October 17, 2004

Famed Aerospace Designer Burt Rutan on the Government's Role in Technology Development

Leonard David:

“And we’re sitting there amazed throughout the 1960s. We were amazed because our country was going from Walt Disney and von Braun talking about it…all the way to a plan to land a man on the Moon…Wow!”

The right to dream

But as a kid back then, Rutan continued, the right to dream of going to the Moon or into space was reserved for only “professional astronauts” – an enormously dangerous and expensive undertaking.

Over the decades, Rutan said, despite the promise of the Space Shuttle to lower costs of getting to space, a kid’s hope of personal access to space in their lifetime remained in limbo.

“Look at the progress in 25 years of trying to replace the mistake of the shuttle. It’s more expensive…not less…a horrible mistake,” Rutan said. “They knew it right away. And they’ve spent billions…arguably nearly $100 billion over all these years trying to sort out how to correct that mistake…trying to solve the problem of access to space. The problem is…it’s the government trying to do it.

I believe Rutan is correct. Government should generally provide incentives for private industry to address problems that we as a society believe need attention. Examples include: broadband (true 2 way), education, energy and space exploration.

Posted by James Zellmer at October 17, 2004 12:03 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Business | Education | Politics | Technology