Friday, February 1, 2013

10 Years Ago: Columbia

As a child I was very interested in the Space Shuttle program. That continued through adulthood. Even after my study of  politics and economics led me to libertarianism, I still kept up with the shuttle program and watched all four of the final launches and landings in person. (Hey, gotta get something out of those tax dollars).

The Columbia accident impacted me quite a bit. I recall always fearing and wondering when the second accident would occur. Oddly enough, it happened at a time when I wasn't paying much attention to the Shuttle Program. So it was a big shock when someone brought it to my attention around 10 am that Saturday morning. I didn't even know it was in space.

My interest in the shuttle was rekindled. I never missed another flight, but as time went on I realized the program was another big government boondoggle. When retirement finally came in 2011, I was more than ready for it. Shortly thereafter I wrote "The Free Market Goes to Outer Space- Much Better than NASA" for my Striking at the Root blog, to explain why free markets are the answer even in space travel.

Just reading over it now, I'm thinking it could use some revisions. However, it gets the main points across  and with today's unfortunate anniversary now is a good time to highlight it.


  1. Despite its unrealistic utopian and somewhat socialist subtext, in the Star Trek universe, warp drive, which served to transform human civilization, was invented essentially by a lone scientist wholly privately with no impetus or even assistance by the military or by the state. Depending on what version of the canon you subscribe to, this inventor who was shunned by the establishment came upon the patronage of a single, wealthy industrialist who released the details of the design for free over the internet in order to prevent the technology from falling into the hands of a totalitarian regime that had taken over earth. This lead to an explosion in human society that was unprecedented in history. What a beautiful story!

    I was also a space/NASA kid growing up; however, these days I have no use for this bloated, inefficient, and inept relic of the Cold War. Say what you will about Star Trek, the economic and sociological nonsense it tends to espouse, it's sparked a fair amount of human creativity over the years. In a way that the free market can make space travel so much better - if it chooses to do so - I like to hope that we can learn this lesson as well.