Why would NASA outsource missions to SpaceX?
When it comes new PR disasters, NASA isn't taking any risks.
PETER WARD: One of the greatest criticisms leveled at NASA is that they don't take enough risk, and that's for good reason. You've seen that they have had tragedies in their past. They had the Challenger disaster. They've had two tragedies in the shuttle program alone. And we saw whole crews die in those. And that makes you nervous. That's bad for PR. That's bad for a government. That's bad for a president. If you see these national heroes who are supposed to be going into space to further the species and get glory for the country and they don't come back, that aside from being a terrible, terrible thing is also extremely bad PR and it did affect NASA a lot.
And what we've seen now is NASA has shifted some of that risk. NASA's role has changed. Back then they would be a contractor and they would tell companies to build them a specific part of a rocket. But they would do the whole mission themselves. Now we see NASA is more of a client so it's shifted the responsibility and the risk to SpaceX. SpaceX is basically selling NASA a ride to the international space station. So if something were to go wrong and thankfully as the years go on it's less likely that something will go wrong, NASA doesn't have as much of that risk. It doesn't have as much responsibility I guess. It will come under fire for hiring SpaceX but ultimately anything bad that would happen would be on SpaceX's shoulders.
So you've seen NASA has switched, has taken the risk and put it onto the private companies. And the private companies are much better equipped to deal with that risk. They don't have to elect their CEO every four years, for example. They don't have to answer to a whole country and they can go ahead and do things that other people couldn't. And you've seen it in America in the past actually. You saw the railroad expansion. America used private companies to do that. It wasn't the government. They gave them huge amounts of land and said go and build us a railroad system and there are actually a lot of similarities between those two scenarios. A lot of people see Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin as the railroad companies who are being tasked with connecting us with another frontier essentially.
- Tragedies at NASA, such as Challenger and Columbia disasters, have impeded the organization from taking risks, critics say. Indeed, in terms of PR, these tragedies were particularly baleful.
- Although NASA was once a contractor, its staff spearheading missions, today they are more a client. SpaceX is basically selling NASA a ride to the ISS.
- Essentially, NASA has put the risk on private companies — if anything bad happens, it's on SpaceX, for example. This switch may better further space colonization goals, though, because the private sector has more flexibility, in terms of how business is conducted. Also, NASA, as a national entity, avoids the pall of a possible disaster.
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Does the President get to decide when to ignore the law?
- During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln decided to suspend habeas corpus, a protection in the Constitution that prohibited imprisonment without a trial.
- From Lincoln's point of view, following the law to the letter during that unprecedented and pivotal moment in history (i.e. the threat of war and secession from the Union) would put lawfulness itself at risk, so some restrictions of civil liberties were necessary.
- The war and the president's actions changed how the founding document is interpreted and sometimes challenged by the rule of men.
Is information the fifth form of matter?
- Researchers have been trying for over 60 years to detect dark matter.
- There are many theories about it, but none are supported by evidence.
- The mass-energy-information equivalence principle combines several theories to offer an alternative to dark matter.
Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.