Campaign '08

Obama: human spaceflight not necessarily the best investment

The Houston Chronicle editorial board interviewed the two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, on Friday, and got distinctly different comments on several issues, including human spaceflight:

“I intend to pursue an ambitious agenda in both space exploration and earth sciences,” Clinton said. “I want to support the next generation of spacecraft for a robust human spaceflight program.”

Obama agreed that NASA, which employs thousands of Houston-area voters who work at or with the Johnson Space Center, should be a tool for inspiring the nation.

But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”

Obama’s statement would not seem to go over well in Houston, but nonetheless he won the newspaper’s endorsement Saturday. That endorsement, though, did come with some caveats, including about space:

On several issues vital to Houstonians, Obama’s positions need elaboration. He recognizes the need to maintain U.S. pre-eminence in space but said he wanted to study the costs and benefits of human space exploration — an exercise that should convince him of the space program’s long history of indispensable contributions.

69 comments to Obama: human spaceflight not necessarily the best investment

  • MarkWhittington

    Obama, beneath the high flyin rhetoric about “hope” and “change” remains just another conventiona liberal in the mode of Walter Mondale and George McGovern. Space advocates should not look upon him with any great encouragement or love.

  • Mark,
    if you keep plugging away with that “liberals hate space” mantra, maybe one day you can go pro

  • Bill White

    But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”

    I strongly support Barack Obama for president even as I strongly disagree with the direction this comment seems to point. However, space advocates do need to make the case for human spaceflight to the American people in a persuasive manner. The “Space Cynics” website does an excellent job of pointing out how many of the pro-space arguments are indeed silly.

    President Bush did offer a compelling Vision but thereafter consistently underfunded that Vision and that strikes me as being more a harmful approach than engaging in candid debate as to “WHY” America should spend tax dollars on sending humans in space.

    I believe we should spend tax dollars to send humans into space and once the nomination is secure I shall press Obama on this point. Anyway, Congress can overrule the President on these points if they have the will.

    And in the meantime we all need to hone our arguments as to “Why?”

    Of note: My brother is a research physicist and a tenured professor of physics and he believes firmly that we are a long way from “settling space” and therefore he believes that spending tax dollars on humans in space is silly.

    He and I very much disagree on this however he is neither stupid nor uneducated and my arguments do need to take that into account.

    = = =

    PS: Dear Jeff – Can we please have a “Preview” button?

  • The People

    Three Cheers for Barack. This guy seems to be right on with a lot of issues. Unfortunately, Clinton’s words DO confirm many republicans’ fear of her being a classic “spend spend” liberal.

  • canttellya

    But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”

    It would be very difficult to figure out what, if anything, we have gained from the last 15 years of human spaceflight activity.

    Any technological breakthroughs? Nope.

    Any spinoff technologies? None come to mind.

    Just billions and billions and billions of dollars spent in a few congressional districts paying for mountains of paper and Powerpoint. Astronauts going up and down to a can in the sky which has no external justification other than to keep them busy.

    Unless they’re sick. Then they don’t have to do anything.

  • I have posted a diary at Daily Kos concerning this topic

    Barack Obama has expressed skepticism about human spaceflight, not opposition.

    Combine that with the possibility of a Democratic Congress and Democratic President as of January 2009 I would suggest that space advocates need to craft arguments that shall persuade left-leaning people and that such arguments not be drenched in the usual Kool-Aid.

    Such a discussion will likely offer more long term benefit than merely “kicking the can down the road” with a grandiose but underfunded Vision for Space Exploration.

    Ooops, Dr. Griffin has directed that we stop using VSE. I forgot. ;-)

  • Cryo Man

    Any technological breakthroughs? Nope.

    The SSME and the Space Shuttle? Oops, that was 30 years ago.

    Any spinoff technologies? None come to mind.

    I guess in your world that shuttle blowing up in our faces didn’t have much to do with promoting the development of those two EELVs, right?

    You are remarkably closed minded. The reason there have been no space related breakthroughs in the last 15 years, except for those two EELVs, is that the United States has quit developing advanced cryogenic propulsion, and the advanced reusable launch vehicle systems that use them. Technological competitiveness and the quality of our launch vehicle architectures and propulsion systems go hand in hand, but you haven’t noticed that in your blind rush to war and weapons and public debt.

    Without the one, you don’t have the other. Constellation is not the one.

    Just billions and billions and billions of dollars spent in a few congressional districts paying for mountains of paper and Powerpoint.

    Don’t blame us for your incompetence, you speak only for yourself.

  • Reformed Cynic

    We need to get the basics right, particularly revising the big oil-favoring national energy policy into a a sounder, decentralized, renewables-based energy policy that gets us off our addiction to oil. We need leadership that somehow gets our power industry to stop its exploitation of coal and other foosil fuels that are committing future generations to huge and potentially dangerous climatic changes. And we need to do this on a global scale in a cooperative mode with China, India, Japan, Russia, the EU, Austrailia, etc. Then maybe we can reasonably afford to send humans back to the Moon and beyond. Meanwhile, unmanned satellites offer us unparallelled chances to explore and understand both Space and the Earth’s bioshpere.

    I think Obama is thinking and speaking more clearly than any other candidate for president towards this goal. His leadership and ability to motivate will be indispensable.

  • Anon4

    Well, that does it for me. If Obama wins I will vote republican for the first time in 30 years. Anyone who wants to gut America’s space program and turn it into an European clone of just unmanned science projects just doesn’t “get it” about America’s future, no matter what they claim.

    I wish I lived in Texas so I could vote against him, again. I think I will get involved with my Democrat friends in California to make sure iF nomiated he won’t be elected. I may even volunteer to work with the Republicans to keep him from winning. Better a moderate Republican President with a Democratic Congress to keep them in check than an Anti-Space Democratic President.

    JFK must be spining in his grave over Obama remarks on Space Exploration. It does show he doesn’t have a clue about foreign policy and foreign affairs.

    Besides McCain must not be all bad if Rush Limbaugh hates him.

  • Bill White

    Well, that does it for me. If Obama wins I will vote republican for the first time in 30 years. Anyone who wants to gut America’s space program and turn it into an European clone of just unmanned science projects just doesn’t “get it” about America’s future, no matter what they claim.

    Would you prefer to stop after Ares 1 and use it to access ISS and have THAT be America’s space program?

    IMHO that is what Hillary Clinton would give us — protect those Florida and Houston jobs and trumpet a robust program — and give us nothing.

    George W. Bush? He issues a grandiose vision and then refuses to fund it.

    John McCain? Does he even have a space policy?

  • He issues a grandiose vision and then refuses to fund it.

    Uh, Bill?

    This is bovine excrement.

  • Bill White

    Rand, I attended the SEA Washington lobbying event last Monday and Tuesday.

    EVERY Congressional office I visited (Republican & Democratic) acknowledged that the Bush budget presented two weeks ago did NOT fund NASA at a sufficient level to fulfill its Congressional mandates.

    Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) jointly sought a $2 billion supplemental last year and were blocked by the White House.

    (Of note: Kay Bailey would be an interesting Veep choice for McCain)

    Bush has NEVER funded NASA at the levels called for by the bi-partisan Authorization Act of 2005.

    A open lien item shall be the costs to de-commission the STS launch facilities after 2010. Not budgeted for and those shall come out of exploration accounts, extending the “gap” and further allowing the manufacturing base to deteriorate.

    Of course there is the argument that allowing ESAS to fail would be a feature rather than a bug, but this Administration has adopted ESAS as its official policy and then failed to propose a sufficient budget to accomplish that policy.

  • The People

    Just billions and billions and billions of dollars spent in a few congressional districts paying for mountains of paper and Powerpoint.

    Don’t blame us for your incompetence, you speak only for yourself.

    Not true. Canttellya’s opinions are shared by many of us. NASA’s human spaceflight program is a worthless endeavor. Let human spaceflight become the domain of private enterprise.

  • But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”

    I’m disappointed and a little surprised. The one argument for manned spaceflight that holds up “It instills hope, wonder, and amazement in the worlds people. A power of inspiration that cannot be over stated.” This would seem to be right up his alley.

    side note: Fellow space fans, the spin-off argument is moot. If you want to develop velcro, building a space program is not the best way to do it.
    Do we get spin off tech? yes.
    Is it the reason for the space program? of course not.

    Want to see manned spaceflight science in action?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zKLL167KOE

  • MarkWhittington

    “Mark,
    if you keep plugging away with that “liberals hate space” mantra, maybe one day you can go pro”

    Ferris, the man your party seems prepared to nominate does hate human space flight. We have the evidence out of his own mouth. It is not a matter of debate.

  • Anon4

    Would you prefer to stop after Ares 1 and use it to access ISS and have THAT be America’s space program?

    It would be FAR better then Obama’s plan of stopping America’s manned spaceflight tradition with the Shuttle and leaving us begging the Russians for seats on the Soyuz like the Europeans do. Or do you actually think he would allow NASA to buy private rides to ISS when he could use thiose funds to show how “international” the U.S. is by working with Russians like ESA does.

  • Cryo Man

    Canttellya’s opinions are shared by many of us.

    No, it’s an opinion shared by you and him. I find it astonishing that you claim to speak on behalf of anyone but yourself. The fact that you don’t find that astonishing and relish in it is merely a reflection of your character.

    NASA’s human spaceflight program is a worthless endeavor.

    And thus, by logical conclusion, your worthless endeavor. It’s your space agency. If you don’t like it, I suggest you try to change it, because we’re about to change it in a radical way on November 7th and there isn’t much you can do about it except to continue to claim here that you speak for everybody. It’s that attitude that brought this nation right to this point.

    Let human spaceflight become the domain of private enterprise.

    That would be someone else’s spaceflight program, and thus none of your business, unless of course, you make it your business. I do see that happening, since on the surface you do appear to be an actual communist.

    I’ve never actually met an American communist, this is a first for me.

  • Bill White, as someone who is a little undecided, could I ask you to elaborate (possibly off-line at donaldfr@donaldfrobertson.com) on why you support Mr. Obama? I’m curious. So far, I am much more impressed by Ms. Clinton’s analysis of the issues that matter to me, but I also understand that she has strong negatives with a lot of the voters. . . .

    – Donald

  • Cantellya: It would be very difficult to figure out what, if anything, we have gained from the last 15 years of human spaceflight activity.

    Any technological breakthroughs? Nope.

    Uh, how about the ability to build large structures in orbit?

    Any spinoff technologies? None come to mind.

    How about the ability to send large probes to the planets, most of which was done on rockets adapted from missiles in order to send people into space, e.g., the Titan and Atlas? How about the ability to do docking and thus send astronauts to the moon (and build those large structures) capable of doing efficient geological surveys and field work?

    – Donald

  • EVERY Congressional office I visited (Republican & Democratic) acknowledged that the Bush budget presented two weeks ago did NOT fund NASA at a sufficient level to fulfill its Congressional mandates.

    …Bush has NEVER funded NASA at the levels called for by the bi-partisan Authorization Act of 2005.

    The VSE is not “congressional mandates.” And even if it were, failure to “fully” fund it is not “refusing to fund it,” which implies no funding at all.

    As I said, BDS-driven, misleading bovine excrement.

  • Bill White

    I guess I am infected with Bush Derangement and Clinton Derangement all at the same time. :-)

    But anyways, I acknowledge your point, Rand. President Bush refuses to adequately fund his Vision for Space Exploration.

    I stand corrected.

    Of note: Although ESAS was not the only road the VSE could have taken, once President Bush began submitting budget requests based on ESAS, those other alternatives become moot and thereafter VSE and ESAS merged and became the official White House policy.

    President Bush has submitted his last budget and therefore non-ESAS alternatives for the VSE will need to come from someone else.

    = = =

    Now lets turn to my Hillary Derangement problem.

    Yes Anon4 I do assert that to build Ares 1 and cancel Ares V would be breathtakingly stupid. If NASA is flying Ares 1 to ISS and the Moon missions are cancelled then COTS becomes a political embarrassment rather than a solution.

    I also do not foresee Congress allowing President Obama to end American spaceflight altogether and therefore IF Constellation (Ares 1 & Ares V) are scrapped altogether what we will likely get is funding for a light/medium Atlas V crew taxi or a Falcon solution if Musk comes through and starts getting stuff into LEO.

    It appears NEITHER Clinton nor Obama favor immediate money for the Moon but if ESAS is the wrong architecture for a lunar return perhaps ending it now could be the better route to follow.

    John McCain? As far as I know, he has not taken a position as of today. .

  • canttellya

    Cantellya: It would be very difficult to figure out what, if anything, we have gained from the last 15 years of human spaceflight activity.

    Any technological breakthroughs? Nope.

    Uh, how about the ability to build large structures in orbit?

    OK, so the $120B spent in the last 15 years on human spaceflight has taught us how to dock huge pre-integrated pieces on orbit, plug in some cables and turn some bolts? What an investment.

    Any spinoff technologies? None come to mind.

    How about the ability to send large probes to the planets, most of which was done on rockets adapted from missiles in order to send people into space, e.g., the Titan and Atlas? How about the ability to do docking and thus send astronauts to the moon (and build those large structures) capable of doing efficient geological surveys and field work?

    The gargantuan costs of the human space flight effort have kept the much more valuable robotic exploration effort stunted at the Delta-2 level of launch size, making any potential gains from space docking or space structures go unrealized.

    The future looks far worse for robotic exploration, as the wasteful Constellation effort shakes down space sciences for its last “thin dimes”.

    (Yes, Mike, we remember the thin dimes…)

  • Cryo Man

    Yes, Mike, we remember

    All of you, apparently. How many of you are there crammed into that empty cranium of yours? That’s a vast space just ripe for uneducated indoctrination.

  • Ray

    Like an outgoing President, NASA Administrator Griffin should be thinking about what kind of legacy he’d like to leave behind after the next Administration comes into power, since there’s a good chance that he’ll be replaced not too long after that, and either way a new President will have new priorities. Out of the 3 remaining major Presidential candidates, what do we know of their plans for NASA? The main things that come to mind:

    Clinton – develop transportation to the ISS, expand environmental satellites
    Obama – develop transportation to the ISS, expand environmental satellites, “defer” the lunar program
    McCain – haven’t heard much from him on this

    It seems to me that this range of lukewarm support to disapproval for the lunar part of the VSE is not at all surprising, since the implementation of the VSE has shown so little promise. ESAS brings us back to the same troubles we’ve had with previous NASA developed and operated rockets and crew vehicles. Maybe the private sector can do better, and maybe it can’t. I saw given them a shot with NASA support, or else get NASA to stick to robotics, since one thing that we do know is that the internal-NASA approach to rockets and human spaceflight is just not worth the cost, and NASA doesn’t seem to be able to change its approach.

    However, forget what I think about ESAS. What does Dr. Griffin think about his legacy, and what the next President will do with ESAS. It’s apparent that Ares 1/Orion, or some modified form of that, will be made to service the ISS. Maybe some commercial transportation to ISS will also be in the mix, maybe not. It doesn’t look like the VSE will go beyond that, since there is a huge budget hurdle just to get ISS transportion the NASA way, and aeronautics, environmental satellites, and science in general seem likely to get a bigger piece of the probably shrinking pie with the next President. How does Dr. Griffin make it more likely for the VSE to succeed?

    It seems to me that the recently added lunar robotics missions are 1 step in that direction. We’d know more about the Moon, and the public and scientists would get more interested in human follow-up. However, these will get to the Moon pretty late in this political process.

    Since Ares 1/Orion seem likely to be built anyway, why not scale back funding for them somewhat (especially since some issues need to be resolved anyway)? With those funds, get something lunar going. Start a lunar lander, or more lunar robotics, or fuel depot work to integrate into the ESAS architecture. Double or triple the COTS budget to make sure Ares isn’t left supporting the ISS. Work with potential international partners to give them some reason to want to contribute to the effort. Or … take the L-point satellite servicing mission to heart, and start working on that as an achievable step to get out of LEO, and to give Ares 1 something to do besides compete with COTS.

  • “Ferris, the man your party seems prepared to nominate does hate human space flight.”

    Where and when did Obama, one of his representatives, or one of his campaign statements claim that he “hates” human space flight?

    “We have the evidence out of his own mouth.”

    No we don’t. We have a statement from Obama that he will “not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment,” which is a far cry from “I, Obama, hate human space flight.”

    “It is not a matter of debate.”

    What is a matter of debate is what form NASA’s human space flight programs will take under the next Presidency. With the current ESAS/Constellation/Ares I fiasco, the best we may be able to hope for is a measured “study [of] the costs and benefits of human space exploration.”

    Kennedy asked his advisors for a recommended way to beat the Soviets decisively in space, and the result was Apollo. Maybe what NASA’s human space flight programs need is for the next White House to take another Kennedy-esque step back, examine the rationales for civil human space flight, and then match the right activities to the right goals. Given that no similar, national goals-driven, unconstrained, and objective human space flight realignment has been undertaken at that level since Kennedy, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

    FWIW…

  • Ray

    “But, he said, the next president needs to have “a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs — and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment.”

    It sounds like Obama has the right idea here. I don’t agree at all with his plan to take the funds and send them to an unrelated education program, but this statement, for what it’s worth, is right on target. The problem is that the ESAS plan, and the Shuttle before it, aren’t particularly good investments in this sense. The NASA human spaceflight organizations should be trying to figure out how to make their programs better investments in terms not only of science and technological spinoffs as Obama mentions, but also economic returns, useful space infrastructure development, security improvements, and so on. For example:

    - Follow the Zero-G model, and buy commercial services, whether big aerospace or entrepreneurial space. Buy from U.S. commercial vendors that can make money selling the same product or service to the private sector, or at least other government agencies. Space access services through Falcons or EELVs or whatever are only 1 example of this.
    - Where commercial services don’t currently exist but are feasible, use something like COTS to help create them. Expand the COTS model, and expand the specific ISS COTS program.
    - Build (or inspire commercial space to build) space infrastructure that is useful to not only the human spaceflight project, but also to other organizations, whether science, military, commercial space, or other. Examples might be tugs, fuel depots, and spacecraft/satellite checkout stations.
    - Pound away at the space access problem, don’t throw up your NASA hands. Buy lots of suborbital space access services to help the private sector chip away at the problem that way. Let expanded COTS push in that direction. Let NASA aeronautics do demos in that direction. Fly lots of small, targetted X planes, and fly experiments relevant to space access on those commercial suborbital rockets.

    This type of approach to NASA human spaceflight should result in a lot more benefits in the sense that Obama mentioned (and I expanded on).

  • Ops Man

    Since Ares 1/Orion seem likely to be built anyway

    Anyone still fielding that line and still believing it is seriously delusional.

    The vehicles are dysfunctional, it’s all over. Michael Griffin had his chance.

  • Anon4

    Yes Anon4 I do assert that to build Ares 1 and cancel Ares V would be breathtakingly stupid. If NASA is flying Ares 1 to ISS and the Moon missions are cancelled then COTS becomes a political embarrassment rather than a solution.

    So you believe America is better off if manned spaceflight ends with the Shuttle and we are forced to beg rides on the Soyuz UNLESS we get BOTH an Ares I and Ares V up front? And since no one has funded the Ares V yet (and its not scheduled to be funded for years…) its better for Obama to kill off the Ares I so it doesn’t risk becoming an orphan IF the Ares V is never funded. That logic is just plain stupid. You have to fund the first stage, Ares I, if you ever expect to get to the next stage, an Ares V.

    I also do not foresee Congress allowing President Obama to end American spaceflight altogether and therefore IF Constellation (Ares 1 & Ares V) are scrapped altogether what we will likely get is funding for a light/medium Atlas V crew taxi or a Falcon solution if Musk comes through and starts getting stuff into LEO.

    That’s a big gamble to take with America’s future, that the Congress will over ride his decision to kill manned spaceflight. It also assumes he will be stupid enough to kill the program outright when he gets into office and not just drag it out to raid funding for “better causes” as he stated he will. So if Obama is elected America will have at least 4-8 years of no astronauts in space other then the rides the U.S. is able to beg off the Russian. Plus how many years it takes to pick up the pieces afterward. And you DON”T believe that will kill the American spirit and lower its status in the world? What are you drinking?

    So we have a choice. Elect McCain and have VSE go on, if for no other reason then he has more important battles to fight with the liberals Congress and the right wing wackos in his own party. Or Obama and have America’s manned spaceflight end with the Shuttle. Not really much of a choice if you are a TRUE space advocate.

    OBAMA = One Big Awful Mistake for America.

  • Ray

    Since Ares 1/Orion seem likely to be built anyway

    Ops Man: “Anyone still fielding that line and still believing it is seriously delusional.

    The vehicles are dysfunctional, it’s all over. Michael Griffin had his chance”

    I agree that they have big problems, technically, financially, and politically. I probably should have used the phrase I used earlier again, i.e. ” Ares 1/Orion, or some modified form of that”. By modified form, I meant up to and including possibly totally replacing Ares 1, but still performing the NASA ISS transportation job. In that sense both Clinton and Obama have said that they are going to complete vehicles to perform that function. So, why can’t Griffin take it for granted that this particular ISS support function is bound to be solved because the next President will probably make it happen, and focus the Ares funding on other important NASA projects? Personally I’d be happy to see him focus some of the savings of scaling back Ares I on robotic science missions, but if he’s for the human lunar plans why not build some useful infrastructure like a fuel depot that could support that and have useful application apart from the human lunar mission too?

  • “…its better for Obama to kill off the Ares I”

    Of the three remaining candidates, only Obama has called Ares I and Orion by name and stated that his Presidency would continue developing them. Obama’s new (old?) space policy may change that, but so far, only Constellation’s lunar elements (Ares V/EDS/Altair) would be deferred or terminated under an Obama White House.

    Clinton has promised to continue developing Shuttle successor vehicles in her S&T policy, and told the press that she wants to continue with human space exploraiton, but her campaign has not called Ares I or Orion by name.

    McCain’s plans for NASA’s human space flight programs are arguably even vaguer than that.

    “You have to fund the first stage, Ares I, if you ever expect to get to the next stage, an Ares V.”

    This is not true, in specifics or in general.

    The five-segment SRB booster and J2-X engines could be developed under Ares V even if there was no Ares I vehicle are flight.

    Moreover, Ares I and V are not the only or best (or even viable) options for post-Shuttle ISS transport, heavy lift, or human space exploration in general.

    “So we have a choice. Elect McCain and have VSE go on, if for no other reason then he has more important battles to fight with the liberals Congress and the right wing wackos in his own party.”

    How would fighting partisan battles in both parties ensure the realization of the VSE?

    FWIW…

  • **looks over at anonymous.space**

    Yea, Mark, what anonymous.space said.

    watchnasatv.com – a much better arguement can be made by the creation of a new industry, in the form of NewSpace

  • canttellya

    So if Obama is elected America will have at least 4-8 years of no astronauts in space other then the rides the U.S. is able to beg off the Russian. Plus how many years it takes to pick up the pieces afterward. And you DON”T believe that will kill the American spirit and lower its status in the world? What are you drinking?

    No, I don’t believe that will kill the American spirit at all, and I am stone cold sober.

    All the nationalist pride that can be extracted from the human space flight effort has been extracted. Challenger and Columbia were pretty good at draining the last few drops out of the corpse. Ask most people what they think about when they think of the space shuttle and the words “explosion” or “dead astronauts” are usually the first things I hear. Not “America is great” or anything.

    American pride swells when we see two rovers on Mars, plugging away doggedly after four years. It swells when we see the latest discoveries from the Hubble Space Telescope. It swells when an American spacecraft shows us the unseen side of Mercury, a planet that another American spacecraft was the first one to ever see up close.

    That’s real exploration, and that’s good for the American spirit. The human space flight program is a gargantuan waste of time, money, and most unfortunately, human life.

  • Ops Man

    Cantellyerassfromtheground,

    What don’t you understand about tens of trillions of dollars in the hole, a technological and scientific hole that you yourself have dug for all of us.

    Social services or planetary science could burn through hundreds of billions and it wouldn’t even make a dent in the problem, and then the money would be gone forever. Already tens of trillions have disappeared into your war and weapons rathole, and still nothing is done to start filling in the hole, and it only gets deeper by the day. You need to start throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at this problem last year and yesterday, in order to even begin to start to solve them, and I’m not talking about any Constellation crapeola, I’m talking quality investment in manned low Earth orbit space infrastructure, right now. Tomorrow. You really have no clue.

    You will soon be swimming in your own ignorance, you are that bad.

    The human space flight program is a gargantuan waste of time, money, and most unfortunately, human life.

    And you are most assuredly a fool. Why are you wasting our time here?

    Who is paying you to post this crap?

  • canttellya

    It’s amazing how people seem to think that I am the personal architect of the war or some other great evil in order to avoid answering what it is that the human space flight program has done to justify its incredible expenditure of funds.

    I can’t tell ya who I am, but I’m not Dick Cheney.

  • Cantellya,

    I would suggest that you are overestimating the impact to American pride that unmanned space exploration offers as much as you are underestimating the impact to American pride that manned space efforts provide.

    Manned and unmanned space exploration have always been complimentary and the either/or debate between the two has long since died among informed people because of its futility. Even the most visible scientist associated with the Mars Exploration Rovers, Steve Squyres, has made it clear that he sees them as precursors to eventual manned on-site geological exploration and not an end unto themselves.

    The human spirit is moved by exploration, discovery, and overcoming challenges; both manned and unmanned space programs collaboratively contribute to this end.

  • canttellya

    If the manned program could deliver the same kind of exploration per dollar that the unmanned program does, your assumption of parity might have some value, Bob.

    But the difference between the two (in terms of exploration per dollar) is probably greater than 1000:1, and that’s being kind to the manned program.

    Would you really invest equally in two stocks when one had a 10% rate of return and the other one had a 0.01% rate of return?

    Ask Squyres how many robotic missions he could mount for the cost of a single manned mission. His comment has gotten way more air time than it deserves.

  • ListenUp

    American Pride

    Human Spirit

    As someone else here is fond of saying, keep drinking that koolaide.

    This is delusional thinking. This has nothing to do with American pride and the human spirit and the urge to explore, and everything to do with the cooperation and good will among nations, a scientific education at the earliest years in public education (the Post Sputnik education) and something to do besides manufacture weapons and fight with each other on a planet with dwindling resources and soon to be 10 billion people.

    This thing is about human survival, if you haven’t figured that out by now, perhaps you shouldn’t be in either the science or the manned space business. Cantellhisassfromaholeintheground is merely the result of his flawed educational perspective, and the indoctrination he has received at a very early age, precisely because we haven’t been doing the things we were supposed to be doing these last 30 years or so, things that we were easily able to handle, even with all the problems mounting back in the 60s.

    It’s really not his fault, he simply is unable to understand the complexities of the issues because he lack the fundamental critical thinking skills that were ingrained into those of us who were lucky enough to benefit for the post Sputnik education we received. He is controlled by his very own indoctrination and the propaganda has have been exposed to, and is unable to break himself free rationally. These are how these things finally evolve when the failure of the basic political and educational system is allowed to fester for a full 30 years after the so called ‘Reagan’ revolution.

    He’s drank the koolaide, and no amount of explanation will sway him. He still thinks that because we had a cold winter the global warming thing is off, and because the market has a temporary rebound, that all is well in Washington. These are the people who think that more development is the solution to the over development problem – the free market luddites.

  • ListenUp

    in order to avoid answering

    And you so deftly avoid answering your own questions, as all rational people know they must do, because you don’t like the answers you think you’ll get.

  • dsmith

    You human spaceflight freaks are the ones who can’t tell your a** from a hole in the ground. All you do is preach to your collective choir in between watching Star Trek episodes and attending Trekkie conventions. If you bothered to discuss the relevance of human spaceflight outside your little delusional cabal, you’d see that hardly anyone gives a rats a** for this, except for K-6 graders. My recommendation to you all is GET A LIFE!

  • The People

    dsmith,

    Now, now. I think you’re taking this too far. Although the NASA role in human spaceflight is questionable, I don’t think you can discount the entire enterprise as flakey and irrelevant. After all, space tourism and other commercial applications could become a real profit-making endeavor within the next decade.

    And even then, I wouldn’t discount the value of crewed spaceflight for science, if the science truly drove the requirements. Unfortunately the current situation is inverted, where the science objective is treated as an afterthought or as secondary.

    Remember, Hubble would have been high-priced space junk if the we had not had crew servicing in LEO. In a similar vein, crews deployed in the orbits of other worlds could greatly expand the scientific return via telerobots, as opposed to intermittently controlled autonomous robots. Look to the field of oceanography and you will see a model that should be considered for space.

  • dsmith – wow, way to add to the discussion.

    In fact, typically surveys show serious interest in manned spaceflight, as well as all space. That why people still show up for space launches, and why a lot of people made a trek out to see the flight of SpaceShipOne.

    Further, the fact is that manned spaceflight can (and I suspect will) have an impact on our economy equal to that of the internet.

    But we have to invest in it.

  • ListenUp

    you’d see that hardly anyone

    Which in your case, means you. Nobody cares about global warming or the national debt either, ergo, they do not exist, and aren’t relevant to life.

    So, what are your plans when the next big ice storms drops the wires for a full month across a quarter of the United States. Are you planning to pray?

    I know what I’m doing right now, it’s along the lines of constructing very clever life support systems, using the knowledge I garnered from, you guessed it, working to keep a space station flying in orbit, and developing the launch vehicle architectures to sustain it, and expand upon it, so that I have the time and the means to look at pretty space pictures while I wait for Americans to suddenly come to their senses. Fat chance of that though.

  • The People wrote:

    Now, now. I think you’re taking this too far. Although the NASA role in human spaceflight is questionable, I don’t think you can discount the entire enterprise as flakey and irrelevant. After all, space tourism and other commercial applications could become a real profit-making endeavor within the next decade.

    NASA’s role in human spaceflight, until now, has been the primary one – hardly questionable. The VALUE of that role, however, IS questionable. Of course, I LOVE how the space tragics always trot out space tourism as proof when it actually hasn’t materialized yet.

    Remember, Hubble would have been high-priced space junk if the we had not had crew servicing in LEO.

    Oh no, not the Hubble myth again. If you want to do an apples to apples comparison, robotic wins this one hands down. It would have been MUCH cheaper to build disposable Hubbles, and launch a new one every 2 years with an ELV (thus allowing for constant upgrades to the latest and greatest technology) than spend the enormous sums maintaining the otherwise worthless Shuttles at $500m/flight and the standing army that goes with them.

    As with ISS, which has no proven value to justify the $100 BILLION price tag , the Shuttle has yet to demonstrate a value to the taxpayer that justifies the costs we’ve sunk into it for over 30 years. And don’t even think about trotting out the “spinoff” line – those are secondary benefits of a program, not the justification. If you want cordless power tools, there are cheaper ways to develop them than building a space program.

  • ListenHere

    MUCH cheaper to build disposable Hubbles

    Ha ha ha, that’s a good one. You just drink a different brand of koolaide. Now I can understand why you are a cynic, you have ZERO engineering skills.

    As with ISS, which has no proven value to justify the $100 BILLION price tag , the Shuttle has yet to demonstrate a value to the taxpayer that justifies the costs we’ve sunk into it for over 30 years.

    Except for the previously outlined and already easily demonstrable end of America, end of civilization, and end of humanity on the face of the Earth.

    These are hardware. They exist, until you foolishly decommission them.

    What do you get from social services? More sick and stupid humans. Just what we need to solve the more sick, stupid and hungry humans problem, all demanding the lifestyle of the ignorant American public, who can’t seem to understand what the staggering rise of debt and associated drop in productivity really means for the America of the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of social services, but unless you feed these people, educate them, and then give them something to do besides fight with everybody because basically, they’re healthy wealthy and stupid, unless these vital services are accompanied by the vital task of LIVING, then its a waste.

    We live on a planet, that is moving through space. Until you make the connection between that fundamental truth, that you are already flying though space, that flying through space is what you are doing every single second of your life, then you are just too stupid to take care of your planet.

    And the result of that lack of post Sputnik education is right in front of you.

    You are neither taking care of your planet, nor the people who fly with it.

  • canttellya

    I suppose it’s just about impossible to keep Elifritz and all his multiple aliases off this board. It’s not too hard to identify his particular brand of insanity from the post structure, however.

  • It’s not too hard to identify his particular brand of insanity from the post structure, however.

    No, it shines like a beacon, both here and on Usenet.

  • Ha ha ha, that’s a good one. You just drink a different brand of koolaide. Now I can understand why you are a cynic, you have ZERO engineering skills.

    It’s a shame you know nothing about engineering Thomas, because you’d actually realize that the Spitzer observatory (also one of the “great observatories”) was launched on an ELV. And, more importantly, it was relatively cheap, compared to ISS/STS.

    In fact, the Spitzer only cost $800m, which is less than two shuttle flights. Now any idiot who knows the most rudimentary aspects of production engineering would be able to explain the concept of NRE and amortization of those costs across multiple copies of the same device, thus allowing the cost per unit to decrease.

    But then you aren’t any idiot, are you? LOL.

  • Cantelliya: The gargantuan costs of the human space flight effort have kept the much more valuable robotic exploration effort stunted at the Delta-2 level of launch size, making any potential gains from space docking or space structures go unrealized.

    Uh, have you forgotten Cassini, Galileo, all of the “Great Observatories,” many of the environmental monitoring spacecraft — which were launched on vehicles much larger than the Delta-II and in the presence of a human space program? While I respect your right to your opinion, I think you’re letting your passion get in the way of your logic. (Something I never do, of course. . . .)

    OK, so the $120B spent in the last 15 years on human spaceflight has taught us how to dock huge pre-integrated pieces on orbit, plug in some cables and turn some bolts? What an investment.

    While I agree that we spent far too much on this project, much of that was spent on endless studies before we launched even one of those bolts. None of these tasks could automatically have been done without experience and practice — however inefficiently it was gained, and however hard it is to see it now, this knowledge and skill set will probably prove to be of greater long-term moment than any other product of the space program to date.

    It swells when we see the latest discoveries from the Hubble Space Telescope. I

    Ah, but, for beter or worse, that is a product of the human space program. Without the astronauts, it would have been a complete and utter failure before returning hardly a single result, and the “ninety percent improvement” over the years that Hubble astronomers claim is _entirely_ a product of human spaceflight. Likewise, Apollo produced the largest and most important body of results to date (the absolute cratering record). You may think that the money could have been more efficiently used on a series of automated telescopes or lunar missions, and you could even be correct, but to claim that human spaceflight has produced _no_ scientific results is simply nonesense. Once again, using outright, though commonly accepted, falsehoods to support a position, however “true” or otherwise that position may be, does your argument no favors.

    But the difference between the two (in terms of exploration per dollar) is probably greater than 1000:1, and that’s being kind to the manned program.

    I emphatically disagree with this, and have attempted to back up my contention with logic. You, like the majority of planetary scientists, simply state it as read without any justification whatsoever, while conveniently ignoring most of the actual facts (outlined above). (At least Anonymous has debated me with honest debate; while I still, and with great respect, disagree with him, I would suggest you take a lesson from this individual.)

    Ask Squyres how many robotic missions he could mount for the cost of a single manned mission. His comment has gotten way more air time than it deserves.

    And, as Mr. Squyres would probably be the first to admit, not one of those robots will ever find a fossil on Mars. Robots have their place, but they are not, and likely will not, be capable of detailed geological field work in the foreseeable future. The MERs have achieved wonders, but showing that there probably was standing salt water on Mars at some undetermined date in the past is not a lot of science for our $1+ billion.

    – Donald

  • canttellya

    Uh, have you forgotten Cassini, Galileo, all of the “Great Observatories,” many of the environmental monitoring spacecraft — which were launched on vehicles much larger than the Delta-II and in the presence of a human space program? While I respect your right to your opinion, I think you’re letting your passion get in the way of your logic. (Something I never do, of course. . . .)

    Donald, those “flagship” missions are the reason why I confined the time-frame of my question to the last 15 years (from 1993 onward).

    As I’m sure you know, the pre-Challenger and post-Challenger spacecraft development environments were very different. Before Challenger, it was national policy that the Space Transportation System would launch ALL payloads, and that launch costs were not borne by the spacecraft in a clear and direct fashion.

    Of course we saw large spacecraft like Hubble, GRO, and Ulysses go up on the Shuttle. The Shuttle was the ONLY option during their development. And in many cases they paid a steep price for the “privilege” of using the shuttle, in the form of missed launch windows, arcane development restraints, and sub-par launch injection performance (Galileo and the IUS).

    After Challenger, after the return-to-flight, and after the pre-Challenger missions had been cleared out of the queue, so to speak, what did we see? Space science fled the Shuttle just as fast as they could. Even though it meant that they had to buy their own launch vehicles, they had learned their lesson when it came to getting in bed with the manned program and they had no intention of doing it again. Since 1993 the only space science payload I can think of that has been launched on the Shuttle was Chandra in 1999, and that mission nearly killed the crew on ascent. Furthermore Chandra was developed at MSFC, which may have had programmatic reasons to try to get it launched on the Shuttle vs. procuring a suitable expendable launcher.

    The Hubble has been covered very well in this discussion by “Space Cynic” who accurately pointed out that it would have been much cheaper to write Hubble off after its 1990 launch and build a brand new one than to engage in the shuttle repair missions that followed.

  • ListenHere

    The Hubble has been covered very well in this discussion by “Space Cynic” who accurately pointed out that it would have been much cheaper to write Hubble off after its 1990 launch and build a brand new one than to engage in the shuttle repair missions that followed.

    Sure it would, but it wouldn’t be the Hubble, not even close.

    You have no idea what you are talking about, really, stick with the trivial subjects like politics and popular culture. Your suggestion is ludicrous.

    Any $500 M mission is not going to approach the deep imaging capabilities of the Hubble by an order of magnitude at least. Your conception of the programmatic, engineering and scientific realities is almost nonexistent.

  • ListenHere

    because you’d actually realize that the Spitzer observatory

    Is not a Hubble, not even an optical telescope. You understand it has a finite and relatively short cryogenic lifetime, right? I’m guessing you don’t.

  • MarkWhittington

    “Kennedy asked his advisors for a recommended way to beat the Soviets decisively in space, and the result was Apollo. Maybe what NASA’s human space flight programs need is for the next White House to take another Kennedy-esque step back, examine the rationales for civil human space flight, and then match the right activities to the right goals. Given that no similar, national goals-driven, unconstrained, and objective human space flight realignment has been undertaken at that level since Kennedy, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”

    Yeah, let’s not actually do anything. Far better to endlessly debate it and not actually do anything. We have a very good space policy now which encourages commercial space and returns NASA to space exploration.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    I suppose it’s just about impossible to keep Elifritz and all his multiple aliases off this board.

    Come true.

    Ha ha ha, that really is funny. Not a chance. If you want to hang out with the neocons, Rand has a place where you fit right in with the violence oriented.

    The chances of me not speaking up is ZERO. It’s a cultural thing, which is widespread among people that actually do scientific and engineering field work, in the field, not from behind a keyboard or in a suit. You wouldn’t know about it. But the rule is this, if you have a problem, any problem, you speak up, now and forever, or that problem will bite you in the ass later. If this were a philosophy that even a small fraction of the Marshall managers and engineers followed, we wouldn’t be in the huge mess we are in now.

    Anybody that racks up a 3 trillion dollar debt pursuing a illegal war against innocent civilians in a nation that was not a threat to the United States, all the while using that war to demean the Constitution of the United States at home, is surely on my sh%tlist for all of eternity, you haven’t even begun to feel my wrath. That fact that you people still spout free market economics while promoting violence and an authoritarian police state at home, only makes you extra special in my secular, rational, literate, scientific space based world of propulsion, launch space stations and life support systems.

  • MarkWhittington

    BTW, did anyone else notice how Obama referred to astronaut explorers as “bodies.” That seems rather insulting, especially when one considered how a few of them have given the last full measure of devotion. I think it shows a very ugly side to the candidate.

  • Anon4

    Kennedy asked his advisors for a recommended way to beat the Soviets decisively in space, and the result was Apollo.

    Obama is not Kennedy. His comes out of the urban Chicago political machine, the Jesse Jackson “space is a waste” school. (BTW both JJ and JJ jr. quietly endorsed Obama over a year ago and key advisors worked on JJ jr. campiagn) Does any one here remember Jesse Jackson’s op-ed in the New York Times on July 21, 1969 arguing against the Apollo 11 mission? Look it up. It has great statements like “While we can send men to the moon or deadly missiles to Moscow or toward Mao, we can’t get food stuffs to starving folks in the teeming Ghettos.” Or does anyone here remember Jesse Jackson’s protests at KSFC that the launches of Apollo 11 and 12 were a huge waste of money that could go to the poor? DO you honestly think someone out of that political traditional would do anything but do their best to kill the nation’s space program? Or at least take away as much funding as they could get away with for social welfare programs?

    Sure there will be a study, a KANGAROO COURT with a predetermined outcome that any spending on NASA while major social problems still exist is not justified. One that NASA should have its funding reduced except for missions with clear direct immediate benefits, like global warning research, to provide more money for welfare programs. It won’t be unmanned versus manned mission, or NASA versus commercial replacement. It will be NONE of the above. America’s manned and unmanned space program will be reduced to just some token funds to Russia for rides on Soyuz and few more Earth observation missions. As for promoting space commerce, including space tourism for the future rich, well just use your imagination…

    No NASA won’t be zeroed out. It will just gradually decline over the budget cycles of an Obama administration as it “focuses on new priorities”. And private spaceflight will not be outlawed, just gradually regulated and its super rich customers luxury taxed for the “public good”.

    If there is any issue Space Advocates should unite on its making sure Obama doesn’t have the chance to kill America’s space programs, both the public and private ones.

    McCain – haven’t heard much from him on this

    Then you haven’t done your homework. From the McCain website.

    http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/7366faf9-d504-4abc-a889-9c08d601d8ee.htm

    “Let us now embark upon this great journey into the stars to find whatever may await us.”

    -John McCain

    John McCain is a strong supporter of NASA and the space program. He is proud to have sponsored legislation authorizing funding consistent with the President’s vision for the space program, which includes a return of astronauts to the Moon in preparation for a manned mission to Mars. He believes support for a continued US presence in space is of major importance to America’s future innovation and security. He has also been a staunch advocate for ensuring that NASA funding is accompanied by proper management and oversight to ensure that the taxpayers receive the maximum return on their investment. John McCain believes curiosity and a drive to explore have always been quintessential American traits. This has been most evident in the space program, for which he will continue his strong support.”

    I’ll take my chance with someone like a McCain who has a record of supporting space exploration versus an unknown that comes out of a tradition of hating space exploration and as HAS ALREADY talked about robbing NASA for his educational programs.

    Now adios as I have work to do making sure the next president supports space instead of killing it.

    OBAMA = One Big Awful Mistake for America

  • Is not a Hubble, not even an optical telescope. You understand it has a finite and relatively short cryogenic lifetime, right? I’m guessing you don’t.

    I do, and if you had the reading comprehension and attention maintaining capabilities of even a remedially-educated fourth grader you would have noticed that I argued for launching replacement telescopes on a regular basis instead of incurring the much higher costs of the Shuttle.

    But then, you don’t, so of course you’d make the moronic statement you made.

    Now wipe the spittle from your chin, count to ten, let your blood pressure drop to a more unemotional state, and attempt to respond if you can.

  • Listen Down

    I argued for launching replacement telescopes on a regular basis

    No you didn’t. You said :

    It would have been MUCH cheaper to build disposable Hubbles, and launch a new one every 2 years with an ELV

    I did not take issue with the EELVs or ELVs, I took issue with the ‘disposable Hubble and someone else came up (maybe it was you) a $500 M figure.

    My blood pressure isn’t up at all. I merely pointed out that the concept of a disposable orbital optical telescope of Hubble caliber is just ludicrous.

    I mean really, it’s laughable, even if you managed to loft them with an ELV.

    The ‘Hubble’ program is 30 years old now, it’s the first orbital optical telescope we ever built (for civilian astronomical use) and is in low Earth orbit. Non disposable space assets appreciate, they don’t depreciate.

    I just can’t wait to see the price inflation and program delays of your hypothetical ‘disposable Hubble’. I for one just don’t want to go there.

    No, I really like the idea of eternal optical telescopes in low Earth orbit, that can be upgraded with better instruments over time. We don’t replace the big glass in these things every year on Earth, the glass that is built lasts just fine, thank you. It would be great if you could crank them out on assembly lines, but since we don’t even do that on Earth quite yet, I don’t see it happening in space any time soon. All I have to go on is the history of the programs and the contract values published in the media.

    It’s easy for the educationally challenged to come in here and whip off one line zingers like ‘disposable Hubbles’, but those of US in the reality based reality know that you don’t have a clue about the complexities of these programs, their evolutionary history, and the challenges involved in them. Clearly we can build better Hubbles today, but until we codify that in the form of a program, that the commitment exists for more of the same, then really, we’ve got some far more serious issues to deal with right here at home, issues in which low Earth orbit manned space flight (not deep space exploration) are integral in solving. Until you are able to join us in the reality based world where numbers and words have meaning, you’ve got nothing.

    We serviced the Hubble, we’re going to service it again, no amount of bitching about what could have been, or what might be, is going to change the reality of the learning experiences involved in these really big space based programs, the Hubble, the Shuttle, the ISS and what follows. I see no evidence that you have learned anything, the Constellation architecture is entirely disposable, you have learned nothing from Apollo apparently, and the price tag is coming in making Apollo look like a great deal. You are screwing up launch so bad that you are already making the shuttle look like a good deal, a good enough deal that it’s continuation after 2010 is almost a given now. You guys are screw ups from one end to the other, and there is no shame, no apologies, no analyses, no trades, nada, just a bunch of incompetent space policy hacks endlessly bickering over details that you know little if anything about. You live in a disposable society, and now you want to extend that to low Earth orbit, after nearly making it impossible to survive there for any length of time because of the orbital debris problem.

    Disposability and inanity is a truly American psychosis.

  • Listen Down

    If there is any issue Space Advocates should unite on its making sure Obama doesn’t have the chance to kill America’s space programs, both the public and private ones.

    On the contrary, a environmental and Earth centric space program will bring more money (beyond your wildest dreams) into both the manned and unmanned observational space sectors. You (as well as Mr. Obama’s people) simply do not yet grasp the magnitude of the problems, and the strategies that must be pursued in order to solve them. These problems haven’t yet encroached into your everyday life, except for maybe Katrina, but the second they do, everyone will be screaming about where we went wrong, and the where we went wrong is most definitely in space, in relation to where we went wrong on Earth. The convergence of these problems will guarantee a widespread, broad and international acceptance of science and astronomy as the only possible route of action in order to solve them.

    Just give it time. You’ll see. Do keep drinking the US cable TV koolaide.

    The rational among us will continue to get our information from space.

    And don’t worry about it, even Al Gore doesn’t fully appreciate this yet.

  • The rational among us will continue to get our information from space.

    LOL – how long have “they” been communicating with you?

  • MarkWhittington wrote @ February 17th, 2008 at 6:57 pm
    “BTW, did anyone else notice how Obama referred to astronaut explorers as “bodies.””

    lol but not as funny as dubya’s “spacial entrepreneurs”

    Oh and “everyone to they’re corners!” geez

    Space haters: your spending .018 cents per tax dollar so get the hell of my cloud!

  • “Yeah, let’s not actually do anything. Far better to endlessly debate it and not actually do anything.”

    An understandable but moot point. Regardless of who wins the White House, they are going to have to revisit the VSE. It’s just a question of at what level and depth the engagement occurs. Griffin/ESAS/Constellation and Ares I/Orion costs have pushed the development start for all lunar hardware into the budgets of the next Administration, so the new White House will be doing some reexamination and rethink of the VSE starting as part of the FY 2011 budget process, at a minimum. The easiest and most likely course of action will be to terminate Ares V/EDS/Altair before those projects begin and apply those dollars elsewhere. However, for the sake of NASA’s human space flight programs, it would be much better if there was a serious discussion at high levels in the next Administration about what important national goal(s), if any, NASA’s human space flight activities can and should contribute to and what the right programmatics are for doing so.

    “We have a very good space policy now which encourages commercial space and returns NASA to space exploration.”

    We did have a “very good space policy”, past tense. I’m the biggest fan of the VSE, but its implementation has been gutted by Griffin’s poor planning, flawed ESAS analysis, inexperienced Constellation management, and a multiplicity of serious cost, schedule, and technical issues on Ares I/Orion. The VSE certainly did “encourage commercial space”, but after several years, only one firm currently has any “commercial” involvement in Constellation and a great deal of contract dollars have uncompeted to sole-source awards. And the VSE certainly did try to “return NASA [human space flight] to exploration”, but Constellation doesn’t even have a path forward to get back to the ISS on schedule, forget returning astronauts to the Moon.

    “‘Does any one here remember Jesse Jackson’s op-ed in the New York Times on July 21, 1969 arguing against the Apollo 11 mission? Look it up. It has great statements like “While we can send men to the moon or deadly missiles to Moscow or toward Mao, we can’t get food stuffs to starving folks in the teeming Ghettos.’”

    Even for space cadets (myself included), this should be an understandable line of argument. Given what was going on at the Cabrini-Green projects in that time period and given federal involvement in the creation of those projects, it was a legitimate question whether the national government had its priorities in order.

    “DO you honestly think someone out of that political traditional [sic]…”

    What political tradition is that? African-Americans from Chicago? Or local representatives standing up for their constituents?

    “BTW, did anyone else notice how Obama referred to astronaut explorers as ‘bodies.’ That seems rather insulting,”

    The term is being used to differentiate between crewed and automated space flight. The former involves human bodies in space. The latter does not. It’s not an insult. Rather, it shows that the speaker knows enough to tell the difference between the two, not something that could be said of every Presidential candidate.

    “especially when one considered how a few of them have given the last full measure of devotion. I think it shows a very ugly side to the candidate.”

    You’re the one drawing connections between the word “bodies” and the astronauts who lost their lives in Apollo and Shuttle accidents, not Obama. The ugliness arguably exists in your thoughts, not the speaker’s words.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space wrote : Jackson said
    “While we can send men to the moon or deadly missiles to Moscow or toward Mao, we can’t get food stuffs to starving folks in the teeming Ghettos.’”
    “Even for space cadets (myself included), this should be an understandable line of argument.”
    True, but it should not be one or the other. Why people are starving is a different discussion.

    anonymous.space wrote :
    “However, for the sake of NASA’s human space flight programs, it would be much better if there was a serious discussion at high levels in the next Administration about what important national goal(s), if any, NASA’s human space flight activities can and should contribute to and what the right programmatics are for doing so.”

    This I think is the best statement here and the one I actually push to politicians. IMO it is obvious that both robotic and manned exploration have important roles in a robust program.
    Ferris Valyn wrote :
    “a much better arguement can be made by the creation of a new industry, in the form of NewSpace”

    In the debate over what to do, there will be lots of “justifications” for this program and that. “National goals”, will hopefully be set. The truth, and at this point the only real reason for going, Is the less tangible. Because we have been looking up at those stars/planets for millenia, long before star trek and the like, wanting to know (your question here). It is important politicians hear this as well.

    Bob Mahoney wrote
    The human spirit is moved by exploration, discovery, and overcoming challenges; both manned and unmanned space programs collaboratively contribute to this end.”
    Add “all nations space programs” and you might have a recipe for whirled peas. As others have said here, we are all in the same boat, the only boat.

    You are here!
    http://uplink.space.com/attachments//524472-EfromMars.jpg

  • Anon4

    “While we can send men to the moon or deadly missiles to Moscow or toward Mao, we can’t get food stuffs to starving folks in the teeming Ghettos.’”
    “Even for space cadets (myself included), this should be an understandable line of argument.”

    You need to read some history son. President Johnson had already started his War on Poverty in 1964 and by 1968 the federal government was already spending billions on urban renewal and welfare. The few billion spent on NASA in 1969 would not have made much difference in fixing the nation’s social ills. To think otherwise shows a huge lack of knowledge about U.S. history in the 1960′s.

    The political tradition I am referring to is the one you are defending, that we must solve ALL the social problems on Earth before exploring space and that somehow the few billion spent on NASA would make a difference when we are already spending 10-15 times that amount on social programs to address those issues. Individuals like you have been singing that song for decades. Take some time and study the federal budget and compare NASA’s budget to those of the various entitlement programs. You might learn something.

  • “You need to read some history son.”

    Please don’t engage in ad hominem attacks. You have no idea how old or young I am, whether I’m of a race that would find the term “son” offensive, or even whether I’m a man or a woman. If you can’t support your argument without namecalling, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    “President Johnson had already started his War on Poverty in 1964 and by 1968 the federal government was already spending billions on urban renewal and welfare.”

    Not relevant. Federal funding for the Cabrini-Green projects started in the 1940s under the New Deal and Roosevelt. Your argument generalizes a problem that was very specific for the people and leaders of Chicago at that time and does so based on erroneous premises.

    “The few billion spent on NASA in 1969 would not have made much difference in fixing the nation’s social ills.”

    Again, not relevant. A very small fraction of NASA’s budget would have made a huge difference to the Chicago projects. That’s Jackson’s point.

    “To think otherwise shows a huge lack of knowledge about U.S. history in the 1960’s.”

    To misapply a very specific argument about human suffering and federal mismanagement at a very specific point in history, and to do so using erroneous assumptions and facts, demonstrates something else entirely.

    “The political tradition I am referring to is the one you are defending, that we must solve ALL the social problems on Earth before exploring space…”

    Where did I make that statement? Please do not put words in my mouth. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying what the other poster has written, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place

    “Individuals like you…”

    Again, please stop personalizing your argument. You don’t know me from Adam or have any idea what my political viewpoints are. I corrected the context for your argument but that doesn’t mean that I fully endorse the other side’s position, either.

    “that somehow the few billion spent on NASA”

    NASA’s FY 2008 budget $17.3 billion, not a “few billion”.

    “would make a difference when we are already spending 10-15 times that amount on social programs to address those issues.”

    Including Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and welfare programs, federal spending on entitlements is something well over $1.2 trillion (with a “t”). That’s a factor approaching 70 times greater than NASA’s budget, not “10-15 times” greater.

    “Take some time and study the federal budget and compare NASA’s budget to those of the various entitlement programs. You might learn something.”

    Please take the time to doublecheck your grossly erroneous figures before instructing others to school themselves on the federal budget.

    Oy vey…

  • Anon4

    Hi D, I thought I recognized your style! Only you would have a comeback like this:

    Please don’t engage in ad hominem attacks. You have no idea how old or young I am, whether I’m of a race that would find the term “son” offensive, or even whether I’m a man or a woman. If you can’t support your argument without namecalling, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    How its going in DC? I was wondering where you went to. Next thing you will do is say my arguments are “not logical”. You style is missed on the old discussion boards you used to haunt :-)

    And once again you twist the facts and throw in a red herring to confuse the issue in your favor. Jesse Jackson NEVER discussed Cabrini-Green in his Op-Ed. YOU threw it in as a red herring. And although the first towers, the Cabrini part, were built in the 1940′s, the Green part WERE built in the 1960′s. And the people living in them were already getting federal welfare, that was why they were living there. The towers were later wrecked as an example of a FAILED federal attempt to fight poverty. As a historian you should have checked up on their history before using them so carelessly.

    BTW the original Cabrini towers were the inspiration for the tower Roake built and then destroyed in the Fountainhead.

    Yes, it would have been a great idea to spend more money on failed federal welfare projects like the Cabrini-Green projects then on NASA.

    Now, back to facts. The NASA budget in 1969 WHEN Jesse Jackson was protesting it was a few billion. A little over 4 billion to be exact. One again you used your signature style of twisting facts until they are out of context. I was not discussing today’s NASA budget as you well knew.

    The point you are trying to confuse is that in 1969 when Jesse Jackson was protesting the federal government was ALREADY spending several times more on WELFARE then it was on NASA. President Johnson had ALREADY may the War on Poverty a national crusade. The only bigger portion of the budget was the DOD and Vietnam War. SO Jesse Jackson arguments that people were starving because the money was being spent on Apollo were no more supported by facts then your arguments are here.

    Unfortunately, people did listen to him and other like him, with the result that NASA was starved for money after Apollo while the nation’s welfare budget soared. The Shuttle never had the funding needed to achieve its original potential and other space goals were DOA. The U.S. has been marking time in Human Space Exploration for the last 30 years. And the Poor? They are still there just as before. That many space advocates here want to see elect someone coming out of that political tradition and see a new wave of stagnation at NASA is very, very sad.

    At least McCain makes it clear on his website he would stay the course on NASA. Odds are that he would even keep Griffin as Administrator. And that is good enough for me if Hillary doesn’t get the nomination.

  • “Hi D, I thought I recognized your style!”

    You’re confusing me with someone else. None of the initials in my name start with a “D”, nor am I referred to by that letter.

    “Jesse Jackson NEVER discussed Cabrini-Green in his Op-Ed.”

    Where did I claim that Jackson did mention Cabrini-Green in the op-ed? Please do not put words in my mouth. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying what the other poster has written, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    And if you want to tutor the board in history, then please do the research and understand the historical background for Jackson’s comments before blowing them out of context. Jackson’s comments were not about Apollo or human space exploration. They were about making the federal government accountable for the suffering that its mismanagement took a hand in creating in Chicago over several decades.

    “And although the first towers, the Cabrini part, were built in the 1940’s,”

    Congratulations on finally doing some of your homework.

    So again, given that Johnson was not President and the Great Society legislation did not pass until the 1960s, what makes you think that either was responsible for the situation in Chicago?

    “And the people living in them were already getting federal welfare, that was why they were living there… an example of a FAILED federal attempt to fight poverty”

    Where did I (or Jackson) state that the solution was more spending on Cabrini-Green infrastructure or failed federal welfare programs? Please do not put words in my mouth. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying what the other poster has written (or what a political leader has written), then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    “The towers were later wrecked”

    Incorrect. The towers are still being taken down today. Demolition is not expected to be complete until later this year.

    “As a historian”

    I’m not an historian. Please stop making personalizing your arguments and making up assumptions about who you think I am or am not. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying whom the other poster is, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    “SO Jesse Jackson arguments that people were starving because the money was being spent on Apollo were no more supported by facts then your arguments are here.”

    Where does Jackson argue that more money was being spent on Apollo than on welfare? You’re the one making that untrue statement, not Jackson. Jackson was arguing that some fraction of the money being spent on Apollo (or elsewhere in the federal government) should be spent fixing problems that the federal government had created in Chicago over several decades of mismanagement.

    “BTW the original Cabrini towers were the inspiration for the tower Roake built and then destroyed in the Fountainhead.”

    And the point is… that we should use science fiction novels as a guide for national policy in the real world?

    “Yes, it would have been a great idea to spend more money on failed federal welfare projects like the Cabrini-Green projects then on NASA.”

    You’re the one making that argument, not me or Jackson. Jackson wanted to alleviate suffering among the people he represented, but that doesn’t mean that he wanted to spend the money in the same way that it had been spent before.

    “Unfortunately, people did listen to him and other like him, with the result that NASA was starved for money after Apollo while the nation’s welfare budget soared.”

    NASA’s budget started coming down in the mid-1960s under President Johnson, years before the Jackson op-ed. You’re drawing a cause-and-effect relationship that cannot exist based on the timeline.

    “The Shuttle never had the funding needed to achieve its original potential…”

    So you’re arguing that the Republican Nixon Administration, which was responsible for the Space Shuttle decision and setting its budget, was taking advice from Democrat Jesse Jackson on NASA programs? Again, you’re drawing a cause-and-effect relationship that’s laughable based on the political relationships and historical documents.

    “The U.S. has been marking time in Human Space Exploration for the last 30 years. And the Poor? They are still there just as before.”

    During the past 25 or so of those 30 years, we’ve had conservative Republican or moderate Democrats in the White House who have variously constrained or reformed welfare spending. But welfare constraints and reforms have not resulted in a larger or more effective human space flight program.

    Why do you repeatedly argue that we have to curtail welfare programs in order to sending astronauts beyond Earth orbit? History shows that there is little to no relationship between the two. Beyond only the largest and most general of federal budget constraints, what does a war on poverty have to do with the civil space program?

    “At least McCain makes it clear on his website he would stay the course on NASA.”

    No it doesn’t. The McCain statement only talks about his past actions. Unlike the Clinton and Obama statements, it makes no reference to what McCain would do with NASA in the future, were he to win the White House.

    “Odds are that he would even keep Griffin as Administrator.”

    Based on what evidence?

    Moreover, Griffin has stated publicly his intention to not stay on with the next Administration.

    “That many space advocates here want to see elect someone coming out of that political tradition and see a new wave of stagnation at NASA is very, very sad.”

    Unfortunately, the “new wave of stagnation” has already hit under Griffin. NASA is once again pursuing a needlessly expensive and technically crippled means of getting humans to and from orbit, one that won’t even meet the VSE schedule, at the expense of any actual human space exploration hardware development (not to mention a lot of robotic space exploration missions and other valuable activities in space and aeronautical technologies).

    If you’re a real supporter of human space exploration, why would you want to keep on an Administrator who wasted a golden opportunity to get human space exploration restarted under the Bush II White House and pushed out the development start of any actual human space exploration hardware into 2011 (at the earliest) where it’s likely to be deferred or cancelled by the next Administration?

    Ugh…

  • Anon4

    Hi D,

    Wow! a NEW RECORD for misinformation and twisting someone’s words. Clearly you haven’t done any research or read Jesse Jackson’s op-ed. Its not that hard to find. You keep talking about Chicago, but he never mentioned Chicago in the op-ed. He only used Appalachia as an example. You were the one who dragged in the Cabrini-Green projects to muddle the issue and hi-jack the thread away from Obama’s policy, one of your classic tactics.

    But its clear you seem to agree the social spending is more important then space exploration, else why would you defend his words so hard? Or do you agree with his statement on celebrating the Moon landing?

    ”How can this nation swell and stagger with pride with technological pride when it has a spiritual will so crippled, when it is so weak, so wicked, so blinded and misdirected in its priorities”

    In any case I see another article coming in the Space Review by your alter-ego on how individuals like Jackson were right to criticize Apollo and proving that their criticism had no impact on the funding for it.

    And Yes, I don’t think we should take NASA’s money away and spend it on welfare. The amount spend on NASA wouldn’t even offset the waste in current welfare spending.

    As for your statement on McCain…

    No it doesn’t. The McCain statement only talks about his past actions.

    Really. It says McCain plans to stay the course. What is unclear about that? How it is not talking about the future to say you plan no major changes in the current policy? ? Isn’t that exactly what is necessary to implement the VSE? Or would it be better to have it change with each administration as was the case with the space station? Or have you made such a career of twisting words you don’t see what they mean anymore…

    Which gets is back to where we were before you hijacked this thread with Cabrini-Green. Who would be better for NASA? Someone like McCain who plans to stay the course on the VSE, or some one like Obama who comes from the Jackson/Mondale space is a waste tradition?

    I say McCain, unless Hillary get the nomination, which looks like a long shot now.

    In any case I will let you have the last word D.

    BTW The discussions flow smoother on those old discussion boards now that you are no longer hijacking threads by twisting words or facts 

  • “Hi D,”

    “In any case I will let you have the last word D.”

    I repeat, you have me confused with someone else. None of the initials in my name start with a “D”, nor am I referred to by that letter.

    For the umpteenth time, please stop making up assumptions about who you think I am or am not. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying who the other poster is, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    “You keep talking about Chicago, but he never mentioned Chicago in the op-ed.”

    I never stated that Jackson discussed Chicago in that op-ed. For the umpteenth time, please stop putting words in my mouth. If you can’t support your argument without misportraying what the other poster has written, then please don’t waste your time or mine by entering into the discussion in the first place.

    You were the first one to discuss Chicago. The only reason that I’m talking about Chicago is to correct the erroeneous and overblown historical references that you brought up in the first place.

    “”In any case I see another article coming in the Space Review by your alter-ego”

    I have never written for, or had any works published by, Mr. Foust or his online journal.

    “It says McCain plans to stay the course.”

    Untrue. The statement makes no such promise. It only references McCain’s prior legislative record and belief that a general “U.S. presence in space” is important to the nation. McCain’s online statement makes no forward commitment to continuing the human space flight program, even in Earth orbit (at least the Clinton and Obama S&T policies do this), nevertheless staying the course on the VSE or otherwise extending human space flight beyond Earth orbit. In fact, McCain’s statement is conditioned by langauge regarding management and fiscal reponsibility, which arguably would cut against NASA’s human space flight programs.

    “BTW The discussions flow smoother on those old discussion boards now that you are no longer hijacking threads by twisting words or facts”

    Well then, by all means, go back to those “discussion boards”, whereever they are, and take up your feud, whatever it’s about, with “D”, whoever they may be, there.

    Bleah…

  • Jeff Foust

    It looks like this discussion has run its course.