reviewing several new essays on the theme of outer space published in the December 2022 issue of Reason magazine. Today, I will review the longest essay in this special collection: Eric Berger’s piece “We are going to the Moon”.
- The Good. The best part of this essay is its overview of the commercial space industry as well as its brief history of SpaceX’s success. (Among other things, Mr Berger is the author of the excellent book Liftoff, which describes the meteoric rise of SpaceX from a struggling startup to a major player in the commercial space industry, so he is a credible source.)
- The Bad. Toward the middle of his essay, Berger cites a group of unnamed lunar advocates (most likely lobbyists for traditional space contractors) who claim that “NASA has unfinished business on the moon and that the agency should return there on a sustained basis–not just for flags and footprints, but for eventual settlement.” Really? What about the risk-reward tradeoffs? Alas, Berger never explains why we should send men back to the moon; i.e. he never makes a positive case for doing what has already been done.
- The Ugly. When discussing NASA’s new Artemis program toward the end of his essay, Mr Berger defends Artemis instead of calling it out for what it is: a costly and unsustainable space age boondoggle costing over $4 billion per launch! (See here, for example.) Given his ample knowledge of the advantages of reusable booster rockets and of the wasteful methods of traditional space contractors, who “have strong incentives to protect a status quo that benefits their bottom lines through long-term cost-plus contracts”, Mr Berger should know better!
Next, I will review Joe Lancaster’s essay: “Who owns the satellites orbiting the Earth?”