In 2011 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of manned spaceflight, mankind’s greatest scientific and technological achievement. However, this remarkable accomplishment has been undercut from the outset by fundamental philosophic contradictions: the subordination of science to the state, and the acceptance of capitalism’s practicality but the rejection of its morality. Pragmatic political considerations that have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars—and cost many lives—have also compromised the heroism of America’s astronauts and the rationality of the scientists and engineers who made space exploration possible.
How should we evaluate the past and present of American space flight? What changes need to be made to our space program to ensure that the legacy and the efforts of those early astronaut heroes have not gone to waste?
This lecture, given at Objectivist Summer Conference 2011, reviews and analyzes America’s 50-year history of manned spaceflight, from the first Mercury flights to the end of the Space Shuttle program. Andrew Lewis, who has a long-time interest in the subject, discusses NASA’s successes and failures, and he examines the mixed premises that have derailed America’s manned space exploration. Mr. Lewis concludes his lecture with an examination of the prospects for a truly moral and privatized spaceflight program.
(MP3 download; 59 mins., 60.76 MB)