Via A.E.Brain, the Chinese have completed the Glorious People's Gemini Program, hot on the heels of their finishing up the Great Leap Forward Mercury Launch. At this rate, their Red Banner Long March Apollo moon walk is tomorrow, and a long-term presence in space is sometime next week.
Folks, unless we want to end up in a near future scenario where US rock stars and Wal-Mart board members are shelling out $1M US each for a quick exo-atmospheric hop on a Rutan bird, where they'll peer through the plexiglas to take in the vistas of Costco freighters docking at orbital Norinco microchip factories, it's time for the US government to do the best thing it can do for the long-term future of the US space program. The best thing the .gov could do, of course, is...
...to get the hell out of the way.
Offer massive tax breaks to anybody who thinks they know a way to make a dime on the far side of the stratosphere. Make available the reams of data gained by NASA in its decades of tottering to and from orbit in our creaky committee-designed antique garbage scow. Make space a lucrative place for Americans to be by not tampering with any and all profits garnered from the beyond the atmosphere. The sky is going to be full of people sooner or later, and I'm going to go there as soon as I can, and when I get there, I'd like to order a nice, safe Big Mac, and not the No.13 Chef Special Happy Family with Stir-Fried Rice in Brown Sauce. I've eaten way too much Chinese take-out in the last month or two to be confronted with more of the same when I reach low earth orbit.