On the “Fetish for the Artifact”
NASA’s dangerous venture into Technocratic Progress and why the US needs to realign civil space to serve National Security interests
By Dominique M. Awis
15 November 2016
Walter McDougal’s Pulitzer Prize winning book (a part of Roger Launius’ coined New Aerospace History) credits Soviet involvement in the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s as stemming from Bolshevism (progress) and Communist lead technocracy, or leadership from technical experts.
The US, when seeing how a secure nation might benefit from technocratic progress, took up arms against the Soviets and entered the Space Race, effectively beating the Soviets to the Moon.
In 1957 and 1958 Congress held many hearings with witnesses from all branches of the military to come together in an agreement on how to proceed, and a civilian agency was created called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
As Scott Pace tells us, Apollo days were geopolitical, meaning: long gone. We effectively have no Space Race, we’ve already won. As WD Kay would ask, [now] “what are the US’ space problems?”
Bottom line: we don’t have a direct space “problem” to solve; we just have an agency and money to get things done. How can we use it to our best interests if we have no “enemy” to defeat and no objective to complete (Apollo)?
NASA hasn’t helped. NASA is too focused on the progress and not focused on the Nation’s best interests. For example, NASA was ordered by Congress to locate nearly all “city destroyer” sized asteroids, and NASA, a decade later, is still only at roughly 25% observations of those asteroids. Without tracking them, it would be hard to protect ourselves and our cities from them.
You had one job NASA.
This is where the term “fetish for the artifact” comes into play. The artifact is the machine, the science, the vehicle, the progress. One gets so wrapped in the “fetish” (progress) and “artifact” (advancement) that one forgets civil space policy’s real purpose: to aid civilians and the government that serves us. If we’re only chasing tomorrow’s progress, we’re missing out on what space can achieve for us today.
Here’s what I propose:
- Going to the Moon: Lot’s of security there; communicating with China and Russia yet keeping them at a safe distance.
- Privitization or rather, boosting commercial space industries instead of allowing NASA 16 billion on its own. Give SpaceX some Mars money.
- End NASA’s climate crusade and let it focus on space and give NOAA NASA’s infrasctructure to handle the climate (the real climate agency should handle it to be fair).