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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Sophomore LHP Shane Sdao (38) reacts after a strikeout during Texas A&Ms game against Texas at Disch-Falk Field on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
A Sunday salvage
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The Northgate district right adjacent to the Texas A&M campus houses a street of bars and other restaurants.  
Programs look to combat drunk driving
Alexia Serrata, JOUR 203 contributor • May 10, 2024
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Junior Mary Stoiana reacts during Texas A&M’s match against Oklahoma at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Regional at Mitchell Tennis Center on Sunday, May 5, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
No. 13 A&M upsets No. 5 Virginia in dominant fashion, 4-1
Roman Arteaga, Sports Writer • May 17, 2024

No. 13 Texas A&M women’s tennis met Virginia in the quarterfinal of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, May 17 at the Greenwood Tennis Center...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Privatized space travel?

 
 

On Jan. 14, President George W. Bush charged NASA with the task of replacing the space shuttle as well as establishing a lunar base and beginning manned flights to Mars by 2020. While his vision of an astronaut planting the American flag on Martian soil within the next 20 years is an inspiration to all who value scientific learning and achievement, the journey to get there efficiently and successfully requires more than Bush has planned. The unfortunate disaster of the space shuttle Columbia last spring demanded a new evaluation of the aging orbiter program, and so far, NASA has no solid design plans for its replacement. There is also the issue of tax dollars; NASA’s budget for the next five years is $86 billion, and Bush wants to add one dollar to that amount each year. Though Bush may know where he wants to go in how many years, the details of this plan don’t exist and no one can predict what the costs will be in the end.
As Americans gather their W-2s and take a look at how much of their money the government is going to take from them, the idea of Bush wanting to spend even more of their money doesn’t appeal to most. Fortunately, there is a plan that would reduce the amount Americans would pay in taxes and at the same time make the space program more efficient and less costly. It may even make the lunar base a reality in less time than Bush wants.


“While (Bush’s) vision of an astronaut planting the American flag on Martian soil … is an inspiration … , the journey to get there efficiently and successfully requires more than Bush has planned.The simple solution-privatize the space program.


When one stops to consider it, the idea of the government holding the keys to all space-related research and technology makes little sense. Ocean exploration is conducted through private companies, and even college students engage in yearly competitions to design new robotic submarines. Freeing the realm of space technology means making it available to more of the newest and brightest minds of the public, which means faster progress.
The huge amount of paperwork and regulations that the government enforces in all its institutions is an enormous hindrance to anybody going through the system, which is plain to students when they wait in line to get a new driver license. If automobile construction were restricted to government regulation the way the space shuttle is, everyone would still be driving Pintos and El Caminos. Holding technology back by its place in the bureaucracy is senseless and counterproductive. The fact that astronauts still ride 20-year-old spacecrafts into orbit is proof of this. Allowing for this sector to be open to competition translates into companies working hard to be the best, most efficient, safe and reliable service to the stars, just as the automobile industry does for the highway. It would form new industries such as space tourism, allowing a honeymoon in space to move from science fiction to reality. No one can deny that there is an interest in this field, though for the decades that humankind has been in space, only one man – Dennis Tito, who traveled with the Russians in 2001 – has ever been to space as a tourist.
The research that goes along with designing space technology would aid other industries in the form of aircraft design, computers and new materials would happen at a faster pace. Companies would be free to allocate funds as they see fit, paying their workers at competitive rates, funding research and conducting as many experiments and flights as they need without having their budget dictated by congressmen who don’t have a clue what their business involves.
Obviously, privatizing the space program would take a multi-billion dollar load off Americans, but eliminating NASA wouldn’t eliminate the industry-it would enhance and expand it. Companies would immediately form to launch satellites and men into space, conduct research to make newer, cheaper rockets and have space stations and lunar bases built according to the demand, without waiting on a U.S. president to mandate it.
We must end the government’s monopoly on space. If Americans want to see men on the moon and Mars, rocketing toward the stars as we have the potential to, we cannot allow the government to hold our dreams down. By privatizing the space program, we would undoubtedly see technology leap forward faster than it ever has before. Americans should see their money paid for space programs not in the form of a check to the IRS, but for a ticket to the moon.
-Mike Walters is a senior psychology major.

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