Congress, NASA

Still grumbling

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) continues to remain concerned about the effects the cancellation of Constellation will have on workers in his district who planned to build the solid rocket motors for Ares 1 and Ares 5. However, in comments to the Davis County Clipper, his arguments at least stretch the bounds of logic. “If measures are taken to cut these programs, it only helps open the door wider for such rogue nations as North Korea and Iran to continue their missile development programs, Bishop said,” the article states, apparently an extension of concerns that cancelling Ares would hurt the nation’s solid rocket motor industrial base and thus impact the Defense Department. And a quote from Bishop: “Common sense tells us we should not turn the space above us over to the Russians and Chinese.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) also continues to express his concerns about the cancellation of Constellation, according to the Birmingham Business Journal:

Shelby wants help from senators in Florida, California and Texas to protect the NASA programs that provide jobs in those states. He challenged Obama to find other projects to cut from if NASA is to lose funding.

“If they are going to end that, they need to look at everything,” Shelby said.

Of course, NASA, at the topline level, isn’t losing funding: its budget is growing to $19 billion in the FY11 request and up to $21 billion by FY15. (The same article also mentions Shelby’s concerns about deficit spending, while noting the earmarks he secured for Alabama colleges.)

Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), meanwhile, has a solution in the works for the policy problems she sees in the administration’s NASA plan: extend the shuttle. Florida Today reports that Kosmas is working on legislation that would authorize 1-2 shuttle flights a year through 2015. (This sounds at least somewhat similar to the Posey/Wasserman-Schultz HR 1962 bill introduced last year, which has made no progress since its introduction; it’s not clear how this would be any more successful.) The bill would also direct NASA to examine how to salvage a heavy-lift booster from the remnants of Constellation and also report to Congress on “specific safety requirements” for commercial human spaceflight. “Congress is responding to the president’s lack of specificity, lack of an action plan, lack of vision and direction,” Kosmas said.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who previously expressed his opposition to cancelling Constellation, has gotten three colleagues from Colorado to join him. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D), Doug Lamborn (R), and Betsy Markey (D) signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reconsider. “While we are encouraged by the FY11 net increase in NASA funding with a new focus on building international partnerships and science education, we believe the Constellation program should remain a national priority.”

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) vowed earlier this week to fight for Constellation in Congress as the FY11 budget works its way through the House. “Congress is going to challenge this plan,” the Houston Chronicle quotes Olson as saying at a meeting Wednesday. However, that’s mild compared to what one potential Democratic challenger says should be done. “If you want to save NASA, call for the impeachment of Obama,” said Kesha Rogers, a candidate in the Democratic primary in the 22nd district, which Olson now represents. Rogers is linked to Lyndon LaRouche, who made a similar call for the president’s impeachment because of his NASA policy earlier this month.

25 comments to Still grumbling

  • Trilateral Commission

    Heavens, for all these years I thought Lyndon LaRouche had become wormfood over two decades ago. He’s not endorsing candidates (Democrats no less?!) from beyond the grave now is he?

  • wishful thinking

    <>

    With Constellation set to use of billions more to no purpose, wouldn’t it be nice (ignoring Shuttle safety concerns for a moment) if someone could figure out a way to shift some of that effort to flying 1 or 2 more Shuttle supply missions to the station?

  • Bilderberg Club

    LaRouche should be ashamed of himself.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The usual band of crazies gets well more crazy. doomed

    Robert G. Oler

  • AFintel

    Mr. Oler,
    You seem very political in most of your postings. Are you a lobbyist, staffer or have you worked on the behalf of President Obama or another Democratic politician in the past? Calling the opposition (which seems predominantly Republican, though there are a pretty good number of Democrats) “crazies” and “more crazy” seems very partisan, petty and nasty on your behalf. Just wondering.

  • crazy

    My UFO Story

    I’m one of those guys that was raised on science. My father taught evolution. I met Donald Johanson when I was just six years old. I was steeped in news media, history, travel and politics. I absolutely despise superstition. But the story I’m about to tell you is as real as I can discern.

    In my early teens I was an astronomy fanatic. I’d be the type to stay up most of the night out at my parents cabin in the mountains with a small Newtonian telescope, observing the Ring Nebula, the Triangulum Galaxy, Andromeda, and so on. In all my nights I never missed an occasional satellite, or meteorite passing by. When I couldn’t stay up any longer I’d climb into my sleeping back out on the deck and fall asleep under the dark skies, watching the myriad of suns until my eyes could no longer stay open.

    On one of these typical nights I remember waking up from a deep sleep. I don’t know what time I woke up, but it was close to that time when the stars would just begin to turn opaque, and the sky would slowly transform toward day. I guess it was around 4:30 in the morning. When I opened my eyes all I could see were those brilliant stars still lighting up the night sky. Then I realized one of the stars most directly vertical above me was slowly, and I mean very slowly, moving across the background of other stars. It wasn’t a bright star at all. It was quite dim. It was covering ground so slowly that I thought it was an optical allusion at first. It wasn’t that uncommon to experience an occasional allusion when peering up the sky for too long. It wasn’t moving for very long when all of a sudden the small “satellite” took an extremely hard right 90 degree turn while it simultaneously excellerated to such a fast rate that my eye instantaneously lost sight of it as soon as it made the turn. I couldn’t tell if the speed generated some kind of illusional tracer, or if just left a tail like a shooting star, but it was gone in an instant.

    Although the occurrence was awfully strange I went back to sleep. That morning I must have woken up and remembered it, but dismissed it as some late night illusion. It wasn’t until this year that I saw a very hokey, badly made UFO drama documentary called Fast Walkers, which described the same exact kind of sighting that I saw that night many years ago. It was at that moment that I remembered my sighting. It wasn’t some kind of spectacular event. It was relatively dim, but the nature of what happened exactly matched what others have claimed to have seen. Was it for real? Or perhaps an illusion from my waking up so late and so tired after a full night of astronomical viewing? I still don’t know, and I wouldn’t pretend to know. But I will say this. I got spooked when I saw Fast Walkers. For such a badly made prankster flick it made me think twice.

  • danwithaplan

    So we got another bandwagon to jump on, big deal. In 3,7 years it will be yet another disaster swept under the rug.

    I’ve been around long enough to remember the various HSF programs that got canceled in favor of ‘better’ various HSF programs.

    And the space cadets had EXACTLY same discussions 12, 9, 4 years ago (I also participated). We are just going in circles.

    “Yes, BUT THIS time it will be better” Yeah, right.

  • danwithaplan

    That was re: “new NASA direction”

  • danwithaplan

    And what’s with the “grumbling” in the title? Where did that come from? Representatives of people just disagree. People’s reps can’t voice concerns without appearing “grumbling”?

  • googaw

    “Congress is responding to the president’s lack of specificity, lack of an action plan, lack of vision and direction,” [Democratic Rep.] Kosmas said.

    Sheesh! It’s early in Obama’s second year and he’s already looking like a lame duck.

  • Robert is that unfortunate combination of someone who is both obsessed with politics and knows little about it, and is similarly obsessed with inflicting his ignorance on the rest of us.

  • Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), meanwhile, has a solution in the works for the policy problems she sees in the administration’s NASA plan: extend the shuttle. Florida Today reports that Kosmas is working on legislation that would authorize 1-2 shuttle flights a year through 2015. (This sounds at least somewhat similar to the Posey/Wasserman-Schultz HR 1962 bill introduced last year, which has made no progress since its introduction; it’s not clear how this would be any more successful.)

    Well if Cx is dead in all of its elements rather than just the Lunar goal then this is a clear option. This would maintain U.S. HSF until the commercials had successfully demostrated their capabilities. Last year it was defeated by advocates of Cx more than people being any Shuttle. The Augustine reports was somewhat favorable to this option. And, if we are going to give $6 billion to COTS in the next five years and there is no Shuttle or Cx what will NASA do with the rest of the funds in FY 12-FY 15?

    Rogers is linked to Lyndon LaRouche, who made a similar call for the president’s impeachment because of his NASA policy earlier this month.

    If this guy gets nominated it would be good for the Republicans! By the way LaRouche always worked for the Democrats. He was an “independent” Democrat! lol

  • lkjlkjlkj

    “Calling the opposition (which seems predominantly Republican, though there are a pretty good number of Democrats) “crazies” and “more crazy” seems very partisan, petty and nasty on your behalf.”

    He is calling the crazy people crazy. Does that clarify it for you?

  • Robert G. Oler

    AFintel wrote @ February 20th, 2010 at 2:24 am

    Mr. Oler,
    You seem very political in most of your postings. Are you a lobbyist, staffer or have you worked on the behalf of President Obama or another Democratic politician in the past? ..

    for your last sentence…starting from the start:

    no, no, no, yes (but I have also worked for Republican politicians as well in terms of supporting them for election).

    The “pro vision” people fall into two camps…people who are losing their job or have jobs in their district to protect or those who think a big government space program is what great powers do.

    As can be seen from “most” of their reasons for The vision to continue they are incoherent.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 20th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I love you to Rand…man hug

    Robert G. Oler

  • The “pro vision” people fall into two camps…people who are losing their job or have jobs in their district to protect or those who think a big government space program is what great powers do.

    The there the people who just see it a big nothing that will leave NASA and HSF on the chopping block in FY 2012. The Tea Party people are comming and even Obama is looking for places to cut (and tax, tax tax!). Established progams and jobs are a good why to keep the funding coming.

  • Grenville Wilson

    “Robert is that unfortunate combination of someone who is both obsessed with politics and knows little about it, and is similarly obsessed with inflicting his ignorance on the rest of us.”

    He seems to have a more solid grasp of politics than most folks on this board. The claims that a few de-porked representatives will single-handedly revamp NASA’s agenda indicate wishful thinking more than anything else. If that were the case, Ron Paul would have audited the Fed by now! Not that I’m saying that would be a bad thing. ;)

  • Fred

    The sad thing is that Obama’s lack of a plan is actually the best plan.
    Big plans for space involve 20-30 year time frame and everything has to go exactly right, and even then you can’t actuall step into your spacecraft and begin your grand mission till the very last year of the plan.
    That was constellation, and the plan fell over through cost over runs and lack of money.
    But an modest plan, build a bit, do a bit and so on can survive the odd disaster, the odd change of course and still get you somewhere, and probably in a lot less time than constellations 30 years.

  • Vladislaw

    Of the links posted in Jeff’s article 5 of the links led to articles that had comments sections.

    article 1 – 0 comments
    article 2 – 3 comments all negative to shelby.
    article 3 – 10 comments 3 for shuttle extension 7 against.
    article 4 – 134 comments- pro new budget comments seem to rate higher
    article 5 – 9 comments none where pro kesha.

    The article that had the highest comments was the chronical article with 134 comments. Those comments that were pro a new direction for NASA tended to rate higher and had more votes than the negative slanted ones.

    I keep hearing about all the outrage over shutting down of constellation and how this is President Obama’s waterloo but both the numbers of comments and the number of negative comments to me shows a general public not even in tune or aware of the controversy. Tiger Woods articles get more attention then a NASA “back to the moon” one.

    The recent teaparty conventions and the republican one just held did not even show a NASA/shuttle/constellation poster at all that I saw. As far as everything i could find about them online.

    Once again I am baffled by those posters here talking about the outrage over the death of constellation. The only “outrage” seems to be from representatives and senators of 4-6 states with vested interests in their state’s job picture and their articles in newspapers do not even get any comments.

  • googaw

    Fred:
    Obama’s lack of a plan is actually the best plan. Big plans for space involve 20-30 year time frame and everything has to go exactly right, and even then you can’t actually step into your spacecraft and begin your grand mission till the very last year of the plan.

    Very well said. The biggest mistake of NASA and space activists has been false certainty. Hypothetical markets for example are just that. They usually prove to be chimerae, and even when they do pan out they end up looking radically different than envisioned.

    And as we are seeing, politics is especially unpredictable. We are entering an era with the federal budget in which it must deal with increasingly less sustainable amounts of debt. Iceland went bankrupt, and Greece was going to follow until the EU bailed them out. The finances of California and several other states are very shaky and may need a similar bailout to Greece’s. And when the second foreclosure wave hits the banks or homeowners may also may get another budget-busting bailout.

    All governments now must keep convincing skeptical taxpayers and creditors that they remain solvent. Anything highly visible that is not of immediate practical use is a prime candidate for the budget axe. Constellation, widely seen as frivolous and repetitive, is the obvious candidate for the budget axe today. Any new major speculative space “infrastructure” project, a bridge to nowhere in space, will be the prime candidate for the axe tomorrow. In other words, if we start a big depot project or HLV project, the chances are very good that it won’t last five years before being cancelled.

    Which is just as well, because gigaprojects like Shuttle, Station, and Ares don’t pan out anything like they are advertised. What we need is small-scale NACA- and ARPA- style research that will develop the technologies that will make space industry and travel and living in the second half of this century far cheaper and more effective than it is now. It will require great patience, which alas has not been a virtue of space activists in the past. It will also require advocating the small and effective instead of the large and dramatic. Small research projects can (a) usually fly under the radar of the cut-the-symbolic-waste axe, and (b) aren’t tied to other research projects so that they can keep going when the others are cut. And there is no false certainty — we never pin our hopes on the outcome of any one project.

  • googaw

    Here’s a simple research project for NASA that would cost very little but would help greatly the efforts of some launch companies to make their ELV first stages reusable. Make several short squat suborbital rockets. For example the first stages of old Minutemen ICBMs. Or use just one or two SRB sections. Launch each piece on a short suborbital trajectory and then use a suitable airplane to recover it in mid-air. Viola, several tests of various methods of mid-air recovery, all for probably under a hundred million dollars. These tests reduce the risks for ELV companies who want to move to reusing their lower stages.

    Here’s another: put astronauts on the ISS for durations corresponding to long Mars missions (e.g. 500 days). Test out various proposed methods of keeping them healthy in microgravity. Why hasn’t NASA done this already?

    Until NASA is doing this kind of research, the most straightforward and inexpensive of the research it needs to bring about the future it keeps advertising, how wise are we to take NASA grand visions seriously?

  • googaw

    A good historical analog of a GEO Cruise is the Great White Fleet’s round-the-world cruise in the 1900s. It was a good way back then for the U.S. to announce to the world that we’d arrived. A GEO Cruise would be a good way in the 2020′s to remind folks that we’re still here. A great inspection of the world’s satellites (well, about half of them).

    GEO may also be on the Grand Tour. The top ticket in space tours: (1) a week or two to warm up and earth-watch at a space station in LEO, (2) a cruise around GEO to see dozens of spacecraft, (3) spend a few days orbiting the moon, look down at the lunar landers, admire the magnificent desolation, and watch the earth from afar, and (4) back home. The ultimate space experience for the tech billionaire who wants to outbid all his peers. :-)

  • Constellation End

    Constellation’s supporters have lost their minds… http://bit.ly/aK4KA0

  • richardb

    Nasa administrators will have to be excellent salesmen now. Without big shuttle workforces in varied districts, it will be tougher to sell something like an R&D program to “study” futuristics hydrocarbon boosters not needed for 10 to 20 years, if ever (especially if the Russians already designed and built them 20-30 years ago). Without the Constellation workforce and the Shuttle workforce it will be a tougher sale to keep all the big Nasa centers funded by Congress. Surely a Nasa Brac is in the works.
    Without a couple centers, without the thousands of laid off workers,
    where is Nasa’s political support in Congress?
    Unlike this blog and others like it, Congress isn’t brimming with space buffs. Its brimming with politicians. Who are increasingly scared by their irresponsible spending and their enraged voters. When the budget ax comes out, as it will next year when a new Congress takes their seats, Congress will be having a blood feud to preserve their pet projects. With Nasa laying off thousands during that time, look for it to suffer greatly at the hands of most Congressmen with no Nasa money in their district. Those few Congressman with Nasa dollars won’t be a large enough voting bloc to horse trade their votes with other Congressman that couldn’t care 1 dime about Nasa.

    People on this blog and others are deeply confused when they say ” Constellation’s supporters have lost their minds”. I don’t mourn Constellation’s passing, in fact I haven’t read many posters that do. The Augustine committee made a good case that unless Nasa’s budget rose significantly, Constellation would never have a place to go. I mourn the passing of human space exploration by the United States. This President could have gone in a different direction that would have maintained it. Instead he cut the legs out from Nasa in Congress. He’s all but guaranteed that Nasa will be out of the human space program this decade.

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