On a lighter note: Does James Bond show the way for NASA to remain a manned LEO launch provider?

by | Jul 19, 2012 | NASA, On a Lighter Note | 0 comments

NASA will shortly have to choose which two or three (or even two and a half) commercial crew systems it wishes to carry on funding in the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) development programme.  While lawmakers and even ex-Apollo astronauts note the excellent and good value progress that the commercial manned space transport firms have managed so far with the limited funds available (well compared to a typical government-run space development programme that is) they do suggest that for safety and experience reasons, the actual flight operations to low Earth orbiit (LEO) might yet be best left in NASA hands. At present NASA plans to just procure ‘seats’ aboard these craft leaving all operations to the commercial concerns themselves..

Of course, there could be another way.  And the fictional superspy James Bond, or rather the plot of his Moonraker movie, might just have the answer.  In that adventure film, Drax Industries, a firm owned by the fictional billionaire called Hugo Drax, was building the Space Shuttle for NASA but keeping some “Moonraker” orbiters for Drax’s own use.

Moonraker orbIters attached to Drax’s space station in Moonraker (1979).  Don’t ask how he got it up without someone finding out.  Courtesy: MGM

In other words, using this as the template, NASA might still remain as an operator of commercially developed hardware, but would still allow a commercial firm to run its own services seperately.

Of course, NASA might still have to be watchful.   In the film’s plot, Hugo Drax turned out to be an evil menace whose plan to kill off most of ‘imperfect’ mankind with space-borne Orchid-derived biological warfare became delayed by a fault to one of his own Moonraker spacecraft.  To rectify this, Drax then set about pinching one of NASA’s orbiters by firing it off the back of its Boeing 747 transfer aircraft, at which point our superspy hero become involved, eventually to save the day.

Nevertheless, while this parallel operator plan was turned to evil, it might otherwise have been to the benefit of NASA.  Likewise, at least the Moonraker movie showed that even billionaire space enthusiasts cannot get everything their own way.  Elon, Jeff and Sir Richard take note – even if you are really the good guys. J  

And if any of you does turn out to be a real villain, to make it easy for us don’t forget to flag this up by going “Muahahahahahaha!” at a key moment. J 

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