Campaign '08, Events

Space policy panel at Netroots Nation

Andrew Hoppin announced yesterday that there will a space policy panel at Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos), this July in Austin, Texas. It’s a fairly high-power panel, featuring Lori Garver, former FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation Patti Grace Smith, and NSS executive director George Whitesides, among others. The panel he writes, is “an opportunity to bring critical space policy issues to light within a potent progressive political constituency—the Netroots—that hasn’t historically paid much attention to space. It is also an opportunity for the Netroots to weigh in on what a new progressive space policy agenda could be under a progressive Administration in 2009.” The formal description of the panel:

NASA is in crisis–overburdened, under-funded, and inefficient. Yet the progressive legacy of space, which dates back to JFK, is being quietly reborn: NASA can reinvent itself as a critical resource in climate change mitigation; the UN and some in the U.S. military are collaborating to prevent space weapons from becoming an arms race with China; progressive “NewSpace” entrepreneurs are creating new domestic high-tech jobs. Before 2009, a new progressive space policy needs to be devised and advocated beyond the traditional space constituencies, to upgrade Bush’s failing space exploration vision. Who better to initiate this work than the Netroots?

I’m not sure I understand the point about the UN and US military collaborating to prevent an arms race in space with China; the US government has insisted that there is no arms race in space, and had thus blocked proposals at the UN and elsewhere for treaties that would explicitly ban space weapons. Also, while they mention the role NewSpace can play, it’s unfortunate Netroots Nation conflicts with NewSpace 2008, the annual Space Frontier Foundation conference.

18 comments to Space policy panel at Netroots Nation

  • That is the one real down side about Netroot Nation – the date conflicts. Still, the fact that its getting covered, and who is coming, is good news

  • spectator

    Well I’d not get my hopes jacked up for a serious discussion of the issues. Take a long look at the Daily Kos website and open some of the diaries. They are filled with obscenities, personal attacks and lousy writing. My reading of Daily Kos is they are true believers and can’t accept less than 100% of their extreme agenda. See Hillary Clinton for an example of the netroots eating their own.

  • Someone

    They talk of a 100,000 aerospace jobs being at stake in Ohio and Florida. The highest scare estimate I have seen for jobs lost due to the spaceflight Gap is about 20,000, mostly in Florida, Lousiana and Texas. Although some jobs will be lost at Glenn, it won’t that big a hit.

    It also looks like they have drunk the NewSpace kool-aid as well as the space arms race one.

    And I am not sure what NASA could do for climate change mitigation. Perhaps they mean climate monitoring.

  • spectator, given your history and your comments, I’ll wear it with a badge of honor, that I am a dailykos poster. I would argue that we are activists, which is not the same thing as true believers, and in anycase, NN is not just Dailykos, but a large group of blogs.

  • watching someone

    This is pure speculation, but “Someone” sounds kind of like Tom Matula to me.

    I have not read all of “someones” postings. But in what I have read he uses some of the same language, has the similar mistakes in logic, similar blind spots, and uses some of the same arguments as Matula.

    Matula got toasted last year when he tried to debate a similar point of view under his own name. It did not do his reputation any favors, so I am guessing he is posting now in an anonymous form.

    - Someone Watching Someone

  • Jeff Foust

    A reminder to keep comments focused on the topic of the post. Debate the comments, not the commenter. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • GRS

    The current implementation of VSE is totally off-based because it is rooted in the Von Braun Paradigm of planetary exploration, which is merely a modern-day rehash of colonial “exploration” from the 1400 to 1800′s. Look to modern-day Oceanography to see how exploration should be done. No chest-thumping aquanauts, no churlish congressmen protecting constituent turf. It’s all about the science, and furthering humanity’s understanding of the world and its natural resources.

    The best approach would be to euthanize NASA and retire the number. Start anew with a new federal organization that is not fixated on the vision of the Father of the V-2.

  • spectator

    The question I’d like to ask the progressive community is what big science projects have they supported in the last 20 years? By big science I mean projects that cost a couple billion that are designed to answer a big unknown. Did they support the NIF? The super collider in Texas? Costly missions to the outer planets? Nuclear precursor missions to enable outer planet missions?

    As I’ve read the “progressive” screeds, big science is not favored. In fact “progressives” have been very conservative in their approach to expanding our scientific base. The message I’ve read is that money spent on missions in space does nothing to help the poor.

    In any case, the upcoming election will put all of this out in the open as the Daily Kos candidate, BHO, will put his message against McCain.

  • Bill White

    spectator, the modern “progressive” movement really only began in 2002 or 2003 out of frustration with the then current leadership of the Democratic party and until 2006, Republicans have held ALL the strings of power. Senator Jim Webb is one example of a new “progressive” Democrat.

    My experience with space diaries at Daily Kos has been strong resistance to spending billions of tax dollars on NASA-only flags and footprints projects. People would rather send robots than spend billions for human flags and footprints missions.

    But, if we attempt to explain that there might be other ways, people start to get interested. Andrew Hoppin’s success in winning this panel slot is one example of that.

    Also, Netroots Nation also offers a real opportunity to preach outside the usual closed circle of space enthusiasts. Taking church to the sinners rather than preaching to the choir, as it were.

    Anyway, here are the panelists for that conference (a solid highly reputable panel, IMHO) :

    Lori Garver (well known Democratic space enthusiast)
    George Whitesides (National Space Society)
    Patti Grace Smith (FAA associate admin – commercial space)
    Chris Bowers (OpenLeft blogger)

    A brief bio on Bowers:

    Chris Bowers was a full-time editor at MyDD from May 2004 until June 2007. A compilation of his most influential writing on MyDD can be found here. Some of his projects have included the creation of the , the first scientifically random poll of progressive netroots activists, the Use It Or Lose It campaign, the nation’s most accurate forecast of Democratic house pickups in 2006, and the 2006 Googlebomb the Elections campaign. He is also the treasurer of BlogPac, a fellow at the Commonweal Institute, on the advisory board of The Democratic Strategist, and has personally joined in “the silent revolution” by winning a seat on the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee. Bowers is 33, lives in Philadelphia, and occasionally works as a netroots consultant for progressive candidates and organizations including SEIU, Media Matters, and Congressman Brad Miller’s 2006 re-election campaign.

    A brief excerpt on what the Open Left blog stands for:

    It’s time to get over the idea that ‘the left’, liberals, progressives, or anyone who believes that power should be distributed and not concentrated in the hands of a few is a scary hippy. And that’s why we called the site ‘OpenLeft’; we see our ideas as a mark of pride, not shame. We think that businesses – like Google – have built highly profitable organizations based on principles of sharing information and distributing power. The genuine radical threat at this moment in history is coming from elites who believe that concentrating power, information, and wealth in their hands should be America’s priority. The response to this threat is a new era of left-wing activism, promoted by normal Americans, who have innovated with the tools we have.

    For the progressive left, a von-Braun-ian NASA holding a monopoly on human spaceflight is simply not acceptable. My perceptions are that the progressive left would very much support shattering the paradigm that NASA should hold a monopoly over human spaceflight. However, unlike some on the libertarian right who would abolish NASA and put every egg in the NewSpace RLV basket, I see the progressive left wanting to leverage maximum return from NASA dollars that will necessarily be spent sustaining jobs in FL, LA, CA, AL, TX and elsewhere.

    As for President Obama and NASA, part of the intent of the Netroots Nation panel is to begin building the consensus and allies needed to assist those in Congress who desire a strong space program. This pending 2008 Authorization Act has arisen from a Democratic Congress with apparent bi-partisan support and I believe Congressional Democrats are trying to send Barack Obama a message with that bill.

    Obama is too smart of a politician to repudiate his Congressional allies over the NASA budget, especially when slashing that budget will cause massive job losses in key battleground states and will NOT make money available for education anyway after we take into account the de-commissioning and out-placement expenses associated with closing down NASA.

    = = =

    All that said, I believe change in coming in 2009 whether its Obama or McCain.

    I believe ESAS versus DIRECT versus shuttle C versus EELV versus COTS D — or some combination adding COTS D to one of the prior options ??

    Evaluating all of that will come back on that table in an Obama administration (or a McCain administration) but either way that will also be a feature rather than a bug.

  • anonymous.space

    “They talk of a 100,000 aerospace jobs being at stake in Ohio and Florida.”

    Impossible. The entire NASA workforce, both civil servant and contractor, totals only 60,000 or so. As of April 2007, it was 62,457 total — 18,434 civil servants and 44,023 contractors. See the seventh paragraph in this House Science Committee press release (add http://):

    science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1833

    “The highest scare estimate I have seen for jobs lost due to the spaceflight Gap is about 20,000, mostly in Florida, Lousiana and Texas.”

    Again, impossible. The total Space Shuttle workforce, both civil servant and contractor, totals only 17,000 or so. As of July 2007, it was approximately 2,000 civil servants and 15,000 contractors. See page 3 of this GAO report (add http://):

    democrats.science.house.gov/Media/File/Commdocs/hearings/2007/space/24jul/chaplain_testimony.pdf

    Please, let’s check our numbers before throwing patently false and potentially misleading figures around.

    FWIW…

  • MarkWhittington

    I have to count myself as somewhat skeptical of this whole “progressive” space policy agenda. It appears to eschew exploration simply because George W. Bush initiated it and instead prefers low Earth orbit navel gazing, arms control with dictators, and international cooperation for its own sake. In other words, a return to the horrible 1990s.

  • Mark,
    As opposed to the stunning success that ESAS has wrought? Remind me again, if McCain is elected, the date that CEV is expected to fly? Or the date of the first moon flight?

  • While the job loss numbers mentioned are obviously too high, it is important to keep in mind that the economic impact of these decisions affects more than simply NASA and aerospace jobs. Indirectly, those jobs support additional jobs in the local service industry. So job losses in the aerospace sector can have a ripple effect that causes other job losses in the local economy.

  • Someone

    So now we get to guess who posters are? Maybe we could start guessing who anonymous.space or Habitat Hermit is?

    Unforunately you are wrong. I don’t live in Washington State as Jeff will tell you from the IP. And my training is in engineering not in physics.

    anonymous.space – The best figure I have seen is about 8,000 for the Shuttle from NASA


    http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-space/article/2008-04/space-shuttle-retirement-could-force-major-job-losses

    However given the age of the Shuttle workforce I expect many will just take retirement so the actual job lost will be smaller still.

  • spectator

    Mr. White, the Progressive movement has existed for decades mostly as ineffective activists in the Democratic party. I recall George McGovern as a progressive of his day in 1972. If you look back then, the reason Apollo was canceled was pressure from the left in the Democratic party, then the overwhelming power in Congress, that money spent on Apollo was money not spent on the continuing war on poverty. This argument has never gone away from the Progressive’s view, we have heard a version from BHO when he said he’d slow Constellation by 5 years so those funds could be used to fund his education priorities.

    Maybe the panelists you cited are members in good standing with the NetRoots community and can speak in their language to persuade them to be open to science, even if some of the dollars go to Lockheed or Boeing or NG. BHO is the titular leader of the NetRoots, until he is clear about the role of Nasa and big science, I doubt the NetRoots will get ahead of him at this conference.

  • If you look back then, the reason Apollo was canceled was pressure from the left in the Democratic party, then the overwhelming power in Congress, that money spent on Apollo was money not spent on the continuing war on poverty.

    Nonsense. Not that it wasn’t said at the time (as it has been aid ever since) — but several other larger, more compelling reasons were ahead of that in line.

  • I once wrote an Op Ed for Space News on how to sell space exploration beyond science to Democrats. While political events have have long-since passed this piece by (it pre-date the VSE), I still stand by its approach. Liberal Democrats support large government projects to attempt to solve social problems (like the Apollo Project, one of whose motivations was to industrialize the South), and that is the way to sell it to them.

    http://www.donaldfrobertson.com/democrts.html

    – Donald

  • anonymouspace

    “I have to count myself as somewhat skeptical of this whole “progressive” space policy agenda. It appears to eschew exploration…”

    Nowhere does the panel description state that human space exploration should be terminated, deferred, slowed, or otherwise “eschewed”. In fact, the panel description argues for an “upgrade” to the VSE. If anything, the panel description is calling for an acceleration, enhancement, augmentation, improvement, or other “upgrade” to the VSE.

    It’s fine to criticize, but let’s do so on the basis of what’s actually written or said, not what we think or wish the words were.

    FWIW…

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