The section of the website on "government" is badly outdated, simply because I take little interest in what the government does politically, and just read the research reports which it produces, grateful for whatever we can get.
The government has never promoted a policy of learning how to utilize lunar and asteroidal resources so that the private sector can industrialize space and/or create space colonies. Despite these concepts being out there, we just keep getting the same old story of going to the Moon for science and then going to Mars. All on government funding, no transition to the private sector.
However, some of the enlightened middle level managers in NASA do "get it" and have managed to awarded research contracts which are directly relevant to space resources utilization.
Many of the space station R&D efforts cover things like growing food in space, recycling waste, and controlled ecological life support systems (CELSS).
I have continuously read a whole lot of research and technical reports from NASA and other government agencies which are relevant to lunar and asteroidal resources, space industrialization, human habitats, and CELSS, quite a large volume.
The rate of research and development in these areas has gone up and down over the years depending upon politics and funding, as is very clear when you just see the number and types of reports published each year, and see how it correlates with funding for things like:
- the old Space Station Freedom of the mid-1980s to its Congressional cutting and cancellation in the early 1990s,
- the first President Bush's "Space Exploration Initiative (SEI)" starting in 1989 until cut by the Clinton Administration (including Clinton's removal of human space exploration from space policy),
- then the second President Bush's Return to the Moon and Constellation Program from about 2005 until Obama cut it.
For a long time, the vast majority of research and development was funded by the NASA contracts. This might change with the advent of Planetary Resources, Inc., and potentially other major players (in addition to the many minor ones now), so that even after Obama, the government may become less inclined to fund things if the private sector will.
It is also becoming apparent to more and more people that space resources is more appropriately the realm of the private sector than the government. Indeed, the government should not be a competitor to private enterprises, and should lay the groundwork to stimulate space development.
These are arguments I made going back to 1986.
Nevertheless, there may be some worthwhile reading in my old writings in the subsections below.
PERMANENT.com > Law, Governments, and Private Sector > Government
Additional, children pages of this current parent page:
History of Governments in Space
How Governments Can Help
National Commission on Space
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