Campaign '08, Congress, Other

Fighting for “Florida’s Space Frontier”

Yesterday Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) and state legislator Thad Altman met with Florida governor Charlie Crist and lieutenant governor Jeff Kottcamp to talk about the future of the space industry in the state (or, as a Tampa Bay TV station put it, “Florida’s Space Frontier”), with an eye towards mitigating the effects of the shuttle-CEV transition on the state’s economy, and in particular the economy of the Space Coast region of the state. Part of the problem is the so-called “gap” between the retirement of the shuttle and the introduction of Orion, although another issue (glossed over in the reports) is that, as currently planned, Orion and Ares 1 will not require as large a workforce as the shuttle does today.

What does Gov. Crist think about all this? “I’m very excited about the future as it relates to space, as it relates to the real estate market, and other things,” WTSP-TV reported. (Real estate market?) He also tells the Tallahassee Democrat that the situation is “on the precipice of panic” in Brevard County, home to KSC.

Feeney, talking up the strengths of the Cape Canaveral area, goes a little too far at one point with the Democrat: “We’re the best place on the planet because of the way the earth rotates – not even Congress can mess that up – to launch equatorial orbits,” he says. That’s doubtless a surprise to Arianespace, which launches out of Kourou, French Guiana, just a few degrees north of the Equator; or to Sea Launch, whose mobile launch site allows them to perform launches on the Equator. Proof, apparently, that while Congress can’t mess up the location of Cape Canaveral, a member of Congress can mess up its importance.

Feeney also asked Crist “to use his influence with visiting presidential candidates to make sure the Space Coast stays in the technology forefront,” according to the Democrat. One candidate already gets a conditional endorsement of sorts from Florida Today, which appreciates and largely supports Hillary Clinton’s space policy statement issued last week. The paper likes in particular the passing reference in the policy to accelerate Ares 1 and Orion development, but adds, “There’s no way to know if Clinton would actually follow this course, or if it’s just another talking point that will disappear like so much cosmic dust. The paper hopes that “Clinton’s stance will cause more candidates to come forward with their ideas” about space.

17 comments to Fighting for “Florida’s Space Frontier”

  • richardb

    Mike Griffin, crazy like a fox. Just when people thought he was wondering off the sanity reservation by speculating that China will be on the moon sooner than us, more papers and Congressman are talking about getting more money for Nasa by quoting Griffin’s own words.

  • anonymous.space

    “Just when people thought he was wondering off the sanity reservation by speculating that China will be on the moon sooner than us”

    Clue-by-four me if I’m going blind, but there’s no reference to China in Mr. Foust’s post or the two local news articles he links to. It’s all parochial politics driven by local jobs and the post-Shuttle human space flight gap, not international politics driven by foreign competition.

    And, BTW, I would not necessarily claim that Griffin lost his “sanity” with his China human lunar speculation. I would simply point out that in the absence of any written or material evidence that China is pursuing a human lunar program — and actually does not appear to be planning to make such a decision for years to come — Griffin’s speculation appears to have little or no basis in fact. With little or no basis in fact, we have to question Griffin’s motives — is he really worried about China or just worried about developing a rationale to sustain NASA’s human lunar return effort into the next Administration? My 2 cents is that Griffin would be better off basing his justification on arguments that are better grounded in reality.

    And all that has nothing to do with parochial politics. Folks are going to fight to save their jobs, regardless. It’s just a question of where those efforts are best steered.

    FWIW…

  • Thomas Matula

    Hi,

    Perhaps Jeff should have added this article to his list.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/orl-ed10107oct10,0,5978603.story

    Editorial: Stay ahead
    Our position: Congress should give NASA what it needs as the space race heats up.

    [[[While NASA has been battling budget problems, other nations -- including China, India and Japan -- have been rocketing forward with their own space programs. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin recently predicted China would get its first manned mission to the moon before U.S. astronauts are scheduled to return there in 2020.

    Supremacy in space exploration isn't just a question of bragging rights. The space program has driven scientific and technological advances in the United States. And as Mr. Griffin has argued, leading countries in science and technology are more likely to attract the private investments that spur more innovations and economic growth.]]]

    And from Senator Milkulski in her arguments on the Senate floor for the bill adding 1 Billion to NASA spending.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=25623

    Excerpt from Congressional Record Regarding U.S. Senate Action to Add $1 Billion To NASA’s Budget For Space Shuttle Return to Flight Activities
    STATUS REPORT
    Date Released: Friday, October 5, 2007
    Source: United States Senate

    [[[This is not acceptable. We cannot let China get to the Moon before the United States does. We also need to make sure we keep our astronauts safe for the remaining time they use the shuttle . Also we have to keep that excellent talent down there of scientists, engineers, and mechanics, to keep our shuttle flying safely.]]]

    Looks like the idea of a new space race is gaining traction despite the views of policy experts here. It should heat up if China Chang’e I lunar mission is successful while LRO is still waiting to be launched. That China is planning a live broadcast of the launch will help as well :-)

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/17/content_6553451.htm

    China plans to live broadcast launch of lunar orbiter

    2007-08-17 20:38:04

    And that this is happening on the 50th anniversity of Sputnik doesn’t hurt any…

  • Ray

    Jeff: One candidate already gets a conditional endorsement of sorts from Florida Today, which appreciates and largely supports Hillary Clinton’s space policy statement issued last week. The paper likes in particular the passing reference in the policy to accelerate Ares 1 and Orion development, but adds, “There’s no way to know if Clinton would actually follow this course, or if it’s just another talking point that will disappear like so much cosmic dust.

    My guess is that, yes, she’d put a lot of money into accelerating Ares I/Orion. Maybe that acceleration would have to wait until after Shuttle retirement, because Ares I/Orion already devour so much of the budget, and she has what I’m sure she considers higher priorities in the Earth Observation and Aeronautics areas, and possibly planetary missions and ISS science as well, that would probably get any extra funds that might appear. However, as soon as Shuttle is retired, she’ll probably take a big chunk of that and direct it at Ares I/Orion (or some other Shuttle-derived plan to service ISS). Why antagonize the battleground state of Florida, and lengthen the cost (without helping voters) and embarrassment of relying on Russian vehicles?

    This would mean a vigorous Earth Observation and Aeronautics program (especially after Shuttle retirement), and maybe some more planetary science missions (which after all are sort of comparative Earth science missions), all of which I’m all for, since I favor those missions themselves over ESAS, and I like the associated launch business a lot better than Ares I launch business. If the National Academies decadal survey for Earth Science is followed, there’d be a lot of suborbital and Falcon 1/9 sized launches. There have been a lot of other recommendations (eg: from other surveys, and from Alan Stern) for lots more suborbital missions, so that might happen.

    However, something would have to give, and it looks like that would be the Moon program.

    I suspect that a lot of the other Presidential candidates will, if they win, be thinking along lines that aren’t too different from Clinton’s, given the NASA situation they’re likely to be faced with. That brings up an interesting question, which is:

    Suppose Dr. Griffin also sees this likelihood. Assume he’s really in favor of a Moon program. How can he tweak things in the time left so that the Moon program is more likely to happen?

  • Candidate Clinton’s space position, as clarified by the New York Times subsequent to the presentation of her policy statement, will accelerate Orion/Ares I development while curtailing Ares V and the Moon effort. While I give her credit for having the political courage to make a policy statement, while not one of her opponents did so, Senator Clinton’s statement is a warmed-over version of Senator Kerry’s space policy, which was released 5 or so days before the general election. Given Senator Clinton’s space advisors, that’s to be expected.

  • Thomas Matula

    He is already doing it with the China card as I noted above. If China is seen by the public to be ahead of the U.S. in returning to the Moon then it gives the next president the excuse to accelerate the program while blaming the U.S. falling behind on the current administration, just as Kennedy did.

    And that fact that Russia is falling back into its old ways is sure to help matters along.

    It will be easy to spin every Chinese and Russia flight as a slap in the face of the U.S. prestige caused by the U.S. failing to invest earlier in a Shuttle replacement.

    Let’s face it, fear got us to the moon the first time. No reason it won’t work the second time around. And the Chinese will not fold and wlak away like the Russians did when we beat them in the 1960′s, so we will need to keep a presence there this time around.

  • Ray

    Me: How can he tweak things in the time left so that the Moon program is more likely to happen?

    I’ll give a shot at answering my own question. First, it will be tough for Dr. Griffin to get lots of money, so I won’t mention anything too grand (eg: the money and time isn’t there for any help on making an HLV). Let’s also assume no huge international agreements are struck to set the thing in stone.

    He might figure that Bush’s successor isn’t going to mess with the Shuttle workforce, and as soon as Shuttle is retired they’ll pump money into Ares I/Orion. Therefore he can afford to reduce funding on that in some Ares I/Orion area where post-Shuttle money can make up the difference. That program is in so much upheaval anyway, it probably won’t make much difference. He might also take it easy on funding anything in the Moon program that’s over a decade away, like the Moon base or lunar lander. He might also steal a future robotic planetary mission’s funds and make it a lunar mission. So, assuming he can scrounge some funds, they might go to:

    1. Try to get the (presumably) Earth Observation or Climate oriented next President interested in the Moon program by kicking off some demo along these lines. The whole thing doesn’t have to be completed by the start of the next Administration, but it would have to be interesting enough and completed enough for the next Administration to see it through. One possibility would be a small demo of a Solar Power Satellite (I’m really thinking *SMALL demo* here). At the same time, send a small ISRU demo to the Moon’s surface. The ISRU project is related to lunar resources that could form part of a SPS (in the Space Studies Institute sense).

    2. Along the same lines as #1, start a project to send a demo robotic Earth Observation platform to the Moon, or to Lunar orbit. A number of such platforms have been proposed already (obviously because of the distance tending to be full-Earth observations like total incoming radiation), ranging from small demos to big telescopes that would require astronaut trips to set up (if the base is in Shackleton, which isn’t good for Earth Observation). Try 1 or 2 demos. Make sure the demos are good, but just a taste – such that a big version, set up by astronauts, would help in a big way the next President’s (presumed) Earth Observation mission. There are also Moon-based “Sun-Earth Connection” and “Space Weather” proposals that feed into Earth science that might be just as good.

    3. Kick off a COTS round for transporting crew to ISS ASAP. This one is essential. You only need to fund the first phases this Administration – but get it started! It’s ESSENTIAL to the lunar plan to have cheap, reliable commercial crew transportation to ISS in a few years so all the potential lunar money isn’t eaten up by ISS crew transportation, and so that using Ares 1/Orion for mere ISS transportation looks foolish. You want the next Administration to need to find a more ambitious goal for Ares 1/Orion – ie lunar transportation.

    4. Fund a “small” prize amount (let’s say $5M) for the first lunar rover pictures of Shackleton crater. Of course Google Lunar X PRIZE rovers are eligible. Getting pictures of the potential Moon base location might raise significant public interest in the area, and might be useful for planning purposes, too.

    5. You expect the next administration to ramp up Aeronautics, so put a little money into a new Aeronautics program that might (a shot in the dark?) help your big goal some day if all else fails – namely suborbital flights. One possibility would be setting up Earth Observation instruments to be flown on commercial suborbital flights. The idea is that the next Administration might like the idea and keep it for the Aeronautics and Earth Observation aspects. The plan you have, though, is that maybe this will help the suborbital RLVs survive, and eventually thrive enough to work with greater and greater capabilties so cheap space access eventually results. If the Ares plan doesn’t work, maybe this would eventually allow a lunar program to happen anyway.

    6. Sure, talking up the race to the Moon could help, too, and it has the advantage of not costing a lot of NASA’s budget. I suspect that some potential next Presidents aren’t going to care about this one, though – or at least not enough to do much about it. On the other hand, I think some of the candidates would respond to this quite well. As was the case the first time around, public outcry may become a factor if it actually looks like it’s going to happen.

  • anonymous.space

    “However, as soon as Shuttle is retired, she’ll probably take a big chunk of that and direct it at Ares I/Orion”

    The problem is that’s pretty much the plan already. In NASA’s five-year FY08 budget plan, Ares I/Orion spending already rises from about $2.9 billion in FY10 (before Shuttle retirement) to $4.6 billion in FY11 (after Shuttle retirement), a $1.7 billion or almost 60 percent increase. Although more dollars could be thrown at Ares I/Orion from the $3 billion that’s planned for the Ares V/EDS/LSAM development start in FY11, there’s a limit to how much more a program already experiencing a 60 percent budget increase can be accelerated before the dollars stop having an effect. This may be especially true for Ares I/Orion, where the new J2-X engine will be the critical path/long tent pole/pacing item and may be incapable of being accelerated much earlier than late 2013/early 2014, no matter how many dollars are thrown at it.

    Personally, I don’t think the gap is as big a deal for the NASA workforce or American prestige as Griffin and others think, for a variety of reasons. But if reducing the gap their top priority, why they picked and have stuck to a path with a schedule that proved so susceptible to minor budget peturbations and that is so difficult to buy back, still escapes me.

    “Candidate Clinton’s space position, as clarified by the New York Times subsequent to the presentation of her policy statement, will accelerate Orion/Ares I development while curtailing Ares V and the Moon effort.”

    We actually don’t know from the NYT excerpt that Clinton & Co. would stay with Ares I/Orion, only that they would accelerate “next generation launch” (which may or may not be something more advanced than Shuttle-derived vehicles) and “crew exploration vehicles” (plural, not singular). While it is clear from the NYT article that the human lunar return effort and its hardware (whether Ares V/EDS/LSAM or something else) will be deferred under Clinton, we really have no indication their preferred solution (if any) for ISS transport.

    My personal hope is that the language is indicative that Clinton & Co. will look for options besides Ares I/Orion. Even setting aside the enormous and duplicative expense of Ares I, the Ares I/Orion combination is technically compromised from a flight safety standpoint and, moreover, the costs of developing and operating Ares I’s systems makes little sense if those systems are not going to be soon (or ever) used on Ares V.

    “Why antagonize the battleground state of Florida”

    Exactly. That’s the reason why Clinton & Co.’s langauge has been imprecise on the question of what replaces Shuttle. Even if they have enough information to make a decision now (unlikely) and have made a decision (very unlikely), they have no incentive to reveal that hand until after the election.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “Perhaps Jeff should have added this article to his list… Looks like the idea of a new space race is gaining traction”

    There’s no doubt that politicians representing NASA field centers are trying to play the China human lunar card. But they’ve been playing that card for years now, and the Congress at large and the White House have yet to buy into it. That’s not so say that it couldn’t happen in the future. But unlike Sputnik, Gagarin, and the Soviets, there’s no broad consensus (or “traction”) that there is a Chinese human lunar threat and/or that responding to that threat (real or imagined) is a national priority, at least not yet.

    “It should heat up if China Chang’e I lunar mission is successful while LRO is still waiting to be launched.”

    Following hard on the heels of Japan’s Kaguya and in the wake of Japan’s decision to pursue military reconnaissance satellites — and launching shortly before India’s Chandrayaan — China and Chang’e and are arguably in a regional race with Japan and India, and Kaguya and Chandrayaan, to demonstrate technical prowess in space, not in a global race with the U.S. to put humans on the Moon.

    Not counting the Kaguya and SMART-1 missions already launched and finished, there are no less than eight lunar orbiter, lander and rover missions from seven different nations planned or proposed for launch between now and 2013. To the extent there is a robotic race to the Moon, it’s a multipolar race, not a bipolar race between the U.S. and China.

    “Let’s face it, fear got us to the moon the first time. No reason it won’t work the second time around.”

    No doubt fear spurred Apollo. But the fear of a highly capable, nuclear-tipped, Soviet-missile Armageddon that drove Apollo is very different from fears about China today, which are much less apocalyptic, immediate, and militarily oriented. That’s not to say that China could not pose a serious economic, environmental, national security, or even direct military challenge in the decades ahead. But the threat is different from the one posed by the Soviets, which probably means that the U.S. means to meeting the Chinese threat will be different from Apollo (and ICBMs, SLBMs, military buildup in Western Europe, etc.).

    “And the Chinese will not fold and wlak away like the Russians did when we beat them in the 1960’s, so we will need to keep a presence there this time around.”

    It’s hard to talk about China folding up and walking away from a human lunar activity when China has yet to commit to a human lunar program in writing or speech and when there is no physical evidence that China is pursuing one.

    FWIW…

  • kert

    Frankly, i dont think Griffin really cares what happens post elections. If he did, he would have set up things completely differently for VSE implementation.
    As it stands, he knows he will be out of office in a year, and his task currently involves securing certain contracts and making sure he no too big embarrassments come along for him, IOW just holding course and claiming this to be the correct one.

  • Note that US government space budget increased from $57 to $62 billion
    between 2005 and 2006. CNSA increased its budget by 300% to $1.5 billion while JAXA, ESA & RKA had falling budgets.

    source: http://www.spacefoundation.org/TheSpaceReport07.pdf

  • Ray

    anonymous.space: “We actually don’t know from the NYT excerpt that Clinton & Co. would stay with Ares I/Orion, only that they would accelerate “next generation launch” (which may or may not be something more advanced than Shuttle-derived vehicles) and “crew exploration vehicles” (plural, not singular). While it is clear from the NYT article that the human lunar return effort and its hardware (whether Ares V/EDS/LSAM or something else) will be deferred under Clinton, we really have no indication their preferred solution (if any) for ISS transport.”

    You’re right that it isn’t clear, but there’s something (not specific) about the Shuttle workforce, so I’d have to guess that there’s something Shuttle-derived in the mix there. I can’t really tell from the sentence where that plural “s” applies, though. From the Clinton web site:

    Pursue an Ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program. Hillary is committed to a space exploration program that involves robust human spaceflight to complete the Space Station and later human missions, expanded robotic spaceflight probes of our solar system leading to future human exploration, and enhanced space science activities. She will speed development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles to replace the aging Space Shuttle. And in pursuing next-generation programs, Hillary will capitalize on the expertise of the current Shuttle program workforce and will not allow a repeat of the “brain drain” that occurred between the Apollo and shuttle missions.

  • Ray, in general I like your proposals for Dr. Griffin to justify a lunar project for the next Administration. I recently read somewhere that NASA would soon announce what roles each NASA center will fulfill in that plan. This may be a part of the political foundation he undoubtedly is trying to build, as well as an effort to portray continuing momentum.

    – Donald

  • richardb

    I’m sure everyone has read the NYT today and the money quote within.
    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-china-space.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    If they are serious about 15 years to place a taikanaut’s feet on the moon, they will be getting busy quickly. Lets see if they do Apollo on steroids or something less.
    Quick question for any lawyers out there. What are the chances these taikanauts will lay claim to the moon once they get there?

    Anon, still see no evidence of a manned crewed lunar mission?

  • Thomas Matula

    Richard,

    China has signed and ratified the Outer Space Treaty, but not the Moon Treaty, same as the U.S.

  • richardb

    I know it wasn’t evident, but my tongue was firmly in cheek about a Chinese lunar bedroom community.

  • Membrane

    Ares I only exists because of politics technically speaking we don’t need it as it only replicates capability that would already exist in both EELVs and falcon 9.
    If you ask me it’s a very bad design as it has no room for future growth since the first stage is set in stone.
    Historically speaking every launch vehicle ever built has had growth potential built into the design such as atlas,delta,soyuz etc with later versions being far more capable then the first version.
    Even the EELVs and falcon 9 would be a better vehicle for crew launch then ares I boeing for example showed 50 and 100T versions of delta IV.
    I feel putting such insane mass limits on the Orion design team is going to cost a crew in the future.
    It would be better to just design the spacecraft and then update the launch vehicle like they did back in the apollo days.
    The 3000lbs weight issue with Orion would be a non issue with delta IV as it can easily be upgraded to 35 tons of payload by simply upgrading to regen RS68s which ares V needs anyway.
    The best thing to do with ares I is kill it and make nasa use direct launcher a true shuttle derived vehicle that has room for growth potential and the various commercial launch vehicles for payloads in the 20ton class range.
    Also direct launcher does not need the J2X for LEO missions it’s now only needed for the EDS which would save lots of time and money.
    Actually it makes the J2X optional as for stages like the EDS a cluster of RL60s could be used instead.

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