Lobbying, States, White House

Can a letter-writing campaign save Florida jobs?

That’s the hope of a new effort on Florida’s Space Coast that’s launching today. Save Space, an effort led by Brevard County’s board of commissioners, is encouraging Floridians and other Americans to write letters to President Obama in support of the space program. The draft letters on the web site ask the president to:

  • add an additional $3 billion a year to NASA’s budget;
  • close the shuttle-Constellation gap by extending the shuttle;
  • extend the life of the ISS;
  • align human spaceflight goals “with key national objectives including clean energy, climate-change, and improved health”; and
  • accelerate the development of “a well-designed and adequately funded heavy-lift space technology program” (not explicitly naming Ares 5 or shuttle-derived alternatives).

The site’s launch is tied to the Florida Space and Technology Forum taking place this morning in Cocoa, with Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas as one of the participants. The goal of the Save Space campaign is to have 500,000 letters delivered to the White House by the end of October.

While the site claims that the campaign’s purpose is to “raise the awareness of the nation, the President, and other elected officials: Space needs to be a priority for America”, there’s a more parochial concern as well: saving jobs on the Space Coast and protecting the local economy. “If this shuttle doesn’t get extended, it’s going to be very, very devastating to the community. I started thinking to myself, why isn’t the community screaming about it?” Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher told Florida Today. To that end, the web site plans to be a “learning tool” for students in Brevard County public schools; Space Florida will promote the site at a state level. (Interestingly, Florida Today is listed as a partner on the Save Space site, a relationship not mentioned in the article.)

29 comments to Can a letter-writing campaign save Florida jobs?

  • Robert Oler

    do the folks on the space coast want their taxes raised to pay for all of this? Or should we just keep deficit spending?

    Robert G. Oler

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    For once, let me agree whole heartedly with Robert Oler. Where is the money supposed to come from? Isn’t the Federal deficit large enough yet? I am a big supporter of space, in it’s many forms, but let’s start with the hard steps of identifying the money.

  • Let’s also start with the harder steps of distinguishing between saving “space” and saving jobs in Brevard County.

  • $3 billion a year is about 9 days of military occupation of Iraq. I think space is a much better investment for those funds. Our investment in space over the last 50 years has made this a much wealthier country.

  • Marcel:

    $3 billion is only about 1.5 days worth of Social Security spending. Why don’t we just take it from there? Grandma won’t mind if the check is a couple of days late, don’t you think?

    You argument is a non argument, because each expenditure must be justified on its own merits. We get how you feel about Iraq, but it’s really irrelevant to the question of whether, in the current budgetary climate, we should be adding $3 billion a year to NASA’s budget.

  • sc220

    $3 billion a year is about 9 days of military occupation of Iraq. I think space is a much better investment for those funds. Our investment in space over the last 50 years has made this a much wealthier country.

    I agree, but we shouldn’t start increasing budgets of other agencies until a source for those extra funds is identified. It must come from existing programs (good luck trying to convince the Pentagon to fork over $3B to NASA) or through tax increases (double good luck on that one).

    In many minds, the deficit spending is so out of control that we should be arguing about how much NASA’s budget should be cut. Everyone is going to have to share in the pain over the upcoming years.

  • eng

    Plenty of frivolous USG spending ‘get my goat’ and I argue the case against it on the appropriate forums. But these ‘arguments’ to promote increased NASA’s budget are shy of coherence.

    Just because our ‘representatives’ (including the President) mismanage every other area of our federation’s budget does not mean NASA’s budget should not stand and be justified on its own. So please spare me (us) this “but we spent gazillions on all those other federal and state boondoggles” Yes, I know we do, and I protest those as well but in appropriately topical venues.

    One can’t make a human space exploration architecture out of dollar bills – there is time, there is management, there is expertise (or lack thereof), there is practical experience, there is politics, there is design choice, personnel selection, etc…

    At my work the first thing I ask when someone requests ‘more money’ (which is ‘a red flag’ in itself) is “what have you done with the money I’ve given you, why did you make those decisions and why is it not enough?” If those questions cannot be answered competently and convincingly, it is time to pull the plug on the (failed) team/project.

  • @ Bill Hensley

    During the Apollo era, the NASA budget was as high as 33 billion a year in today’s dollars . The current NASA budget is about $17 billion annually, only about $10 billion of that is related to the manned space program. So since the end of the Apollo era, NASA has already seen its budget cut by nearly 50% while being asked to do more and more by the politicians.

    I agree with Stephen Hawking. We should be spending a lot lot more on our space program: http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/09/stephen-hawking-calls-for-masssive.html

  • Marcel:

    I actually agree we should be spending more on space exploration, but I don’t think we should give it to NASA as long as they are heading down the current path. Right now it’s being managed as a jobs program and that’s not going to get you or Hawking what you’re looking for, I suspect. Best scenario according to current estimates: $100 billion and 15 years or so buys you a few sorties to the moon and no sustainable infrastructure. I think that’s the wrong path.

  • [...] the original post here: Space Politics » Can a letter-writing campaign save Florida jobs? Comments [...]

  • At the risk of being a neighbour uninvited to the barbeque. Your country doesn’t have a spending problem. You have a taxation problem and an efficiency problem. Not to bring Health Care to this debate but, you know, most of the first world pays less for health care than you do, per capital, and they live longer.

    Why not recognise that space spending is vital, not just to the US but to the world and that it needs investment. Canada, my country, is a partner in the ISS, there are other partners. Why not involve them in funding Constellation and a return to the moon? Why not involve them in Ares V. I am pretty sure that between the CSA, ESA, Japan and a few others, $3Billion would be achievable. Why not recognise the link between environmental concerns and a healthy and active space program.

    We are smart, there are ways to do this without breaking the bank. Oh, and by the way, NASA is never going to break the bank. As mentioned here Social Security, inefficient Health Care, and a single un-necessary war, coupled with irresponsible tax cuts will break it but NASA will not.

    Just my $0.02 from North of the Boarder. Love you guys – just like I love sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly, once must be concerned about turnovers in bed….

    Paul

  • @Bill Henseley

    I’m certainly no advocate of the Ares 1. In fact, I was also against the ISS program, a huge waste of tax payer dollars, IMO. Small Skylab-like space stations are much cheaper and better, IMO.

    But I’ve always been an advocate of setting up a Moon base since the end of the Apollo program. Obama and Bolden need to end the Ares 1 project and endorse NASA’s SD-HLV alternative as the cheapest way of setting up settlements on the lunar surface. We need a lunar settlement program not a sortie program. And once a permanent base is there then we can explore as much as we like.

  • Obama and Bolden need to end the Ares 1 project and endorse NASA’s SD-HLV alternative as the cheapest way of setting up settlements on the lunar surface.

    The problem is, that’s hot the cheapest way. The cheapest way (both up front, and operationally) is to do it with existing launch systems.

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel F. Williams that is just about the worst justification I have heard for spending another 3 billion dollars…just because a larger amount of federal dollars are spent badly doesnt mean small amounts can be justified.

    Worse…here is the deal. The American people are stuck with Iraq because they let Bush the last talk them into going. We took a country that had a stable life style even though it had problems and turned it into chaos all on the word of Mr. Bush and the rest of the gang of nitwits.

    We have an obligation to work the problem out.

    There is no such obligation with Ares and Constellation.

    (trust me if it was legal we should tax all the lame heads who were for the Iraq war at almost 90 percent until we square things up. Dumber people you will not meet)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    totally off topic

    Good Luck Messenger

    hope the skies are clear tomorrow to check out Mercury in the early morning

    Robert G. Oler

  • The primary justification for the colonization of space is to avoid the extinction of the human species. And its becoming more and more dangerous every year for humans on our tiny world of evolutionary origin.

    We need to start setting up settlements throughout the solar system. First on the Moon and Mars and then on large space stations and eventually on titanic O’Neill type space islands. And maybe in the next century, we can think about spreading out even further by colonizing other star systems.

  • Fred

    The problem with Constellation for me is LV’s. I can’t see why NASA wanted Ares 1 when they already had Atlas V and Delta IV, and will soon have (hopefully, Falcon 9 and Taurus II).
    That’s 4 LV’s – so why add a fifth?
    It does seem a waste of effort.
    And no one has yet convinced me why we need a HLV (Ares V or anything else).
    This ULA paper shows clearly that you can build and sustain a lunar base within the existing budget, just using EELV’s,
    http://www.ulalaunch.com/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf
    OK, you might need heavy lift eventually, but why spend money on it now when you can ill afford it.

  • [...] leaders”. The event referenced the Save Space letter-writing effort launched yesterday (as discussed here) as well as then-candidate Obama’s August 2008 speech where he said he would “close the [...]

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel…I dont think so…most people on earth wont last in space or on another planet.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Loki

    Fred: Falcon 9 and Taurus II won’t have the performance to launch Orion without significantly redesigning Orion to decrease its weight a lot. Even the Atlas V and Delta IV MLVs don’t have the performance, although Atlas V with 5 strap-on solids is pretty close. Delta IV heavy and Atlas V heavy (theoretically) would do the job according to studies by Aerospace Corp. and ULA.

    The excuse NASA used was that the Delta IV-H isn’t man rated and that its trajectory had black out zones where aborts weren’t survivable. Of course, studies have been done since that have shown that the trajectory can be shaped to eliminate those black out zones. Furthermore, it’s probably safe to assume that man rating an existing LV is a hell of a lot cheaper than creating a new one. Actually they probably could have created a man rated Delta IV-H and completed non-recurring engineering work and man rated the Atlas V-H for less than they’re going to spend on Ares 1, and have both rockets ready to fly sooner too. Not to mention the obvious benefit of having 2 rockets instead of just 1.

    In the end they went with Ares 1 to protect the “shuttle industrial base”, which is just code words for protecting pet contractors such as ATK. We don’t really have a space program, we have a space workfare program, hence the letter-writing campaign.

  • Major Tom

    Save Space’s goal of 500,000 letters is goofy. They’ll be lucky if they get 50,000.

    KSC has less than 15,000 full-time equivalent workers (civil servant and contractor). To get 500,000 letters, each of those workers would have to convince more than 30 of their neighbors to write. That’s not going to happen. (Heck, the entire population of Brevard County, where most KSC workers live, is just over 500,000.)

    If each worker convinced two or three neighbors to write, a much more realistic goal, then they could hit 50,000. But 500,000 is a very unrealistic target that sets the effort up for enormous (potentially an order of magnitude) failure.

    FWIW…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Loki & Fred

    Concerning available launch vehicles, for Orion

    1. Falcon 9 can’t lift Orion, but theoretically Falcon Heavy could, which is 3 Falcon 9s

    (Major Tom, or someone else might correct me)

    2. I remember reading, somewhere, that a LUNAR Orion is too heavy to launch on a Delta IV heavy, without utilizing some of the fuel in the service module, which would need to be refueled in orbit (but Orion isn’t designed for on orbit refuel).

  • Loki

    Technically you’re correct, the Falcon 9 heavy could theoretically do the job since its predicted performance is in the same ballpark as the EELV heavies. I just left it out because it hasn’t flown yet. I guess I probably should have left out Atlas V heavy then as well, by that logic.

    As far as lunar Orion being too heavy, I don’t think that’s the case, at least not according to the Aerospace Corp study that I’ve seen. Here’s a link to an article summarizing their results:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/04/study-eelv-capable-orion-role-griffin-claims-alternatives-fiction/

    That article is a few months old, so it’s possible that maybe Aerospace revamped their numbers since then(?) I’m not sure what the case is there.

  • kert

    During the Apollo era, the NASA budget was as high as 33 billion a year in today’s dollars . The current NASA budget is about $17 billion annually

    Sooo … for half the expenditure, are we getting about half the value ?
    It certainly does not seem so, no matter what kind of metrics you use ( dramatic tv broadcasts per year, number of humans beyond van allen belts, rate of expansion into solar system, communist regimes going bankrupt by decade or anything else )

  • Anon

    Votes are more powerful then letters and the good people of Florida should have thought of this before voting for Obama. The Cape will be a ghost town by the next election so Obama won’t need to worry about getting their votes then.

  • @ kert

    For $33 billion we were only trying to put men on the Moon back in the late 1960′s.

    Now for just $17 billion were trying to put men on the Moon, plus fund a space station, plus build a new shuttle craft, plus operate our current shuttle craft. Yet for a tiny increase of $3 billion annually and choosing the SD-HLV over the Ares 1/V, NASA could probably do it all.

  • “Robert Oler wrote @ September 29th, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Marcel…I dont think so…most people on earth wont last in space or on another planet.”

    I’m not sure I know what you mean. Humans only require food, air, water, gravity, a boob tube and internet access:-)

  • kert

    Marcel, try to apply any of the suggested metrics to what NASA is doing, and has been doing post Apollo ..

  • [...] Today provides an update today on the status of Save Space, a Space Coast effort to get half a million letters in support of space exploration delivered to the Wh…. The article gives the impression that the movement is gaining momentum (”catching on”, [...]

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