Campaign '08

Another Obama space policy elaboration

SpaceRef has posted “Barack Obama’s Plan For American Leadership in Space”, a document detailing the Democratic presidential candidate’s stand on space policy. (The document does not appear to be posted yet on Obama’s official campaign web site.) The document largely is an elaboration of a previous, brief statement from the campaign. Obama supports development of the Ares 1 and Orion (which are explicitly named here), completion of the ISS, robotic space exploration, and climate change research. On the milspace side, he calls for “a serious dialogue with Russia, China and other nations” to stop space weaponization, as well as continued support for surveillance satellites (which sounds odd; is anyone really thinking of decreasing use of spysats?)

One thing that is missing in this statement: any discussion of human exploration of the Moon, Mars, or other destinations beyond Earth orbit. His previous statement from the campaign said that he would “delay plans to return to moon and push on to mars”, and, of course, his education policy issued back in November called for paying for his initiatives in part by delaying the Constellation program by five years. Is the absence of any evidence of human space exploration language in this new statement evidence of its absence in his policy?

51 comments to Another Obama space policy elaboration

  • It has probably occured to the campaign that delaying Project Constellation would be hugely unpopular in Florida, which just happens to be a critical swing state. Still, he can’t directly reverse what he said earlier without gaining the dreaded title of “flip-flopper.” So the campaign is trying to refine its space policy to sound bold and forward-looking, without actually saying that their initial statement was wrong.

    As unsatisfactory as all this may be, I think that is IS nice to see the two leading Democratic candidates actually mentioning space policy in reasonable detail. I just wish they would be asked a serious question about it during a debate.

  • Al Fansome

    I think it is pretty clear that ESAS is dead under an Obama administration, and that many parts of the VSE are delayed.

    - Al

  • MarkWhittington

    The discerning reader will also note a lack of mention of any support for commercial space.

  • “I think that is IS nice to see the two leading Democratic candidates actually mentioning space policy in reasonable detail.”

    Agreed. Even if you’re not a supporter of either candidate, as a space cadet, it sure is refreshing to have some details on civil space (and military space, in the case of Obama) issues to discuss. Unprecedented in my memory.

    “I think it is pretty clear that ESAS is dead under an Obama administration, and that many parts of the VSE are delayed.”

    Actually, Obama’s new statement explicitely endorses Ares I/Orion, making him the only candidate to voice support for an ESAS element. I think that’s going to come back to haunt an Obama White House. The program is still suffering under a performance/mass mismatch ranging between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds, among numerous other technical problems:

    rocketsandsuch.blogspot.com/2008/01/thats-heavy-man.html

    It would have been wiser for the Obama campaign to follow Clinton’s lead and endorse the need for one or more new human space flight vehicles, while remaining agnostic on the technical solution.

    You’re right that the rest of ESAS (Ares V/EDS/LSAM) would appear to be deferred or effectively dead under an Obama White House. This was always the risk that Griffin was running by pursuing such a costly plan for ISS access that pushed decisions to start development of the lunar elements into the next Administration.

    “The discerning reader will also note a lack of mention of any support for commercial space.”

    I’m all for challenging these campaigns on commercial space issues. But I don’t understand the obsession with Obama and commercial space. No other candidate has mentioned anything about commercial space, either.

    FWIW…

  • Keith Cowing

    anonymous .space says: “I’m all for challenging these campaigns on commercial space issues. But I don’t understand the obsession with Obama and commercial space. No other candidate has mentioned anything about commercial space, either.”

    Exactly.

    Has Whittington’s favorite Republican candidate issued a formal space policy statement yet? I guess we should infer from that – since they have not even “mentioned” space, that the Republicans do not support space – at all – if you follow Whittington’s odd logic that is.

  • MarkWhittington

    Keith – Actually all of the GOP candidates have mentioned space and (with the exception of Ron Paul) quite favorably. The one good thing about these terrible space policy proposals by Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama is that it should entice something more comprehensive from the Republicans

  • Keith Cowing

    Whittington says: “Actually all of the GOP candidates have mentioned space and (with the exception of Ron Paul) quite favorably.”

    Please send me the link for their position papers, Mark. Oh wait, do you mean they haven’t issued one?

    Also, please send me links to their quotes wherein they *specifically* mention space commercialization – you know, the topic you dump on Democrats about ….

  • “Actually all of the GOP candidates have mentioned space and (with the exception of Ron Paul) quite favorably.”

    That’s not the issue. The issue is that no candidate has mentioned commercial space.

    Why hold only one candidate to a standard on commercial space when no candidate has addressed the topic?

    And why assume that a candidate is against commercial space just because they’ve never addressed it?

    If we’re real commercial space advocates, instead of wasting time trying to create a false issue for one candidate, shouldn’t we demanding that all candidates address the topic?

    “The one good thing about these terrible space policy proposals by Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama is that it should entice something more comprehensive from the Republicans”

    What specifically is “terrible” about the Clinton and Obama proposals?

    How do we know that the Clinton and Obama proposals are so “terrible” when there is no substantive proposal from other candidates, Democrat or Republican, against which to compare them?

    Are we sure that we’re going to like what we see in other proposals better than what’s in the Clinton and Obama proposals?

    FWIW…

  • Heck, why not assume that commercial space is as yet very small in comparison to “government space”… that “government space” is very small in comparison to all government activity… that for >95% of voters the salience of “what to do about space?” is way way behind what to do about Iraq, terrorism, health care, immigration, fiscal/tax policy, subprime mortgages, etc etc etc…

    And that expecting a laser-like focus and detailed position papers on any “minority of a minority of a minority of a minority” concern is a mug’s game?

  • Habitat Hermit

    Info & bias: I’m not an US citizen, my clear favorite is Giuliani, if the Democrat candidates were the only ones running then my favorite would be Obama.

    One doesn’t need to have two apples to be able to tell that one of them is rotten. Here are the problems that make these “policies” awful:
    - They go extremely light on the details. Details about implementation, details about priorities, details about funding, details on how they aim to execute the proposals by getting it through Congress & Senate and so on.
    - They seem completely unaware of important issues within NASA and in the space community in general, some of which everyone here knows they will have to deal with. No mention of COTS. No mention of ESAS problems and the alternatives such as Direct v2.0 or the existing EELVs. No mention of commercial space in general. No mention of their stance towards spaceports, space tourism, space law and regulatory framework. No mention of the VSE as a vision and no coherent vision given to replace it if abandoning the VSE (i.e. back to a completely rudderless NASA). No mention of the Centennial Challenges and their support or lack of support for it.

    Might they still be better than than each other or other statements? Sure but that really isn’t saying much; this bar is lying on the ground and if US space policy is important* or should be/remain important then I think American voters interested in space should ask for much more detail, clarity, reasoning, and coherency.

    * And I obviously think it is immensely important for the whole world. The US is the leader of the pack and pretty much sets the course for everybody.

  • Habitat Hermit

    I knew I forgot something and it was the garishly pink elephant with blinding neon green stripes standing in the middle of the room: ITAR issues ^_^

  • Al Fansome

    J.B.: “I think that is IS nice to see the two leading Democratic candidates actually mentioning space policy in reasonable detail.”

    ANONYMOUS: Agreed. Even if you’re not a supporter of either candidate, as a space cadet, it sure is refreshing to have some details on civil space (and military space, in the case of Obama) issues to discuss. Unprecedented in my memory.

    Anon,

    Let me begin by saying that I am bipartisan in my approach to space policy; and that I look at candidates from both parties in a similar fashion.

    I have no specific bias against Obama (as opposed to Mr. Whittington’s very clear bias). But I do demand more than “a policy” in order to say a policy is satisfactory … and I demand the same of all candidates.

    If all it takes to make us happy is “give us a detailed space policy”, then we have pretty low standards. More specifically, the more I think about the “implications” or “potential unintended consequences” of the specific Obama policy, the more worried I become.

    Some thoughts to share are below. These thoughts are evolving, and I am certainly open to being persuaded otherwise by the people on this website.

    CHANGE AGENT:

    Although Obama is a change agent on many issues, there is nothing in this policy statement that suggests “change” or that Obama will support our “change” agenda.

    HILLARY CLINTON POLICY:

    Maybe it is because I know Lori Garver is associated with the Clinton campaign, and I know Lori is a commercial space advocate, that I am less concerned about the fact that “commercial” is not mentioned in the Clinton policy.

    Now to what others are saying.

    WHITTINGTON: “The discerning reader will also note a lack of mention of any support for commercial space.”

    ANONYMOUS: I’m all for challenging these campaigns on commercial space issues. But I don’t understand the obsession with Obama and commercial space. No other candidate has mentioned anything about commercial space, either.

    I do like Obama’s campaign theme of “change” and the fact that he is not beholden to big corporate interests. This has made me “hopeful” that we might get some significant CHANGE in national space policy in an Obama administration.

    However, NOTHING in this policy statement represents positive change. In fact, it takes a half step back, at best.

    1) It makes a commitment to keep the worst part of the ESAS (the Ares 1) in existence. That is not positive change.

    Since Obama has eliminated the commitment to go to the Moon, Mars and Beyond — it is clear that the ONLY mission for Ares 1 + Orion in an Obama administration is LEO operations.

    Since NASA has no other approved mission for the Orion, the unintended consequence of this policy is to force NASA into a direct competition with the private sector.

    A legitimate question for an Obama administration then becomes “Since the only mission for the Ares 1 + Orion is ISS crew/cargo, then how can we justify transferring ISS crew/cargo services to the private sector?”

    AND/OR –> Isn’t this duplicative effort a waste of taxpayer money?

    Please tell me –> If NASA is not allowed to go to the Moon and Mars, and can only go around circles for many more years … how will NASA’s bureaucracy manage the commercial ISS crew/cargo services initiative?

    ANONYMOUS — Please tell me why is a not a legitimate concern.

    2) Related to this, Obama makes zero commitment to continue this country’s transfer of responsibility for low Earth orbit operations from NASA to commercial industry. The reason I have focused on this “missing” issue, is that he was willing to take the time to write a more detailed (1-pager) policy statement, but “commercial” did not make the entire statement.

    For these two reasons — and I am only coming to this conclusion after thinking about the implications and potential unintended consequences — I think this policy statement is a step backwards.

    UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:

    Our national space policy is riddle with unintended consequences. We get 5 minutes of time with a President, they make a relatively quick decision, and then we live with that decision for many years or decades to come.

    In thinking about the unintended consequence, right now my gut reaction is that I would prefer he had said nothing.

    FWIW, we may be able to fix the problem. But the first step to fixing the problem is recognizing that we have a potential major problem.

    This is where Whittington and I diverge completely. Whittington will say “all space advocates should vote for the Republican”, which is a completely ineffective suggestion. We don’t have many votes — and suggesting this is the equivalent of spitting in a hurricane.

    My suggestion is that we (as commercial space advocates) need to focus on persuading the Obama campaign/administration to understand the potential unintended consequences of his policy statement, and help him fix it before it becomes it comes into reality.

    - Al

  • Probably the most interesting thing in all this is that Mr. Obama felt the need to respond at all. That alone is probably good news for the continuance of space programs in the United States.

    – Donald

  • “If all it takes to make us happy is “give us a detailed space policy”, then we have pretty low standards.”

    I’m not fully satisfied or “happy” with either the Clinton or the Obama policies. I too wish that they were more explicit on certain issues (e.g., both Clinton and Obama on exploration) or took a different position (e.g., Obama on Ares I/Orion).

    All I’m happy with, as a space geek, is to have written, detailed, substantive positions on civil space plans and issues from two different Presidential candidates to discusss. We have not had that in the past (at least in my recollection).

    To be clear, my enthusiasm at having something meaty to discuss is not the same as having enthusiasm for either of the candidates’ positions.

    “Since Obama has eliminated the commitment to go to the Moon, Mars and Beyond — it is clear that the ONLY mission for Ares 1 + Orion in an Obama administration is LEO operations.

    Since NASA has no other approved mission for the Orion, the unintended consequence of this policy is to force NASA into a direct competition with the private sector.”

    You make a good point here that I, for one, had not thought of. You’re right that an endorsement of Ares I/Orion, in the absence of either a human exploration or commercial space commitment, has the unintended consequence of creating a bigger, in-house NASA competitor for COTS. You’re right that the Obama campaign should be educated on this.

    That’s a different and more legitimate argument that saying Obama’s policy is “terrible” simply because it doesn’t mention commercial space, especially when no other candidate or campaign, from either party, has said “boo” about commercial space, either.

    FWIW…

  • Keith Cowing

    I see Mark Whittington still has not found any of the position papers from Republican candidates on space policy …. surely Mark, they must exist….

  • reader

    I see Mark Whittington still has not found an
    He never does. He is just going to jump in the next semi-relevant thread with the same unsubstantiated claims. Why he bothers, is beyond me.
    I dont recall ever seeing mr. Whittington actually defending his arguments with factual data.

  • MarkWhittington

    Several posters make some good points about the effect of Obama keeping Orion in LEO, which I touched on briefly in my analysis piece. Coupled with the traditional Democratic hostility to all private business, this constitutes an ominous development.

    Keith, et al, when (and if) a Republican posts a space policy, I’ll crtique it as well. By the way, is there any reason as of the writing of this post that the Obama space policy you quote in Spaceref is not actually on the Obama web site? You might want to check that, since you cite it as a source. I’ve been getting questions about that for most of the day.

  • MarkWhittington

    “This is where Whittington and I diverge completely. Whittington will say “all space advocates should vote for the Republican”, which is a completely ineffective suggestion.”

    That’s not quite my position. It’s true that the space policies as expressed by the two Democratic frontrunners are terrible and one should not vote for either Clinton or Obama if space is the basis of your vote. But there are some Democrats in the Congress who are solid space supporters and that should be taken into account.

  • Keith Cowing

    Mark says “Keith, et al, when (and if) a Republican posts a space policy, I’ll crtique it as well. By the way, is there any reason as of the writing of this post that the Obama space policy you quote in Spaceref is not actually on the Obama web site? You might want to check that, since you cite it as a source. I’ve been getting questions about that for most of the day.”

    I’ll tell my source about that – he ought to get a good laugh. Its called a scoop, Mark.

  • Keith Cowing

    Mark says “Keith, et al, when (and if) a Republican posts a space policy, I’ll crtique it as well.”

    But Mark, you claim that the absence of certain words in Democratic position papers = lack of support for the what missing words would describe. If there are no words at all (no Republican position papers) then, by your own odd definition, that must mean that there is no support at all for space among the Republican candidates.

  • MarkWhittington

    Keith – The difference, of course, is that Democrats, at least on the notional level, tend not to be as supportive of space as Republicans. So the former have to be regarded with more suspician on the subject than the latter.

    As an example, we can cite the fact that GW Bush did not have, so far as I can remember, a space policy when he ran for the first time in 2000. Yet it was his administration that started the Vision for Space Exploration as well as commercial friendly initiatives such as COTS. We can be pretty sure that most of the current crop would follow the same policy, based on the Party’s record.

    The Democrats, on the other hand, have a generally poor record on space for the past thirty or forty years and, absent any information to the contrary, we can safely assume that record will continue. A comprehensive space policy coming from a Democrat that does not mention human space exploration nor support for commercial space is pretty much evidence of no support for the same.

  • Keith Cowing

    Mark is making things up again. I guess this is what it means to be a space policy analyst or whatever it is he claims to do for a living. Of course the numerical data to support his broad statements always seems to elude him at times like this.

    How about some data, Mark? Like voting records – you know, things that are rather easy for space policy analyst such as yourself to dig up.

    As for Democrats and space – gee, I seem to recall that John Kennedy was a Democrat and he sent America to the moon … isn’t that part of the fantasy books you and your wife write?

  • Getting back to the actual story…

    I think it’s worth nothing that the Obama policy specifically references robotic exploration as laying the foundatings for “further manned missions.” That implies a “humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond” program, although only in the vaguest manner and obviously with no timetable attached.

  • We all know (or at least strongly suspect even if she hasn’t said it straight up) that Lori Garver helped Senator Clinton develop the policy – do we have any idea who might be providing advising to Senator Obama?

  • Rick Sterling

    Regarding the VSE & John McCain, Nature(Jan. 2,2008) stated, “MCCAIN Showed some scepticism after Bush’s initial announcement, but now calls it “not only visionary, but doable.” Let’s get serious gentlemen. Senator McCain will lead us to an incredibly bright future in space. Obama & Hiliary are a joke!

  • Rick,

    Perhaps so. But let’s start by making sure that the nominees of both parties are pro-space. After the nominations are settled, then we can start bickering about which of the two should be elected.

  • Ray

    Al: “1) It makes a commitment to keep the worst part of the ESAS (the Ares 1) in existence. That is not positive change.

    Since Obama has eliminated the commitment to go to the Moon, Mars and Beyond — it is clear that the ONLY mission for Ares 1 + Orion in an Obama administration is LEO operations.

    Since NASA has no other approved mission for the Orion, the unintended consequence of this policy is to force NASA into a direct competition with the private sector.”

    I agree that this is unfortunate. However, it isn’t unexpected, given the politics of states like Florida, and the percieved gap issue. I suspect most candidates will support Ares I/Orion to the ISS, but the humans to the Moon part will be a tough sell given that practically no progress has been made on that.

    I also suspect Obama isn’t going for the Moon program in part because NASA hasn’t demonstrated the benefits (e.g.: robotic engineering and science demos at or orbiting the Moon, pulling in commercial lunar-related activities, etc) enough, or built an advocacy community beyond the direct contractors (i.e. entrepreneurs, scientists, etc). Griffin could still try to get something started in this direction. GRAIL is a positive step this way, but I think it would need several more steps of various types.

    Assuming, though, that humans to the Moon won’t fly, it seems that to avoid the worst-of-all-worlds scenario where Ares kills COTS politically and we are stuck with Ares supporting ISS as far as we can see, there should be some kind of “backup plan” for keeping Ares I busy. This should be something that the next President would support, should keep Ares busy enough to satisfy its main function of a jobs program, and should not be so expensive that it is ignored like Obama probably would ignore humans to the Moon. Ares I could then still function as a backup to COTS for ISS, too.

    Perhaps Obama, for example, would support using Ares I to service an ambitious constellation of environment satellites, much in the way Hubble is supported. I’ve seen a proposal from astronomers advocating Orion be used to service astronomical satellites outside of LEO; perhaps this would also work. Another option would be to have some kind of NASA/commercial/contractor compromise with space stations. For example, NASA could buy time on Bigelow space stations doing various things Obama would likely support (related to the environment, education, health, etc), but use a mixed fleet of commercial and Ares to get to them. Or … NASA could expand the ISS (Bigelow style or not) so it needs more transportation activity so commercial and Ares are both kept busy.

    Of course, from Griffin’s point of view, it seems that the Ares 1/Orion political survival is less of a concern. His priorities should be getting COTS to succeed, starting a COTS human transport to ISS round, getting to the point where ISS service agreements can be signed, and if anything slowing Ares so it doesn’t politically kill COTS and so its technical issues can be handled. Having achieved the primary goal (commercial LEO space transportation), he’d be in a lot better position to give Ares something more ambitious to do, and some lunar demos could make his preference more appealing.

  • Go

    Keith,

    The reason Republican Presidents have favored space is because they have perceived space to be important for military reasons and/or they perceive the conduct of science to be ultimately beneficial for competitive reasons (especially in the area of future defense).

    This was true of Ike (NACA/NASA), Reagan (Star Wars), Bush#1 (Space Station), and Bush#2 (ESAS, Competitiveness Initiative).

    The reason that Democratic Presidents have been less supportive of space is because they generally care less about defense (and more about social programs, i.e. welfare, food stamps, entitlements). Therefore, the connection between defense and space is not compelling to them. Of course, they might see a connection between supporting space and creating public works projects or supporting space in order to attract minorities into technical fields, in other words educational reasons. (Note that Obama initially heavily emphasized the space program as being interesting as a motivator for learning).

    So, Democrats tend to support space in as much as it creates jobs and Republicans tend to support space in as much as it supports defense. Given that there are very many ways to create jobs outside of the space program, yet space is crucial for defense, you will likely continue to see stronger support for space from Republicans.

    Kennedy was an anomaly. He supported space for military reasons (although his decisions certainly did wonders for jobs) primarily because it was foisted on him at the height of the cold war (Bay of Pigs).

    (By the way, the idea of looking up votes doesn’t make sense in the context of Presidents).

  • Keith Cowing

    (sigh) Another biased, opinion-based statement of “fact” from someone with a weird name (“Go”)

    Show me the votes.

  • John Provan

    “We all know (or at least strongly suspect even if she hasn’t said it straight up) that Lori Garver helped Senator Clinton develop the policy – do we have any idea who might be providing advising to Senator Obama?”

    I don’t know who wrote it, but I do know how these things are handled by campaigns, and I think that any great heat about the subject is not really justified.

    Think hierarchies. The more prominent and better-connected the candidate, the better quality/experienced people they will have on their staff. So Clinton is going to have better people advising her on just about everything than Obama is, because she has all her husband’s connections to draw on. She undoubtedly has policy papers being written by former secretaries and deputy secretaries and ambassadors in the Clinton administration. Obama, in contrast, takes who he can get, mostly young people with no previous government experience.

    And think hierarchies of issues within the campaigns. There are certain issues that the candidates, and the people who work for and advise them, care about. And then there are ones that they do not care about, like space. So on subjects like health care, national security, foreign policy, they are going to get very good people, and probably far more volunteers than they need (everybody wants to write position papers and nobody wants to make phone calls).

    The less important policy papers will be written by low-level volunteers, such as grad students or even college interns. Somebody higher up will review them, but they won’t know or care much about the subject either, and their main goal will be to first remove anything objectionable that can get the candidate in trouble, and second make sure that most of the statement is non-specific so that the candidate later does not have to get criticized for abandoning the policy.

    So I will almost guarantee you that the person who wrote Obama’s space policy is a low-level person whom you have never heard of. And their primary marching order was probably “Make sure that we are clear that we want to replace the Space Shuttle, but do not commit to Bush’s moon plan.” So they did some web research and wrote it up quickly and it got edited a few times before the chief of staff approved it for release. That’s how this stuff _always_ happens.

    Here’s an anecdote: do you know who Bill Clinton’s first space advisor was before he got elected? John Pike. Pike wrote up Clinton’s first space policy while he was at the Federation of American Scientists. And Pike fully expected that he would get a top space policy position in the administration, because during the campaign, he was pretty much their only space advisor. But when Clinton got elected, Pike was shut out completely. He did not even get a consolation job. All the old timers with inside connections, Democrats who had worked on the Hill and in holding-tank think tanks like Brookings and CSIS, then stepped in and took those space policy jobs. Any successful candidate without previous national-level connections is going to end up hiring a lot of people from congressional staffs and loyal partisan policy shops.

    So Obama has a space policy, but it does not mean all that much other than a signifier that the campaign (unlike the Republicans) thought it was worth having one. They probably did that because Clinton has one. And also probably because they made an initial misstep issuing an education policy that mentioned space and felt that they required a space policy (that also mentions education).

    And there is no guarantee that whoever wrote it will even end up in the administration, or that any of its vague policies will be pursued.

  • Rick Sterling

    Lets get one thing straight. Electing Obama of Hiliary means an end to American manned lunar-Mars exploration for at least another half century. It’s time for the pro space community to start playing hardball. Lets tell everyone to vote for John McCain. We have had 35 years of promises by people like Obama & Hiliary. Enough is enough. If he was alive today, President Kennedy would be the first person to strongly criticize Obama & Hiliary.

  • John Provan

    “Actually all of the GOP candidates have mentioned space and (with the exception of Ron Paul) quite favorably.”

    “when (and if) a Republican posts a space policy”

    Are these two statements contradictory? Or is “mentioning” space sufficient?

    And:

    “The difference, of course, is that Democrats, at least on the notional level, tend not to be as supportive of space as Republicans. So the former have to be regarded with more suspician on the subject than the latter.”

    This seems like your argument is “Democrats = evil” and therefore do not deserve the benefit of the doubt, whereas “Republicans = good” and therefore are a-okay.

    Also, for somebody who makes a living by writing, you don’t seem to do it very well. There are things called spellcheckers. Look into it.

  • Go

    Hi Keith,

    I argued that Republican Presidents (and candidates) have been more supportive of space than Democratic Presidents (and candidates). I gave evidence of this in the programs that these people have (or have not) supported. I even went to the extent of trying to figure out why there might be a difference between these two samples of people.

    I have made no claim that either approach is better. I have also made no statement that I support more (or less) support of space (at the expense of other things).

    Your response to this is to call the approach “biased” and to ask for “votes.” What votes? Presidents don’t vote.

    John Provan:

    You claim equivalence between the statement that Democrats support space less than Republicans with the statements that Democrats are evil and Republicans are good. Your claim is logically flawed unless you can prove that supporting space at a level equal to, or greater, than Republicans is somehow good, and anything less is evil. There are some who think that the Democrats are right in wanting to support space less than Republicans. These people are NOT evil. Of course, they should be regarded with more suspicion by those who want more support for space, but that, again, does not make them evil.

  • Keith Cowing

    Dear Mr/Ms Go: You say “I gave evidence of this”

    What “evidence”? You simply stated your opinion. Show me how Democrats vote (that’s how programs live or die) in a way that is anti-space – as a group. Data please.

    As for your statement “presidents don’t vote” um, they sure do – they sign or veto bills – bills that fund things such as NASA.

  • John Benac

    All I have to say is that if all of you aren’t contacting the candidates or their campaigns and voicing your support, you might as well not be talking at all. A few hours ago I went to the ribbon cutting of Obama’s campaign headquarters here in Seattle and talked up Space funding to the people there.

    fax.marssociety.org will get your letter in the pipeline to any of the candidates fax lines.

    We all support manned space exploration. To most candidates and politicians, they will either hear your message as someone who supports manned space exploration or not. It doesn’t matter which programs, which booster, or wether it is COTS or not. Votes are the only thing that matter to them.

  • A very good, John, and one that is heeded far too little in the space advocacy community.

  • Vladislaw

    (scene from star trek next generation)

    Geordi “it’ll take a couple hours to fix captain”
    Scotty “Geordi lad, don’t tell the captain the truth how long it will take, you cant make yourself look like a miracle worker if you do that”

    I think this is something that plagues NASA, the weight issues, the vibration issues, the cost issues, et cetera, et cetera, but the NASA “miracle workers” will put something in space, it might not be cheap, pretty, reliable, safe, or provide regular service, but NASA has never failed to deliver and put SOMETHING up. So I have faith that the Ares I will fly, the Ares V I believe will be dead on arrive to the next administration. If they would have gotten some actual hardware it might have survived but if you take moon mars and beyond out of the ESAS then you are left with no justification for HLLV. ( IMHO )

  • It is possible that the Ares V will be downgraded in the next administration. But as long as we have Ares I and the Orion, the space advocacy community can keep pushing for the Ates V and the Moon-Mars-Beyond program. The fact that the Shuttle could only operate in Earth orbit meant that we didn’t have that option from 1980-2004. Now we do. It opens the doors to us quite a bit.

  • Vladislaw wrote:
    “”…but NASA has never failed to deliver and put SOMETHING up.”

    You’re talking about costs aren’t you? ^_^

  • Al Fansome

    WHITTINGON: “Keith … is there any reason as of the writing of this post that the Obama space policy you quote in Spaceref is not actually on the Obama web site?”

    KEITH: I’ll tell my source about that – he ought to get a good laugh. Its called a scoop, Mark.

    Actually, this gives me a *little* hope. I hope that this was a trial balloon by the Obama campaign, and that the problem I identified will be fixed before it is officially published by the Obama campaign.

    Keith — please communicate back to your source about the potential “unintended consequence”. A small modification before it becomes “official” is the easiest and cleanest solution to this issue.

    Thank you on behalf of all of us,

    - Al

  • As a follow up to my earlier post:

    I have submitted a question for the Republican and Democratic debates that are happening in Los Angeles on January 30th. The way that this debate works is that people submit and vote for the questions that they like online, and the candidates are asked the ones with the most votes. Please foreword this message on to everyone you think would act on this. I asked:

    “NASA can and should send humans to Mars in the short term. Will you support a manned mission to Mars, or will you keep NASA’s hands tied by not giving them this mission that is worthy of the $16 billion they spend each year?”

    People can find It by searching for “NASA” in the “Social Issues” section of both the Republic and Democratic voting sections at http://dyn.politico.com/debate/#%23

    Even if you don’t agree with the premise of the question, the only way of to promote spaceflight effectively is getting this into the national discussion. Thank you!

    John Benac

  • Al Fansome

    BENAC: Even if you don’t agree with the premise of the question, the only way of to promote spaceflight effectively is getting this into the national discussion. Thank you!

    Not true. They could submit their own question.

    If you wanted more votes, you should have submitted a question that more people could vote for.

    It is also a “Have you beat your wife lately” kind of question. I suspect you will lose many votes just because of this.

    - Al

  • Al Fansome

    WHITTINGTON: As an example, we can cite the fact that GW Bush did not have, so far as I can remember, a space policy when he ran for the first time in 2000. Yet it was his administration that started the Vision for Space Exploration as well as commercial friendly initiatives such as COTS.

    Mark,

    Do you listen? (I know this is not the first time you have been corrected on this issue.)

    While it is true that the Bush Administration created COTS, the only reason they could did so was because the Bush Administration killed its predecessor, the Alternate Access to Station (AAS) program, which was created by the Clinton Administration. There was no particular reason they killed AAS — other than the fact that Sean O’Keefe (Dick Cheney’s man) did not care enough about it to stop the NASA bureaucracy from doing so. Mike Griffin even testified to the Republican Congress about what an awful decision this was by the Republican-led NASA, under a Republican White House.

    Beyond two random outliers (e.g., Dana Rohrabacher, Mike Griffin), right now the two parties in Congress are effectively equivalent in their level of support for commercial space.

    The Republicans have occasionally created some nice “rhetoric” on commercial space in the past, but they fall VERY short in their implementation.

    Neither party, as a party, is satisfactory in its commitment to commercial space. Both can (and should) do better.

    Are you satisfied with Republican party performance on commercial space? If so, please explain why.

    A real space policy expert could (and would) do so.

    - Al

  • Ray

    One unfortunate feature of the Obama space policy as outlined in the Spaceref article is that it includes a detailed math and science education section that is only tangentially related to space. Yes, as in many industries, some space workers need math and science skills, and some space work returns science results, so generic math and science education are related to space, but the relationship as presented is too tenuous.

    I’d like to see that relationship strengthened in the education section of the policy statement with concrete steps that link the space policy to education. This should be done in such a way that both space and educational goals are met.

    For example, Spaceref often has articles and posts press releases about student competitions like TARC. Significantly greater support for such space-related student competitions could help both space and education goals. If the rewards for the winners are in the form of scholarships, education is helped even more.

    More ambitious competitions like Centennial Challenges can work the same way, but helping space and education on a bigger scale. These would typically improve significant space goals and help education at the level of university academic departments, including talented undergraduate and graduate students. They also normally come with associated events and learning activities for younger students. Strong support in this area would allow Obama to cement the space-education link in his policy.

    Increasing support for university participation in space-related science activities is an obvious traditional way to help space and education support each other. This can be done in science data analysis, expansion of suborbital rocket use, smallsats, Earth-based telescope installation, and the like. Obama’s education section doesn’t mention this, but I think it should.

    Another obvious way to support space is to directly increase funding for scholarships in space-specific academic disciplines like aerospace engineering, astronomy, planetary science, various Earth sciences that rely substantially on space data (oceanography, atmospheric science, geography/GIS, etc), space law, space policy, etc.

    Obama could have supported space, education, and commerce all at the same time in this section, too. One way to do this is to fund increased use of suborbital vehicles and smallsats by teachers and students. Such access could be part of the reward in competitions like those I mentioned above. It could also be done separately. An example of how this could be done is the “Teachers in Space” proposal to fund flying 500 of the best math and science teachers on suborbital space rides (1 per Congressional district, plus more for disadvantaged communities). The inspirational value for the teachers and their students (especially if they do something education on their ride) could be huge. The incentive to the suborbital space companies to provide services could also be very significant to our space access goals. Similar programs could be made for Zero-G rides and others. Another possibility is a program to give teachers and students much more unmanned access to space (orbital or suborbital) via experiments. This could be done on existing rockets. It could also be done in a way that gives incentives to develop future cheap suborbital rockets to fly experiments or serve as first stages for smallsat launches.

    This sounds like a huge grab-bag, but in fact even if all of it were implemented it wouldn’t need to be very expensive, and it wouldn’t need to use so many paragraphs in Obama’s policy statement.

  • Keith Cowing

    Al: Thanks – this is official even if their webmaster hasn’t posted it. But, having worked in a presidential campaign myself, there is a big difference between position papers you post when you are running for the nomination vs those you post when you are running in the general election vs what you actually do after you are elected. This is a work in progress. These campaigns do lurk on these and other sites and they do read what y’all post … so better keep posting!

  • Mark: It’s true that the space policies as expressed by the two Democratic frontrunners are terrible and one should not vote for either Clinton or Obama if space is the basis of your vote.

    Maybe I’m old fashioned, or just old, but I’m of the school that you should never base your entire vote on any one issue — the nation is too complex and there are too may issues that are vital to our future. There are few issues that are more important to me than human spaceflight, but I would never vote for, say, Mr. Bush, just because he is for human spaceflight. Nor would I vote against him, just because of his position on spaceflight.

    Two obvious examples are the greatest threats to the VSE faces today, both of which are caused by Administration actions (or lack of action) unrelated to spaceflight. The more important is the Iraq war, which has eaten up all of the money that might have been spent on an increased budget for NASA. The second is this Administration’s larger inability to pay attention to, and follow through on, complex issues, resulting in this case in the lack of attention to the VSE since it was proposed.

    No matter how vital, human spaceflight is part of a larger picture. And, some significant part of that picture must fall to some degree unmeasurable-in-advance into place for our human spaceflight goals to succeed.

    – Donald

  • J.B. let’s start by making sure that the nominees of both parties are pro-space. After the nominations are settled, then we can start bickering about which of the two should be elected.

    Excellent point!

    Ferris: We all know (or at least strongly suspect even if she hasn’t said it straight up) that Lori Garver helped Senator Clinton develop the policy – do we have any idea who might be providing advising to Senator Obama?

    My guess is that, indirectly, it’s Ms. Garver, since Mr. Obama only came up with a plan when cricized for not having one, and that plan in many ways duplicates the one originated by Ms. Clinton. I suspect that there was little original thought involved.

    Go: Kennedy was an anomaly. He supported space for military reasons

    While I don’t disagree with this, Mr. Clinton’s Administration (probably because of Al Gore) also supported space, largely for international and military reasons. Mr. Gore saw the Space Station as a way to help incorporate the Russians into the global community, helping to avoid future conflict (which may or may not have worked, but, admittedly, the picture’s not looking good right now; even so, the attempt was cheap at the price), and Mr. Gore also sees space as important for environmental and ideological reasons, the latter not unfamiliar to many of us contributing to this site.

    You are correct that spaceflight is supported in different ways by both parties, and that the reasons for their support are very different, but I think a complete picture shows that Democrats are rather more pro-space than they are usually given credit for. Lori Garver, for instance, always seems to have an important job amongst the Democrats.

    – Donald

  • Donald – Lori is actively supporting Clinton. I’ve talked to her a little bit, and she is actively supporting.

    Now, if they pulled some of their ideas from Clinton’s policy, thats entirely possible. However, it wasn’t Garver who was actually doing the writing – and thats what I want to know.

  • [...] is “fairly well thought out” overall, although he did identify one conflict between the policy and previous statements by the campaign to delay Constellation for five years to help pay for his [...]

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