Congress

A move against “Mars mission funding”

The full House is currently debating HR 5672, the Science, State, Justice, and Commerce appropriations bill, although they have not yet debated any of the NASA provisions of the bill. However, the AP reports this morning that some members will attempt as early as today to cut exploration program funding from NASA and distribute it elsewhere within—or outside—NASA:

Democrats plan to try to cut spending for the moon-Mars initiative, which would return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2020 and to Mars after that, and spend the money instead on other NASA programs or grants to local police at a time when violent crime rates are rising.

Opponents of the Mars mission says it’s too expensive and that unmanned space travel produces better science per dollar spent. Others say there are more pressing needs here on Earth.

“It’s a complete and total waste of money,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. “The manned shot to Mars is a pure boondoggle.”

The article notes that opponents of the program are emboldened because Tom DeLay, the most powerful supporter of the space agency, has retired from the House. However, even if this vote went on straight party lines (which seems unlikely since a number of Democrats support the program), it would still fail provided Republicans closed ranks in support of the space agency.

71 comments to A move against “Mars mission funding”

  • Once again, the implicit assumption that the reason we do this is for science. This is why we make no progress in debating space policy.

  • Rand Simberg: Once again, the implicit assumption that the reason we do this is for science. This is why we make no progress in debating space policy.

    If this is a real problem, there is no one to blame other than the political architects of the VSE. They insisted that exploration is about more than science, but when they actually detailed the Vision back in February, 2004, the only end missions that they described were science missions.

    So, in the end, the mantra that exploration is more than science is just another colossal political misdirection of our times. The vision is Mars, but the actual plan is the moon. “Today we set a new course”, but it will actually be followed only after the 44th president retires the space shuttle and finishes the space station. Space exploration is really about much more than science, but MASA has no actual plans to show it.

  • Anaxagoras

    Politicians are too frightened to be bold in their reasoning for space exploration. How many expeditions would have been sent to the New World from 16th-Century Europe if they had said that the only reason they were going was to study the wildlife?

  • mikez

    Be careful when you compare the New world colonization with the VSE. First off, a lot of things have changed since the 16th century. The 21st century has its own set of paradigms, mindsets, and driving forces.

    Secondly, I would not hesitate to coop to build a ship to take me and my family away to the new land where I may find 1. “gold” (in the all-encompassing sense), if not, 2. “freedom” (see above); at least some pasture and a scrap of land to build my farm on away from religious/political prosecution/not pay any taxes to the current queen/king.

    Without any of that, I believe, the European exploration missions would just fizzle away… and not lead to anything more substantial than some outposts.

    Does the VSE promise any of that at affordable prices?

  • Does the VSE promise any of that at affordable prices?

    VSE could, potentially, but ESAS doesn’t. That’s the other frustration–that people equate the two.

  • Does the VSE promise any of that at affordable prices?

    No. Nothing in the VSE as defined either by George Bush or Sean O’Keefe actually promised anything like gold, freedom, or colonization. All that they actually planned was some lame manned science expeditions that most scientists don’t want, and some rockets to carry out these expeditions. Even those plans are for future officeholders, and not for Bush and O’Keefe themselves.

    However, they did to an extent pretend to promise what you want, with grand slogans about vision, exploration, and so forth.

  • Mark R Whittington

    Looks like this is another assault on space exploration by the far left (seeing as Barney Frank is the spokesman.) It’s sadly a pheonomenom as old as space exploration, back when Proxmire and Mondale were saying much the same things.

    As for the business of science, I think that COTS and other things demonstrate that NASA certainly does not think it’s efforts are all about science. It’s just that Frank and his friends are using the tried and true playbook when it comes to attacking NASA (never mind that the Royal Astronautical Society put the whole robots vrs humans argument to rest some months ago.)

    Do not think, though, that people like Barney Frank are going to be any more symphathetic toward the idea of space exploration as furthering commerce. They are, after all, liberal democrats and thus do not like commerce or capitalism very much.

  • Chris Mann

    VSE can’t do anything. The president hasn’t yet outlined what it actually is.

  • Chris Mann

    Looks like this is another assault on space exploration by the far left

    No it doesn’t, the article showed democratic support for further unmanned mars missions?

    No, this is an assault on the aerospace military industrial complex.

  • Looks like this is another assault on space exploration by the far left

    Yeah, really — when will they learn that astronauts don’t cut and run.

  • OF course, lets blame democrats, convientaly forgetting all the dems that are in favor of space colonization, or that the entire space program was started by great democrats like JFK and LBJ, and was gutted by Nixon. And lets also forget the fact that, aside the small scale COTS (which has a lot of great potential), ESAS and VSE will never provide any grand push for space colonization.

    In fact, lets totally ignore the fact that the real story here is that the Republicans have so poisened the water of discorse in DC to make it that, for the most part, we dems can’t stomach anything king George wants.

    And before anyone says anything, yes I do agree with Rand on one thing – Space needs to stop being just about science.

    Actually, I’ve got a question for Jeff Foust – Jeff, seriously, where do you fall in the political spectrum?

  • Ferris Valyn: convienently forgetting all the dems that are in favor of space colonization

    Damn, I wish I could.

    for the most part, we dems can’t stomach anything king George wants.

    What is this “we” nonsense? You are totally putting the cart before the horse. I agree that the water of discourse is poisoned, but that’s a bad reason to oppose Bush’s policies. They should be opposed because they’re bad policies, and not just so that “we” can save face.

    In my view, every once in a while there is a small reason to have voted for Bush, or at least not to have voted against him. For example, when he gave up on the steel tariffs that he and the Democrats shamefully supported. These things just don’t happen very often.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Ferris forgets that Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon have one thing in common. They are dead.

    “In fact, lets totally ignore the fact that the real story here is that the Republicans have so poisened the water of discorse in DC to make it that, for the most part, we dems can’t stomach anything king George wants.”

    So let me get this straight. The libs are just so damn mad at GW Bush that they are willing to junk anything he proposes, no matter what? I suppose that if the President touted the virtues of cleanliness, the libs would stop bathing.

    And of course this insane idea is also GW Bush’s fault. Amazing.

  • Rick Sterling

    The Amendment to HR 5672-NASA Funding bill that would have cancelled the VSE was withdrawn at 12:34 today.

  • Mark, them being dead is relevent how???

    Secondly, we get accused of being unpatriotic if we don’t role over and play dead for GWB anytime he wants to do something. We get accused of hating families because we don’t want to turn the country over to a bunch of religious nutcases. We get accused of hating workers because we want business to be honest. We get accused of hating babies because of abortion and stem cells. Hell, you’d think we were worse than Satan listening to republicans

    To be fair, no it wasn’t just GWB – we have a Congress that has rolled over and played dead for so many years. We have a news media that’s rolled over largely since 9/11 (although that is beginning to change). This is why dems need to retake the Congress.

    But George is the defacto leader of your party – shut him down, we can begin moving forward

  • …the entire space program was started by great democrats like JFK and LBJ, and was gutted by Nixon.

    JFK and LBJ supported the space program for reasons having little to do with space (JFK is on record has stating that he didn’t care about space). LBJ cancelled Apollo. Nixon initiated the Shuttle, which was intended to be the “next logical step” (again, for reasons having little to do with space).

    You need to study the actual history a little more, without such partisan blinders. There was no Camelot. No president has made space a very high priority, and certainly no president shares space enthusiasts’ goals, though the current president’s policy comes closer to it than any previous one.

    And no, I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a Republican.

  • Edward Wright

    > No it doesn’t, the article showed democratic support for further unmanned mars missions?

    Unmanned missions are not exploration, they are merely reconnaissance. The dictionary defines exploration as “travel for purposes of discovery.” Sitting in a control room looking at pictures of Mars on a TV set is not exploration because it does not involve travel.

    Calling unmanned space “exploration” and unmanned probes “spaceships” is just an attempt to co-opt the language.

    Mark further confuses the issue by defined “space exploration” to mean only missions conducted by NASA, ignoring the fact that the private sector is also working on space exploration.

  • Mark further confuses the issue by defined “space exploration” to mean only missions conducted by NASA, ignoring the fact that the private sector is also working on space exploration.

    Yeah, I guess that much of the exploration of the American west by trappers, and the charting of the Pacific and west coast by whalers and sealers didn’t count, because it wasn’t government funded.

  • Rand, I admit that that part is true – I get pissed off though when the implication is that supporting space is fundmentally opposed to Democratic principles, while supporting space is fundmentally only a Republican principle.

    You are right though, no one has really cared for space, that is, as space. Look how hard Bush Sr. pushed for SEI.

    Rand, I do apologize for assuming you were a Republican – I’ve always assumed you were, given what I’ve read on your blog (yes, I will admit to only reading a few posts)

    It was really Mark who got me going.


    Greg – The problem is that the idea of honest debate has gone out the window. You need at least two sides to have debate, and right now, thanks to the Republicains in general, and Bush in particular, to even want to have a debate is to be accused of treason. You can’t compromise with an idealogue.

    And as I said, its not just Bush – look at Dennis Hastard’s comment “Only bills that have a majority of the majority will be brought to a vote” – In other words, only when a majority of Republicain will vote for a bill – a great example of this is the Immagration bill – there are enough R’s and D’s that a compromise bill based on the Senate bill, would pass the house – but it will never be brought to a vote because a majority of house republicains don’t want that type of bill to pass.

    You can’t hold real debate in that kind of climate.

  • Mark R Whittington

    Both Rand and Edward misrepresent my position, rather deliberately since they both know that I’m an enthusiastic supporter of private, commercial space ventures.

    However, there are currently very little if any commercial space exploration enterprises. Commercial space is concentrating on building hardware that is hoped to foster space tourism (sub orbital joy rides for the most part) and to decrease the cost of reaching low Earth orbit, much of the latter under the auspices of NASA under the COTS program. I know of no seriious private effort to go to the Moon or Mars. (The Artmeis Society effort remains a sad joke.)

    Some day there will be a totally privately funded, privately operated expedition to some place in the Solar System. But that will not likely happen in the near future, despite what might be wished for.

    Rand and Edward need to stop living in their dream palace, stop demonizing folks who disagree with them, and face some facts. NASA is not going away. Commercial space is not going to give anyone a ride to Mars next week. But the synergies between public and private space will open up the high frontier over time.

    Ferris’ argument is not with Republicans, but with elected Democrats. I certainly cannot help it if folks like Barney Frank think that space exploration is a “boondoggle” and that folks like President Bush do not think that.

  • Ferris: Rand, I do apologize for assuming you were a Republican

    You should say it more carefully, but I don’t see that you should apologize. There are a lot of people in the country who, whether or not they are or claim to be Republicans, are equivalent to Republicans. For example, suppose that Donald Rumsfeld said that he’s a registered Democrat. It might even be true. What real difference would it make?

    The problem is that the idea of honest debate has gone out the window.

    In some rooms it has, and some rooms it hasn’t. If honest debate is out the window, then there is no point in posturing about “we Democrats”; you might as well call yourself a Republican. And if honest debate isn’t out the window, then you also shouldn’t posture about “we Democrats”; you should instead talk about good and bad policies, and who is responsible for them.

    Anyway, in this case, the proposal by Barney Frank et al is completely correct, even if some of their arguments are inaccurate. Not one taxpayer cent should go to the illogical agenda of putting a Mars flag on the moon.

  • Chance

    It’s not a boondoggle?

  • Nor can Mark help the fact that if you want to have honest and fair debate, you can’t do it with the current group of Republicains in power.

    Edward – In a slight defense of Mark, it wasn’t Mark you were quoting eariler – that was chris Mann. But, if you seriously think robotic reconnaissance isn’t a part of exploration – you need to get a new dictionary and thesaurus.

  • Edward Wright

    > OF course, lets blame democrats, convientaly forgetting all the dems that
    > are in favor of space colonization, or that the entire space program was
    > started by great democrats like JFK and LBJ, and was gutted by Nixon.

    Here we go again. JFK’s goal was to land *a* man on the Moon — one man — and return him safely to the Earth. Period. LBJ was slightly more supportive of NASA, because he saw the agency as a permanent welfare system for the South, but it was LBJ, not Nixon, who began reducing the NASA budget. Nixon allowed the Apollo program to go on past the one manned landing than Kennedy had intended.

    There is no evidence that Kennedy or LBJ favored space colonization. The belief that Kennedy would have continued launching Apollos forever is a myth, like the belief that Kennedy would have ended the Vietnam War if he had lived. Neither are supported by the historical record.

    JFK and LBJ also gutted the military manned space programs that were working on reusable space vehicle development — X-15, Dyna-Soar, Reusable Atlas, etc. By making Apollo the sole manned space program, they set up a system that has held back the development of space transportation for 40 years.

    > And lets also forget the fact that, aside the small scale COTS (which has
    > a lot of great potential), ESAS and VSE will never provide any grand push
    > for space colonization.

    Agreed, but how is that different from JFK and LBJ? Bush’s Vision of Space Exploration is nothing more or less than LBJ’s vision. It is slightly more than JFK’s. It makes no sense to praise one and condemn the other.

    > we get accused of being unpatriotic if we don’t role over and play
    > dead for GWB anytime he wants to do something.

    No, if you get accused of being unpatriotric, it’s because you’re blinded by clouds of hate. The idea that anyone who’s religious or believes in national defense wants to “role over and play dead for GWB” is nonsense. I disagree with Bush on more issues than I agree, even though I’m among the “nutcases” on your enemies list.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Rick seems to be wrong, by the way. The Frank Amendment is being debated at 3:37 PM Eastern even as I type this.

  • mikez: Does the VSE promise any of that at affordable prices?

    Probably, but not in the near future. It took hundreds of years to get from initial European exploration to the US Constitution. Likewise, the wider social benefits of space exploration are probably quite real, but I expect they lie hundreds of years in the future.

    Greg: I agree that the water of discourse is poisoned, but that’s a bad reason to oppose Bush’s policies. They should be opposed because they’re bad policies. . . . In my view, every once in a while there is a small reason to have voted for Bush, or at least not to have voted against him.

    For example, in my opinion, the VSE.

    These things just don’t happen very often.

    As for the rest, I filly agree with you.

    Rand: JFK and LBJ supported the space program for reasons having little to do with space

    As a Democrat, I agree with you, but as you imply, this is true of all politicians. I would also agree with you that the only (possible) exception to date is Mr. Bush, or at least some of those in his Administration.

    Edward: Unmanned missions are not exploration, they are merely reconnaissance. The dictionary defines exploration as “travel for purposes of discovery.” Sitting in a control room looking at pictures of Mars on a TV set is not exploration because it does not involve travel. Calling unmanned space “exploration” and unmanned probes “spaceships” is just an attempt to co-opt the language.

    I fully agree.

    Mark: While your comment re. the rarity of commercial space is technically true, SpaceX, for example, has clearly stated that the ultimate goal of their efforts is private human spaceflight. You have to start somewhere and, when we can’t even send private individuals into orbit on private rockets, it’s a bit early to be talking about Mars. Also, you’re ignoring the comsat industry. Since Geosynchronous Clarke Orbit is a high-energy orbit, the comsat industry has kept in business our ability to reach deep space when no one else but a few space scientists cared. Without the comsat industry and the military market, I suspect (with no way of knowing) that the space scientists would have been out of luck.

    Mark: Rand and Edward need to stop living in their dream palace, stop demonizing folks who disagree with them, and face some facts. NASA is not going away. Commercial space is not going to give anyone a ride to Mars next week. But the synergies between public and private space will open up the high frontier over time.

    I wish I didn’t have to, but I fully agree with this. Edward seems to feel that I wish for his dreams to be false. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What I actually believe is that they are a decade or three before their time. And, I truly wish I didn’t have to believe that, but, unfortunately, that is the way the real world appears to me.

    – Donald

  • Edward Wright: The idea that anyone who’s religious or believes in national defense wants to “role over and play dead for GWB” is nonsense.

    I totally agree with that. A lot of what Bush is doing weakens the nation’s defense and is also antithetical to the teachings of Christ.

    Bush’s Vision of Space Exploration is nothing more or less than LBJ’s vision.

    Sort of, except that in Bush’s case, it’s only a vision. Human spaceflight has made less actual progress than under any president since Carter. I don’t mean that as a criticism by the way — if the VSE were sincere, it would be a vastly larger boondoggle.

  • Ferris: But, if you seriously think robotic reconnaissance isn’t a part of exploration – you need to get a new dictionary and thesaurus.

    My OED defines “Explore” as,

    1. Travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order to learn about it. 2. Investigate or discuss in detail. 3. Examine by touch.

    I rest Edward’s case!

    – Donald

  • Mark R Whittington

    I just listened to the debate, which ended about 3:50 PM Eastern. The crux of the argument appears to be that the Frank Amendment was so vaguely written that it would not only cancel any sort of “expedition to Mars”, but much of NASA. Frank denied this, of course, but his protestations do not seem to have convinced many people.

    I understand, by the way, that SpaceX’s (and that of other companies like Blue Origin) is private space explorataion. But that doesn’t contradict my assertion that we won’t be seeing that sort of thing in the near term.

  • The title of a medical article:

    Transabdominal sonography before uterine exploration as a predictor of retained placental fragments.

    Nope, doesn’t count! It shouldn’t have been called exploration, only mechanical reconnaissance. The doctor didn’t enter the uterus in person.

  • Edward, as I said, I dont’ deny that Kennedy or LBJ weren’t of the idea of grand space colonization – my only point is that space isn’t fundementally against Democratic principles.

    As far whether I consider you as one of the nutcases – well, I don’t know where you stand on any number of issues, so I can’t say one way or another – hell, we might agree on most things. And as I’ve said – if people want to have honest open debate, I am all for it, but we can’t have it with the current groups in power. People like George Bush, Rove, Cheney, Hastard, Delay, Norquest, Robertson, O’Reily – we know in general where they stand, and they have done everything they can to discourage open and honest debate

    —-
    Donald – why you think that people within the Bush administration view space as fundmentally important by itself remains a mystery to me – The only example of this would be Griffin (possibly) but he is by no means in the Administration inner circle, and barely in the outer circle (if at all).

    Edward and Donald – no where does it specifie the use of humans – it says travel – of who? or for that matter, what? It doesn’t give specific it has to be humans, or even that it has to be living. If you want to talk about MANNED exploration, you had damn well better MANNED. Exploration in no way implies manned exploration.

  • Edward Wright

    > I’m an enthusiastic supporter of [the very limited] private, commercial space ventures [foreseen by Mike Griffin].

    I replaced the words Mark inadvertantly left out. :-)

    There’s a big difference between COTS (fewer than a dozen commercial flights a year to ISS) and a vibrant, robust space transportation that enables many thousands of Americans to go to suborbit, orbit, the Moon, Mars, and Beyond.

    > However, there are currently very little if any commercial space
    > exploration enterprises. Commercial space is concentrating on building
    > hardware that is hoped to foster space tourism (sub orbital joy rides

    “Space tourism” is exploration, as defined by the dictionary. “Travel for purposes of discovery.”

    Denigrating space exploration that’s not done by the government as “tourism” or “joy rides” does not mean it isn’t exploration.

    > to decrease the cost of reaching low Earth orbit, much of the latter
    > under the auspices of NASA under the COTS program.

    A program that’s woefully underfunded so NASA can spend the bulk of its money developing Shuttle-Derived Vehicles that will *increase* the cost of reaching low Earth orbit.

    > I know of no seriious private effort to go to the Moon or Mars.

    You don’t know about Space Exploration Technologies, Bigelow, Space Adventures, or CSI, Mark?

    Why not? Many people have told you about those companies.

    Do you suppress any fact that contradicts your preconceived ideas?

    Or do you just write off any company that disagrees with you as not “seriious”?

    > Some day there will be a totally privately funded, privately operated
    > expedition to some place in the Solar System. But that will not likely
    > happen in the near future, despite what might be wished for.

    Evidence??? You said the same thing about human spaceflight before SpaceShip One.

    What do you know that Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow, Charles Miller, Ben Muniz, Eric Anderson, etc. do not?

    Those members of the “Internet rocket club” can back their claims with credible facts, figures, and in some cases, even hardware. What about you?

    Can you back up your claims with facts and figures rather than rhetoric and namecalling?

    Can you show us why it’s impossible for SpaceX, Bigelow, CSI, and Space Adventures to do what they say?

    If not, why should we believe they are not “seriious” and you are?

    > NASA is not going away.

    No one said NASA is going away (although you are certainly helping to destroy it). Please stop fibbing about what people say.

    > Commercial space is not going to give anyone a ride to Mars next week.

    Is that the best argument you can make for ESAS, Mark? You think NASA needs to send people to Mars next week — and ESAS will allow it???

  • Rick Sterling

    Barney Frank’s amendent was defeated by a voice vote. It would have prevented NASA from ever spending money on a manned Mars program. An earlier amendent was offered by Congressman Gilchrest. This amendment would have transferred $783 million from the NASA to NOAA. This amendent was withdrawn.

  • Mark R Whittington

    Rick, thanks for the clarification.

    Edward – You should not go on so. You might do yourself an injury (besides the one to your nonexistent credibility.)

  • you can’t do it with the current group of Republicains in power.

    But you can with the Democrats? Please. As I said, you’ll get a lot further along if you stop acting as though there were anything partisan about brain-deadness on space policy. It’s totally bipartisan.

  • Rand and Edward need to stop living in their dream palace, stop demonizing folks who disagree with them, and face some facts. NASA is not going away. Commercial space is not going to give anyone a ride to Mars next week.

    From what parallel Evil Spock universe did you post this, Mark?

    I haven’t “demonized” anyone (go look the word up). And I’ve never claimed that a) NASA is going away any time soon, or b) commercial space is going to give anyone a ride to Mars next week. Foolish strawmen like this are one of the (many) reasons it’s hard, in fact impossible, to take you seriously.

  • Rick Sterling

    Regarding JFK’s plans for advanced space travel, there is a great deal of evidence JFK was going to expand the US space effort to include manned interplanetary travel. For example, in 1962 JFK wrote the Soviet Premier & asked that they jointly begin working on manned interplanetary travel. Also on Dec. 12,1962, JFK stated regarding the NERVA nuclear rocket program, ” We have a good many areas competing for our availible space dollars , and we have to channel it into those programs which will bring a result-first, our Moon landing, and then consider Mars”.

  • VSE – Putting a Mars flag on the Moon.

    That’s great, where did you hear that?

  • Edward Wright

    > I dont’ deny that Kennedy or LBJ weren’t of the idea of grand space
    > colonization – my only point is that space isn’t fundementally against
    > Democratic principles.

    That’s not the point you made before. I don’t even know what it means. Space itself is just a place, a physical property. It’s not something you can be for or against.

    > As far whether I consider you as one of the nutcases – well, I don’t
    > know where you stand on any number of issues, so I can’t say one way or
    > another

    You characterized anyone who’s religious as a “nutcase.” Since I would include myself in that category, it seems you did say.

    > People like George Bush, Rove, Cheney, Hastard, Delay, Norquest,
    > Robertson, O’Reily – we know in general where they stand, and they have
    > done everything they can to discourage open and honest debate

    Where do you think they stand? One of the people on your list isn’t even a Republican.

    Stereotyping anyone who disagrees with you in any way as a mindless Bush supporter does not encourage “open and honest debate.”

    > Edward and Donald – no where does it specifie the use of humans – it says travel
    > – of who? or for that matter, what?

    The last time I checked, all the people watching televisions at JPL were human. Even if they’ve started hiring Vulcans, watching TV is still not travelling.

    Even if you shove a monkey into the capsule, he isn’t exploring space. He’s travelling, but not for purposes of exploration. He’s travelling because someone shoved him into the capsule and he couldn’t figure out how to get out.

    Even if I accepted that the monkey (or a robot) was exploring space, I happen to be a human and see no reason to spend my tax dollars so monkeys or robots (rather than humans) can explore space.

    If you want to have an open and honest debate about unmanned space science, then call it what it is — science, not exploration.

  • Rick Sterling

    By the way, I’m a Conservative Republican. I was a strong supporter of the policies of Senator Barry Goldwater. Sen. Goldwater was a strong supporter a a vigorous space effort. A fiend of mind once asked me this question. “If JFK was alive today, what’s the first thing he would do?” I said, “He would register as a Republican quick-damm quick.”

  • Edward Wright

    > I understand, by the way, that SpaceX’s (and that of other companies
    > like Blue Origin) is private space explorataion.
    > But that doesn’t contradict my assertion that we won’t be seeing
    > that sort of thing in the near term.

    Nor does it support your assertion, which remains nothing but an assertion.

    Like your assertion a few years ago that without NASA, human spaceflight would cease to exist.

    Or Michael Moore’s assertions that George W. Bush is in league with Al Queda. Anyone can make assertions.

    I’ve asked you to back up your latest assertion with facts and figures but, as usual, you have failed to respond.

    Do you think US government policy should be based on unsupported assertions?

  • Rick: A fiend of mind once asked me this question. “If JFK was alive today, what’s the first thing he would do?” I said, “He would register as a Republican quick-damm quick.”

    And, Nixon would probably register as a Democrat. The man had about as much respect of the law as the current occupant of the office (not much), but many of his proposed policies were far to the left of where any mainstream Democrat is today. (E.g., nationalized health in the traditional sense; “negative income tax”; learning to co-exist with the evil empire of the day. . . .)

    – Donald

  • Or Michael Moore’s assertions that George W. Bush is in league with Al Qaeda.

    It hints at the truth. Al Qaeda’s tangible demand all along was that the United States should remove its military bases from Saudi Arabia. One of the main reasons to invade Iraq was to satisfy their demand. Here is a quote from Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz:

    There are a lot of things that are different now, and one that has gone by almost unnoticed–but it’s huge–is that by complete mutual agreement between the U.S. and the Saudi government we can now remove almost all of our forces from Saudi Arabia. Their presence there over the last 12 years has been a source of enormous difficulty for a friendly government. It’s been a huge recruiting device for al Qaeda.

    Granted, direct appeasement is not exactly the same thing as being “in league”, but it goes in the same direction.

    Anyway, if Michael Moore’s accusations are about 30% true, the claim that human spaceflight would cease without NASA is about 90% true, at least within our remaining lifetimes.

  • And, Nixon would probably register as a Democrat.

    Rest assured that Liddy is a Republican.

    These historical transplantations are getty silly.

  • Edward – Actually, that is the point I made before. Let me put it another way – somebody who is a pacifist is fundementally against war – the implication that Mark was making was that if you want to be for the idea of Outer Space use and development (and all that that encompasses science, technology, space property rights, colonization, etc) you couldn’t be a Democrate. Thats the point I am making

    I said quote “We get accused of hating families because we don’t want to turn the country over to a bunch of religious nutcases.” That doesn’t mean that anyone who believes in God is a nutcase – I mean, hell, I believe in God – what I am refering to is a particular brand of relgious fundementalism on par with Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson (or Osama bin laden) – Religion is not required for being crazy, any more than being an atheist is a requirement for being crazy. Its this brand of religious fundementalism that I consider crazy/nutcase.

    As far as my list of people, 5 have a voting record, O’Reily claims he’s not a republicain, but he is (and even if he has changed his declared party, there is no doubt that he is largely a Republicain) and Norquest and Robertson have made many comments. Now, of course, they could be lieing, but then I’d have even less reason to trust them than I do know (of course, I don’t trust them at all right now)

    Believe me, I don’t need to stereotype those people. And I have not stereotyped you – Again, as I said, at no time have I said that having a religion is grounds for assuming someone is crazy.

    Finally, as regaurd science vs exploration, well, fundementally all science is exploration. What we really want is colonization (at least, IMHO) but the only difference between unmanned science vs unmanned exploration is one of semantics, as is the difference between manned science and manned exploration. But just saying science or exploration doesn’t specify who is doing it, which means it must include both manned and unmanned. Of course, this is why I’ve said that what we need to be arguing for is space colonization – no one can assume humans aren’t the primary group involved in that.

    Rand – I am not disputing the lack of a space policy on either side – but what I am saying is you can’t do anything with the current admin that means they have to compromise anything.

  • Rick Sterling

    Nixon’s one error was going off on a left wing tangent instead of sticking to a conservative platform. Watergate was a joke. If Ronald Reagan or Goldwater had been elected in 1964 or 68, I guarantee you that North Vietnam would had been bombed back to the stone age! The war would have ended early in 1969 & then a great deal of the country’s financial resources could have been spent on manned interplanetary travel–just like Von Braun wanted.

  • Greg: “Transabdominal sonography before uterine exploration as a predictor of retained placental fragments.” Nope, doesn’t count! It shouldn’t have been called exploration, only mechanical reconnaissance. The doctor didn’t enter the uterus in person.

    Actually, he probably did. Read it more carefully: “sonography before uterine exploration.” This was, in fact, sonographic reconnaissance before human exploration — exactly the way it should be done!

    Exploratory surgery, to my knowledge, is rarely automated. Since you are male, I can’t use the exact analogy, but the day you voluntarily go under the knife wielded by a robot for, say, prostate surgery, is the day I’ll take seriously your idea that a robot could successfully execute detailed geological exploration on an alien world.

    Donald

  • Jeff Foust

    Mr. Valyn writes:

    Actually, I’ve got a question for Jeff Foust – Jeff, seriously, where do you fall in the political spectrum?

    I fall somewhere in the middle: I’m attracted to neither liberal nor conservative extremes. I’m registered to vote in Maryland without a party affiliation.

    Thanks for asking.

  • Jeff Foust

    Mr. Sterling writes:

    The Amendment to HR 5672-NASA Funding bill that would have cancelled the VSE was withdrawn at 12:34 today.

    To clarify this (without reiterating too much what some of the previous commenters have said on the topic): this particular amendment was introduced by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), who wanted to transfer $783 from “various accounts” within NASA to NOAA. He withdrew the amendment after a brief floor debate; it appears he introduced it to get some attention for what he believes is an underfunded agency (NOAA).

    Later in the afternoon Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced an amendment “to prohibit funds from being used for a manned space mission to Mars.” Several Congressmen, both Republicans and Democrats, spoke out against the amendment, most making the argument that the amendment was too vaguely worded: it could either cover almost nothing, or it could include everything in the exploration account. Rep. David Obey (D-WI) spoke in favor of the amendment, along with Frank. The amendment was defeated in a voice vote and, later, on a roll call vote, although the statistics for the vote aren’t posted yet.

  • Actually, he probably did. Read it more carefully: “sonography before uterine exploration.”

    No, uterine exploration is performed with a mechanical probe, which is not the same thing as the doctor reaching in there with his hand. Only the probe explored the uterus, which doesn’t count according to some people’s definition on this page.

    I have the feeling though that you will never accept the example as long as a human is within 100 feet of the exploring device. So instead, let’s look at these examples:

    deep-sea exploration
    volcano exploration
    pyramid exploration
    cave exploration

    For some reason, no one told these people that it isn’t really exploration.

  • Edward Wright

    > By the way, I’m a Conservative Republican. I was a strong supporter of
    > the policies of Senator Barry Goldwater. Sen. Goldwater was a strong
    > supporter a a vigorous space effort.

    Rick, “a vigorous space effort” is not necessarily a euphemism for Project Apollo. In the 1960′s, most people who understood aviation recognized that ELVs and space capsules were a dead end. The real hope was considered to lie in the x-planes out at Edwards Air Force Base, which would keep flying faster and faster until they reached orbit. Goldwater, who was a general in the Air Force Reserve, probably understood that. I doubt he was happy when Kennedy and LBJ killed the military space programs so Apollo could have all the glory. (In one of his speeches, he talked about the need for a strong national defense and said, “This is a goal far more meaningful than a moonshot.”)

    > If Ronald Reagan or Goldwater had been elected in 1964 or 68, The war would
    > have ended early in 1969 & then a great deal of the country’s financial
    > resources could have been spent on manned interplanetary travel–just
    > like Von Braun wanted.

    I don’t know about Goldwater, but Reagan (the only US President with a real personal interest in space)definitely did not share the Von Braun vision. He wanted to open space for ordinary Americans, not just send government-sponsorsed aryan supermen on expensive trips. (Unfortunately, NASA did not share that vision and still doesn’t.)

  • Edward Wright

    > For some reason, no one told these people that it isn’t really exploration.

    Greg, you have heard of a “figure of speech,” haven’t you?

    TV Guide might say that you can “explore the universe and battle Klingons on Channel 6.” That doesn’t mean you’ll really be exploring the universe and fighting Klingons when you watch Star Trek.

    None of the surgeons I know would confuse an endoscopy with a trip to Africa (or outer space).

  • relgious fundementalism on par with Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson (or Osama bin laden)

    We’re really drifting way off topic here, but are you really, really equating Jerry Fallwell with Osama bin Laden?

    Do you consider this reasoned political discourse?

  • Greg, these are of course interesting sites. But, in two of them, they are still in development and have yet to demonstrate their purported capabilities. None of them are even advertising something remotely close to the capabilities that would be required to locate a fossil on Mars (or a sample of an early terrestrial continent on the moon), let alone study their history and distribution. Under any reasonable definition of the terms, all of these are “reconnaissance” robots.

    Tool use and automation are two different things. If a human is on site and in the loop, and with an extensive tool set, they can find fossils on Mars. Any robot on the drawing boards will not, no matter what tools it has.

    The problem is not brains, nor really manipulators (though robots have a long way to go to match a human hand), it is the interface between the two. The kinds of exact, fast, and automatic precision motor control that a human being casually executes is far, far beyond any capability even advertised in Wired, let alone achieved in the real world. Nor is it likely to be achieved for less money than it would cost to send already existing biological mechanisms and their supporting infrastructure to do the job. Mechanisms that are also self aware and can understand and appreciate what they are doing and seeing.

    I’ll stick by my test. When you’re ready to risk your own skin under a robotic knife, than I’ll listen to the idea that a robot could do everything required to find a fossil. Surgery and detailed geology or paleontology have significant tasks in common — precise manipulation, control, and sectioning of large numbers of delicate objects in three-dimensional space and lost in a noise of extraneous material — all things that humans are uniquely skilled at and robots aren’t.

    – Donald

  • Greg, these are of course interesting sites. But, in two of them, they are still in development and have yet to demonstrate their purported capabilities.

    No, your rejoinder here is far too reserved. It’s not just that two of the four robotic exploration projects that I listed are still under development. Since robots can’t actually explore anything, only reconnoiter, all four projects are semantically invalid.

  • Rand, I think I’ll let Falwell speak for himself –
    “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen’” Jerry Falwell, on “The 700 Club” (shortly after 9/11)

    Extreme religious fundementalism, whether its Christen, Muslim, Hindu, Paganism, whatever, is deadly dangerous. Look at 9/11, or the killing of Matthew Shepard, or the atitudes of having women in politics in Kuwait, or further back, the Inquisitions, the Crusades – Religious fundementalism is dangerous.

    And so, yes, Jerry Falwell is a very dangerous person, an idealoge, and someone who believe that no compromise is the only option

  • Edward Wright

    > Edward – Actually, that is the point I made before. Let me put it another
    > way – somebody who is a pacifist is fundementally against war

    As I heard an airshow announcer say last year, we’re all for peace, it’s just a question of commitment. Pacifists are willing to march across America for peace. The men and women of the US military are willing to die for it.

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what does pacifism have to do with this discussion? I haven’t seen anyone, even Mark, call you a pacifist.

    > – the implication that Mark was making was that if you want to be for
    > the idea of Outer Space use and development (and all that that encompasses
    > science, technology, space property rights, colonization, etc) you
    > couldn’t be a Democrate.

    Well, that’s certainly a silly statement, but citing JFK and LBJ was a poor way to refute it. Especially since you recognize the Bush policy (which is essentially the same as the JFK/LBJ policy) will not lead to any of the things to any meaningful degree.

    Mark rails against fiscal conservatives and Evil Libertarians [tm] at least as he does against Democrats, so don’t let him get to you.

    > That doesn’t mean that anyone who believes in God is a nutcase – I mean, hell,
    > I believe in God – what I am refering to is a particular brand of relgious fundementalism

    So, it’s okay for people to believe in God, as long as they attend your church? How tolerant. Do you plan to repeal the First Ammendment when you take over?

    > As far as my list of people, 5 have a voting record, O’Reily claims he’s
    > not a republicain, but he is

    No, he’s an independent and, so far as I know, always has been. Assuming you mean “Bill O’Reilly” and not some other Irishman who’s missing a letter “l”. Furthermore, he’s an independent who frequently criticizes Bush, contrary to your stereotyping of all your enemies as mindless Bush followers.

    > Finally, as regaurd science vs exploration, well, fundementally all
    > science is exploration.

    Having worked in a lab, I can assure you, that is not the case. Sitting at a workbench running the same experiment over and over again is about as far from Indiana Jones as you can get.

    > What we really want is colonization (at least, IMHO) but the only difference
    > between unmanned science vs unmanned exploration is one of semantics,

    No, there’s a very big difference. Unmanned “exploration” will never lead to colonization — unless you want to claim a swarm of robots is a “colony.”

    > But just saying science or exploration doesn’t specify who is doing it,
    > which means it must include both manned and unmanned.

    No, but there must be someone doing it. Watching a cooking show is not “unmanned cooking.” Watching a bicycle race is not “unmanned bicycling.” Watching a show about the Grand Canyon (or outer space) is not “unmanned exploration” of the Grand Canyon (or outer space).

  • Edward Wright

    > And so, yes, Jerry Falwell is a very dangerous person,

    Jerry Falwell appeared on television and said something you disagree with. For that reason, you say he is equivalent to Osama bin Laden?

    Do you really think that disagreeing with you, even on television, is equivalent to terrorism?

  • Edward – I disagree with your idea that JFK and LBJ are poor ways. There are better, but the particular people I am thinking of, I can’t really remember.

    Probably Bill Richardson would’ve been a better example, I admit.


    So, it’s okay for people to believe in God, as long as they attend your church? How tolerant. Do you plan to repeal the First Ammendment when you take over?

    Well, 1) Given I don’t attend church, it would be a rather small congregation 2) It has nothing to do with repealing the First amendment – in fact I am all for the 1st amendment – i’d claim to be a member of the ACLU, but that be a lie (although if I had more money, I’d join). Thats why I am scared of the erosion of seperation of church and state in this country. And thats why I don’t trust religous fundementalist


    No, he’s an independent and, so far as I know, always has been.

    Which proves, you don’t know enough – http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/transcripts_011301_billoreilly.html
    which, btw, was still the case in 2003 – I dont’ know if he’s changed it since then, but I tend to doubt it. Of course, if you have proof he changed it, please feel free to share it with the class.

    Having worked in a lab, I can assure you, that is not the case. Sitting at a workbench running the same experiment over and over again is about as far from Indiana Jones as you can get.

    Which, quite coincidentally, matches definition number 2 from Donald’s list “1. Travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order to learn about it. 2. Investigate or discuss in detail. 3. Examine by touch.

    However, your trying to cite the first definition, which IMHO is not the underlying definition of exploration – investigation is the central point of any exploration, not travel, which is what you seem to be citing. Each of those definitions Donald cites has the underlying point of obtaining knowledge. Now, whether the person who wants that knowledge is in a space, climbing mount everst, or sitting in a lab, they are all trying to get knowledge – investigation – in other words explore.

    No, there’s a very big difference. Unmanned “exploration” will never lead to colonization — unless you want to claim a swarm of robots is a “colony.”
    Of course unmanned explora5tion by itself won’t lead to colonization. But to assume everyone understands that when you say exploration you mean manned flight is a dangerous assumption, and frankly, as a few of us have proved, not everyone agrees with you. But thats besides the point – as I said, what we want is colonization, and that, my friends what we need to be discussing when we are out amoung other people – not exploration.


    Jerry Falwell appeared on television and said something you disagree with. For that reason, you say he is equivalent to Osama bin Laden?
    Do you really think that disagreeing with you, even on television, is equivalent to terrorism?

    It not that he disagrees with me – There are many people I disagree with, but still would trust – I disagree with Mccain, but at the end of the day is someone I’d have reasonable trust with in power – I disagree with Arlen Spector, but he is by no means a terrorist, and again, I’d have a certain amount of trust with him in power. What I distrust is this idea that someone else’s religion must permeate my life, or anyone else’s life, who doesn’t agree with it, and that it must permate it to such an extant that every one of my actions is dictated by it. At the end of the day, Falwell, would rather fight and die so he wouldn’t have to make any compromises, than to live and make compromises to his religion, on any level, on any issue.

    Its not that I disagree with him – its that he accused me of being a terrorist, and has said that there can be no compromise.

  • Jerry Falwell, on “The 700 Club” (shortly after 9/11)

    Do you have a cite for that? I can believe that the idiot Pat Robertson said something like that on the 700 Club (which is his show), but I’ve never see Jerry Falwell say anything like that, there or anywhere.

    And even if he (or Pat Robertson) said it, are you really saying that’s equivalent to Osama bin Laden? Really?

  • Rick Sterling

    Should we have curtailed certain military space programs for NASA & Apollo. A case could be made that if the DOD had been more in control of lunar exploration we wouldn’t have stopped manned missions after Apollo 17. The DOD manned lunar base program called Project Horizon could have been much more sustainable & effective than Project Apollo.

  • Falwell did indeed say that (and yes, he did apologize, but I find the apology, shall we say, lacking)
    http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/14/Falwell.apology/

    I admit its not an actual video, but I think this should be close enough.

    Finally, and yes, I will admit this is speculation, but not without basis IMHO – if Falwell were in bin Laden shoes, would he have done the same thing? I have no doubt that the answer is yes.

  • Mike Puckett

    Well, looking at the roll call of the vote. It was truly a bi-partisan defeat of Mr. Frank.

    It did not come close to breaking on party lines. The Republicans were a bit more pro but pretty well mixed. Plesantly suprised.

    Mark,

    You can now claim the VSE has bipartisan support and easily back it up.

  • Edward Wright

    >> No, he’s an independent and, so far as I know, always has been.

    > Which proves, you don’t know enough –
    > http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/transcripts_011301_billoreilly.html

    Oh, gosh. So, he meant to register as an independent but accidentally registered as a Republican? That proves he’s pure evil? And a mindless clone of George W. Bush?

    And you call other people extreme?

    > Which, quite coincidentally, matches definition number 2 from
    > Donald’s list “1. Travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order
    > to learn about it. 2. Investigate or discuss in detail.

    Yes, and which definition takes priority?

    Clearly, the first definition applies here. When people talk about “space exploration” they don’t mean simply discussing space. They mean travelling in space.

    > What I distrust is this idea that someone else’s religion must permeate
    > my life, or anyone else’s life, who doesn’t agree with it, and that it must
    > permate it to such an extant that every one of my actions is dictated by it.

    Hm. “Permeating your life” means you heard him on TV. How does that dictate every one of your actions? It appears that many of your actions are now dictated by your hatred of the Rev. Falwell and others, but that is your choice — not something anyone else dictated.

    > Its not that I disagree with him – its that he accused me of being a terrorist,
    > and has said that there can be no compromise.

    Even in your quote, he does not say “Ferris Valyn is a terrorist.” It seems you’re inventing things to be upset about.

    “There can be no compromise” actually sounds a lot like what you are saying. What would you do with those who “permeate your life” by going on teevee and saying things you don’t like? Prison? Execution?

  • Finally, and yes, I will admit this is speculation, but not without basis IMHO – if Falwell were in bin Laden shoes, would he have done the same thing? I have no doubt that the answer is yes.

    It is without basis. If you really believe that, there’s something wrong with your thought processes. Unless, of course, you mean in the trivial sense that anyone “in bin Laden’s” shoes would do exactly the same thing as bin Laden. (I have to admit, I’ve always found the construct, “If I were you, I would…” quite strange from a logic standpoint–obviously, if I were you, I’d do exactly what you do…)

  • Edward: No, but there must be someone doing it. Watching a cooking show is not “unmanned cooking.” Watching a bicycle race is not “unmanned bicycling.” Watching a show about the Grand Canyon (or outer space) is not “unmanned exploration” of the Grand Canyon (or outer space).

    I love these analogies! They’re dead on.

    Ferris: Each of those definitions Donald cites has the underlying point of obtaining knowledge.

    It looks to me like definitions one and three clearly imply physical exploration, to at least the degree they imply the search for knowledge. I do not contest that robots and teleoperation can obtain knowledge. What I do contest is the view that they can obtain all kinds of knowledge, or that they are necessarily the cheapest or most efficient method of obtaining those limited kinds of knowledge that they are good at obtaining.

    Advocates of robotics and teleoperation have simultaneously over-estimated what they can achieve (by a great amount), their total costs, and the efficiency with which they do those limited things they can do. I believe that history will show that this has been to the detriment of 20th and 21st Century Solar System exploration.

    Mike: I believe that a sea change in American politics has occurred. Both parties, to at least some degree, now support (or at least do not oppose) the larger goals of the VSE. That does not mean they support the specifics — nor necessarily should they — but the goal of human exploration of the moon and ultimately Mars do seem to be national goals at this point in time. I think it’s critical that we take advantage of that national consensus — which may not last very long — as quickly as possible.

  • Ronnie

    Did the representative from Massachusetts forget what the remaining 49 states said about Boston’s “Big Dig” project? I think the waste of money line was used there too.

  • Ronnie, even as an advocate for the older inner cities, I thought the “Big Dig” was a total waste of money. Excellent point.

    – Donald

  • Nemo

    Ferris Valyn:
    In fact, lets totally ignore the fact that the real story here is that the Republicans have so poisened the water of discorse in DC to make it that, for the most part, we dems can’t stomach anything king George wants.

    Do you think that’s a valid excuse for opposing a policy you’d otherwise favor? If so, that’s the most childish and petty thing I’ve read in quite a while. I’m in rare agreement with Greg on this one: oppose Bush on the policies you disagree with, but don’t oppose a policy you favor just because Bush favors it as well.

    Mark Whittington:
    Ferris forgets that Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon have one thing in common. They are dead.

    Ferris Valyn:
    Mark, them being dead is relevent how???

    It’s relevant because the policies of the two major parties have changed, quite a bit, since those days.

    Adjusted for inflation, JFK is the only Democrat to leave NASA a higher budget at the end of his presidency than at the beginning, and Nixon the only Republican to leave NASA with a lower budget.

    Mark greatly exaggerates the extent of opposition to manned space in the Democratic party. However, while the latest Gallup polls and congressional votes show that both parties favor manned space, they also show – far beyond the margin of error of the polls – that opposition to manned space is stronger among Democrats.

    Donald Robertson
    And, Nixon would probably register as a Democrat.

    Greg Kuperburg:
    Rest assured that Liddy is a Republican.

    These historical transplantations are getty silly.

    Just because Liddy (a right-wing Republican then and now) served Nixon then doesn’t mean Nixon (a moderate Republican then) wouldn’t have switched. In addition to Donald’s list of Nixon’s left-wing policies, you can add his disastrous wage-and-price controls.

    Jeff Foust:
    The amendment was defeated in a voice vote and, later, on a roll call vote, although the statistics for the vote aren’t posted yet.

    The stats are up now:

    Ayes Noes PRES NV
    Republican 55 168 7
    Democratic 89 106 6
    Independent 1
    TOTALS 145 274 13

  • Matthew Corey Brown

    [i]Nemo:
    Adjusted for inflation, JFK is the only Democrat to leave NASA a higher budget at the end of his presidency than at the beginning, and Nixon the only Republican to leave NASA with a lower budget.[i]

    Why are we talking about the book ends when its the book we should be looking at.

    JFK had a term of 3 years, and the last two was the ones post “We choose to goto the moon” speech. So to beat the Soviets they had to have a higher budget in those two years.

    As for Nixon, he had a tough choice, support NASA’s plans or get us out of Viet Nam. He chose to pay to cleanup the mess.

    Now the real spotlight needs to be on LBJ. He is who bloated NASA in the early days, he did it to re-industralize the south. Made bad descions that kept us in Viet Nam.

    JFK is rummered to have planned a full withdrawl of the small force we had there. Mainly so he could support NASA more as a more cost effective means of stoping communism, by the technical expertease we would have created.

    I can’t back the following up, but had JFK survived (weather or not he won a second term) we would have had CATS today. And the VSE could actually be more then just a Vision. For the science that politicians bicker for, could be done by agencies other then NASA.

  • Nemo

    Matthew Corey Brown wrote:
    Why are we talking about the book ends when its the book we should be looking at.

    Fair enough. I was looking at JFK and Nixon as the sole exceptions to a rule that has held from Eisenhower to Bush-43, but they could also be viewed as bookends to the 1960s.

    As for Nixon, he had a tough choice, support NASA’s plans or get us out of Viet Nam. He chose to pay to cleanup the mess.

    Actually, as others have pointed out, many of Nixon’s tough choices regarding Apollo were actually made for him, either by LBJ (capping the Saturn V production line), NASA (choosing the “dry-workshop” Skylab, which forced the cancellation of Apollo 20) or by Congress (cancelling Apollos 18 and 19). Nixon essentially took the easy way out on Apollo by not attempting to reverse any of these prior decisions. His only big choices in space were to initiate both Apollo-Soyuz and the Space Shuttle – both of which looked pretty visionary back then.

    I can’t back the following up, but had JFK survived (weather or not he won a second term) we would have had CATS today.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. My opinion is that JFK would have followed through with his rhetoric about making Apollo a joint project with the USSR. Knowing what we know now (Apollo was successful without Soviet involvement, the Soviet program was nowhere nearly as advanced as US intelligence thought in 1963, and the Soviets didn’t even give the formal go-ahead to their own lunar program until 1964), I am convinced that this would have resulted in the failure of the Apollo program – if not technically, it would have foundered politically after the USSR’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. And the “wrong lessons learned” from that failure would have resulted in the gutting of manned space programs in the US.