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Jim Davidson on government control over space technologies

Previous Politech message:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Request for help from reader: Government urges 
to control new technologies? [econ]
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 14:54:36 -0500
From: Jim Davidson <davidson@net1.net>
To: andrewh@rice.edu, declan@well.com

Dear Andrew,

One of the sectors of the economy where control not only
over information and individual behavior, but also over
the rate and extent of progress is the space technology
sector, especially as it relates to space launch systems.
Lately, satellite launch systems have been joined by a
number of entrepreneurial start-ups in the area of space
tourism - passenger launches - so the topic may be
especially timely.

Some of the factors involved:

1. Patenting launch system technology is a very difficult
process for inventors.  To gain what little protection the
patent system provides, an inventor must submit a useful
description of the technique or technology.  In the area of
launch systems (also known as missiles) the Defense Department
steals patented technology from inventors, in my view, by
classifying it out from under them.  This behavior has a
chilling effect on inventions, reduces the number of
successful inventors in the area, reduces disclosure of
data on the ideas which the patent system is supposed to
encourage, and otherwise makes a hash of private property.
I believe, and for various reasons, that inventions by
individual inventors has been frequently turned over by
the Defense Department to their favorite defense contractor
companies for use in innovative new systems.  So, the benefit
of inventiveness which is supposed (by the constitution for
the united States of America) to be secured to the inventor
for a period of years is transferred, by classification and
conversion to defense contractors, to companies which have,
at best, a talent only at obtaining corruptly allocated
contracts (and technology) - in my view.

2. Military technology is controlled by varoius governmental
agencies and regimes.  Export of such technology is forbidden.
So, Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites have designed a nifty
new space launch system for Virgin Galactic.  Those designs
are not allowed to be shown to the British subjects who have
paid for them, not even to Sir Richard Branson - someone who
is hardly a security risk - due to the technology export
regime.  Such nutty behavior has a chilling effect on the
development of advanced passenger launch systems.

3. Regulatory excess has thwarted the efforts of entrepreneurs
like Bob Truax, Bob Citron, Gary Hudson, David Hannah, Jr.,
Bevin McKinney, Jim Bennett, Burt Rutan, and a host of others,
including myself.  In 1991 I was arrested while attempting to
put an American on the Mir space station.  In 2001, Walt
Anderson's dreams of selling trips to Mir to wealthy tourists
like Dennis Tito were crushed by a concerted diplomatic and
contract-extortion effort to get the Russian government to
destroy Mir.  Walt has subsequently been accused of tax fraud
and has been in prison pending trial.  There is a pattern now
stretching back many decades of government agencies, including
NASA, treating space as their own particular fiefdom and
attacking, even to the point of assaulting or killing, various
entrepreneurs seeking to find a way around their idiocies.  It
seems to be a matter of public record that space entrepreneur
and inventor Gerald Bull was assassinated by the Israeli secret
police agency, the Mossad, for trying to build his super-gun
satellite launch system in Iraq during the period when the USA
was supporting Iraq against Iran (1980s time frame).  I don't
think Mr. Bull's death was an isolated incident.

There is rather a lot of information available on this topic.
Best wishes to you on your researches and academic success.


Jim Davidson, Rice MBA '87

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 16, 2005 in category economics

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