*** By Remi Alli ***
Unfortunately, we saw this reality play out 40 years ago when NASA created the reusable space shuttle. Innovation and excitement in the space industry died, so kids quit looking to science as a “cool” profession. The companies that make the parts for the rockets scaled-down production, leading to a glut in skilled labor as workers lost their jobs. Congress, sensing the unpopularity of the space recession, slowly directed funding to other projects and we entered into a dark age of space travel. Now the private space industry is not only ignoring the lessons of the past but seems to be building upon the mistakes of the past to make bigger, more catastrophic mistakes.
The space race and the rockets it created gave us the hope to envision the future as something better than what we have; the same pioneering spirit that let settlers to explore North America, traders to blaze the Silk Road, and our primate ancestors to migrate out of Africa. Hope for a better world, and a better product, drives us, but when we say what we have is good enough, this is when humanity fails.
These people will find new jobs when they are furloughed, but they will take jobs from less skilled workers, who will, in turn, take employment from unskilled workers. This will create a domino effect that hurts the weakest people in our society.
We also must assume that the people working on rockets, because of their skill, will take away two or more jobs per each one lost, hence magnifying the job loss nationwide. While the companies laud the tax breaks that we will receive for reusing a rocket, they fail to mention the massive increases in welfare from people losing their jobs.
We need to push for constant innovation if we, as a nation, are going to mine and colonize the stars. Reusable rockets are the antithesis of progress, and policymakers need to address this elephant in the room now while there’s still time.