Adjuncts in Space!

There’s a fascinating piece in The Economist this week on how satellites search for planets. Not surprisingly, it’s an expensive endeavor—one French satellite cost about $220m; an American one cost $600m. And both satellites are now, of course, defunct.

Four graduate students from Germany’s Stuttgart University have a better idea. They want to utilize more recent technology to manufacture satellites that will be much cheaper to test and launch. It sounds like a great idea, especially when we’re talking about the best kind of government outsourcing—a flexible private company as a more efficient alternative to the expensive bloat of bureaucracy.

There’s one part of the plan, however, that give me pause. Who would test and monitor these satellites? Why “graduate students and lowly paid academics at the beginning of their careers, rather than civil servants.” In other words, people who can be paid next to nothing, rather than people with horrible expensive needs like a decent salary.

What’s German for plus ça change?

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