Campaign '08

A little slow on the uptake

It’s been nearly a month since Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama formally repudiated his previous position on the Constellation program (although he had been edging away from it from months in other remarks), which means that just about everyone has heard about it, right? Apparently not at the Associated Press, which included this passage in an article about the challenges Obama would face implementing his proposals, specifically his education program:

Obama would pay for his plan by ending corporate tax deductions for CEO pay and delaying NASA’s moon and Mars missions.

Looks like the AP hasn’t gotten the memo yet. While they’re correcting that, perhaps they can also correct a similar passage in a sidebar comparing Obama’s policies with those of John McCain—and while they’re at it, add a section on space policy. Just a suggestion.

50 comments to A little slow on the uptake

  • This is par for the course for the AP, who, frankly, haven’t been the most objective source for news, as of late.

  • David Stever

    AP’s official take on the Obama speech that I watched last night is so very different that it would seem to be from a different universe. Many of the political sites have taken AP to task (their Washington Bureau chief worked for McCain, and it still enamored with him), and Keith Olbermann’s commentary on the AP story raked them deservedly over the coals. AP seems to be in a race with Faux News to the bottom of the tank.

  • MarkWhittington

    Of course which plan will be operative should Obama be elected? The first one that guts NASA? Or the second one that adds money to NASA’s budget?

  • anonymous.space

    “Of course which plan will be operative should Obama be elected? The first one that guts NASA? Or the second one that adds money to NASA’s budget?”

    I personally don’t like how the Obama campaign has proposed to spend the $2 billion, but at least their current position is consistent.

    The McCain campaign still has unretracted statements about freezing the discretionary budget and reviewing those programs for cuts that directly contradict the one statement given by McCain on a bus tour about matching the Obama campaign’s $2 billion. It also contradicts the $20 billion-plus that will be needed to keep Shuttle operational through 2015 if McCain were to carry through on his recent letter to the White House.

    I’m not trying to be mean, but the McCain campaign has been sending mixed signals for a long time now. Which is it? Will the NASA budget be frozen and get reviewed for program cuts under a McCain White House? Will NASA get a one-time infusion of $2 billion under a McCain White House? Or will NASA get a whopping $20 billion plus-up over five years to keep Shuttle operational during the first term of the McCain White House? And if Shuttle flights do continue past 2010, but there is not a $20 billion plus-up, what other programs at NASA will the McCain White House cut to pay for the continued Shuttle operations?

    FWIW…

  • anonymouspace, this may be long, but I want to try to address your points. The McCain campaign and the Senator have never said that NASA would be cut as part of its discretionary freeze. Senator McCain’s statements before the Florida primary up through a June 5th interview with several Florida newspaper editors, Senator McCain stated that he supported increased funding for NASA. Specifically, “McCain said in response to a question from the editor of Florida Today, published on the state’s Space Coast, that he was worried about future funding of the space shuttle program and that he would be willing as president to be a champion for NASA.

    ‘Yes, I’d be willing to spend more taxpayers dollars,’ McCain said, adding he thought Americans respond to setting goals for specific projects.

    McCain said ever since reading Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, ‘I’m intrigued by a man on Mars. I think it would excite the imagination of the American people … Americans would be very willing to do that.’ ” I’m sure many here hope he’s right.

    If you read John McCain’s present Space policy statement, John McCain never implies or says that NASA’s budget will be frozen. Senator McCain’s recent statements supporting an additional $2 Billion for NASA Orion/Ares, made during his August 18th visit to the Space Coast, make clear that NASA was never part of that freeze.

    John McCain’s support for NASA and for the funding needed to explore is consistent and firm.

    John McCain has said many times that he wants to make sure that NASA is spending the money it gets effectively. To quote, John McCain”…sponsored legislation to support the up and coming commercial space industry, and led the Senate’s efforts to implement improvements to NASA after the Columbia accident. Senator McCain has also spearheaded efforts to control costs at NASA and promote a space exploration agenda based on sound management, safe practices, and fiscal responsibility.

    As to paying for maintaining the Shuttle, it’s helpful to remember that the 2005 NASA Reauthorization Act that started VSE funding and reorg’d NASA for VSE, which originated out out of Senator McCain’s office in 2004, prohibits a prolonged period of no U.S. based access to manned Space. What John McCain, along with Hutchison and Vitter, asked the President to do was preserve options so that, should the next President and Congress decide to continue the Shuttle program while also funding Orion and Ares development, that such an option be available. For example, ripping out machinery at Michoud would remove that option.

    I don’t know if Congress and whomever becomes President will fund both Shuttle and Orion/Ares. Given Russia’s aggression in Georgia and its belacose language lately, the impact of souring relations with Russian upon the U.S. manned access to Space needs to be examined. This one-year delay in halting Shuttle retirement give us time to examine this.

    Obama’s campaign as indeed has not been consistent on Space. He’s gone from cutting Constellation in 20 November 2007 through March 2008 to funding it on 8 August 2008 (http://obama.3cdn.net/a8dfc36246b3dcc3cb_iem6bxpgh.pdf). Where is Senator Obama’s statement on how and whether to retire the Shuttle? There is none to date, almost 5 full working days since McCain/Hutchison/Vitter wrote the President. We don’t even know if Senator Obama supports the initiative to cease for one year the termination of the Shuttle program.

  • Someone Else

    “The McCain campaign and the Senator have never said that NASA would be cut as part of its discretionary freeze.”

    Jim, you might want to check McCain’s economic policy:

    http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/reform.htm

    A one-year spending pause. Freeze non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending for a year and use those savings for deficit reduction. A one-year pause in the growth of discretionary spending will be imposed to allow for a comprehensive review of all spending programs. After the completion of a comprehensive review of all programs, projects and activities of the federal government, we will propose a plan to modernize, streamline, consolidate, reprioritize and, where needed, terminate individual programs.

    As you know, Jim, NASA falls in that “non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending” bucket. So is McCain not being totally truthful somewhere along the line, or has he,well, flipflopped?

    “Where is Senator Obama’s statement on how and whether to retire the Shuttle?”

    Where is McCain’s? The space policy you linked to still refers to “completing the International Space Station (ISS) by 2010 and then terminating the Space Shuttle flights”. And that letter he signed only asks NASA not to do anything that would *preclude* keeping the shuttle active after 2010; nothing more.

  • Someonelse, I really don’t know what else to write except what I’ve been told and what, like the rest of us here, I’ve read. I don’t think a candidate who created the legislation that started NASA down the VSE road, who in a June 5th interview, said, Yes, I’d be willing to spend more taxpayers dollars,” McCain said, adding he thought Americans respond to setting goals for specific projects. is setting NASA up for a freeze.

    But let’s say you’re right that in April 2008 McCain wanted to freeze NASA’s budget for a year or two at 2009 levels, though in his June 5th interview he says otherwise. And we know that from 20 November 2007 through the Summer of 2008, nearly 9 months, Senator Obama had as his policy to cut NASA’s Constellation budget by 85% for 5 years. Which candidate’s policy do you think would be more harmful?

  • anonymous.space

    “The McCain campaign and the Senator have never said that NASA would be cut as part of its discretionary freeze.”

    Not true. McCain himself has stated multiple times that no non-defense discretionary program (that’s the part of of the federal budget that NASA belongs to) would be exempt from the budget freeze and associated program reviews. Here’s a relevant quote from his original economic speech:

    “I want to freeze discretionary spending until we have completed top to bottom reviews of all federal programs…”

    See (add http://www):

    .marketwatch.com/news/story/full-text-sen-john-mccains/story.aspx?guid=%7B7304559A-57CE-4114-851F-569C78D5D664%7D

    There are similar quotes here (add http://www):

    .nytimes.com/2008/04/16/us/politics/15cnd-mccain.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    And here (add http://):

    firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/04/15/893281.aspx

    “Senator McCain’s recent statements supporting an additional $2 Billion for NASA Orion/Ares, made during his August 18th visit to the Space Coast, make clear that NASA was never part of that freeze.”

    It doesn’t make it clear. McCain’s one Florida bus trip statement about matching Obama’s $2 billion budget boost for NASA actually contradicts months of statements about enacting a discretionary spending freeze. Unlike Obama, who retracted his campaign’s earlier statement about transferring Constellation funds to education and directed his staff to find the offsets elsewhere, McCain or his campaign have never retracted the discretionary freeze language. They’ve only repeated it, adding to the confusion.

    I apologize for being blunt, but which statement is the McCain campaign confused or lying about — freezing spending on all discretionary programs or matching Obama’s $2 billion budget boost for NASA? They’re mutually exclusive statements — one statement or the other is not true and must be retracted for McCain’s overall platform to be internally consistent.

    “John McCain’s support for NASA and for the funding needed to explore is consistent and firm.”

    McCain’s record on NASA or exploration funding is not a consistently positive one, not by a long shot. McCain has been negative on NASA’s human space flight programs multiple times in past speeches, testimony, and votes.

    McCain spoke against the $1 billion “Mikulski miracle” budget boost to pay for NASA expenses associated with Columbia and Katrina recovery as recently as last year. See (add http://www):

    .washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/18/AR2008081802171.html

    McCain submitted written testimony that was negative on the VSE when it was rolled out in 2004. See (add http://www):

    globalsecurity.org/space/library/congress/2004_h/040128-mccain.htm

    And McCain has a long record of voting against NASA funding. See (add http://www):

    .spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=26233

    and (add http://www):

    .spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=26112

    All politicians are human and change their minds and that’s okay. Neither McCain nor Obama should be criticized for that. But a statement that McCain has always been a supporter of NASA’s human space flight programs is either a very poorly informed claim or a bald-faced lie.

    “This one-year delay in halting Shuttle retirement give us time to examine this.”

    I thought McCain’s letter only asked the White House to preserve the option. Now it’s a one-year delay? Griffin himself has stated that every additional year of Shuttle operations costs $4 billion. So McCain now supports a $4 billion increase for the NASA budget?

    So which is it? A discretionary freeze with potential cuts after reviews? A $2 billion increase to match Obama’s pledge? Or a $4 billion increase to keep Shuttle operating one more year?

    I hope that you can appreciate my and others’ exasperation with the McCain campaign regarding its lack of clarity when it comes to civil space policy and spending. Obama may have changed his mind about NASA’s budget, and I may not agree with Obama’s spending priorities for NASA, but at least it’s clear what Obama changed his mind to. There’s no clue with McCain — just confusion, contradiction, and/or misdirection.

    “Someonelse, I really don’t know what else to write except what I’ve been told…”

    I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. The McCain campaign either has to retract the contradictory statements and make its current civil space policy internally consistent (like the Obama campaign did) or continue to lack credibility on civil space issues.

    FWIW…

  • Chuck2200

    ““Someonelse, I really don’t know what else to write except what I’ve been told…”

    I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. The McCain campaign either has to retract the contradictory statements and make its current civil space policy internally consistent (like the Obama campaign did) or continue to lack credibility on civil space issues.”

    Amen. Obama has not left us dangling. There is no doubt where he stands; it clear and concise. He specifically revised his policy, both in public statements and in his official policy language. There is no doubt where Obama stands, but McCain’s position seems to cover both sides of the fense, just in case. It allows people with different points of view, even mutually exclusive points of view, to say “see? He supports my point of view.” He needs to take an official stand, with all other policy statements reconcilled or removed. To date he hasn’t bothered, leaving his real policy in some doubt.

    Mark: “Of course which plan will be operative should Obama be elected? The first one that guts NASA? Or the second one that adds money to NASA’s budget?”

    Either you haven’t been keeping up, or are deliberately siezing on a now non-existant policy to make a non-valid point in order to cast doubt on an individual and display that individual in a deliberately deceptive effort to discredit that individual. That’s called a FUD attack (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). That’s misleading (some call it lying) and in the words of the infamous Rumsfeld, “not helpful”. That’s called character assination and is beneath dignity. If you’re going to comment on space policy, try to comment on existing space policy, not ancient history. If you want to get into smear campaigning, ask Karl Rove if you can sign up.

  • Al Fansome

    I am guessing that Mr. Hillhouse is valiantly trying to get the McCain campaign to clarify his space policy position.

    For myself, I can only interpret Senator McCain’s recent statement …

    ‘Yes, I’d be willing to spend more taxpayers dollars,’ McCain said, adding he thought Americans respond to setting goals for specific projects.

    Please note the the word “willing”. I think his choice of words here is critical to what he is really thinking.

    I interpret this as McCain saying he would not veto an increase in NASA spending if Congress sent it to him.

    This would be a change in position for somebody who recently oppose the so-called Mikulski miracle.

    Furthermore, note that Sen. McCain did not say he was committed to asking, or would ask for an increase in NASA’s budget.

    One of the many things I like about Sen. McCain is that he almost always says what he means. If he meant he would ASK for $2 Billion more for NASA, he would have said it.

    For that reason, I personally believe that McCain is still (at this time) committed to putting a freeze on NASA’s budget, reviewing all NASA programs, and setting specific goals for NASA (to the extent possible.)

    He can’t let NASA out of the “discretionary spending” box. If he does, every single discretionary federal agency in the country will be clamoring for the same thing.

    I think that continuing to ask a fiscal conservative, who is a change agent, to just spend more money for NASA is an exercise in futility, and a wasted opportunity.

    I recommend that the people here, who have some access to Senator McCain’s people, provide him ideas for CHANGE.

    QUESTION: What would a CONSERVATIVE-, MAVERICK-, CHANGE- oriented space policy be?

    That is what we should be proposing to Senator McCain.

    FWIW,

    - Al

    PS — What about a Space Prize (similar to his $300M energy prize)? What should that prize be for?

    How about a $500M space prize to “eliminate the gap in American human spaceflight”?

  • Chuck2200

    “One of the many things I like about Sen. McCain is that he almost always says what he means. “

    Do you mean Senator McCain or Candidate McCain? I’m not trying to be funny here, but the two people do not agree with themselves on a host of issues and that is disturbing to me. One is for something while the other is against it, and so forth. The policy changes are readily available for anyone to look up if they wish, so I’m not making a political statement here, just stating a verifiable observation.

    I liked and admired Senator McCain. I’m not sure I know who Candidate McCain is, or if I can trust anything he says.

  • Al Fansome

    Can I square the circle?

    I do think candidate McCain has changed his positions.

    I think he will push/promote his current (new) positions.

    At the same time, I think his heart is in many of the old positions (e.g., that he is against keeping the Bush tax cuts going, and that when we suddenly “discover” that we have huge and growing federal deficit, that McCain will do what Bush 42 did.).

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Paul F. Dietz

    For either candidate, if they are elected, it will not be at all hard to turn around and cut NASA, if they so desire. The unfolding Aries/Orion debacle provides all the cover they need. They can be shocked, shocked! to discover just how badly NASA has done with it.

  • Anonymous.Space, the Senators’ letter requested that President Bush halt decommissioning of Shuttle and Shuttle equipment so that the next President can make the determination about whether or not to continue such decommissioning based on relations with Russia, gap in U.S. manned access to Space, etc. That could be a year delay or a reactivation of Shuttle.

    Your other points are…well, your interpretation of the candidate that is at variance with the truth. However, I doubt that since McCain helped start VSE, and by extension Constellation, that he would slow it down, read the previous posts I’ve made for attribution concerning the above.

    I’ve been in the campaign since NH. I’ve gone from a volunteer grunt to a political outreach grunt over the last nearly 9 months. I’ve talked with the Space policy people about the Space policy in general and about this issue in particular. So, this will have to be my final word on whether McCain stated that he was going to freeze NASA’s budget or not. As the “Space” guy for the McCain campaign in Brevard County, let me be unequivocal. John McCain never said he would freeze NASA’s budget. Other parts of the discretionary budget, yes. NASA’s, no. Unless and until the McCain campaign states otherwise, that is the position of the campaign.

    For any of you, I arrive in Brevard Tuesday night and would certainly enjoy meeting and talking to you face-to-face if you’re in the area. We are planning to have a team on the ground within two weeks. The campaign is serious enough about Space to yank me out of Texas for this. And I’m really looking forward to winning on our record on Space and on the other issues important to Floridians as well as Americans.

  • sc220

    QUESTION: What would a CONSERVATIVE-, MAVERICK-, CHANGE- oriented space policy be?

    Look to Newt Gingrich’s recent editorials and statements. He wants to redirect NASA toward more advanced research and technology, and away from spaceflight development, which I heartily agree with. We wants to use prizes as the way of encouraging commercial expansion of space, including LEO access and cislunar space development.

    The reason for looking to Newt Gingrich is simple. He was the first Republican to advocate Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP selection. He respects Gingrich’s intellect and philosophy of regarding the roles of government and industry.

    All I can say is, “goodbye Ares.”

  • Chance

    “As the “Space” guy for the McCain campaign in Brevard County, let me be unequivocal. John McCain never said he would freeze NASA’s budget. Other parts of the discretionary budget, yes. NASA’s, no.”

    You can be as unequivocal as you want, but as others have already pointed out, McCain is being equivocal enough for the both of you.

  • Al Fansome

    HILLHOUSE: “As the “Space” guy for the McCain campaign in Brevard County, let me be unequivocal. John McCain never said he would freeze NASA’s budget. Other parts of the discretionary budget, yes. NASA’s, no.”

    Mr. Hillhouse,

    Let me say this as a fiscal conservative, and somebody who has admired John McCain as a leader for a long time. (FWIW, I also have grown to admire Sen. Obama too.)

    You are either intentionally ignoring the issue here, and playing word games, or the issue is going over your head.

    So. let’s start over and I will try to make the issue crystal clear.

    John McCain has clearly stated he will freeze federal discretionary spending. You admit this part.

    You think you are making a point by saying that John McCain has never said he would freeze NASA’s budget. But that statement is irrelevant and totally misses the point.

    John McCain has NEVER said he will freeze the budget of any specific federal discretionary agency.

    John McCain has NEVER said he will freeze the budget for any of the following agencies:

    * the NSF
    * the NIH
    * the NOAA
    * the Bureau of Standards
    * the Energy Department
    * the Justice Department
    * the Commerce Department
    * the Transportation Department
    * the Housing & Urban Development department
    * the Low Income Heating and Assistance budget
    * the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget
    * the Agricultural department budget
    * the Education department budget
    * the Imigration & Natural Services budget

    Again, every one of these federal agencies are discretionary, and John McCain has NEVER said he would cut the funding for any one of these specific agencies.

    If you disagree, give me the specific reference.

    However, if you look here:
    http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/reform.htm

    John McCain’s campaign website says in the very first sentence:

    John McCain will balance the budget by the end of his first term.

    It then states:

    • Comprehensive spending controls. Bringing the budget to balance will require across-the-board scrutiny of spending and making tough choices on new spending proposals.

    The website then clarifies and elaborates:

    • A one-year spending pause. Freeze non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending for a year and use those savings for deficit reduction. A one-year pause in the growth of discretionary spending will be imposed to allow for a comprehensive review of all spending programs.

    McCain’s website clearly eliminates defense & veterans affairs from the freeze on discretionary spending. If you were right, this is the spot for McCain to make it clear that NASA’s budget will not be frozen.

    If you were right, it would say “Freeze non-defense, non-veterans, non-NASA discretionary spending …”

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Charles Lurio

    Wake up guys. On a topic that counts for nothing to them except for votes in certain states, either candidate will say whatever it takes to get those votes. Such statements are instantly forgotten after election day.

  • Spacer

    Also it assume that McCain doesn’t see NASA as a defense asset. Or cap NASA but increase funding for manned missions by cutting spending elsewhere at NASA or within the Appropriations Bill that includes NASA. Until we see McCain’s firm budget its ALL speculation.

  • GuessWho

    Two observations:

    NASA’s budget has effectively been frozen for the past three budget cycles via CR’s given the Dem controlled Congress’s inability or unwillingness to pass a budget. To bash McCain about the potential for a 1-year freeze in an outyear budget strikes me as bit hypocritical.

    Given the other challenges we face; Russian aggression toward Georgia and the potential for additional re-acquisition of neighboring states (to control the flow of oil resources IMO), an Iran focused and committed toward attaining nuclear weapons; securing stable US energy sources to continue to grow our economy; a weak dollar abroad, etc., addressing these issues and returning to a zero-deficit spending philosophy and reducing the current budget deficit is exactly what I want to see.

    A manned Lunar/Mars program is a luxury in this context.

  • GuessWho

    As a followup to my last post. I have to agree with Dennis WIngo in the zero-G, zero-tax approach. I would like to see both candidates adopt this plan to stimulate commercial space and provide a means of getting NASA out of the LEO-GEO environment so they can focus on VSE when budgets allow.

  • Al Fansome

    GUESSWHO: To bash McCain about the potential for a 1-year freeze in an outyear budget strikes me as bit hypocritical.

    To be clear:

    1) I am not bashing McCain. I respect McCain for his fiscally responsible position.

    2) I am trying to make space advocates come face-to-face with the reality of the federal budget. The sooner “pro space” do so, the sooner we can start thinking about out-of-the box solutions.

    Just begging for more money is extremely unlikely to succeed.

    3) If anything, I am calling BS on Mr. Hillhouse for his spin implying that John McCain is going to increase NASA’s budget, by asserting that NASA is not part of the discretionary spending freeze.

    Mr. Hillhouse can prove his point by clarifying the policy language on Sen. McCain’s official website.

    4) I agree with you about “Zero G, Zero Tax”. It would be very good if John McCain (and/or Barack Obama) committed to supporting Zero G, Zero Tax.

    (NOTE: I have asked others on this blog to suggest space policies that are FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE, MAVERICK, and CHANGE-ORIENTED). Zero-G, Zero-Tax is all of the above.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Someone Else

    “NASA’s budget has effectively been frozen for the past three budget cycles via CR’s given the Dem controlled Congress’s inability or unwillingness to pass a budget.”

    I’d say this is wrong, but that would give it too much credit. The only year that NASA (and most of the rest of the federal government) operated under a year-long CR was FY07. And while the Democrats decided on that approach shortly after gaining control of the House and Senate, they faced this situation because the GOP-controlled Congress couldn’t pass those appropriations bills in the fall of 2006. (To be fair, the House did; it was the Republican-led Senate that couldn’t pass any approps bills.)

    In FY08, the first year the Democrats in Congress had control of the appropriations process from start to finish, they ended up with about $17.3B for NASA, pretty much exactly what the administration requested and significantly above the FY06/07 levels. And FY09, of course, is too soon to tell…

  • Al & everyone, on 27 January 2008, during the FL Republican primary, Senator McCain made the following Space policy statement:


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

    -John McCain

    John McCain has been 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.

    Here’s the key part:

    He [Senator McCain] 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.

    Al, you try to make the case that since Senator McCain never when out and said that NASA was exempt from his proposed non-defense budget freeze that therefore NASA was a part of such a freeze. But Senator McCain has made clear, in both his record and in statements, his strong support for NASA, VSE, to go to the Moon, and to go beyond. And Senator McCain will continue to do so in addition to ensuring that NASA does not squander the funds it is appropriated.

    Go back and look at VSE and the funding proposed for it, recall that the 2005 NASA Reauthorization Act, which got VSE rolling, originated out of Senator McCain’s office in 2004, reread McCain’s 27 January 2008 statement above made during the FL primary supporting VSE and the return to the Moon, read once again McCain’s June 5th interview, and then read the campaign’s present Space policy statement, and you see a legislative record, a trend line. From that trend line, it seems a stretch to conclude that McCain intended to halt NASA funding, and by that act cut VSE and Constellation funding, when he went on the record to propose that he would freeze non-DOD, etc. discretionary funding.

    The position of the campaign is clear–the Senator supports a strong manned Space program and has before, during and beyond this Presidential campaign.

    The reason why Space is even a campaign issue, a first since 1960, is another, and long, post. In short, we can all thank Senator Obama’s call to cut Constellation 85% for 5 years as the rallying point that raised Space to the level it has become. So, in a perverse way, we all owe Senator Obama and his original desire to hurt our Space program, a thanks for raising Space as a campaign issue. As an issues voter, and Space has always been one of my three issues, I thank him for making Space relevant.

  • Al,

    Just got a link to an article that I think you, and I hope others, will find informative about how Senator McCain views manned Space access and why, when he proposed freezing non-defense discretionary funding, NASA was not a part of that.

    After his 18 August 2008 meeting on the Space Coast, Robert Block, The Orlando Sentinel Space editor, reported on the meeting and the following statement by Senator McCain,

    McCain said that the American people need to understand the [2010-2015 Shuttle Ares/Orion] gap and need to understand that access to space is a national security issue.

    I hope this helps shed more light on the Senator’s mindset and how highly he considers NASA.

  • GodNuts

    The reason for looking to Newt Gingrich is simple. He was the first Republican to advocate Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP selection.

    Sarah Palin is a creationist. Or maybe you missed that. How many creationist politicians is it going to take before you realize that mindset is not conducive to scientific and technological progress, as this current administration and congress clearly demonstrates. Or maybe you really are that dumb.

  • Al Fansome

    Jim,

    You have just regurgitated old information, and have added nothing new to the subject at hand. In fact, you posted the same information last week, and in the weeks before last. Please stop the broken record, and provide NEW information that we don’t already know.

    You indicated you were going to go to the McCain campaign, and attempt to get them to clarify that NASA was exempt from Senator McCain’s commitment to put a freeze on discretionary, federal spending.

    If you don’t get a clear response in the next two months, you will NEVER get it.

    You indicated you were going to attempt to get the McCain campaign to expand on the current space policy statement to propose some conservative, maverick, change-oriented space policies.

    That would truly be new (and wonderful) information.

    Right now, I am sad to say that Senator Obama has by far the most maverick, change-oriented space policy.

    You have 60 days to change this.

    Since you will not publicly admit there is a problem (campaign flacks never do) let me point out some of the key explicit, written parts of the Obama space policy.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=28880

    Using the Private Sector: Obama will stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate spaceflight capabilities. NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services is a good model of government/industry collaboration.

    Expanding Public/Private Partnerships to Advance Leading Edge Technologies

    Increasing Commercialization Benefits: Obama will promote cost sharing initiatives between government and industry to increase the state of the art in various technical areas, such as micro- electromechanical systems, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. Obama will establish multi-agency programs that focus on rapid maturation of advanced concepts and transfer to industry for commercialization.

    Jumpstarting Consumer Technology: Obama will expand the use of prizes for revolutionary technical achievements that can benefit society, and funds for joint industry/government rapid-to-the- consumer technology advances.

    Supporting Commercial Access to Space: Obama will stimulate the commercial use of space and private sector utilization of the International Space Station. He will establish new processes and procurement goals to promote the use of government facilities. We must unleash the genius of private enterprise to secure the United States’ leadership in space.

    Revising Regulations for Aerospace Export Control: Some sections of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) have unduly hampered the competitiveness of domestic aerospace industry. Outdated restrictions have cost billions of dollars to American satellite and space hardware manufacturers as customers have decided to purchase equipment from European suppliers. While protecting our national security interests, Barack Obama will direct a review of the ITAR to reevaluate restrictions imposed on American companies, with a special focus on space hardware that is currently restricted from commercial export. He will also direct revisions to the licensing process to ensure that American suppliers are competitive in the international aerospace markets, without jeopardizing American national security.

    CONCLUSION:

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to stimulate efforts private sector efforts in space transportation.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit that COTS is a good model for promoting the development of private space transportation.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to fixing ITAR.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to stimulate the general “commercial use of” space.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to using prizes in the space policy arena.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to recreating the National Space Council.

    Senator McCain’s policy does not (yet) commit to expanding public-private partnerships to advancing commercial space technology.

    Senator Obama does all of the above.

    This is really really sad.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Vladislaw

    “As a followup to my last post. I have to agree with Dennis WIngo in the zero-G, zero-tax approach.”

    Obama said zero capital gains taxes on new start ups during his acceptance speech, I do not know if that was just for the new green revolution he wants to start or if that would include new space start ups also.

  • Spacer

    Al,

    The question I have asked you before is what is Obama voting record on space?

    For example, how did he vote on the 2005 auhorization NASA Act? Has he voted for any other space related legislation?

    Is Obama planning to send a similar letter to the President asking for Shuttle infrastructure to be saved from the ax to prevent a gap in spaceflight? Or does Obama feel its ok to trust the Russians will keep flying astronauts to the ISS? Does Obama feel its better to create more space jobs for Russians with Soyuz then keep space jobs for Americans with the Shuttle?

    These are the key questions for the voting audience beyond New Space.

  • Al Fansome

    Dear Spacer (Hillhouse?):

    Please direct your questions to an Obama staffer and/or campaign person.

    Personally, I think it would be a very BAD thing if Obama sends a letter to the President asking for an extension of the Space Shuttle program.

    I am sincerely hope that Senator McCain will “terminate” the Shuttle like he said he would.

    I anticipate that if McCain becomes President that when has time to look at the issues he will almost certainly conclude that keeping the Shuttle alive means the death of the VSE. At that moment, I think it likely that McCain will terminate the Shuttle and choose a CONSERVATIVE, MAVERICK, CHANGE-oriented space policy.

    Keeping the Shuttle alive is a REACTIONARY, BIG-GOVERNMENT, SOCIALIST approach to solving the problem.

    BTW, McCain is NOT going to add $3-4 Billion per year to NASA’s budget to keep the Shuttle alive, and to do all the other things we want NASA to do. That is a complete fantasy.

    McCain is a fiscal conservative.

    - Al

    PS — Show me where John McCain has ever voted to increase NASA’s budget.

  • Spacer

    Al,

    With all the dozens of space advisors to the Obama campiagn its hard to keep track of who is an advisor and who isn’t. Given you super detailed posts in favor of Obama I assumed you were working the blogs for Obama. I guess its Ferris that would know what Obama intentions are.

    And no I am not Jim…

  • Al Fansome

    SPACER: Given you super detailed posts in favor of Obama I assumed you were working the blogs for Obama.

    My super-detailed posts are about promoting and growing space commerce, and private enterprise in space.

    I am a champion for these specific issues, and I will complement whichever politician(s) officially support these issues.

    That happens to be Senator Obama at this time.

    I would love to pat Senator McCain on the back too, for the same reason.

    - Al

  • Al;
    “I anticipate that if McCain becomes President that when has time to look at the issues he will almost certainly conclude that keeping the Shuttle alive means the death of the VSE.

    Keeping Shuttle alive will kill Constellation, not the VSE. Constellation is just a tool to fulfill the law, VSE. Keeping Shuttle alive will kill the tool.

    Keeping the Shuttle alive is a REACTIONARY, BIG-GOVERNMENT, SOCIALIST approach to solving the problem.”

    Keeping Shuttle temporarily alive is the only way to eliminate the gap, big government or not. There simply is no other operational launch vehicle available that is capable of doing it. That’s just a fact. But it needs to be done in conjunction with bringing Orion and its launch vehicle online. That launch vehicle cannot be Ares-I; it takes far to long to field. It needs to be either an EELV or a Jupiter-120.

  • Al Fansome

    Chuck2200: Keeping Shuttle temporarily alive is the only way to eliminate the gap, big government or not.

    That is a pretty declarative statement, which I disagree with. Saying “only” is easy to disprove.

    Using the $3-4 Billion in the Shuttle budget, plus the existing $3 Billion/year in the ESMD budget, there are other ways to eliminate the gap.

    Either Boeing or Lockheed could have a capsule flying on top of an EELV by 2012 with humans on board (ISNA is fine until January 1, 2012). If we start now.

    I bet Mike Griffin will not start studying that option.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Spacer

    Al,

    So we reduce the Gap to two years instead of five. Maybe…

    But a gap is still a gap.

  • Keeping Shuttle temporarily alive is the only way to eliminate the gap, big government or not. There simply is no other operational launch vehicle available that is capable of doing it. That’s just a fact.

    Keeping the Shuttle alive doesn’t even do it. It only allows us to maintain access. It doesn’t allow us to have permanent crew. Everyone seems to continue to forget this.

  • As the Senator said on 18 August,

    …the American people need to understand the [2010-2015 Shuttle Ares/Orion] gap and need to understand that access to space is a national security issue.

    We all know how strongly John McCain feels about National Security, so Speculation that McCain will not be willing to foot the bill to bring down the gap by accelerating Ares and Orion, retaining at some expense the Shuttle, or both may not be a good bet.

    IMHO, if the Russians, whether Putin, Medvedev, or Lavrov, continue to amp up the diplomatic vitriol, even if a future President might want to go back to using Soyuz, that would be unlikely. This problem is not going away as long as Russia continues to act in the manner it has since August 6th.

  • Chuck2200

    Al;
    I said “eliminate”, not reduce. Your proposal would “reduce”, not eliminate. Flying Shuttle twice per year for crews while at the same time diverting ALL Ares funding to fielding Orion/EELV, will “eliminate” the gap.

    PM;
    The Russians are under contract until the end of 2011 to provide seats up and back for American astronauts. Between now and then, nothing changes in that regard. We have been maintaining permanent crews with that arrangement for years. Just because we are approaching the end of that agreement changes nothing. It remains in force until December 31, 2011. By that time Orion/EELV will have become operational.

  • ctyri

    Here’s McCain’s voting record on space:

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2008/08/fla-dems-mccain.html

    Guess who the only respondent was to this article — a respondent who focused on Obama and swept McCain’s record under the rug? (Hint: JM)

  • Ferris Valyn

    Chuck2200,

    Is there going to be enough money to do that? Also, where would that leave COTS

  • Joe Smith

    “The question I have asked you before is what is Obama voting record on space?”

    Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised to see that there are still people here who think space is a big enough issue that there’s a ton of legislation on the subject that Congress takes up. There’s isn’t. There’s very little legislation that’s solely devoted to space, and what there is is often approved on voice votes or by unanimous consent. If Spacey, I mean Spacer, has bothered to look up S.1281 in the 109th Congress, the NASA authorization bill of 2005, he would have seen it passed by unanimous consent. Which, at the very least, means that Sens. Obama and McCain didn’t oppose the legislation.

  • Vladislaw

    “Is Obama planning to send a similar letter to the President asking for Shuttle infrastructure to be saved from the ax to prevent a gap in spaceflight?”

    No I think instead Obama is planning on BECOMING the president in about 100 days and decide it then.

  • Spacer

    So first Obama supports space exploration by supporting, or at least going with the party line on S. 1281, then he proposes cutting funding for space for education, then, after space advocate rock the boat in protest, goes back to supporting space exploration. Thanks, joe, that is the time line I wanted to establish.

  • Joe,

    The 2005 NASA Authorization Act came out of Senator McCain’s office in 2004. In 2005, after a few changes, McCain’s 2004 Bill became the 2005 NASA Act. So, unlike Senator Obama, Senator McCain had “skin” in the game and therefore actively supported that Act.

  • anonymous.space

    “The 2005 NASA Authorization Act came out of Senator McCain’s office in 2004.”

    Totally, utterly, and completely false. At the Library of Congress website, the official text for S.1281, the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005″ (as introduced in the Senate), states that Senator Hutchison introduced the bill on behalf of herself and Senators Nelson, Stevens, and Inouye. There is no mention of Senator McCain. See (add http://):

    thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c109:2:./temp/~mdbsTn2L07:e0:

    Moreover, it’s a technical impossibility. Senator McCain sits on the full Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. See (add http://):

    commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=About.Members

    Authorization bills originate with subcommittees, and McCain does not sit on the relevant Space, Aeronautics, and Related Sciences subcommittee. See (add http://):

    commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Subcommittees.Subcommittee&Subcommittee_ID=03da8f68-956a-4017-8d25-9b1312c50da2

    Please, Mr. Hillhouse, try to get at least one fact right about a campaign’s positions and/or a candidate’s record before your next post. You’re not doing Senator McCain any favors.

    Thank you…

  • Al Fansome

    Anonymous,

    If he sounds like a flack, looks like a flack, and talks like a flack …

    - Al

    PS — I am starting to think the shortest & best McCain space policy might be something like: “I am going to recreate the National Space Council and put VP Sarah Palin in charge”. That would shake things up.

  • Spacer

    Al,

    At least she has the experience of appointing board members for the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation that runs the Kodiak Launch Complex. And don’t forget the University of Alaska’s launch facility at Poker Flat, also owned and run by the state via the University. That’s more experience then Biden and Obama TOGETHER have had with New Space or even Old Space…

  • Spacer

    BTW, In regard to Palin and space you might check out page 7 of this newsletter from the Challnger Learning Center of Alaska.

    http://www.akchallenger.org/newsletter.pdf

    I wonder if Obama even know what a Challenger Learning Center is. Oh well, I guess the Obama space policy collective will tell him if he needs to know…

  • Anti G0d

    Sarah Palin is a CREATIONIST.

    Her opinions are worth exactly ZERO, it would be a waste of time even reading about them.

  • [...] when I complained back in late August that the AP was still claiming that Barack Obama would delay Constellation by five years if elected, although early that month he made it unequivocally clear he would not? (Whether [...]

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