Campaign '04

Astronauts on the campaign trail

On Saturday Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin appeared at a Bush campaign rally at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida, just south of Cape Canaveral. The Florida Today article about the event includes one quote from Aldrin’s speech: “There is so much more to explore. We need a vision for the future.” According to an official campaign transcript, Bush did not mention space during his address other than recognizing Aldrin’s presence:

I’m honored to call Buzz Aldrin friend. I appreciate him being here today. He’s one of the great pioneers of America. I appreciate you, Buzz, coming. I want to thank you for the example you have set for future pioneers.

Meanwhile, a participant on the Kerryspace email list notes that Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart is scheduled to speak at New Mexico Tech Monday afternoon on behalf of the Kerry campaign, in a speech sponsored by the campus Young Democrats chapter. However, Schweickart is scheduled to speak about renewable energy and “the importance of energy independence in the global context”, not space policy.

23 comments to Astronauts on the campaign trail

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space policy just isnt that important.

    Robert

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Certainly not for John Kerry, Oler. However, it was a curious compromise between those in the President’s camp who don’t want to make space policy political and those who want the President to at least mention it from time to time to have Buzz mention it for him.

    Those who are ragging the President for not making a space p[olicy speech every other week might want to research how often Kennedy mentioned the subject. I suspect it might be a surprise.

  • Eric

    In the total package this year, I cannot be a “single issue voter” based on VERBALIZED space policy. (Please note the emphasis – I honestly believe the if “Dubya” returns to the Oval Office, space exploration will be set back. There are MANY promises that man has made and never kept. His party controls BOTH houses of Congress. If he was really going to get aggressive about space, the requisite bills would have passed already.)

    Furthermore, the long-term economic damage his policies are doing will make our country completely unable to afford manned, civilian space exploration. Not to mention that the damage he has done to international relations will make it very difficult to recruit MEANINGFUL partners for future exploration.

    Kerry will have us on a sounder footing, IMHO. And if you, gentle reader, are a W supporter, you will at least have to acknowledge that a “flip-flopper” might just change his mind about the priorities of manned exploration once he is sitting in the Oval Office (no, I do NOT believe in the “flip-flopper” label, but it makes for an interesting point of argument in this case).

  • Bill White

    One big problem I have with the Bush VSE are the number of decisions that were made “behind closed dooors” and announced as unchangeable fait accompli

    For example:

    “Why” can’t we complete ISS with whatever launch system (SDV or EELV+) will replace the shuttle orbiter? We are told orbiter is the ony way to finish ISS, but no real details or supporting discussion has been offered.

    “Why?” can’t we offer our ISS partners a share in the lunar exploration initiative so we can negotiate early termination of the entire ISS project? That would save billions and billions we are spending on going in circles.

    What exactly are we going to learn at ISS anyway?

    As Cowing/Seitzen report, the VSE was largely developed behind closed doors. Now we are asked to stand quietly in line and salute the Bush vission.

    But without public discussions of questions like these how can we build a sustainable consensus?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Bill, there is a time to endlessly debate and wrangle over things and there is a time to make decisions and to proceed. The administration, wisely, chose the latter.

  • Bill White

    Endlessly debate? When did it begin? ;-)

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Bill, it’s been going on for decades.

  • AJ Mackenzie

    I think it’s interesting that while Kerry was castigated (and rightly so) for not talking about space when he went to KSC and toured the shuttle, Bush is said to have “compromised” by not talking about space himself while visiting the Space Coast.

    Speaking of astronauts, have any other non-political astronauts endorsed or otherwise spoken out in favor of either Bush or Kerry? By non-political I’m excluding pols like Glenn and Nelson.

  • John Malkin

    The reason ISS will be completed or mostly completed by Shuttle is a replace will be too late to satisfy our current commitments to the international partners. Previous U.S. presidents and congresses have supported promises made to the international partners and partners have been very understanding to this point.

    We are going to offer our partners a share in future exploration but that doesn’t complete our obligations. The ISS is a tremendous asset and negotiation tool and we have nothing to replace it in the near term.

    The President made his recommendation. It’s up to congress to debate it endlessly or not. The President’s people collected information from a verity of people and organization during the development of his plan (I think the book New Moon Raising is a good starting reference). Any Presidential plan on any topic will not be debated by the public. The President will work with his advisors and any exterior people or groups that they deem necessary. Did Kerry consult every democrat before releasing his policy stands? No, they are base on democratic platform, Kerry’s advisors and Kerry’s own feelings.

  • John Malkin

    The first possible debate will be after the elections and anyone that has complaints about space policy should get their letters to their senators and representatives soon.

  • Bill White

    The Aldridge Commission says we need HLLV and shuttle derived is seen by the Alrdige Report as a significant possibility.

    The orbiter cannot possibly fly 25 times by 2008 and shuttle C can carry 2 ISS payloads by volume and 3 by mass (lots of extra room for sundry supplies in between 2 ISS modules).

    If shuttle C flies by 2008 and is not limited by CAIB launch window restrictions that would allow us to finish ISS sooner than if we use orbiter only. And we would also have a fully deployed HLLV as part of the package.

    Separate crew from cargo (do not bother to man-rate SDV, just buy Falcon V for a barebones crew taxi) and use the billions in ISS completion money to leverage the next step in the vision – - going beyond LEO.

    That gives us “two for one” deals rather than finishing ISS with orbiter and then throwing away the entire system and starting over with this as of yet undefined CEV.

    How much do the ISS trusses cost? Build a pair of spares (cheap by space procurement costs) and send up 2 trusses in the first shuttle C launch. Along with cheap sundries like O2 cannisters and clean uniforms.

    Combine SDV test launches and ISS completion missions within one budget. That’s what I mean by “two-fer” deals.

    See how far you can stretch X length of rope – -rather than asking “How much rope can NASA buy?”

  • MrEarl

    “But without public discussions of questions like these how can we build a sustainable consensus?”
    Posted by Bill White at October 25, 2004 11:53 AM

    One thing I have learned by following the space community for years is that there has never been and most likely will never be a “sustainable consensus” on anything!
    In it’s most basic form the VSE states that NASA’s objective in space should be exlporation and then turn over utilization to the private sector. I think on this level most of the space community can agree. Moon first, Mars direct, shuttle ISS support, CEV, RLV’s, heavy lift, EELV’s, can and will be endlessly debated depending on the bias of the particular group or individual.
    What has always amused me is that these same groups can not see there own biases and the “scorched earth” mentality that is applyed to any other viewpoint but there own.
    My opinion, this VSE puts NASA back on the mission it had before diverted by the Shuttle. It also allows for flexable spending that can be ramped up quiklly when intrest is high or cut back without endangering human space flight alltogether when interst is not so high.
    The VSE is the last train out. Changes can be made as we progress but don’t kill it before it leaves the station becouse ther is nothing else comming down the line.

  • Dogsbd

    “My opinion, this VSE puts NASA back on the mission it had before diverted by the Shuttle.”

    Amen Mr Earl, amen.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Posted by Mark R. Whittington at October 25, 2004 10:55 AM

  • Edwright Wright

    > Bill, there is a time to endlessly debate and wrangle over
    > things and there is a time to make decisions and to proceed.

    The public was not allowed to debate or wrangle over the policy when it was being written, and you don’t want the public to debate it now.

    When do you think the time for public debate is, Mark? After the last Constellation astronaut walks on the Moon, beginning another 40-year hiatus during which space activists reminisce about the good old days?

  • Edward Wright

    > In it’s most basic form the VSE states that NASA’s objective in space
    > should be exlporation and then turn over utilization to the private
    > sector. I think on this level most of the space community can agree.

    I don’t know about “most of the space community,” but I don’t agree with all of that.

    I have nothing against NASA doing exploration, but I don’t agree with the idea that only NASA can do exploration and the rest of us are limited to “utilization.”

    Some have said that only the government can do “Lewis and Clark” exploration. That’s funny, because I just received a brochure from government agency inviting *me* to “explore Lewis and Clark territory.” Another agency estimates that 30 million Americans will explore Lewis and Clark territory over the next three years. Very few of those explorers will have government commissions.

    Some have said that space exploration is too dangerous for the private sector. Yet, I walk into stores like REI and find equipment for exploring mountains, caves, and other dangerous places, all of it available for sale to the private sector.

    Some have said that space exploration is too expensive for the private sector. Burt Rutan and Elon Musk would surely take exception, but even if they’re right, I recall that the US Navy hired Bob Bollard to do undersea exploration for them. Why couldn’t NASA hire private companies the same way?

  • MrEarl

    Ed:
    I’d like to see privet industry do exploration also but the truth is that they rarly do. If you take up the govenment on their offer to “explore” the Lewis and Clark trail you will only be 200 years behind the times. As much respect as I have for Burt Rutan and his pilots they are only repeting govenment sponsored resurch that is 45 years old. Burt’s and Vergin Galatic’s whole reason is utilisation. You make the common mistake of equating personal exploration with exploration by sociaty.

  • Edward Wright

    > this VSE puts NASA back on the mission it had before diverted by the Shuttle.

    If so, why would that be a good thing?

    There’s this myth in the space community that NASA was on the verge of colonizing the Moon, Mars, and the entire solar system when Nixon suddenly got up one morning and decided to replace it with the Shuttle.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Apollo was cancelled because the cost was unsustainable. Nostalgia to the contrary, Apollo capsules were not safer than the Shuttle. (Anyone remember Apollo 1? Apollo 13?) Tapes from the Kennedy administration show that JFK had no great interest in space beyond the immediate goal of a manned Moon landing, and NASA funding began declining while space-hawk LBJ was in office.

    The idea that NASA needs to get “back on track” overlooks the reality: the track was leading nowhere.

  • Edward Wright

    > I’d like to see privet industry do exploration also but the truth is that they rarly do.

    One visit to REI, or any travel agent, will show otherwise.

    > As much respect as I have for Burt Rutan and his pilots they are only
    > repeting govenment sponsored resurch that is 45 years old.

    You mean the way Christopher Columbus and Leif Erickson were merely repeating journeys that others had made before? Star Trek to the contrary, few explorers go “where no man has gone before.”

    By your standard, Gus Grissom was not an explorer because he was only “repeating research” done by John Glenn. Where is it written that there’s only value in making a journey if you’re the first person to get there?

    > Burt’s and Vergin Galatic’s whole reason is utilisation. You make the common
    > mistake of equating personal exploration with exploration by sociaty.

    Society does not explore any more than society robs liquor stores. Individuals do. Society didn’t fly the first Mercury mission; Alan Shepherd did.

    If you want to explore Yellowstone National Park, you have to go to Yellowstone. If you want to explore space, you have to go to space. Having someone else go “for” you is not a substitute.

  • Robert G. Oler

    You make the common mistake of equating personal exploration with exploration by sociaty.

    Posted by MrEarl at October 25, 2004 04:08 PM

  • Dogsbd

    >If you want to explore space, you have to go to space.

    NO, you do not. Robotic craft are part of exploration. We have sent robotic craft to Mars and explored that planet, we have learned more about Mars than we knew before we sent them, the result of exploration via robotic craft. One-day man will go in person and explore, but the process of exploration of the planet Mars has already begun. Your argument that exploration can only be done by man in person is without any basis in fact.

    >Having someone else go “for” you is not a substitute.

    Yes, it is. Neil Armstrong explored the Moon, so did 11 other men from Earth. The knowledge they gained in that exploration has been beneficial to me, if for no other reason it raised my spirit just to see man make it to the Moon. I could not go; I will likely never be able to go. But 12 others have gone and that is good enough for me for the time being. Hopefully more men will walk the lunar surface in my lifetime. By your definition the Moon would not be “explored” until every man, woman and child alive had trod the lunar dust.

  • Bill White

    There’s this myth in the space community that NASA was on the verge of colonizing the Moon, Mars, and the entire solar system when Nixon suddenly got up one morning and decided to replace it with the Shuttle.

    What is not a myth is that Nixon hated Kennedy’s guts and was eager to do anything to eradicate any lingering illusions about JFK and Camelot.

    That is why the Bush VSE cannot be the “Bush” VSE because on January 2009 or January 2013 (or sooner if Kerry wins) any ongoing program that might provide a lasting Bush legacy will be gutted. Perhaps even by Bill Frist or John McCain. McCain owes Bush some serious payback for 2000 dirty tricks.

    If we wanted the VSE to survive President Bush, non-partisan support needs to be built from the very begining. And saying: “Here is our back room plan, salute or else” is a bad way to develop a broad consensus.

  • Edward Wright

    > NO, you do not. Robotic craft are part of exploration.

    Explore (n): To travel for purposes of discovery.

    Sitting in a mission control room watching television may be science, but it’s not exploration.

    > Neil Armstrong explored the Moon, so did 11 other men from Earth.

    But you and I did not.

    > The knowledge they gained in that exploration has been beneficial to me, if
    > for no other reason it raised my spirit just to see man make it to the Moon.

    Which does not make you an explorer, merely a voyeur.

    > I will likely never be able to go. But 12 others have gone and that
    > is good enough for me for the time being.

    Your expectations are very low, and you give up far too easily.

    Unfortunately, that is the primary spiritual legacy of Project Apollo — the false belief that space travel must be prohibitively expensive and we can never be anything but voyeurs. That, I submit, is not a benefit.

    > By your definition the Moon would not be “explored” until every man, woman
    > and child alive had trod the lunar dust.

    Not by them, no.