Congress, NASA

More reaction to potential NASA changes

Yesterday’s Orlando Sentinel article about plans to cancel Constellation was remarkable: while it didn’t say anything that was that surprising (the cancellation of Ares 1, development of commercial crew transportation providers, and a shift to a “Flexible Path” architecture all had been rumored to be in the works for weeks), the article was influential enough that it got the White House and NASA to officially (if largely anonymously) to respond and confirm many of the details.

The article also got several members of Congress to issue statements yesterday about potential changes. (Most of these statements were issued before the follow-up article last night, although that may not mollify many of their concerns.) Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) issued a statement that was relatively mild. “I would strongly oppose any further cuts to human space flight funding that would make the United States dependent on foreign nations for manned space access,” she says. “I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to provide additional guidance to NASA in conducting its human space flight planning and in developing the congressional response to the President’s budget, after it is submitted to the Congress.”

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) was a little more strident in his opposition to potential changes. “If recent reports regarding the future of the Constellation program and the direction of NASA are true, then the President could not be more wrong to consider canceling it. The Constellation program is the best means for America to remain the global leader in human space flight,” he stated. “I will be working steadfastly with my colleagues to ensure that this short sighted proposal is not the final answer on the future of NASA.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is often described as an advisor to the White House on space issues, wanted to hear more from the president in last night’s State of the Union address. “On the downside, we’re going to have to get the president to do more for NASA. America’s global leadership in science and technology is at stake if we don’t maintain a more robust space exploration program. I’m still hopeful we’ll be able to do that.”

Louisiana’s two senators, Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R), also expressed concern about potential changes, particularly given their effect on the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will review and analyze the president’s budget in detail and ensure that the Michoud facility in New Orleans east remains a viable player within NASA, whatever its future holds,” Landrieu said. Vitter, meanwhile, called the potential cancellation of Ares “devastating” for Michoud. “Instead, we should develop a heavy-lift capability for human space flight that builds on existing shuttle-based technologies in a very cost-conscious way. But we should do that now, not just talk about it vaguely for the future and lose all of our human capital and expertise at Michoud and other centers.”

56 comments to More reaction to potential NASA changes

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It looks like the administration has not done any work trying to sell its new policy to the Congress. Canceling the return to the Moon program in exchange for vague promises about HLVs and “Look But Don’t Touch” missions is not going to cut it.

  • sc220

    It is no surprise that the senators and congressmen who have been weighing in on this all have NASA interests in their states and districts. After all, all politics is local. However, I would be more informative to hear the opinions of those in congress who do not have NASA interests. I am sure that very few have any opinion at all, but it would be interesting to see if they think NASA should be thrown in the meatlocker, along with other discretionary programs, or if it should be immune from the proposed budget freeze.

  • sc220

    It looks like the administration has not done any work trying to sell its new policy to the Congress.

    Why would it? There are far greater problems to deal with now. Many in the country view NASA and the space program as an entertaining diversion. If the Administration paid a lot of attention and lip-service on NASA, it would be viewed as being out of touch with the needs of the country.

  • Major Tom

    “It looks like the administration has not done any work trying to sell its new policy to the Congress.”

    It’s not a White House policy. It’s a White House budget request. Learn the difference.

    And the White House budget process is embargoed through the budget release in February. No lobbying is allowed during this time. Learn how your government works before wasting other posters’ time with uninformed statements.

    Lawdy…

  • Bill White

    Give Senator David Vitter a shuttle derived solution (DIRECT or sidemount) that keeps Michoud open and I betcha he will go along with any destination (or lack thereof) that Bolden proposes.

    Let’s read that quote again:

    Vitter, meanwhile, called the potential cancellation of Ares “devastating” for Michoud. “Instead, we should develop a heavy-lift capability for human space flight that builds on existing shuttle-based technologies in a very cost-conscious way. But we should do that now, not just talk about it vaguely for the future and lose all of our human capital and expertise at Michoud and other centers.”

    Ares 1 doesn’t need tanks from Michoud, does it?

    It’s the PoR that would cause the loss of human capital and expertise at Michoud.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Ares 1 doesn’t need tanks from Michoud, does it?

    The upper stage would be manufactured at Michoud.

  • Bill White

    The upper stage would be manufactured at Michoud.

    But not soon enough to save Michoud’s human capital and expertise. Only building new ETs for DIRECT or sidemount, on an expedited schedule, can satisfy Senator Vitter’s concerns.

  • gui

    Major Tom writes:
    “Even Augustine states that the program is managed well…”

    There is no such statement in the final report of the Augustine Committee. In fact, the report is full of Constellation concerns:
    On Ares I, the report states “The ability of Ares I to meet these [NASA's safety] requirements will not be known until it has an established flight record…” On Orion, the report states “… the Orion development schedule is ‘back-end loaded,’ such that designing test articles, conducting tests and producing flight hardware run in parallel, thus creating an extremely high schedule risk.” On Ares I and Orion, the report states that “[budget and] technical problems that have been encountered on the Ares I and Orion programs, have produced the most significant overall impacts to
    the execution of the Constellation Program.”

    Etc, etc…

    Yes, Constellation was very well managed.

    The managers were NASA’s best and brightest and they were wonderful people. They hired great people. They were all so conscientious. They were making great progress.

    Only problem was, after $10 billion and 5 years, they never accomplished a damn thing and killed the nation’s human space flight program.

    To quote the ‘Right Stuff’, ‘screwed the pooch’ on this one.

  • Robert G. Oler

    gui wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Major Tom writes:
    “Even Augustine states that the program is managed well…”

    I would like to see where Major Tom said that…I suspect that you have gotten confused (I do this it is easy to do) with a “quote” he used (probably from Mark Whittington who repeats that line endlessly) and refuted.

    I suspect in fact that he would agree with the statements you post. I would

    Robert G. Oler

  • ralph

    this doesn’t matter because the position of the report is clear. but augustine was gracious and very politically correct toward all the status quo stakeholders. during testimonials he did say things like the POR is well managed. internet nerds would do well to learn that you can compliment the animal while you kill it

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark Whittington wrote this on his blog

    “his changes nothing. The stark fact is that the return to the Moon program is canceled. Whatever may replaced it is vaguely defined, with no hint as to when any missions will happen or where people will go when they do.”

    First off I cannot imagine that the American people would be upset with this. (return to the Moon toast).

    But the part I would take issue with is “what would replace it is vaguely defined”…yes that is the nature of capitalism.

    I concede that it is happening probably by blind luck with a bit of inspired leadership by Charlie Bolden. Charlie may recognize what you dont, and that of course is why he is where he is and you and I are blogging about this (grin) that the POR is not viable. That it just cannot be done on any time scale or cost that The political leadership, the politics of The Republic and even the finances of The Republic can bear.

    You may think that another 3 billion a year is fine, but you are not the one who has to sale that to an American public which doesnt think that the Federal government is working all that well right now (or has been for a bit). And is even in red polls against it./

    Charlie seems to have grasp the imperative of the moment, that a course change is needed for human spaceflight in The Republic to survive at all.

    Shifting…. to a free enterprise based program; one where making money for companies who employ people who actually pay taxes, not simply require them…to a program which is based on efficiency of effort to promote profit…all of which means the future moves from a statist lock step regemented program which is determined by two things…how inefficient a government enterprise makes itself…and the excess cash of The Republic…

    to one where the future is simply unknown because it is determined by all the things which have changed America in the past.

    You wrote an opinion piece with Me (well I mostly wrote it Kolker did some editing and you tagged your name on to it) that was published in The Weekly STandard…

    In all respects what we are transitioning to is indistinguishable from the concepts it advocates. Now Bill Clinton was POTUS and the space station had turned into his program; so I am sure that biased you’re viewpoint…but not mine.

    in the end this comes down to two choices.

    The first is a program that is controlled by the state with results that are dictated by the state and which are measured by the efficiences (or lack of some) by the state.

    The other course is one where things are regulated by the state, but whose course and direction are stirred by the engine of free enterprise.

    This is exactly the division of effort that is talked aabout in the book “The Future and its enemies”.

    I’ll take the latter. I dont know when that gets us back to the Moon or when it gets humans outside of LEO…but I know when it does that this time…we will stay and this time The American economy will be enhanced by the effort not propping it up.

    That is how we went from The Wright Brothers on the Beach to supersonic aircraft in less time then we have had human spaceflight.

    When did you become an enemy of the future?

    Long Live The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    ralph wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    agreed

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bill White

    Hmmmm . . .

    My cognitive dissonance meter just exploded.

    Democrat Robert Oler is advocating for free enterprise and Republican Mark Whittington is arguing for a government dominated program.

    Am I reading this correctly?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Bill – really? you’re just realizing this now?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Hmmmm . . .

    My cognitive dissonance meter just exploded.

    Democrat Robert Oler is advocating for free enterprise and Republican Mark Whittington is arguing for a government dominated program…

    I am quite proud to say that I voted for the losers in the last three Presidential elections. I supported Richard Morrison and Pete Olsen in TX 22 with about the same amount of cash on two different elections.

    Rich Kolker has told people that I am the definition of an “independent”. I have causes that I support, concepts that I believe in and support those more then I do a political party.

    Having said that…as my dear wife just asked me, having read you’re post.

    If one had to ask me where I am leaning “now” this instant in a choice between (thanks to the 12th Amendment) the only two parties that can occupy The White House…I “lean” Democratic

    That is because the GOP has become to describe it in a term that will be clear here “whittingtonized”.

    The GOP has as a corporate level gone so far “right” that it just sickens me. Iraq played a large measure in that. The lies/exaggerations/incompetence/arrogance when Mitch M gets up and says “we should be listened to by Obama” I smirk, there was no administration that refused to listen to “opposite voices” more then the last one. People who disagreed with them on Iraq were openly called “traitors” or “unpatriotic” and mocked. And almost to a person the folks who disagreed had 1) served the country in battle and 2) were proven correct while the people who mocked them had 1) run away from battle and 2) were just dead wrong.

    Bush’s line “I am the decider” while technically correct, as things were falling apart in Iraq showed an arrogance that streaks through the GOP.

    My wife and I are pregnant…fortunately LJ Oler is going to be a healthy baby girl. But we are both “older” and until we got the word on the amnio and ultrasound we braced for what might be…and if the news had been bad…it was our decision and ours alone to determine the future not some arrogant jerk off who hides behind their view of The Bible and has no stake in our fight.

    The arrogance of the right wing of the GOP is stunning. No one who was for Iraq has apologized for all the things that they said which were wrong, and that includes some of the people here.

    As I pointed out to Whittington, he at one point, in large measure I guess due to his opposition to things Clinton once advocated the policies which are being essentially implemented…and which he now opposes. If the program of record had been producing some results any results there might be some argument as to continuing it…but supporters cannot argue its performance much less its reason for being.

    It is all hubris.

    Now the Dems have that, and the health care bill in the Senate which I opposed (as did btw Howard Dean) has that in spades AND the Dems have their corporate troughs just as the GOP does…

    The President that has made me the proudest in my “real” (ie non childhood) lifetime was Ronaldus the Great and he would be just sick in my view at what the GOP particularly its right wing…has become.

    but right now, in space policy; it is hard to argue that the approach being formulated (mostly as I note by blind luck and General Bolden) by this administration is something that I have advocated when both Dems and Republicans were president…and in my view is something that should be supported.

    If for no other reason then the POR is imploding. The Mark Whittington who joined Rick Kolker and I in the STandard piece…was for what is happening now. I dont know what happened to him. I have not changed.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bill White

    Best wishes for the family, Robert. And yes, there is ample stupidity in both political parties.

    As for space, I agree with you that human space flight must eventually return a profit or it shall be unsustainable. In the meantime I am reminded of the old quip about watching the making of laws, and sausages.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I view this (in space policy and in general) as a time of amazing opportunity. The times are tough. I dont say that glibly joblessness is rampant and it has come into our extended family. Those of us who have jobs are very fortunate.

    But someone said that it is not extraordinary people who make extraordinary things happen, but ordinary people in extraordinary times who rise to the challenge..I have believed that all my life and even more after my latest time overseas.

    we are a nation in vast transition. What has worked since the end of WWII has just about come unglued, that is normal in The Republic we do this every 70-80 years …and there are always people who cannot rise to the new challenges and those who do.

    If the future is going to be a race (and I believe it is) between us and China and us and India to see who can form the dominate social economic system of this century, then we are going to do no good dragging the remains of what worked in the last one into this.

    part of that is human spaceflight.

    It is hard I think to argue that the approach since 1970, through a lot of administrations of almost all political bents is working in The US. The very best the “government club” can do across the board is 1) spending a lot of money flying ISS (and this includes government efforts from Russia to Japan) or 2) the chinese approach which is simply redoing Gemini at amazingly high cost

    There seems to be “another way” emerging in the US and I think that it is worth nurturing because it is the way “things” have gone from nothing to being completly integrated in American life.

    We have had almost50 years of government in the US trying to make human spaceflight work…and we have a few people on ISS for the result.

    its messy but life is that way. Hindenberg just had the great phrase (Grin)

    Thank you for you’re kind comments on our family. It is a wonderful time for the Mrs and I and our family. There is that line from Heywood Floyd in 2010 asking “Dave Bowman” …”what is going to happen” and “bowman” replies “something wonderful”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “Major Tom:” Learn some manners. I am not a lobbyist. Even if I were, I do have the right of free speech, even from anonymous cowards such as yourself.

    Oler – Even by your standards of pomposity your post exceeds the envelope. The fact of the matter is that while the commercial space initiative is a good one, building as it does on the Bush era COTS, the cancellation of the back to the Moon program, should Congress swallow it, is a slap in the face of the greatest of the Republic, as you put it. Mike Griffin has it right. We’ll be watching other people walk on the Moon on TV.

    Bill White. Oler is not a Democrat he is a political chameleon. And I do not favor a “:government dominated” space program.

    Here’s a question for the group. What happens if Congress tells Obama what to do with his space policy?

  • The Augustine Commission was supposed to evaluate the economic viability of the Constellation program as compared to other scenarios to return to the Moon. Instead it spent a lot of its time trying to argue why we should be extending the ISS program, why there should be a private commercial manned launch industry, and why we should be going to Venus, Mars, and the asteroids. In fact, they never even discussed the possible uses of a Moon base.

    It was pretty clear from the start that the Augustine Commission loves the ISS and hates the idea of returning to the Moon! My views, of course, are exactly the opposite of theirs!

  • Major Tom

    ““Major Tom:” Learn some manners.”

    Where was I rude to you? I corrected obvious errors in your prior post and asked you to learn some basic fundamentals about how our government works before you waste your time and other posters’ time with another uninformed post.

    “I am not a lobbyist.”

    Where did I say that you were a lobbyist?

    “Even if I were, I do have the right of free speech,”

    Where did I say that you didn’t have the right of free speech?

    “even from anonymous cowards such as yourself.”

    Why are you resorting to namecalling (again)? I havn’t called you any names.

    Talk about rude — pot, kettle, black, etc.

    And why do you still complain about anonymous posters when Mr. Foust has repeatedly made it clear that he welcomes them. If you don’t like anonymity, then don’t post here.

    “What happens if Congress tells Obama what to do with his space policy?”

    Again, it’s a budget, not a policy, that’s being rolled out next week. Learn the difference and stop wasting other posters’ time with poorly informed posts.

    From Apollo, to STS, to Freedom, to ISS, to the VSE, Congress follows the President on major changes in the direction of the human space flight program. The few congressmen with NASA districts/states will always take fewer NASA employees/voters in their state/district versus obstructing the President’s budget and risking losing that budget to other Congressional priorities and winding up with even fewer or no NASA employeess/voters in their state/district. (And that assumes that the budget will lead to lower employment, which is not the case with a $1.3B annual increase in NASA’s budget and special programs for KSC employees.)

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “The Augustine Commission was supposed to evaluate the economic viability of the Constellation program as compared to other scenarios to return to the Moon.”

    No, the words “economic viability” don’t appear anywhere in the charter for the Augustine Committee.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    FWIW…

  • frotski

    Here is the real question…….

    When he “cancels” Constellation will he let everyone go or will he keep everyone on the job and transfer them to the new program (whatever that is).

    So, will the people working “Constellation” today building Ares and the support pieces like redoing pads/firing rooms at say KSC, be given pink slips as in it’s cancelled and we don’t need you — go home.

    Or, will those people be moved from “Constellation” to “the new HLV program” (Whatever Obama calls it).

    That could be huge across the country. Because assuming you will need a HLV and the support for that HLV and we already employ people on Constellation it would seem foolish to get rid of all those people and then try to hire them back in the near future, especially with jobs being such a big part of his concern lately.

    So, if the NASA budget supports those jobs today and the budget increases somewhat this year then those jobs SHOULD be there tomorrow.

    That is what everyone is worried about… How will the transfer from one program to the next be done ?

  • Major Tom

    “When he ‘cancels’ Constellation will he let everyone go or will he keep everyone on the job and transfer them to the new program (whatever that is).

    So, will the people working ‘Constellation’ today building Ares and the support pieces like redoing pads/firing rooms at say KSC, be given pink slips as in it’s cancelled and we don’t need you — go home.”

    Unclear, but it doesn’t appear so. For example, Florida Today wrote yesterday:

    “Kennedy Space Center would receive more money to create hundreds of jobs and boost the pace of commercial rocket launches, the officials said.”

    Personally, I think it would be unfortunate for the future exploration program if the Obama Administration tries to hang onto all of the Shuttle and Constellation workforce. Although I’m sympathetic to the individual employees, that will burden the new program with the same high costs as the old one. Someday, the bullet has to be bitten, and the old Apollo/Shuttle infrastructure and large Shuttle workforce downsized. We can’t run a sustainable human exploration program on a post-Cold War budget using expensive Cold War tools.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    “We can’t run a sustainable human exploration program on a post-Cold War budget using expensive Cold War tools.”

    and using Cold War mentality….

  • @ Major Tom

    I used the term to ask whether or not the Constellation program was affordable with the current budget. If you consider that a lie, then please explain!

  • frotski

    Well, we all know that he can’t hang onto all of the shuttle and constellation work force (nowhere close). Shuttle is an old program and it is going away. No politician can really save it and those people kinda knew they weren’t going to have jobs. But Constellation gave everyone hope and many jobs are with it now.
    So, by cancelling it too, ALL JOBS would be lost. ALL
    Now, a private company might come along and hire SOME of those people but they would be out of work for some time most likely.
    So, if the rockets and destination change but we are still going “somewhere” then hopefully those people can be retained and just told to build a different rocket or a different size launch pad, etc…
    IF he is truly worried about jobs he will not “cancel” any program until he has the new program in place and a way for employees to “transition” to the new NASA vision.
    If everyone gets a pink slip and has to reapply for the new program that is just wrong… Lot’s of unemployment

  • NASA Fan

    @ Robert: Congrats on the new addition! I trust she’ll be a Commercial HSF advocate!

    In the end, going HSF commercial, while painful now for NASA, is the best approach. What HSF NASA could do while it was young, it can not do now that is has experienced many disasters (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia). The procedures it has put in place to avoid such events also takes it toll on the speed, flexibility, and openness to new ways of doing things.Fear of failure is a crippling blanket to wear. Mid life is tough on organizations. (The average age of NASA is in the last 40′s), unless they are willing to completely transform themselves

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 3:24 pm
    The fact of the matter is that while the commercial space initiative is a good one, building as it does on the Bush era COTS, the cancellation of the back to the Moon program, should Congress swallow it, is a slap in the face of the greatest of the Republic,

    ……………………….

    lol speaking of pomposity.

    “Slap in the face of the greatest of the Republic”

    Well not so much.

    First off the “moniker” greatest this or that is overheated. “The Greatest Generation” is the Generation (and it is an accumulation of generations actually) who do what it takes to pass along a better Republic then they found it to the folks who come next.

    There is certainly no argument that the folks who shipped off to WW2 were great, but it is a laugh in the face of history to say that they were “the greatest” …that would mean (and they would be the first to knock the comparison down) that they were somehow greater then the folks who stayed with Washington (about 3000) in the worst of the Revolution, mostly with no winter clothing in temps that were deadly folks who faced the English equivalent of Blackwater without ammunition or powder…and won.

    The statement you make even is pompous if you are to claim that the folks “working” at NASA and the Contractors are “the greatest” in human spaceflight. Better then the folks who did Apollo?

    The statement is pompous on its face.

    If there is a group that “the greatest” apply to at least in our current time…my nomination would be the people who went over to Iraq and won a war and died even though the fools that sent them there lied/exaggerated their way into the war and fought it incompetently. But I can assure you that the folks who went to Iraq would even today disown that title. They simply did their duty.

    Mike Griffin is as likely “right” about his statement of watching other people walk on the Moon (I guess he means other then Americans I dont listen to him anymore) as he was about every single choice he made to try and get Americans back to the Moon.

    But he fit right in with the thuds in the last administration as just about every single choice he made was wrong.

    And he is wrong here. We will go back to the Moon and do the other things not because they are hard, but because of American drive and determination and capitalism.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    The Augustine Commission was supposed to evaluate the economic viability of the Constellation program as compared to other scenarios to return to the Moon

    I dont see that in their charter…but actually they did.

    What most Ares huggers are to huggy to realize is that the main reason Ares/Constellation is dying is for two reasons 1) there is no desire to “return to the Moon” anymore among either the political class or the American people and 2) the program itself is not economically viable.

    IF some version of Ares and Constellation were economically viable on a realistic time frame, the fallback position would have been to descope the entire effort and simply use it for “lift” to the space station.

    The Commission couldnt even get that “out of it”. The cost to develop it are uncertain and the cost to operate it are going to be enormous…that is what the report says.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    the argument you are having is with:

    1. The American people…they no longer care about returning to the Moon (and you can thank Mike Griffin for that)

    2. Yourself. At one point I wrote a piece for The Standard which advocated everything more or less that is happening “now”. Rich Kolker edited it and you asked to have your name put on it.

    You are the one who is now an advocate for a government program that is not performing well and is not accomplishing its goal

    When did you become an enemy of the future?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    @ Robert: Congrats on the new addition! I trust she’ll be a Commercial HSF advocate!

    In the end, going HSF commercial, while painful now for NASA, is the best approach…………….

    precislyl.

    The reality is that if it is a “race” between our government program and The Chinese with a government program, it is hard to see how 1) ours will win and 2) we could remotely afford it.

    Meanwhile if the current government program were to continue we would be conceding the entire concept of commercialization of space to a European/Russian economic model.

    Our government program has managed to lose all commercial launches to a European/Russian group

    and thanks for the words about the new addition. She will do the Old Man proud in any event, but she and her siblings will hopefully be a part of a space age, that will simply marvel us all.

    Robert G. oler

  • Po Pofla

    Obama’s New Berlin Space Wall – Keeps Americans Lock On Planet

    Lets see the 10,000 people that have any launch experience will be gone forever. No kid is going to study aerospace engineering in USA since there are few job prospects. This is the death of America in space forever! Obama has created a technical Berlin Wall, we are locked in for the next generation. This is the end…

    I am very sad. Now I really know what was meant by “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Po Pofla wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Obama’s New Berlin Space Wall – Keeps Americans Lock On Planet

    Lets see the 10,000 people that have any launch experience will be gone forever…

    who cares.

    first that is far to many to use on any real commercial activity…

    second their experience is limited to the shuttle..

    as useful as having mechanics at an airline who worked on DC7

    Robert G. oler

  • omi

    indeed sad to see its all about the “money” screw pure science or Human expansion guess we’re doomed….

  • Major Tom

    “I used the term to ask whether or not the Constellation program was affordable with the current budget.”

    Then write what you mean. Affordability within a budget is not the same thing as economic viability.

    And the Augustine Committee did examine the affordability of the Constellation program within the current budget, found that the program would have to be stretched out to fit within the current budget (Option 1: Program of Record), and as a result “offers little or no apparent value.”

    “If you consider that a lie, then please explain!”

    I didn’t say it was a “lie”. Learn to quote reports and other posters accurately.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Lets see the 10,000 people that have any launch experience will be gone forever.”

    No, it appears the Shuttle workforce won’t be going away, and even if they were, there are multiple private sectors companies with “launch experience”.

    Goofy…

  • Robert G. Oler

    omi wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    indeed sad to see its all about the “money” screw pure science or Human expansion guess we’re doomed….

    really doomed or just doomed…maybe super doomed.

    doomed as in smoking gun smoking mushroom smoking city doomed?

    the best think that can happened has happened.

    there are three things that need to happen to get the US moving again.

    1. cancel things that are useless in terms of returning something to The Republic

    2. raise taxes on the folks who can afford it

    3 spend federal dollars on things that revitalize The Republic

    end of ride for the shuttle and Ares

    Robert G. Oler

  • So now we’re going to trust America’s total access to space solely to the international corporations? The same corporations who feel no guilt in selling US military and aerospace secrets to China’s ruling oligarchy? The same corporations who are willing to appease the almighty dollar and propagandize against US for Chinese interest? No way!

    Private companies do need to have their own manned space programs that are not dependent on government contracts. But it is in our own national security interest for NASA and the US military to have their own– manned space programs.

    Besides, whose going to rescue these guys when one of their flying machines is malfunctioning and trapped in orbit:-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    So now we’re going to trust America’s total access to space solely to the international corporations?..

    a few points. Not all the companies who are doing human spaceflight (or trying to do it) are international corps…SpaceX is not

    second…the results can hardly be worse then what we have now

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Here’s a question for the group. What happens if Congress tells Obama what to do with his space policy?”

    This is a good point. Specifically because of the NASA authorization bill that needs to be put together in the next few months to formalize the congressional vision with regard to space exploration. Also specifically because the House Science committee that does it, and its Space and Aeronautics subcommittee in particular, has a load of Ares huggers, including the subcommittee chair herself. That could get nasty in the upcoming hearings.

    I’m really not that worried about the FL/TX/AL legislators who will piss and moan. They do it all the time, and have little sympathy from the rest of Congress.

  • Vanguard

    Decent stories on this blog but with apparently no posting limits the continuous blathering by Robert Oler et al is tiresome. News flash – your opinion is worth no more than any one elses and we really don’t care about how it was formulated or upon what its based. Can’t you just briefly say your peace a couple times and then give it a rest? Better yet why don’t you form your own blog instead of co-opting this one? Sheesh.

  • Bill White

    Q: “Here’s a question for the group. What happens if Congress tells Obama what to do with his space policy?”

    A: I predict Congress won’t object because sufficient Congressional support will be lined up before Bolden goes on the record. A few may scream but not enough to change the result.

  • Major Tom

    “So now we’re going to trust America’s total access to space solely to the international corporations? The same corporations who feel no guilt in selling US military and aerospace secrets to China’s ruling oligarchy? The same corporations who are willing to appease the almighty dollar and propagandize against US for Chinese interest? No way!”

    That’s no different than the situation today. NASA is dependent on United Space Alliance, which is co-owned by Boeing and LockMart, to operate the Space Shuttle.

    “But it is in our own national security interest for NASA and the US military to have their own– manned space programs.”

    NASA has no national security space programs or assets. It’s a civilian agency by design.

    The U.S. military has no need for a manned space program.

    “Besides, whose going to rescue these guys when one of their flying machines is malfunctioning and trapped in orbit”

    Probably themselves, using a second launch, as has been planned with Shuttle since Columbia. (And this is a non-issue for ISS missions that can still reach ISS.)

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Specifically because of the NASA authorization bill that needs to be put together in the next few months to formalize the congressional vision with regard to space exploration. Also specifically because the House Science committee that does it, and its Space and Aeronautics subcommittee in particular, has a load of Ares huggers, including the subcommittee chair herself. That could get nasty in the upcoming hearings.”

    The hearings may be nasty, but the authorizers would only pose a problem if they set lower spending ceilings than what the White House requests. And that’s highly unlikely in any authorization bill, but especially since their rhetoric is that NASA needs more money, not less.

    The appropriators are where the action and real budget authority is.

    FWIW…

  • So if a Chinese company wants to buy a controlling interest in Space X, how would you feel about that?

    The Chinese military will be in space to protect their interest. The US would be foolish not to do the same.

  • Donald W. Ernst

    The end of U.S. space flight started with VSE. Apollo redux was the means to phase it out. there never was a moon program, it was just a Bush PR stunt. Iam a conservative by the way, just not a Bush supporter.
    A replacement for the space shuttle should have been in service by now.A real replacement. A two stage fully reusable vehicle able to lift at 20,000 lb to LEO carrying at least 8 crew members, and a shuttle based HLV.
    Looks like we will have to wait for a Republican to start that project but thats okay, the road started by taking the seat of one of the worst opponets of manned spaceflight ever,Ted Kennedy.

  • “So if a Chinese company wants to buy a controlling interest in Space X, how would you feel about that?”

    I can see Congress stopping that, just as when they recently halted the sale of one of the biggest U.S. port cargo handling companies to a mid-east corporation for security reasons. Besides, Musk says he’ll never sell SpaceX.

  • Major Tom

    “So if a Chinese company wants to buy a controlling interest in Space X”

    I doubt they could. The interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reviews the national security implications of foreign investments of U.S. companies. For example, they have reviewed (or are reviewing) Aabar Investments proposed $280 million stake in Virgin Galactic.

    And in addition to CFIUS, as Mr. Boozer points out, Congress often will take an interest in these sales.

    FWIW…

  • Loki

    “So if a Chinese company wants to buy a controlling interest in Space X”

    Is Spacex even publicly traded? Did they have IPO that I missed? If they’re not public then they’re owned by Musk, and he doesn’t have to sell it if he doesn’t want to, I don’t think. Of course, IF they fail spectacualrly then he may have to, but who would want to buy it then? 2 cents…

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The hearings may be nasty, but the authorizers would only pose a problem if they set lower spending ceilings than what the White House requests. And that’s highly unlikely in any authorization bill, but especially since their rhetoric is that NASA needs more money, not less.

    The appropriators are where the action and real budget authority is.”

    Pragmatically, I think that’s right, though the authorizers represent a segment of Congress that actually knows something about the details of the NASA plan. Most others don’t. As such, the auth bill is respected as a “sense of Congress” on the feasibility and sensibility of the proposed plan.

    Sure, the appropriators hold the checkbook, but that checkbook is dated 2011. They have budget authority for just one year. They aren’t tasked with setting policy for the long haul.

  • common sense

    Yes I am sure the Chinese are waiting in front of SpaceX to buy the company… Oh boy, how low can you guys go? Any pics of the said Chinese? And then the Chinese communist government would own a US free capitalistic company and thereby ruining the chances of their own governement implemented space program. There will be Chinese supermarkets on the Moon where people would go and freely trade He3: Walmart! Of course because after they’re done buying SpaceX they will buy Walmart so that Walmart can sell chinese goods. Oh but wait they already sell chinese goods!

    Just missing the good ole’ time of the Cold War…

  • Major Tom

    “They aren’t tasked with setting policy for the long haul.”

    You’re right in that authorization bills are usually multiyear bills.

    But the appropriations bills almost always underfund the spending ceilings set in the authorization bills by billions of dollars. Unless the authorizers are trying to reduce funding in an account (again, highly unlikely — a NASA congressman is probably not going to cut off their nose to spite their face), the authorizers have little real impact on the budget.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 28th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    So if a Chinese company wants to buy a controlling interest in Space X, how would you feel about that?..

    other then some legal aspects of it…it strikes me that this would be “hard” seeing how the company is held by Elon Musk and when the stock goes public (can hardly wait) I am just guessing here but it is fairly likely he and the employees will own a pretty good chunk of it.

    I would find a more likely “scenario” where Boeing or Lockmart or some other “large” aerospace company makes a bid (with the same afore mentioned caveats).

    Having said that “Musk” might in 10 or so years OWN the worlds largest rocket company.

    why sale? Everything I see of SpaceX has the same feel as SWA…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dilys

    This budget cancels NASA’s Constellation program, and gives money to the private sector to build vehicles for space. After years of work by thousands of people and NINE BILLION dollars of taxpayer money, they . . the government . . .decides to throw it all away. THe NASA administrator essentially says . . whatever. Over and over again money has been wasted because the government cannot stick with its commitments. Programs funded one year are redesigned to accomodate a cut in funding in succeeding years, more money wasted. Programs funded are cancelled before they can even show results, not because what they are planning is not feasible, but because they must depend on a fickle Congress to allocate funding. And I am sure NASA is not the only government agency to have similar problems.

    In history it was always desirable to have the best technolgies, albeit most were in the arena of warfare, and to hold the high ground.

    In the development of space flight, technologies have been developed that benefit our daily existence. Look up the Spinoff website and on the first page alone NASA research helped develop technologies for biohazard sensors, life rafts, bioreactors for producing healthy cells for cultures, and new more efficient air purifacation. Research done for any new program spawns new and beneficial discoveries.
    And the high ground, you think if NASA gets out of manned spaceflight that other countries won’t see this as an opportunity for them to field their own program for the prestige, the discoveries, to have the whole world watching when they accomplish what we abondoned? Think of countries whose interests might be quite different from ours with control of the ultimate high ground. So much science is expended in the cause of war, yet one of our most challenging and beneficial accomplishments was for the very human desire to explore our world and beyond. NASA’s imaging of the world has been a great boon to science studying the earth’s climate, resources, and weather. The Hubble Telescope has moved our knowlege to the edges of space, to discovering new planets, to the understanding of our universe.

    Last, think of your work, what ever work you do, how much of yourself is invested in it. Do all the research to diagnose and treat a disease, or design and plan a bridge over a river, a bridge to help people bring produts to market, or connect two countries, now that you have solved many of the problems, done the hard work of requirements, spent years on it, your company decides not to give you money to make the drug or build the bridge, but to give the money to some other company along with all your work, but make YOU responsible if something goes wrong.

    The cancellation of Constellation is short-sighted, wasteful, and destructive to the very thing we need most to create new technologies, to the people whose work creates that science, and must depend on shifting sand of government funding. Cancel and we may lose the very people we need to create any kind of space program. They may discover other countries would be interested in their expertise, and when, or maybe it would truly be if , we change our minds again and want human spaceflight, we will have lost the confidence of the people we need to have that capability. They cannot exist in a vacuum, they have to have work that has meaning to them, and in even simpler terms a paycheck and work that uses their education and experience.

    Please consider what this will mean to our future, to science, even to our security.

  • Major Tom

    “The cancellation of Constellation is short-sighted, wasteful, and destructive to the very thing we need most to create new technologies, to the people whose work creates that science”

    Constellation employed very little in the way of new technologies and did not create research new science. Ares I, for example, used Shuttle SRB technology that has existed for 30-odd years and Apollo-era engines that first flew 40-odd years ago.

    FWIW…

  • [...] of Congress who represent states with major NASA centers focused on the human spaceflight program—Texas, Florida, Alabama. Those lawmakers will have their say when the houses of Congress hammer out their [...]

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