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Senators want more details about NASA’s new direction

If NASA and the White House thought that President Obama’s speech last month outlining his vision for the future of the agency’s space exploration plans would be enough to satisfy members of Congress, they get a strong reality check Thursday in a hearing by the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee (video). At the hearing on NASA’s budget proposal (postponed from last month because of healthcare-related votes in the Senate), NASA administrator Charles Bolden got reactions varying from uncertainty to hostility from senators.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the subcommittee and the only Democratic senator present at the hearing, said she was not yet sold on the new exploration plan. “I need to know more,” she said. “Congress needs to know more. We owe it to the American people, we owe it to the taxpayers, and we owe it to the astronauts to be very clear about what we’re going to do and how are we are going to it. I need to know more details.”

The ranking member of the subcommittee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), expressed no uncertainties, and ratcheted up his rhetoric, particularly regarding the emphasis on commercial crew transportation in the new plan, in his opening statement. “Mr. Administrator, your plan does nothing more than continue the abdication of America’s leadership in space,” Shelby said. Later: “This request represents nothing more than a commercially-led, faith-based space program.”

Appearing to borrow some of the language from recent Senate debates on financial reform (Shelby is the ranking member of the Banking Committee), he called the extra $312 million for COTS included in the FY11 budget request “an additional bailout” for “failed commercial providers”. The plan to rely on commercial providers for crew transportation will also founder, he predicted. “The truth is, when troubles mount and a commercial rocket market again fails to materialize, the taxpayers will be called on to bailout these companies and their investors, a recurring theme within this Administration.”

Shelby also criticized NASA for “attempting to undermine the letter and the spirit of the law”, claiming the agency was already making plans to shut down Constellation contracts despite a prohibition from doing so in the appropriations bill for FY10. “Your destructive actions toward the Constellation program will only ensure that members cannot trust you,” he said. “You, Mr. Administrator, are creating an atmosphere where you and your leadership team have become a major impediment to moving forward.”

Bolden also got an earful from Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who participated in the hearing although he’s not a member of the CJS subcommittee. Bennett took particular exception to a comment Bolden made in response to a question from Sen. Mikulski regarding safety that the “demonstrated reliability” of Ares 1, like Falcon 9 and Taurus 2, is zero, as none of those vehicles have flown yet. “You made a statement just now that I find incredible, when you say that the demonstrated reliability of Ares is zero,” Bennett said. He then held up a copy of the Time magazine issue last year that proclaimed the Ares 1 their invention of the year, reading a passage from the article that claimed that last year’s test flight “dazzled even the skeptics.” “That doesn’t sound like there’s no demonstration of reliability,” Bennett continued. “None of the other things that you talked about can match the tested perfection of Ares.”

Bolden responded that “perhaps we were not very good in explaining to people that Ares 1-X is not Ares,” then went on to explain the differences between the Ares 1-X that flew last October and the full Ares 1 that has yet to fly. Bennett appeared ready to step in and challenge, or otherwise respond to, Bolden’s comments when Sen. Mikulski interrupted. “In the interest of time we’re not going to have a debate.”

There wasn’t a debate, but by the end of the hearing neither Sen. Mikulski’s uncertainties were resolved nor the strong opposition by Shelby and Bennett were assuaged, although the discussion will continue. “Madame Chairwoman, I hope you would reserve the right to hold another hearing on this matter,” Shelby said at the end of the hearing. “I absolutely agree that we will hold another hearing,” Mikulski responded.

154 comments to Senators want more details about NASA’s new direction

  • I think the “details” they need are the short term “where will the pork be going?” variety.

  • Definitely the sausage making apparatus started to crank up yesterday.

    I don’t believe too many of Mr. Obama’s changes will go through this year, although it depends also on the non-NASA states.

    Like Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over it it’s over.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bennett is in a tough election fight back home and is trying to thread the needle between right wing crazies (the tea party) and “normal” people in UTah. Shelby is well just crazy…

    but all in all nothing here that doesnt say “Obama wins this”.

    Even Pete Olson is talking “compromise” which is politician for “give me something please anything that I can take to the home folks and say ‘I am fighting for you”.

    Watch for a campaign to point out what a porker Ares is.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Jeff may have missed the following that suggests where Babs is headed:

    http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/93745-mikulski-us-cannot-afford-new-nasa-every-four-years

    In other words, Obamaspace is in big trouble in the Congress.

    Olson is in the minority and yet he is offering the administration a chance to climb down from an untenable position and do a deal. Otherwise, the Sausage factory will come out with something. And that will be nothing compared to what will happen next year in a GOP controlled Congress. People like Olson, Culberson, and Shelby will be in charge and that will ensue all sorts of pain for NASA and the administration unless they deal now.

  • amightywind

    Strategically speaking here is where Holdren and Garver went wrong in their attempt to hijack NASA: they are a year late! If they had buried the new NASA plan in Obama’s first budget it would have very likely passed in all of the confusion about stimulus and the auto union bailouts, not to mention the mindless momentum of “yes we can!” Now, with Obama’s political capital spent, and the shady backgrounds of his NASA leadership is exposed, it will be virtually impossible to wrestle the radical plan passed the grizzlies in Mikulski’s committee. Obama might as well capitulate now. What is now needed is a restructuring and acceleration of the Constellation program.

  • MoonExploration

    I have not written any postings for a while, but instead been focused on just to read others postings.

    I must admit that I was really disappointed with the revision of our space program in general, and really angry at the cancelling of the Constellation program in particular.

    But ….
    (This feels weird)
    Deep breath …….

    I have changed my opinion 180 degrees.

    Many thanks to Robert G. Oler who, with his humble tone and impressive knowledge, has delivered loads of precise arguments that are relevant, rational and reasonable.

    I will not repeat all those arguments here, but my conclusion now is that we will succeed with the new exploration plans.

    The new plan will succeed because:

    1) It will take humanity further out in space
    2) Make it earlier
    3) Space exploration, including HSF, will be cheaper
    4) It will include more people (not just a few astronauts that “blow soap bubbles” – to quote Mr Oler)
    5) It will make space exploration sustainable (permanent bases and long term solutions).

    Last – why shouldn’t it work with commercialization in the space industry when it’s working in all other sectors? (and as a bonus – keep the politicians at a more convenient distance)

    Finally – Thank you Mr Oler!

    //
    MoonExploration

  • Izuki Nomura

    Change is always painful for the politicians in the districts absorbing the blow but their expected wailing adds little to the dialog and attrempts to advance nothing but themselves. The writing has been on the wall since 2004 when the shuttle program cancellation was made law and the nebulous unfunded follow up was proposed, we now enjoy the stew made by political chefs.

  • MoonExploration wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 8:32 am

    “The new plan will succeed . . .”

    Well, I am surprised by Obama’s spinal fortitude and after April 15th I am more persuaded his plan will be enacted, at least eventually, than I was before April 15th.

    But will the plan “succeed” in the long term? Maybe and maybe not.

    First, unless Obama is re-elected in 2012 his “plan” will not succeed. If the Republicans win in 2012 it will be because of Tea Party anger (IMHO) and they will seek to sweep away everything Obama supported.

    That said, I am confident Obama will win re-election.

    But since we are not going BEO at least until after 2020, there are no assurances what Obama plans now will be continued by POTUS 45 in 2017.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 7:06 am

    http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/93745-mikulski-us-cannot-afford-new-nasa-every-four-years

    In other words, Obamaspace is in big trouble in the Congress…

    either you must have the super secret version of that piece or are as usual reading whatever you want into it.

    “Babs” does say that there cannot be a new NASA every four years…but that does not mean, nor does she give any indication of it, that she does not like “this” new NASA; particularly as it is only those who are stuck on the old program who are arguing that it was at all viable.

    to say “Obama’s program” is in big trouble (I guess that is what you mean by the “Obamaspace”) would only be valid if one could point to opposition growing in non space districts or some viewpoint that had come to a center of gravity in some other direction.

    And that seems to be the weakest point in this argument

    “And that will be nothing compared to what will happen next year in a GOP controlled Congress. ”

    that is as goofy as “repeal and replace”.

    First there is no valid means of concluding there will be a GOP Congress in Jan 2011. There might be, but only amateurs, well very bad amateurs are willing to predict this far out what the makeup will look like. The Pros’ (Charlie Cook, Larry Sabato people who actually make predictions that have some basis in reality) are quite unwilling to do that.

    But lets say it happens. What changes would occur?

    Newt (who is not in government of course) supports the Obama plan. Everyone else? What they support is their own pork. It is hard to imagine after hearing all the tea party folks chanting “stop the spending” that all of a sudden a GOP majority would make as any function of its agenda “start the spending on sending people back to the Moon in 20 years”.

    I doubt the wonderful arguments you make (NASA spending is small compared to all the rest, the Chinese are coming, etc) really would hold sway. But even if they did we are left with…

    what position would the GOP take?

    Olson is trying to run the same bluff that the Brits actually did at the Falklands…but is in a much weaker position (in fact he has no position).

    There is no compromise needed.

    Obama has pistol whipped Nelson on the heavy lift and is doing what he has done on all his other policies that folks like you were claiming were dead…pushing them through the Congress.

    I realize in your world that it is easy to imagine a reality different from what really is (the WMD went to Syria) but while you are ok with your own viewpoints, you do not get to have your own facts.

    ironically of course you once supported the entirety of the Obama plan. In print. Must burn.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    MoonExploration wrote:

    “Many thanks to Robert G. Oler who, with his humble tone and impressive knowledge, has delivered loads of precise arguments that are relevant, rational and reasonable.”

    Pardon me while I vomit. You must be joking. Are you one of those “hope and change” types.

  • in my opinion, the new plan, although grounded on good ambitions like getting to Mars at some point but it lacks purpose, objectives and strategy. Something NASA has been lacking for the last decades. Mainly due to budget constraints. Now the people are realizing that space leadership is slipping off US hands and we want to prove something. But, the errors of the last decades are now hunting us now.

    We should have established on the Moon years ago. So now we could be thinking in new frontiers and challenges.

    And quite honestly, getting to Mars without establishing on the Moon seems borderline absurd. The Moon has a lot to offer, in all sense of the word. Economically, technically, scientifically. Period.

    We haven’t exactly practiced in any way landing humans anywhere for the past 40 years and I think its irresponsible to think about landing people 50 million miles away without any sort of acceptable experience. An error there, and it’s over. Whereas in the Moon, it could very well serve as our space playground and provide us with the necessary challenges, skills and experience.

    NASA lacks vision, purpose, objective and strategy. Bluntly put, leadership.

    For example, I would expect that a society as technological as ours would be able to defend itself from preventable risks. It’s time to setup in place an International effort for an asteroid deflecting system. And enhance our objects tracking capabilities.

    Ah, I would go on but I am depressed now.

  • Major Tom

    “Jeff may have missed the following that suggests where Babs is headed”

    Babs doesn’t know where she’s headed. Per the article:

    “I need to know more details. I want to know if this is the program that Congress and the American people are going to support from one administration to the next.”

    The statement about not reinventing NASA every four years is with respect to whether the FY 2011 budget plan will stand the test of time, not continuing Constellation or elements thereof.

    Read for comprehension.

    “In other words, Obamaspace is in big trouble in the Congress.”

    Because an appropriations subcommittee chair wants more information?

    Really?

    “Olson is in the minority and yet he is offering the administration a chance to climb down from an untenable position and do a deal.”

    Olson is a first-term representative with no seniority and no chairmanships. Even if he was in the majority, he couldn’t speak for the congressional leadership. If the White House felt the need to compromise, they’d would be wasting their time talking to him.

    Think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “Strategically speaking here is where Holdren and Garver went wrong in their attempt to hijack NASA: they are a year late! If they had buried the new NASA plan in Obama’s first budget”

    This is an idiotic statement. Bolden and Garver weren’t appointed until mid-July last year, months after the FY 2010 budget was out. The Augustine Committee didn’t even hold its first meeting until June of last year, again months after the FY 2010 budget was out.

    Do you think at all before you post?

    “the shady backgrounds of his NASA leadership is exposed”

    Yeah, that ex-astronaut and former Marine general is a real shady character.

    Take your nutjob conspiracy theories someplace else.

    Ugh…

  • amightywind

    Major Tom wrote:

    “The statement about not reinventing NASA every four years is with respect to whether the FY 2011 budget plan will stand the test of time, not continuing Constellation or elements thereof.”

    You are obtuse or in denial if you don’t see Senator Mikulski’s statement as the death nell for ObamaSpace. She is asking questions she knows Bolden can’t answer. He hasn’t done his homework. He is not really solid in the big chair. NASA will be funded by a continuing resolution due to a lack of confidence in the plan. Next year it is likely that the good Senator Shelby will be chairing the committee. Then finally NASA can get back to business.

  • Major Tom

    “The Moon has a lot to offer…”

    Yeah, like dangerous static discharges:

    nasa.gov/topics/moonmars/features/electric-craters.html

    Look, there’s nothing wrong with exploring the potential of lunar resources, and the FY 2011 budget restores the robotic precursor missions that are needed to do so. But to wrap any multi-ten or -hundred billion dollar human space exploration policy or plan around lunar resources given what little we know today would be very foolish.

    “We haven’t exactly practiced in any way landing humans anywhere for the past 40 years and I think its irresponsible to think about landing people 50 million miles away without any sort of acceptable experience.”

    The Moon is a lousy test environment for Mars landers. Mars has an atmosphere. The Moon doesn’t. They use entirely different landing systems and techniques.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “”You are obtuse or in denial if you don’t see Senator Mikulski’s statement as the death nell for ObamaSpace.”

    I’m neither. I’m reading her statement in the context of the rest of her statement, in which she says:

    “I want to know if this is the program that Congress and the American people are going to support from one administration to the next.”

    Try reading for comprehension.

    And it’s “knell”, not “nell”. Try a spellchecker, too.

    “She is asking questions she knows Bolden can’t answer.”

    Like what? Specifically? What questions did Mikulski ask yesterday that she knew Bolden couldn’t answer?

    “He is not really solid in the big chair.”

    Yeah, Bolden was such a big, soft pushover when he stood up to Shelby and Bennett and corrected them about the demonstrated reliability of Ares I. And Bolden clearly had no spine when he pointed out the critical dissimilarities between the Ares I design and the Ares I-X test. And yes, Bolden was a real wimp when he argued that ATK is overcapitalized.

    “NASA will be funded by a continuing resolution due to a lack of confidence in the plan.”

    NASA doesn’t get its own appropriations bill. NASA is funded through the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill or, in some years, a much larger omnibus appropriations bill. Those bills are not going to be held up by NASA. If there is a CR, it will be because the Democratic leadership has decided no to finish appropriations before the election, not because of any NASA issue.

  • Look, if we are to invest billions, the least we could do is to research in shielding technology, which we would still need for prolonged space travel. Like Mars. So even if you pick Mars, cosmic rays are still one of the main hazards in its 8 month trip.

    And anyways, lets be realistic here for a moment. The overall risks and hazards is of a trip and colonization of the Moon is significantly less than a those of a trip to Mars.

    The Moon could be our playground, even if a lousy one, it’s better than just sending people to any bodies in space without any sort of experience or real practice outside Earth orbits.

    If something wrong happens on the Moon, the crew is less than three days away. Which means that rescue operations is a feasible thing in this scenario. Now, ask yourself if that’s even possible in a Mission to Mars.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t go to Mars. Just that NASA needs a strategy. And we should be able to walk (the Moon) before we run (Mars).

  • ““The truth is, when troubles mount and a commercial rocket market again fails to materialize, the taxpayers will be called on to bailout these companies and their investors, a recurring theme within this Administration.””

    Side point, the only bailout thus far under Obama was the auto bailout which our esteemed former VP Cheney admitted was going to be necessary one way or another. The financial bailout was fully in the prior administration’s territory. As for commercial space failing to materialize, that’s speculation. The new guys have big bucks to put toward the plans that prior efforts didn’t have. And that’s assuming it’s only the newbies jumping on board. LockMart and Boeing are pushing their plans for it as well and they actually DID build the components for the prior manned systems. Sure, not every company out there is destined to be a future Orbital Sciences, but neither are they all destined to be future Rotary Rockets.

    ““This request represents nothing more than a commercially-led, faith-based space program.”

    Is Shelby in marketing? Can he only phrase arguments in a form that fit on a bumper sticker? I find many of the voices to have some merit here, but Shelby has been consistently loaded with bluster and completely lacking in substance. What’s amusing is he’s playing the ‘populist rage’ card on an issue study after study shows no one in the US cares about outside of the districts NASA lives in.

    “He then held up a copy of the Time magazine issue last year that proclaimed the Ares 1 their invention of the year, reading a passage from the article that claimed that last year’s test flight “dazzled even the skeptics.”

    That an engineering mockup with almost no parts in common with the end product “dazzled the skeptics” at Time speaks far more about the editors at Time than about the success of Ares I. Ares I-X was a 1 day curiosity in the news world. It hasn’t dazzled the general public, and anyone who understands it at all must have thought they were reading the Onion instead of Time. It’s akin to saying the hot fire of Falcon 9 is proof of it’s safety and reliability. Throw into it the fact that the chute failed in the process and I’m not sure what dazzled them.

  • amightywind

    aremisasling wrote

    “That an engineering mockup with almost no parts in common with the end product “dazzled the skeptics” at Time speaks far more about the editors at Time than about the success of Ares I.”

    It is a galling and inconvenient truth for ObamaSpace zealots that the Ares I-X test was a great success. Before it we heard the litany: it would crash into the launch tower, it would be destroyed by vibration, it was too long to be guided, yada yada yada. All of these criticisms were has phony as a 3 dollar bill.

    Next month it is game time for ObamaSpace. If Falcon 9 fails spectacularly (and the past performance of Falcon 1 suggests it will), ObamaSpace’s fundemental premise will be shown to be false, ending this pointless debate.

  • “In other words, Obamaspace is in big trouble in the Congress.”

    Again, it’s one of the same voices pushing a borken-record statement. As for “we shouldn’t change the space plan every 4 years”, we should if it’s a spruce goose that’s devouring any and all NASA budgets from science to ISS. Even if we kept Constellation it would require a pretty serious overhaul to make it budgetarily and chronologically justifiable. Cx as it was was marching off a cliff.

    “Pardon me while I vomit. You must be joking. Are you one of those “hope and change” types.”

    So you chose this as your method to refute that Oler poses reasoned arguments? Interesting tactical choice. Admittedly it was overstepping, but anyone looks like a professional debater when their oponent responds with digestive upset and more bumper sticker taglines.

    “You are obtuse or in denial if you don’t see Senator Mikulski’s statement as the death nell for ObamaSpace.”

    Last I checked Senator Mikulski doesn’t have the singular power to do much about it. More sway than others, perhaps, but she’s not a dictator.

    “She is asking questions she knows Bolden can’t answer. He hasn’t done his homework. He is not really solid in the big chair.”

    That’s an interesting opinion. No more valid than the opposing viewpoint, but don’t let me stop you.

    “NASA will be funded by a continuing resolution due to a lack of confidence in the plan.”

    Yeah, probably, but only because that’s how congress funds everything. There is no unified opposition to the plan, just a handful of senators lobbying for their districts.

    “Next year it is likely that the good Senator Shelby will be chairing the committee.”

    Shelby hasn’t done an ounce of ‘good’ even for his own cause on this issue. He is 100% bluster. I’d rather have any one of the other congress folks vocally opposed to the new plan than Shelby. You wanna see the death of US manned spaceflight put mister ‘sky is falling’ in charge. THEN we’ll see the end of US spaceflight, manned or otherwise. Last I checked no one’s found a way to use anger and bluster as rocket fuel.

  • abreakingwind wrote: If they had buried the new NASA plan in Obama’s first budget it would have very likely passed in all of the confusion about stimulus and the auto union bailouts, not to mention the mindless momentum of “yes we can!”

    This was Obama’s first budget.

    Do you never tire of flaunting your ignorance?

  • “It is a galling and inconvenient truth for ObamaSpace zealots that the Ares I-X test was a great success”

    Few predicted Ares I-X would fail that spectacularly, those criticisms were reserved mostly for the full Ares I. As it stands I-X is an SRB with more crap on top, and that didn’t even work right. Either way I’m not one of those who thought it would have that level of issues. I expect Ares I would fly, but it would only do so 4 years after it’s initial flight date (2013 if you read the early Cx estimates) and only after de-orbiting the ISS, eradicating the science budget, delaying work on an HLV, and all but cancelling the moon program. Cx was like the beast that, once it finished off it’s meal, continued to devour its own tail.

    We could probably build an Ares 100 that could lift 1000 tons to LEO for a pricetag of a few trillion dollars and 50 years of development time, but just because it would fly eventually doesn’t mean it’s a good plan.

    “ObamaSpace’s ”

    You do know that if you read the VSE, ObamaSpace is essentially BushSpace but hopefully without the Cx distraction, right? Bush made it plain and clear that commercial was the preferred route from day one. Except unlike Obama, who is allowing the established providers to compete, Bush was pushing for 100% NewSpace. That he switched gears to the classic government BFR model astounds me. It’s a 180 flip from his initial plan, and we’re paying the price for it.

    And I will point out, yet again, that the company building the Orion, LockMart, has never built a manned system before. The closest they ever got was the glorified gas tank ET and that stands today as the single greatest danger to astronaut safety on STS. However, I like LockMart and I think Orion was good engineering. It was the one piece of Cx that I felt should be kept. But I tire of hearing how the Cx program was being built by a crack team of experienced manned spacecraft engineers. We can have no more confidence in LockMart than we can in anyone else given the task they were assigned. Rocketdyne and Alliant, I’ll give you, but Boeing hasn’t built a manned rocket since the 1960’s and LockMart hasn’t built a crew carrier ever.

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “This was Obama’s first budget.”

    No. Wipe the drool off of your chin and have a look. Here is a link describing Obama first budget released for 2010 was released February 26,2009.

    http://www.onlineforextrading.com/blog/federal-budget-broken-down/

    I couldn’t find it at any of the OMB sites. Wouldn’t blame them for trying to hide it.. The budget under debate on this forumis for 2011, making it Obomber’s second budget.. Maybe you should take a class in civics to avoid embarrassing yourself in public?

  • Major Tom

    “Look, if we are to invest billions, the least we could do is to research in shielding technology, which we would still need for prolonged space travel. Like Mars. So even if you pick Mars, cosmic rays are still one of the main hazards in its 8 month trip… And anyways, lets be realistic here for a moment. The overall risks and hazards is of a trip and colonization of the Moon is significantly less than a those of a trip to Mars.”

    From a radiation perspective, colonization of the Moon is much riskier than Mars trips. Exposing the human body to cosmic rays for decades, even lifetimes — or reproducing in that deep space radiation environment — is a much greater health risk than a two- or three-year exposure to that deep space radiation environment on a trip to/from Mars. To be brutally honest, absent major changes to our genome or artificial augmentation of our bodies, we can’t live more than a few years in that radiation environment without contracting fatal cancers and reproduction would be a nightmare.

    That doesn’t mean that we’ll never visit the Moon again or work/play there for extended periods. But an argument that lunar colonization (or any deep space colonization where people try to live for decades or reproduce outside the Van Allen Belts and Earth’s atmosphere) with our current bodies is less risky than Mars trips (or any few year trip in the solar system) is just not true.

    “And we should be able to walk (the Moon) before we run (Mars).”

    The reality is that unless economically exploitable resources emerge on the Moon, short human lunar trips don’t offer much in the way of testing Mars systems and operations. Everything — gravity, atmosphere, poisonous health hazards, duration of radiation exposure, communications lag, propulsion needs — is radically different. If Mars is your ultimate goal, you’re better off investing dollars in systems and technologies for long-duration trips and the Mars environment (e.g., the radiation shielding you mentioned earlier, interplanetary propulsion, etc.) and in pushing and testing operations farther from Earth (e.g., Lagrange points, NEAs, Mars flyby, Phobos, etc.).

    FWIW…

  • Wipe the drool off of your chin and have a look. Here is a link describing Obama first budget released for 2010 was released February 26,2009.

    That wasn’t an Obama budget. It was a Bush budget that was released early in the Obama term. The most recent budget is the first one that they actually had time to think about and prepare, particularly regarding NASA.

  • mark valah

    I watched again Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Oddysey last night, the DVD had been accumulating dust on my shelf for many years. I suggest it to everyone who’s a space enthusiast, even an nth re-watch is interesting.

    But the most interesting part was this: it was so evident that the Moon is a natural destination. The proposition to go to an asteroid first feels almost as preposterous as trying to go straight to Mars. I know I am using a film as a source of a real-life inspiration, but after all, where does imagination and and entusiasm come from if not from stories?

  • Major Tom

    “It is a galling and inconvenient truth for ObamaSpace zealots that the Ares I-X test was a great success.”

    Yeah, destroying SRB segments on splashdown, when the launch vehicle’s reliability and recurring costs are predicated on reusing those segments, is a “great success”.

    “Before it we heard the litany: it would crash into the launch tower, it would be destroyed by vibration, it was too long to be guided,”

    No, those were concerns about the 5-segment Ares I, which the 4-segment Ares I-X flight didn’t accurately test.

    “If Falcon 9 fails spectacularly (and the past performance of Falcon 1 suggests it will), ObamaSpace’s fundemental premise will be shown to be false, ending this pointless debate.”

    No, it won’t, because the first Falcon 9 test flight is actually flying a Falcon 9. It’s a flight test that will accurately inform future flights of the vehicle, instead of performing marginally useful stunts that raise more questions about the vehicle than they answer.

    “I couldn’t find it at any of the OMB sites.”

    Sigh… There’s a link to “Past Budgets” smack in the middle of the White House OMB website:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/

    That takes you to a GPO website with the past budgets in chronological order:

    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/browse.html

    Click on “Fiscal Year 2010″ and you’ll get a menu of FY 2010 budget materials.

    http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/browse.html

    “Maybe you should take a class in civics to avoid embarrassing yourself in public?”

    This from someone who can’t navigate a three webpages?

    Double sigh…

  • Vladislaw

    “but it lacks purpose, objectives and strategy”

    “NASA lacks vision, purpose, objective and strategy. Bluntly put, leadership.”

    Excerpts from the President’s speech:

    “But we can also see it in other ways: in the reluctance of those who hold office to set clear, achievable objectives; to provide the resources to meet those objectives; and to justify not just these plans but the larger purpose of space exploration in the 21st century.

    All that has to change. And with the strategy I’m outlining today, it will. We start by increasing NASA’s budget by $6 billion over the next five years,”

    —–
    MISSION 1

    “we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve the daily lives of people here on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space. This includes technologies like more efficient life support systems that will help reduce the cost of future missions.”

    The current Program of Record (POR) deorbits the ISS at the end of 2015 the Ares I will not be flying until 2017-2019, where is the Orion going to go until the Ares V starts flying in 2028? Ten more years of flying around in circles?

    —–
    MISSION 2

    “we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable …. By buying the services of space transportation — rather than the vehicles themselves — we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met. But we will also accelerate the pace of innovations as companies — from young startups to established leaders — compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.”

    One consistant thing we have learned from Apollo and the Shuttle accidents, when the Nation is held hostage by NASA’s single space access system and it fails, America’s entire human space flight is put on hold. If something happens to either Ares I or V will be grounded and buying flights from Russia.

    —-

    MISSION 3

    “In addition, as part of this effort, we will build on the good work already done on the Orion crew capsule. I’ve directed Charlie Bolden to immediately begin developing a rescue vehicle using this technology, so we are not forced to rely on foreign providers if it becomes necessary to quickly bring our people home from the International Space Station. And this Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions”

    This is a good idea for several reasons. It lowers the bar for commercial space astronaut services so they do not have to rate their systems for six month stays on orbit. It gives America an independant CRV capability. It can be used to bring small amounts of cargo down when it is deorbited every 6 months. It can be attached to a propulsion system and used to test new flight systems. Like some short hops to GEO to test radiation midigation technics.

    —–
    MISSION 4

    “we will invest more than $3 billion to conduct research on an advanced “heavy lift rocket” — a vehicle to efficiently send into orbit the crew capsules, propulsion systems, and large quantities of supplies needed to reach deep space. In developing this new vehicle, we will not only look at revising or modifying older models; we want to look at new designs, new materials, new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there. And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it.”

    Ares V has never received more than 25 million a year and wouldn’t be funded until the ISS is deorbited 2015, so funding for Ares V wouldn’t start until 2016 minimum. Most think it would not get any funding until closer to 2020.

    —-

    MISSION 5

    “we will increase investment — right away — in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? ”

    All this kind of research was defunded to pay for Ares I development, like the Promethus project. Now finally we can research cutting edge advanced power and propulsion.

    —-

    MISSION 6

    “Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. ”

    This is a full DECADE ahead of the Constellation program which was going to get to the moon in the 2030’s if ever.

    —-

    MISSION 7

    “by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we’ll start — we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”

    Again, this schedule is ahead of the POR and we would be going farther out then any human has gone before. For Kennedy the space program was about technology. This is laying the groundwork for true reusable, gas and go capability.

    —-

    MISSION 8

    “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.”

    President Bush, in the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), actually mentions Mars as a destination but didn’t put a date to it. This President is not only fulfulling the VSE as it was intended but also puts a date on Mars. Remember it was not that many years ago that NASA was expressly forbidden to even mention Mars as a HSF target and could not spend a dime on even studying on going there.

    —-

    MISSION 9

    “a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it”

    This is the true test of our medal. We are some pretty smart little monkeys but we still kill ourselves walking up and down stairs and getting out of the tub. Landing on mars ( which I am personally against until we have explored a lot more space with whatever vehicle we design) would be the ultimate technological test for America.
    —-

    MISSION 10

    “Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I’m challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And we’ll give you the resources to break through these barriers.”

    This is something that everyone acknowledges but because of the looney left and radical right always ends up being stopped. We can not realistically explore the inner solar system without them.

  • Vladislaw

    Major Tom wrote:

    :“It is a galling and inconvenient truth for ObamaSpace zealots that the Ares I-X test was a great success.”

    Yeah, destroying SRB segments on splashdown, when the launch vehicle’s reliability and recurring costs are predicated on reusing those segments, is a “great success”. ”

    You also didn’t mention the millions in damages it caused to the launch stand. The engines burn so hot and it left the pad at an angle it scourched it. That always gets ignored also.

  • Is there any specific money in the budget for nuclear? If not, then the propulsion technologies are a waste of money.

  • Major Tom

    “I watched again Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Oddysey last night, the DVD had been accumulating dust on my shelf for many years… the most interesting part was this: it was so evident that the Moon is a natural destination…”

    If the Moon is such a natural destination, then presumably more of what was depicted in the film would be a reality today. Whatever inspires you inspires you. But science fiction inspiration is obviously not a sound basis for decisionmaking in space policy (or any other S&T field).

    “I know I am using a film as a source of a real-life inspiration, but after all, where does imagination and and entusiasm come from if not from stories?”

    Not to pretend I know what’s in your head, but I’d also guess that it’s more the space activities depicted in the film, and not the Moon itself, that seemed so natural and inspiring to you.

    The story and special effects are likely independent of the destination. A team with Clarke and Kubrick’s talents could probably make any destination enthralling.

    “The proposition to go to an asteroid first feels almost as preposterous as trying to go straight to Mars.”

    It’s also worth noting that there are (more modern) films about asteroid and Mars missions — from awful (Armageddon) to okay (Deep Impact). It’s too bad Clarke and Kubrick aren’t still with us to give those destinations such a great treatment in film.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “Is there any specific money in the budget for nuclear? If not, then the propulsion technologies are a waste of money.”

    Buried in the space grants section I saw this, always thought it was code word for nuclear. I am probably reading more into it though.

    [bold face is mine]

    “Space Technology Research Grant Projects will meet future space science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector through technological innovation. This low TRL technology portfolio focuses on foundational research in advanced space
    systems and space technology performed primarily through collaborative efforts between academia and NASA field Centers, with the option of including small business and industry partners. Integration and assessment of emerging technologies and advances in related disciplines to change the state-of -the-art in space systems design, hardware and modeling will be conducted. This thrust will provide idea maturation at the discipline and subsystem level prior to major R&D investment. This project will also provide innovations in space systems to help make space exploration more affordable. Project competition guidelines include a maximum award of $400k/yr for one year, with at most a one-year
    extension following technical evaluation of a renewal proposal. Examples of the types of foundational space system research that may be performed through this project include:Computational Materials Design, Nanotube Based Structural Materials, High Bandwidth Communications, Lightweight Low Transit Volume Space Structures, Non-Chemical In-Space Propulsion, Coatings and Adhesives, Flexible Power Arrays, Microwave/Laser Power Transmission, Energy Storage Systems, Space Robotic Assembly and Fabrication, Formation Flying Spacecraft Systems (Swarm Operations), Orbital Debris Removal, Planetary Protection Techniques, Nonconventional Access to Space, Print Manufacturing and Rapid 3D Prototyping, Extreme Environment (Temperature/Radiation) Sensors and Mechanisms, Climate Sensors, Planetary Entry Decelerators, Reliable and Affordable Exploration Systems, Advanced Radiation Shielding Materials(Techniques and Systems), Safe Despin/Detumble Approaches for Large Non-operational Spacecraft, Material/Structural Concepts to Mitigate Impact of Small Debris, and Precision Timing and Navigation Using Only Celestial Objects.”

  • Vladislaw

    It also has this in the budget under exploration section:

    “Advanced In-Space Propulsion: NASA will work with partners in industry as appropriate, to conduct foundational research to study the requirements and potential designs for advanced high-energy in-space propulsion systems to support deep-space human exploration, and to reduce travel time between Earth’s orbit and future destinations for human activity. These technologies could include nuclear thermal propulsion, solar and nuclear electric propulsion, plasma propulsion, and other high-energy and/or high-efficiency propulsion concepts. One or more concepts may mature to the level of a demonstration on a robotic precursor or Flagship mission.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    On the X37 “fuel cell” call it looks like, replaying the countdown that I “misheard” the call. Sorry for the misinformation

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Those that are complaining that we’re not going back to the Moon are confused about the meaning of exploration and exploitation.

    Obama wants NASA to focus on the next hard destinations. We’ve already been to the Moon, learned how to operate on it for a brief time, and returned safely. This is the job of exploration – to learn how to do this.

    The next step is the exploitation of the Moon. We take what we learned from Apollo, and we use it to expand on what we’ve done. We don’t have to do this with manned missions first, and in fact it makes sense to use robotic explorers to do the simple grunt work of on-the-ground exploration. With the Moon being so close, we can easily land a series of multi-ton rovers to help us understand what humans will need when we finally send them. Robotic construction equipment could even do the prep for the future Moon base.

    For anyone that’s done serious backpacking trips, they will understand the difference between “visiting” a remote destination (like Apollo), and actually setting up an outpost. The logistics of an outpost are rather large, and we have lots of systems we still need to design, test, re-design and re-test before we can consider keeping people on the Moon for serious work. Tele-operated robotic explorers can start us on that path, and are worthy of excitement of their own.

    I look forward to the first tele-robotic “Moon Buggy” races to start on the Moon – like a Copernicus Crater 500! That’s how you’ll get commercial companies to attract additional investment, and that’s how we’ll generate public interest.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I( concur completely with the political analysis you have. I would add this. In my view the best thing that could happen to Obama both for the mid terms and the general in 2012 is the rise of the tea party groups.

    There is a “hint” of how the tea party groups could as a movement take hold (sort of like the isolationist movement in the US pre WW2 did) as there are two separate situations…the tea party movement and a segment of the American voting block that is “nervous” about all the spending and the direction that Obama is taking The Republic.

    The problem for the tea party movement is that the “nuts” that are running the effort just cannot help themselves in appearing nutty. The “Hitler signs” the Obama in white face, the birthers, the gun groupies all may or may not be a large segment of the group but they are the face of the movement on TV (even Fox News has to work to tone them down) and that face is just so horrible that while it is humor to some, it is just a turn off to most Americans WHO would be willing and inclined to sing along.

    If the organizers (Particularly Dick Armey) were smart they would try and tone down all the guns, the racial stuff, and the birthers and try and put a more Normal face on the movement…and it would get traction. But they cant. The folks who are the “protesters” really do believe those silly things (particularly the birther movement) and like trying to keep a fat person at the table…they just cant take the sweets off. Every time Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin get up and do their act…the converted believe harder and the rest of America goes “Yikes”.

    If you want to see this play out; watch the Senate race in FL. Rubio is probably good for 40 percent of the total vote and thats it. The tea party special.

    As for space.

    “But since we are not going BEO at least until after 2020, there are no assurances what Obama plans now will be continued by POTUS 45 in 2017.”

    this to me is the genius of the Obama plan. Assuming he leaves office Jan 20 2017 then what his successor does has a wider range of options then Obama has today.

    The problem with a “plan” is that the entire effort has become a “pyramid” scheme…generational (or more) that just plods on no matter what else happens in the way of national events. The only trick is to continue morphing the program (as was done with the space station) to meet the politics…and in the end once one gets the effort one has a “camel” that no one quite knows what to do with.

    In 2017 Obama’s successor should have a wide range of possibilities in terms of a “effort” based on the available technology and will then be able to see the conditions of the moment and shape such an effort to meet those.

    This is how one avoids building F-22’s that when they are completed have no enemy.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MoonExploration wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 8:32 am

    thank you for the kind words. I am quite humbled by them.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “MISSION 1″

    It would seem the emphasis is yours not Obama’s. Most of these ridiculous assertions were challenged and disposed of at yesterday’s Senate hearing. Obama’s speech was a dud.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Re: DIRECT and EELV, although I am not an engineer, I find credible the arguments made by others that a Delta IVH based lunar campaign would be more expensive than a comparable campaign done with the proposed Jupiter launch vehicle…

    that might be….but I really dont care (grin).

    I have two problems with “DIRECT” …the first is that I dont believe any of the development cost and the second is I dont see a mission for it.

    In my view how we go back to the Moon and go to the asteroids even Phobos is nothing like we envision today. I am a firm believer in the fact that government efforts can develop technology but they cannot force its integration into our society.

    In other words government can develop the technology to go to the Moon but for a variety of reasons it cannot force that technology or capability onto the American economy and hence if it cannot then the effort is completely unsustainable in the long (or short run).

    If the effort is going to be one of more then flags and footprints (and there is a place for that but it is very narrow) then whatever effort that is made has to evolve out of what is the economy of the times. Otherwise you build a XC-99 and no one buys it.

    My theory has become that there is little humans can do (that is worth the price) in the flags and footprints role that machines cannot do…now there is a lot that humans can do if we are doing something past the national chest thumping (or organ size counting ) contest…but to be in that category whatever happens has to evolve out of the economic effort.

    Where Whittington and I differ (other then his one note dont like Obama thing) is that in his world the effort is a national chest thumping excersize. He really believes that a American astronaut on the Moon planting the flag changes the entire nation and is the thing that stops the chinese from rising as a superpower. I dont. IN fact I find it counter productive

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    mark valah wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 11:30 am

    yes I agree. there are several technologies that are going to pass up the NASA corporate effort and make it look like a 707 whose cockpit has been reconfigured with electronic displays in a 787 worlds with integrated EFIS.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    ” that in his world the effort is a national chest thumping excersize. He really believes that a American astronaut on the Moon planting the flag changes the entire nation ”

    That only lasted about ten years: “WE landed on the moon!”

    Then it evovled into: “WE landed on the moon but I can’t get a strawberry swirl, tutti fruited tang flavored yogurt”

    A tagline for a past glory benchmark weighed against any and every difficulty that arises.

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “It would seem the emphasis is yours not Obama’s. Most of these ridiculous assertions were challenged and disposed of at yesterday’s Senate hearing. Obama’s speech was a dud.”

    Yes, no preview option, I had the html in the wrong spot.

    “Most” of them? Which assertions were riduculous and which ones were not?

    Are you only refering to the mission 1 statement by the President or all of them. You have to do better than that and use a smaller brush instead of painting the canvas of your arguement with such a broad brush.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    the phrase is so annoying to me on almost every level.

    The US as a Republic does “go to the Moon” in terms of a technology effort almost on a continual basis. Stripped of its politics (ie the chest thumping) the effort was nothing but a technology effort. Apply lots of funds, wrap up the efforts of smart dedicated people and I have no doubt that any “near hand” technology effort is achievable.

    Problem is that in terms of a “society changing” event…the lunar effort was nothing. Cronkite in his post landing euphoria said “the lunar age has begun”…we all thought that but it hadnt even started.

    When the lunar effort is compared to a societal event…well it is not only a mixture of apples to oranges…it is one failure to another.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Most of us rather have George Bush’s chest thumping program than Obama’s limp wristed one any day.

  • The problem for the tea party movement is that the “nuts” that are running the effort just cannot help themselves in appearing nutty. The “Hitler signs” the Obama in white face, the birthers, the gun groupies all may or may not be a large segment of the group but they are the face of the movement on TV (even Fox News has to work to tone them down) and that face is just so horrible that while it is humor to some, it is just a turn off to most Americans WHO would be willing and inclined to sing along.

    That must be why over half of likely voters agree with the Tea Partiers.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of U.S. voters believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress. Only 30% believe that those in Congress have a better understanding of the key issues facing the nation.

    When it comes to those issues, 47% think that their own political views are closer to those of the average Tea Party member than to the views of the average member of Congress. On this point, 26% feel closer to Congress.

    Finally, 46% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is more ethical than the average member of Congress. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say that the average member of Congress is more ethical.

    The American people apparently see through all the media lies about the supposed racism and extremism at the Tea Parties.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    That must be why over half of likely voters agree with the Tea Partiers…

    just as I noted in my post. The tragedy (from a political standpoint) of the tea party movement is that it HAS a VALID (at least politically and I would argue in policy as well) argument ie that DC is not listening to the American people and spending far to much and a few other things.

    The reason however that folks like Mario Rubio and what was his name in NY 23 and other tea party people (Debra Medina in Tx) cant win elections…is that the ‘Image” of the tea party movement…the Hitler images, the Obama in white face, the guns etc the birthers……all are stopping the movement from gaining any sort of traction with the people WHO SHOULD align themselves with the notions expressed.

    If the tea party movement could come up with a reasonable “face” and fade the mentioned groups above into the “back room”…they would be a political force to reckon with.

    Problem is that they cant. The Birther movement (for instance) is just to much honey for the movement to walk away from…and everytime someone says that…they turn off “the rest of the people”.

    That is why I am quite sure everytime Michelle Bachman or Palin get up and talk about their “clinging to guns god etc” The White House political organization smiles.

    Did you watch how fast Scott Brown dropped “the movement”?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Most of these ridiculous assertions were challenged and disposed of at yesterday’s Senate hearing. Obama’s speech was a dud.”

    Where in yesterday’s hearing did any Senators challenge ISS extension, Orion CRV, HLV acceleration, advanced propulsion and other new technologies, human deep space missions, or Mars missions?

    Don’t make things up.

    “Most of us rather have George Bush’s chest thumping program…”

    How is taking 30 years to repeat a human space exploration achievement that was made 40 years ago “chest thumping”?

    Apollo on depressants isn’t something to be proud of.

    Ugh…

  • The reason however that folks like Mario Rubio and what was his name in NY 23 and other tea party people (Debra Medina in Tx) cant win elections

    Marco Rubio can’t win elections? The one that was the Speaker of the House in Florida? The one that’s thirty points ahead of the spineless Charlie Crist? The one that outpolls Meek in a head to head? That Marco Rubio?

    Or do you really mean Mario Rubio? In which case, who is that?

    Do you ever tire of beclowning yourself here?

    If the tea party movement could come up with a reasonable “face” and fade the mentioned groups above into the “back room”…they would be a political force to reckon with.

    They already are. They elected a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat.

    What it means for space policy, though, is unclear. Why don’t you stick to that? You might at least have a hope of knowing what you’re talking about.

  • Bennett

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Rand, Heck, even I might have answered those questions in a similar fashion. When you compare just about ANY group’s “ethics” or views “versus the views of the average member of Congress”, the other group comes out the favorite. Congress is not so popular these days.

  • mark valah

    Ah, finally, the X37B story is the most e-mailed out story on the CNN web-site. So that’s the trick for getting the public attention on human space exporation: pretend it’s classified info.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    The reason however that folks like Mario Rubio and what was his name in NY 23 and other tea party people (Debra Medina in Tx) cant win elections

    Marco Rubio can’t win elections? The one that was the Speaker of the House in Florida? The one that’s thirty points ahead of the spineless Charlie Crist? The one that outpolls Meek in a head to head? That Marco Rubio?..

    and who in a three way loses to Crist…yeah that one.

    and that makes my point. As I recall (and it has been sometime since I lived in FL) the Florida Speaker of the House is elected from a “district” and then gets the nod much as the Speaker of the US House does from the “House” to become speaker. Winning a “district” is far different then winning state wide…and while I think that in a two way, he would beat the “current” Dem challenger that would be dependent on the campaign. The Dem is not well known outside his district much as Rubio would be if he were only a state rep.

    We probably wont get a chance to find out however because ..in a three way he loses to Crist…never really peaking over 3X percent at least now…which makes my point. That folks who nominally vote GOP (like me) will flee the party if a tea party person is the nominee.

    I wrote:

    “If the tea party movement could come up with a reasonable “face” and fade the mentioned groups above into the “back room”…they would be a political force to reckon with.

    you replied
    “They already are. They elected a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat.”

    and as I noted Brown is running away from them as fast as possible.

    the point about space policy is that it is unlikely that the Tea Party movement will aide the GOP in its bid to retake the Congress. As I noted everytime one of the more nutty people gets up and satisfies the people (like you…you are a birth certificate guy) on the “birther” issue…they turn more mainstream party people off.

    Aside from the fact that Obama has done everything Bush did in terms of what he has to do with a birth certificate…continuing to push the nuttiness (as you put it “the questions wont go away” or something like that) just kills the entire effort.

    and in addition there is no real “tea party” space platform

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    mark valah wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Ah, finally, the X37B story is the most e-mailed out story on the CNN web-site. So that’s the trick for getting the public attention on human space exporation: pretend it’s classified info.
    …..

    lol Robert G. Oler

  • Al Fansome

    Anybody here cover Sen. Mikulski’s luncheon speech this Monday at the Maryland Space Business Roundtable?

    http://mdspace.org/msbr_content/event_details.htm#4

    Also, FWIW, according to Lori Garver’s twitter account, she introduced the Senator.

    – Al

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-nasa-rocket-pushback-20100423,0,6913598.story

    I have felt sometime that once the budget is in Charlie needs to do some serious house cleaning and Hanley is the first who should be shown the gate.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

    “COCHRAN ASSURED OF STENNIS SPACE CENTER’S FUTURE AS NASA LOOKS TOWARD SWEEPING MISSION CHANGES”

    “Cochran questioned NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., about Stennis during a hearing to review the FY2011 budget request for the space agency. Cochran, as an ex-officio member of the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, took part in the review of the NASA budget.

    Cochran questioned the role of testing and safety in the administration’s controversial plans for NASA, which would involve cancelling or significantly restructuring the Constellation program and relying instead on commercial spacecraft to move astronauts and cargo into space. The President’s plan would replace Constellation’s deep space launch activities with a new NASA-built Heavy Lift Vehicle, set to be selected no later than 2015.

    “The Stennis Space Center provides test facilities and experience to help make sure that we do have demonstrated reliability, which is necessary to meet NASA safety standards. The United States space program today and in the future must rely on safety and testing, both of which are specialties at Stennis,” Cochran said. “As we move forward, I want assurances that our facilities at Stennis will play an integral role in advancing American space exploration.”

    Responding to Cochran’s concern that the NASA budget request does not recommend specific funding for tests or facility upgrades a Stennis, Bolden stressed the need for a “robust testing program” and pointed to $312 million for commercial space testing, some of which will take place at Stennis. Bolden also noted ongoing work to retrofit the A-3 test stand at Stennis and the overall need to test space engine propulsion and Heavy Lift Vehicle systems.

    Stennis is critical,” Bolden emphatically testified. “It is vital to the future of any kind of space flight because we want it to be the center for testing of propulsion systems whether they be for the military, commercial or NASA.”

    Cochran, who is vice chairman of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, welcomed Bolden’s assurances and expressed his desire for the Appropriations Committee to work with the space agency to “identify how we can invest the public funds” to broaden NASA’s capabilities in space.

    “I appreciate the assurances Administrator Bolden provided regarding the current and future importance of the testing capabilities at Stennis,” Cochran said. “As NASA looks to Congress for approval of its plan to rely on the commercial industry, it is important that a large emphasis be placed on safety and testing. It is imperative that NASA make a commitment to invest in testing facilities as it is impossible to launch a vehicle without

    ————-

    U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH)

    “WE MUST KEEP OUR SPACE PROGRAM GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE”

    “I am encouraged that President Obama is becoming more personally involved in charting this new course for our nation’s space program. I hope that today’s speech in Florida represents a renewed commitment by this administration to work with Congress to ensure that the United States will continue to lead the world in space exploration. I know that the development of this course has been, up to this point, a frustrating ordeal for all – especially for the employees of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. I applaud the president for working with appropriators and authorizers in Congress to diligently examine the impact that changes to NASA would have on stakeholders”

    and

    “”“Last week’s announcement providing Glenn with a leadership role in planning the development of next-generation space technologies was very encouraging. I am happy to see that the administration is looking for a way to capitalize on the $3.9 billion investment already made on Orion, and is laying out some time frames for the development of a heavy-lift rocket.”
    ————-

    During the Senate subcommittee Senator Voinovich said to Bolden: “When we give you this money” ,, for the 2011 budget he sounded like it was already a done deal, didn’t sound like there was going to be a fight.

    Sounds to me like some of the pins are falling in place. I would imagine though that Shelby can always throw another temper tantrum and try filibuster till he gets his way.

  • Al Fansome

    Cochran and Voinovich are two very important Senators, being Republicans on the Appropriations Committee.

    Less than one month ago, Sen. Cochran was in the opposition (see story below). He is now indicating he can/will go along. The loss of a Republican appropriator from a neighboring southern state has to be felt as a major blow by Shelby.

    FWIW,
    – Al

    See:
    http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=12212610

    Cochran and Wicker file bill to stop threat to NASA’s Constellation Program

    Posted: Mar 26, 2010 6:25 PM
    Updated: Mar 26, 2010 7:00 PM

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLOX)- Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker Friday cosponsored a measure to prohibit NASA from suspending work on the Constellation Program without justification.

    The Constellation Program was established in 2004 to be the human space exploration program to replace the Space Shuttle. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County is currently building rocket test stands for the Constellation Engines.

    Last month, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal cut funding to the Constellation Program. Obama supports deep-space exploration, but has yet to lay out a destination for astronauts or a timetable.

    The legislation introduced Friday reaffirms language in the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that directs NASA to continue moving forward with Constellation and prohibits termination or modification of existing contracts unless separate legislation is passed by Congress.

    “The Congress should continuously reexamine the roles and strategies of all federal agencies, but the Senate and House have not had sufficient time to study, much less adopt, the administration’s ideas about the future of NASA or U.S. manned space missions. Prematurely shutting down existing projects like Constellation before Congress has determined the policies and funding for NASA is ill-advised and irresponsible. It should be up to the federal taxpayers, who are represented by Congress, to ultimately shape our nation’s future in space,” Cochran said.

    “The termination of the Constellation Program would be a major shift for NASA, and it could have serious implications for America’s leadership in space as well as the economic well-being of Mississippi and the rest of the country,” said Wicker. “We need a clear plan to continue human space flight, and we must not walk away from this program, in which we have invested billions of taxpayer dollars in critical research and new technologies.”

  • All you need to know about these posturing politicians you could see in the Bolden/Garver Senate confirmation hearings last year.

    Only three Senators showed up — Rockfeller, Nelson and Udall.

    Rockefeller complained that he had to chair the meeting and hoped someone would relieve him as chair so he could leave. Nelson, of course, was promoting Bolden and Garver as the NASA-friendly Senator. Udall from New Mexico said he had only one question: “Are you going to close White Sands?”

    Bolden said no, and Udall left.

    Now the Senators are whining and pouting because their pork is threatened, but they couldn’t bother to show up and question the nominees last year when they had the chance.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    they have to whine and piss but in the end they know better then I…Obama gets his plan.

    The Congress cannot defy the executive in no small measure because the Congress is filled with 100 wantabee Presidents in the Senate and 434 Congressfolks who want to be Speaker..and 1 who is. After that they cannot agree on just about anything.

    The space groupies are as bad. For the most part people’s interest in human spaceflight is not very well thought out. It is sort of “groupie” in how it operates (ie “wave a hand and we have mass drivers”) few really have any sense of politics.

    And then of course there are the contractors.

    It is a world gone mad!

    Robert G. Oler

  • We probably wont get a chance to find out however because ..in a three way he loses to Crist…never really peaking over 3X percent at least now…which makes my point.

    A future fantasy, despite all his previous success, ant credible polls, makes you point?

    That folks who nominally vote GOP (like me) will flee the party if a tea party person is the nominee.

    Fortunately, most voters (as indicated by Rasmussen) are not political morons like Robert G. Oler.

  • Not to mention that Rubio is not a “tea party candidate.” He is a mainstream Republican in Florida, as evidenced by the fact that he was Speaker of the House, despite Robert’s lunacy.

    And of course, the Tea Party itself, while not a party, is mainstream.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    yes the TEa party is as mainstream as fox news is in all respects including demographics.

    have a good election season Rand. we should have fun

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The interesting development at the end of this week is how Obamaspace is starting to unravel. It looks like the plan emerging, if Space News is to be believed, is a steady development of progressively more capable Orion/Ares systems with a view of flying by 2015, a circumlunar mission in 2018, with other missions to follow. The trick now is to get a lander program started again so that we can get back to the lunar surface by 2019.

    I am constantly astonished at Oler’s lack of grip with objective reality. What seems to have happened in this country is that, quite by accident, a radical left wing President has been elected who is actually attempting to ram through his agenda. This has provoked a popular revolt among the American people, manifested by the Tea Party movement, that is going to clean house in Washington this November in a way that will make 1994 seem tame.

    Then, since our President likely does not have the smarts to tack to the center like Clinton, he will likely be bounced out in 2012. Then President Palin can repair the damage done our space effort (g).

  • Kris Ringwood

    It’s amazing, keep telling untruths for long enough and it’s becomes “accepted fact”. Der Fuhrer called it “the Big Lie”: who better than he should know!
    Since when has Time magazine been considered an authority on technical prowess. Their already atrophied reputation in my eyes – in comparison to The Economist for example – has taken another nose dive.
    At best the ARES 1-X boiler-plate test flight – was merely a partial success, despite the use of existing hardware. Had the concept been viable this should have been 100% succesful with the recovery experiencing no problems and the boiler-plate second-stage remaining intact, instead of hanging at a drunken angle in more than one piece. The vehicle clearly experienced vehicle dynamics that screamed second proving flight. The new standard perhaps? Doesn’t get us to the Moon or Asteroids believe me. Compare this with the boiler plate flight of Saturn 1 forty-eight years previously…now That Was A Success!

  • yes the TEa party is as mainstream as fox news is in all respects including demographics.

    Another literate post from Robert, complete with typical random and idiosyncratic capitalization. At least, unlike most of his posts, it doesn’t “have” random quoted “words.”

    And he ignores my point that Rubio has never lost an election, contra his idiotic statement that Rubio’s unable to win one. But Robert has never let reality stand in the way of his incoherent, misspelled ungrammatical ravings.

    have a good election season Rand. we should have fun

    Well, I will. You? Not so much…

  • Mark, heard you on the space show the other day. Quite an enjoyable show. And I see the last topic of discussion was still accurate :)

    Your crystal ball seems just as greasy as everyone else’s. I, for one, would like to see people stop pontificating and stick to the facts. It has been said (and repeated by Dr Livingstone many times) that advocates of the new plan seem to be filling in the many gaps in the plan with whatever it is they want to hear. Well, I would like to put forward the suggestion that those opposed to the new direction are filling in the gaps with what they think they know.. often ignoring any facts (or rhetoric) that disagrees with their pet theories of how we’re all screwed, or how Obama is all screwed, or whatever it is they care to suggest this week.

    Factual discussions are so much more enjoyable because I don’t have to listen to the latest retelling of The Manchurian Candidate. If you want to ask questions, go ahead, but don’t expect answers that are not already public knowledge and don’t accept answers that are based on speculation.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Trent = “Manchurian Candidate?” Where did you get that?

  • Jack

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:19 pm:

    “The American people apparently see through all the media lies about the supposed racism and extremism at the Tea Parties.”

    Well Rand, I think it is very difficult to get a clear view on things. Just look at all the different versions of ‘facts’ presented in the comments on Space Politics.
    How much information can you get? From how many sources? How to know which sources are reliable? Do those sources have all the facts? Do they present all those facts? Do they understand what the facts mean? Do they present them without bias? …..
    Often, things are certainly not as clear and black and white as some present them.

  • craig morford

    heavy lift, heavy lift, heavy lift. If i may offer some humer (least i hope its humorous) imagine a room where you have in one corner all the politicians and everyone else pushing for their respective plans to put stuff in LEO shouting at, insulting one another because their plan is better. Meanwhile in the oppisite corner of the room you have Saturn 5 in his shades legs crossed smoking his F-1 cigar with his arm around the moon dressed in her skimpy cheerleading outfit, His buddy N-1 is also there (he can be there because he played the game just never scored) and wonder what all the fuss was about.

  • red

    Mark: “It looks like the plan emerging, if Space News is to be believed, is a steady development of progressively more capable Orion/Ares systems with a view of flying by 2015, a circumlunar mission in 2018, with other missions to follow.”

    I imagine Mark is talking about this from Space News:

    http://www.spacenews.com/policy/100423-obama-nasa-overhaul-congressional-resistance.html

    “Meanwhile, Constellation program officials have been quietly evaluating options for restructuring the Ares and Orion contracts to create incremental development and test programs that would cost much less in the near term than the $6 billion to $7 billion per year the agency expected to spend once it shifted its race to the Moon into overdrive.

    According to government and industry officials involved in the effort, the notional program starting to take shape entails building and testing progressively more advanced Ares and Orion prototypes en route to the first crewed test flights around 2015 and a circumlunar mission around 2018, to be followed by longer duration jaunts beyond low Earth orbit.”

    I imagine that these Constellation program officials will have a lot of trouble getting some form of Ares and Orion to be much less expensive than the POR whether or not they are packaged as incremental test and development programs, while at the same time getting an Ares/Orion crew test flight around 2015 and a circumlunar mission around 2018, and longer missions after that. How are they going to meet those dates, when Augustine projected that they’d be reaching the ISS by around 2019, while at the same time living with a much less expensive budget? It’s not as if they haven’t already been pulling their hair out and dumping all sorts of capability and safety features from Ares I/Orion for years trying to fit the budget. Why would they all of a sudden be able to do it? Even if they start with the Orion super-lite CRV launched on a non-Ares I rocket, and Ares I never gets in the crew launch picture as Orion goes through more capable iterations, that implies the Ares side of this plan would be for something other than crew launch (i.e. most likely heavy lift … which would be hard to develop on a tight schedule and small budget).

    Even if they did, what would happen to the rest of the new and important things in the budget, such as the technology demonstrations for things like ISRU and propellant depots and so on, robotic precursors, commercial crew and cargo, restoring Earth observations and Aeronautics and general technology development, etc? Those are already going to take a hit because of Orion super-lite CRV (from the Space News article):

    “Bolden said funding for the Orion lifeboat would come from offsets to other parts of the $4.26 billion budget the White House proposed for NASA’s Exploration System Mission Directorate for 2011. An updated budget proposal, he said, would be sent to Congress “in the next few weeks.” ”

    Would the Constellation program officials’ plan blend with the other parts of the 2011 NASA budget – for example, taking advantage of the results of propellant depot technology demonstrations, commercial crew, Orion super-lite CRV, etc?

    Also, could they revamp their Ares/Orion plans so much that they would be better than the current plans, which should reach LEO with multiple commercial crew vehicles by 2016, and start beyond-LEO tests a little after 2020 according to Obama, and beyond-Moon flights by 2025 … while at the same time offering a lot more for science, commerce, and technology development? That’s pretty similar to what Space News is talking about … but with no Ares. i.e.

    Obama speech: “Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. (Applause.) And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. ….”

    I’d take an extremely close and skeptical look at any plans based on Ares/Orion that supposedly reach ambitious destinations quickly on a much smaller budget. Would they be realistic plans, or totally unrealistic ones like the ESAS approach was in 2005 (which was obvious to many people here even back then)? Would they be all salesmanship and no substance? I don’t want to prejudge this, but given the track record I’d get some serious independent assessments before considering going down a track like that.

    Mark: “The trick now is to get a lander program started again so that we can get back to the lunar surface by 2019.”

    That would be some trick if you’re using some sort of Ares/Orion, which we already know needs to wipe out lots of the rest of NASA just to reach the lunar surface by 2035. You’ll need a lot more than a lander program to make the lunar surface reachable and useful to reach.

  • Derrick

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 1:04 am…

    Oh Whittington. You can make all the claims you want but the main reason you’re against the new policy is because you don’t like Obama. If it was a republican proposing it you’d be all for it. Plain and simple. He’s trying to “ram through” his agenda? Pretty sure this statement comes from the health care debate, which *cough* LASTED OVER A YEAR *cough*.

    Get a lander program started again? When did it end? As far as I know congress extended the money for Constellation into this year so I don’t understand that statement. And if Altair was continued past this year, we wouldn’t be on the moon in 2019, despite what Jeff Hanley might claim. Even if it magically appeared we wouldn’t have a flipping rocket to put it on.

    The best thing that could happen for Obama in 2012 would be the republicans nominating Palin for president. Has she ever mentioned anything space policy related? You have noticed she always pronounces nuclear “nuc-u-lar” right? I’m willing to bet if you if you asked her what she thought of the new policy she’d go back to deer in the headlights mode and say “Oh ya, I think all those rockets are great!”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    not very sophisticated Mark. Indeed funny coming from someone who embraced the notion that the WMD’s went to Syria. Anything is I guess possible…

    There are two things of note that are worth commenting on from your post.

    The first is that Obama has i a “far left” space program (I’ve read your blog)

    Saying Obama’s space policy (one that relies on private enterprise and creates new markets and is endorsed by Newt Gingrich) is far left is like saying Sarah Palin has a clue about how to solve the problem in Iran…deluding oneself.

    Aside from the contradiction of free enterprise creation and far left; it then goes on to assume that the POR the one that is dying (despite what you claim) is “center” or “center right” ie that exploration by humans for no particular purpose is a center right notion.

    I dont really think much of Rasmussen polls, he doesnt get much correct in the final analysis and is very biased right of center…but even with those things “Rasmussen” polling indicates clearly that human exploration of space is not a very “center notion” at least if support by the American people is any indicator.

    What you and others have done is to invent things…Chinese going to the Moon etc which are designed to prey on the fears of the American people (much like Bush did in Iraq) problem is that at least according to the polls it isnt working. The American people dont care. The folks on the right have lied about one enemy after another until the American people simply do not buy what you and them are selling.

    Second it is far to early to predict the 2010 elections. There are trends now, but in two months those trends will be valueless and in Nov of this year, useless. But even if the GOP were to take over both houses there is little data to suggest that they would be able to agree on much less put together an alternate space program.

    Newt did nothing to change the Clinton program (after arguing while out of power that the space station should be ended) after he became speaker. And If the GOP takes the Congress it is unlikely that they would go on a spending spree to give more money to human spaceflight (which Ares would need) while unemployment remains high (which would be part of why they took the Congress).

    Finally. There seems to be little dissarray in Obama’s efforts to get his space program. People like you were a daily show on Fox predicting that the health care bill was dead and it wasnt, then Financial reform wasnt going to happen and it appears on the brink of occurring…

    and one step after another Obama has rebuffed those who would try and change where his program is going. The latest missive you mention is nothing but the musings of Jeff H. and some other people trying to crop together something.

    Obama might have a left of center space program in your mind, but then in your mind the WMD Went to Syria and Saddam was going to bomb our country with balsa wood airplanes and the Chinese are ready to take over the Moon.

    I prefer to stick with Newts analysis of Obama’s space effort.

    Enjoy your world.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.spacenews.com/policy/100423-obama-nasa-overhaul-congressional-resistance.html

    Yeah this is Mark’s thing…its mostly based on what Jeff H is doing which is going to do nothing but get him shown the door when it is all over.

    Whittington is good at taking a sentence or two and running it out to meaning exactly what he is hoping for.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Rand I always enjoy every election…even if my candidates win or they loose. The notion of elections is, as I use to tell people in my last assignment, to glory in the rule of the nation by the people…and win or loose that they happen is to be enjoyed…

    as for how the 2010 will turn out. I’ll make my prediction in oh August.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Derrick wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 10:23 am

    As I noted in another post the best thing that has happened to Obama is the TEa Party movement. No goofier political group ever existed and every time someone shows a picture of Obama as Hitler…it helps him out.

    The GOP nomination for 2012 is going to be entertaining. A lot is going to depend on what happens to the GOP in 2010 and the economy in 2011.

    But if I had to bet right now it would be that the race will divide up into three groups. Romney as the “name” candidate, a move from the Ron Paul wing of the party (which I think has a lot of power that is understated now) and then a crazy right winger.

    That could be Palin, but on the other hand it would require her to work much harder then she ever really thought about it…my guess is that somewhere in her head M. Bachman is starting to hear Hail to the Chief.

    “Right now” I would argue Romney is Bob Dole reborn. The crazy righty barely manages to carry high single digit numbers of state…and for the life of me I cannot tell you how a Rand Paul campaign would go.

    In any event the election of a Republican in 12 would mean that the economy had gotten much worse, and that would spell bad news for anything in human spaceflight.

    The person to keep your eye on for the future are the fresh faces…if Brown wins reelect in MASS or someone else like Morning Joe. If the GOP loses in 12 the party is going to simply implode

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    “Romney is Bob Dole”

    I am not willing to concede that point until Romney starts talking in the third person:

    “A Bob Dole administration will not tolerate intolerance” – Bob Dole.

  • Robert, I’m not interested in political advice from someone who fantasizes that Marco Rubio can’t win an election.

  • amightywind

    More about Mikulski’s grilling of Bolden.

    http://www.spacenews.com/policy/100423-obama-nasa-overhaul-congressional-resistance.html

    >During the hearing the subcommittee’s chairwoman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski >(D-Md.), said it was not clear to her whether the White House is still seeking >to cancel the Constellation program, or just restructure it.

    >“This is of very, very, very keen interest in our committee,” she said.

    A not so subtle message being sent by Obama’s democrat colleagues: Leave Constellation alone.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Robert, I’m not interested in political advice from someone who fantasizes that Marco Rubio can’t win an election…

    dont misquote me.

    I didnt say Rubio couldnt win an election. I’ve never said “anyone” CANT win.

    I did say that it is very unlikely that Rubio can win. Or more correctly it will be very difficult for him to win.

    Rubio is a creature of the tea party movement. Unlike Brown who allowed the Tea party movement to associate itself with his campaign; as best as I can tell from reading the FL political scene Rubio is a complete creature of the “movement”.

    The Tea Party movement is no where near mainstream. You may think that but then you babble on about Obama’s birth certificate and think that is a big deal. All both show is that when it comes to politics you are as caught up in ideology as is Whittington.

    The Tea Party movement could move mainstream if it would jettison the trappings of “nuttery” ie the Obama is Hitler, the racist stuff about Obama (him in white face) the birther stuff…but they cant. They cant because they then alienate the very people who are the foot soldiers in the entire effort (the nuts). So it is very unlikely that they will be able to connect with people who are concerned about spending and debt and other things, but dont like being associated with “Obama is Hitler” nuts.

    Rubio to win even in a two way will have to walk a very fine line…of keeping the right wing birther nuts and yet appealing to a very purple FL. He has a better chance in a two way because while he is well known state wide (as being the SOH in FL) his likely Dem opponent is not. If it goes to a two way, I suspect another Dem will drop in.

    In a three way against the sitting Gov, it becomes very difficult. FL is a purple state, trending blue and outside the bunkers of the right wing districts Rubio doesnt poll all that well. That is why current polls in a three way have it pretty split about 1/3.

    The tea party people have so far, been unable to win with any one who is “nutty right”. Scott Brown is no where near Palin for instance and has moved as far away as possible from the Tea party folks.

    I didnt say Rubio cannot win. It is that he will have a very difficult time doing it…and that of course assumes he dodges the IRS questions about him.

    When folks like Rubio WIN statewide national elections then you might have something to claim victory over. Right now all the tea party has done is draw good Obama/hitler pictures.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    A not so subtle message being sent by Obama’s democrat colleagues: Leave Constellation alone.

    no that is not even a very subtle message being sent. Sorry

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/2672611.html

    pretty much nails the issue…and it was written in 2004 Robert G. Oler

  • I had opposed Obamaspace from the very beginning. From an (old space)nuclear space perspective Augustine or Obamaspace were never thinking of moving U.S. involvement in space into the future and it was just another attempt at shuffling chairs on the commercial space titanic. Back in 2002 we were asked by some young NASA propulsion techs to put in an order for what we would like as a launch system to support a nuclear NASA presence in space. Subsequently the Ares HLV series came out. I don’t know if Ares HLV was designed to take in nuclear in-space propulsion and power infrastructure building. But NASA was polite enough to ask nuclear space people back then.
    Nuclear space people aren’t arm wavers or wing-nuts they don’t compromise efficiency, design or safety you only need to look at the reactor industry or past and future nuclear space projects to figure that nuclear scientist and engineers are motivated, serious and do fantastic work. I’m all for limited gov’t but effective gov’t none the less and from the questions and concerns for the Commerce, Justice, Science and related Agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee it seems I’m not the only one throwing up a red card over obamaspace plan.
    I have family along the Fla. space coast and the worry is palpable even to the visitor.

  • “From a radiation perspective, colonization of the Moon is much riskier than Mars trips. Exposing the human body to cosmic rays for decades, even lifetimes — or reproducing in that deep space radiation environment — is a much greater health risk than a two- or three-year exposure to that deep space radiation environment on a trip to/from Mars. To be brutally honest, absent major changes to our genome or artificial augmentation of our bodies, we can’t live more than a few years in that radiation environment without contracting fatal cancers and reproduction would be a nightmare.”

    Like I said, if we are to invest trillions in space over the next decades the least we could do is to research in shielding technology, which is ANYWAYS necessary for long trip in space. A mission to Mars requires basically the same preparation for handling cosmic rays. It may not be as much as in the Moon, but its still enough to get people sick and ruin a multibillion dollar mission. So really, the radiation argument doesn’t apply here, because either way we pick, it’s a challenge that NEEDS and MUST be tackled, if you want our space presence to scale. By the way, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just think about building stuff like we do on Earth. Building the colony underground easily mitigates and naturally offers A LOT more protection against meteors and cosmic rays. Add man-made cosmic rays shielding technology and we are good to start testing long-term.

    The Moon is already a sexy prospect for new resources. Whereas, it’s been suggested that Mars may not be economically viable for exporting, due to its escape velocity. Sometime ago, I was reading an article on how our Space agencies could save a bunch of money in launching costs just by having a spaceport on the Moon.

    In my opinion, the colonization of both bodies is essential for our society. I just think its crazy to ignore the Moon. It’s like, we live on DC and we’ve already been to NY, but instead of going to NY to settle which is closer and more familiar we instead choose to go to California. Which is farther and unfamiliar and in the end, I’m sure that more expensive.

    Mars may be the ultimate goal for this century, but I think it’s inevitable that we at some point end up establishing permanently on the Moon.

  • @Major Tom

    At least, we should agree that both Mars and the Moon would be possible if DoD didn’t own half the budget, right? ;-)

  • I didnt say Rubio couldnt win an election. I’ve never said “anyone” CANT win.

    So, did someone else post the following under your name?

    The reason however that folks like Mario Rubio and what was his name in NY 23 and other tea party people (Debra Medina in Tx) cant win elections…

    We can read, even if you can’t.

  • At least, we should agree that both Mars and the Moon would be possible if DoD didn’t own half the budget, right?

    No. There is no relationship whatsoever between the DoD budget and the NASA budget. If the DoD budget is cut, there’s no reason it would go to NASA. And if going to the moon and Mars were important, NASA (or likely some other agency more competent at that) would get the money to do it, regardless of how much DoD got.

  • That’s what I’m saying, congress should cut a few billions from DoD and assign them to NASA. More than half a trillion dollars? Come on man.

  • That’s what I’m saying, congress should cut a few billions from DoD and assign them to NASA.

    Obviously, Congress doesn’t agree with you. And if it agreed that NASA needed more money, it would simply give it more money. It could cut somewhere else, or just run the deficit a little higher. Again, DoD is irrelevant to NASA’s budget.

    In addition, the way the appropriations budget is split up, it’s not possible to move funds from DoD to NASA, because they fall under different committee cardinals. The Chairman of the Appropriations Committee could in theory cut the defense allocation by X and add X to the subcommittee that oversees NASA, but there would be no guarantee that it would go to NASA. You might want to learn how the budget process actually works, rather than armwaving.

  • Bennett

    “Nuclear space people aren’t arm wavers or wing-nuts”

    They might not be, but by using the term “obamaspace” you put yourself in their camp.

  • Derrick

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 10:40 am …
    mark valah wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 1:30 pm …

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 3:13 pm
    “Sometime ago, I was reading an article on how our Space agencies could save a bunch of money in launching costs just by having a spaceport on the Moon. ”

    No, they couldn’t. To do that you’d be double-dipping, having to launch from two gravity wells instead of one which means you need more fuel to do the same thing (and land, so add more fuel onto that). I think its a fair guess that the people who make claims like that aren’t engineers and/or are drinking spiked moon kool-aid, which is way worse than Romulan ale.

    Someone might chime in here about in-situ resource utilization but to do that you still have to bring all that equipment and manpower to the moon first, then factor in the years/decades, and massive amounts of money it will take to build the base, then mine and process tons upon tons of lunar dust, and re-supply the base in the process…well, just think about it. A gi-normous up-front cost with not much immediate benefit. We won’t have the capability, or robust space industry required to do that for quite awhile.

    Same goes for people who claim we need to use the moon as a testbed for Mars. No, we don’t need to do that. Earth has a 24 hour day and an atmosphere–which while Mars’ atmo is quite thin, a spacecraft still has to enter its atmosphere before landing–which is a huge challenge, and a totally different ball game from the moon. We can test stuff out on Earth at a ridiculously cheaper cost (and level of safety) than going to the moon. Compare the surface gravity too, Earth = 1g, Mars ~ 0.4g, Moon ~ 0.16g. If you can get work done in space suits on the surface of our planet where the surface gravity is higher (thus making it more difficult to work) I’m willing to bet you could get the same work done on the surface of Mars.

    2001 is one of my favorite movies too, and I think the moon would be great for a research base–like those in Antarctica. I hope we do go back to the moon some day. However, as far as actual colonization goes, Mars is your best bet.

  • “Obviously, Congress doesn’t agree with you”

    It’s not with me it has to agree with. It’s with the American people and the American people doesn’t agree with Congress. And that’s what is really important here. The American people wants to be more involved in Space. But more than that, making sure we keep the super Space power #1 title.

    And Congress actions and priorities are fucking up what the people wants as its priorities. Period. Ask anyone if they are craving Space missions to somewhere else or if they are craving the Iraq/Afghan war. :-) – With the amount of money wasted over the last decades in both wars we could have gone 5 times to the Moon.

    “In addition, the way the appropriations budget is split up, it’s not possible to move funds from DoD to NASA, because they fall under different committee cardinals etc, etc,etc ”

    You just showed the problem. Too much bureaucracy and stupid rules. This type of thing should be easy. Take money from there, there and there and move it here. And the people should be able to make those calls. Not some Committee guy.

  • It’s not with me it has to agree with. It’s with the American people and the American people doesn’t agree with Congress. And that’s what is really important here. The American people wants to be more involved in Space.

    Really? They do? What is your evidence for that?

    This type of thing should be easy. Take money from there, there and there and move it here. And the people should be able to make those calls. Not some Committee guy.

    Have you ever had a civics class?

  • @Rand Simberg

    I don’t have any factual proof for that, but then again you haven’t exactly provided any for your claims either. Anyways, it just takes a couple of seconds to go out and ask someone if they rather be investing their tax money into space exploration or a war in the middle east. It is that easy. It is easy to ask any American if they feel that having half of ALL their budget in defense is worthwhile.

    “Have you ever had a civics class?”

    I wasn’t of course being so literal. What I meant was, that the people should have more participation in the democracy and decisions of what’s to be done with their tax money.

  • […] male lo stesso. Li ha presi, l’amministratore capo della NASA, l’altro ieri durante un’audizione del sottocomitato senatoriale che vigila sul budget dell’agenzia, durante la quale persino la presidente democratica Milkuski ha preso ampiamente le distanze dal […]

  • It is easy to ask any American if they feel that having half of ALL their budget in defense is worthwhile.

    Half the budget is not defense. Defense isn’t even twenty percent of the budget.

  • Vladislaw

    Bruce Behrhorst wrote:

    “I had opposed Obamaspace from the very beginning.”

    So were you in favor of Bushspace when it was announced? Did you tell all your friends and relatives about Bushspace? When you talked about bushspace on blogs did you call it Bushspace? At work did you refer to it as Bushspace?

    You lose absolutely all credibility for me, I can say for others, but I am sure they are there and you will never win an debate with me when you commit a fallacy of logic.

  • Derrick

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Actually I think defense is only something like 30%, social security, medicare and medicaid take up like 40%, then there’s everything else. At least that’s what I remember from watching the NBC nightly news a week or two ago. I’m sure Major Tom will look it up.

  • What I meant was, that the people should have more participation in the democracy and decisions of what’s to be done with their tax money.

    They campaign and vote for their congressional representatives and their senators, who approve a budget. What more do you expect them to do, within the Constitution? If the American people cared as much about space as you fantasize they do, it would be a campaign issue, and candidates would take positions on it. But this hardly ever happens, except in districts or states that are affected by NASA budgets. So apparently you’re wrong.

    As I asked, have you ever had a civics class?

  • It’s half of what the US can spend at any time for any reason. If its 30% in official numbers, whatever. The gap between science and militarism is still there. And it’s huge.

    What I expect is to have more direct power over what is to be done with my tax money. You can call, call, call and in the end they do whatever they want. It’s that simple, no need to try to hide the Sun with your hand.

    I don’t mind the democracy saying no to space. But, really, it’s simple. Go ask anyone if they’d rather spend their tax on a war in the middle east or in exploring space and developing technology.

    Ask anyone if they think the defense budget may be a bit too much. Ask them if they agree with the almost a trillion dollars over the last decade. The answer is obvious.

    And I know when people will flood congress lines en masse. Whenever the Chinese become 1st and America 2nd or 3rd in the Space race. :-)

  • Vladislaw

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=125

    Table 1:
    Domestic Discretionary Funding Is a
    Shrinking Share of Total Program Costs

    Share of Total ……………… 2001 .2008 Change

    Defense & security …………… 21.7% 29.2% +7.5%
    Social Security, Medicare/caid 45.9% 43.5% -2.4%
    Other mandatory programs … 14.0% 12.5% -1.4%
    Domestic discretionary …… … 18.4% 14.7% -3.7%

  • If its 30% in official numbers, whatever.

    In 2010, the total federal budget is over three and a half trillion dollars. The total defense budget, including contingency overseas operations (aka Iraq and Afghanistan) is less than $700M, i.e., less than twenty percent.

    The gap between science and militarism is still there. And it’s huge.

    NASA is not science, and defense is not “militarism.”

    What I expect is to have more direct power over what is to be done with my tax money. You can call, call, call and in the end they do whatever they want. It’s that simple, no need to try to hide the Sun with your hand.

    If you don’t like having a republic, then you should get to work on amending the Constitution.

    And I know when people will flood congress lines en masse. Whenever the Chinese become 1st and America 2nd or 3rd in the Space race.

    There is no space race. The space race ended on July 20th, 1969.

  • Vladislaw

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258

    Most of Budget Goes to Defense,
    Social Security and health.

    Medicare/caid & CHIP. 21%
    Defense & Security .. 20%
    Social security…… 20%
    safety net programs . 14%
    Interest on the Debt..06%

    Remaining 1/5 of the budget.

    Benefits for Fed retirees and Vets 7%
    Scientific and Med Research …… 2%
    Transportation infrastructure …. 3%
    Education ………………………….. 3%
    Non-security international …….. 1%
    All other …………………………… 4%

  • Derrick

    “And I know when people will flood congress lines en masse. Whenever the Chinese become 1st and America 2nd or 3rd in the Space race.”

    “There is no space race. The space race ended on July 20th, 1969.”

    I dunno, I’m willing to bet there would be at least a little outrage if we woke up tomorrow to find out China landed on the moon. The short attention span of the public makes “what have you done for me lately” more important than the glory of days past. I don’t think the outrage would last long because there’s no immediate military threat coming from China to supplement an event like that, and we’re so economically tied together that there probably won’t be one for the foreseeable future.

    I’m just tossing out a hypothetical situation anyway. China has nowhere near that capability at present and who knows when they’ll even get their space station up or whatever.

  • I dunno, I’m willing to bet there would be at least a little outrage if we woke up tomorrow to find out China landed on the moon.

    There probably would, but that’s never going to happen. If China ever lands on the moon, we will have plenty of advance warning, and it’s certainly years, if not decades off.

  • As evidenced by several articles in recent weeks, most likely China will join the other spacefaring nations in an international partnership. That’s something Obama has been negotiating for quite some time now, and China’s recent public statements suggest they’re going to accept.

    Click here for an April 24 report on Aviation Week.

    China is currently emphazing their own space station somewhere in the early 2020s. They have no Moon program, only a study. Their current technology is roughly equivalent to where we were with Gemini in the mid-1960s.

    Coupled with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s recent suggestion for an international space summit to coordinate global efforts, it would seem that all sparefaring nations are coming to the conclusion it’s too expensive to go alone. When we return to the Moon, it will be as a species, not as a nation.

  • LCoupled with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s recent suggestion for an international space summit to coordinate global efforts, it would seem that all sparefaring nations are coming to the conclusion it’s too expensive to go alone.

    We could easily afford to go it alone, but we’d have to do it in a much different way. The new policy is a small step in the right direction. ISS could have been done more quickly and cheaply if it weren’t an international venture.

  • Derrick

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:33 pm …

    The more the merrier, but I’d think that China would need somehow prove it was trustworthy before becoming a partner on the ISS. Dunno if they can do that considering most of their space capability seems to come from stolen technology. Or so I read somewhere…

  • Ben Joshua

    The federal budget can be read in different ways.

    If you start with the official DOD budget, and add non-DOD military spending (DOE nuclear weapons materials processing, Veterans Administration, Iraq / Afghanistan supplemental spending (2009 and earlier), Intel. agencies, and the military portion of debt service (interest on the debt) then the military portion of the federal budget rises dramatically.

    I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, just that budget numbers from different interest group websites will skew the budget to support their views. The notion, for example, that the military budget is a weak sister to social spending is, IMV, a myth.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget_fy2009_default/

  • Robert G. Oler

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    @Major Tom

    At least, we should agree that both Mars and the Moon would be possible if DoD didn’t own half the budget, right? ..

    I dont agree with that.

    At best I would agree with the statement “mars and the moon would be possible for a few NASA astronauts if the US agreed to spend a lot of money on the effort”.

    The great myth of space groupies is that somehow if the US (or the world) would just spend a giant amount of money then 2001 A Space Odessey would happen. There is no data to support that analysis.

    If we spent a lot of money what would happen is a few NASA astronauts would go to these places and continue to go until the American people said “no more” and that would be that. All the infrastructure would be “abandoned in place” and the whole effort would back down.

    The only real way we go to those place other then as a chest thumping excersize is to have some economic reason to go…and that means a space infrastructure.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bruce Behrhorst wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I had opposed Obamaspace from the very beginning…

    such terms as “Obamaspace” paint you as someone who has watched Fox News to long
    Robert G. Oler

  • Derrick

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:49 pm…

    Actually I think Whittington coined the term…hehehe.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    there is no ability to reason ones point with someone who does not hold their point by reason, only by ideology.

    I’ve made my point and we can see what works out. I dont view anyone who trumpets on their blog the “birther” issue as much as you do, someone who is dealing with reason.

    Robert G. Oler

  • I’m pretty sure that Fox News has never used the word “ObamaSpace,” your Fox News derangement notwithstanding.

    BTW, are you still denying that you said that Rubio couldn’t win? Who are we supposed to believe, you or our lying eyes?

  • Rand Simberg wrote:

    We could easily afford to go it alone, but we’d have to do it in a much different way. The new policy is a small step in the right direction. ISS could have been done more quickly and cheaply if it weren’t an international venture.

    Technically true, but politically unlikely.

    If it were up to me, we’d spend $100 billion/year on space and cut in lots of other places. But that’s just me. And I think most of us are rational enough to acknowledge the political will isn’t there to spend more on space. Three different polls this year have shown the public doesn’t want to spend more on space.

    In the end, that’s what is driving Obama’s proposal. He knows trillion-dollar annual deficits are coming in the near future due to an explosion in entitlements for Baby Boomers. So the question becomes, how to allocate the scarce dollars Congress is willing to spend on space?

    Unfortunately, many members of Congress see NASA as no more than a jobs program for their districts. They couldn’t care less if people were making phasers or buggy whips, so long as the money keeps flowing for jobs (and therefore for votes).

  • Derrick

    Cheap shot I’m sorry… -1 for me.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Derrick wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Whittington coined the term here because he hears it over and over on Fox News as that is what they label everything done as “Obamacare”, “Obama this or that”.

    It is like “bush derangement syndrome” it is a phrase coined by the bushites to deflect valid criticism like oh you know bush exaggerated things about Iraq, let the economy falter, or screwed up human space flight…the answer to anything with these people is “all you can do is blame Bush”.

    Now what they have done being out of power is flipped the coin.

    It is typical extremist behavior in American politics

    Robert G. Oler

  • there is no ability to reason ones point with someone who does not hold their point by reason, only by ideology.

    I’m not sure what “ideology” you fantasize that I hold which results in my simply pointing out that you wrote what you denied writing, and don’t even know what you write yourself, other than one of fact and rationality.

    I’ve made my point and we can see what works out. I dont view anyone who trumpets on their blog the “birther” issue as much as you do.

    “As much as I do?” I very rarely discuss it. I had one post recently, and it didn’t question the president’s place of birth. I guess that’s your “Simberg derangement.” Or another demonstration of your inability to read, either my words or your own.

  • Technically true, but politically unlikely.

    Yes, but fortunately, it won’t matter once Bigelow gets going.

  • Derrick

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:55 pm …

    Yeah true dat. It’s just too bad they’re so short on valid arguments they have to result to middle-school level tactics. It’s all about making good sound-bytes, whatever only takes a second to get thrown around and make people angry without the need for facts to back it up. Really it’s asymmetric political warfare.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “I don’t mind the democracy saying no to space. But, really, it’s simple. Go ask anyone if they’d rather spend their tax on a war in the middle east or in exploring space and developing technology.”

    I’ve been trying to avoid getting sucked in here but, people have been convinced that the war in the Middle East in is their greater interest. As in, you know, those terrorist-guys. Sure, no one wants to spend money on a war, but people are willing to do that if they’ve been convinced it’s in their better interest. The majority have been convinced, it would seem.

    As to developing technology, we do that. In spades. And we do it vastly more outside of the space program than within it. The space program has rather little to do with technology development as benefits our greater economy and our well being. OK, there’s that “inspiration” thing, but there has never been, in my view, a compelling explanation of what that is, and how inspiration from a space program is a powerful driver for technology development in a nation.

    As to exploring space, sure, everyone wants to do that, except it does have the awkward problem that no one is exactly sure why we should do it. More to the point, the American public has generally not ever been convinced why exploring space is in their greater interest. They may agree that we should do it, but they really don’t understand why. That’s too bad, but it’s true.

    Direct power over what is done with tax money is what we already have. It’s called taxation by elected representation. To the extent you can’t elect representatives who have your priorities, then I guess you can try to stiff the IRS, and invest your own tax money in some space program. Best of luck.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I wouldnt spend 100 billion on human spaceflight. My theory is that the amount spent is just about right…there is no more need for money until what is spent, is spent far better.

    While I dont think that the Apollo model is one that is likely to be used in the future, I do think that the ISS model will be; but in far different circumstances.

    First off in the end unless the US can go it alone (moneywise) I dont think that we will go. But second I htink that if the US can afford to go; then it will be because the economics of human spaceflight are such that current hardware that is used for other things and as a process of that we will include other countries who can adapt their technology to do specific things.

    In other words…the South Pole model

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I am sure that the ideology escapes you. People who ditto with Rush are quite sure he is really mainstream and everyone else is on the fringe.

    As I said people whose positions are not from reason cannot be reasoned with.

    So lets just see how the elections turn out…and what the track is. Then when I am correct you can explain to me how I am really not (grin)

    back to space

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 7:08 pm and Derrick from an above post.

    The debate on human spaceflight should be seen in the context of our energy debate.

    There is no more pressing need to develop some sort of alternate energy program to what we have. Not only will our energy requirements soar in the coming future…but even if one does not put a lot of truck in global climate change (and I DONT) the reality of sending what half a trillion or so dollars every year to the Mideast…to governments which clearly are not our “good buds” and some of them really dont like us…along with sending about the same to China to do the debt.

    all tell me that we need to push very hard to develop some sort of energy policy which at the very least spends those dollars with governments who do value “modernity” and even better yet spend it at home.

    Yet we seem paralyzed in terms of actually doing that.

    There is a clear need, and a need that could bypass any political disunity on things like “climate change”…a need that could unify the effort and if successful would definatly change our future…

    yet for some reason we cannot even unify over that.

    So it strikes me as odd when people (not the two of you) say “we should spend 100’s of billions on human spaceflight to do X”.

    the rationale is simply not there

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    “you can try to stiff the IRS, and invest your own tax money in some space program. Best of luck.”

    Ha! That’s great!

  • As I said people whose positions are not from reason cannot be reasoned with.

    Physician, heal thyself. And stop making things up about me.

  • “NASA is not science, and defense is not “militarism.”

    LOL.

    “I’m just tossing out a hypothetical situation anyway. China has nowhere near that capability at present and who knows when they’ll even get their space station up or whatever.”

    Completely agree, but that’s precisely my point. I was taking into consideration that US space plan is still 20 years away. In 20 years we will have a completely different China, I’m sure. And it would be such a shame us planning just a trip to Mars and they building an outpost in the Moon for permanent human presence.

    ” it’s too expensive to go alone. When we return to the Moon, it will be as a species, not as a nation.”

    IMHO, that’s how it should be. I didn’t want to bring the topic, because some people get touchy at the feeling that we can’t do it alone. I know we can, but it would be a mistake to undertake any long mission by ourselves. The next big space missions should be an International effort.

    “The great myth of space groupies is that somehow if the US (or the world) would just spend a giant amount of money then 2001 A Space Odessey would happen. There is no data to support that analysis.”

    I’m not saying that by throwing money you solve the problem, in fact, I mentioned earlier that the main problem is lack of objectives, purpose and strategy. That’s far a bigger problem than budget. But money do help and space missions are super expensive.

    My main problem with Obama’s space proposal is that I don’t feel the logic in visiting Mars before establishing on the Moon. I do want to see humans in Mars and would be super excited about it. But strategically speaking, the Moon makes more sense to me.

    But what we need is objectives, a real reason to keep going to space. Besides science and research, maybe space tourism, profit opportunities. And please don’t think within the next 10, 20 years. Let’s think in the complete future and purpose of space exploration.

  • “NASA is not science, and defense is not “militarism.”

    LOL.

    Well, you’re certainly easily entertained. Do you always find reality humorous?

    Well, at least you don’t LOL at your own “jokes,” like Oler does.

  • Robert G. Oler

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I agree with the “mars” focus you mentioned…but all things have rhetorical flourishes and while I can openly say “I think thats nuts” I really dont care.

    any discussion on “if” Much less “where” the nation jumps off to out of Earth space is quite awhile in the future past Obama’s one or two terms…so I find the entire notion pretty valuless to have. Plus I think that the discussion will be had more on economics then planting flags.

    One cannot have more then a flags and footprints mission unless there are economics behind it. And right now I dont see any economics which drive human “presence” anywhere outside Earth space.

    I think that the next place humans head to “do something” is GEO.

    Robert G. Oler

  • In reality NASA does contribute a lot to science and DoD contributes a lot to militarism. That’s the truth.

    And at least for me, I would appreciate seeing money flowing more towards science and technology than to wars. I of course, want to invest in our security and defense. But, really, 700Billion is a bit too much. The closest Nation is, I don’t know, 650billions farther from the US.

    I never stated that NASA was science. When I speak of Science, I mean all the science-related agencies. USGS, NASA, DOE, etc, etc, etc. I just stated the truth, it’s a huge budget gap between science and militarism in the US.

  • I never stated that NASA was science. When I speak of Science, I mean all the science-related agencies. USGS, NASA, DOE, etc, etc, etc. I just stated the truth, it’s a huge budget gap between science and militarism in the US.

    No, it’s a huge budget gap between science and national defense, which is as it should be, since the latter is one of the primary purposes of government. To think this will or even should change, given the crooked timber from which humanity is hewn, is to live in aerie faerie land.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

    Don’t you think that we might accomplish the same stuff with 500B? I’m not saying “Oh, we should behave like the rest of the world and just spend some loose change on defense”

    What I’m saying is that nobody, aside from contractors, would suffer from a 100~200B budget cut for DoD. There’s no reason for a cold war-type DoD budget if there isn’t any cold war.

    I fully support defense and the military. I don’t want to come off as an anti-military hippie, I’m not. But again, I see this and its just too much in my opinion. But I totally respect your position.

  • ,em>Don’t you think that we might accomplish the same stuff with 500B? I’m not saying “Oh, we should behave like the rest of the world and just spend some loose change on defense”

    No, if we did that, it would be a return to a state of nature (e.g., check out Africa). Our defense spending doesn’t just defend us, but also our allies who share our liberal (in the classical sense) values. I actually wish they’d spend more on it, because we’re just subsidizing their socialism.

    In addition to that, it enriches much of the world. Our navy keeps shipping lanes open for trade, GPS provides the world with navigation. As for cutting the Pentagon budget, there is no doubt much waste, but it’s hard to do much about that for the same reason it’s hard to fix NASA — a lot of politicians just look at it as pork for their states or districts. Also, it’s kind of like advertising — everyone knows that half of it is a waste, but no one is sure which half…

    Anyway, as already discussed, there is zero relationship between the military budget (or the HHS budget, or Social Security, or the Department of Agriculture, or pick your government waste) and NASA. If you want to get more money for NASA, you have to persuade the Congress that it’s important to do so. Me, I think that it’s mostly a waste as well, in terms of opening up space…

  • Robert G. Oler

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    One (but not the least) mistake of the last administration was to over react to 9/11. They (the last administration) had an agenda anyway and when 9/11 came along they were quite able to morph it into the cause for what they had planned all along.

    Problem for them (and us) is that the thunderheads underestimated the cost (it was going to pay for itself) and the time (six months of solid combat) and overestimated what we would get for it. I have no doubt that to some America (another generation say 2030 on) Iraq might prove to be a plus (much as the adventures in the Spanish American War were ..particularly in the Pacific…to the 1940’s generation…but to ours we will never recoup the cost by the value. The idiots of the last administration overestimated how much the Iraq thing would change the price of oil.

    As a result we are stuck not only with Cold war expensive weapons but adventures in Iraq and Afland that are costing lots of money. Getting a handle on those is going to be enormously important.

    We should be able to defend ourselves on about 1/2 trillion dollars…but not while engaged in active combat.

    The 1- 1 and 1/2 trillion Iraq will eventually cost us (not to mention the lives) could have been spent far better for “us” and future generations. But since the right wing is neither paying the cost in taxes nor the effort in lives…well it always has a lot of value to them.

    Ask Whittington, there really was WMD it went to Syria.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 24th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    A: I mentioned earlier that the main problem is lack of objectives, purpose and strategy.

    My main problem with Obama’s space proposal is that I don’t feel the logic in visiting Mars before establishing on the Moon. I do want to see humans in Mars and would be super excited about it. But strategically speaking, the Moon makes more sense to me.

    What you haven’t absorbed yet are the facts. With the proposed fully funded budget directives, NASA is tasked with exactly what you hope to see them do. Please read through the comments on this post, and the posts here on Jeff’s blog since the President’s conference in Florida. You’ll find several iterations of what he proposes to do in the short (and long) term, and it gets us out there sooner, in a sustainable fashion.

    Don’t believe the doomsayers, we ARE on the path that will not only provide the science and technology, but the inspiration as well.

    Please spread the word.

  • Bennett, I don’t totally agree with your enthusiasm, but I think you’d at least admit that the reason why so many people are dismayed with the new direction is the extensive gaps in the “plan”. Instead of going to the NASA website to see where NASA is going, they’d have to ask someone like you.. and the newspapers sooo negative. Overally, the administration’s PR has been so bad that its no surprise that people are jumping to the doom and gloom.

  • Bennett

    Trent, It’s a shame that some folks are dismayed. I was, for about 3 days after the budget hit the ‘net. Then I did enough research to understand why it made sense, and was excited by the possibilities.

    I think that would be the case for most folks if not for the hue and cry from the Cx crowd (sad, but necessary), and then the Shuttle folks chimed in (as if they had any reason to given the timeline of <their job cuts), and then all reality was fucked once the various media outlets got it completly backwards…

    Oh well, this too will pass.

  • Well, what facts exactly? Look, just for the record, I don’t think that Bush program was better than Obama’s. But so far, I think this is the first time in his presidency that he isn’t being exactly clear of what he wants. Unless, I’m missing something, is there any document with facts of what why and when?

    He axed the Moon mission. And honestly, it did needed to to be put on hold until we exactly figured out what we wanted to accomplish with it and what we wanted to accomplish with Space Exploration in general.

    Why Mars first? Why cancel the Moon program? The mission to Mars is only going to orbit around it. Maybe a few years later landing on it. That’s all been said. And it doesn’t make any sense.

  • Bennett

    @Jorge_Valentin wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 12:16 am

    “The mission to Mars is only going to orbit around it. Maybe a few years later landing on it. That’s all been said. And it doesn’t make any sense.”

    Please read the budget proposal. You are operating without the facts. Until you actually know what has been proposed (and what has been said), we can’t have a reasonable conversation. Review what has been written in the comments of the last 5 posts and you will see that in no way is the Moon being canceled.

    With the proposed direction for NASA we get to the Moon (and many other places) much sooner than we would have with Constellation.

  • Manned Moon Missions are not going to happen. Could you point me to the very same documents you are reading?

    Provide me with your facts, because so far, every other website agrees that there aren’t any manned missions to the Moon.

  • Manned Moon Missions are not going to happen.

    Do you really believe that “Manned Moon Missions” (your idiosyncratic capitalization) are not gong to happen just because there is no specific date in a federal policy for them to happen? Do you really imagine that a government official statement is either a necessary or sufficient condition for something to happen?

    Why do you have such unjustified faith in government?

  • Bennett

    The quoted comment comes from Jeff’s post

    “Additional reaction to the president’s speech”
    April 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm · Filed under NASA, White House

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 17th, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    “We have no mission now”

    Excerpts from the President’s speech:

    “But we can also see it in other ways: in the reluctance of those who hold office to set clear, achievable objectives; to provide the resources to meet those objectives; and to justify not just these plans but the larger purpose of space exploration in the 21st century.

    All that has to change. And with the strategy I’m outlining today, it will. We start by increasing NASA’s budget by $6 billion over the next five years,”

    —–
    MISSION 1

    “we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve the daily lives of people here on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space. This includes technologies like more efficient life support systems that will help reduce the cost of future missions.”

    —–
    MISSION 2

    “we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable …. By buying the services of space transportation — rather than the vehicles themselves — we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met. But we will also accelerate the pace of innovations as companies — from young startups to established leaders — compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.”

    —-

    MISSION 3

    “In addition, as part of this effort, we will build on the good work already done on the Orion crew capsule. I’ve directed Charlie Bolden to immediately begin developing a rescue vehicle using this technology, so we are not forced to rely on foreign providers if it becomes necessary to quickly bring our people home from the International Space Station. And this Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions”

    —–
    MISSION 4

    “we will invest more than $3 billion to conduct research on an advanced “heavy lift rocket” — a vehicle to efficiently send into orbit the crew capsules, propulsion systems, and large quantities of supplies needed to reach deep space. In developing this new vehicle, we will not only look at revising or modifying older models; we want to look at new designs, new materials, new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there. And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it.”

    —-

    MISSION 5

    “we will increase investment — right away — in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? ”

    —-

    MISSION 6

    “Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. ”

    —-

    MISSION 7

    “by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we’ll start — we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”

    —-

    MISSION 8

    “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth.”

    —-

    MISSION 9

    “a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it”

    —-

    MISSION 10

    “Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I’m challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And we’ll give you the resources to break through these barriers.”

    Jorge, Does this specifically spell out a goal of landing on the Moon? No. But what need to get across to “every other website” is that we face a choice: Do we blow ALL of NASA’s budget for the next 10 years on a jobs program (Constellation) that gets us nothing except very expensive rocket tests for the next 15 years (and then we start building the hardware for a very small lunar landing, except by that time we’re broke), or do we set up the infrastructure for sustained HSF by building the technology and skill sets that allows for HSF AND real science? Using the available LVs to assemble a real space ship in LEO that can be piloted to anywhere we want.

    With the President’s proposed direction (per the Augustine report) we do more, sooner, with a very real focus of staying in space for good.

    Me? I’m tired of the old way of doing things that led nowhere. Starting on some dream project just to have it canceled because it was costing billions more than NASA had projected.

    I’m looking forward to seeing a few Bigelow habitats in orbit, an orbiting “gas station” that provides fuel for multiple missions (with the same craft) to lunar orbit, an asteroid, Mars orbit, and the other places we could use as destinations to prove the new technology.

    More people, more manned missions, and real momentum that will carry NASA through the changing of government administrations. President Obama didn’t cancel the Moon, he canceled Constellation that was eating NASA alive.

  • As a temporary aside in the hope (no doubt futile) of returning some non-partisan civility to this discussion …

    Today’s Doonesbury reminds us of the infamous Newt Gingrich GOPAC memo. Click here to view today’s Doonesbury. And click here to view the GOPAC memo.

    It would be nice if we could tone down the “contrasting words” as Gingrich called them and use more of the “optimistic positive governing words.”

    And if you disagree, you’re a … wait a sec, let me check that Gingrich list … “corrupt self-serving radical.”

    Newt Gingrich, the Magic 8 Ball of political rhetoric.

  • Click here to read an article in Florida Today about how to evolve Obama’s “Silicon Valley of Space” proposal for Space Coast.

  • That’s the report I needed! (Augustine Report)

    I hope its all for the best. We can only sit back, watch and enjoy. Maybe in the coming years it will all make sense and everybody’s going to have an “Aha” moment.

    For now, I think the President space strategy is a bit blurry and could benefit from more PR time. His administration have not communicated it in the best way.

    And yes, Constellation wasn’t making much sense. And its good that the president sat back and reviewed reality.

  • red

    Doug Lassiter: “The space program has rather little to do with technology development as benefits our greater economy and our well being.”

    It should have more to do with that than it currrently does. The 2011 budget proposal does shift NASA more towards technology development to benefit the economy and our well being (not just for NASA’s needs). Here’s how the Space Technology section of the budget describes this:

    “… a more robust national capability for space activities that will improve our competitive posture in the international marketplace, enable new industries and contribute to economic growth. Space Technology Program efforts will also serve as a spark to innovation that can be applied broadly in a more robust technology-based economy, an international symbol of our country’s scientific innovation, engineering creativity and technological skill, and a component of the remedy to our nation’s scientific and mathematics literacy challenges.

    Major breakthroughs are needed to address our society’s energy, health, transportation, and environment challenges. While NASA investments alone will not solve these grand challenges, NASA has proven to have a unique ability to attract and motivate many of the country’s best young minds into educational programs and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A suite of game-changing space systems discoveries are within our nation’s grasp. With a stronger focus on technology development, the intellectual capital at NASA’s field centers will be utilized to deliver solutions to some of our nation’s grand technological challenges.”

    You can get an idea how some of the space technologies in that part of the budget might be applied both to space and to broader economic and other national needs by skimming through the example technologies in that section and considering how they can be applied.

  • red wrote:

    [The space program] should have more to do with that than it currrently does.

    This is an annoyance of mine. People really need to go read NASA’s charter to see what it is that NASA is supposed to do:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html

    NASA got hijacked into the Cold War vision of beating the Russians to the Moon. Ever since then, it’s been a political battle to return to its original intent.

    And right up front it says:

    The Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (as established by title II of this Act) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space. (Emphasis added.)

  • Vladislaw

    Jorge_Valentin wrote

    “For now, I think the President space strategy is a bit blurry and could benefit from more PR time. His administration have not communicated it in the best way.”

    A lot of times you see a reoccuring theme in space forums. The idea that NASA is great at power point presentations and pushing paper rather than executing the actual creation. This is one time, with our modern media systems, the President should have used them. I would have prefered him giving his speech in front of a jumbo tron screen with vasimr powered, inflatable hab crew quarters ships flying across the screen illustrating how is plan is to operate.

    For space, a picture does indeed say a thousand words and I believe, with his ability to supply a narrative to the streaming images people would have been more open to what he was suggesting.

  • red

    @Jorge_Valentin: “My main problem with Obama’s space proposal is that I don’t feel the logic in visiting Mars before establishing on the Moon. I do want to see humans in Mars and would be super excited about it. But strategically speaking, the Moon makes more sense to me.”

    I actually doubt the new space proposal would result in visiting Mars with astronauts before visiting the Moon (“establishing” might be more debatable). The new effort is geared towards enabling exploration in general over the next few years, not one particular destination. It attempts to develop generally useful technologies like propellant depots, closed-loop life support, and others, and to develop commercial space capabilities, so that all sorts of destinations can be reached later. It doesn’t really favor Mars before the Moon. The real decisions about what destinations to go for will happen in later years under this approach, and that will depend on results from technology development, commercial and international partnerships, and robotic precursors, as well as future priorities.

    Note that the 2011 budget’s first HSF robotic precursor mission will, according to the budget proposal document, probably be a mission to the lunar surface to test telerobotics and look for resources, which implies an interest in use of those resources. There are also suggestions in the budget about lunar ISRU.

    As far as current Administration efforts tend towards a particular sequence of missions, they follow the Augustine Committee Flexible Path to Mars pretty closely, and that path strongly hints at visits to the Moon’s surface before Mars’ surface. The President says we wouldn’t visit the Moon first, but the Flexible Path allows (and probably encourages) visits to the Moon’s surface after visiting NEOs or Mars orbit/Mars Moons.

  • To all those on this blog that think I’m goofy…

    NASA development and advancement in space is NOT about subscribing to Rep/Dem duopolistic politics-full stop.

    When NASA commits to a program-of-record in whatever administration it was conceived it goes through project management ie. the PROJECT LIFE CYCLE. For me space science has nothing to do with who is in the executive. Each president sells his/her party’s version of space development the rub is when programs-of-record are completely gutted and trashed at a moment’s notice throwing good money after bad to satisfy the demise of a otherwise good program. I can understand some modifications to an existing program-of-record not violently dropping the program.

    “Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the subcommittee and the only Democratic senator present at the hearing, said she was not yet sold on the new exploration plan.”

    If you listen to the hearing at the lady senator’s tone she was not too pleased at these program-of-record drops. And you can bet she will pursue this criticism with others in her party as with other members’ party on the committee. 90% of the members where super concerned about the new NASA plan.

    If you can’t see the the space policy feathers flying in the background then you need to cop-a-clue ’cause there’s some serious debate going in NASA space policy right now!!

  • Vladislaw

    If you look at all the destinations in space as lakes that we want to go fishing at, how do we proceed. We can fish from the bank or we can bring a boat and trailer with to launch it and explore the lake.

    But before we do anything we need a “car” to visit the lakes. That is what this program gives us opportunity to create. So before we talk about bringing along the boat (landing craft) lets just worry about building the vehicle we need to take us to ANY lake we want to go…. FIRST. We can fish from the bank, so to speak, with teleoperated probes, in real time, from orbit. Until we get the systems wrung out we can visit a lot of points in space and will be in a better posiition to bring commercial activities with us as we go.

  • For me space science has nothing to do with who is in the executive.

    As long as you delude yourself that human spaceflight has anything to do with science at all, let alone space science, you’ll continue to misunderstand and misdiagnose the problem.

  • Aggelos

    all beyond leo manned missions will be international…and every agency will put its part..thats the future..and Bolden said it clearly in interviews… dont forget in 2 years from now a Russian rover aboard chardrayaan 2 will land on the moon south pole..

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