Ben Bova’s faulty economics

Sunday’s Naples (Florida) Daily News features a column by noted science fiction author and space advocate Ben Bova. He uses the column to promote both NASA and space commercialization, suggesting the private sector, for the right money, might be motivated enough to either service or safely return to Earth the Hubble Space Telescope. Unfortunately, he […]

Kathuria, Ryan, and the Illinois Senate race

As noted here earlier, one of the candidates in the Republican primary for the US Senate race in Illinois is Chirinjeev Kathuria, one of the early investors in MirCorp. With that primary coming up in just over two weeks, I was curious to see how he was doing in a crowded field of candidates for […]

Kerry: go to the Moon right here on Earth

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has picked up the endorsement of former Ohio senator and astronaut John Glenn. Less newsworthy than the endorsement—which doesn’t carry that much weight—is some of the comments Kerry said in his speech about whether there should be human missions to the Moon and Mars:

But Kerry said the U.S. government should not be talking about returning to the moon or going to Mars missions proposed by President Bush.

Rather, he said, leaving his prepared speech, “we need to go to the moon right here on Earth” by creating high-paying jobs of the future and making sure that “young Americans in uniform are never held hostage” to Middle East oil.

The Toledo Blade offers the full quote at the end of its article about Kerry’s speech:

“What we need to do as we enter this dawn of the 21st century, is not talk about going to the Moon or even to Mars. We need to go to the Moon right here on Earth by creating the jobs, building the high value-added jobs of the future, making clear that no young American in uniform ever ought to be held hostage to America’s dependence on oil in the Middle East,” he said.

On the face of it, this appears to be a far stronger rejection of the Bush space initiative than what he told the AP.

The AP polls the candidates on space

The Associated Press, as part of an ongoing series of articles on various issues of the 2004 presidential campaign, asked the major candidates if they supported plans to send humans back to the Moon by 2020. The sound bites published in the AP article aren’t terribly informative: both Kerry and Edwards offer general support for […]

AIA wants to accelerate CEV development

On Wednesday the Aerospace Industries Association released a five-year research and development plan for the aerospace industry. The plan focuses primarily on the aeronautics sector, but the press release announcing the plan does make mention of NASA’s plans to develop a Crew Exploration Vehicle:

Although AIA supports the president’s plan, which increases funding for exploration capabilities by $12 billion over the next five years, the association believes the administration should be challenged to create a new human-rated space exploration vehicle by 2010, rather than 2014. The current NASA plan calls for retirement of the space shuttle by 2010 and a new manned vehicle by 2014, leaving a four year gap in which maintenance of the International Space Station would be accomplished by Russian or French space vehicles.

The plan would increase NASA’s budget by an average of $4 billion a year for the next five years to (in part) accelerate the CRV development, as part of an overall $34-billion increase to NASA’s budget during that period, according to an additional fact sheet. Some of the additional funding would also go to shore up NASA’s aeronautics program. Under such a plan NASA would get $28.8 billion in FY2008, about $11 billion more than under the current Administration’s plan. (The plan is a little confusing because it talks about increasing NASA’s 2004 budget, but we’re nearly five months into FY04 now and the budget, while delayed, was finally approved several weeks ago.)

The plan has some noble goals, but given the opposition the Bush plan has run into for a very slight increase in NASA’s budget, it seems highly unlikely that the Administration or Congress would endorse a much steeper increase.

Aldridge Commission provides details on next public hearing

The President’s Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond, aka the Aldridge Commission, issued a press release Tuesday with more details about their next public hearing, scheduled for March 3-4 in Dayton, Ohio. The hearing will take place in the “soon-to-be-completed” Missile Gallery at the Air Force Museum from 1-5pm on Wednesday the 3rd and 9 […]

President signs NASA workforce bill

President Bush signed into law on Tuesday the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 (S.610). The bill gives NASA new power to attract and retain employees, including paying bonuses and establishing high salaries for a handful of positions deemed critical by the agency. The law also allows NASA to establish a scholarship program for college students; […]

Bush and the Kennedy moment

Tuesday’s Washington Times has an op-ed piece by Jim Muncy on the Bush space policy. For those who weren’t able to attend the Georgetown Law School panel session on the policy that included Muncy, this commentary is very similar to his remarks there, although he spoke in much greater detail during the panel. Towards the […]

Space vs. education

An article in the Council Bluffs (Iowa) Sunday Nonpareil suggests that some educators may be opposed to the Bush space plan because of the perception that it’s taking money away from educational programs. The opening paragraph is blunt:

Is the exploration of Mars more important than the education of your child? “Clearly, their priorities are […]

Four misconceptions about the new space initiative

I alluded in a posting a couple days ago that NASA comptroller Steve Isakowitz had outlined four “great misconceptions” about the new space initiative. I hadn’t had the chance until now to discuss what those misconceptions were that Isakowitz outlined during a Space Transportation Association breakfast earlier this month. In short, the four misconceptions are: