Milspace budget woes

It’s not very surprising, but a Senate subcommittee voted earlier this week to cut money from several high-profile, troubled military space programs. The cuts, made by the defense subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, include $250 million from the T-Sat program, $125 million from Space Radar, and $100 million from SBIRS. The House had already made similar cuts in its version of the budget. The cuts come at a time when there’s a strong debate over whether military space acquisition programs in general are “broken”, since nearly every major program is suffering from delays and cost overruns. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO) said yesterday that these problems “threaten our space dominance”, while Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who co-chairs the Congressional Space Power Caucus with Sen. Allard, warned last week that budget cuts like those working their way through Congress “seriously risk damaging our industrial base, and in turn, our capabilities.” This is a key issue arguably as important to the nation as NASA’s exploration plan, but with only a small fraction of the public visibility.

7 comments to Milspace budget woes

  • Brent

    As much as I’m pro-space and rabidly pro-military space, I don’t mind these slashes so much. T-Sat and associated nonsense never was, is not, and never will be true space power. Space Command and pro-milspace people need to realize that (much like NASA supporters and the space shuttle), not all space programs are worth funding.

  • Yup, money is not the problem here.

    The problem is people, education, expertise, infrastructure, incentives, competition, and the top level political and military motivation to want all of these things.

  • TORO

    The BIG news, is NASA’s new top dog calling the Space Shuttle ansd Space Stations a “mistake”.

    They were ther mistakes of the Apollo era non-leaders… the failure is not a stock market option gang. None of them led.

    The Skylab design also did not incorporate the Apollo 13 complete independent redundancy unlearned lesson.

    NASA did not learn its lessons from Apollo 13 – POLITICAL lessons as well as engineering design lessons now incorporated into modern double hull oil tankers and Dutch double redundant levys (unlike New Orleans).

    The lesson and the success of the lesson were right before the Apollo non-leaders eyes.

    But nobody – nobody stepped up to lead NASA.

    The mistakes of Apollo are the failure of LEADERSHIP.

    Nobody has led NASA. Arnie Aldrich came close when he said before the Challenger inquisition that there should have been more self-reflection – more lesson learning.

    So now NASA is 40 years behind the oil tanker manufacturers, auto manufacturers, and Dutch levy designers.

    This nation, as Plato predicted, infights day to day momentary voteswing issues and fails to plan for the future.

    Quality is a forgotten – even emitted from the SR and “Q” A title in NASA organizations.

  • Nyarlathotep

    How about they cut the $100B a year wasted on useless missile defence systems?

  • Have just read the second Reuters article that Jeff links to; Ron Sega has said some encouraging things:

    “Sega, who directed Pentagon research for four years, stopped short of saying space programs were in crisis but said his previous work made it clear that the technological maturity of current programs differed widely.

    “We would be well-served to lower the risk as we build operational systems and make sure that we have the parts we need and … make sure the technology is mature,” he said.

    Opting for more mature technology would help speed up the launch of new systems because it would lower the risk of technological setbacks, he said.

    At the same time, he said the Air Force needed to continue to put resources into developmental systems, advanced research projects and science and technology funding.”

    This was the subject of a recent discussion over here and it’s good to see that at least someone at AF is reading those GAO reports.

    Rep. Jane Harman worries about damaging the industrial base, but as Dfens often describes on here the damage has already been done by incentivising corporate research programs to never reach the finish line.

    There are now a sizeable fraction of the research programs out there that are full of deadheads who don’t know what they’re doing and managers who only know how write deliverables they can wiggle out of and to milk government contracts for all they’re worth. There are also many talented (often demoralized) engineers among them, but their efforts are thwarted by their colleagues or bad middle managers.

    A pragmatic thing to do next is fix the corporate research incentives to re-establish an engineering meritocracy within these organizations.

  • William Berger

    “The BIG news, is NASA’s new top dog calling the Space Shuttle ansd Space Stations a “mistake”.”

    Which was NOT the topic of this posting. It is about military space. Try reading the website before you post.

    “How about they cut the $100B a year wasted on useless missile defence systems?”

    $100 BILLION? Care to substantiate that figure? You cannot. You just made it up.

    Seriously, the postings on this board are frequently idiotic. It’s pathetic that there is not a viable space discussion forum on the internet.

  • the postings on this board are frequently idiotic.

    William, this is a political discussion, what do you expect?

    — Donald