Thursday, February 18, 2010

Consellation vs. NASA's Bold New Space Initiative: Health and Medicine

I haven't been able to determine any returns on taxpayer investment related to health and medicine with the Constellation approach.

The new NASA budget gives the following health and medicine benefits:

Full Utilization of the ISS - One of the suggested plans for the ISS is to deploy a centrifuge for human physiology research. In general, we can expect full use of the ISS to involve more pharmaceutical research and other research related to health and medicine.

Critical Technology Demonstrations - Closed loop life support systems is one of the technologies cited for demonstration in this portfolio. That is likely to involve some aspects of biotechnology and human factors.

Robotic Precursors - One of the jobs of the robotic precursors will be to assess hazards to human health at exploration destinations.

Commercial Crew and Cargo - Jump-starting a commercial crew industry and a stronger commercial cargo industry makes it more likely that a commercial space station or uncrewed space lab industry will develop. Related technology demonstrations also help make this more likely. These platforms are likely to be useful for health and medicine work.

Space Technology - It is possible that some of the work on low-cost space access in this portfolio will encourage the new reusable suborbital rocket industry. The services this industry seeks to offer could be used for various purposes related to health and medicine, such as aerospace medicine tests and qualifying pharmaceutical experiments destined for deployment in orbit.

With its destruction of the ISS in 2015 or 2016, Constellation has little to offer in the way of health and medicine payoffs to the taxpayer. The 2011 budget wins in this category since its competition, Constellation, doesn't even show up in this case.

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