Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Space Elevator: DeWitt Clinton Would have Approved

Like the Erie Canal, a space elevator would be more than just a testament to...American ingenuity...It would have broad, practical economic and political ramifications...Just as the Erie Canal lowered the cost of shipping a ton of flour from $120 to less than $6, a space elevator could similarly open up space by radically reducing the price of hauling the equipment and supplies into orbit...If America is serious about establishing a permanent presence on the moon -- and, ultimately, Mars -- this country will need a dramatically more efficient process for delivering cargo and personnel into a space. Our present system of using individual rockets is about as efficient as hauling flour by horseback....A Modern Day Erie Canal, Jack Uldrich, TCS Daily, 11/6/2007

Uldrich's article calls to mind the greatest fear held by advocates of human expansion, not only into space, but into new endeavors on earth. There's always some Nanny-Statist who wants to put off an entrepreneur's request for funds in order to pay for the welfare needs of a new constituency. As Uldrich illuminates, the 19th century Clinton, New York's governor, was not shy about spending the colossal sums (by 19th century standards) required to built what was a highly risky project. He understood that a current constituency may be valuable, but the future value of the state's economy, and its well-being, was more important.


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