Other

More from Newt

The Christian Science Monitor has an article today about Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and potential 2008 Presidential candidate (although Gingrich plays down the latter in the article.) When asked what government programs he would like to see cut, Gingrich responded:

Why is NASA running the space shuttle? Just ask yourself, why would you have thousands of people sitting around Cape Kennedy [sic], waiting for the shuttle to be relaunched? And to what degree does the scale of government bureaucracy tell you a lot about why NASA has not been more effective in moving America into space? I’m very much for a space program but you know, we built the transcontinental railroad with government incentives but without a government bureaucracy of railroad builders.

No surprise for those who have followed Gingrich over the years, including his new book, which devotes a page and half to his space policy vision.

19 comments to More from Newt

  • We’re supposed to keep distributing International Space Review free to anyone who asks. If you ask, I’ll send it! I promise not to post again on this subject.

    – Donald

  • Dogsbd

    I’ll take one!

  • jackass

    Mr. Robertson what is the International Space Review and what does it have to do with this posting?

  • Mr Earl

    I’ll take one also.

  • Greg Shealy

    Please send me one too. Email me for my mailing address.

  • TORO

    Newt has a few good points. Why are we still “flying” (it doesn’t really fly) the Doo Doo bird? It never incorporated the Apollo 13 unlearned lesson (as Astonaut Lovell said, the lunar module became a lifeboat for their mere survival).

    Doo Doo bird is a failed design. Doo Doo bird never should have flown. STS-1 was a failure, and ripping out the two worthless ejection seats in STS-5 was an omen of the statistical certainties to come.

    Apollo 13 was the successful failure, but NASA became the failed success.

  • Mr. Walker

    Mr. Gingrich is correct in his statement.

    The shuttle is ran by an army of contractors with NASA’s guiding hand involved. The governmental shuttle program has not, is not, and will not ever be economically efficient.

    NASA needs to become an informed consumer and purchase its transportation needs from the private sector on the open market. The private sector can provide these services better and cheaper.

  • Gingrich is a learned scholar, one of the few who attempts to learn the lessons of the past.

    I suppose the question is will the Republican party continue to have the luxury of being able to ignore him?

  • Dogsbd

    ” The shuttle is ran by an army of contractors with NASA’s guiding hand involved.”

    I agree, I think we all do, but how do you end that? When that standing army that services the shuttle starts loosing its’ job, we all know that certain Congressmen/Senators will wail about it. Just like Sen. Mikulski (sp) wailing over Hubble, it isn’t the space telescope she wants to save it’s the jobs (votes) in her district.

  • Dogsbd, I don’t think you’re being fair to Mikulski. Sure, the second half of your final statement is true, but I truly do not think the first half is. Space science, and even human spaceflight, have had few greater or more consistant friends than Ms. Mikulski. I think she truly and honestly believes in the value of both.

    That said, when it’s VSE versus Hubble, I’m sure the jobs weigh in on her choice. The VSE just needs to make sure it caughs up some jobs in her district.

    Regarding the wider issue, many or most of the Shuttle techs are near retirement. Now is probably the best political opportunity to transition over that we will have. But, it will need to be played with a lot better political ear than we’ve seen to date.

    – Donald

  • Dogsbd

    Sen Mikulski may be a true believer in space exploration, but if Hubble operations weren’t based in her district I don’t beleive she would be leading the charge to save Hubble. Just my opinion.

  • Sam Hoffman

    Why is NASA running the space shuttle?

    For the same reason the USCG runs the USCGC Healy, Polar Sea, and Polar Star and the USAF (via the NYANG, I believe) maintains a squadron of LC-130s …

    It is in the strategic interests of the United States to maintain the capability of flying NATIONAL manned space missions in low Earth orbit, in the same way that it is in the national interest of the United States to maintain the capability of supporting such NATIONAL missions in the Arctic and Antarctic.

    As an aside, given the inherent limitations of the stage-and-half-design, the shuttle is a useful and reasonably safe design for a manned aerospacecraft, PROVIDED that those in command of a given mission – both on the ground and in the spacecraft – use it appropriately. It is not and never has been an all-weather aircraft.

    The original NAR/Convair two-stage design would have been significantly safer, but we can thank another Republican for the absence of that vehicle.

    But until the CEV and man-rated Delta IV reach IOC, the STS is the ONLY vehicle available to maintain a manned US presence in low Earth orbit, and all that is implied by that capability.

  • Edward Wright

    > It is in the strategic interests of the United States to maintain the capability of flying NATIONAL
    > manned space missions in low Earth orbit in the same way that it is in the national interest of
    > the United States to maintain the capability of supporting such NATIONAL missions in the Arctic
    > and Antarctic.

    What “strategic interest” do you think the Shuttle is protecting? There’s no possibility of an enemy submarine hiding at ISS, as there is under the Artic ice shelf.

    The military is trying to get out of flying support missions for scientists in Antarctica, because they know there’s no strategic interest there. That’s why the LC-130s were transferred from the Navy to the National Guard.

    > But until the CEV and man-rated Delta IV reach IOC, the STS is the ONLY vehicle available to
    > maintain a manned US presence in low Earth orbit, and all that is implied by that capability.

    What is implied by that capability? No significant number of humans in Earth orbit? No access to space for most Americans? Why is the capability to do almost nothing in space, at enormous cost, something to maintain?

    Elon Musk has already stated his intention to have a five-person capsule flying by 2010. That’s six years before the CEV.

    So unless you have some crystal ball that allows you to see that Musk will fail and CEV will succeed, there’s no evidence to support your statement.

  • Sam Hoffman

    Maintaining a national “presence” in international and/or unclaimed waters, territory, or air space is a strategic instrument as old as history – in short, if a nation state can not operate in a given arena, it will have no say in how that arena is used, currently or in the future.

    There is a reason the United States has never made a territorial claim in Antarctica, yet continues to maintain a robust capability to operate in Antarctica and the polar seas, both the Arctic and Antarctic.

    Despite the relative lack of economic importance of Antarctica today, for example, it is quite likely the continent will become a area of strategic interest in the future – and so the US maintains and exercises the capability of operating there, both for the here-and-now and as insurance for the future.

    It is the same reason the Canadians, for example, maintain an Arctic presence (both civil and military) and have taken to mounting company-sized patrols by the Canadian Army across the Canadian Arctic territories in recent years – with global warming, it is quite possible that the Arctic Ocean will become an international sea lane, and the Canadians wish to be able to influence how it is used.

    Space, particularly cislunar space, and especially the LEO, MEO, and GEO arenas, are in the same position – today space is a sanctuary that the US is able to use to our overwhelming strategic advantage for reconnaissance and communication; in the future, that may change – and thus the US needs to maintain the ability to operate manned spacecraft in the cislunar arena in order to maintain a say in how that same arena is ordered.

    As far as Mr. Musk goes, I wish him luck, but the history of aviation and aerospace is littered with the names of those who tried to develop and market a technological capability with insufficient capital, either technically or economically. Fly before buy remains the only completely reliable way to prove a technology, and Mr. Musk et al (Kistler, Amroc, Rutan, Rotary Rocket, etc.) have yet to fly anything into Earth orbit.

    At the same time, the NATIONAL needs of the US, by definition, require launch vehicles and spacecraft that are US government “flagged” – federal/civil OR military, but not commercial – much less experimental…

    And the only game in town at the moment, in terms of a manned US spacecraft, is the shuttle – so vaporplanes and viewgraph engineering notwithstanding, shuttle RTF is a strategic necessity.

    When CEV hits IOC, the STS and its technology can be gracefully retired and/or adapted for further use, after having served admirably for (roughly) three decades to insure that cislunar space has remained a strategic sanctuary for the US specifically and the West in general.

  • AJ Mackenzie

    Sen Mikulski may be a true believer in space exploration, but if Hubble operations weren’t based in her district I don’t beleive she would be leading the charge to save Hubble.

    But, Dogs, can’t you say the same thing about Delay? I mean, do you really believe he would be as dedicated to supporting NASA if his district was in, say, Dallas or Amarillo rather than JSC?

  • Dogsbd

    >>> But, Dogs, can’t you say the same thing about Delay?

    Yes, it’s true of all politicians. That was part of my orginal point, IE it would be hard to trim down the army of STS workers because of the cries from their representives. In many cases it’s not easy to do what is best for the space program because much of it becomes an entrenched jobs program.

  • Edward Wright

    > There is a reason the United States has never made a territorial claim in Antarctica

    The reason is called international socialism. It was fashionable in the 20th Century. That does not mean it’s a good thing.

    > Despite the relative lack of economic importance of Antarctica today, for example, it is quite likely the
    > continent will become a area of strategic interest in the future

    There’s no evidence to support that claim. Antarctica gives every sign of remaining an undeveloped socialist wasteland (rather like ISS, for similar reasons).

    In any case, how do spurious analogies prove your claim that the Shuttle is protecting a strategic interest?

    > It is the same reason the Canadians, for example, maintain an Arctic presence

    That’s called the “Johnny does it” argument. Just because Johnny (or Canada) does it, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    > the US needs to maintain the ability to operate manned spacecraft in the cislunar arena in order
    > to maintain a say in how that same arena is ordered.

    Assuming that is true, how does making human spaceflight needlessly expensive help the US “maintain its ability”?

    > As far as Mr. Musk goes, I wish him luck, but the history of aviation and aerospace is littered with the
    > names of those who tried to develop and market a technological capability with insufficient capital,

    So? Musk has sufficient capital. Check his net worth.

    > Fly before buy remains the only completely reliable way to prove a technology, and Mr. Musk et al (Kistler,
    > Amroc, Rutan, Rotary Rocket, etc.) have yet to fly anything into Earth orbit.

    A curious statement, since you want the United States government to spend billions of dollars to repair a Shuttle and build a CEV, neither of which are flying.

    > At the same time, the NATIONAL needs of the US, by definition, require launch vehicles and
    > spacecraft that are US government “flagged” – federal/civil OR military, but not commercial

    That is not true “by definition” — and you haven’t demonstrated that it’s true at all. The United States did not develop a national airline. It hired private companies to carry air mail, after the failed experiment with having the Army carry air mail. Clearly, the US government did not “need” to do those things.

    Socialism didn’t work very well in aviation. It hasn’t worked well in space. Isn’t it time to try something else?

    > And the only game in town at the moment, in terms of a manned US spacecraft, is the shuttle -
    > so vaporplanes and viewgraph engineering notwithstanding

    Have you read the newspapers lately? It’s the Shuttle that’s vaporware — grounded for over a year. Burt Rutan sent more Americans into space last year than NASA did. Or don’t you consider him part of the US?

    > When CEV hits IOC

    *When* it hits IOC? So, any vehicle built by the private sector is “vaporware” and doomed to fail? But any proposed by NASA is certain to succeed? Then, why has NASA repeatedly failed to build a Shuttle replacement?

  • Mr. Hoffman,

    You may honestly believe that there is a strategic need for the U.S. government to have a federal spaceship operating between the surface and low earth orbit. Of course, that isn’t true right now.

    But how do you deal with the FACT that there is not enough money to keep the Shuttle flying until the still-theoretical CEV is launched upon a theoretically-human-ratable Delta IV while paying for that CEV and human-rated Delta IV to come into existence?

    I’m sure you will say “yes, but the Congress *should* provide more money.” But in a Democracy, progams get what they deserve as the result of a deliberative process. There is no way NASA will get the extra $5billion per year to keep Shuttle alive and do everything else it needs.

    So how do you reconcile your personal opinion that there is a “strategic requirement” with the fact that it ain’t gonna happen?

    – Not-a-shuttle-hugger

  • Matthew Brown

    Well, the Strategic Needs have already been addressed with the executive order saying the miltary can develop reusable for there needs if there isn’t a viable comercial option avaible. (And the same with NASA for EELVs)

    if this was in place 10 years ago, all of this will be moot cause NASA could buy some Delta Clippers from the Airforce today. Cause they would not have been able to kill the DC-X program they way they did through creative fund allocation. (See “Halfway to Anywhere” by G. Harry Stine)

    And the CEV would be nothing but an in Space solution