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    Posted by ewv 7 years, 5 months ago
    Ayn Rand and her husband were invited to watch the launch of Apollo 11. See wrote about the experience and the philosophical meaning of it and the space program extensively in "Apollo 11" in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought and "Apollo and Dionysus" in Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

    Here are some excerpts. There is much more.

    "That we had seen a demonstration of man at his best, no one could doubt—this was the cause of the event's attraction and of the stunned, numbed state in which it left us. And No one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality .... The most confirmed evader in the worldwide audience could not escape the fact that.., no feelings, wishes, urges, instincts or lucky 'conditioning'... could have achieved this incomparable feat .... that we were watching the embodied concretization of a single faculty of man: his rationality."

    "As to my personal reaction to the entire mission of Apollo 11, I can express it best by paraphrasing a passage from Atlas Shrugged that kept coming back to my mind: 'Why did I feel that joyous sense of confidence while watching the mission? In all of its giant course, two aspects pertaining to the inhuman were radiantly absent: the causeless and the purposeless. Every part of the mission was an embodied answer to 'Why?' and 'What for?'—like the steps of a life-course chosen by the sort of mind I worship. The mission was a moral code enacted in space.'

    "Now, coming back to earth (as it is at present), I want to answer briefly some questions that will arise in this context. Is it proper for the government to engage in space projects? No, it is not—except insofar as space projects involve military aspects, in which case, and to that extent, it is not merely proper, but mandatory. Scientific research as such, however, is not the proper province of the government.

    "But this is a political issue; it pertains to the money behind the lunar mission or to the method of obtaining that money, and to the project's administration; it does not affect the nature of the mission as such, it does not alter the fact that this was a superlative technological achievement.

    "In judging the effectiveness of the various elements involved in any large-scale undertaking of a mixed economy, one must be guided by the question: which elements were the result of coercion and which the result of freedom? It is not coercion, not the physical force or threat of a gun, that created Apollo 11. The scientists, the technologists, the engineers, the astronauts were free men acting of their own choice. The various parts of the spacecraft were produced by private industrial concerns. Of all human activities, science is the field least amenable to force: the facts of reality do not take orders...

    "It is said that without the 'unlimited' resources of the government, such an enormous project would not have been undertaken. No, it would not have been—at this time. But it would have been, when the economy was ready for it..."

    "The lunar landing was not the greatest achievement of science, but its greatest visible result. The greatest achievements of science are invisible: they take place in a man's mind; they occur in the form of a connection integrating a broad range of phenomena. The astronaut of an earlier mission who remarked that his spacecraft was driven by Sir Isaac Newton, understood this issue. (And if I may be permitted to amend that remark, I would say that Sir Isaac Newton was the copilot of the flight; the pilot was Aristotle. ) In this sense, the lunar landing was a first step, a beginning, in regard to the moon, but it was a last step, an end product, in regard to the earth—the end product of a long, intellectual-scientific development.

    "I am not implying that all the men who contributed to the flight of Apollo 11 were necessarily rational in every aspect of their lives or convictions. But in their various professional capacities—each to the extent that he did contribute to the mission—they had to act on the principle of strict rationality.

    "The most inspiring aspect of Apollo 11's flight was that it made such abstractions as rationality, knowledge, science perceivable in direct, immediate experience. That it involved a landing on another celestial body was like a dramatist's emphasis on the dimensions of reason's power: it is not of enormous importance to most people that man lands on the moon; but that man can do it, is."
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    • Posted by $ allosaur 7 years, 5 months ago
      One could say I grew up when the space program was all about proving which form of government is best with the Cold War rivalry between the democratic republic of the USA and the communism of the Soviet Union.
      (Most folks did back then did and still do simply call our government "a democracy," but it appears as shown by a recent post in the Gulch that most U.S. citizens can be led to believe that the Trump kids hunt triceratops in Africa).
      Ten-year-old dino recalls the anguish I felt when Sputnik became the first satellite during 1957. Unlike today, kids in school was taught that communism was really, really bad, but now it appeared that the Soviets could do something out of space spectacular better than our free nation.
      Because of that, kids my age were walking around looking glum.
      Fourteen-year-old dino was horrified during 1961 when the USSR scored another political propaganda coup by making cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first man in outer space. I recall feeling robbed. The USA was supposed to do that first.
      I actually felt anxiety over communists first landing on the moon proclaiming proof for why all the world should follow the teachings of Karl Marx.
      Months later during 1969, I was to be drafted into two years of military slavery when we beat the Soviet Union to the moon.
      I was all like ":Yay! Take that, you enslaving Russians!"
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      • Posted by EdGoldstein 7 years, 5 months ago
        The most important part of the Apollo program was what followed it, defunding further development. and a shift from science based government programs to social services programs. In 1966 the US had an engineering and scientist shortage. In 1968 thousands of those scientists and engineers were out of work.
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        • Posted by $ splumb 7 years, 5 months ago
          Which is why I refer to NASA as the State Science Institute.
          Now it's an affirmative action institute for Mulsim inclusion, as ordered by Obama.
          No wonder we haven't got a moon base or put a foot on Mars.
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        • Posted by $ allosaur 7 years, 5 months ago
          Me dino is not disputing your facts.
          It just makes me wonder how we made it to the moon in 1969.
          Guess someone was smart with pooling available resources among the best and the brightest.
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          • Posted by EdGoldstein 7 years, 5 months ago
            The development work had been done by then. It got worse after the landing. In late 69 at the university I where I was a student there were almost 500 PhD applications for a single assistant professorship. The political class decided they had enough people who thought logically and shifted to producing "feeling" social services degrees.
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            • Posted by $ allosaur 7 years, 5 months ago
              Me dino can tell you know what you are talking about.
              Makes me remember how dino got drafted to become "a mean green killing machine" Marine at a time when "Flower Power" and getting in touch with you feelings was all the rage.
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  • Posted by ekr990011 7 years, 5 months ago
    "Now, coming back to earth (as it is at present), I want to answer briefly some questions that will arise in this context. Is it proper for the government to engage in space projects? No, it is not—except insofar as space projects involve military aspects, in which case, and to that extent, it is not merely proper, but mandatory. Scientific research as such, however, is not the proper province of the government."

    The statement has an extremely rational side and one that while not inherently irrational, leaves an ambiguity that can allow for irrational actions to take place.

    The military while clearly needed for a just government has to be defined properly just like the government itself. I think a good starting point has to be only for defensive actions. The above allows for all of that to still be true. The next is one that I don't personally have a perfect answer yet but I think should be the overwhelming discussion about military pursuits.

    The military must be confined within set limits on the resources they can acquire/pursue for even defensive actions. If not then just like the welfare state, or the police state, it devolves into exactly what we have now.

    A terrorism state. The people of the United States of America, are constantly terrorized by their own government in the "defensive" pursuit of stopping international terrorism. The sad fact is international terrorism is all but insignificant minus the media and frankly obsessive use of propaganda by global governments against their sovereign individuals.

    The military of governments have the greatest amount to gain from using grossly exaggerated threats, especially ones that only the "military" can solve.

    source for below:

    28,328 total global terrorism deaths in 2015
    24% (6,924) were terrorists themselves in these events.
    21,404 real global victims then.

    41,945 deaths in the US in 2000 alone in car wrecks.
    14,319 murders in the US in 2013, more than half the global deaths from terrorism in US homicide....

    41,149 US 2013 deaths by suicide

    This whole point is being made because the moon missions were clearly used if not entirely for expanding military "power/safety". The idea that the moon missions were because man wanted to is laughable in my opinion. The propaganda worked and that is what everyone says was the reason now a days.... brilliant...

    Corrupt and oppressive governments have pressure to use the hegelian dialectic as a means to have an enemy for individuals of these countries. This is not crazy and up-surd comment to make when we know for a fact it has been used in the past.
    Without some sort of control it is easier and easier for even just an incredibly small minority in an agency to conducted similar events with the military's power.

    So in summary the whole point of an objectivist position on the space program is hard to exactly answer. It all depends on what restraints the military has placed upon it. Simply put the notion of military can do anything and/or is required to do anything in pursuit of "defense" is a flawed opinion. It has led to some of the biggest assaults on reason in human history.
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  • Posted by mia767ca 7 years, 5 months ago
    private enterprise only
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    • Posted by $ jdg 7 years, 5 months ago

      I like Rand's answer. When we were racing the Soviets to the moon, it was entirely plausible that they wanted to put a missile base there, which would dominate the Earth. China still might do that, but our European friends have rockets that could stop it.

      On the other hand, present space efforts seem concentrated on (1) tourism, (2) more unmanned science probes which we already know how to do, and (3) Obama's proposed manned Mars mission -- none of which rises to the level of necessity that could justify tax funding for them.
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      • Posted by mia767ca 7 years, 5 months ago
        i like the private space efforts of Musk and others...NASA could not perfect the reusable rocket launcher in 50 years...Musk and others have done it in 5 years...lowering re-launching tremendously...Musk will put 1 million people on Mars to live permanently...
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 5 months ago
    If you look at the space program broadly, certain fundamental truths are reiterated. We know that the USSR was paradigmatic as a collectivist society that sacrificed individuals. Here is a story about the death of kosmonaut Vladimir Komarov.
    The leadership wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Revolution with a "spectacular" space mission. ... only the capsule was not up to the mission -- and they knew that...

    In the USA, Wernher von Braun's Army-financed team at Huntsville had to compete against the Navy's Vanguard program. The US space program was largely a collection of competing contracts. But probably the best moment was the rescue of Apollo 13. They gave a roomful of engineers exact replicas of what the astronauts had to work with and told them to solve the problem any way they could... and time was short...

    As for paradigms, we had the Heinlein story, "The Man Who Sold the Moon" which was made into a movie. Private enterprise could have done it sooner, but lacked the will because no clear monetary profit was perceived, a point made in Rand's essay.

    OTOH, before Bell Labs launched their Telstar communication satellite (which did have a monetary goal), the Amateur Radio Relay League had already put OSCAR 1 into orbit, just for fun. Americans, that's all they know is their own selfish pleasures... Like, you know, exploring outer space...

    Our space program reached its nadir with the losses of Challenger and Columbia. I worked as a contractor for NASA for about two weeks in the mid 1990s. They were so risk-averse that they lost their will; and of necessity their aversion to making waves actually invited disasters and losses. They were following the Soviet model of space exploration.

    But, when communism was finally swept aside and the oligarchs took control, Russia rebounded enough to see the obvious profit in space launch vehicles. They had long ago developed heavy lifters because they lacked the ability to produce microchip circuitry.

    Now, we have new, market-based firms competing (SpaceX and VirginGalactic; Boeing and United Space Alliance), and among their competitors are nation-owned efforts from the ESA, China, and India.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 7 years, 5 months ago
    I'd prefer for it to be done privately, which seems just now to be developing. But it is pretty obvious that space is our destiny. It would be good if a really excellent accountant (I could recommend one) would take over the budget and allocate funds properly, and there would be plenty to hire private firms to create the hardware which would eliminate the need for $1,000 toilet seats, and $200 wrenches.
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    • Posted by lrshultis 7 years, 5 months ago
      Government likes to take credit for the projects as though they are similar to business men, that the project would not be done without their thinking. There were NASA engineers to make sure that the private contractors were doing their work correctly. Didn't work very well with Hubble.
      There is not very much difference now with boosters because government pays much of the development cost and its engineers still over see development and probably get in the way. The innovation seems better with re-landing boosters.
      Government and taxpayers will be involved for the foreseeable future, especially since most launch facilities are under government control.
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  • Posted by jsw225 7 years, 5 months ago
    It's all about profit motive. I can't trust any business venture that doesn't have a profit motive.

    Occasionally, the Government can have one. But it's very rare. For example, if there's a deadly plague sweeping the land, the Government profits by developing a vaccine.

    Space Travel and exploration is one of those times where the Government does profit. In my opinion, free men go nuts without a new frontier to explore / colonize. They need that last "hope" that says no matter how bad it gets, you can always "Go west young man." And currently we only have 2 left. Under the Ocean and Space. And neither is colonized yet.

    And while Government funded Space Exploration should continue (with accountability to someone), private space exploration should continue, too. With full profits for property claims. While I don't believe that there are ventures that only a Government could fund, you have to admit that we are here in our current state because of Nazi rocket funding, and Nazi Scientists doing work for American and Soviet Governments. It's hard to guess how far behind we'd be if it was only ever a private investment.
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  • Posted by $ sjatkins 7 years, 5 months ago
    If it done by voluntary means and not by government coercion then no, there is no position except admiration.

    It is sort of like asking if there is an objectivist position on calculus.
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  • Posted by freedomforall 7 years, 5 months ago
    Just let me specify what the taxes that government steals from me is to be used for. Some of the funds stolen from me will definitely go to space exploration, where no man has gone before. (Preferably as investment in private efforts to build space habitats.)
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  • Posted by Temlakos 7 years, 5 months ago
    Rand gave us that position. I could best express it in Constitutional terms this way:

    "The Congress shall have the power to provide for and maintain a space force, over which the President shall be Commander-in-chief, to make rules for the government of the same, to provide for the calling-forth of any State space militia into the service of the United States, to repel invasions by any hostile powers, on earth or off it, as may discover themselves to humankind and pose a military threat, to provide for organizing, training, and disciplining said militia, to exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such places as may be purchased with the consent of the legislatures of the States in which the same shall be, or on any suitable celestial bodies, for the erection of launch pads, mission control centers, space dockyards, and other needful buildings, and to make all laws that shall be necessary and proper for the execution of the foregoing." In other words, military application only. Resource development should be the province of private investors only.

    The only possible reason for insisting the government explore a body first, would be (a) to protect the lives, property and legitimate interests of any extraterrestrial civilization any explorer might discover, (b) to negotiate treaties with the same, or, if necessary, to demonstrate the ability of human beings to defend themselves from external attack, and (c) to demonstrate whether any particular celestial body or bodies have exploitable resources--or not. That last becomes important when one realizes that raising money for deep-space mining presents opportunities as much for fraud as for genuine resource acquisition.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 7 years, 5 months ago
    I would feel much better about our space program if it had, (not saying that it doesn't in some respect) an overall inclusive goal for humanity, meaning our survival and our knowledge of our galactic environment for future expansion and resource consumption.

    Profit or Non Profit (funded voluntarily by humanity as a whole) makes no difference to me so long as the only especially interested group to be involved are Conscious Human beings with the very best of intentions.

    Also...complete disclosure is very important so that we are aware and not prone to hysteria should shocking revelations be discovered.
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    • Posted by jsw225 7 years, 5 months ago
      The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

      Without that profit motive, there is no achievable goal, and any venture that is done for "Humanity's Sake" will fail. Always.
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      • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 7 years, 5 months ago
        If your viewing non-conscious humanoid behavior then are correct but that does not represent Conscious Humanity and in a sense, Most could be if allowed to or if everyone understood they can be in spite of the anti-civilized paradigm.

        My view, my conclusion after much study is that: "Evil does Not reside in the hearts of men" it is taught, it is put there and coerced into existence by those that are nothing like us, the genetically retarded creatures that have ruled over mankind for the past 8000 years or more.
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