One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
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President Donald Trump inherited a whole lot of awful Barack Obama policy. Unfortunately, much of that awful policy has since Trump’s inauguration continued to lurch forward. Due to the awfulness of Deep State bureaucrats – and inherent bureaucratic inertia.
In many instances – Trump has put a stop to it. In many other instances, unfortunately, he has not.
Thanks to Obama, cronyism has become all-but-engrained in the DC DNA. They were the Crony Administration.
So not only is the government doing way too many awful things – they are paying Leftist cronies to do way too much of it.
There is even residual cronyism – in some things I actually like the government doing. Like privatizing space exploration.
Last month, President Trump signed an executive order calling for a return to the Moon and beyond. And we will get there – working in conjunction with private contractors.
The more private sector – the better. The government’s safety (and budgetary sanity) track record is tragically awful.
Not very much, apparently. And if they did learn anything – it didn’t stick.
Trump inherited some dubious criterion for choosing which private contractors with whom the government should work.
NASA Forgets Key Lesson from Columbia Accident: “NASA is ignoring the main lesson learned in 50 years of spaceflight and from the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia accidents: Astronaut safety must be the single highest priority in human spaceflight.
“For reasons that are hard to understand, NASA has chosen in the Commercial Crew Program to blatantly ignore a top recommendation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board….
“NASA’s new contract solicitation establishes three evaluation criteria, in order of importance: Price, Safety/Mission Suitability, and Past Performance. ‘Mission Suitability,’ which includes safety, is the term used for the technical value of each company’s proposal. With these priorities, safety is less than 25 percent of the overall evaluation of the contractor and his proposed design.
Less than a quarter of the consideration – is safety? That’s more than a mite disconcerting:
“If NASA does not act quickly to change course and reinstate the traditional emphasis on safety, it is all too likely that rather than the supposed revolutionizing of human spaceflight, the Commercial Crew Program will be added to the long list of failed NASA programs. Or worse, we will witness a tragedy due to a cheap proposed price. Not only would a preventable accident be unfathomable, but it would also be a national setback in human spaceflight and counterproductive to the original cause of saving money (at the expense of safety).”
And neck-deep in this NASA contracting is…The $5-Billion-In-Government-Money King of All Cronies: Elon Musk – and his SpaceX.
How’s that been going?
While reading this, I am fairly sure the words “Gee that sounds safe”…don’t readily leap to mind.
We have for quite a while now been paying Musk and SpaceX tons of money for – amongst many other things – the Falcon 9 Heavy. Which is intended for deep space travel.
How’s February’s launch looking? Ummm…not great. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Government Money Man Musk his own self:
“I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage…I would consider even that a win, to be honest.”
Well isn’t that calmingly reassuring.
I’m sure the unfathomably brave men and women who strive mightily to be our astronauts – are calmingly reassured.
They are volunteering to put their lives on the line – for their country, to advance America in space. They deserve better than (just) SpaceX.
The very great Smokey Robinson and his Miracles released in 1960 the very great song “You Better Shop Around.”
This is excellent advice for the government generally – and the Trump Administration specifically.
From all appearances, the Trump Administration inherited a NASA myopically focused on and contracted with Elon Musk and his SpaceX.
Given SpaceX’s explosive, fabulously expensive track record of consistent failure, the Trump Administration would do quite well to heed Smokey Robinson’s mother – and shop around.
There are other contractors available.
The Trump Administration should avail themselves of a much broader pool of contenders.
Safety demands it. Our astronauts deserve it.