Lobbying, NASA, Other

Brief notes

At yesterday’s meeting on the Space Coast, speakers said Florida must demand that president fund an “ambitious” space exploration program, in large part to protect jobs there. Or, as Florida Today put it, “President Barack Obama is in for an earful from Florida elected officials and space industry 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 gap” between the shuttle and its successor.

Florida Today is one of the sponsors of Save Space, so it’s no surprise it endorses the effort in an editorial Tuesday, asking readers to write letters to the president asking him to keep that campaign promise.

Increased funding for NASA was also endorsed in a recent editorial by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It notes the expense of Constellation, but adds that despite concerns about “today’s depressed economy and growing federal debt”, NASA should get that additional funding, particularly to develop Ares and Orion, which it calls “necessities”.

Also worth noting is op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Times by Michael Bloomfield, a former astronaut and current vice president of ATK. He argues that “crew safety is of utmost importance in evaluating shuttle replacements” based on the lessons of Challenger and Columbia, and that Ares 1/Orion would be “tops for safety against any other option by a significant degree”. Regarding commercial alternatives, he claims that “they still lag behind Ares I safety by a factor of 3 to 5 and do not meet the Columbia investigation’s clear assertion that America should replace the shuttle with a vehicle that is ‘significantly safer.'”

33 comments to Brief notes

  • Chance

    I know this is a simplification of the issue, but if saving jobs wasn’t enough of an argument to prevent F-22 production from being halted, why would it be a sufficient argument for an “ambitious” space program?

  • Robert Oler

    Loki (and Chance)…

    Actually Loki from what I see of the “save our jobs” effort IF the Obama administration wants to do in Ares1 there wont be much difficulty. oh there will be much nashing of teeth, but no real solid opposition. As Chance pointed out the arguments didnt save the F22 and I suspect that they wont save the C17.

    Part of it is that it is a residue of the last administration which is, except for a increasingly nutty minority not well liked…and it is underperforming and over costing. One reason one is seeing all the GAO reports coming out is this is plowing the ground for the basic question “would 3 billion dollars more a year fix it?”

    In fact I will bet money that the administration has already figured a few things out…thats why the Augustine commission acted like it did. Augustine is a smart political player and I have no doubt “the word” got to him.

    The trick in my view is going to be the “sweetner” that is added into it which will give all the Sheila Jackson Lee’s cover …there is something like that coming.

    I “wouldnt” be to terribly surprised if it is Marcel’s side mounted heavy lift..

    But where I see lift to the Space Station going is that it is going to become the first real serious competition for a major government contract done more or less “the airplane” way.

    Some of it may depend on where the two test fires (Musk and Ares1x) go…but I think that the space station is going to have a great future…and oddly enough for him, I think Dan Goldin is going to get some good writeups in history.

    Psycho Dan

    Robert G. Oler

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    Where were all these people several years ago when all of the decisions to shut down the Shuttle were made? It is really late to be getting in the game now!

  • Robert Oler

    CharlesTheSpaceGuy…oh thats easy. All the Republicans were cheering how bright Bush the last was. of course part of that was that they figured out that the Ares gravy train was about to start as well.

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Malkin

    @CharlesTheSpaceGuy – Space is in for now. America is based on pop culture and for the most part that’s how our elected officials run the country. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go into rehab.

    @Universe – I think the Augustine report is being reworked a little after the committee hearings because I think the report was very confusing to some of the committee members. From the summary report I think it’s very balanced and it comes down to how much money Congress is willing to find. We know we need to develop commercial options, we know we need to honor our commitments to our partners and we need to keep unique skills and experienced workers in America but all of these options cost more than the $3B already being debated. I think it’s possible that the Republicans will give a little slack on health care if the Democrats support a strong human spaceflight program because locally across the nation I think the Republicans benefit a little more from a strong human spaceflight program but I haven’t actually calculated it.

  • sc220

    I think it’s possible that the Republicans will give a little slack on health care if the Democrats support a strong human spaceflight program…

    The Democrats are going to have to give a lot more than support for a strong HSF program to stimulate Republican slack on health care. To most Republicans, NASA is a relic of design bureau, socialist thinking. Go back and look at some of the things that Newt Gingrich has said about NASA over the last few years. This should be an eye-opener for any space zealots who pine for a return to a Republican presidency.

    The reasons why NASA exploration may appear to be Republican are:

    – It was initiated by George Bush, but only in response to a demand for a change in NASA direction after the Columbia accident;

    – It receives strong support in states with a vested interest in VSE, which are mainly of the “Red” variety.

    In truth, support for NASA is a manifestation of local politics, plain and simple. It is not really bipartisan, but is actually non-partisan, only catering to the interests of a few select constituencies.

  • This should be an eye-opener for any space zealots who pine for a return to a Republican presidency.

    Space zealots would do very well with Gingrich policies. It’s NASA zealots who should fear him.

  • Robert Oler

    “To most Republicans, NASA is a relic of design bureau, socialist thinking. Go back and look at some of the things that Newt Gingrich has said about NASA over the last few years.”

    That is mostly wishful thinking.

    Mark Whittington is about as far right a Republican as one can get…and yet he is NASA’s biggest cheerleader here as far as “the vision” is concerned.

    Newt talks a good gaggle but when it comes to the politics of actually making what “Mr. Newt” says into action…he flounders like a fish out of water.

    GOP politicians who have as their “base” the nutty right talk a good game about reducing this or that…but when it comes to the nitty gritty “their pork” (military contractors/etc) seems untouchable. Gingrich has to know that the F22 and C17 are to todays wars about like the Battleship was before WW2 and yet it rallys the right wing base to talk about building them…

    because they (like “the vision”) are easy symbols of “doing something”. The neocons might have really no clue how to beat the Taliban in Afland or what to do after Saddams regime was pulled down, but they can stand in front of an F22 and “be tough on national defense”.

    This is truly the irony of current GOP politics. The GOP right use to like to beat up on Clinton for nation building in Bosnia and yet Bosnia has worked out oh 1000 times better then what has gone on in Iraq…the GOP is all wrapped up in “The vision”…but Clinton through Al Gore and Psycho Dan actually got the space station started and well on its way.

    As a politics aside it will be interesting to see how the 2012 field shakes out for the GOP. If it is going to be a suicidal run (like Mondale in 84) or a real challenge (like Clinton in 92.) if it is a 84 I suspect that Gingrich has a good chance at getting the nod.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    “In truth, support for NASA is a manifestation of local politics, plain and simple. It is not really bipartisan, but is actually non-partisan, only catering to the interests of a few select constituencies.”

    I do agree and I find it really funny (like in disturbingly funny) that people make the Rep. vs. Dem. argument especially after the Nelson-Shelby epidodes of last… Then again what does it take to get people to open their eyes? Their minds?

    The political rethoric as a supporting argument for HSF or any space related endeavor is a losing argument based on nothing but hot air. This is one of the reason why the space community arguments do not hold any water when it comes to getting something from Congress or the WH: A total lack of unity. Remember: Divide and rule is the best political approach to stay in power. Far fetched? Unrelated? You decide.

  • Robert Oler

    common sense those are good words…and I agree with them “mostly”…there is mostly “local support” for NASA and HSF…but there is a political breakdown.

    The Democratic party “as a generalization” does not seem to have human spaceflight as one of its “poster children”…ie it is not a symbol that the party as a whole finds expressive of its national posture.

    The GOP however as a function of its “posture” tries desperately to wrap itself in the flag and part of that flag wrapping is space (mostly it is the military but they can substitute spaceflight by humans as well)…

    How does this play out in the debate on a national scale?

    If Pete Olsen in TX 22 were in a position to influence the debate (and to be fair to Pete he probably isnt) then he could run around to various other GOP congress folks ask for their vote…. and there is some natural resonance with the issue…ie some GOP person in Indiana somewhere could vote “yes” on whatever and use it in a mailer…it wouldnt be a big deal but it would strike a card with the folks who are likely to give money in a congressional campaign…(the same could be said if Olsen’s district built the F-22 or any product that “Makes America stronger”).

    On the other hand S. Jackson Lee might do some arm twisting to some other Dem Congressperson in some district in PA and might as an IOU get a vote…but it is unlikely that the Congressperson in PA would use a mailer saying “I helped save Ares 1″ it doesn’t match with the ethos of the world.

    This is one reason Obama will have, if he wants it an easy time changing gears on human spaceflight ie it isnt an issue that wraps up the party particularly the loony left base…and is also the reason the last instant Bush the last cared about his vision was when the last syllable from his speech left his lips, in Republican nutty right politics results are not important…it is just making the effort that counts …

    off for lunch with the kids at their “school” taking some happy pictures from the last three years!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert, if you want me to send you the Space News article attempting to justify a lunar base as the next goal, send your E-mail to DonaldFR@DonaldFRobertson.com, and I’ll bounce the manuscript back to you when I am in front of my computer tonight.

    — Donald

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Since my name has been brought up, in connection with Newt Gingrich, a brief word is necessary to clear up some things. What Rand is referring to is Newt’s idea that most NASA programs be scrapped and replaced with a five billion dollar lunar base prize and a twenty billion dollar Mars prize.

    There is no greater admirer of New Gingrich than myself, but I really think those ideas are unworkable. First, try getting any Congress to appropriate that amount of money, coupled with a massive downsizing of the current program with the economic dislocation bound to follow. After doing that impossible thing, then convince people with money to fund private lunar base and Mars expedition projects over a period of ten or twenty years based solely on the promise that the twenty five billion in prize money is still going to be there at the end. Most venture capitalists I have ever heard of would laugh at such a proposal.

    Mind, I like prizes and heartily support more of them. But there is such a thing as diminishing returns. The fact that there are still space advocates who actually take Newt’s idea seriously proves how dysfunctional space advocatism is.

    Sadly, the only way we’re getting back to the Moon, going to an asteroid, or to Mars in anything like a human life time is a well and consistently funded government space program. True one can sweeten things with commercial partnerships and one should. But no time should be wasted with fantasies like Mars prizes.

  • common sense

    @Robert Oler:

    I never said that either party does not have its own poster child. I only look at results here. The Reps had 8 years to make something happen on the HSF side and then what happened? Competency is not equal to rant, be it from either party. But most of us, Reps and Dems who support HSF, drank the Kool Aid back on Jan 14 2004 and initially all went well. Then came ESAS… But I don’t remember the Reps being all worked up about that then as they now all are about a potential termination of HSF. And it is a Rep. Senator who cast away some of the recovery money to protect jobs in Alabama. Strange isn’t it? A “socialist” move from a Rep. Senator? But of course it is not about jobs! It is about US supremacy in Space… What a bunch of baloneys! Oh and yes, said money was supposed to support small companies get their feet wet in the HSF business. So why would a Rep. Senator oppose that??? Anyway, already went over this argument several times.

    As for the F-22: I believe this is a total non issue. Note I said I believe. The reason being is that the F-35 is much more important to the DoD contractors. It has the potential of being sold as much as the F-16 was. The F-22 will most likely never get out of the US, a much smaller market. So if you can move the F-22 workforce to the F-35 program, save for a fews casualties then you can pretend you just saved money. What I would like to see is how the F-35 budget moved after that…

    As to this current WH: Anyone really thinks that a non essential program like Constellation cannot just go? The current implementation of the VSE does not serve any of the purposes it was intended for, except for the job retention. I think the WH is asking the right question somehow, can we do better with that much money? Rather than Apollo on steroid. The answer is most likely yes. But nobody really knows what form it will take. VSE was a step in the right direction but it is not a real vision. Visions are devised by visionaries, you did not need to be one to come up with the VSE. But VSE is long gone now, so what do we do? I think a real “vision” would be to find out how to establish a successful HSF that serves the US well. And this is not SciFi vision of permanent bases on Mars today. It is much more down to Earth: It will require well played politics addressing national interests (prestige is one of them but not the only one). Nothing else. However, a “vision” may take place in the “private” sector if someone can figure a way of making cash with HSF. That would be a new sort of vision. I don’t think that the US government is here to have “visions”. It is here to help the day-to-day life of its citizens and ensure its safety. The democratic implementation of our government in essence goes against visions of any kind since it requires so many compromises. So unless any event similar to the Cold War comes about the HSF will be a lot more mundane than many of us would like to see. But it can be done well as opposed to poorly.

    Oh well…

  • Major Tom

    “Michael Bloomfield, a former astronaut and current vice president of ATK… claims that ‘[alternatives to Ares I] still lag behind Ares I safety by a factor of 3 to 5′”

    Bloomfield’s statement about safety is either terribly misinformed or a bald-faced lie. Even using ESAS numbers, Ares I is only a factor of 2 safer than Delta IV or Atlas V, not a “factor of 3 to 5″.

    Figure 6-17 in the ESAS report quotes the following Loss of Crew (LOC) estimates for each vehicle:

    Human-Rated Atlas V with New Upper-Stage — 1 in 957
    Human-Rated Delta IV with New Upper-Stage — 1 in 1,100
    Atlas Phase 2 (5.4m Core) — 1 in 939

    4-Segment RSRB with 1 SSME (original Ares I) — 1 in 2,021
    5-Segment RSRB with 1 J-2S (current Ares I) — 1 in 1,918

    In short, the ESAS LOC figures for the alternative launch vehicles hover around 1 in 1,000, while the Ares I figures hover around 1 in 2,000. That’s a factor of 2, not a factor of 3 to 5.

    Of course, given what we know about Ares I’s thrust oscillation, flight control, fratricide, and margin issues, the ESAS LOC figures for Ares I are too high and the real number is much lower.

    “‘and do not meet the Columbia investigation’s clear assertion that America should replace the shuttle with a vehicle that is ’significantly safer.’”

    The Space Shuttle has a demonstrated LOC during launch of 1 in 127. The estimated ~1-in-1,000 LOC figures for the alternative launch vehicles above are all nearly a factor of ten better than the demonstrated Shuttle LOC figure. If ten-times better is not “significantly safer”, then I don’t know what is.

    Finally, I have to say, it’s really sad to see some former members of the astronaut corps sell themselves so cheaply to ATK (or any other company). When it comes to the safety of the current corps, former astronauts should be paradigms of clear, objective thinking and honest, by-the-numbers engineering. Instead, Bloomfield is pulling numbers out of thin air and making false or nonsensical comparisons. Really, really sad.


  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Astronauts are like any one of us: They try to protect their jobs. And I say that with the outmost respect for them.

    Again, once they have moved to the “real” life they actually are no longer astronauts but “regular” workers. What I find more annoying is the apparent silence of the active corps of astronauts. It may not have been true of the earliest corps but I may only project my own fantasy about the job here. Those who are going to put their a.. on top of the rocket should be the most vocal ones but would that kill one’s career? A career that required so many sacrifices? How many of them actually fly Shuttle knowing really well the associated safety issues?

    And BTW the LOC numbers only are that: numbers. What were the numbers for Shuttle before Challenger? Before Columbia? What are the actual numbers? What were the numbers for Saturn? For Soyuz? Any one can use numbers to one’s advantage, just like polls. The problem is more subtle than thaat. It is about understanding the engineering compromises that take place behind the numbers (see Sidemount for crew). Remember further that it was (is?) believed that a LAS would save the day any day. Well, again, Sidemount?…

    Oh well…

  • eng

    My problem with Ares-1 safety factor claims in the Bloomfield essay is that Ares-1, the rocket stack (with a non-existent first 5 segment steage, upper stage, avionics, LES, etc… ), has not flown A SINGLE SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT. For an ENGINEER to make such claims when you are still that far from the actual hardware makes me even more critical of the entire Constellation effort.

    And obviously their “we are underfunded” whining after 4+ years and some billions of dollars for a primitive LEO launcher REALLY don’t make me more affectionate to NASA as a taxpayer and a space enthusiast. Quite the opposite…

    Until Ares-1 has a flight history (like say Delta4 or Atlas5) the fault probability sigmas and other calculated thingamagics are nothing but hot air.

  • The SRBs have a 20 year plus history of success since the Challenger accident in 1986– which I find extremely impressive. But still, it may turn out that no LAS can remove astronauts fast enough from a solid rocket booster explosion to save them. So no matter how you look at it, LAS equipped liquid fueled rocket booster systems may be– inherently safer– than any booster system that involves solid rocket boosters.

    But that still doesn’t mean that today’s SRBs aren’t pretty darn safe!

  • common sense

    @Marcel F. Williams:

    I did not keep up with this and I hate to be a broken record, BUT it appears that NASA’s own had finally acknowledged what I have been saying since they showed the concept.


    “The biggest issue with the crew vehicle has been the aborts, and we put together a team work on abort scenarios for a crew vehicle and are starting to collect information to do a costing on manifesting options and so forth,” added Mr Shannon’s early notes.

    And even though they note “The first cut of abort analysis for HLV has been completed using the launch abort system (LAS) being developed by the Constellation Program (CxP). No show stoppers were found,” added another note on a recent Standup report.” I would love to see the current analysis if it is any different from what appeared on NASAWatch a while ago. If it is the same analyisis then the work is far from over and I stand by my comments that this will not work.

    Oh well…

  • Robert Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote

    “Sadly, the only way we’re getting back to the Moon, going to an asteroid, or to Mars in anything like a human life time is a well and consistently funded government space program. True one can sweeten things with commercial partnerships and one should. But no time should be wasted with fantasies like Mars prizes.”

    not so much.

    First off, why are we in a hurry? Unless one has this religious right sense of apocalypse well what is the hurry? The Chinese? Right.

    I see you have adopted the Griffin model that “private enterprise” is not able to do in spaceflight what it did in aviation, railroads, various medical cures, etc. IE we need the “helping hand” (my words but delicious) of government to make it so.

    Actually prizes do work, the problem is that Newt just doesnt understand them very well.

    Try an aviation example.

    Say it is Late December 1903 and you are Teddy sitting in The White House cleaning you’re Winchester, contemplating the Oval Office that is soon to be built, worrying over Alice’s latest adventures…

    …and you are told that two brothers have done heavier then air flight. After a few “Bully” (did Glenn Beck really call Theodore one of the 10 worst people in the world? seesh) you say “what can I do to help aviation grow.”

    John Hay is having a cigar with you and says (Hay would never say this but its fun) “Theodore you could offer a prize to fly the Atlantic say the cash equivalent in 1903 dollars of 20 billion”.

    Theodore puts down his Winchester and says “John what a stupid idea” Why? Because with aviation so new no amount of money as a prize would get anyone to spend any money on something that is so far out of reach it is so likely to fail.

    Or imagine instead John Hay says (imitating Mike Griffin) “Theodore you should immediately put the Smithsonian in charge of all flight testing (they are doing so well with Glenn Curtis…) or better yet the Army”

    Instead TR says “John I am going to let free enterprise work” and orders the Army to buy four or five of the Wright flyers. Hence giving them cash and the Army a new vehicle to work with.

    Prizes only work for things that the technology is not vaporware. Instead it is something that can be assembled, perhaps a bit of a stretch it terms of what is available…but has a reasonable chance of being done, enough to excite the gambler in Americans who want to make a ton of money.

    This should be obvious. If I were to tell the children, “You have to invent wrap drive to get 10 dollars”…there is no incentive there. If it is “you have to coup the chickens on a regular basis for a week” well that is something that they have to work at, but something that they can have a reasonable chance at doing. It is called “incentives”.

    What is a reasonable prize? Say instead of 9 billion on the Ares1 vehicle you so love…why not offer 1 billion dollars for the first company that gets a pressurized resupply vehicle in berthing range of the ISS with X amount of volume and Y amount of lift? Why not make it oh 2 billion if the vehicle can carry a crew of say 3?

    But no, instead we have spent 9 billiondollars on Ares1 your “well and consistently funded government space program” and have nothing but super viewgraphs to show for it.

    The irony of it is, that as Jim Oberg pointed out in a piece recently, not even big well funded government programs work well, when there are no “spin ins” from the rest of industry. All that happens is well you get Ares 1 style boondoggles.

    Musk is of course almost doing this without the prize. The “prize” in his world is well a contract (“John I’ll have the Army buy four of these”) to carry first supplies, then humans and that gives his rocket a lot of “horsepower” in terms of launching almost anything else even uncrewed…and if he meets his price for “humans” it is highly likely that “others” will figure out a reason to fly into space (one has to know that Musk is contemplating what to do with the used Dragon’s).

    Meanwhile back at the “well and consistently funded government space program” the viewgraphs keep churning out.

    Capitalism Mark is a subject worth some study.

    BTW why is there such a rush to get back to the Moon?

    Robert G. Oler

  • ISS4Ever

    @ Robert G. Oler “BTW why is there such a rush to get back to the Moon?”

    If the Columbia accident does not happen, we are not talking about going to the moon. The moon rush is an outcome of the VSE, which is the result of an accident. There has always been talk of a replacement to the Shuttle – someday. Unfortunately, someday is not one of the 7 days of the week, and I don’t see it on the calendar either. Someday never comes. Hence, Shuttle replacement projects get started (just ask MSFC about that), but end in a whimper when it looks too costly to resolve technical issues; and hey, the Shuttle is still flying.

    Governments always put the traffic light up AFTER the accident, not before hand when the community is up in arms over its need.

    Ditto for VSE, and ‘rush to the moon’

  • Doug

    Screw the reps (forgot to practice what they preach) and dems (socialist) time for a libertarian. Send all the worthless, corrupt, special interest SOB’s reps and dems back home. Let the Libs have a go at it they can’t screw it up any more than our current two parties have.
    Gestapo like Homeland security reps and commie loving Czar dems (shadow party). Both parties are striping away our freedoms and spending away our future.

    Truth is none of them have a clue when it comes to space policy which is why NASA must go commercial to go beyond the status quo.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Yea, because there can’t be any reason for someone of a political party other than the libertarians to understand commercial space

  • omi

    Why the rush? There is no rush, (unless i’m misunderstanding) if people had yer attitude then nothing would happen in space or anywhere. :( Should we be stuck in LEO forever?

  • Robert Oler

    “Should we be stuck in LEO forever?”

    that phrase to me is like “shovel ready” or “regime change” …

    stuck in LEO?

    It is like saying “we are stuck going 300 MPH in a B29 and really I would like to go Mach .82 in a B52″…problem is that turbojets have not yet been invented.

    For “most” Americans there is “stuck on earth”…most Americans who argue for going to the Moon or Mars really are never going…they are just looking for some vicarious experience in seeing others go…truth be told if you photoshoped people into the pictures this folks wouldnt know if they were from oh say Messenger the Mercury probe.

    For the nation to spend a lot of money to do something (and that is true if it is Lewis and Clark going west or “leaving LEO) there has to be a reason …and it has to be more then “flags and footprints”…

    there really has to be some economic reason (other then “save our phoney balony jobs”) to do something that cost billions of dollars otherwise what “space advocates” are advocating is simply pork barrel spending.

    There is a reason for human kind to be in LEO. We are learning to operate efficiently and at some reasonable cost there…and if we do not then there is probably no reason to go “back to the Moon” or have colonies on Mars…

    the “go because it is there” argument is just about like “I double dare you to jump off that cliff”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    ISS4Ever probably. who knows why ANY decision was made in the Bush administration. Sometimes I think that most of the people making decisions there were just making it up as they went…not having a clue what they were doing or why they certainly had not clue as to “how” most of the time..all it was, was a bunch of second stringers from the Reagan era, who had always wanted to play “tough person” and fight the cold war their way…coupled with this nutty right wing religious babble…running the government

    the columbia thing was no different then say 9/11. Something bad happens and instead of a calm rational decision response to it, the answer is to go to the cold war playbook, get Frum to come up with some words for it…and then sell it as something that has to be done right now.

    One would think after the embarrasement of being “on watch” during a major terrorist attack or screwing up Iraq that somewhere along the line all these people would have gone hung themselves in shame…but no they keep on dishing out the same babble…and that has been the case at NASA since Challenger.

    How many people got fired over the bad decisions with Challenger and Columbia? Jay G, Linda H the entire band of idiots skated…so whats to stop Griffin from pulling up “no contractor left behind” and doing something inept (Like trying to put people on a solid rocket first stage).

    the problems with the solid are not “new”…there is vibration data on solids all the way back to “Little Joe” and certianly the Navy and USAF have it from Polaris/Trident/etc MX.

    The fish goes from the head down and when a leader is goffy then it shouldnt surprise one that they listen to goffy people. I am generally against waterboarding…but in Cheney, Rummy, and Linda H case…I could probably make an exception…it might not give good information but it wouldnt be all that bad to have them experience it.


    Robert G. Oler

  • pr

    the “go because it is there” argument is just about like “I double dare you to jump off that cliff”.

    More like “I double dare you to buy 3000 hookers for tonight.” It will be somewhat fun while it lasts, but not really very productive and certainly not worth the cost.

  • Loki

    Robert: Since you mentioned me in your earlier post way up at the top, I’ll go ahead and bite…

    NASA has spread a lot of the constellation work over several of its centers. In addition to JSC, KSC, and MSFC there’s also work being done at Ames, Langley, Glenn, MAF, and maybe some others that I’m not even aware of. So that’s TX, FL, AL, CA, VA, OH, and LA.

    Then you have the contractors who are also spread all over the place. LM: mostly Houston, TX and Denver, CO but also a handful of people in Sunnyvale, CA and Newtown, PA. Honeywell: Mostly Glendale, AZ but also some in Clearwater, FL and Olathe, KS. Orbital Sciences: Langley, VA. Hamilton Sundtrand: Windsor Locks, CT. That’s just for Orion and only the prime and major subcontractors. Add in the Ares contractors and their subs and all the lower level suppliers and you’ve pretty much got work spread to as many congressional districts as possible. That’s one of the reasons why the $8 billion dollars already spent hasn’t gone very far.

    This is the main reason why I think Obama will run into opposition from congress if he proposes a major change in direction. Congressmen/ women will protect their pork tooth and nail. Some while simultaneously decrying pork barrel spending and spouting platitudes about supporting free market capitalism etc etc, which of course makes them hypocrits (exhibit A: Richard Shelby, R-AL).

    I do hope that we will at least see more commercialization of space in general and HSF in particular. I just think there’s too much pork spread over too many congressional districts for any sweeping change to happen. I’ll be satisfied if NASA commits to COTS-D while canceling Ares 1 and launching lunar Orion on Delta IV-H while simultaneously getting the funds out of congress to start work on Ares V/ Altair now rather than “someday”. But that’s just me.

  • Loki

    ““I double dare you to buy 3000 hookers for tonight.” It will be somewhat fun while it lasts, but not really very productive and certainly not worth the cost.”

    Hilarious, I might have to steal that someday, hope you don’t mind. Although some might argue that 3000 hookers would be more than just somewhat fun. And it could be very “productive” depending on how many you knock up.

    Sorry, just trying to add a little levity to the proceedings.

  • Robert: Why are we in a hurry?

    There are two answers to that. First, we are not in a hurry. Colonizing any significant part of the Solar System is a project for generations. After all, it took us 10,000+ years to colonize our own world; the Solar System is a far larger and tougher proposition and our technology is nowhere near up to the task.

    However, second, is we don’t start when we can start, when will we start? If we wait for the perfoect time or the perfect technology or the perfect “architecture,” we will never go. In any generation, we should do what we are capable of doing, and attempt to do what we are almost capable of doing. We are demonstrably capable of regular, if not routine, operations in the litoral space of LEO and of reaching Earth’s moon. Today, we are probably capable of the first bases on the moon, and at least attempting expeditions to NEOs and the Martian Moons. Those are the projects that we as a species at this point in time should be tackling.

    — Donald

  • common sense

    There is no such thing as a “perfect” architecture, will never be. The only acceptable architecture will be one that evolves as our knowledge and technology do. It cannot be “perfect”. ESAS is a good example of what is not perfect yet attempted/pretended to be.

    “Today, we are probably capable of the first bases on the moon, and at least attempting expeditions to NEOs and the Martian Moons.”

    The level of difficulty is not commensurate between those different missions. And it is not clear we can have bases on the Moon, crewed “permanently” that is. At least it is not clear to me.

  • pg

    some might argue that 3000 hookers would be more than just somewhat fun

    I guess I should have said, “lots of fun for those directly involved, and somewhat entertaining to a certain type of onlooker … .” I stand by my productivity stance: hookers have ways of not producing unless it’s to their long term benefit. That only happens if they can figure out how to get a long term subsidy out of the deal, which makes the aftermath even less fun.

    Wow, this analogy just keeps getting better.

    As for the “if not now, when” argument, the analogy about funding a transatlantic flight in 1903 was a pretty good one, although I think it would be more a supersonic transatlantic flight. They would have spent a whole lot of money (read brainpower) working the problem in the wrong way, leaving them with nothing to show for it when the turbojet finally came around. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the Wright Flyer, it’s still going to be a doped fabric biplane. You can’t get there without radical changes in the technology, and if we’ve learned anything in the last thirty years it’s that manned spaceflight (at least as done by NASA) is FAR too risk averse to radically change anything.

    Fundamental things have to happen before it will be worth the effort to go to Mars; spinning our wheels trying to go there on chemical propulsion accomplishes less than nothing. Spending hundreds of thousands of brain-years trying to build a crewed vehicle that can run for as long as it will take to execute a crewed Mars mission is a misapplication of resources. A few thousand brain years left alone to ponder the basic problems without the tyranny of the immediate (and worse, the tyranny of the mission success organization) are more likely to come up with a better way, which will obviate the need for the perfectly efficient life support system.

    Getting back to the original topic of the post, (“Florida must demand … an “ambitious” space exploration program, in large part to protect jobs there”) all the wailing and gnashing of teeth is to keep an infrastructure intact that is not capable of supporting itself on its own merits, nor is it capable of doing what will be required to actually make a crewed mission to Mars possible. It would be like subsidizing the doped fabric makers in the hopes that they could help with the SR-71. I’m an old Titusville guy myself. It’s painful to think of what’s going to happen with no LC-39, but we have to think of the bigger picture.

  • John

    If NASA wants some attention from this president it needs to somberly announce that after great deliberation and analysis it needs to construct a new spaceflight center in Chicago. The new Daley Spaceflight Center will serve as a focal point for critical space missions and spaceflight medicine, yadda, yadda, yadda. It should hire David Axelrod’s old firm, AKPD Message and Media to do PR and tap Ezekiel Emmanuel as the director of Space Medicine with generous contracts to University of Chicago Hospitals for medical space research.

  • John

    Oh…and don’t forget to work through Valerie Jarret’s The Habitat Company to line up the real estate needed for the new Daley Spaceflight Center…

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