Congress, NASA

More China complaints; Rubio gets a space policy briefing

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) became the second member of Congress to speak out against NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s upcoming trip to China. In a letter to President Obama this week Culberson said he has “grave concerns about the nature and goals of China’s space program” and thus believes that there should be no cooperation between NASA and the Chinese space agency CNSA without the approval of Congress. “I do not believe it is appropriate for the Administrator to meet with any Chinese officials until Congress is fully briefed on the nature and scope of Mr. Bolden’s trip and planned discussions on cooperation.” Last week Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) expressed his own concerns about the China trip. Bolden, in a letter in response to Wolf, said that the trip “is intended to be introductory in nature and will not include consideration of any specific proposals for human space flight cooperation” or other new ventures.

Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Senate in Florida, met with Republican officials on the Space Coast Tuesday to discuss space policy issues. However, the Orlando Sentinel alleges that Rubio got some questionable advice from attendees, who put the blame for many of NASA’s current problems with the Obama Administration, even for those issues such as the post-Shuttle gap that have their roots in the Bush Administration. After the meeting Rubio, the current frontrunner in the three-man race, told the Sentinel that he believed NASA didn’t have a larger budget “because you don’t have fiscal discipline” in the overall federal budget. “If you had fiscal discipline then the federal government would be forced to focus on the issues [like space] that are important and that matter to our country.” (That assumes that other members of Congress would consider NASA an important issue, though.) He added that he believed that “the biggest overriding problem we have is that this administration failed to outline a compelling, long-term vision and goal for the program.”

166 comments to More China complaints; Rubio gets a space policy briefing

  • Anne Spudis

    From People’s Daily Online October 10, 2010:

    ….What’s the significance of the launch of the Chang’e-2 satellite? How should China develop its space exploration? People’s Daily Online (PO) talked to Yu Dengyun (Yu), deputy chief designer of Chinese lunar exploration program, on these issues.

    [snip] Yu: China started lunar exploration at a comparatively late date. The US and the former Soviet Union launched the first round of lunar exploration.
    In the 21st century, the world’s enthusiasm for lunar exploration is heating up and many countries have been inspired to explore space, such as the US, the European Space Agency, and our neighbors Japan and India.

    They are not only carrying out lunar exploration, but deep space exploration. Japan has made great progress in space exploration. It has launched lunar probes, Mars probes, asteroid probes and Venus probes.

    How should we develop our space exploration? I think our space development plan should be based on our national situation. Of course, we need to take other countries’ development conditions into consideration, but our national situation is more important. We should take an independent way to explore the moon and space.

    http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary/2010-10/580517.html

  • mike shupp

    For the luvva… We’re talking about an American manned space program which proudly aspires to (a) swooping around a passing asteroid in 2025 (15 years from now), (b) maybe flying around the Moon with our Russian, European, and Japanese buddies sometime in the ’20s (10-20 years from now), and (c) flying around Mars in 2035 or so (25 years from now).
    Actually landing on the Moon or Mars is something that apparently on the cards for another half century or so.

    That’s a long stretch of time and international relations can be expected to change quite a bit. Fifty years ago, China was an enemy — now it’s one of our leading trade partners. Twenty years ago, the Russians (Soviets) were the people at whom we aimed 10000 ICBMs — now they’re friends or associates or something, they aren’t enemies. Thirty years ago, or thirty five years ago, Iran was just about our most important ally in the Middle East; then Iran became an enemy and our best buddy in that part of the world was Iraq. Forty years ago North Vietnam was an enemy and South Vietnam was our ally, and today unified Vietnam is a trading partner. Our relations with Mexico go up and down every half dozen years. We become particularly fond of Brazil or Argentina or Chile or some other South American military dictatorship about every ten years.

    And so on. Given the long drawn out tempo of space programs, it’s f***ing insane to cast the Chinese as foes who can’t be permitted to ever participate with us in such endeavors. There’ll be no damned shortage of foreigners to hate in the distant future; why the rush to add a billion and a half of them right now?

  • Anne Spudis

    China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak, doesn’t change the fact that their space program has the Moon and ciclunar space (where all commercial and defense satellites reside) as their goal and their defense department (aka China National Space Administration) is actively working that program. They’ve been acquiring a lot of information about our technology over the years and seem quite apt and focused on using it.

    ———–
    The Washington Post has an interesting article – October 8, 2010 (“History of telecom company illustrates lack of strategic trust between U.S., China”) on a Chinese telecommunications company (Huawei) some will find informative.

    [snip] The NSA called AT&T because of fears that China’s intelligence agencies could insert digital trapdoors into Huawei’s technology that would serve as secret listening posts in the U.S. communications network, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to maintain their relationship with the companies. Huawei, the NSA and AT&T declined to discuss the agency’s intervention in the deal. …..

    Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and seven other senators are accusing the company of links to the People’s Liberation Army and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. In an Aug. 18 letter, they wrote: “Huawei’s position as a supplier of Sprint Nextel could create substantial risk for U.S. companies and possibly undermine U.S. national security.”

    ….In researching Huawei, executives at the Cohen Group (William Cohen — Bill Clinton’s Sec of Defense) discovered that the U.S. government had little idea of the extent of Huawei’s business in the United States. American telecommunications firms are not obligated to inform the government of their purchases of foreign-manufactured equipment.

    Although Huawei has just 2 percent of the U.S. telecommunications market, it is working with many big players. It is involved with Comcast on a project to provide voice calls through cable lines and is in talks with Verizon. Huawei has supplied the equipment for wireless service in Seattle and Chicago and will soon do so in San Francisco…….

    The Cohen Group walked away from the deal, convinced that the U.S. government would not be satisfied that Owens’s firm (former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed by Bill Clinton) could ensure the security of Huawei’s equipment. …..

    “China-U.S. relations will continually have twists and turns,” he (Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei) writes, “but that shouldn’t stop us from learning from the American spirit of innovation so that we can become richer and more powerful ever faster.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/07/AR2010100707210.html?hpid=topnews

  • MrEarl

    What the Obama administration is guilty of is killing a rational path for future exploration of space like VSE (not Constellation which was only one man’s vision on implementation) and replaced it with stunts and joy rides.

    The VSE provided for a logical path tword future exploration with progress being made on a “go as you pay” schedule. It also left open the possibility for international participation with the US being the lead participant.

    Flexible Path is really, in my opinion, the abandonment of exploration for stunts and joy rides. How is a manned trip to an asteroid and trips to circle the moon more beneficial than a sustained effort tword a set goal of establishing a permanent manned presence in space?

    VSE also provides much more opportunity for commercial participation and expansion of capabilities than than Flexible Path could ever hope to offer.

    As lone as we’re moving forward we don’t have to worry about the space ambitions of any nation. It’s only when we stand still, like we will be with Flexible Path, that we’ll be soon be a second rate nation in space.

  • Anne Spudis

    Washington Post – October 13, 2010 “Gates defends U.S. role in Asian sea disputes”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/12/AR2010101206316.html

    [snip] Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the conference of Asian defense ministers that the United States holds a “national interest in freedom of navigation” in the region, despite China’s recent claims of sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, the East China Sea and other waters off its coast.

    Beijing’s expansive territorial claims have led to recent conflicts with Japan, Vietnam and other neighbors as each country has sought to assert its rights over disputed fishing grounds, remote islands and seabeds potentially rich in mineral deposits.

    Given China’s growing economic and military clout, many smaller Asian countries have sought to seek protection and strengthen ties with the United States, which has long operated the most powerful navy in the Pacific region.

    On Tuesday, Gates echoed recent statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States would not take sides on competing Asian territorial claims but would insist on open access to international waters and shipping lanes.

    “The United States has always exercised our rights and supported the rights of others to transit through, and operate in, international waters,” Gates said. “This will not change.”

    Washington’s stance has irked Beijing, and Chinese leaders have told the Obama administration to butt out of what it sees as local disputes. ……………

  • So how do you retro-nationalists propose to pay for your go-it-alone Lone Ranger space policies against your Chinese boogeyman, who holds our IOU scripts by the way?

    You people tried to return to the 1960s with the Bush II space policy and you see where that ended up.

    History is against you, open up your minds for once.

  • Anne Spudis

    dad2059 wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The Chinese are saying they prefer to go it alone.

  • Major Tom

    “China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak,”

    China isn’t “landing” on the Moon “as we speak”. China’s ongoing Chang’e 2 mission, which launched October 1, is an orbiter. The Chang’e 3 lander mission isn’t scheduled to launch until 2013.

    “their space program has the Moon and ciclunar space (where all commercial and defense satellites reside) as their goal and their defense department (aka China National Space Administration) is actively working that program.”

    All our “commercial and defense satellites” reside in Earth orbit, several days transit time from the Moon. If China (or any other nation) wanted to attack critical space infrastructure, they’d do so from Earth’s surface, which is only minutes to hours away. And, in fact, that’s exactly what China tested a couple years ago:

    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6289519.stm

    If we want to worry about Chinese space capabilities, then we should pay attention to actual threats like their rudimentary ASAT capabilities, not their crude planetary orbiters and landers.

    “The Washington Post has an interesting article”

    That article is about electronic eavesdropping. It has nothing to do with human space exploration. It’s an argument for stepping up U.S. counter-intelligence activities with respect to China, not for another human lunar program.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Everyone should understand that the lesson of Apollo was that public and Congressional support for our human space exploration plans depends on having an enemy that we can deny success to. That lesson may or may not be credible (I think it isn’t, actually), but it’s seen as a powerful lesson nonetheless. The die-hard lunar development advocates buy in to that dependency. So, to them, it’s just really, really important to have a threatening competitor. This isn’t about whether China is really our enemy whose lunar exploration plans threaten us. What it’s about is that, to these lunar advocates, U.S. human space exploration NEEDS an enemy whose lunar exploration plans can be spun as threatening us. Looking around, the Chinese are the most convenient ones to point fingers at. If the Chinese don’t cut it, the lunar colonization folks will find someone else who will.

    With regard to the Chinese wanting to go it alone, hey, so did we in Constellation. We invited international collaboration on habs and other surface facilities, but we were going to take complete responsibility for getting there. That was a major point of international friction in U.S. space policy.

  • Anne Spudis

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hi Doug. Where did you get your facts?

    I quote the Washington Post and the chief architect of China’s lunar program but you point your finger at pro U.S. lunar/cislunar development advocates and call them out.

    And which is it? Should they work with us or not? If you want international cooperation for us, why do you defend their decision not to cooperate with us?

  • Anne Spudis

    Major Tom wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Selective quoting MT. How cute.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    The VSE provided for a logical path tword future exploration with progress being made on a “go as you pay” schedule.

    I don’t think you have read the VSE, because it doesn’t talk about cost, or anything about “go as you pay”. Here’s what it does say:

    Goal and Objectives

    The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, the United States will:

    • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;

    • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;

    • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and

    • Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.

    Other than the 2020 date for the Moon, which you would agree was blown by the Constellation dead-end, there are no dates – the are “Goals” and “Objectives”.

    And many of us see the new NASA plan as focusing on the VSE better than the NASA effort under Griffin, which sacrificed VSE goals & objectives in order to pay for Constellation. You should be dancing in the streets that Obama decided to pull the plug on Constellation and reorient NASA back towards the VSE.

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Selective quoting MT. How cute.

    Not as cute as you trying to create a “red scare”.

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    How am I doing that Ron?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 8:44 am

    China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak…

    this is the kind of “baiting” that is completely useless.

    First off China is no more “going to the Moon” then the US (or Indians) are…they are all uncrewed vehicles doing basic exploration. As an aside they (the PRC) are not landing on the Moon with this current vehicle unless it has some design features no one knows about.

    Second even if the Reds were sending humans to the Moon, there is no data that they are doing so in any manner to benefit their defense posture. There is no evidence that they are using their LEO human assets (as trivial as they are) for defense purpose.

    What you and others breathlessly imply is that the Chinese space program is some “race to Gibraltar”….ie some race to take over a strategic location and use it exclusively. You cannot even explain why the Moon is a strategic location.

    All it is is fear baiting.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:43 am [...........And many of us see the new NASA plan as focusing on the VSE better than the NASA effort under Griffin, which sacrificed VSE goals & objectives in order to pay for Constellation. You should be dancing in the streets that Obama decided to pull the plug on Constellation and reorient NASA back towards the VSE.]

    ———————

    The Vision for Space Exploration:

    [Snip: in section following Goal and Objectives of VSE]

    The Moon:

    Undertake lunar exploration activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations in the solar system;

    Starting no later than 2008, initiate a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support future human exploration activities;

    Conduct the first extended human expeditions to the lunar surface as early as 2015, but no later than the year 2020; and

    Use lunar exploration activities to further science, and to develop and test new approaches, technologies, and systems, including use of lunar and other space resources, to support sustained human space exploration to Mars and other destinations.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration2.pdf

  • Anne Spudis

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Using your argument Robert, the U.S. isn’t going anywhere either.

    Who said manned landing? They will begin with robotic landers, as we should be doing.

    No matter how many times the value and importance of the Moon/ciclunar region to our economic and national interests is explained, you put your fingers in your ears and cover your eyes and then with great authority, proceed to say you don’t see or hear anything.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    All this proves is that the reaction to the abomination that is Obamaspace is coming with the next Congress and it is going to be sharp indeed. People who support the policy can continue to be in denial all they want.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Using your argument Robert, the U.S. isn’t going anywhere either…

    Tell you what Anne, you be careful with my words and I will be careful with yours. I didnt use the word “anywhere”.

    I did say and will repeat that there is no evidence that the Chinese are going to the Moon with humans, there is no evidence that the Chinese are trying to send humans to the moon to do anything concerning their national defense…and there is no evidence that the Chinese are trying to send humans to the Moon to acquire the moon in total as a strategic asset.

    But I can agree with the notion that you express that neither is the US…and in fact neither is any nation on Earth.

    To just do a “flags and footprints” mission with humans is terribly expensive now and those dollars (or currency) can buy a lot of robotic missions which is what we and the Reds and the Indians are all pursuing.

    You might think that you or Paul or Whittington or whoever have come up with some reasons that going back or going to (depending on which nation tries it) the Moon with humans has some sort of urgency; but while you might think that there is no evidence that the arguments have caught on outside the “moon group”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    All this proves is that the reaction to the abomination that is Obamaspace is coming with the next Congress and it is going to be sharp indeed.

    and people who are oppossed to a free enterprise direction in space can dream along all they want…it wont change reality

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “and people who are oppossed to a free enterprise direction in space can dream along all they want…it wont change reality”

    I agree. The sooner that we curtail massive corporate welfare to so-called commercial space firms, the better.

    Btw, All this blather about who is responsible for the space flight gap misses the point. Obama is President. Obama did not address the space flight gap. He likely made it worse.

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    I remember O’Keefe explaining that the VSE would be “go as you pay”, meaning that the goals would remain the same but progress would be dependent on the available budget.

    As for the Goals and Objectives, the Flexible Path proposed by the Obama administration doesn’t fulfill any of them.
    • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;
    The key word here is Sustained. Periodic human trips to an asteroid that could better be explored roboticly is not a sustained exploration.

    • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;

    Concrete goals, destinations and the start of a time frame. Scientific bases where we can learn how to carry out extended exploration of an alien planet. Exploration and establishment of scientific bases on the moon opens the door to commercial enterprises that will supply crew and material and puts those companies in advantageous positions to exploit the resources that the moon has to offer. Lunar fly-by’s, even by a totally commercial spacecraft, can’t offer those opportunities.

    • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration;

    Here things get a bit muddled between Flexible Path and the VSE. While FP does fund R&D, I don’t see where it supports infrastructure development especially lunar development that could be used to support travel to Mars or NEO’s.

    • Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.
    I don’t see where any international or commercial entity would be interested in joy rides around the moon or an occasional jaunt to an asteroid. I do see where both would be interested in establishing easy and continued human access to cis-lunar space, the lunar surface, and then expeditions to Mars as called for under the VSE.

    Those are the reasons that I believe we need HLV’s sooner rather than later and an Orion BEO spacecraft sooner rather than later.

  • Obama did not address the space flight gap. He likely made it worse.

    His proposed plan reduced it. It will only be increased again if Congress gets its way.

  • Anne Spudis

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Robert, we all are painfully aware that you are anti-manned space exploration (Did I state that correctly?).

    We are all painfully aware that you are an authority on everything you talk about (Did I state that correctly?).

    We are all painfully aware that we can’t hold a candle to your insight about other countries and their histories and their future plans. (Did I state that correctly?).

    But you will forgive me for pointing out that China has a very secret space program, that is run by their military and even Robert G. Oler might be wrong in his assertion, though he’s quite certain that he doesn’t care.

  • Major Tom

    “Selective quoting MT. How cute.”

    I did not selectively quote you. Aside from the reference to the WaPo article, you only had three original sentences in that post. I fully quoted the first two sentences.

    Don’t make things up.

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Anne, if you’re going to cut and paste stuff, you should say what point it supports. As it is, your post was pointless.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Btw, All this blather about who is responsible for the space flight gap misses the point. Obama is President. Obama did not address the space flight gap.

    So you agree then that Bush created the spaceflight gap, or at least did not solve it during his eight years in office.

    And now you’re complaining about how quickly Obama can fix Bush’s problems, which by the way, a lot of people want him to move faster on that topic. It’s good to see you want the President to move faster on his agenda… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I remember O’Keefe explaining that the VSE would be “go as you pay”, meaning that the goals would remain the same but progress would be dependent on the available budget.

    I don’t care what you “remember”, O’Keefe wasn’t in charge of NASA during most of the Bush years, so what he might have said doesn’t matter.

    BTW, did he implement that is such a way that Griffin used it? If not, then it was just wishes that he had, and not firm policy.

    It doesn’t matter what people say, it’s what they do. Try to remember that.

  • Anne Spudis

    Major Tom wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:18 pm [....Don’t make things up.]

    Anne @ 8:44 [China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak, doesn’t change the fact that their space program has the Moon and ciclunar space (where all commercial and defense satellites reside) as their goal and their defense department (aka China National Space Administration) is actively working that program. They’ve been acquiring a lot of information about our technology over the years and seem quite apt and focused on using it.]

    Not to be petulant MT but you (as did Robert G. Oler) tried to imply that I stated the Chinese are about to land on the Moon by editing my post in your comments.

    Naughty, naughty.

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:18 pm [Anne, if you’re going to cut and paste stuff, you should say what point it supports. As it is, your post was pointless.]

    Sorry you’re having trouble keeping up.

  • MrEarl

    Wow Ron, I see you’re back to being a “little shit” again.

    What’s wrong? Can’t defend your positions, as usual?

  • Major Tom

    “Not to be petulant MT but you… tried to imply that I stated the Chinese are about to land on the Moon by editing my post in your comments.”

    I did no such thing. I exactly repeated your words. From your most recent post, they were:

    “Anne @ 8:44 [China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak…”

    Again, China isn’t landing anything on the Moon as we speak (or write). The ongoing Chang’e 2 mission is an orbiter. The Chang’e 3 lander isn’t scheduled to launch until 2013 at the earliest.

    You’re claiming that an argument that China isn’t landing a spacecraft on the Moon right now isn’t legitimate. But it is a legitimate argument because the only way China can land a spacecraft on the Moon right now is to crash Chang’e 2 into the lunar surface.

    If you did not express yourself accurately the first time, then post a correction. If you want to retract a nutjob conspiracy theory about secret Chinese lunar landings, then do so. But don’t blame me for your words. You wrote what you wrote.

    “Naughty, naughty.”

    Since when is copying and pasting your exact words “naughty”?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “And now you’re complaining about how quickly Obama can fix Bush’s problems, which by the way, a lot of people want him to move faster on that topic. It’s good to see you want the President to move faster on his agenda”

    Fixing the space flight gap was not part of the Obama agenda.

    “His proposed plan reduced it. It will only be increased again if Congress gets its way.”

    Really? How?

  • Justin Kugler

    I’m still waiting for a coherent explanation for how developing the commercial space industry, as required by the Space Act, through services contracts intended to save NASA on launch costs is “massive corporate welfare.”

    What does that make the traditional cost-plus contractors, then?

  • Anne Spudis

    Major Tom wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Is that all you have MT?

    If so, it is laughable.

    You didn’t copy and paste my exact words. If you had, you wouldn’t have be able to twist them.

    How pathetic.

  • Fixing the space flight gap was not part of the Obama agenda.

    Yes it was.

    Really? How?

    Ares/Orion wasn’t going to be ready before 2017 at best. Commercial Crew can have something on line at least two years earlier (and we could have had it now had Mike Griffin initiated it five years ago).

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ares/Orion wasn’t going to be ready before 2017 at best.

    But But But But…

    Mike Griffin told us it would be ready by then, as did Congress & NASA. SURELY they wouldn’t be wrong.

  • Anne Spudis

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:00 pm [....Ares/Orion wasn’t going to be ready before 2017 at best. Commercial Crew can have something on line at least two years earlier (and we could have had it now had Mike Griffin initiated it five years ago).]

    And at worst, when?

  • At worst, never, if the House had had its way.

  • I would add that under the Bush/Griffin plan, the gap problem would have gone away in 2016, after we abandoned ISS.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    What’s wrong? Can’t defend your positions, as usual?

    Actually you’re the one trying to defend a proposition, and so far you haven’t succeeded.

    - You stated that some comment you thought you heard justified a philosophy that no one is following. Don’t you see the problem with that?

    - You also stated that Obama’s space plan, regarding what the VSE stated, “doesn’t fulfill any of them”, but then you even show where they are doing just what the VSE states, but that you don’t see the need for it. Make up your mind, either you’re for the VSE, or against it?

    Come back again when you have something more coherent…

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Sorry you’re having trouble keeping up.

    I was waiting for you to make a point, but I guess that is as pointless as your copy/paste post.

    Oh, and by the way, when will you give up on the 2020 Moon date the VSE had as a goal? You keep pointing to it like it has the force of law, but it doesn’t – IT WAS A GOAL. No one goes to jail for missing it, and a majority in Congress don’t care about it.

    We’ll go back to the Moon some day, but it’s not a priority. If you think it is, then I suggest you do what Musk did, and start a company to achieve your goals. If you’re successful, then you can laugh all the way to the bank. Otherwise, stand in line with everyone else that have dreams far bigger than available budgets.

  • @ Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    That may be so, so in that vein shouldn’t Gen. Bolden be lauded for trying to engage the Chinese in the area of space exploration instead of isolating them?

    If China is an adversary as you propose, wouldn’t it be better to have that adversary ‘in plain sight?’

    After all, Nixon ‘opened’ China to the West thirty years ago.

    Or don’t you retro-nationalists consider Nixon one of your own anymore?

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:34 pm [....Oh, and by the way, when will you give up on the 2020 Moon date the VSE had as a goal? You keep pointing to it like it has the force of law, but it doesn’t – IT WAS A GOAL. No one goes to jail for missing it, and a majority in Congress don’t care about it.]

    How did you get this from me?

    I was pointing out that the Moon was the corner stone of VSE after you boasted that the new path is the VSE. Which doesn’t make sense, as the president, the administrator and the media all say using the Moon is out.

  • They’re not saying the moon is out. They’re just saying it’s not first.

  • Anne Spudis

    dad2059 wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:40 pm [.....That may be so, so in that vein shouldn’t Gen. Bolden be lauded for trying to engage the Chinese in the area of space exploration instead of isolating them?]

    The only ones isolating themselves are the Chinese who keep us at arms length re their space goals. It also would be nice if the president or congress knew what General Bolden is doing over there. Congressmen are writing to ask him about his activities and the White House has disavowed sending him.

  • Anne Spudis

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Who’s “they?”

  • Anne Spudis

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    [At worst, never, if the House had had its way.]

    ——————
    So you allow no slippage in your post?

    “Ares/Orion wasn’t going to be ready before 2017 at best. Commercial Crew can have something on line at least two years earlier (and we could have had it now had Mike Griffin initiated it five years ago).” [ Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:00 pm]

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ms. Spudis – the “they” is the Obama administration & NASA. And I would go so far as to say that the main point isn’t first, or second – its we aren’t going to focus on the moon at the exclusion of everything else, particularly on developing technology that will be useful

  • Anne Spudis

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:53 pm [.....its we aren’t going to focus on the moon at the exclusion of everything else, particularly on developing technology that will be useful]

    How did the VSE exclude anything?

    Please read for content:

    The VSE:

    The Vision for Space Exploration:

    Goal and Objectives

    The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, the United States will:

    • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;

    • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;

    • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and

    • Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.

    [Snip: in section following Goal and Objectives of VSE]

    The Moon:

    Undertake lunar exploration activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations in the solar system;

    Starting no later than 2008, initiate a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support future human exploration activities;

    Conduct the first extended human expeditions to the lunar surface as early as 2015, but no later than the year 2020; and

    Use lunar exploration activities to further science, and to develop and test new approaches, technologies, and systems, including use of lunar and other space resources, to support sustained human space exploration to Mars and other destinations.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration2.pdf

  • Justin Kugler

    The 2010 Authorization Act also explicitly states that cis-lunar missions, including the potential for surface expeditions, will be the foundation for exploration further BEO.

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    The 2010 Authorization Act also explicitly states that cis-lunar missions, including the potential for surface expeditions, will be the foundation for exploration further BEO.

    Was that in the President’s budget?

  • Justin Kugler

    It’s what he signed into law, Anne. That’s all that matters now.

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:06 pm [It’s what he signed into law, Anne. That’s all that matters now.]

    Really?

  • The only ones isolating themselves are the Chinese who keep us at arms length re their space goals.

    At a guess, like I said, Gen. Bolden is making an attempt at engagement, so maybe we can figure out Chinese goals concerning spaceflight.

    Which brings me to this, It also would be nice if the president or congress knew what General Bolden is doing over there. Congressmen are writing to ask him about his activities and the White House has disavowed sending him, I surmise that Gen. Bolden is doing this at his own initiative in order to give cover to his President.

    As a Marine Veteran myself, I can vouch that Marines are encouraged to initiate options on our own when possible, not just follow orders.

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:15 pm [Yes, go read it for yourself.]

    I’ve read it.

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:06 pm [It’s what he signed into law, Anne. That’s all that matters now.]

    So that’s all that matters now?

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I was pointing out that the Moon was the corner stone of VSE after you boasted that the new path is the VSE.

    The Moon is far from a “cornerstone”, which implies something that must happen first. For instance, the Moon, as an airless body in space, is not required for practicing landings and operations on Mars or any other body with an atmosphere.

    And in fact, of the four VSE “Goals & Objectives”, only one mentions the Moon specifically, and it was second on the list. The Moon isn’t required to accomplish the other three goals and objectives, so your “cornerstone” analogy is not relevant.

    The Moon, like all other places in our solar system, is one of the many places that we’ll be able to go with the Flexible Plan, but it doesn’t have to be first, and contrary to what you say, Obama has not “excluded” it, but has said (like many people have pointed out to you) that NEO’s are the next goal for NASA.

  • So you allow no slippage in your post?

    No, I did allow slippage. That’s why I wrote at least two years. It might be more if it comes in by (say) 2014, but if it slips, it will be two years. The 2017 date might have slipped as well, which would make it even more than two years.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    The problem with lunar surface missions, the 40-tonne titanium and composite gorilla in the centre of the room, is the lander. That’s going to be a major project and likely won’t be funded until after completion of work on the SLS and orbital elements (such as the long-haul hab module and the EDS). So, I would say 2025-30 is the likely timescale for completion of the lander project.

    That’s one of the reasons that I support an EML-1 space-lab. You’ll still be able to do a lot of BEO space environment and shielding science and also be able to explore the Moon with teleoperated rovers from such a staging post. It gives NASA a BEO project other than very occasional NEO missions before the lunar lander is ready.

  • Coastal Ron

    Oops, forgot to close quotes & italics after the first paragraph… <8-)

  • Anne Spudis

    dad2059 wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I thank you for your service dad2059. But why would the administrator of NASA need to give cover to the president of the United States with this trip to China?

  • Justin Kugler

    The Authorization Act is the legal guidance given to NASA by the agreement of Congress and the President, Anne. Regardless of what was proposed in the FY2011 budget, what we have now is what President Obama agreed to.

    The next step (and it’s hardly trivial) is getting the appropriations through and figuring out how to match the schedule and budget with the objectives given.

  • Anne Spudis

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:19 pm [........so your “cornerstone” analogy is not relevant.]

    You are flat out wrong. The Moon was the cornerstone of the VSE because it made sense to build a sustainable, affordable infrastructure that brought space into our economic sphere, whereby we could boot-strap our way everywhere.

    You have nothing now. Squat.

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:25 pm [......The next step (and it’s hardly trivial)]

    It wasn’t trivial getting the VSE to pass congress twice (under different parties).
    Any workable space program will have lunar return or it will fall apart.

  • Justin Kugler

    I think that’s an awfully strong statement, Anne. How is having lunar return a necessary condition of a workable human space flight program?

  • But why would the administrator of NASA need to give cover to the president of the United States with this trip to China?

    Because Gen. Bolden would know that it might not be a politically popular trip for Obama to back, especially with the elections coming up, not wishing to add fuel to the GOP fires.

  • Anne Spudis

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:20 pm [The problem with lunar surface missions, the 40-tonne titanium and composite gorilla in the centre of the room, is the lander. That’s going to be a major project and likely won’t be funded until after completion of work on the SLS and orbital elements (such as the long-haul hab module and the EDS). So, I would say 2025-30 is the likely timescale for completion of the lander project....]

    We need to send small robotic landers to the Moon now (humans on the Moon is way, way down the road). Might I ask: How is continually sending robotic missions to Mars helping us get anywhere? Could Mars scientists spare one of their missions sent searching for life, to move things along down here a bit closer to Earth?

  • Justin Kugler

    You know, I don’t remember it being a big deal when Mike Griffin did exactly what Bolden is doing now…

    http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/griffin_china.html

    “The International Space Station set a pattern for cooperative programs to follow,” he said. “I believe someday China will be part of that.”

    “One of the most important aspects of our trip,” Griffin said, “is the opportunity to gain better transparency and trust.”

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    (October 2010) http://www.spacenews.com/civil/101012-congressional-concerns-remain-nasa-china-trip.html

    “…Bolden will be the second NASA administrator to visit on official agency business. His predecessor, Mike Griffin, told Space News that he was denied access to China’s manned spaceflight facilities when he became the first NASA administrator to lead a delegation there in September 2007. ..”

    (Dec 2008) http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw122208p2.xml

    “NASA tried and failed to obtain Bush administration approval of an overture to China for a cooperative U.S.-China space mission, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin tells Aviation Week & Space Technology.

    The White House believes that a higher level of cooperation is too great a reward to China for its human rights and arms-trafficking violations of international law.

    But the new Obama administration may resurrect the idea. The transition team of President-elect Barack Obama asked the agency for a detailed breakdown of its contacts with China and overall Asia-Pacific-region cooperative concepts in general………..”

    (Sept 2006)http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1155

    “…It is still to be determined whether Griffin’s team will have enough time to visit the Great Wall of China. But the U.S. team members said they will definitely raise concerns about the wall of secrecy that surrounds even civilian Chinese space efforts. NASA cannot cooperate with secret space programs. ..”

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    The Moon was the cornerstone of the VSE because it made sense to build a sustainable, affordable infrastructure that brought space into our economic sphere, whereby we could boot-strap our way everywhere.

    You’re reading your hopes and desires into what the VSE said, but it didn’t say that.

    While we may someday use the Moon for resources or logistics, not having lunar support does not stop us from going anywhere. You may lack the imagination to see that, but I digress… ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I agree. The sooner that we curtail massive corporate welfare to so-called commercial space firms, the better…

    but Obama’s plan does that.

    Gone is the mindless spending (10 billion or so) on a project that is over budget, not meeting deadlines and a featherbed for pork spending.

    you know the kind you use to be against…

    As for the gap. The only way that Obama could have eliminated it was to continue to fly the shuttle and that is simply a non starter financially.

    Before long you will start blaming Obama for not having done in Osama…even though Bush failed to do so.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Wodun

    It is highly unlikely that Bolden is visiting China without orders to do so. That is a totally separate issue from whether or not engagement with China is a good idea and what level the engagement should be. I don’t think anyone is saying there should be no contact with China.

    It would be nice if we knew more about the trip so that people could develop a more informed opinion. The lack of transparency is to be expected from the Chinese government but not our own.

    Many people who comment here have said that we don’t need a destination because we are working on technology to enable us to go anywhere and that robotic precursor missions are evidence that we will be going someplace in the future. Those same people look at the same activities by China and say that China has no plans to go to the Moon.

    Many people are also arrogantly dismissive of China’s capabilities. Don’t underestimate China.

    I have no problem with China going to the Moon in any form. I do have a problem if they or anyone else sets up shop on the Moon and we are not there. You can’t compete in the game if you don’t have a player on the field.

    China is not our friend nor our enemy but they are our competition in nearly everything. In the business world you don’t ignore your competition.

    Cries of fear mongering and red scare only serve as an insult to silence the debate, they do nothing to expand our knowledge about geopolitics in regard to China.

  • Anne Spudis

    Well, Ron, time will tell how this is going to play out.

    The beauty of using lunar resources to build space access, was that time not money was the free variable.
    With the VSE, the objective of space flight “beyond” could be worked in lean times as well as when we were flush or needed to move the program along. But we were going somewhere and not sitting back navel gazing, content to play “let’s spin the bottle.”

  • Major Tom

    “You didn’t copy and paste my exact words. If you had, you wouldn’t have be able to twist them.”

    How did I twist them? Did you write:

    “China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak…”

    Or not?

    If that wasn’t what you meant, then explain yourself. Don’t blame me for your writing when you’ve repeated it twice and failed twice to explain what you really meant to say with those words. It’s your responsibility to explain what you wrote. Not mine.

    “It wasn’t trivial getting the VSE to pass congress twice (under different parties).”

    The authorizations were trivial. It was the appropriations that never matched the overall NASA funding commitments in the VSE. Words are easy in Congress. Money is hard.

    “Any workable space program will have lunar return or it will fall apart.”

    This is a patently false statement. There’s a workable human space program today called the ISS. It doesn’t have lunar missions of any flavor.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “The only ones isolating themselves are the Chinese who keep us at arms length re their space goals. It also would be nice if the president or congress knew what General Bolden is doing over there… the White House has disavowed sending him.”

    Another patently false statement. Per Bolden’s letter to Wolf, Bolden’s trip was set up by a prior Obama/Hu summit:

    “On November 17, 2009, President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao issued a Joint Statement, following their summit meeting in Beijing, which called for the initiation of a dialogue on human space flight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit. The Joint Statement also called for reciprocal visits between an appropriate Chinese counterpart and the NASA Administrator in 2010. As indicated in the background paper provided to your staff, in accordance with the Presidential Joint Statement and as a result of a formal invitation to me from the Director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), I am planning to travel to China October 16-21, 2010, to conduct discussions with a number of senior Chinese officials, including officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology, CMSEO, the China National Space Administration, the China Academy of Spaceflight Technology, and the China Academy of Sciences. While in China, I have also been invited to conduct site visits to Chinese human space flight facilities that were previously not offered to my predecessors.

    This stuff is on NASAWatch, for cripes sake. See:

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=35105

    Stop making stuff up.

    “We need to send small robotic landers to the Moon now”

    There were lunar robotic lander/rover missions in NASA’s FY11 budget plan, and they were specifically targeted at resources. If you think that’s important, then you should have supported the Administration’s budget request.

  • Major Tom

    “What the Obama administration is guilty of is killing a rational path for future exploration of space like VSE (not Constellation which was only one man’s vision on implementation) and replaced it with stunts and joy rides… Flexible Path is really, in my opinion, the abandonment of exploration for stunts and joy rides. How is a manned trip to an asteroid and trips to circle the moon more beneficial than a sustained effort tword a set goal of establishing a permanent manned presence in space?”

    Your post is based on three false arguments.

    The first false argument is that missions that don’t land on a large planetary body are “stunts and joy rides”. That may be your opinion, but it simply isn’t true. NEOs, for example, pose the greatest threat to the Earth, civilization, and human life and property in general of any extraterrestrial object or phenomenon. Based on an assessment of risks from space, NEOs are at the top of the list of objects for NASA missions to visit and better understand, not the Moon or Mars or any other large body in the solar system, none of which pose a threat to the Earth or its inhabitants. Even if you set aside risks to Earth, similar arguments for prioritizing Lagrange points (deep space telescopes) or small bodies (early solar system formation) over large bodies could be made from a scientific point of view. Different destinations are important depending on your rationale for undertaking exploration in the first place (to counter a threat, to better understand the laws of nature, to exploit a frontier, etc.).

    The second false argument is that a permanent manned presence in space can only be established on a large planetary body. ISS and prior space stations like Mir have maintained a manned presence in space for decades. Even setting aside existing and prior space stations, there’s no evidence that the radiation, partial gravity, local poisons, gravity wells, and costs associated with developing and operating an ISRU infrastructure on the Moon or Mars are more conducive to space development/settlement than various deep space locations. In fact, the ability to simulate Earth’s gravity, exploit microgravity and vacuum conditions, shield against radiation without literally living in a cave, avoid a second gravity well, and avoid hexavalent chromium and abrasive dusts may make deep space locations safer, easier, and cheaper to develop and settle. I’m not saying that I know one way or the other, but no one else does either.

    The third false argument is that the flexible path options in the final report of the Augustine Committee don’t include landings on large planetary bodies. That’s simply not true. Those options include lunar landings and culminate in Mars landings. Your argument is based on a gross mischaracterization of the Augustine report.

    If you want to argue that the Moon should come first, then put forth that argument.

    But don’t falsely claim that important destinations are just “stunts and joyrides”, that the only permanent manned presence in space has been on planetary surfaces when that hasn’t been the case for decades, or mischaracterize a report.

    FWIW…

  • Anne Spudis

    Major Tom wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Again, to counter your attempt to change what I wrote, I will cut and paste my post:

    Anne @ 8:44 [China is going to the Moon. Any argument that they aren’t landing as we speak, doesn’t change the fact that their space program has the Moon and ciclunar space (where all commercial and defense satellites reside) as their goal and their defense department (aka China National Space Administration) is actively working that program. They’ve been acquiring a lot of information about our technology over the years and seem quite apt and focused on using it.]

    Now:

    (Oct 7, 2010) http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1452

    “NASA Watch sources report that this upcoming trip to China and then Indonesia is Charlie Bolden’s idea first and foremost. The White House did not ask him to go to either country – nor do they want him to go. But he is going anyway. The trip to Saudi Arabia was similarly unrequested and unsanctioned as far as the White House was concerned.

    This begs the question in the White House and elsewhere as to why Bolden is focusing his energy on foreign trips at a time when NASA’s domestic support is sagging. Moreover, there is growing concern within the White House as to why Bolden is not getting the message that the White House has been sending to him. Bolden’s recent gaffs in the Middle East and ethics issues with Marathon Oil haven’t exactly helped his relationship with the White House.”

  • Vladislaw

    “Tue, 17 November, 2009

    China, U.S. Put Spaceflight Cooperation Talks on Agenda

    WASHINGTON — The heads of the U.S. and Chinese civil space agencies will exchange visits next year to discuss potential cooperation in space exploration, including human spaceflight, according to a U.S.-China joint statement issued Nov. 17.

    The statement came as U.S. President Barack Obama was wrapping up his official state visit to Beijing Nov. 15 to 18 for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao. In the statement, the two sides pledged to expand cooperative ties in a number of areas, including space, civil aviation, agriculture and health.

    “The United States and China look forward to expanding discussions on space science cooperation and starting a dialogue on human space flight and space exploration, based on the principles of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit,” said the statement, which was posted on the White House Web site. “Both sides welcome reciprocal visits of the NASA Administrator and the appropriate Chinese counterpart in 2010.” “

    Bolden going to China was announced last year, everyone knew it was coming.

    ——-

    On the VSE, I believe there were some other “cornerstones” besides the moon and they never get talked about.

    NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems. Depending on future human mission designs, NASA could decide to develop or acquire a heavy lift vehicle later this decade. Such a vehicle could be derived from elements of the Space Shuttle, existing commercial launch vehicles, or new designs.

    In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring. For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused, have systems that could be applied to more than one destination, and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews. NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly” “

    It then goes on:

    “Prior to this plan, six Enterprises comprised NASA’s organization Space Science, Earth Science, Biological and Physical Research, Aerospace Technology, Education, and Space Flight. To develop the exploration building blocks described in this document, NASA has created a new Exploration Systems Enterprise. Exploration Systems will be initially responsible for developing the solar system exploration vehicles and technologies described in this plan, including the Crew Exploration Vehicle, nuclear power and propulsion systems, and necessary supporting technologies.”

    Now how anyone can read the 2011 budget submitted by President Obama and the VSE and not say it was directly supporting the VSE then just don’t know how to read.

    The Vision for Space Exploration NEVER refers to the moon landings as a “cornerstone”, in fact it expressly states more than once it is mearly a stepping stone, NOT a cornerstone. It was a stepping stone for a much more grand vision. All the tech, all the development, all the building, was to move us to the ACTUAL cornerstone of the VSE, getting us to Mars. None of the VSE roadmap points to any of it’s constituant parts as the end game, all the parts are designed with on single endgoal, Mars.

  • amightywind

    Bolden is focusing his energy on foreign trips at a time when NASA’s domestic support is sagging.

    This administration is remarkably politically tone deaf in governing for a bunch who had a reputation for political savvy during the campaign. Bolden’s trip is particularly ill timed considering the deteriorating relationship between the Chicoms and the US military. Why on earth would we discuss space cooperation with the reds when we lack a fundamental military to military relationship? The US had that much with the Soviets.

  • Words are easy in Congress. Money is hard.

    The current deficits would seem to belie that. It’s only hard when it comes to NASA.

  • Anne Spudis

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Nice post. Good stuff that VSE!

    The Moon is the cornerstone (the foundation) where we will learn how to use what we find in space to move out into space. Then we can step out to Mars and beyond with knowledge and capability under out belt.

    I know it’s fashionable with this generation that everyone must “win” so they won’t have their feelings hurt or face the truth that sometimes you have to wait for something because it isn’t in their best interests, no matter how much they really, really want it. The “flexible path” is soothing as a non objective but with it, “all will not win and all will not have prizes.”

  • Jason

    “I know it’s fashionable with this generation that everyone must “win” so they won’t have their feelings hurt or face the truth that sometimes you have to wait for something because it isn’t in their best interests, no matter how much they really, really want it. The “flexible path” is soothing as a non objective but with it, “all will not win and all will not have prizes.””

    Which generation? There are several represented on this board. What you seem not to realize is that YOU have to wait for the Moon, we all do. Flexible Path realized that more than you seem to.

    “The Moon is the cornerstone (the foundation) where we will learn how to use what we find in space to move out into space. Then we can step out to Mars and beyond with knowledge and capability under out belt.”

    I can only reply to you, by quoting you from several threads back:
    (“Let the other guy pay” comment from Anne 3:21pm on 10/7/10)

    “I agree when one SAYS we have to do something exciting in space, they don’t have a clue. The mere act of going into space and doing something innovative and groundbreaking IS EXCITING (ie resource utilization) . I don’t need someone on a blog or writing a science news article to TELL me when to be interested or which program is worth my interest.”

    Don’t tell me Anne, what is in my “best interests”, or you are no different than the Chinese you complain about.

  • Sorry, Rep. Culbertson. But Congress doesn’t run foreign policy, the Administration does. If we stopped diplomatic efforts with the world every time a Member of Congress said boo, we wouldn’t have relations with anyone. Our entire foreign policy would be held hostage to any one of 535 people elected to Congress from a single district. Nothing would get done.

    I agree with many of the concerns they express, but not with the conclusion that Congress needs to give approval of every outreach effort. t would be a crazy thing for any President to cede that authority.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:21 am

    “you point your finger at pro U.S. lunar/cislunar development advocates and call them out.”

    Yup. You got it. They need to be called out. You are free to consider the Chinese our enemies, and you can find senior people who do. My point is that you HAVE to. You need them as enemies. In fact, many lunar advocates would be devastated if the Chinese backed away from their plans. Why? Because then the U.S. would have no competitive incentive to return to the Moon. We’d have to find good reasons to do it, which frankly are lacking.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It’s only hard when it comes to NASA.

    I’m starting to believe no progress will be made until NASA’s budget has been reduced dramatically. That has been hard so far. Time will tell if the new Congress will be any different.

  • common sense

    @Major Tom wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    “If we want to worry about Chinese space capabilities, then we should pay attention to actual threats like their rudimentary ASAT capabilities, not their crude planetary orbiters and landers.”

    Just to add to Major Tom. NASA is a CIVILIAN agency. We have on the other hand the DoD with a huge budget. If China is a threat to national security then the DoD is taking care of it. Of course they will not go public with whatever they do! But come on the China-is-going-to-the-Moon again! AGAIN!? What if they drop the whole thing? Are we going to worry about the Martians going to the Moon? Little green men invading the lunatics. Come to think of it. Is it that all lunatics want to get together on the Moon? Is this what it is? Then please go!

    Oh well…

  • Anne Spudis

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Well, you have it wrong.

    What you miss was stated well by: Wodun wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  • Anne Spudis

    Jason wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 4:41 pm [“The Moon is the cornerstone (the foundation) where we will learn how to use what we find in space to move out into space. Then we can step out to Mars and beyond with knowledge and capability under out belt.”]

    I can only reply to you, by quoting you from several threads back:

    (“Let the other guy pay” comment from Anne 3:21pm on 10/7/10) [“I agree when one SAYS we have to do something exciting in space, they don’t have a clue. The mere act of going into space and doing something innovative and groundbreaking IS EXCITING (ie resource utilization) . I don’t need someone on a blog or writing a science news article to TELL me when to be interested or which program is worth my interest.”]

    Don’t tell me Anne, what is in my “best interests”, or you are no different than the Chinese you complain about.

    ——
    I have no idea what is in your best interest Jason. Where you quote me above about exciting space projects was in response to the poster Coastal Ron’s comment [To a degree, we’re not going to be able to justify doing stuff in space because “it’s exciting” – certainly not through the government. Space in some respects is no more exciting than what my neighbor does as a professional diver (i.e. another member of the public), so the justification really boils down to our desire as a nation to expand our presence off of Earth.

    But as with all things in life, until there is a need to get excited about something (like an impending asteroid strike), the public will depend on it happening without their input or interest. Heck, the Moon was just taken off of NASA’s “next destination” list, and the public yawned. I think you need a different marketing plan Anne… ;-)] Coastal Ron wrote @ October 7th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I’m starting to believe no progress will be made until NASA’s budget has been reduced dramatically. That has been hard so far. Time will tell if the new Congress will be any different.

    If necessity is mother of invention, then scarcity must be the father.

    In the Silicon Valley startup community, there is a firm belief that too much money can ruin startups. Why? Because you lose focus and you lose urgency.

    The same thing could be said with $100B programs at NASA, where without a sense of urgency, and a recognition of limited funding, that the natural tendency for bloat takes over. Why try to find the least expensive way to do something when Congress will just give you more money to cover your over-runs?

    The other problem is fiefdoms, where management’s sole purpose becomes perpetuating their kingdom, and not necessarily for doing something great and wonderful.

    Personally I’m of two minds on this concerning NASA. Sometimes you need to downsize an institution in order for it to become nimble and thrifty again. However, downsizing is never an exact science, and inevitably you lose some of the people you really wanted to keep going forward, not to mention a lot of time lost to reorganization.

    I have heard some suggestions that each of the centers be turned into a type of organization like JPL, which is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). Each one owns it’s own destiny, and in some cases may even compete against the others for projects or other work. Competition is good.

    Not really a China related post, but certainly we will need a nimble and competitive space industry if we want to compete against other countries. And since China is just one of many countries that we will share space with, we need to figure out how we want to meet them in space – from a position of strength (a strong & nimble space capability) or one that is hobbled by mismatched capabilities (like what Constellation was creating).

    My $0.02

  • Starting no later than 2008, initiate a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support future human exploration activities;

    Ya know, the day Griffin cancelled those robotic missions is the day I knew the dream was dead.

    Developing new boosters is a great way to blow the budget.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    The three things you stated were only valid (or correct) if you are stating them as your opinion. And that is only because every person can have their opinion even if it is contrary to the facts.

    the three things are standard internet(s) babble.

    The thing that interested me though was this:

    “But you will forgive me for pointing out that China has a very secret space program, that is run by their military and even Robert G. Oler might be wrong in his assertion, ”

    I can be wrong in my assertion that the Chinese have no ambitions to either go to the Moon with humans or to dominate it using its resources in their military programs, but you will need proof and you have none…all you have is your fears.

    If the Chinese are doing something as massive as a lunar effort to think that it would evade US military (and other) surveillance is goofy.

    and you will need proof for that assertion.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    “all you have is your fears.”

    What bugs me a lot is what “fears” these can be? What is it that NASA can do to alleviate any fear that the DoD cannot do? Land a person on the Moon? Really?

    Oh well…

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Well, you have it wrong.

    What you miss was stated well by: Wodun…

    I’m with Doug, in that all of your reasons for going to the Moon are based on fear, not need. And I don’t agree with Wodun either, since he seems to be in the Moon-fear game too. For instance, he said:

    I do have a problem if they or anyone else sets up shop on the Moon and we are not there. You can’t compete in the game if you don’t have a player on the field.

    What “game”? If we get established in space, and if resources from the Moon satisfies the need for cost or availability, then that will drive the mining of the Moon. We should do exploration there before that, and I have always been on record promoting the robotic precursor missions to the Moon, but sending people there is premature and prone to eventual program closure for lack of sustaining funds (i.e. like Apollo).

    And, as others have pointed out, NASA is not the department charged with national defense, so if there are issues of security involved here, then NASA won’t be the lead agency – they will support whoever the lead agency is. And to date, Bush and his predecessors, and Obama, have not seen the need to be concerned with ANYONE’S efforts at going to the Moon.

    Lastly, I think it’s hilarious that the Moon/HLV groups think that China will colonize the Moon using EELV class launchers, or even with their Delta IV Heavy equivalent the Long March 5, which isn’t scheduled to be operational until 2014. If you think they are going to colonize the Moon, don’t you think they would need an HLV? “Experts” in the U.S. say that it is mandatory for any BEO operations, so that right there should guarantee that the Chinese are not going to the Moon.

    You guys are too funny…

  • Bennett

    C’mon Ron,

    They don’t need a HLV because they are really good at putting things together, probably in space too, and besides, as a people, they’re, you know, somewhat smaller. So a Delta IV equivalent is probably enough for a really small lunar colony. (/sarc)

    Anne and Paul will play whatever cards they can get their hands on to further what THEY think is the best plan. That’s their right of course, but we don’t have to listen to them. Today it’s China, yesterday it was Lunar ice, tomorrow it’ll be something else.

    I like their enthusiasm, just not their “cram it down your throat” approach, and I particularly don’t like it when Anne spreads misinformation to set up her argument as valid.

    The moon IS a destination in Augustine’s Flexible Path, as it was in the original FY’11 budget. Anne wants it to be the first destination.

    Oh well.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    What bugs me a lot is what “fears” these can be? What is it that NASA can do to alleviate any fear that the DoD cannot do?

    what it “is” is the notion of going back to the Moon period. The folks who think that a lunar goal is an important one will push just about notion to make it happen.

    The problem is that the one notion that actually sales the concept of going back (or to) the Moon is simply unacceptable to the vast majority of Americans. We (the US) has just spent about 100 billion dollars and the better part of three decades trying to deploy a space station that was sold on much the same basis as the theories of going back to theMoon. Problem is that none of those basis have a chance of coming true given the current set of circumstances. There is no real theory about how the space station pays itself back…

    and the folks who want a lunar effort similar to that of the station really cannot explain how the Moon works to that as well.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Someone needs to remind Anne Spudis that Halloween isn’t until October 31. It’s too early to say “BOO!!”

  • Matt Wiser

    Anne: have a look at Ed Crawley’s presentation at the Cape on 15 Apr; he explains Flexible Path, and I think he was trying hard to “make the sale” to those who were skeptical at best, and openly hostile at most, to the concept. It’s on NASA’s youtube channel. I was a supporter of Constellation, and wasn’t happy to see it go, but with the Senate NASA bill being what was passed and signed into law, at least we get Orion and a heavy-lift vehicle. Hell, call it Ares IV or something, as some Constellation work will probably find its way into the new rocket. FYI Augustine gave as their preferred option for HLV a variant of Ares V called the Ares V Light, which could do both crew and cargo for BEO.

    Crawley basically said that you can do some exploration with just a crew module and a HLV-just not landing on anything (there’s only a dozen or so bodies in the whole solar system that are really accessable for human landings, btw), but just visiting other objects and maybe going EVA to them (NEO or PLYMOUTH ROCK as Lockheed-Martin has called it), teleoperating a Mars rover from Martian orbit and maybe coordinating with a rover for sample return via the crew vehicle (not exactly what Steve Squyres-the PI on the rovers wants, but close enough for now), and landing on Mars’ moons. But to get ready for Mars, we’ll need to learn surface ops in a space environment, and that means lunar return.

    I’d do the following: first Orion mission BEO to lunar orbit. Not just for a couple days, but for at least two weeks. Really work the ship out, iron out any bugs, and that’ll certify it for PLYMOUTH ROCK. Fly that mission, and continue lunar orbit (practice teleoperation of rovers from orbit, practice EVA in lunar orbit, conduct really hi-res photography, etc-using an instrument bay or two), fly an L-point or two, and so on. While that’s being done,develop the lunar lander and other systems (rovers, habitats, etc) so that in the mid to late ’20s, Gene Cernan is no longer the last man on the Moon. And just speaking personally, I’d rather that person be an American. And if ESA, JAXA, or other parties want to participate, fine. If they want to help with the lunar lander, or a rover, or habitats, good! That spreads out the costs, maintains international partnerships, and gives them a seat when the missions get flown. All of that, of course, gets us ready for Mars. And Crawley said it best: “Do you want to be NASA Administrator in 2035 and tell the President ‘We’re ready for Mars’ and not having done any surface activities?” Going to the Moon is a virtual prerequesite for Mars.

    I’d rather that Bolden, Garver, Holdren, or even POTUS had gone out and said that “We’re going to the moon, it’s just that there’s other exploration targets besides the lunar surface, and we can do some of those first before returning to the moon.” They’ve hinted at that, but nothing more concrete. If they’d done so, a lot of the opposition from those who supported Constellation might have been softened.

    Just my $ .02…..

  • vulture4

    First, China has no intention of racing us to the moon. If they lost they would look incompetent. If they won they would irritate their biggest trading partner. The goal of their space program is to maintain national pride for their domestic audience and showcase their aerospace capabilities for foreign customers. This requires only enough flights to be remembered. They launch about one manned flight a year; obviously if they were in a race the number would be 4-6. China’s real preference is to be invited to join ISS; they do not want to crush all opposition in space, they want to show they belong to the club of elite nations.

    This would serve US interests as well. The ISS was finally approved by congress not as a tourist destination or a lab that would magically cure cancer, but as a catylist for international trust and cooperation between nuclear adversaries, and to occupy the unemployed rocket scientists when the USSR collapsed, so they wouldn’t go off to Iran and North Korea.

    In the same way, inclusion of China in the ISS will help to diffuse tensions. It will also help the ISS, which needs a new partner with deep pockets and big rockets to remain viable and expand.

  • vulture4

    “”attendees, who put the blame for many of NASA’s current problems with the Obama Administration, even for those issues such as the post-Shuttle gap that have their roots in the Bush Administration. ”

    In spades. Most Republicans claim Obama canceled Shuttle and blame him for the gap. They don’t read history or even have memories for more than a few years or they would remember that Bush canceled Shuttle and tried to cancel ISS in 2005, even though Shuttle was working better than it ever had by return to flight. Obama was able to save ISS but for Shuttle the logistics contracts had been canceled and much of the tooling destroyed. Wayne Hale said it was two years too late to change course.

  • Rhyolite

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    “I know it’s fashionable with this generation that everyone must “win” so they won’t have their feelings hurt or face the truth that sometimes you have to wait for something because it isn’t in their best interests, no matter how much they really, really want it. The “flexible path” is soothing as a non objective but with it, “all will not win and all will not have prizes.””

    Given that Norm Augustine, who chaired the commission that came up with the “flexible path” idea, is 75, I am not sure which generation you were trying to slander with this vapid psycho-babble. I would also suggest you get out of what ever gated (retirement?) community you have secluded yourself in and actually meet some of this generation. Go visit a start up company in the valley, maybe even SpaceX, or a marine rifle company and you will find a lot of people from “this generation” working hard to win at their respective endeavors.

  • sigh, neither Norm nor the committee invented flexible path. History folks, it works when you *read* it.

  • Rhyolite

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    “I’m starting to believe no progress will be made until NASA’s budget has been reduced dramatically.”

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’m not there yet but if NASA doesn’t make the most of its new direction, then I may be joining your opinion.

    Learning to explore on a shoestring may be more likely to produce innovations than having all of the funding you could ask for.

    Alternatively, returning NASA to its NACA origins might put the focus on more productively serving the needs of the country, for example by emphasizing space access rather than HSF.

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    anything is possible but I would really be surprised if the PRC has any interest in joining the ISS club.

    The PRC is really a very secretive society which only really enjoys strutting its stuff on a stage that it likes to set…because the real audience is not the world, but it is the home folks.

    The great triumphs on a very small Chinese station will get far more play on their TV then anything that they do on ISS…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    congrats on your new assignment…I read your blog with envy. nice job

    Robert G. Oler

  • eh

    Re: the flexible path comments above.

    Flexible path is based around budget realities. We can’t develop rockets, ships and landers all in one go with today’s budget. They tried it and it failed. Just developing the rocket and a capsule for the SLS has some doubting whether the money is there. That’s all that could possibly happen under Obama anyway. After it’s built, his time is up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rhyolite wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Go visit a start up company in the valley, maybe even SpaceX, or a marine rifle company and you will find a lot of people from “this generation” working hard to win at their respective endeavors.

    well said. one of the best statements I have seen on this blog

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anne Spudis

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for your comments and observations. Hopefully, this mess will be sorted out.

  • Justin Kugler

    According to reports this morning, it looks like the Chinese media is working hard to play down any aspect of this being a “race” with America. They’re using terms like “win-win situation” and “working together.”

    http://china.globaltimes.cn/diplomacy/2010-10/581816.html

    http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary/2010-10/581744.html

    Rest assured that China is looking after its own best interests, but they are not looking for a fight or a race with us. They know they would lose.

  • Anne Spudis

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 8:40 am

    http://china.globaltimes.cn/diplomacy/2010-10/581816.html

    [.......Pang Zhihao, a Chinese expert on space technologies, told the Global Times that cooperation between China and the US in space flight could be a win-win situation.

    "One major aspect of cooperation might be space-docking technology, which China is planning to develop in the next phase," Pang said. "The US has a lot of experience in this field."

    "With the space shuttles retiring in a few years, the US is dependent on Russia for carrying astronauts. But its contract with Russia will expire soon, and it's expected that the US will have to pay more in the new contract. China might be another more economic option for the US at that time," he added...]

    http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary/2010-10/581744.html

    [….The lunar exploration program covers many high-tech fields. It is very scientifically demanding, which stimulates the technological upgrades and innovations.

    Lunar exploration is a threshold for exploring deep space and remote space, and it could provide the basic experience for eventually exploring other planets. There are unimaginable abundant natural resources on the moon, such as rare earths, or uranium and titanium ores. The titanium ore reserve on the moon is the same size as the whole of China.

    Although we are not able to exploit these resources due to the extremely high cost and technological limitations, as scientists, we have the responsibility to prove the existence of these resources and inform the people…..

    ….If China doesn’t explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can’t safeguard our proper rights and interests…..

  • Jason

    “….If China doesn’t explore the moon, we will have no say in international lunar exploration and can’t safeguard our proper rights and interests…..”

    And if the US doesn’t explore the moon economically, it won’t matter what ‘say’ we have.

  • We will all steadfastly deny that there is a race, and yet there will be a race.

  • Jason

    Bill,

    A race towards what? What is the end goal?

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    We will all steadfastly deny that there is a race, and yet there will be a race.

    You make it sound like the next country to the Moon “wins” the Moon. That’s ridiculous of course, since we and many others have already been to the Moon, and we have even landed people there.

    So what will the race be about? Who can spend the most money getting people to the Moon? Who can spend the most to mine Platinum?

    The Google Lunar X Prize is an official race, so there is no denying that a race to the Moon exists, but it’s a matter of how big the races are (personal, company, country), how many types (to be 1st, endurance, acquisition, etc.), and whether they are worth doing.

    Is it worth $200B for the U.S. to send a few more people to the Moon for short stays? Congress just reevaluated that race, and said that it wasn’t worth it. Guess it’s not race time yet…

  • The “race” will take a great many decades (perhaps even a century or more) to play out but shall determine:

    (a) whether humanity can successfully establish permanent presence off of the Earth (which eventually must mean making babies out there); and

    (b) IF humans are successful in becoming a multi-planet species (not a sure thing, IMHO), THEN the race shall determine which sub-set of humanity will predominate amongst those who settle out there. What language (for example) will predominate the solar system 200 years from now?

    Today, the mission-critical task (IMHO) is to figure out how to sustainably send people up there without reliance on tax dollars.

    = = = =

    Four basic principles I adhere to:

    1. America won’t be the only nation “up there” — we need to accept and accommodate that fact;

    2. The US taxpayers either cannot or will not – all by themselves – fund what is necessary for our nation to become spacefaring, however entertainment, tourism and marketing are the only viable business cases that have a shot at closing, at least at the moment;

    3. Looking to go around NASA rather than going through NASA will be the more effective route to pursue, in part because spending tax dollars to facilitate entertainment, tourism and marketing will be unacceptable to many Americans;

    4. EML depot architectures offer the key to everywhere. LEO is halfway to anywhere. EML-1 & EML-2 are 80% of the way to anywhere.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    (a) whether humanity can successfully establish permanent presence off of the Earth (which eventually must mean making babies out there)

    Regarding this one, the making babies part I think will be figured out (no shortage of volunteers I’m sure), but living in space is going to have to mean artificial gravity, and this is one area that no one seems to be focusing on yet.

    I see all the talk about exploration vehicles as a short-term issue, in that we’re still trying to figure out what we need to tool around the local space area. But once we start spending any time in space, we’re going to need a recuperation base for astronauts to regain muscle tone in a 1-G environment, and ideally that would be at a location already in space.

    We’re just now figuring this out on the ISS (loss of muscle tone over time), and the tour of duty for the ISS ensures that this is not a long-term problem for the crew. However, if we want to colonize the Moon (or any low-gravity environments), then we’re going to have to figure out a solution, whether it be big rotating structures, or some physics breakthrough for anti-gravity plating.

    One more item to add to the to-do list…

  • Coastal Ron wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    . . .

    It may well be that building facilities inside hollowed out asteroids is where we find both radiation protection and the ability to mimic 1 gee by running habitats on a racetrack that circles the interior open space.

    Would sleeping in 1 gee while working in microgravity be enough for good health? I don’t know.

    Dr. James Logan has given insightful presentations on these questions.

  • Hmmm . . .

    Locating a maternity ward inside a hollowed out asteroid does create a setting for a hard sci-fi novel.

  • mr. mark

    It won’t matter soon. Private space will soon make all this look stupid. Virgin Galactic will start to put hundreds of people into suborbital in a years time and Spacex and boeing will be launching people to multiple space stations with 10 years. It will make all these arguements sound completely old.

  • mr. mark wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I hope you are correct.

    And if you are, I predict these successes will be caused by business models based on tourism, entertainment and marketing.

    And, as I wrote, it will be done by companies that go around NASA rather than through NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    If there is a race such as you describe then I dont think that the overriding objective will be a place…it will be a process.

    The sad fact is that after 50 or so years and lots of money by a lot of countries there really is no real reason to “do” human spaceflight that comes anywhere close to paying for itself. If human spaceflight were not caught up in “what makes a major power” and there were not entitlements in a lot of countries that have to be fed by collective financing…then human spaceflight would have died a long time ago, along with the notions of putting cities on the sea bed floor.

    Unless some country finds some method of human spaceflight paying for itself; and starts a multiplier of finding more and more things that make human spaceflight affordable and a multiplier in a nation (or the worlds) economy; then we are really going nowhere in human spaceflight and in space as a species.

    There is really no precedent for humans to live in a place where they are unable to sustain themselves either as a closed economy or as part of a larger economy. This is valid today. There are parts of the American west where there is lots of land, but simply no people; there is no economy that people can be a part of which can keep them on that land.

    Unless some country and its economy finds something that can be done in space by people, and done at a price that is affordable…then the notion of humanity spreading throughout the stars (or the solar system) is just so much romance.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anne, I have to hand it to you for putting up a spirited argument. Lol! You are not alone among these jackals. As you can see, MT favorite attack tactic is to selectively take one sentence quotes and beat the hell out them believing somehow that a negative offense will cover up the fact that he has no real interest in human spaceflight. Apparently, neither MT or Oler believe that humans are capable of permanently settling in space or on other planets in the solar system based on the scant amount of science research that has been conducted in microgravity, even when none of the research has ever made any such claims. More than a few of us have suggested to MT and others like him to discuss his views in a more positive, constructive comments instead of negatively attacking other people’s comments post. But alas, to no avail. I welcome future comments from you. ;)

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    You do make valid points on topics that have no clear answers.

    I have written a draft of a short story titled “Drake’s Lottery” (to riff on Drake’s equation) in which God-like creatures (imagine “Q” from Star Trek Next Gen) place wagers on which intelligent species at various places in the galaxy will succeed in becoming genuine spacefaring, multi-planet species.

    I would also define spacefaring as the ability to routinely and safely conceive, bear and raise children at multiple celestial locations.

    Anything less is just a camping trip. ;-)

  • Anne Spudis

    Gary Miles wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you Gary.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    If there is a race such as you describe then I dont think that the overriding objective will be a place…it will be a process.

    I used to be a Zubrin-ista, believing Mars was the best place to start the effort of becoming space-faring and that the Moon was a dry barren wasteland devoid of useful materials.

    Okay, I was wrong about that.

    Lunar water, PGM, titanium & REE together with the prominent presence offered by the Moon in our night sky does make the Moon the best place to start. Not the only place, but a great place to start nonetheless.

    But yes, eventually it needs to be everywhere because I remain skeptical than the Moon will ever be a safe place to conceive and bear children due to gravity and radiation.

    Dr. James Logan is correct, the challenges posed by radiation and microgravity are extreme however whether our species is able to tackle such challenges will measure what we are truly made of.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I used to be a Zubrin-ista, believing Mars was the best place to start the effort of becoming space-faring and that the Moon was a dry barren wasteland devoid of useful materials.

    Okay, I was wrong about that.

    The Moon has lots of things that definitely make it a natural place to inhabit once we get to that point, but I see the arguments going on nowadays as determining how quickly we will get to that point, and where the money is coming from.

    Water and mineral on the Moon is only beneficial if you can use them, and getting to that point is going to be very expensive. Sure we can do it as a series of short-term expeditions, but we’ve already proven that we can do that. To stay on a permanent basis would provide the need for local resources, but who is funding that, and how long can they sustain such a large expenditure?

    Until there is an Earth-based economy that supports expansion into space, it’s going to be very hard for any government to pore vast sums of money into efforts that only spur spending at home, but provide no immediate ROI for it’s citizens.

    Unlike you Bill, I don’t see entertainment as that driving force, which means that our expansion is going to be slow. I don’t see a gold-rush happening anytime soon, or at least not until the transportation of people to LEO is routine and semi-affordable for companies and countries.

    For it’s companies and countries that I see as the economic engines of any expansion into space, and it’s only when it makes economic sense will the Moon and NEO’s receive attention as sources of supply.

    Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with living vicariously through our robotic precursor missions.

  • Chickens and eggs . . .

    Unlike you Bill, I don’t see entertainment as that driving force, which means that our expansion is going to be slow. I don’t see a gold-rush happening anytime soon, or at least not until the transportation of people to LEO is routine and semi-affordable for companies and countries.

    If not for entertainment, tourism and/or marketing how will routine access to LEO emerge? Who will pay for it and why?

  • Googaw

    Bill, entertainment and marketing are fine things but what you are neglecting is that we already have a thriving real space commerce that involves other things. So in addition to entertainment and marketing, and instead of the obsolete sci-fi tropes of yesteryear, you’d do well to dive deeply into thinking about the large variety of real commercial space business that is already thriving and involve in one way or another transporting bits. Transporting bits is a huge and increasing part of our global economy, and it’s no surprise that as a result real space commerce is thriving.

    To project the long term end goal you and I share (real space colonization) onto astronauts is sympathetic magical thinking. Launching an a human into space today no more brings us closer to space colonization than sticking a needle into a voodoo doll actually harms the intended victim. In fact HSF today has nothing to do with the long-term goal of space colonization. Real space colonization will require real large-scale space industry, which in turn will require a very difficult development of radically new kinds of small-economy yet high-tech machines, and development of radically automated ISRU. All that is needed for real space colonization as opposed to offshore drill rirgs totally dependent on earth’s economy. (Observe that nobody raises families on an offshore oil rig, or a mile beneath the surface in a mine).

    We don’t live in that century. We live in the 21st century, The real “ISRU” action in our era involves automating mines on land and developing oil wells and mines deep in the ocean. Real space development in our era involves transporting bits, as many of them as rapdly as possible to as many diverse places around our planet as possible. In future eras it will involve in-situ resources for transporting the transporters of bits. That future era will be based on the technology we develop for automated and remote mining today here on earth, and on the machines we build for transporting bits today. In still later eras space development will economically involve humans in various ways. Historically and today and in for most of the rest of this century astronauts have nothing to do with real space commerce. We can’t privatize a NASA economic fantasy and instead of continuing to tilt at that windmill, we should take a good hard look at what real space commerce is actually doing.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Bill.

    The answers are unknown in large part because they have to be one of evolution not any real “planned” effort.

    When I was younger (like in the 80′s) I supported the space station effort because I use to think that government could build the equivalent of “forts” in space and from that the settlements would grow. OK it was not settlements that I thought would happen, but I was pretty meshed in the rhetoric of build it and they will come.

    Problem is that I have learned in the last couple of decades, that this usually doesnt work. The best that government can do is with various projects enable things that are not likely to occur without some “loss effort”…ie something that is done for a reason that has nothing to do with making money or building infrastructure so the loss in sustaining that infrastructure can be sustained while the infrastructure grows.

    Ike did that with the highway system. The highway system exist under the guise of a national defense effort in large part because the GOP of that era would not sustain a large government infrastructure program for the sake of infrastructure alone…so Ike wrapped it in defense and no one in the GOP had the horsepower to argue defense with Ike.

    The real reason for building the highway system is that there was a lot of manufacturing capability created by the war for defense and it was sitting underused in large part because the roads were so crappy that the cars (which were of a different era then pre war) had no place to drive to. Government sustained the loss of money to build the roads until the use of them could make the entire effort more or less self sustaining.

    We have never (so far) found that cycle in human spaceflight. …and as it stands now the station has no chance of doing that. I am convinced that transportation to and from the station might be that, at least it deserves a try (trial run) because what has happened before will give us the same results if it is tried over and over again (ie the Cx program).

    If that cycle is found and starts then someone will find it again and again and the evolution which can lead to settlements on bodies other then the Earth will in my view crank up…but for the last 30 years there has been zero evolution and billions have simply been wasted.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Wodun

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    The “race” will take a great many decades (perhaps even a century or more) to play out but shall determine:

    This is why I don’t like the term race, which implies a short time frame. A space marathon might be a more appropriate term.

  • Coastal Ron

    Bill White wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    If not for entertainment, tourism and/or marketing how will routine access to LEO emerge? Who will pay for it and why?

    As I stated, it’s companies and countries that I see as the economic engines of any expansion into space.

    For now, beyond the satellite market, it’s servicing the only manned outpost in space, the ISS. However, more than one group is willing to bet money on creating their own manned stations if the crew transportation issue is worked out. So creating a commercial crew transportation system, one with more than one provider, kills two birds with one stone.

    Those that can afford to rent or buy these commercial space outposts will likely be countries at first, with companies joining in later. IF there is useful gains from space, then the expansion in number and capability of those non-government outposts will be the true beginning of our expansion into space.

    Slow though it may be, I think it will grow by a combination of U.S. government-funded exploration (which leverages the commercial space industry), other countries funded operations (including using Bigelow & other low-cost space systems), corporate research, and a wide variety of for-profit corporate experiments. Entertainment will have it’s part, but I don’t see it leading, I see it as following behind – but by nature, it will definitely be the more visible part of space activities.

    My $0.02

  • Wodun

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I’m with Doug, in that all of your reasons for going to the Moon are based on fear, not need. And I don’t agree with Wodun either, since he seems to be in the Moon-fear game too. For instance, he said:

    All I am saying is don’t be dismissive of the capabilities of the Chinese. Cries of fear-mongering only serve to stop any critical investigation into China when from your point of view, you should be encouraging people to learn more about China. The more we know about China the less we should “fear” them right?

    I’m not worried about China “taking over” the Moon nor do I think we need a DoD response to China’s presence on the Moon.

    I also don’t think they will be there over night. To the contrary, I think it will take them some time to develop their technology, however, we are also a long time away from being able to return humans to the Moon.

    If it will take China 30 years to land a habitat on the Moon and it will take us 20, how long should we wait?

    Perhaps we could take advantage of all of the countries aiming for the Moon and sell them goods and services to support their missions. Perhaps fuel depots would be a good first step to do so, it might justify their high costs.

    What “game”?

    Everything is competition. Most business people realize this. As I said before, it isn’t always a zero sum game.

    As far as going to the Moon or anywhere else, initially missions won’t be driven by economics. Exploration will be the driving factor, with economics catching up a little further down the road. Markets have a hard time surviving or growing in the uncertainty of the totally unknown.

    If you look at new space resupply and potentially crew transport to the ISS, there never was a market without heavy involvement from the government. Government created the market and now businesses are able to take advantage of it.

    I think the same would be true of any lunar base or a station at a Lagrange point.

    The question isn’t if government should be involved but rather what government’s relationship to business should be and what are the best areas government involvement can serve as a catalyst for growth or private industry. Plenty of debate there.

  • Wodun

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 13th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Lastly, I think it’s hilarious that the Moon/HLV groups think that China will colonize the Moon using EELV class launchers, or even with their Delta IV Heavy equivalent the Long March 5, which isn’t scheduled to be operational until 2014. If you think they are going to colonize the Moon, don’t you think they would need an HLV? “Experts” in the U.S. say that it is mandatory for any BEO operations, so that right there should guarantee that the Chinese are not going to the Moon.

    If we can use EELV’s for exploration why can’t they? You can’t cite various technologies or missions as evidence that we are going to the Moon and then say those same technologies and missions used by a different country wont allow them to do the same thing.

    I don’t think people are claiming you can’t do exploration with EELV’s leveraging fuel depots or other technologies just that it is expensive. Just as an HLV or SHLV is expensive. Just as any activity in space is expensive. What is more cost effective in the long run gets pretty subjective.

    As far as the Moon as a destination, I’m not too worried if we go to a NEO first as long as we use it as a stepping stone to get back to the Moon and use what we learn on the Moon to leapfrog our way through the solar system.

    Of course there could be a good rational for many other destinations in several different orders but it would be nice to have a roadmap. IMO, we have a limited time to get some technological issues worked out before we need one.

    I’m not sure what you support. Step 1, go to a NEO. Step 2, disagree with anything people suggest?

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t think people are claiming you can’t do exploration with EELV’s leveraging fuel depots or other technologies just that it is expensive.

    Claiming, yes. Honestly believing, I’m not so sure.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Wodun wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    All I am saying is don’t be dismissive of the capabilities of the Chinese. Cries of fear-mongering only serve to stop any critical investigation into China when from your point of view, you should be encouraging people to learn more about China.

    I for one am not dismissive of the capabilities of the PRC, but I also dont read into what capabilities that they have the worst possible intent (or even an intent which is not possible with the capabilities that they have).

    First off neither us or the PRC or really anyone on planet earth has the capability now or in the next decade or two to “mine” the Moon for substantial resources at any price that is affordable. Second no one has or will have the capability to deny the Moon to any other nation or group of nations that would seek to “come along”.

    Hence the notion by folks like Whittington that “the Chinese would make us show our passports” should be dismissed out of hand as fear mongering.

    The notion by Anne S and a few others that we can somehow go to the Moon and start extracting resources that are then competitive to those which can be launched into LEO (or GEO) for a price that is affordable is equal fiction.

    I am quite certain the Reds are up to something in space, but so far have little or no evidence that what they are up to is any more threatening then what “we” are up to…

    There are groups of people in this country who need to have an enemy and that enemy is anyone who they can subscribe THEIR motives of what an enemy would do …that is one reason we blasted into Iraq. A lot of gobers had Saddam attacking us with balsa wood airplanes and Al Samood (spell) rockets…none of which posed any coherent threat.

    I cannot right now think of a reason rational or otherwise that would prompt the PRC to spend billions of the dollars we owe them going to the Moon…much less trying to dominate it…and they show no real signs of attempting it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Gregori

    It would be really good news for the USA if China wants to spend trillions mining the moon. It would be a massive waste of productive power by the Chinese with very little practical return. This kind of massive distraction would be strategically great. Meanwhile, the USA could spend a fraction of this amount getting a real advantage back on Earth, mining practical resources, expanding trade, building real defensive capabilities.

    I doubt the Chinese are actually that stupid that they would do this. Even if the Chinese choose to go to the moon in the next few decades, it will most likely end up the same way as USA’s efforts of the 1960′s….flags and foot prints stunts for national pride followed by a winding down of the program once its achieved its propaganda goal. These kinds of programs are pretty expensive and China will not economically expand forever. Its will be faced with recession in the future and unproductive programs like spaceflight will be very tempting to cut.

    Any efforts on the behalf US, Europe, Japan, Russia or the Chinese to go to the Moon are all dependent on expendable chemical rockets. As long as that’s the only technology available to carry out such missions, you can forget about fantasies about conquering the solar system. There is no resource out there that’s cheaper to get on the Moon than its is to extract right here on Earth with the current technology. Mining the Ocean or the Sahara Desert would be exponentially cheaper than doing so on the Moon.

  • reader

    Again, China isn’t landing anything on the Moon as we speak (or write). The ongoing Chang’e 2 mission is an orbiter. The Chang’e 3 lander isn’t scheduled to launch until 2013 at the earliest.

    Actually, thats outdated. The latest news is that its been moved up to late 2012, thanks to the smooth ride of the current and previous probes. Chandrayaan-2 and Chang’e-3 are essentially in the race to make it back to the moon.

    They will be the first one to soft land after Luna-24 in 1976. Unless any GLXP contestants beats them to it, but this seems highly unlikely.

    Also, CLEP managers have reiterated that they are making their scientific goals secondary on their missions. They are strictly in the engineering and tech shakeout phase with their lunar program.

  • Vladislaw

    Gregori wrote:

    “There is no resource out there that’s cheaper to get on the Moon than its is to extract right here on Earth with the current technology.”

    I beg to differ, there is one resource that is cheaper on the moon than on earth. Lunar gemstones, you can not find many on earth. Their uniqueness will add to their value and the exttraction costs.

    Everyone keeps saying that resources have to be brought home. I disagree with that, you would not have to return a single ounce of gold home to take advantage of it as an asset. All you have to have is the ownership rights to the lunar gold mine. Mineral rights have been bought and sold on terra firm for centuries and many times the right is never exercised. That piece of paper giving you the right to mine that resouce has value in of itself.

    As long as we have electronic banking it does not matter where the gold, silver, nickle, platinum, copper etc etc etc etc is located. It has a value and the only thing that would change is who owns the asset.

    If I was going to mine on the moon the first thing I would do is hang a sign on my habitat. BANK.

  • Coastal Ron

    Wodun wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    All I am saying is don’t be dismissive of the capabilities of the Chinese.

    I’m not. But then again I think I have a pretty good feel (along with many other people) about how fast they are moving forward. And while they move forward, so will many other countries, including us.

    Exploration will be the driving factor, with economics catching up a little further down the road. Markets have a hard time surviving or growing in the uncertainty of the totally unknown.

    Markets don’t exist without demand, and you have to have a lot of activity near the Moon to make local resources more economical than shipping them from Earth. A lot of activity.

    I think the bulk of exploration will actually be done by robotic explorers, and they won’t need local resources to survive. They will likely be used to explore the viability of ISRU, and may even do much of the groundwork needed for full-scale ISRU or human occupation of the Moon. Based on the capabilities we have in robotics today, robotic missions to the Moon could just about build our bases for us, as well as start the mining process for ISRU.

    I think the actual extraction of many useful materials will be an iterative process, mainly because machinery and materials behave differently in the low-gravity and extreme temperatures of the Moon, and we’re still trying to figure out how to get a urine processing machine working on the ISS. The fastest way to do that is to have a responsive transportation system, which won’t be one that is government owned and funded on the whims of Congress.

  • Coastal Ron

    Wodun wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    If we can use EELV’s for exploration why can’t they?

    and

    I don’t think people are claiming you can’t do exploration with EELV’s leveraging fuel depots or other technologies just that it is expensive.

    No, as Martijn rightly pointed out, many people commenting on Space Politics has flat out stated that you need an HLV to do BEO. Absolutely no doubt.

    You missed out on the irony of my statement apparently, because many “Moon First” advocates are also “HLV’s are mandatory” ones too. I think they feel that once Congress realizes they need a payload for an HLV, that they Moon is the easiest one to get money for.

    I have always pointed out the ULA study that detailed how they could set up a Moon colony using existing launchers like Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy, plus near-term technology like their ACES family of tankers, fuel depots and lunar landers. A wonderful example of reusable technology that is very flexible. And because I’ve examined that study fairly closely, I do believe that existing launchers are all we need if we want to do a manned lunar return. Not that I see the reason to do that yet, but we do have the capability at hand, and without the need to spend $Billions on developing a government-run HLV.

    I’m not sure what you support. Step 1, go to a NEO. Step 2, disagree with anything people suggest?

    A good question. I advocate for lowering the cost to access space. By doing that, everything becomes more affordable and quicker to access.

    I do think that if NASA is going to continue to be constrained budget-wise, then I would prefer that they concentrate on doing those things that have never been done before, and that eliminate risk for the next steps we want to take. For that reason, I saw NEO’s as the best place to go next.

    Concerning the Moon, after we do an NEO I think there is going to be a whole new set of circumstances going on that will help us decide what to do next. If we’re ready to start our push to Mars, it may make economic sense to refuel part of our armada from the Moon. Or there may be any number of economic or exploratory reasons for setting up camp there. But I don’t see that need today, and we’re about 5-10 years away from reassessing that need again.

  • Gregori

    Absolute Lunacy….

    I could own all the resources of the Universe in name, by having the “right” to mine it, but it doesn’t mean anything if i can’t actually trade it or enjoy it in the rest of the world economy. Owning it in a desolate uninhabitable desert like the Moon is pretty useless. Going to the Moon is a great way of consuming wealth and productivity, but it just doesn’t produce anything worthwhile from this investment. Unless it becomes valuable to people on Earth, nobody with a brain is going to invest in it. There might be ideological reasons to colonize the Moon, but any colonies will be hopelessly dependent on Earth, so unless the Moon is trading something of value with Earth, people back home will have deep misgivings about spending trillions propping up a dysfunctional lunar dream.

    The only way for that to happen viably is for a revolutionary technology that makes space travel safe, regular and relatively cheap. I think that’s about 100+ years away.

    I’ve doubts people are going to pay Billions for Lunar gemstones, no matter how romantic the idea is. Diamonds don’t even command any where near those prices. If people want rocks, they can get plenty of much prettier rocks on Earth for an exponentially lower cost.

    I think a lot of people here really want humans to go into space and come up with weird backwards rationalizations to justify an irrational urge….like the idea that the space is actually a secret gold mine that no one has copped onto or false “national security” pretexts or any number of other reasons. The REAL reason most people want to go in the end of the day is because its COOL!!!

  • Robert G. Oler

    reader wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    there is no reason the US could not put together a softlander which would be quite capable. we have instead spent 10 billion on a useless program

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Gregori wrote:

    “Owning it in a desolate uninhabitable desert like the Moon is pretty useless.”

    Let me get this straight, you are arguing that if I had 10 million in gold bullion sitting in a small bank in the nevada desert it would be worthless until i physcially moved it to a bank on manhatten island in new york? That i could not make a draw against it or get a letter of credit because my gold is in a bank in the desert?

    How often do you think gold bullion is actually moved around? The only thing that changes is who owns the gold, it doesn’t matter what bank on the planet the gold bullion is sitting in, it has the same market price and value, transportation costs only factor in when the gold is actually moved and with electronic banking gold moves less than ever exactly because transportation costs are high.

    “I’ve doubts people are going to pay Billions for Lunar gemstones, no matter how romantic the idea is. Diamonds don’t even command any where near those prices. If people want rocks, they can get plenty of much prettier rocks on Earth for an exponentially lower cost.”

    Obviously you didn’t read my post, I said lunar gemstones are unique. Can you buy hope diamond? I am sure a billionaires wife would be thrilled to get a common “rock” that anyone could aquire. Nothing unique about a common rock.

    As far as value of anything lunar, America values it’s lunar collection in the hundreds of millions.

    moon dust sell for 2.2 million

    “in 1993, the famed auction house Sotheby’s sold some Moon material brought back by the Soviets at a price equivalent to about $2.2 million per gram.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/10/direct-handover-movement-leaders-work-complete/

    and the silly folks just keep getting more silly.

    I can hardly wait to see the reaction when “the movement leaders” find out DIRECT is really dead.

    Robert G. Oler

  • reader

    there is no reason the US could not put together a softlander which would be quite capable.

    How do you know ?

  • Robert G. Oler

    reader wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    NASA HSF couldnt do it if you held a gun to their heads, but there are folks who could and for not a lot of money as well. We could put together a fairly sophisticated lander/impactor(s) in fairly short order.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Wodun wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    If you look at new space resupply and potentially crew transport to the ISS, there never was a market without heavy involvement from the government. Government created the market and now businesses are able to take advantage of it.

    I guess I look at the situation a little differently.

    NASA has a requirement to supply the ISS, and it has a need for rotating crew. It has been able to supply the station by itself in the past, but it has always relied on the Russians for permanent duty lifeboat service, which the Shuttle cannot duplicate.

    We have always been reliant on the Russians in order to staff the ISS longer than the two weeks a Shuttle orbiter could stay in space.

    Now with the Shuttle program ending, NASA would like an American way to satisfy it’s crew needs. So I see the situation as NASA looking for a solution to a problem that they have. It’s not a market per se, just a specific requirement.

    However, if commercial companies are contracted by NASA to deliver crew to the ISS, then they could also market their services to just about anyone for LEO. That is how a market is created, by being open to the many, and not the one. Just as you can’t have a competitive marketplace with only one supplier, you don’t really have a market with only one customer.

    My $0.02

  • reader

    “NASA HSF couldnt do it if you held a gun to their heads, but there are folks who could and for not a lot of money as well. We could put together a fairly sophisticated lander/impactor(s) in fairly short order.”

    Well .. its hard to back that claim up, isnt it ? If the fate of RLEP is any indication, this simply cannot get done.

  • Coastal Ron

    reader wrote @ October 15th, 2010 at 1:35 am

    “Well .. its hard to back that claim up, isnt it ? If the fate of RLEP is any indication, this simply cannot get done.”

    I can’t speak to what Robert G. Oler was talking about, but I am aware of the study that ULA did called “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″. You can find it on their website:

    http://www.unitedlaunchalliance.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf

    Their proposed landers would be derivatives of their ACES family, and as such should take far less to design, test and build than a single-purpose type design. The ACES lander would also be reusable, which lowers costs dramatically when compared to single use versions.

  • Matt Wiser

    Well, if ULA wants to build the lunar lander when the time comes for the RFP, they’ve got a design ready to go.

  • Anne Spudis

    Wodun wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 5:32 pm [...“I’m not sure what you support. Step 1, go to a NEO. Step 2, disagree with anything people suggest?”]

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 9:59 pm [.....A good question. I advocate for lowering the cost to access space. By doing that, everything becomes more affordable and quicker to access.

    I do think that if NASA is going to continue to be constrained budget-wise, then I would prefer that they concentrate on doing those things that have never been done before, and that eliminate risk for the next steps we want to take. For that reason, I saw NEO’s as the best place to go next.

    Concerning the Moon, after we do an NEO I think there is going to be a whole new set of circumstances going on that will help us decide what to do next. If we’re ready to start our push to Mars, it may make economic sense to refuel part of our armada from the Moon. Or there may be any number of economic or exploratory reasons for setting up camp there. But I don’t see that need today, and we’re about 5-10 years away from reassessing that need again.]

    ——–

    Coastal Ron,

    I read your overview of where you see the U.S. space program in “5-10 years.”
    It is striking how clearly you have pinned down the objective of NASA’s new path. Just striking. Chilling actually.

  • Coastal Ron

    Anne Spudis wrote @ October 15th, 2010 at 3:47 am

    “It is striking how clearly you have pinned down the objective of NASA’s new path. Just striking. Chilling actually.”

    You, apparently, are easily amused…

  • Can we get rid of those italians?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 15th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    it seems to happen every so often…dont know why Robert

  • Mike Snyder

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Is there any proof of this statement?

  • reader

    Oler was right. “We”, i.e. companies in US actually are able to put together a viable lunar lander
    http://astrobotic.net/2010/10/15/astrobotic-wins-10m-nasa-contract-for-lunar-expedition/

  • Dennis Berube

    Wow you guys. All as I hear is NASA couldnt do that or this. Lets not forget all NASA has indeed done during the spaceflight years. Some amazing miracles have been accomplished. NASA can do it again, if given the right direction. To me, it seems like not only has America lost its drive for space superiority, but also Russia has. Russia has had the ability to make lunar flights with its Soyuz, but never has. Komorev originally intended for Soyuz to go lunar, but Russia has held back. We will watch, as China takes the game away from us.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ October 16th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    “NASA can do it again, if given the right direction.”

    NASA did have “the right direction” for Constellation – what happened? Why did that effort fall so far behind schedule and over budget? Once you understand that, that’s when you’ll understand why many of us think NASA is being asked to do something it no longer has the skill-sets for (i.e. massive hardware projects).

    “Russia has had the ability to make lunar flights with its Soyuz, but never has. Komorev originally intended for Soyuz to go lunar, but Russia has held back.”

    The answer to the that is the same reason why we never went back to the Moon – the cost does not merit the benefit. The original effort for the Moon was political, and so when that race was won, no one had any other reason at this time to go back. Someday, sure, but the cost/benefit ratio is not there yet.

    “We will watch, as China takes the game away from us.”

    Please tell us what capabilities the Chinese have to “take the game away from us”, and then compare that to what our capabilities are. I for one don’t see anything the Chinese are doing that comes close to what we can do, and with what NASA is now authorized to do in the new budget, we’ll only pull further away from them in capabilities.

    But if you think I’m wrong, please say specifically why.

  • MichaelC

    “Anne, I have to hand it to you for putting up a spirited argument. Lol! You are not alone among these jackals.”

    You make more sense than a barrel full of monkeys- which is what this site is. Your first name gives you that “be polite to ladies” advantage. It befuddles them because about the only response they have to facts that differ with their newspace fantasy is all out ad hominem and snarky insults.
    Hang in there.

  • MichaelC

    ” I for one don’t see anything the Chinese are doing that comes close to what we can do, and with what NASA is now authorized to do in the new budget, we’ll only pull further away from them in capabilities.
    But if you think I’m wrong, please say specifically why.”

    They have a spacecraft that can put astronauts in orbit- which after the last shuttle flight we will not. So you are wrong.

    They have a nation with vast industrial capabilities and natural resources- and a talented workforce so large we cannot really wrap our heads around what they can do. All of our computers and cell phones: made in china.
    So you are wrong again.

    Finally, if they want to go to the moon, they will do it. You better believe it. They WILL launch once a week to keep a moon outpost going. And with underground caverns and ice they will become self-sustaining much faster and cheaper than anyone is estimating. That is how they will “take it away from us.”
    So you are so wrong.

  • Coastal Ron

    MichaelC wrote @ October 16th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    “So you are so wrong.”

    However, so far I’m right, and the only way you’ll be right is if all that happens. Let’s talk again in 10 years and compare what the U.S. and China are doing in space…

  • Major Tom

    “Again, to counter your attempt to change what I wrote, I will cut and paste my post:”

    I didn’t “change” what you wrote. I quoted nearly all of your earlier paragraph.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Again, you can correct or explain what you wrote. But repeating the same false statement ad nauseum doesn’t make it true.

    “‘NASA Watch sources report that this upcoming trip to China and then Indonesia is Charlie Bolden’s idea first and foremost. The White House did not ask him to go to either country – nor do they want him to go.’”

    This is a demonstrably false statement corrected on NASAWatch by the subsequent posting of NASA’s letter to various members of Congress, which states that Bolden’s trip was set up by a meeting between the U.S. President and the Chinese Premier a year ago.

    Use primary sources and keep track of calendar dates.

  • Major Tom

    “You are not alone among these jackals.”

    Why are you resorting to namecalling? No one has called you a name in this thread.

    Grow up or go away.

    “As you can see, MT favorite attack tactic”

    If you have a problem with me, then address me directly. If you disagree with the critique I wrote of your earlier post, then address those points. If you’re not adult enough to do either, then don’t post here.

    Again, grow up or go away.

    “is to selectively take one sentence quotes”

    I didn’t “selectively take” a “one sentence quote” from the other poster. The other poster only wrote one paragraph in the post I responded to, and I quoted everything in their paragraph except for the last sentence.

    Don’t make things up.

    “and beat the hell out them”

    I have not beaten anything. I pointed out a false statement and have given the other poster several opportunities to correct or explain that statement. They have chosen or failed to do so.

    Don’t blame me for what other posters write.

    “he has no real interest in human spaceflight.”

    Where have I ever stated that I have “no real interest in human spaceflight [sic]“?

    And do you really think I’d participate in the discussions here if I had “no real interest in human spaceflight [sic]“?

    Don’t make things up.

    “Apparently, neither MT… believe that humans are capable of permanently settling in space or on other planets in the solar system ”

    It depends on your definitions of “human” and “settlement”.

    Can many members of our species (homo sapiens) potentially work and live in various space environments for a couple to several years at a time? Sure. And I sincerely want and hope that we do so sooner rather than later.

    Can homo sapiens live and reproduce in space without species-altering modifications to our genomes and/or bodies given the radiation and low-gravity/microgravity environments involved? No. The radiation environment induces fatal cancers after a couple to a few years of exposure, and both the radiation and microgravity environments impose a high rate of crippling or abortifacent abnormalities in fetuses.

    “based on the scant amount of science research that has been conducted in microgravity”

    Years of Skylab, Salyut, Mir, Shuttle, ISS, and other research shows that a microgravity environment induces high rates of abnormalities in the early development of organisms ranging from plants to crustaceans to mammals. If your definition of space settlement includes homo sapiens reproducing in space, then it can’t be done without species-altering changes to our genomes and/or bodies.

    There is no reason to believe that these negative results are suddenly going to become positive with additional research. Rather, as is the trend with practically every health risk, additional research will likely uncover additional and/or greater risks.

    And microgravity is just one (very large) obstacle. The radiation environment in space will do even worse things to fetal development and take decades off the lives of adults. A former head of NASA’s old life and microgravity science division has stated that even for a lousy two-year trip to/from Mars, astronauts may have to be selected based on their genetic resistance to radiation damage. If homo sapiens have to do that for two-years in deep space, there’s no way our species is going to live for decadees and reproduce in a space environment. We’ll have to artificially modify our genomes and/or bodies to do that, at which point we’ll no longer be homo sapiens. I personally have no problem with such modifications to our genomes/bodies, but if your definition of space settlement includes our species as it currently exists, then we’re limited to spending a couple or few years in space, not living and working in space for decades or reproducing in space over multiple generations.

    “More than a few of us have suggested to MT and others like him to discuss his views in a more positive, constructive comments instead of negatively attacking other people’s comments post.”

    What are you talking about? You consistently resort to namecalling and insults (see “jackals” above) without provocation in your posts, often your very first post in a thread. It’s impossible to carry on a “positive, constructive” conversation with someone who immediately resorts to “negatively attacking” other posters with such ad hominen arguments.

    Argue the post, not poster. If you can’t do that, then don’t post here.

    Again, grow up or go away.

  • Wodun

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 14th, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    But I don’t see that need today, and we’re about 5-10 years away from reassessing that need again.

    I tend to have a more long term view of what our planning should be. Constructing a fuel depot and lunar outpost would probably take 10-20 years. Waiting 5-10 years before thinking about the issue doesn’t seem to be a good strategy. I could see waiting 5-10 years before launching infrastructure but not starting the planning process.

    The same could be said for any destination after a one time only flags and brags trip to a NEO. I’m not firmly set on any destination.

    If the Moon as an actual goal and not a theoretical maybe, it would take away a lot of the uncertainty faced by the companies developing the technology to get us there.

    The one time costs of a trip to a NEO are very close to the costs of constructing a fuel depot. If they both cost $2.5 billion, what is the better purchase?

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 15th, 2010 at 12:06 am

    However, if commercial companies are contracted by NASA to deliver crew to the ISS, then they could also market their services to just about anyone for LEO. That is how a market is created, by being open to the many, and not the one. Just as you can’t have a competitive marketplace with only one supplier, you don’t really have a market with only one customer.

    Think of the ISS and government as a customer in relation to a strip mall with an anchor store. Commercial crew is great but it would never have happened without the ISS. I think government can play a positive role in the creation of markets in space.

    Rockets are also a very narrow market segment. A much broader segment is components providers. The ISS and the government has also played a big role in that part of the space industry. Anything BEO will be good for suppliers.

    The involvement of private industry in space is catching up to our government but would not have been possible without it. Bigelow and SpaceDev are two good examples.

    I don’t think our positions are too far off.

  • Coastal Ron

    Wodun wrote @ October 20th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    “Constructing a fuel depot and lunar outpost would probably take 10-20 years.”

    Fuel depots can be tested in about 3-5 years, are usable without lunar outposts (i.e. any activity in space), and don’t cost that much. Lunar outposts could be done without fuel depots, but not likely, and not without great expense. Therefore fuel depots should be pursued and perfected first, and in fact that is what is in the current NASA plan – fuel depot testing.

    “I could see waiting 5-10 years before launching infrastructure but not starting the planning process.”

    You’re not understanding the issue. NASA needs to start perfecting a number of enabling technologies today, fuel depots being one of them, so that they will have the flexibility to go anywhere for less cost, and far quicker (don’t need to design all the infrastructure for each new mission). NASA has always had plans for testing enabling technologies, but things like Constellation took their money away. That is why we’re not ready to attempt the Moon, or even an NEO. Still work to do.

    “If the Moon as an actual goal and not a theoretical maybe, it would take away a lot of the uncertainty faced by the companies developing the technology to get us there.”

    What we lack is not the technology, but the reason to go to the Moon. Once we have the reason, the systems and hardware will follow, because then we’ll also know what we’re going to do there.

    Encapsulated in “the reason to go to the Moon” is also the acknowledgement of the cost, and an understanding of how that will be paid for. We’re not there yet, but we can be working non-surface space issues in the mean time. Again, this has always been in NASA’s plans, but Griffin/Constellation pushed them aside.

    “Think of the ISS and government as a customer in relation to a strip mall with an anchor store. Commercial crew is great but it would never have happened without the ISS. I think government can play a positive role in the creation of markets in space.”

    I’m glad you’re coming around to what many of us have been advocating, hence our support for NASA’s commercial crew funding. NASA saves money by using commercial crew, and the side effect is that (as I’ve already stated) the commercial companies can also market rides to LEO to non-NASA customers like Bigelow.

    “Rockets are also a very narrow market segment. A much broader segment is components providers.”

    It’s less than you think. Except for maybe a few, most of the component companies do space work as a segment of their portfolio, not as the majority. You won’t find the hydraulic hose manufacturer lobbying Congress for more launches – it’s not a large enough part of their business to expend extra effort. Rockets are the big bucks.

  • Wodun

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 22nd, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Therefore fuel depots should be pursued and perfected first, and in fact that is what is in the current NASA plan – fuel depot testing.

    I would assume they happen sequentially because you wouldn’t launch a lunar mission without using the fuel depot. I would also assume the technology is tested in some sort of pilot program before a full scale fuel depot is constructed at EM1. This is why I had a large time frame, because I think of the things you mentioned as part of the process.

    You’re not understanding the issue. NASA needs to start perfecting a number of enabling technologies today, fuel depots being one of them

    I don’t think I am disagreeing with that. But I would add there is no reason to wait for every problem to be solved before doing any exploration BEO or even developing a plan to get there. If we wait for all the questions to be answered, we will never leave.

    What we lack is not the technology, but the reason to go to the Moon. Once we have the reason, the systems and hardware will follow, because then we’ll also know what we’re going to do there.

    But some reasons are subjectively more important than others and we might disagree on what would be a “good” reason to return to the Moon.

    I’m glad you’re coming around to what many of us have been advocating, hence our support for NASA’s commercial crew funding. NASA saves money by using commercial crew, and the side effect is that (as I’ve already stated) the commercial companies can also market rides to LEO to non-NASA customers like Bigelow.

    I’ve never been against commercial crew but it is also interesting to note there would be no commercial crew without NASA or the ISS as a customer, and other customers like Bigelow would not exist if it wasn’t for the technology developed by NASA.

    Government plays a big role in planting the seeds for commercial development in space and that trend is likely to continue BEO (especially if it is an overt goal).

    With the rise of commercial crew to LEO I would like to see NASA take the next step and focus on transportation BEO. The exact relationship between government and private industry in that process I am open too but government should take the role in shaping the environment.

    It’s less than you think. Except for maybe a few, most of the component companies do space work as a segment of their portfolio, not as the majority.

    There are many more component providers than there are rocket launchers. Rocket launchers serve the purpose of getting to LEO but component providers can provide products to a fuel depot or a lunar outpost. So, if you are looking at how anything BEO will grow the space economy, just thinking about the rocket launchers wouldn’t be a good way to go.

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