NASA, White House

Holdren: astronauts support our plan, too

The video above is a response to a question about NASA’s new plan posed to presidential science advisor John Holdren at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy in Washington on Thursday, one day after he appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss the administration’s new human spaceflight plans. He outlined the admininstration’s objections to Constellation, including its “rapidly escalating costs” and schedule slips. “The president and his advisors, including me, made the decision that there are other destinations in deep space, destinations beyond low Earth orbit, that will enable us to do more science sooner, with more missions, more visits, more exciting discoveries than going back to the Moon 50 years later,” he said.

He noted that some of the astronauts who went to the Moon during Apollo oppose the new plan. “It’s not real surprising that the American heroes who were the first people to set foot on the Moon might think the most exciting thing we could possibly do now is to go back there, but not everybody agrees with them.” He pointed out that a “large array” of astronauts support the White House’s plan, from Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride to Mae Jemison and John Grunsfeld.

“I think we’re getting some very bad press, frankly,” Holdren continued, “because there’s huge attention in the press ot the fact that Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan testified against the president’s proposal and practically no attention at all to a large number of astronauts who support it.”

109 comments to Holdren: astronauts support our plan, too

  • Nice. Unfortunately, the reason why they’re getting such bad press is that moments of clarity from the administration, such as this one, appear to be so rare. Why didn’t you say this yesterday? I for one think this is the best ever documented case of Treppenwitz.

  • sc220

    Holdren’s response is articulate and counters the arguments made against the President’s policy quite well. Unfortunately, these are exactly the type of explanations we should be hearing from NASA leadership.

  • Returning to the Moon is not about excitement. Its about learning to exploit the natural resources of our solar system so that we can reduce the cost of space travel, grow the economy, and enhance our ability to expand human civilization beyond our planet of evolutionary origin. The Moon would also be one of the primary destinations for the emerging space tourism industry.

    Neil Armstrong was exactly right. We need to return to the Moon— to stay!

  • mike shupp

    “…other destinations … that will enable us to do more science sooner…”

    And of course no one wants a manned space program for any reason at all but science! No one ever dreamed of a manned space program except for the science!

  • Marcel, I agree with your basic point, but where the excitement becomes relevant is in the duration that it takes to get back to the Moon. Lofty goals will get you so far, but while you’re building the infrastructure to get you there the public loses interest and your grand project gets canceled. So the challenge becomes making milestones along the path which can keep the public interest. It’s not just about “excitement”, it’s about practical demonstration of progress.

    That’s my opinion anyway. There are quite a large amount of people who see the human spaceflight program as just being about inspiration and spinoffs. Armstrong and Cernan are two such people. To them, going back to the Moon is about inspiring the next generation, and it is perfectly reasonable to rebut that claim with surveys and anecdotes of the next generation’s complete lack of interest.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel, no one is saying we’re never going back to the Moon. What NASA is saying today is that the Constellation program was not the right way to return to the Moon. Besides, Bush and the prior Congresses never wanted to support Constellation either – they never fully funded the program.

    The current NASA plan lays the groundwork for future activity on the Moon, both robotic and human. Instead of “U.S. Government Property” on the side of a single-use Altair lander, I think we’ll be launching in a SpaceX Dragon, traveling in a Boeing TLI spaceliner, landing in a Lockheed-Martin ACES 41 lander, and staying in a Bigelow Lunar Motel. That’s how we can have a robust presence on the Moon, and without the U.S. Taxpayer bearing the full brunt of the cost.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    They’re getting bad press because it is a bad plan. Let me get this straight. We are not going back to the Moon because going to an asteroid is “more exciting?” This reduces space exploration to bread and circuses that simply cannot be sustained.

    Holdren’s slamming of Armstrong and Aldrin as a couple of old fuddy duddies is par for the course with that crowd. He can’t answer their arguments, so he attacks them personally.

    As for the “large numbers of astronauts?” Holdren names three, Buzz Aldrin, and two partisan Democrats, Sally Ride and John Glenn. Very pathetic.

  • Mark, he didn’t say they were getting bad press.. he said they were getting unbalanced press.

    Now, we were having a nice adult conversation before you came along. Why do you always have to drag us back down to your level?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Returning to the Moon is not about excitement. Its about learning to exploit the natural resources of our solar system so that we can reduce the cost of space travel, grow the economy, and enhance our ability to expand human civilization beyond our planet of evolutionary origin.

    the problem is that the notion of returning to the Moon to use its resources is virtually unsalable politically in the US. There are a number of reasons for that, not the least of which is Constellation. For the dollars we are spending to build Constellation it is hard to imagine that any infrastructure that is needed to use that infrastructure can be afforded.

    In other words if it is taking over 100 billion to go back to the Moon it is hard to imagine that the infrastructure that is needed to use its resources is affordable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 6:04 am

    . He can’t answer their arguments, so he attacks them personally.

    pot calling kettle some color.

    the arguments that Cernan in particular put out are so without value as to be comical. The “1 cent check off”…please. Thats laughable whoever proposes it

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    The mistake that Holdren, General Bolden and to some extent Lori Garver have made is thinking that any really rational response or presentation would change the folks or modify the message of those who support the POR.

    It is impossible to have a logical discussion with those whose opposition to a plan (whatever it is) is not based on logic or reason.

    For instance those who claim “we have to get back to the Moon before the Chinese make us show our passports” (a pretty good paraphrase of things Whittington has posted here) …in the absence of any solid evidence that the Chinese are 1) going to the Moon or 2) even if they were are intent on some nefarious Bush like takeover of lunar resources (or even have that capability) are just voicing fears and rhetoric that simply defy logic. One might as well try and have a conversation with my 6 week old daughter who is crying because she is hungry, and try and explain to her that as soon as the car stops moving we will feed her. It is not possible, she doesnt have the frame of reference and neither do those who argue the Chinese theories. (although the reasons for the lack of reference in the two cases are quite different Lorelei is only 6 weeks old the other are well…)

    I expect those whose jobs and livelyhood are caught up in the entire effort to make arguments and presentations which “lean” toward preserving those jobs and livelyhood.

    And to some extent this explains the goofy statements that have come out of the politicians. Shelby and the other GOP folks who champion the free enterprise system as the answer to everything, often a free enterprise system devoid of any real government regulation…find their own job on the line in terms of representing large corporate interest in their states/districts as well as votes of course. That is what has caused them to reverse their ideology.

    The opposition of folks like Cernan who certainly has name recognition can be judged on the merits (or lack of same) of the logic he presents. Cernan’s “Ted STryker” Like explanation of why we should go back to the Moon kind of nails it all.

    And that nails most of the opponents of the new plan. Few if any of them can explain how a 100-200 billion dollar effort spread out over 20 more years means anything other then “just another NASA program” much like the shuttle and station.

    Holdren and Bolden should have figured this out and been more prepared for it. If anyone in my view (oh rah I am now in more comfortable territory) should bear the burden of letting this get a little silly its Garver. I assume that she is at the agency for her political chops…she certainly had enough field work over the last 12-8 years in politics and has seen how the cycle would go.

    The good news for this administration is that the pro “program of record” or “anyway but the Obama way” folks are floundering in their own bed of stupidity. The effort to push the new program is bouyed by sad and pathetic presentations like Cernan’s or open pork pie efforts like Nelson or KBH. The financial situation in The Republic is tough…and there simply isnt the money to toss away at things like Ares…and the rest of the government is lining up for the new effort.

    I am told pretty reliably that folks from DoD have been knocking down the notion that SRB production is a defense issue.

    The best one can do with those who claim “the chinese are going to take over” is time after time knock them down with logic. Call them out to prove their statements, and ridicule them with facts.

    That must be done however and Garver in particular needs to be more ruthless in doing it. Notions like “The chinese are going to take over” seem stupid to people who are dealing with facts…but stranger notions have taken hold when they are repeated often enough. At one point a former administration had people believing that Saddam was going to use his non existent WMD in balsa wood airplanes launched from oil tankers to attack us.

    the legacy is still there. Some believe that the WMD went to Syria, with no proof, that HRC shot Vince Foster and that Obama was not born in Hawaii. those lies must be confronted otherwise they gain traction.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    Neil Armstrong was exactly right. We need to return to the Moon— to stay!

    Fine. Who’s going to pay for it?

    Not the American taxpayer. That’s the fundamental problem. It’s been said over and over again, most recently at the Senate Commerce Committee. Congress will not properly fund a sustainable Moon program.

    So who’s going to pay for it?

    That’s the real world where Obama’s proposal lies.

  • Old hands can provide wisdom and perspective. Old hands can also be the battleship admirals after Pearl Harbor or the generals using Napoleonic tactics against massed machine guns or the Army telling Billy Mitchell bombers wouldn’t be important in the next war.

    Which are Armstrong and Cernan? Honest people can disagree, but I think they grew up in a government-centric environment (the military and NASA) and can’t see that there is a day when how we did things then isn’t how we need to move forward today.

  • NASA Fan

    The problem with government led HSF exploration to the moon or anywhere else, is, because it relies on taxpayer money, it requires a consensus of Congress sufficient to pass a bill; it therefore requires the addressing the concerns of the American public sufficient for politicians to vote for it.

    This paradigm will never result in action that realizes the aspirations of those who post on this site, and others, that see visions of extracting resources from non earthly bodies, of research bases on the Earth moon or Mars moons, etc.

    The only paradigm that will result in actions leading to such visions is going to be held by a few wealthy individuals willing to put up their own money to satisfy their own concerns. This requires one vote to move ahead. Witness Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Burt Rutan. While these gentlemen aren’t yet in orbit, they have all done amazing things WITH THEIR OWN MONEY.

    NASA should get out of the HSF exploration business, because it’s future is going to look pretty much like it’s past: lots of money spent and not much to show for it – whether it’s a mission centric or a R&D centric approach.

    If HSF stays within the NASA portfolio, and it wishes to achieve anything other than what seems predictable, it will take leadership the likes of which NASA and the Federal Government have never seen.

    Obama and Bolden are not those leaders.

    The game being played now between the WH/OMB/NASA/OSTP/Congress is bankrupt….and the outcome predictable.

  • Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 7:15 am

    To the extent this is true:

    Fine. Who’s going to pay for it?

    Not the American taxpayer. That’s the fundamental problem. It’s been said over and over again, most recently at the Senate Commerce Committee. Congress will not properly fund a sustainable Moon program.

    A plan that will assimilate America’s best NewSpace companies into the NASA (Borg) collective will delay rather than accelerate the day when non-NASA funding sources can be harnessed to accomplish a sustainable lunar program.

  • CharlesHouston

    We should not kid ourselves that “the astronauts” are some sort of voting block that has a corporate opinion. There is a wide variety of backgrounds, professional goals, etc. Various groups of people – for example retired General officers – can be found supporting many opinions.

    It is totally amazing to me that we have not heard more objections from astronauts about the idea of flying people to an asteroid. Some of them must have looked at the risks and could say that a reasonable person would NOT do something that has lots of risks for little return. I find it surprising that Gen Bolden – a rare example of a person who is in both of my example groups – would go along with a proposed mission for which we are so poorly prepared, that has such enormous risks.

  • amightywind

    Opposition to Obamaspace is running about 80/20. I would love for Holdren to have an open poll of current and retired astronauts and openly publish the results. Of course he never will. He would rather campaign on his phony assumption. Don’t let Holdren hide behind the rubric ‘more science’ either. Holdren is an old style Malthusian who manipulates science for his own socialist, eco-apocalyptic political aims. This guy is one of the worst of a rogues gallery of Obama appointments. The idea of this guy directing your space program should make your skin crawl. I call on all NASA employees to mutiny against your leadership.

  • Bennett

    “mutiny against your leadership”

    The Tea Party has spoken. Thanks for the laugh.

  • amightywind

    One of the main talking points in the litany of Obamaspace supporters is that the POR was ‘over schedule and over budget’. So what they propose is to remove the goals thus removing the schedule and they increased the budget anyway. Now the NASA leadership is on the hook for nothing with no time frame and an increased funding level. They still call themselves a ‘space administration’? How about just an ‘administration’?

    ‘Damn it feels good to be a gangsta’

  • Fred Cink

    I am not sure which is more sad and/or pathetic, a statement urging NASA employees to “mutiny,” or a statement ridiculing a group that actually demands elected political leaders be accountable to those who elect them. How about ideas and debate on how best to get this species off this rock and out from under the next layer of irridium.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind blew…

    “NASA leadership is on the hook for nothing with no time frame and an increased funding level.”. Maybe you should actually read what is in the budget before making these statements. The science community, which is bigger than the “malthusian’s”, are quite thrilled that NASA can get back to basic R&D and exploration with lots more small projects.

    Constellation was a massive experiment, whose outcome was predicated that what we would find would be worth $200B. With the new budget, the projects are smaller, the outcomes don’t bust the bank if they fail, and we are doing more high level exploration.

  • Kerns Valero

    Astronauts that would support Obamas space”plan” just don’t have the right stuff. They are astronauts that had no business flying and were a product political correctness. As for Buzz Aldrin….he’s been nutty since he returned from the moon.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “And of course no one wants a manned space program for any reason at all but science! No one ever dreamed of a manned space program except for the science!”

    Who said that it was all about science? I thought Holdren mentioned science in the same sentence as “more missions, more visits, more exciting discoveries”. Seems to me he’s comfortable with the idea that it isn’t all about science. Finding caves to hide in, tweaking 3He refineries, and doing wheelies on bulldozers being used to excavate rocks with which propellant can be squeezed out of are all noble goals that Holdren’s picture encompasses.

    It’s remarkable how, in the eyes of some HSF enthusiasts, science has actually become a dirty word.

  • amightywind

    Coastal Ron wrote:
    “The science community, which is bigger than the “malthusian’s”, are quite thrilled that NASA can get back to basic R&D and exploration with lots more small projects.”

    Of course the scientists are thrilled, like anyone else on the government gravy train. But NASA’s role in funding science research (especially earth and climate science) is redundant to NOAA and NSF. It would be a simple task to reapportion several $ billion to fund HSF properly, and leave the tree huggers to their own devices.

  • red

    Mike Shupp: “And of course no one wants a manned space program for any reason at all but science! No one ever dreamed of a manned space program except for the science!”

    Holdren is speaking at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy. The AAAS is the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Of course he’s going to mention science, since the new NASA approach does a much better job for science than Griffin’s approach. Don’t worry, though; the new NASA approach is better than Griffin’s in all sorts of other ways you could evaluate a space program, too: commercial space, national security advantages, education, public participation, sustainability, affordability, space resources, energy/environment benefits, health/medicine/biology advances, technology improvements, quicker results, etc.

  • amightywind

    red wrote:
    “commercial space, national security advantages, education, public participation, sustainability, affordability, space resources, energy/environment benefits, health/medicine/biology advances, technology improvements, quicker results, etc.”

    LMAO! A little short on specifics, I think. What about those game changers? How many environmental agencies do we need? How about an agency that launches men and payloads into space without drama? As far as quicker results, the last year and a half have been the most gridlocked in NASA’s history. There is strong bipartisan opposition to his crazy policies. Obama has little more than 2 years left in his term. Your mindless assertion doesn’t add up.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “As for the “large numbers of astronauts?” Holdren names three, Buzz Aldrin, and two partisan Democrats, Sally Ride and John Glenn. Very pathetic.”

    Buzz Aldrin is a Republican. I guess the pathos here is that astronaut support for the new plan can be termed bipartisan? The astronauts who have come out against the plan will never fly again, so I guess it’s easy for them to come down on the side of a plan that would not have US astronauts fly for a long time.

    But although they can’t take sides in the matter, and certainly can’t be caught arguing against agency policy, it would be interesting to sniff out what the current astronaut corps thinks about it. With an inadequately funded Constellation, they’d be sitting on the ground for many years, which I suspect they’d rather not do.

  • red

    Mark R. Whittington: “We are not going back to the Moon”

    Noone has said we are not going back to the Moon. We’re just not going back there first. The Augustine Committee pointed out how going to the Moon first gives us too many development programs all at once, resulting in no results for a long time – around 2035 in Constellation’s case. The new plan fixes the considerable devestation done to the rest of NASA by Griffin’s form of Constellation, and still gets astronauts beyond LEO in the early 2020′s.

    There are lots of documents and statements that show the Moon is still one of the intended destinations. I’ll just point out a recent one, Bolden’s statement to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

    http://commerce.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=62df125d-4ab6-4d7b-8375-9141338e0425

    “under the new plan, we will ensure continuous American presence in space on the International Space Station (ISS) throughout this entire decade and likely beyond, re-establish a robust and competitive American launch industry, launch more robotic probes into our solar system as precursors for human activity, invest in a new heavy lift research and development (R&D) program, and build a technological foundation for sustainable, beyond-LEO exploration, with more capable expeditions in lunar space, and human missions to near-Earth asteroids, the Moon, Lagrange points, and, ultimately, Mars.”

  • amightywind

    Doug Lassiter wrote:
    “Buzz Aldrin is a Republican.”

    Buzz Aldin is also, shall we say, a little troubled? A perfect pick off target for the opportunistic Obama political machine. The term, a useful idiot, might be a little harsh.

    “With an inadequately funded Constellation, they’d be sitting on the ground for many years, which I suspect they’d rather not do.”

    With no Constellation they are not astronauts at all. When is the first human flight on a commercial rocket scheduled under the Obama plan? They are not.

  • Ben Joshua

    It’s been pointed out to me privately that my criticism of NASA and contractors is too broad. Let me recognize the many NASA and contractor employees, as witness their achievements, who are dedicated to excellence and as a matter of course make the amazing SOP, unsung and under the radar. In future I’ll keep my criticism narrowly focused so as not to paint good people with the structure and policy direction they are handed. There are probably more than a few middle echelons at NASA who, if put in charge, would make changes in direction and approach, because of the very dedication and achievement they exhibit in a normal work week. To the talented and dedicated, I say a sincere pro-exploration thank you, for serving our nation’s space effort so well, and for setting an example and raising the bar for all government activities. Ad Astra.

  • “As for the “large numbers of astronauts?” Holdren names three, Buzz Aldrin, and two partisan Democrats, Sally Ride and John Glenn. Very pathetic.”

    No one from either side in any announcement has given a laundry list of all astronauts for or against. I’m not sure why your side of the argument can get away with naming two or three of the same names every now and again, but we’re expected to list the whole roster to be credible. That said, Chang-Diaz, Leroy Chiao, Brewster Shaw, John Grunsfeld, and Ken Bowersox are other names that come to mind. And let’s not forget that Bolden himself was an astronaut. Bill Nelson doesn’t explicitly approve, but he clearly believes it’s a workable solution, though with some room for improvement.

    To paraphrase a few arguments -
    “But several of them were on Augustine” – Yes, and they were the ones who thought it was a good idea even before it was policy. Their connection to it, in my mind, reinforces their views on the subject more so than discards them. Their dog isn’t just in the hunt, it’s leading it.

    “A lot of them are employed by NewSpace companies” – Yes, and again I say they got into their businesses because of a belief that it was a better route to making a difference than the same old programs.

    And unlike Armstrong, Lovell, and others, the Augustine folks have had direct access to the numbers and a direct hand in the policy decisions. Also unlike those opposed, the NewSpace folks have been actively engaged in the space industry recently. Armstrong has, to his credit on many levels, completely dropped out of the industry and public view for nearly 40 years. I’m not saying he doesn’t know what he’s talking about at all, just that his knowledge is likely a touch out of date. Glenn, a supporter, flew again in the shuttle program, on the other hand.

    It’s not a complete list, and not without some holes, but I challenge anyone to make a similar list of those opposed that’s any more credible. Many of the names I’ve come up with are in jobs with active NASA contracts so they suffer the same problems.

    “I would love for Holdren to have an open poll of current and retired astronauts and openly publish the results.”

    I’m thinking it’s more like 60/40 opposed/supporting. I did hear of a poll of former astronauts that put it in that neighborhood, but I’m having trouble finding the ref so I’m not going to hang any arguments on that. Either way, they’re astronauts, not gods. No one asked the Mercury guys about how to do Apollo and many of them were going to be pilots. They were asked about safety and human control and confort interfaces, but the program was not directed by the astronaut core. Neither was Shuttle or Constellation. I’ve never put much stock in celebrity endorsements, anyway, and their celebrity status doesn’t qualify them any more than, say, an engineer. And celebrities are just as likely to have errors in judgement.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “I’m not sure why your side of the argument can get away with naming two or three of the same names every now and again, but we’re expected to list the whole roster to be credible. That said, Chang-Diaz, Leroy Chiao, Brewster Shaw, John Grunsfeld, and Ken Bowersox are other names that come to mind.”

    Excellent. Thanks for the reminder. Significantly, these are not Apollo generation names, but are astronauts who are more representative of, and well versed in contemporary human space flight. Of course, if you want Apollo on steroids, I guess you round up grizzled advocates from the Apollo generation. As to Apollo astronauts on steroids, I believe there are some important uses of anabolic steroids for bone mass retention, and even cognitive functionality in elderly men!

    “Buzz Aldin is also, shall we say, a little troubled?”

    By what measure is he “troubled”? Because he doesn’t agree with you? Buzz has had some challenges in his life but, compared to some other astronauts who have, shall we say, gone off the deep end, he’s doing pretty well.

    “With no Constellation they are not astronauts at all.”

    Well, OK, if they’re going to turn down seats on Soyuz, I guess that’s up to them. We can buy their ride from ULA or commercial, or we can buy it from the Russians. Yes, I’d rather buy it from one of us, but if we can’t, I don’t think they’d get stripped of their wings. Maybe until they reach ISS we have to call them cosmonauts?

    As to celebrity endorsements being of minor significance, that’s exactly right. These people are skilled and courageous, and some have strong technical backgrounds, but that hardly translates into policy leadership.

  • Coastal Ron

    Those that pine for Constellation have no concept of the infrastructure that is needed to support settlements in faraway harsh environments. Instead of lunar camping trips (Altair), a sustained presence on the Moon will require a robust supply line. To afford that, we need to make sure we have a low cost supply infrastructure in place, otherwise the American Taxpayer won’t be able to do much.

    There are those that say “oh, we’ll live off the land”, and to them I say “you first”. Constellation is not building factories to do the tasks needed to live off the land – it is an expeditionary mission.

    It really does come down to cost. No one supporting Constellation has been able to show how the Constellation plan is the most cost effective way to return U.S. astronauts to the Moon. Nor can they point out any lasting infrastructure that we will be able to leverage after the “program” is done.

    So if you love Constellation, start doing some explaining, and please try to include facts & figures.

  • When is the first human flight on a commercial rocket scheduled under the Obama plan?

    A lot sooner than with Constellation.

  • They were asked about safety and human control and confort interfaces, but the program was not directed by the astronaut core. Neither was Shuttle or Constellation.

    Well, Scott Horowitz was in charge of Constellation. One of the reasons that it was so disastrous, I suspect.

  • red

    amightywind: “What about those game changers?”

    What about them? That’s a small part of the budget, following a DARPA-like model. It’s part of the ~$5B over 5 years Space Technology budget, which is a general space technology line, not specific to Exploration or any other specific mission line, space industry, or space agency. That budget has lines for “Early Stage Innovation”, “Game Changing Technology”, and “Crosscutting Capability Demonstrations”, reflecting different phases of encouraging new technologies into operational use. All 3 of these have similar budgets, so as you can imagine “Game Changing Technology” is a small budget item in the grand scheme of things, especially compared to monsters like Constellation. At any rate, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Here are some examples from the 2011 NASA budget:

    “New technologies considered may include advanced lightweight structures and materials, advanced in-space propulsion, nano propellants, large aperture antennas and telescopes, power generation/transmission, surface robotic construction, energy storage, high bandwidth communications, and small satellite subsystem technology.”

    There’s a separate line in “Game Changing Technologies” for Small Satellite Subsystem Technology:

    “These “push” technologies may include formation flying, long life power
    systems, miniaturized remote sensors, deployable apertures, autonomous swarm operations, and other technology enablers. Architectures, proximity operations, robotics, space-to-space power transmission and other system interoperability such as that being developed for standardization in the cubesat class of spacecraft will also be considered for TRL advancement from 3 to 4.”

    Dr. Robert Braun gave some examples of potential Space Technology Demonstrations. The examples he gave were:

    Optical Communications
    Aerocapture
    Space Solar Power: In-Space Power Transmission
    Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion
    25-40 m Class Telescopes
    Inflatable Decelerators
    Solar Sail Propulsion

    They sound good to me.

  • red

    amightywind: “How many environmental agencies do we need?”

    NASA is supposed to do Earth observation missions from space. It’s been doing that for decades. It’s still supposed to do that. This is useful on many levels – gathering data for various Earth sciences, environment monitoring, maintaining the space industrial base for military and intelligence Earth observation missions like spy satellites and missile warning satellites, feeding advanced technology capabilities into NOAA’s operational satellite lines, producing data for commercial value-added information services, feeding data/technologies/ideas back and forth between NASA’s Earth science and planetary science community, helping the numerous U.S. industries that depend on environment monitoring data (forestry, fishing, agriculture, transportation, tourism, energy, construction, real estate, etc), gathering disaster response data after earthquakes, volcanoes, oil spills, tsunami, fires, floods, hurricaines, etc.

    NASA does and should do this work, but that doesn’t make it an “environmental agency”. It’s just part of its job, and given the immediate practical reasons to do it, it’s a higher priority that it do it well than to sink tens of billions of dollars into competing with the U.S. launch industry.

    Should NASA Earth monitoring shift towards more commercial data purchases, hosted payloads, and similar arrangements for Earth science data? Sure.

  • red

    amightywind: “How about an agency that launches men and payloads into space without drama?”

    We already have a commercial rocket industry. NASA should no longer compete with that U.S. industry. It should have stopped decades ago. That doesn’t mean NASA should go away. It should use commercial services to launch people and payloads into space, and concentrate its space efforts on new work. NASA is not a business. NASA already uses commercial rockets for its science missions, and will soon do the same for ISS cargo. The other space agencies also use commercial rockets.

    amightywind: “As far as quicker results, the last year and a half have been the most gridlocked in NASA’s history.”

    I’m not defending the last year and a half. That year and a half had some good things, but it also had Constellation, which has been going nowhere and has been causing havoc with the rest of NASA. I’m talking about what we can do starting in FY11. We could keep Constellation which will do nothing until barely getting to the lunar surface around year 2035 while continually harming the rest of NASA, or we could repair the rest of NASA and replace Constellation with efforts that will produce results more quickly (numerous HSF robotic precursors, numerous exploration technology demonstrations, HLV work, commercial suborbital RLV work, U.S. commercial crew services, ISS use, new ISS capabilities, very early 2020′s beyond LEO missions to places like lunar orbit, 2025 missions to asteroids, etc).

    amightywind: “Your mindless assertion doesn’t add up.”

    I think you’ll find plenty of evidence that my mindless assertions are right if you look in the 2011 budget and RFIs that NASA is rolling out, and compare them to Constellation as assessed independently (eg: GAO, CBO, Augustine Committee).

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “Returning to the Moon is not about excitement. Its about learning to exploit the natural resources of our solar system so that we can reduce the cost of space travel, grow the economy, and enhance our ability to expand human civilization beyond our planet of evolutionary origin.”

    For the Nthteen time, the government does the exploration (they did this on Luna already) and the private sector does the exploiting. Unless you are advocating for StalinSpace and a huge “big government” operation. The government can’t and shouldn’t be doing what the commercial sector should do. NASA will never bring you low prices on time and budget it will turn into a money pit.

  • Vladislaw

    Mark wrote:

    “As for the “large numbers of astronauts?” Holdren names three, Buzz Aldrin, and two partisan Democrats, Sally Ride and John Glenn. Very pathetic.”

    And how many partisan republicans were named on the other side? Oops, that’s right .. only democrats are partisan, the party of no is never partisan even when they fillibuster provisions they supported before Obama.

  • @ Trent Waddington

    The public viewed most of the lunar missions after Apollo 11 as boring. That’s because they quickly realized that these were going to be temporary adventures for an elite few.

    A lunar base, however, is a whole other ball game. A lunar base means that you are establishing a permanent human presence on another world and are using the resources of that other world to survive. And that fascinates people.

    Why?

    Because that’s basically what we do as a species.

    We first emerged in Africa 2.6 million years ago and began to radiate into alien environments such as Europe and Asia after 2.1 million years ago and eventually spread to strange worlds such as Australia and North and South America.

    We love colonizing new worlds. That’s part of our nature! And a lunar base would be the first major step towards colonizing the rest of the solar system.

  • We love colonizing new worlds. That’s part of our nature!

    No, it’s not. Most people never travel more than a few miles from where they’re born, unless under duress.

  • Vladislaw

    “We love colonizing new worlds.”

    Actually, like all species, we go after resources and hope we have some sort of competitive advantage over the residents.

  • Again, WHO are these astronauts who would favor spending six months on board the ISS, instead of journeying to the Moon?? Where is this legion, who would come out, on the record, in favor of NASA spending the next 15 or 20 years in Low Earth Orbit, and doing nothing else, until that “Let’s-be-the-first-on-an-asteroid” mission?? You CAN’T have it both ways: If the Moon & other spherical, airless bodies are “boring”, than Low Earth Orbit is EVEN MORE SO. Face it boys: Low Earth Orbit IS BORING!

  • Again, WHO are these astronauts who would favor spending six months on board the ISS, instead of journeying to the Moon??

    The realistic ones, who know that Constellation was a disaster.

    Where is this legion, who would come out, on the record, in favor of NASA spending the next 15 or 20 years in Low Earth Orbit, and doing nothing else, until that “Let’s-be-the-first-on-an-asteroid” mission??

    They are the ones who understand that if we don’t come up with innovative new techniques and technologies, that we’ll never go anywhere beyond LEO.

    You CAN’T have it both ways: If the Moon & other spherical, airless bodies are “boring”, than Low Earth Orbit is EVEN MORE SO. Face it boys: Low Earth Orbit IS BORING!

    It has nothing to do with what is, and isn’t, “boring.” But in fact, I don’t know anyone who has actually been into low earth orbit who found it so. I think that only a boring person would do so. And once again, adding exclamation marks, multiple question marks, and locking your caps key doesn’t render nonsense sensible.

  • @Rand Simberg

    “No, it’s not. Most people never travel more than a few miles from where they’re born, unless under duress.”

    That’s called a vacation, not colonization:-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Again, WHO are these astronauts who would favor spending six months on board the ISS, instead of journeying to the Moon?? ……………

    ones who understand that space is a place to work, not to be entertained.

    your comments are bizarre

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I read some comments of yours on facebook. I regret that things are tough for you right now. I hope that they get better. You are a smart guy who has some good “rocketman” creds and I hope that you find a place that values those.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    It has nothing to do with what is, and isn’t, “boring.” But in fact, I don’t know anyone who has actually been into low earth orbit who found it so. I think that only a boring person would do so…………………..

    I would concur completely with those remarks. Life is what you make out of it and to say that a six month tour on ISS, if one had spent a significant part of their life acquiring the creds to be there, would be boring is to say that the person making such a claim is boring.

    There are such people however. I know folks who worked hard to get out to the flattop as an aviator and would 4 months into a cruise tell people “I am bored”.

    strange.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Marcel wrote:

    That’s called a vacation, not colonization:-)

    Even fewer people move more than a few miles from their home.

    Thank you, Robert. I’m sure things will work out.

  • @ Rand Simberg

    There’s nothing realistic about floating around in a microgravity environment for months at a time destroying your body!

  • There’s nothing realistic about floating around in a microgravity environment for months at a time destroying your body!

    Yes, that’s a problem that will have to be solved, but it isn’t solved by going to the moon.

  • I notice that none of the Constellation supporters have answered the question of who’s going to pay for their demand we return to the Moon.

    I’ve written a new blog on SpaceKSC.com about what the National Aeronautics and Space Act says is NASA’s mission. Click here to read the article. As I’ve said before, nothing in the Act requires NASA to fly humans into space, to own its rockets, to fly missions to the Moon or Mars, to define destinations or specify timelines. NASA was intended to be a cutting-edge aerospace technolgy research agency working with other federal agencies and the private sector. It got hijacked in the 1960s for an incredibly expensive publicity stunt to show the world our technology was better than the Soviets’. NASA has been on the wrong track ever since.

    I’m all for Starfleet and boldly going, but until the public support is there to pay for it — in reality, a global effort where all the sparefaring nations share in the costs — it’s time to return NASA to its original purpose and let the private sector finally go to space as required in the Act.

  • @Rand Simberg wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    MW: There’s nothing realistic about floating around in a microgravity environment for months at a time destroying your body!

    “Yes, that’s a problem that will have to be solved, but it isn’t solved by going to the moon.”

    Actually, the Moon may solve that problem. Astronauts who went to the Moon suffered fewer deleterious microgravity effects to their body than astronauts who have spent an equal amount of time in a microgravity environment. Presumably the negative effects that lunar astronauts did experience were due to their travel time to and from the Moon in a microgravity environment. But we don’t really know.

    The only way to find out for sure is for us to establish a base on the Moon where humans can spend months or years at a time on the lunar surface.

  • The only way to find out for sure is for us to establish a base on the Moon where humans can spend months or years at a time on the lunar surface.

    That still doesn’t solve the problem of how to go other places. That’s a problem that needs to be solved, regardless.

  • Vladislaw

    Stephen wrote in the article:

    “Nothing in the Act requires NASA to own rockets. In fact, Section 203(c)(3) authorizes NASA to “acquire (by purchase, lease, condemnation, or otherwise) … aeronautical and space vehicles …” The Act allows NASA to buy or lease a commercial vehicle. But they don’t have to build it themselves.”

    That goes hand in hand with NASA’s marching orders:

    “(2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;”

    For me, it means a highly robust commercial sector testing and flying MANY designs with NASA taking a “peek under the hood” to see if there is any improvements to be made that would a bit spendy for the private sector but perfect for NASA engineers to tackle and, once again, push it back into the private sector.

  • Vladislaw

    “Actually, the Moon may solve that problem.

    How will the moon solve a microgravity problem. The microgravity that is a problem is occuring in space, not on an orbital body. If the lunar gravity is enough to prevent major bone loss, over longer terms, it would only show the top end to shoot for in creating artifical gravity in a microgravity situation. At 150 to 200 billion just to GET to the moon and not counting the cost of the base and support, that is huge amount of infrastructure for in space activities you are eliminating just to find out that top end number.

    I believe there are cheaper ways to explore artifical gravity.

  • @Stephen C. Smith

    Space travel is really not that expensive relative to most of our other Federal expenditures. We spend less than $20 billion a year on NASA, that’s less than two months occupying Iraq (an investment that may end up costing tax payers more than a trillion dollars).

    NASA’s budget is a meager 0.6% of our annual Federal expenditures. Plus studies have shown that for every dollar spent on our space program, more than a dollar more is created for the general economy. Right now, I’m watching the baseball game via satellite thanks to our Federal investment in space; and I’m grateful:-)

  • @ Vladislaw

    One of the primary reasons for having a base on the Moon is to find out if humans can live permanently beyond our planet of evolutionary origin. If humans can remain healthy under a 1/6 gravity then we’ll have a place for our civilization to expand to that’s only a few days away.

    The other purpose for having a Moon base is to see if we can live off the land. We already know that there’s plenty of oxygen in the regolith for air, rocket fuel oxidizer, and as a component of water. Now we have evidence that we may also have hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen resources at the lunar poles. So in the long run, a lunar colony may not need any of the Earth’s resources.

  • Space travel is really not that expensive relative to most of our other Federal expenditures. We spend less than $20 billion a year on NASA, that’s less than two months occupying Iraq (an investment that may end up costing tax payers more than a trillion dollars).

    NASA’s budget is a meager 0.6% of our annual Federal expenditures. Plus studies have shown that for every dollar spent on our space program, more than a dollar more is created for the general economy.

    Sorry, but this flawed argument doesn’t become rendered valid by repetition.

  • Vladislaw

    Does the Government live off the land at McMurdo station? And that is a hell of a lot farther away then 3 days they still ship like 8 million gallons of fuel. I just do not have any faith in the federal government creating a colony.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The public viewed most of the lunar missions after Apollo 11 as boring. That’s because they quickly realized that these were going to be temporary adventures for an elite few. A lunar base, however, is a whole other ball game.”

    A whole other ball game as in a permanent base for an elite few? Or maybe an occasional base for an elite few? Hey, that’s what we do on that extraordinarily exciting ISS mission right now! Yes, the one that has the country on the edges of their seats. While ISRU may … may! create opportunities, an outpost on the Moon is an expensive ISS with a 27 day period.

    “We love colonizing new worlds. That’s part of our nature!”

    No, the history of exploration says otherwise. We colonize other places because we’re either kicked out of the places we’d really rather be, or forced to leave because we can’t survive there. That’s a myth that is well understood to be incorrect by those who study historical exploration.
    Now, a myth can have cultural value, and one might call it “inspirational”, but it’s still a myth.

  • DCSCA

    The core future for American manned space exploration to the Moon and Mars for the next 75 years is with a government funded, directed and managed space program, not privately funded space ventures. Preparing the frontier of space, particularly in the near term to lunar distance, is a job for NASA and a cost U.S. taxpayers must accept. If not, other nations will quite literally fill the vaccum, leaving America behind in yet another field of endeavor. Neil Armstrong is correct in his assessment. He, Cernan and Lovell are trying to save American manned space flight and this writer applauds Cernan especially for throwing everything up against the wall to bring attention to it. It’s a debate a large part of the nation is unaware. These seasoned, experienced individuals are accurate when they state private space ventures literally don’t know what they don’t know. It is folly to expect and depend on private corporations to expand the human presence to the moon and beyond in the decades ahead. They cannot possibly accept and stockholders will be unwilling to absorb the financial risks involved without a guarantee of government funding to socialize the cost of inevitable failures.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 4:01 pm


    NASA’s budget is a meager 0.6% of our annual Federal expenditures. Plus studies have shown that for every dollar spent on our space program, more than a dollar more is created for the general economy.

    no matter how many times you say that it is not accurate.

    There are benefits to the general economy from “space” and NASA has had some “yank” in that. For instance the dollars spent on Syncom/ATS/ACTS no doubt have been repaid to the federal treasury many times over by new services which actually make money through the private sector.

    The dollars spent on the GPS system (including the lead up test sats Timation) while not NASA illustrate how DoD dollars while creating a mission critical system also help the general economy.

    There is no such link in human spaceflight. There was a time when the sheer number of federal dollars being spent changed things. The JSC use to be cotton fields and building the “Manned Spaceflight Center” there created Clear Lake out of nothing but those days are long past.

    you are making a claim with no basis in fact

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    DCSCA wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Just curious, but why the 75 year focus? does something happen in 2086 that I should tell my kids to prepare their kids for?

  • DCSCA

    “The public viewed most of the lunar missions after Apollo 11 as boring.”

    This may be a rough assessment pertaining to the American public, but this in not an accurate assessment for international observers. This writer experienced first hand how Europe and the then Soviet Union reacted to several of the Apollo landings and their hunger for information as well as their unbounded admiration of the United States, its people and its systems of government and economics for these accomplishments. An astronaut greeting and delivering photos of the Earth from the Moon and lunar samples to foreign leaders presented a better perception of the USA than GI’s with M-16s wading through rice paddies. Upon returning to the United States to witness the poor coverage of the Apollo 17 mission by American media outlets, it remains a puzzle that the people of the United States were smart enough to have reached and walked on the moon– and dumb enough to walk away from it.

  • It is folly to expect and depend on private corporations to expand the human presence to the moon and beyond in the decades ahead.

    That is not the expectation of the new policy. From what planet are you posting this?

  • CI

    For all you Augustine huggers out there who love to say Constellation is over budget listen you what your buddy Augustine said yesterday.

    Constellation has been UNDERFUNDED by a third EVERY YEAR.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett- estimate of a lifetime, cycles of technology. And quite simply the vast distances and challenges involved. Use the past 75 years as a measuring stick. Everytime an astronaut climbs aboard a Soyuz this writer is reminded that Americans invented the aeroplane, the U.S. government was slow to take to it but France perfected it to a point where U.S pilots flew their planes in WW1. History doesn’t repeat, but it can rhyme. This writers greatest fear is once the manned space program winds down to next ot nothing, in a few years when Congress is forced to make deep cuts, NASA will be eliminated as an independent agency and its assets folded in to NOAA, FAA, DoD, etc. Arguments have been made that its raison d’etre truly ended with the Apollo program. The easiest thing to cut in the public or private sector is R&D.

  • Constellation has been UNDERFUNDED by a third EVERY YEAR.

    That’s because Mike Griffin came up with a program that he didn’t have the money for, and was never promised the money for.

    Use the past 75 years as a measuring stick.

    Technological progress is non-linear.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “If not, other nations will quite literally fill the vaccum, leaving America behind in yet another field of endeavor.”

    We have not been going to the moon for 40 years and where are the Russians, Chinese and India? The vaccum has been with us for almost four decades, If these other nations are so hot for the moon because of this American vaccum why are they not there already? No other country with a space program is considering a return before we decide to.

  • Robert G. Oler

    CI wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Constellation has been UNDERFUNDED by a third EVERY YEAR….

    even so it has spent 10 billion (thats BILLION) and accomplished almost nothing

    Robert G. Oler

  • @Vladislaw

    “Does the Government live off the land at McMurdo station? And that is a hell of a lot farther away then 3 days they still ship like 8 million gallons of fuel. I just do not have any faith in the federal government creating a colony.”

    How does McMurdo station help humans survive beyond our vulnerable planet of evolutionary origin?

  • Enon

    I do not read in Armstrong submitted statement that he was all that enamored with Constellation.

    I think Armstrong was confused about Constellation having been discussed and vetted through anyone more than Griffin and the Constellation management.

    Armstrong said there was no reason for an Orion emergency escape capsule, and that NASA should be looking at a flying vehicle instead of the Orion escape capsule.

    Armstrong said he did not think the commercial start-ups could deliver earth to LEO transportation that quickly. I think we will see whether they can deliver within the next 1-2 years.

    Armstrong said that there is no reason to defer an HLV decision for several years, and expressed his concern that if the Shuttle team and infrastructure is disbanded then it will be difficult and expensive to try and reestablish this infrastructure later. He also said there was no reason to stop using the Shuttle, and that this decision needs reexamination, and he said an HLV based on Shuttle would be far less expensive and far faster to develop.

    Cernan was a bit more confused about Constellation being a vetted system well on its way to returning people to the moon. Even with Constellation, or maybe especially with Constellation, he is unlikely to see the day of a return of humans to the moon since he’d have to be at least a 100 years old by that time.

  • @Doug Lassiter

    “A whole other ball game as in a permanent base for an elite few? Or maybe an occasional base for an elite few? Hey, that’s what we do on that extraordinarily exciting ISS mission right now! Yes, the one that has the country on the edges of their seats. While ISRU may … may! create opportunities, an outpost on the Moon is an expensive ISS with a 27 day period.”

    Tourist have already made it to the Space Station. And tourist will make it to the Moon too if we have a base there. And if we had a space lotto system, average Joes and Janes could go too.

    Lunar bases would be a lot less expensive than bases in Iraq and a lot more lucrative in the long run. Which ever nation, or nations, end up dominating cis lunar space will end up dominating the hundred billion dollar a year satellite telecommunications industry in the long run.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “How does McMurdo station help humans survive beyond our vulnerable planet of evolutionary origin?

    How does a tinker toy set help humans survive beyond our vulnerable planet of evolutionary origin? Oh wait, it doesn’t because it was designed to do that. It is the same for McMurdo so obviously that is not the point I was making.

    My point goes to colonization i.e. the government and the private sector go about it differently.

    A true colony at antartica would be growing all it’s own food now in greenhouses, would be digging coal gas and oil et cetera. Because of the way antartica is set up it precludes that.

    In my personal opinion without a property rights regime in place you will not see it on Luna either. I could be wrong, but I do not believe there is a single case in the historical record of a successful colonization without property rights. I would challenge you to show me an example of colonization on the planet where colonists did not get to own the land they colonized and the resources found on them. It is one of thee major reasons for pulling up stakes and moving in the first place.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Wait a minute. I’m supposed to be spending *my* tax dollars to make it possible for tourists to go to the Moon?? Geez. Wallet snaps shut.

    Bases on the Moon lot less expensive than bases in Iraq? What in the world are you smoking?? As if to say the transportation cost to get a person to Iraq is on the order of the transportation cost to the Moon?? Would you care to justify that with some numbers?

    As to the satellite telecom industry, that has nothing, zero, nada, to do with HSF.

    Take a deep breath …

  • @Robert G. Oler

    I said NASA, not manned spaceflight alone.

    However, our research in manned spaceflight will probably have the biggest impact on the world economy thanks to the invention of the plasma arc torch originally invented to test heat shielding for human re-entry vehicles at NASA.

    The plasma arc torches are already being used in the US, Japan, and other countries to convert urban waste into syngas to produce energy or synthetic fuels. If all of the urban and rural biowaste (garbage) in America were converted into synfuels in the US, we could replace more than 30% of our petroleum needs. But if hydrogen from the nuclear or hydroelectric electrolysis of water were added to the mix then all of our petroleum needs could be met by carbon neutral sources of energy. That could save the US from sending between $300 to $700 billion of our wealth to foreign nations every year.

    So just that one tiny spin-off from our manned spaceflight program could have a titanically positive effect on the US economy. It could help make us energy independent from greenhouse gas polluting fossil fuels.

  • @ Vladislaw

    Antarctica is consider a natural wonder. And there’s certainly no reason to exploit for greenhouse gas polluting fossil fuels.

    Nobody cares about property rights on the Moon because no nation currently has the space infrastructure to travel to the Moon. Once multiple nations begin to travel there and begin to set up bases, there will be rules for both governments and private industry. I guarantee you!

  • moonman

    CI wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    “Constellation has been UNDERFUNDED by a third EVERY YEAR….”

    In order to get off to a credible start, Constellation needed to do only one thing, and that was to get an Orion capsule into orbit, in order to show it was serious about replacing the Shuttle. That was the one and only important near-term job the program needed to pursue.

    In order to meet the basic requirements, the initial vehicle could have been based entirely on an Apollo command module structure. It could have been built in house, as was X-38. It could have been launched initially on a Shuttle, or on a commercial vehicle.

    There were lots of options to make Constellation believable and to make progress.

    Instead, the folks running Constellation started organizing around moon missions that were not going to happen for decades. They came up with an Orion capsule concept that was far larger than it needed to be and far heavier. It was too large to fly on any existing carrier. Requirements on capsules and boosters were not well defined and not internally consistent. It looked like, somewhere, a miracle would need to happen in order to make the Orion light enough to fly on any booster, including Ares. Ares itself was unnecessary and redundant to other vehicles already available. Maybe it made sense to pursue it as a step towards an Ares 5 HLV, but it should not have been a requirement in the near term.

    So Constellation is in the poor shape it is in not because of underfunding but because of very poor definition, requirements and design decisions. Very simply it represents a new low in failed NASA management processes.

  • @Doug Lassiter

    “Wait a minute. I’m supposed to be spending *my* tax dollars to make it possible for tourists to go to the Moon?? Geez. Wallet snaps shut.

    Bases on the Moon lot less expensive than bases in Iraq? What in the world are you smoking?? As if to say the transportation cost to get a person to Iraq is on the order of the transportation cost to the Moon?? Would you care to justify that with some numbers?

    As to the satellite telecom industry, that has nothing, zero, nada, to do with HSF.

    Take a deep breath …”

    Well, since I live in one of the top tourist destinations in the US, I know that tourism is a good thing for the economy.

    And on what world are you on??? Occupying Iraq is costing us over $100 billion a year. NASA’s tiny budget is less than $20 billion a year. Our manned space budget is less than $10 billion a year (about one month occupying Iraq). Saying that our manned space program is more expensive than our adventure in Iraq is beyond silly!

  • Bennett

    moonman wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Really well said, thanks!

  • Bennett

    “Saying that our manned space program is more expensive than our adventure in Iraq is beyond silly!”

    Actually, you equated bases on the Moon with bases in Iraq. Not the war in Iraq with a manned mission to the Moon. Which took less time and cost way more. The waste of that clusterfuck is depressing, unless you own defense stocks.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    However, our research in manned spaceflight will probably have the biggest impact on the world economy thanks to the invention of the plasma arc torch originally invented to test heat shielding for human re-entry vehicles at NASA.

    dont be goofy. The military was testing reentry vehicles well before Mercury came along. Guess where a lot of work on the Mercury heat shield was done.

    gee

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 7:18 pm
    things have changed in Iraq…the cost of the “occupation” there now cost about 5 billion a month. Afland is now up to about 7 billion however.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “And on what world are you on??? Occupying Iraq is costing us over $100 billion a year. NASA’s tiny budget is less than $20 billion a year.”

    You said “Lunar bases would be a lot less expensive than bases in Iraq”

    Not for the same number of people. Maybe I don’t understand your plural. How many lunar bases would be a lot less expensive than how many bases in Iraq?

    Oh, you mean that *one* base on the Moon would cost less than *all* our bases in Iraq? That’s not quite what you said. That’s possible. But our government is convinced that our bases in Iraq are actually doing something for our country.

    So, tourism is a good thing for the economy. No one’s arguing with that. And that justifies lunar development? That’s kind of a stretch. Sort of like saying that apples are good for you, so you’d better invest billions of dollars in new technologies to develop watermelon sized apples.

    Deeper breath …

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “Nobody cares about property rights on the Moon because no nation currently has the space infrastructure to travel to the Moon. Once multiple nations begin to travel there and begin to set up bases, there will be rules for both governments and private industry. I guarantee you!”

    Is that a taxpayer’s money back guarantee or just your personal opinion guarantee?

    I can say the same thing:

    Nobody cares about putting up the space infrastructure on the moon because there isn’t any property rights.

    If there were million acre land grants I can guarantee you companies would be building infrastructure. They would be gaining free land and resources, the main incentive for colonization. Of course, my guarantee is like yours, a non money back guarantee, but with one exception my way would not cost the tax payers a dime. If it didn’t happen the taxpayers wouldn’t be out 300 to 400 billion dollars that your plan would cost on failure.

    Once multiple nations are traveling to Luna we can revisit your plan.

  • mike shupp

    Doug Lassiter — “there are other destinations in deep space, destinations beyond low Earth orbit, that will enable us to do more science sooner, with more missions, more visits, more exciting discoveries than going back to the Moon 50 years later.”

    Looks to me as if the purpose for those missions, visits, and discoveries was doing “more science sooner.”

    Tell you what, show that statement to some other English speakers and ask for their interpretation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Lunar bases would be a lot less expensive than bases in Iraq

    I doubt that is accurate in any guise.

    A base on the Moon will not cost less then ISS has. ISS has so far cost around 120 billion dollars over 15 or so years to crank up. JUST TO GET to the lift assuming Ares were to continue means we are going to spend somewhere near 150 billion (Maybe more) just to get the lift (and that does not include the parts) SAy it takes another 100 billion to build the parts and then transport them there…We have now about 250 billion invested in the project. No clue what resupply takes.

    Right now it cost about 10 million dollars a day to sustain a single person on ISS and that doesnt include getting them there which is about 100 million (at least on the shuttle). Assuming 180 days in a six month tour…well you do the math.

    A Marine/Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Trooper/Coast Guard takes about 2000 dollars to ship to Iraq or Afland and return them…about 1 million dollars to deploy for 6 months in Iraq or Afland (that includes resupply).

    Or put it another way…we have around 100K troops left in Iraq that we sustain in full up combat mode for around 5 billion a month.

    On a per person basis keeping people on ISS is the most expensive activity that this country does. The Moon will be even more expensive.

    What do you think we get for 10 million a day?

    Robert G. Oler
    well you do the math.

  • mike shupp

    Red — “Holdren is speaking at the AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy.”

    Nice point! It does bear on his language.

    But on the issue of comparing Obama’s space program with Mike Griffin’s, you might want to search the archives. I don’t believe there’s been an occasion here or elsewhere where I’ve actually expressed any particular enthusiasm for the Constellation program since its inception — as just one point, I don’t see solid boosters as trustworthy launch vehicles in general, and using them was doing nothing for extending space technology.

    Constellation was preferable to circling the earth for another 30 years, but given a choice between it and Obama’s plan, I’d much rather find a more ambitious third space program.

  • brobof

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 4:30 pm
    “Sorry, but this flawed argument doesn’t become rendered valid by repetition.”

    And furthermore repeated corrections, refutations and simple ridicule also fail to dislodge these same monomaniacal arguments being posted on every single thread. On every single board. Again and again and again!

    Whilst Robert would probably call it “Goofy” I prefer the medical term that describes “…impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. ”

    And Marcel still no apology for calling a multiply decorated Marine pilot (100 sorties); a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; four time shuttle pilot and commander on two of those flights, with a total of 680 hours in space: a “space tourist!”

    “Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.”

  • mike shupp

    Steven Smith –

    Oddly enough, many Congressmen who voted to enact the legislation establishing NASA went on to vote quite happily for NASA programs in which NASA built rockets, put humans into them, and sent humans off to the moon. I guess they lacked your smarts.

    You might want to explain your reasoning to a scholar familiar with Constitutional Law.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    “Right now it cost about 10 million dollars a day to sustain a single person on ISS and that doesnt include getting them there which is about 100 million (at least on the shuttle). Assuming 180 days in a six month tour…well you do the math.”

    okay, 10 million times 365 days = 3.65 billion per year per person, times six people 21.90 billion per year. Seems a tad high, I believe it is lower than that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 14th, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    the figure comes from an article in Space Review…I might recall it wrong but dont think so. I might go track it down tonight if Lorelei and I have a “nighter”

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw, the US doesn’t have six people on the ISS.

  • @ brobof

    “And Marcel still no apology for calling a multiply decorated Marine pilot (100 sorties); a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland; four time shuttle pilot and commander on two of those flights, with a total of 680 hours in space: a “space tourist!”

    Who did I call a space tourist?

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    Actually, you’re correct, I much larger Federal space agency created the plasm arc for heat shields:-)

  • eh

    Of course he made sense and presented some rational points. This will only engrage the anti-Obama plan folks more.

  • Vladislaw

    “Vladislaw, the US doesn’t have six people on the ISS.”

    Trent, I know that, but Robert didn’t specify U.S. astronauts only, he said:

    “Right now it cost about 10 million dollars a day to sustain a single person on ISS”

    So I calculated what the full crew rate would be. Since ISS doesn’t get 21 billion per year I thought that number may be incorrect.

  • Vladislaw

    I believe it might have been 10 million a month that he saw in the article, that would put it at around 720 million per year for the 12 people. This is also closer inline to what Robert Bigelow said, 15-20 million for your launch fee and first month and 3 million per month after the first one. I can see NASA paying three times as much but not 30 times.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 15th, 2010 at 1:23 am

    I believe it might have been 10 million a month that he saw in the article,

    here is the article

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1579/1

    here is the quote (I was modestly wrong)

    “ISS has been crewed since November 2000 by two- to six-person teams. From then on to 2015, we could estimate that the station will be manned by some 20,000 person-days. Considering its $150-billion price tag, that would mean that each day spent onboard by an ISS crewmember costs about $7.5 million (compared to $5.5 million for Skylab.)”

    I regret saying 10 million a day per crew…I will recall now the 7.5 million number

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Thanks Robert for digging that out. That is using the total costs of the station. I thought you were refering to cargo only.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert this is what we need for Jeff’s site.

    check this out

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 15th, 2010 at 2:18 am

    very funny

    Robert G. Oler

  • [...] here to read the rest: Space Politics » Holdren: astronauts support our plan, too Share and [...]

  • Mike said, “I’d much rather find a more ambitious third space program.”

    Why? So you can write about it on your blog? I mean, that’s fun and all, I’ve done it, but how is it relevant to this website? Let’s try to stick to the topic. The politicians are deciding what to do with NASA, not us. What do you think of their ideas? Who’s making the most sense?

  • [...] several options, including the “Flexible Path” approach the administration adopted. As presidential science advisor John Holdren noted in May 2010, Ride was included in a “large array” of astronauts who supported the Obama [...]

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