Congress

Authorization contretemps

A routine markup session by the House Science Committee’s on a long-awaited NASA authorization bill took a surprisingly partisan turn on Wednesday. While there is typically a strong sense of bipartisan cooperation among committee members, during Wednesday’s hearing Democratic members expressed their opposition to the authorization bill, HR 3070. Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bart Gordon (D-TN), the ranking Democrats on the subcommittee and full committee, respectively, complained both about the process of introducing the bill and its contents during the hearing. PArt of their concerns was that they did not get a chance to see a draft of the bill until last Friday, which they felt did not give them enough time to review it and suggest amendments to it. The other major concern, as expressed in a press release, was that the bill “does not address the issue of ensuring that a productive balance is maintained between NASA’s core missions”, including aeronautics and science as well as the Vision for Space Exploration. Most Democrats elected to abstain from passing the bill on to the full committee, rather than vote for or against it.

The subcommittee did, though, approve the bill, and HSC chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said the full committee would consider the bill next month, after the July 4 recess. Boehlert said he would work with Democrats on the committee to “craft a bi-partisan bill”. Even if that is accomplished, though, there is the issue that the House version of the authorization bill is significantly different from the Senate version, including a provision in the House bill mandating shuttle retirement by the end of 2010. The Senate’s version, by contrast, requires NASA to keep the shuttle flying if the CEV is not ready by that date. Subcommittee chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) said that, despite such differences, he doesn’t “see any show stoppers” that would preclude a compromise.

45 comments to Authorization contretemps

  • Kevin Davis

    Sorry but to me NASA is about space exploration not about aeronautical research.

  • What did you think that the first “A” stands for? Are you proposing rewriting the agency’s charter? If so, what agency should be doing the aeronautical research?

  • Jeff, the provision in the Senate version isn’t keep it untill the CEV is operational (That was my fear before it came out) but to keep it untill we had other options ready to go. if the CXV and the Falcon, Kistler, or Shuttle dervived HLV before the CEV is ready then the orbiter can be retired. At that time or 2010 whenever is the latter.

    There is a middle ground between the two versions on this issue. Have NASA assist the atl.spacers even more. Make sure there is enough crediable firms working hard to get running by 2010 that someone will succede. This also spurs Boeing and Lockheed (whoever gets the contract) to try to get it done on time to beat out the alt.spacers.

    I’m expecting that annoucement to have some interesting twists, from Mike Griffin’s earlier comments.

  • Rand is correct. The federal government is pretty complicated and you have to expect most top-level agencies to do more than one thing. Even a city-level public works department does many different things. So you ought to be suspicious when one program in a larger agency, in this case human spaceflight at NASA, develops sharp elbows and interferes with its sibling programs.

    I certainly hope that Bush and Griffin continue to defend the 2010 deadline.

  • Where did the 2010 Shuttle retirement date originate and what was its justification?

  • Where did the 2010 Shuttle retirement date originate and what was its justification?

    My understanding is, it was the soonest the shuttle could be finished enough to make our “partners” happy according to W’s science advisors. I would have chunked it a year ago. But that’s just me.

  • The 2010 deadline comes from the Bush VSE speech. The only clear rationale for this date is that it is the year that Bush leaves office, plus one. So Bush himself won’t have to handle the funeral of the space shuttle and (by my prediction) the space station too.

    The entire tone of the VSE speech made it clear that Europeans who actually want the space station will be left holding the bag. It is true that if the shuttle had flown soon after the VSE speech with rapid turnover for five years, then the space station could be relatively “complete” by 2010. But no one really counted on that, and now it’s not what is happening. So the VSE is consistent with other European diplomacy in the Bush administration: it’s yet another smarmy betrayal of cooperation.

    But as international agreements go, the space station agreement really is bad for both the United States and Europe. Science leaders in Europe resent the Potemkin science program of the space station at least as bitterly as anyone in the United States. So, although more candor and logic would have been nice, this side of the VSE is still a good idea.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Kuperberg: ” The only clear rationale for this date is that it is the year that Bush leaves office, plus one.”

    You don’t even try to appear non-partisan do you? You have no evidence at all that Bush’s term in office played ANY part in the 2010 date.

  • William Berger

    The Columbia board recommended that NASA should re-certify the shuttle if it wanted to fly it after 2010. The White House determined that NASA would finish the ISS by 2010 and stated that this is when the shuttle would be retired.

    It was set in motion by the Columbia report and firmed up by the ISS date.

  • The Columbia board recommended that NASA should re-certify the shuttle if it wanted to fly it after 2010. The White House determined that NASA would finish the ISS by 2010 and stated that this is when the shuttle would be retired.

    That can’t be right. If that were true, we wouldn’t be able to call it an arbitrary date, and blame it on Bush.

  • “You don’t even try to appear non-partisan do you?”

    Hmmm, Cecil. My impression, having been on this list for some months now, is that too often conservative opinions are treated as any gods’ own truth, while any other opinions are (at best) partisan. It is okay to make the wildest unfounded speculative accusations against the Clinton Administration, but make the most innocuous suggestion that Mr. Bush might be motivated by political considerations or by benefiting his own party and somehow that is partisan.

    I would suggest that everyone on all sides is being partisan and, within the reasonable bounds of politeness and recognizing that we do in the end all have to get along, that is a good thing. This is, after all, a political list.

    The great value of a list like this, to me, is that it helps me hone my own opinions. I get ideas I wouldn’t have thought of and I have to respond to arguments from people I profoundly disagree with. In addition to being fun, it makes for better articles.

    A “non-partisan” list where everyone agreed with each other or where there was universal acceptance of the idea that the currently fashionable conservative dogma was somehow inherently superior to the liberal dogma from my youth would be of no use whatsoever, to me or anyone else.

    – Donald

  • Cecil Trotter

    Who said anything about everyone agreeing? I’m not looking for a Maoist, every one wearing the same cloths type discussion just one based on facts and not political rhetoric. You do well most of the time Donald by not basing your posts on rhetoric, although you sometimes let a bit seep in (as I do). Mr. Kuperberg posts on the other hand are usually based in rhetoric and not much else.

    Like Mr. Berger stated above, the CAIB recommended that the Shuttle be re-certified in 2010 if it were to continue to fly. I see you didn’t bother to post anything on that fact, rather you choose only to reprimand me for my calling Kuperberg on his obvious anti-Bush propaganda.

  • “You do well most of the time Donald by not basing your posts on rhetoric,”

    Thanks for the complement, Cecil, and I really do take it that way.

    My complaint was directed less at you than at _my perception_ of the way you called Greg to task without apparently holding some of the conservatives on this list to equal standards. . . .

    – Donald

  • So umm what partisan am I if i hate both the major parties? ;) (Besides the insane partisan)

    I agree the arguments here are of value to me it forces me to reevalute my ideas and rethink things from different points of view. I’ve learned ALOT from the discussions on this blog from the past year. Particularly, get other people to do my politicing for me, cause I suck at it!

  • Cecil and Rand object that I see politics in Bush’s decision to retire the space shuttle in 2010. But I see no reason to engage in intellectual affirmative action for Bush Administration. For all I know, Gore’s space policy or Kerry’s space policy would have been just as cynical as that of Bush. Indeed, human spaceflight policy may have to be cynical these days. But that is a purely hypothetical question. Republicans control Washington and they should be held accountable for their governance.

    I have to agree with Donald Robertson that many Republicans respond these days to punditry and journalism generally with the philosophy, “what’s ours is ours; what’s yours we share.” This also applies to a lot of people who don’t want to admit or believe that their thinking is Republican. (On the other hand many Republicans are honest and reasonable, notably Vern Ehlers in the case of space and science policy.) Granted, politics is equally lopsided in reverse in cities like Berkeley, but what I’m talking about is the controlling ideology of the federal goverment.

    Human spaceflight has long been a pet patronage cow of many Congress, both Republican and Democrat; and in particular JSC is newly in Tom Delay’s district. So the political advantage to Bush of not retiring the shuttle himself is completely obvious and, I would think, beyond dispute. The question is whether the calculation is 100% political, or if there is any technical reason to postpone either retirement or recertification of the space all the way to 2010, instead of demanding it in 2004.

    CAIB did recommend 2010 for recertification, but why? In the relevant chapter of the CAIB report, the date is plucked out of thin air. So is the assertion that the shuttle is “not inherently unsafe”, given the evidence in the rest of the report that the shuttle is inherently unsafe. Moreover, CAIB was not a NASA safety advisory board; it was a postmortem committee of last resort. For example, one of its most technically literate members was Doug Osheroff. I really admire people like Osheroff, but he is an expert in superfluid helium and not rocket safety. So I see nothing technically sacred about the 2010 date. And even when Bush does get advice from experts in the field, which was not the case with CAIB, he sometimes bends it to his liking.

  • “But I see no reason to engage in intellectual affirmative action for Bush Administration.”

    Good! There is no shortage of that in the world and I hardly think we need any more.

    – Donald

  • My dance troupe is performing in Prague, so will be off this list for approximately two weeks — but that does not mean that I concede anything! See you all when I return.

    – Donald

  • Cecil Trotter

    Kuperberg: “Cecil and Rand object that I see politics in Bush’s decision to retire the space shuttle in 2010.”

    I can’t speak for Rand, but I don’t object in what you “see”. I object to what you “imagine” with nothing to base it upon.

    Kuperberg: “CAIB did recommend 2010 for recertification, but why? In the relevant chapter of the CAIB report, the date is plucked out of thin air.”

    So now you’re saying that the CAIB pulled 2010 out of thin air? I thought Bush picked 2010 because it was the year after he left office?

    Which story are you sticking with?

  • Cecil Trotter

    Best wishes and a safe voyage Donald!

  • Cecil: Whatever the reason was that CAIB picked 2010 for recertification — and there may well be politics behind it — Bush co-opted it as a politically convenient date, and he also changed its interpretation. If it was only that Bush wanted to avoid recertification, he could have taken any date before 2010 just as well.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Kuperberg: “Whatever the reason was that CAIB picked 2010 ……..Bush co-opted it..”

    And on what facts do you base that assertion?

    Kuperberg: “If it was only that Bush wanted to avoid recertification, he could have taken any date before 2010 just as well.”

    But why do so? Why pick 2008 if we need the shuttle for as long as we can safely fly it, but not so long as we are forced to re-certify it at great exspense? If your insurance is going to expire on your car next year and for what ever reason it will be too exspensive to renew then, would you just stop driving that car now??

    You make some wild accusations, but are very weak on facts to back them up.

  • Thanks, Cecil, I will.

    Regarding the 2010 date, I never thought of it, but I have to say that Greg’s theory does make a certain amount of political sense. But if true, this particular item is no more a negative on Mr. Bush than it is on most politicians who will gladly push uncomfortable choices into the next individual’s term. Eliminating deficits come to mind. Such behavior may be craven, but it would hardly be unique to this administration.

    And, I think we all agree that shutting down the Shuttle program will not be a politically easy thing to do. If the administration were in any doubt, the HST fiasco would have set them right. . . .

    – Donald

  • Dwayne A. Day

    I worked on CAIB as an investigator in the policy and NASA organization group (which also covered the history and budget of the Shuttle program).

    The call for recertification was suggested by the military board members, who had previously overseen recertification of military aircraft. I believe that the C-141 transport was one of the aircraft they cited. When they suggested it, they did not know exactly what it would entail, but they wanted it modeled on military recertification programs. They assumed that it would involve a complete inspection of every orbiter part, and with somebody personally signing off on each inspected part. (Contrary to popular belief, the shuttle orbiter is not completely taken apart after every flight. In fact, many parts of the shuttle orbiters had not been opened and inspected since they were built. That explains, for instance, how problems were found in the speed brake system after the Columbia accident.)

    The date 2010 was selected, if I remember correctly, because the board assumed that by that time the ISS would be completed. Thus, it was a compromise date–the board wanted to allow NASA to complete the ISS, but it wanted to strongly discourage flying the shuttle beyond that point. In particular, my policy and organization group had demonstrated to the board how the shuttle retirement date had moved numerous times, eventually slipping to 2020. They thought that was sloppy and that the agency needed to make a firm decision about the future of the shuttle program. So they picked the earliest date that would allow NASA to complete its goal of finishing the ISS. At the time, the board did not expect that return to flight would take so long.

    There was nothing “political” about the selection of the date. In fact, in my five plus months there, I never heard politics discussed. Nobody even talked much about the Iraq war that was then going on. We were all too busy to worry about things that we could not affect. And in fact, the few times that members of Congress showed up while we were down in Houston, or members or their staffers showed up after we moved to DC, we found them to be distractions from our work. (I briefed a US senator on the investigation, which ultimately seemed rather pointless. In fact, Admiral Gehman had to encourage CAIB staff to talk to congressional staff, telling us that Congress would ultimately be the enforcement mechanism for our investigation.) However, it was clearly a policy decision to select that date for recertification.

    “Moreover, CAIB was not a NASA safety advisory board; it was a postmortem committee of last resort. For example, one of its most technically literate members was Doug Osheroff. I really admire people like Osheroff, but he is an expert in superfluid helium and not rocket safety. So I see nothing technically sacred about the 2010 date. And even when Bush does get advice from experts in the field, which was not the case with CAIB, he sometimes bends it to his liking.”

    You really know nothing at all about the CAIB. We had a large number of experts working for us in various areas. We had trained accident investigators, military and civilian. We had engineers and technicians and scientists. We actually had the NTSB’s chief scientist on the board. In the policy and organization group that I was part of, we had something like five Ph.D.s alone. And Osheroff’s qualification was not “technical literacy.” It was scientific excellence and the inquisitiveness and discipline that accompanies it. Osheroff made many contributions, but the one that sticks out most in my memory is that he pointed out that 1) foam was not supposed to come off the ET, 2) foam was coming off the ET since the first flight, 3) NASA accepted this, and 4) nobody ever asked WHY foam came off the ET. This lack of curiousity, Osheroff pointed out, was the sign of a sick engineering operation.

  • Dwayne: Your response is technically correct, but it also rests on misinterpretations of what I said. When I said that CAIB was not a NASA safety advisory board, I meant that the 12 voting members are not experts in rocket safety. Which they aren’t. I completely understand that the board had access to rocket safety experts and many other kinds of experts. But having access to a particular kind of expert is not the same thing as being that kind of expert. Even if you talked for a month to a brain surgery expert, you still wouldn’t be one.

    When I said that Osheroff possesses technical literacy, you’re right that this was, in a way, an absurd understatement. I meant it only as professional reserve. Osheroff is indeed excellent, inquisitive, and discipline. He is, in fact, a brilliant expert, but not in rocket safety. So although Osheroff is the perfect audience for safety experts and a great choice for an outside committee of last resort, he is still not the direct article.

    And when I speculated that the 2010 deadline was based on politics, I did not mean that a parade of Republicans and Democrats marched by the CAIB. In fact, you confirmed exactly what I meant: Instead of choosing 2010 purely on the basis of safety, CAIB compromised to keep NASA happy. Just because the space station is not finished, that does not actually make the space shuttle any safer. The space station is a political construct, so delaying recertification to let NASA complete it is a politicial decision.

    As you can expect with politics, a plan or a deadline can become an idée fixe even as its consequences change completely. CAIB chose 2010 to let NASA finish the space station. But now, Bush and Griffin between them are changing the space station to keep the 2010 deadline. I support this turn of events, ironic and cynical though it is.

  • Dwayne A. Day

    “When I said that CAIB was not a NASA safety advisory board, I meant that the 12 voting members are not experts in rocket safety.”

    Actually, you’re wrong. Brigadier General Duane Deal served on numerous accident rocket failure investigation boards and has extensive space experience. Other board members (Turcotte, Wallace, Barry, Hallock) were experts in aircraft accident investigation. Barry had worked as a staffer on the Challenger accident investigation. And the next level below them included extensive rocket safety experience. For instance, Dr. Paul Wilde, who worked closely with Scott Hubbard and Dr. Hallock, at the time was a key person in the FAA office for licensing commercial rocket launches and had previously worked on launch range safety for Vandenberg Air Force Base, including issues relating to the Titan IV.

    As for the rest of your comments, I think that you are being disingenuous. But I am about to head off to JPL to watch NASA smash a comet, and don’t have time (or interest) to participate in this discussion anymore.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Day: “I think that you are being disingenuous.”

    And you’re being generous in that accessment.

  • All right, Duane Deal is an exception; he is a real rocket safety expert. That is consistent with his public position that the main report didn’t go far enough. (I also miscounted by one; the board has 13 members and not 12.)

    It would still be interesting to learn (from Dwayne Day or anyone else) how the board concluded that the shuttle is “not inherently unsafe”. Because Deal does make it sound inherently unsafe, certainly the shuttle plus the way that NASA operates it.

  • “Inherently unsafe” is a meaningless phrase, until it’s quantified (which is why polemicists like to use it). There’s no perfectly safe system, except one that doesn’t get built, or fly.

  • It is true that “inherently unsafe” and “not inherently unsafe” are equally meaningless. In this case the CAIB report seems to take “inherently unsafe” to mean “intolerably and incurably unsafe”. Certainly the CAIB report implies that the shuttle has been intolerably unsafe. But here the report implies, without explanation, that the safety problems can be fixed.

  • TORO

    The CAIB report is an excellent accident safety investigation report – it will stand the test of time and help future accident investigators regarding how to do the whole enchalada – compare the report to the Challenger inquisition: there is really no comparison and the CAIB saved a lot of Congress men and women’s time – so in that respect Congress learned their lesson perhaps.

    Almost every CAIB member and advisor had the word “safety” in their titles. I noted only one advisor with the word “quality” – so the sociolgist used terms like normalization of variance or whatever which were just reinventions of the Taguchi principle. But with ISO-9000, quality is a forgotten principle – just a documentation process. The recent return to flight review celebration is another tribute to the celebration of preflight review to hope and cross fingers to achieve safety – a celebration of the addict’s dependency upon inspection because the product lacks quality to begin with. That is the prevailing dissentless culture.

  • I know I am not a part of this discussion, but after reading the debate from being to end something hits me. It seems we need to define what we mean by political. Everything is political in some way or other.

    When Greg made his original statement that “The only clear rationale for this date is that it is the year that Bush leaves office, plus one.”, he was in effect saying that the politics involved in the decision were purely to support President Bush. But as the CAIB report and Dawyne came in (who’s writing I have enjoyed greatly), the argument was changed that it was simply a political decision, for NASA or in general.

    I would have to agree that the decision certainly had some political basis, at least from NASA. I would disagree that it was made simply to make President Bush’s life easier.

    Just an opinion. Continue…

  • I acknowledge Dan’s point that my argument looks like it shifted when I elaborated it. From that point of view, the original comment was indeed overstated. But when I said that the only clear rationale was the end of Bush’s second term, I did have in mind that there are other rationales, just obscure ones.

    Does the CAIB choice of the same 2010 count as a clear rationale? I really don’t think so. Why CAIB chose 2010 isn’t all that clear, and it is even less clear why Bush chose the same 2010 for a very different goal. As I said, he and Griffin between them have turned it upside-down: CAIB chose 2010 to let NASA finish the space station, while Bush and Griffin are now changing the space station to meet the 2010 deadline.

    So if they are truncating the space station to meet a self-imposed 2010 deadline, why not truncate it to meet a 2005 deadline?

  • TORO

    The “Right Stuff Era” is not quite yet over. It still lingers. The unlearned lessons of Apollo 13 are fewer but continue. A new era will come, but not for a while here, but the Red sun is also rising. Perhaps when the last Orbiter (1)flies and is retired with great pride and fanfare and glory, or (2) is blown to Smitherines leaving Americans shocked, stunned and bewildered, either way we should look back and realize that outcome (1) and (2)are roughly the flip of a coin from this point to 2010.

  • So if they are truncating the space station to meet a self-imposed 2010 deadline, why not truncate it to meet a 2005 deadline?

    You won’t get an argument from me. I think we would have been better off to have dropped it after Challenger.

    But I do understand bureaucracy, as I work with the Army a great deal. Deadlines initially have a purpose, but later the deadline becomes the purpose. It is a fact of life, as it makes the people who stamp the paperwork happier (and as we all know, it is the clerks who run the empire. — Smilie to anyone who can name that quote)

    Also, what if instead he had said, “As soon as the Shuttle is done with the ISS, we will ground it”? I believe it would never happen. Without a hard deadline, things don’t get done. At least not in my world.

  • …the report implies, without explanation, that the safety problems can be fixed.

    I think it was wishful thinking. They can’t be, as Griffin and the safety panel admitted a few days ago. Nonetheless, it’s safe enough to fly, given that those flying it understand the risk.

  • Rand: As you like to point out, the personal concerns of the astronauts are not the real issue. They are after all only seven people. The real issue is that the United States has a tremendous financial, emotional, and political investment in the space shuttle as a tool and a symbol, and in the astronauts as public heroes. That is why the Columbia crash was traumatic to the nation, and why another shuttle crash would be even more traumatic.

    I predict that another shuttle crash would discredit American government funding of human spaceflight. I personally don’t care, but those are the real stakes. So the CAIB report, minus its wishful thinking, and even more the comments from Duane Deal and people like Jud Lovingood can be taken as a stern warning to NASA.

    That said, I think that all that Griffin has really conceded is that some of CAIB’s recommendations are impossible. Like Deal, but unlike O’Keefe, Griffin seems to understand the difference between flight safety recommendations and flight safety. If anything, the shuttle might be less likely to crash if they let go of some of their obsession with foam debris.

  • I have to agree with Dwayne Day about one thing. Deep Impact is great! It’s some of the best 4th of July fireworks ever.

    It’s also much better than the boring space shuttle and pathetic space station.

  • Dfens

    Everything is political in some way or other.

    Bingo! The funny thing to me is the fact that no Senator is asking for some “non-political” study regarding why we should keep that POS shuttle. I mean, sure our space exploration program has been an unmitigated failure for the last 30 years, but let’s not get rid of the shuttle!

    Of course, this whole thing underscores Griffin’s lack of understanding of politics. If he was smart in the way he needs to be smart, he would be keeping a much lower profile. He would not be talking about killing the shuttle in 2010 – that’s crazy talk. All he’s doing is giving the lobbyists a rally point to save their rice bowl.

    If Griffin was politically smart, he would be funding a study to SAVE the shuttle. A study that would, in fact, be developing ways to replace it. Then he could spend several years cutting the rug out from under shuttle by reallocating their people, budget, and contractors to organizations run by people he trusts. Once he had his shuttle alternative program in place, complete with a supplier and all their lobbing clout, then he’d let the shuttle fade away. If Griffin was really smart he’d spend an hour or two with Karl Rove instead of spending all his time hanging with his geek buddies at NASA hq.

    He should have never taken on the most powerful program in NASA directly. That’s just stupid. This guy needs to decide if he’s going to be another crusader dashed on the rocks of Washington politics or if he’s going to be someone who really changes things.

  • Cecil Trotter

    “He would not be talking about killing the shuttle in 2010 – that’s crazy talk. All he’s doing is giving the lobbyists a rally point to save their rice bowl.”

    Just where are these lobbyists who are trying to save the shuttle? By all acounts all but the most rapid shuttle supporters have now finally come to the realization that the shuttles time is rapidly coming to a close.

  • Dfens

    Where are these lobbyists? How naive! The consensus among those in the technical community is that shuttle is bad, therefore there is no lobby for the shuttle any more? Hell, shuttle would have been gone long ago if that’s all it took. So were is the shuttle lobby? How many thousands at NASA draw a paycheck directly from shuttle funds? How many contractors draw a paycheck directly from shuttle funds? Some of these people draw some pretty substantial paychecks too.

    You seriously believe these people are going to see their gravy train come to an end and not say a word? You think they are going to watch their rice bowl be emptied and not lift a finger? Congressmen who hinge their reelection hopes on the shuttle pork they bring home, they are just going to sit quietly by and watch their pigs be herded off to another district?

    You must be hanging with Griffin. And notice I did not say he was wrong. I’m just concerned that he will be right and FAIL.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Dfens: “Where are these lobbyists? How naive!..rant rant… blah blah”

    Well, where are they? Give me some statements by some Congressmen/Senators praising the Shuttle and saying we should fly it for 20-30 more years…. I can give you plenty of statements from those who say it’s time has come. The shuttles days are numbered. You are the one who is being naive if you think it isn’t.

  • Dfens

    I certainly hope you are right. Historically the shuttle has been very resilient. Once they get past the bad press of their last failure, I think you will see they still have some fight left. You’re only seeing the start of it now. I’ll be more than happy to be wrong.

  • I put forward you’ld be hard pressed to ever find a senetor/congressman to say the shuttle should be flying for 25 years.. anytime in the last 20. We, the space communtiy, is anything more then a special interest and a very minor one at that, as evidence by the last presidental election.

    Most of them do not care, and when bills of such come up they ask their staffers for opinion. Other methods for choosing how to vote occur two like “You vote for my pet project and I’ll vote for yours.”

    Any possible status quo space lobbying will be done on the down low, its not a good clime for it. And the two entities that are interested in the status quo is Boeing and Lockheed. Lockheed has the contract for that multipurpose (man will congress ever learn?) jet fighter and has there future set. While Boeing just had a change of CEO’s. So at the moment they are a bit busy. Any lobbying, overt or covert would begin after the shuttle lands sucessfully in a couple of weeks.

    However as Boeing and Lockheed are the two purposals up for the CEV, they have the interest in keeping the shuttle flying. However groups like t/SPace and SpaceX if successful there is incentive in get the CEV out quickly, before the little guys do it themselves.

    So the semi overt movements the lobbyists may do is to be going against the little guys. But again the overtness will not be extreme, as its a wrong clime for that.

    We as a space community need to be watchfull of such lobbying and call them out on it.

    Next week will be an interesting week in possible lobbying efforts. Both return to flight, and The DoD annoucment on the winning 4 proposals for the hybrid delta resuable first stage contract.

    I would be alot more worried about the lobbyists if O’Keefe was still running things. At this time i’m just not as sure about Griffin. He is making the right noises.

  • Dfens

    If there’s money to be made, its like blood in the water for the aerospace giants. What they want is to maintain status quo with regard to shuttle AND have a shuttle replacement program they can milk for the next 20 years (like F-22). They will lobby for that, covertly at first, as you mentioned.

    These companies have a lot of power. Ironically, NASA and the DoD see to it they do. They encourage the big companies to buy smaller aerospace competitors. The way they argue it, it gives them more leverage because the big companies have more at and to risk. In reality it hasn’t worked that way. The big companies risk less and make more.

  • Dfens

    If you bring up this transcript of Griffin’s speech on June 21, where he compares NASA to a bank (begins in the middle of page 4), you’ll see how NASA gets so tied to their contractors. The sad thing is, a bank would not over extend themselves this way, and would go out of business if they did. NASA, on the other hand, gets screwed time after time (it’s not really their money, though, it’s yours and mine), and can’t figure out that it’s time to climb out of that bed. The new NASA administrator admits to this incestuous relationship, and no one in the room thinks anything of it.