Campaign '08

Giuliani to call for NASA budget increase

Florida Today reports that Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will call for an increase in NASA’s budget in a statement that the newspaper will publish on Saturday. (Why they’re holding the statement for publication on Saturday isn’t clear.) “An increase would do wonders without affecting 99 percent of the federal budget,” Giuliani writes in the statement. “That’s the fiscally conservative approach: getting a good return on your dollar.” The report doesn’t indicate if Giulani has a specific increase ($1 billion? $2 billion? more or less?) in mind.

One other interesting tidbit in the Florida Today piece: the end includes comments from Mark Albrecht, identified as a “senior policy adviser” to Giuliani; Albrecht tells the newspaper that Giuliani is willing to support a budget increase for NASA because he perceives it as “vital to national security”. One wonders if this is the same Mark Albrecht who had previously been president of International Launch Services and, before that, executive secretary of the National Space Council during the George H.W. Bush administration.

21 comments to Giuliani to call for NASA budget increase

  • MarkWhittington

    Presumably this would put Rudi behind any effort in the Congress to do the same. Also, I can’t imagine that there are more than one Mark Albrechts involved in space policy, but I could be wrong.

  • Charles in Houston

    Budget Aficianados -

    So the “fiscally conservative” approach is increase deficit spending? Or is he gonna have a giant bake sale to raise the money?

    And another yo yo putting “national security” and NASA in the same sentence, poorly informed.

    Rudy must be truely desperate for Florida votes.

    Charles

  • Chance

    Hm, calling for a NASA budget increase while in Florida. Nope, surely no pandering here.

  • Yeah. What Chance and Charles said. Giving another $1-2B for a federal government program that competes with private industry (ULA and eventually SpaceX) is “fiscally conservative”? And how exactly is sinking more money down the Constellation rat-hole “getting a good return on your dollar”. Mind you, if he does something unexpected like suggest that the $1-2B should actually go towards more commercially oriented programs, I might change my tune. But if this is just him pandering for Florida votes (99% chance IMO), it just goes to reinforce my opinion of the man.

    ~Jon

  • anonymous.space

    Given how much is riding on Florida for Guiliani, this commitment is not surprising. The lack of details about how the money would be spent is worrisome, though, especially in light of United Space Alliance’s (prime Shuttle operations contractor) involvement in Guiliani and Romney’s visits. More money to extend Shuttle operations would arguably be the worst possible color of money for a NASA budget increase.

    FWIW…

  • MarkWhittington

    A question for Jon. How is it that VSE can compete with private industry when there is no private sector effort to return astronauts to the Moon?

    For everyone else: A politician pandering? I’m shocked, shocked that such could occur. But I rather enjoy being the one being pandered to for once.

  • Mark,
    First off, that’s a bit of a strawman. VSE (if it were actually implemented the way the President directed it to be) wouldn’t compete with private industry. But the ESAS implementation does. Particularly, the money that Guilliani is proposing to spend would likely go towards either keeping the Shuttle flying longer, or expediting Ares I. Ares I directly competes with COTS for commercial crew/cargo deliveries to ISS. If Ares V gets canceled, there will be nothing else for it to do. Do you really think that if Ares I gets built, but Ares V doesn’t, that NASA or Congress is going to say, “well, we would use it for ISS deliveries, but we wouldn’t want to compete with commercial service providers”?

    And on another point, there are actual private sector efforts to send people back around and eventually to the moon. But my primary point regarded the launch systems. Commercial launchers exist which could put Orion safely into orbit. Why is NASA building its own in-house system to compete with the private LEO space launch market?

    ~Jon

  • MarkWhittington

    Jon, Mike Griffin has stated (in the speech in which he explained why Ares is superior to all of the “alternatives” being bandied about) that should COTS produce a commercial vehicle capable of taking people and cargo to and from ISS, that vehicle would do the vast majority of that service. Now, I suppose he could be lying, or demented (both theories I’ve heard coming from the Internet Rocketeer Club), but I somehow doubt it.

    I also don’t see how Orion could compete with the scheme to take people around the Moon on a Soyuz (which is what you are refering to.) So, speaking of strawmen, you’ve produced a real scarecrow of one.

  • Habitat Hermit

    As I’m sure most know I’m biased in favor of Giuliani and in addition it’s totally irrelevant since I’m not an American ^_^

    Anyway I agree a little bit with all comments so far.

    I’m worried that Giuliani has being hijacked by a self-serving NASA/USA combo (that would be the United Space Alliance).

    I’m not particularly worried about pandering; we know there’s a problem, “they” know there’s a problem, and most likely by now Giuliani too knows there’s a problem. I wish all the candidates did. However if there’s pandering to be had it better be good pandering and to me that means a lot more than throwing money at a problem (if that’s all it’s far more likely to make things worse than better). I want that newspaper article to be meaty (and yes i know that’s somewhat unlikely).

    The Stick has zero national security relevance now or in the future however both the Ares V and/or Direct v2.0 Jupiters have potential future national security relevance simply because of their payload capability (just as the Shuttle once had). I agree it’s a weak argument but it’s not completely non-existent; at least those launchers represent a strategic capability. There’s a bit more to it (secondary details) but nothing big.

    If the money goes to the Stick it will not be anything but a waste in my opinion and of course that’s anything but fiscally conservative. However I expect the Stick to be dead and buried before any new president takes office. I guess I shouldn’t assume that NASA can’t manage to come up with something even worse as a replacement still I think Giuliani’s statement should be interpreted as a signal saying that he’s serious enough about space to be willing to increase funding for it. Whether such increased funding ends up being fiscally conservative depends entirely on how it’s used and managed. In other words I interpret it as a solid show of good will and intentions towards US space endeavors in general.

  • Just wanted to add the last part from the Florida Today article for the lazy (like me):
    “Giuliani would also continue to help open space to businesses.

    “The enormous federal infrastructure needs to be made friendly to commercial enterprise,” said Albrecht.”

  • Ray

    In the likely scenario that Jon describes, where Ares 1 gets built, and Ares V gets cancelled, Ares 1 would, given NASA’s current objectives, have nothing to do except service ISS. In that scenario, we can be pretty sure that NASA will not just abandon the national STS that it just built and leave ISS transportation to the commercial operators. NASA won’t do that, and Ares-associated Congresspeople won’t let that happen, either. Keeping Ares I fully busy just on ISS will not leave a whole lot of leftover scraps for commercial operators.

    It doesn’t matter what Dr. Griffin said about that point in his speech. He probably won’t be involved with such a decision. He hasn’t signed any contracts with commercial transportation companies to service the ISS, even if they go through the trouble to build vehicles to do that. He could make deals with the COTS operators that commits NASA to use at least a portion of their services, assuming that they meet specific technical and business requirements that NASA engineers, managers, and lawyers can specify. So … the door is wide open for Ares to wipe out any COTS vendors, which is a real danger if the lunar part of the VSE is cancelled or delayed. Even if Ares is more expensive that COTS, which Griffin alluded to as an advantage of sorts of ESAS since it makes COTS more attractive, politics could very well win out and mandate Ares for ISS.

    This scenario is one reason why the meetings about adding Lagrange point observatory servicing as a first step outside LEO in the VSE (and possibly adding LEO satellite servicing?) are interesting. I don’t know what the meetings will produce, but it would be an interesting job for Ares 1 to do in the Ares V cancellation scenario, and it could keep it busy and away from ISS COTS. Maybe the COTS vehicles could play a role with the satellites and observatories, too?

    One unfortunate aspect of ESAS is that, as Jon has described elsewhere, it could have been improved in performance and, more importantly, in its incentive to commercial space transportation if in-space refueling had been used in the architecture. That could have happened even with a Shuttle-derived architecture like ESAS. It seems like a good “COTS 2″ application, but I doubt that we’ll see that happen.

    Now, how do we get ATK/LM/Planetspace to make a crew version of their COTS proposal that undercuts and obviates the need for Ares I in the Ares V cancellation scenario above …?

  • “Mike Griffin has stated (in the speech in which he explained why Ares is superior to all of the “alternatives” being bandied about) that should COTS produce a commercial vehicle capable of taking people and cargo to and from ISS, that vehicle would do the vast majority of that service.”

    Griffin can make all the claims he wants on this topic, but it won’t be his decision. By the time Ares I/Orion becomes operational in 2015 (if then) and is in a position where it must take the ISS market from COTS to justify its existence, Griffin will almost certainly be long out of office.

    “Now, I suppose he could be lying, or demented”

    Or just an inept planner.

    The duplication of ISS support with Ares I/Orion and COTS never made any sense. Even if the human lunar effort in the VSE had been pursued after the Ares V/EDS/LSAM starts got pushed into the next Administration, ESAS only assumed a couple human lunar missions per year. A $20-30 billion expenditure on Ares I/Orion never made a lick a sense if the system only flew a couple times each year. Ares I/Orion only begins to approach reasonable flight rate — one that will keep its workforce sharp and sort of begins to pay back its enormous development costs — if the system also supplies ISS in a big way. Despite his protestations to the contrary, the way that Griffin set up both programs, Ares I/Orion was always going to eat COTS lunch. It’s up to others to decide whether Griffin did so purposefully or by accident, but the huge disparity in budgets between the two programs and the sole-sourced Ares I awards are potential hints.

    This is hardly an original thought. Others have pointed out how the division of labor between Ares I/Orion and COTS doesn’t pass a laugh test (add http://):

    rocketsandsuch.blogspot.com/2008/01/cots-conundrum.html

    FWIW,

    BergStorm

  • Anonymous

    Zooming back several steps, let me make sure if I understand the responses here.

    Candidate A announces “Hooray for space! Let’s give NASA a healthy dollop of funding! I keep bringing up this 1% number, like its a benchmark or something!”

    And the responses are what? It’s a waste if it isn’t COTS? The architecture is stupid? It’s pandering?

    Perhaps I’m extraordinarily foolish, but I had imagined that most of the people taking the time to read this blog and follow these issues might actually, you know, like, support space stuff…

    But somehow, the ‘managerial’ tactic of responding to a positive, but not quite perfect, purely voluntary effort by completely condemning the effort doesn’t seem to be a good way to do anything other than discourage future candidates from even trying to support space exploration.

    Taking the macro level perspective, you’ve got Candidate A who wants to add money to NASA and Candidate B who wants to take money away from any and all space-related activities, it would seem prudent (as a supporter of space stuff) to actually, y’know, encourage the guy who wants to spend more money on space.

    Give whoever it is who takes the White House a nice warm fuzzy feeling about all the inspiration, leadership, and votes that their support of space has gotten them, and then ever-so-gently shape and nudge them into fine-tuning the budget to satisfy your particular itch on architecture.

    Or, long version short, if you like space and a candidate is talking about giving space a couple of billion dollars, it wouldn’t kill you to email his campaign and tell them it got them your vote.

  • Nemo2

    ANONYMOUS: Candidate A announces “Hooray for space! Let’s give NASA a healthy dollop of funding! I keep bringing up this 1% number, like its a benchmark or something!”

    And the responses are what? It’s a waste if it isn’t COTS? The architecture is stupid? It’s pandering?

    Perhaps I’m extraordinarily foolish, …

    Got it in one!

    Throwing more money at NASA does not address the fundamental challenge, unless (of course) you are a major aerospace company who only wants to feed that giant sucking sound called Constellation.

    I don’t how many more ways you (and others) need to be told, but there is not much passion for old “traditional” approaches to space development — the solution to which is “Ask for billions more for NASA”.

    If the agenda was “changed” there would be lots of support.

    But continually asking people to support the existing agenda, which has been tried and failed for several decades, and expecting a different results … is foolish.

    - Nemo2

  • Anonymous

    Nemo2,

    I – personally – have some rather grave reservations about the architecture as described, think that a absolutely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity got missed some years back with the political mandate opportunity that’s been let slide by, and a I have a whole list of grievances about NASA.

    Yet, Washington being Washington, the important thing is to get the money first and then worry about how its going to be spent and allocated.

    In the burning desire to get the money spent in whatever fashion we deem to be most efficient and effective, we’ve forgotten that the vast, vast, vast majority of discussion on space isn’t even as amenable as the infamous Professor Raze of this thread to space exploration.

    In general, we don’t face a choice of whether or not NASA can be refocused more effectively, the question we must address is much more one of whether or not we can get any/ usable amount of money in motion.

    Trying to restructure the whole gig before we even have the support to keep the current system going is cutting off one’s budgetary and political nose to spite one’s engineering face.

    v/r

  • Anonymous

    One other thing…

    It is important to remember is that the only way to get money for COTS is to… give more money to NASA. NASA handles the contracts, creates the demand, establishes the regulatory environment and most importantly cutting the paychecks for COTS.

    Keep in mind that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is, essentially, nothing but a procurement agency. DARPA itself doesn’t do anything other than read contracts and fund proposals.

    How much NASA or the big primes should or shouldn’t be the main providers of space exploration isn’t the main question – the main question is how much of the public dollar can we get pointed towards civil space exploration (be it government or private). If we want to get really fancy, we can start looking at more complex measures to make use of capital markets, but that’s way beyond the one or two page candidate space policies we’re likely to see in the next few weeks.

    v/r

  • Vladislaw

    If Bigelow does get a functioning station up and Space X becomes the provider for manned flight to the Bigelow station then Ares/orion is dead WITHOUT the ares V. Congress will have no way to justify the expense of Ares/orion to resupply the ISS when there is a commerical provider able to, especially if Space X starts to deliever before Ares becomes operational. Has this been Griffin’s plan from the start? Propose a system that is:
    A) more expensive and does not use shuttle parts as promised.
    B) would require extensive redesigns that would add more time to complete.
    C) Would increase the “gap” rather then shorten it.

    When Griffin was part of a lunar study at Nasa before he became administrator he called for a new heavy lift and manned launchers, NEITHER of them used the solid SRBs and he did this report like after 10 years of shuttle operations. Why would he call for a plan that is so radically different than what he proposed before unless it was not his plan or the end result was not to see a system built. It sure looks like that to me, that the end result is supposed to see COMMERICAL operations start BEFORE any NASA system can get built and it seems to me that from the way nasa approached this from day one was that the easiest, cheapest, fastest, etc etc approaches would NOT BE TAKEN, no matter what.

  • Vladislaw

    LOL, I was asked why would Griffin do that, what would be the point. I can only speculate that if griffin can get nasa out of the manned launch business then NASA could justify building a Moon or Mars ship that would stay in orbit and just say “we will use commerical launchers to put people in space and just transfer over to the moon ship from the ISS or other stations.” And transfer the manned launch money to that effort instead. By getting out of the manned flight and space station business NASA would still need the “manned space” missions and with ISS gone in 2015 and no shuttle or station the only logical step would be for a ship to “service the James Webb telescope” which recently added a docking ring.

  • Chance

    “but I had imagined that most of the people taking the time to read this blog and follow these issues might actually, you know, like, support space stuff…”

    Sure, just not a lot of NASA’s space “stuff”.

  • Anon

    ANONYMOUS:

    In general, we don’t face a choice of whether or not NASA can be refocused more effectively, the question we must address is much more one of whether or not we can get any/ usable amount of money in motion.

    Trying to restructure the whole gig before we even have the support to keep the current system going is cutting off one’s budgetary and political nose to spite one’s engineering face.

    Anon,

    I want to specifically thank you for bringing up an assumption — a false assumption albeit — that many have.

    “Restructuring” is key to increased funding support. Those who want “more funding”, need to support “restructuring” the entire enterprise — so that it deserves increased support — as the first step.

    The NASA space enterprise, as currently structured, is not supportable or sustainable. A bipartisan national commission effectively came to this conclusion. Then Griffin ignored the conclusion (maybe he thought he was smarter than the people on the Aldridge commission).

    If more funding for NASA would convincingly provide national security, economic and science benefits, then it would receive more funding. The 3 years of failed attempts by some very smart NASA politicos (Shale, Shank, Bruner, Sterner (before he left), Stadd (before he left), Pace, etc.) looking for a compelling argument to generate more funding for Mike’s flawed ESAS, is illustrative of the problems with ESAS. Trying to come up with sales pitches (like invoking the Chinese) to sell an obviously flawed product is not working.

    Doing what NASA has done for the last 40 years — structuring a political strategy based on limited support from a handful of Florida, Texas, Alabama, and Maryland members — is failing.

    The Aldridge Commission was right. Griffin is wrong.

    One of the reasons that the James Webb political strategy is failing is because the vast majority of the public has watched the last 35 years of “results”, or lack thereof, from NASA. The vast majority still “like space”, but they know something is wrong. They have lost trust in the “NASA-led system”. If you talk to the politicians in private, they share the general opinion of the public, but they have more important priorities to focus upon than “how to fix NASA”.

    Now, I happen to believe we have been handed a clear plan for “restructuring” that was developed by a bipartisan national commission in 2004. The Aldridge Commission report. It may not be evident or obvious, but this report is NASA’s salvation.

    The Aldridge commission report is a restructuring plan that will lead to much more funding “support” and political “sustainability”.

    - Anon

  • [...] from Jeff Foust at Space Politics. [T]he end includes comments from Mark Albrecht, identified as a “senior policy [...]

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