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Op-eds say the darndest things

Homer Hickam claims he knows how to fix NASA in three easy steps, as he describes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. First, he says, “suck it up and fund SpaceX” and other companies to take over access to low Earth orbit. Second, “convince the president to install new management at NASA.” Why? Hickam believes the president “has opted out of the decision-making process” and turned things over to presidential science advisor John Holdren and the administrator and deputy administrator of NASA, people Hickam clearly isn’t happy with. (He curiously claims that NASA administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, “has never led anything more complex than a six-person shuttle crew”; he and the Journal’s editors may have forgotten that Bolden is a retired two-star Marine Corps general whose last posting was as commander of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, which presumably is more complex than a shuttle crew.) The third step: “order up a mission beyond Earth orbit” analogous to the Apollo missions to the Moon; he specifically suggests a base at the Moon’s south pole. How much will that cost? “You don’t have to add a cent to the paltry amount NASA gets,” he claims, just point it in the right direction “and watch its excellent engineers pull it off.” He notably doesn’t give a specific timetable for establishing that base on NASA’s current budget.

North of the border, Matt Gurney of Canada’s National Post is worried the US is risking the expertise NASA has built up over the years with its current plans and funding levels. “Under President Obama, NASA has become an afterthought. There is no plan in place to return to the moon or Mars, no manned missions planned to the asteroid belt,” he claims (although the president did set a goal of a human mission to a near Earth asteroid by 2025 in his April 15 speech at the Kennedy Space Center). He also oddly warns that “NASA might need a continuing resolution to stay afloat”: NASA, like the rest of the federal government, has in fact had to use CRs to “stay float” since the fiscal year started almost two and a half months ago. Unlike Hickam, Gurney doesn’t offer a three-step (or any-step, for that matter) solution to the perceived problem, beyond worrying that the current policy is “crippling America’s ability to explore – and if necessary, wage war in – space.”

99 comments to Op-eds say the darndest things

  • Bryan R

    NASA’s leadership problems go well beyond Holdren or Bolden. The poster child is still the huge costs and long schedule associated with Constellation and Orion. …Different President, different Advisor, different Administrator. Nothing flying after 6 years and $12 billion and it is likely to make it to 10 years and $20 billion before a first test flight of anything real. If you think Constellation/Orion was a unique problem it wasn’t; look no further than ISS; 27 years and $100 billion. Now it has utilization problems.

    Yes NASA could do better but not the way it is being managed. Something is systemically wrong. Space-X is a good example of a different way to do the job. What are the differences?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Despite Jeff’s somewhat nitpicky response to Homer’s article, his evaluation of NASA’s current management is spot on. Charles Bolden is quite out of his depth in his current position, something that even the White House appears to realize.

    It is also clear that the current scheme is politically unsustainable, it being vague and unfocused. Homer has a proposal that provides focus, while leveraging the success of commercial space.

    One suspects that his view will gain support as time grinds on.

  • Homer Hickam’s claim that Apollo 2.0 can be done with the existing NASA budget is laughable. That’s what Constellation attempted. Too many NASA people have bought into their agency’s feel-good rhetoric. Those “excellent engineers” are the ones who can’t figure out the cause of the cracks in the external tank’s foam after more than 130 flights.

    As for Mr. Gurney … Just what is this “expertise” he’s worried about? When we left behind the stagecoach for the horseless carriage, we lost all that stagecoach “expertise.” So should we have refused to evolve transportation technology just to protect that stagecoach “expertise”?

    The “expertise” these people talk about has no demand and, frankly, much of it is overblown. If you can turn a wrench on the Shuttle, you can turn a wrench on pretty much anything.

    Capitalism forces economic evolution. An industry that refuses to evolve is doomed to failure. That’s been the problem with NASA for decades. It’s always been about protecting the work force, which translates into votes by those space workers, but it doesn’t serve the national interest, or the interest of humanity’s future.

  • amightywind

    It is obvious that Bolden has no leadership vision other than what he is told. Since his advisors are Lori Garver and John Holdren, that isn’t much. Compare that to the decisive leadership of Mike Griffin. Obama policies have left NASA in ruins. The new congress should insist on new NASA leadership.

  • MrEarl

    The solution to this mess that was created by Griffin and made worse by Holdren, Bolden, Garver and Obama is to return to the original VSE.
    First, a clear vision of destination and a path to get there. Going to explore Mars via the moon is the most sensible way to go.
    Second, a public / private partnership with the public sector blazing the trail followed closely by commercial participation. Turn over human LEO access and ISS resupply to private corporations as they demonstrate ability. Have NASA blaze the trail to new exploration and settlement of the moon while bringing along the private sector to preform those services that they perfected at the ISS. This same model will work well on the next step to Mars or any other destination we decide to pursue.

  • CharlesHouston

    Homer must have totally lost contact with reality – a mission to the Moon would be very expensive. NASA could possibly fund it within its current (approx 19 billion) annual budget but only if they concentrated exclusively on the mission. Leaving ISS behind, JPL with no funding, etc. And if the landing date was well in the future. Homer – talk about the good old days and not about the future.

    Yes NASA has structural problems – one illustration is the current proposal for a test MPCV (Orion) flight on a Delta 4, by LockMart. Immediately, MSFC asks what it’s role would be – and YES it will have a big role. Even if we have to introduce extra reviews, extra work, delay, expense, etc. MSFC is now in a long reevaluation of it’s role and needs to find a new responsibility – as launch vehicles are now going to be supplied by ULA, SpaceX, etc.

    Also, SpaceX has not needed JSC much at all. They may use them for some crew training, depending on how much JSC can force them to do work there. MPCV would use JSC resources a lot.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Homer Hickam’s claim that Apollo 2.0 can be done with the existing NASA budget is laughable.

    True, but if the money spent on SLS + Orion were spent on a space based spacecraft instead meaningful manned activity beyond LEO could be undertaken soon, and eventually reach the moon, Mars and beyond.

  • Ferris Valyn

    If we can get past this need for a “grand declaration” of a particular destination, we may find we’ll get there that much sooner.

    Its not about saying we are going to the moon, or thinking that should be the next destination – its about building a sustainable capability that allows us to go where we want. Whether its LEO, GEO, Lunar orbit, lunar surface, NEO, Mars, or even other solar systems.

  • Any Mouse

    Well, now that we have that solved, what are we going to do with the rest of the day?

  • Martijn Meijering

    If we can get past this need for a “grand declaration” of a particular destination, we may find we’ll get there that much sooner.

    I doubt that. There is no fundamental contradiction between developing capabilities and choosing destinations. There is good reason not to develop the infrastructure up front and have exploration wait for it however. Steidle’s plans didn’t and the IAA report doesn’t.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Martijn Meigering,

    There is a difference between selecting a destination, and making a grand declaration. The former involves careful examination and matching potential funding levels & capabilities with available distance to travel. The later involves bold declarations, and ignoring potential capability overlap. In otherwords, its moving away from the idea we can find a modern Kennedy

  • Stephen C. Smith nails it and I would like to add that it’s an interesting historical anomaly an American agency formed to fight a Soviet bureau actually became the same type of bureau.

    Becoming the enemy to fight the enemy is a failing strategy in the long run.

  • Jeb

    You got one thing right, I’m willing to bet, if you gave them a mission and said, ‘Git ‘er dun’, They could probably accomplish it without a significant increase in expenditures. Not because they are just bored and wanking around, but because that is how things get done, people figure out how to get it done with available resources.

    You can’t send someone to the moon with a roll of duct tape, but if they could do it way back when with nothing more than a very powerful calculator and a tub of rocket fuel, then just think of what we should be able to accomplish.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t think even the grand declaration would be harmful. I think the real issue is that in the past people have made grand declarations to support programs that were designed to lock in SDLV and its closed, high-cost infrastructure. But it’s the SDLV that’s the problem, not the grand declaration. One can devise a holistic, integrated plan for both exploration and infrastructure development, optionally with a grand declaration on top. Constellation offered just the declaration and an unaffordable plan for exploration and no plan for infrastructure development. One might even be forgiven for believing the plan was designed to ward off infrastructure development.

  • Ferris,

    At a minimum, the US government (Congress, POTUS & NASA) should be able to articulate a compelling succinct mission statement that explains WHY the United States should even have a taxpayer funded human spaceflight program at all. Hopefully, such a that mission statement would have bi-partisan support and would be shared by Congress, POTUS & NASA.

    Rejecting Apollo style destinations (flags, footprints & photos without permanent infrastructure and continuing presence) does not require a rejection of destinations.

    Also, capabilities and destinations would seem inherently intertwined.

  • PS — NEOs seem particularly ill suited to permanent infrastructure and continuing presence even if some cool capabilities could be demonstrated by visiting an asteroid.

    Testing asteroid deflection via robotic means (gravity tractors?) is also something I believe could gain bi-partisan support.

  • Bill Hensley

    I agree with the comment that NASA’s problems are structural, not just poor leadership. There are undoubtedly many excellent engineers at NASA – surrounded by layers and layers of professional managers and bureaucrats like raisins in a bread pudding. You can see the nature of the problem by the fact that MSFC and JSC are “looking for a mission” and trying to “define their role”. As with every government agency or other bureaucracy it has come to be all about preserving fiefdoms. There are too many centers filled with too many people who are shuffling papers instead of building spaceships. If NASA were a private company the board of directors would hire a cutthroat turnaround artist as the new CEO to mercilessly consolidate offices and streamline operations. If you can’t grow your top line (which for a government agency like NASA means larger appropriations) you’ve got to cut costs instead.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The problem with Homer’s response is to be kind, he is writing it from fantasy island.

    When people make simple (and simply checked) mistakes like ignoring Charlies time at the USNA or MAW3 (where he did a great job)…then the rest of their “analysis” should simply be ignored.

    What fact errors like this make clear is that the rest of their “opinion” piece is simply a lot of “blame the folks we dont like” and “pump up the notions we like”.

    And this is the entirety of Homer’s piece.

    Stephen’s reponse is right on the money. I have no doubt that there are good engineers at NASA, but how they operate and the system that they operate in no longer multiplies that talent into some coherent group it splinters it into a negative function.

    Homer sees the NASA of either the Apollo era or of his own fantasies…and he sees the notion of Apollo as something indelible in the American character instead of a very fleeting brush on our psyche.

    Neither of these pieces are very helpful in terms of doing much other then making a lot of noise.

    Sorry Homer…stick to writing books. Space policy is out of your league.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “The third step: “order up a mission beyond Earth orbit” analogous to the Apollo missions to the Moon; he specifically suggests a base at the Moon’s south pole.”

    I went back this morning and reread all of Hickam’s blog posts on NASA. It was funny, he never once, in all his rants, ever used the word sustainablity. It is all, define the moon as THEE destination and go there. I will only repeat what brighter minds than mine on the subject have so clearly articlulated.

    This is from that ULA doc that has garnered so much attention, as it should:

    “Of greatest importance was the ability to compete as many functions as possible in a marketplace. As much of the architecture as possible must be a commodity- something that many suppliers can provide. Without competition the suppliers to NASA would be in an eternal monopoly position- not a recipe for cost containment or innovation. This is the precise situation that is lamented today. The architecture needs to create a situation where many companies can make a business case close- a reliable, predictable demand with a calculable cash flow and good returns. If this is in place then continuing development costs will be undertaken commercially, allowing government investment to focus on the actual exploration mission rather than spending 90% of NASA’s exploration budget on space transportation as is currently the case.”

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

    Again from that ULA doc:

    “One of the anchors of sustainability is that a project must benefit many users. To date, the manned space program has been effectively pitted against a wide range of unmanned scientific activities in the yearly battle for limited resources. The present Shuttle system was never able to deliver utility for scientists sending probes to Mars or Jupiter. It is simply too expensive and risky to use for the mundane purposes of placing a weather satellite into orbit. However with the right architecture for lunar exploration all users benefit. The key here is to create the functional equivalent of a highway- a tool that everyone can use and whose cost is borne in proportion to the user’s demand”

    “Many users”, which means NASA has to allow space to be opened up and give up the insane monopoly they have tried to hold onto at the cost of any real sustainable systems being installed.

  • Vladislaw

    Here is a basic question to be asked, WHY can’t NASA do cheap?

    Hickam and others have endlessly explained, as nausum, that NASA has the greatest minds, engineers, the innovators, the dreamers, they are the ‘can do’ corps. SpaceX, as the poster child for ‘new space’ and often times, when they are being vilified, Lockhead, Boeing, OSC and others are lumped into this “hobby rocket maker” camp are always said to be to stupid, to untried, and not real spaceflight engineers like NASA.

    NASA, are the greatest rocket men on the planet, knew a gap was coming, it was in their own best interest to get something, anything, flying as soon as possible. Where was the SpaceX like model for doing a bare bones (500 million – 1 billion dollar, tiger team driven) launch system?

    Why can’t this great cadre of engineers do anything fast and, if not under budget, at the very least on budget? They are after all, the greatest, the best, “the right stuff”, but still the only thing they have managed to consistantly accomplish, in the last 30 years, is to constantly prove “space is expensive”. Why is that?

    Why has the resounding theme at NASA always been to prove human spaceflight is expensive? It is not like, in the last 30 years, other rocket designers have not conclusively proven things can be done cheaper and SpaceX just being another in a long line. But when has NASA ever did it unless they have had a gun at their head?

    Why does NASA always pick that system that will require the largest workforce, the most layers of management and the most expensive systems?

    Why does NASA work so hard at NOT allowing space to be cheap? Why are they so afraid of the American taxpayer seeing that things can be done for less than NASA traditionally pays?

  • DCSCA

    “Hickam believes the president “has opted out of the decision-making process” and turned things over to presidential science advisor John Holdren and the administrator and deputy administrator of NASA, people Hickam clearly isn’t happy with.”

    Homer hits a homer. Hickam is correct.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Well there is a “simple” answer. It is “sustainability”, of jobs. See NASA itself or if you propose some work to NASA you have to show that you will use all the NASA resources. Just check the old LMT CEV proposal and you’ll see that all NASA centers are part of it. It is not about the “tiger team” approach to doing anything. It is about the ability to distribute the budget across the agency. It is about longevity of the program. Okay so they did not do much for the cahs on Constellation. Well so you might think. Actually the management at NASA was able to sustain the work of NASA employees over about 6 years with not so much to show in the end. Is it good? Well maybe not to you, or I. But the people who were actually working Constellation I am sure are pretty happy about it. Assume for one second that okay they perform the work on time and on schedule for Constellation. So now what do you do about all the workers? Especially the design and R&D types since the vehicles were being built by contractors. See where I am going? The only way to pepetuate the work at NASA is to either go grandiose or scale down the workforce. Grandiose does not work, see Constellation. Way too grandiose for the budget. So here comes the other way. Scale down (not just NASA, you can include first and foremost the contractors). We’ll see.

  • Bennett

    Vladislaw wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Your entire comment should be read to the next Congressional Insight Committee. Titled:

    “Why Can’t NASA Do HSF Like SpaceX Can?”

  • common sense

    Oh and about the tax payers. Since Shuttle kept flying you could tell the tax payer, look we have the greatest vehicle invented, just like Concorde. Well hmm Shuttle is ending, no other flight vehicle on sight for NASA stamped NASA. $10B for HSF with no vehicle, it is going to hurt. This is what all the Hickams of the world are afraid of. And if NASA does not reinvent into a NACA-II then just watch ESA.

  • DCSCA

    @CharlesHouston wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 10:00 am
    “Homer must have totally lost contact with reality – a mission to the Moon would be very expensive.”

    Perhaps you have as your query is a familiar refrain which echoes from 60 years ago. See below:

    “People working with rockets are often asked when one will be sent to the moon. The answer is that it probably could be done today, if we felt like spending the millions that such an exploit would cost.” – source, Nat’l Geographic, October, 1950.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    you ask a LOT of good questions but to address the basic premise of your post (at least as I understood it) NASA never does things on budget because there are never any penalties for anyone when the budget gets out of hand.

    Several years ago (decades) when Randy Brinkley took over the shuttle program he set some metrics for success and then added (to closely paraphrase) “If I cant do that then I should be working at the TAco Bell on Bay Area Blvd”.

    I enjoy eating at that establishment so my response to that in a Space News article was roughly “it is a good thing that Brinkley really doesnt mean it because he will fail and he wont work at the Taco Bell…I like eating there”. Instead when he failed he went to work for Boeing and made a pigs breakfast of that assignment before he went somewhere else.

    NASA and HSF are in a position where when things fail there are no mass executions of peoples carreers who were responsible for the failure…so failure is tolerated and it continues.

    Just recently the Orion people started talking about a requirement that Orion somehow keep the crew alive for 4X hours (44 or something) with the cabin depressed after a hull puncture.

    What some manager should do to the person who even suggested that notion (it has to do with getting back to the Space station) is to inform them that a little realism in thought is a good idea and thats not thinking very realisitic…and if the person (or someone else) does that again, send them out to give tours of the Saturn V. Its not practical, its not even something that should be considered…its possible but not likely and if it happens thats really going to be the end of the crew (as if certain things happen on the Boeing that one rides from DAllas to Houston one is toast).

    Instead this is indicative of the thought process at NASA HSF. They dont have a notion of “justifiable risk” and while the thunderheads are dreaming up all this ridiculous stuff, they launch with chunks of foam coming off the ET…its goofy.

    In the end NASA cannot do anything on budget because they dont have a clue how to balance risk/reward, risk/cost, and risk/safety. And the culture does not grow managers who are capable of having those things.

    A good example is the current shuttle flight. It is hard to imagine what they have spent since the ET started cracking. Now they are going to roll it back into the VAB and spend more money.

    Its just time to give up. Whatever needs to be launched can certainly be launched for less cost then the funds that are going to have to be spent to fly the darn thing; lay off the people and start saving money and spending it in other creative ways.

    Until then…some goofy person will always be coming up with the 4X hour day dreaming requirements for a spacecraft that will never fly.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    “The problem with Homer’s response is to be kind, he is writing it from fantasy island.”

    Inaccurate. Hickam is writing from professional and personal experience.

    “When people make simple (and simply checked) mistakes like ignoring Charlies time at the USNA or MAW3 (where he did a great job)…then the rest of their “analysis” should simply be ignored.” Who says he did a great job, you? Best you reread ‘The Peter Principle’ and refresh yourself on on the capacity for ‘management’– military or otherwise– to rise to their level of incompetencem which bolden clearly has achieved. Hickam’s analysis is accurate.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Because there s no cheap in HSF operations at this time in human history.

    @Bennett wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    “Why Can’t NASA Do HSF Like SpaceX Can?”

    HUH?? SPACEX has not condicted any human spaceflights while NASA has been flying people into space for half a century. SpaceX has flown NOBODY.

  • eh

    Our ability to wage space war is at risk. Next to locating my flying car, this issue greatly troubles me.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 4:41 pm
    ” Who says he did a great job,”

    The performance pre and post Bolden at MAW 3 speak for themselves. Bolden got command of MAW3 because he is a “fixer” in the military. MAW 3 was the under performing Marine Air Wing, in all the metrics that are measured by NavAir particularly NATOPS.

    after Bolden MAW 3 was and is the top performer in the arena of combat in first Iraq and now Afland.

    Now that says a lot about the people who commanded and served in the organization during those times and Charlie never commanded the organization in combat…But Charlie was the “Pinky” Kennedy to the person who became MAW 3′s Mush Morton…and that comparison was made by the person who was MAW 3′s “Mush”.

    Homer’s analysis is illinformed. As is yours.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 4:41 pm
    ” Who says he did a great job,”

    one more thing

    Homer doesnt say Bolden did a bad job at MAW 3 or the USNA (where he was XO the highest billet a Marine can have)…if Homer wanted to argue that point then he could have, he would be wrong, and frankly he is not competent to argue that position but at least it would be one of opinion which could be judged on its merits.

    No Homer says this ““has never led anything more complex than a six-person shuttle crew”;

    and that is just flat wrong. Error, not correct…and it sets the tone for the rest of Homers analysis.

    Besides, leading a shuttle crew is fairly simple stuff. Shuttle crews perform their task almost like robots, the entire mission profile is set up with little or no original thinking or the essence of leadership required. As a junior officer in the Marines Charlie had far more demanding leadership task then being “in command” of a shuttle mission…(if anyone is in command of a shuttle mission it is the lead flight director anyway…ask them). the person who runs the motor pool in a Corps unit has more demanding leadership task then a shuttle mission…

    so the entire analysis by Homer is “October sky”.

    Sorry Homer…D minus

    Robert G. Oler

  • Byeman

    “The new congress should insist on new NASA leadership.”

    Congress has no say once they approved him

  • Ferris Valyn

    Bill White

    At a minimum, the US government (Congress, POTUS & NASA) should be able to articulate a compelling succinct mission statement that explains WHY the United States should even have a taxpayer funded human spaceflight program at all. Hopefully, such a that mission statement would have bi-partisan support and would be shared by Congress, POTUS & NASA.

    Absolutely. But that doesn’t require the grand declaration of a particular destination.

    One last thing – we need to be looking at capabilities that can handle multiple destinations, rather than a single one. That has to be avoided at all costs.

  • Congress has no say once they approved him

    Simply more evidence (if there wasn’t enough already after all these tiresome months) that “abreakingwind” is completely clueless about how politics works.

  • Curtis Quick

    If we read Homer’s words looking for something to disagree with I think we will miss an important change of view on his part and perhaps on the part of many at NASA. Homer’s first point was essentially “Why can’t NASA operate as efficiently as SpaceX?” Just having him or other NASA people ask that question speaks volumes about the change in perspective that may be occurring at NASA.

    If Hickam suggests turning LEO over to commercial and funding SpaceX and others to make that happen sooner, he is fundamentally changing the role that NASA sees for itself as the sole master of human spaceflight in all it aspects. This is nothing short of incredible and we should be hailing this change of view as very significant (even if it means ignoring the other parts of his OpEd we don’t agree with).

    Note also, that Hickam agrees with us that the biggest problem NASA faces is its own management, and that must be changed. Here Hickam diverges from the rest of us and sees it as a problem at the top (or at least only correctable at the top). But even though the problem permeates NASA it still takes a firm conviction on the part of the POTUS, COTUS, and the NASA administration to change NASA by taking the budget scalpel (or meat clever) and cut away all the fat that must happen for NASA to be like SpaceX. NASA has no incentive to save cost and reduce workforce. They must be given a reason by the POTUS and backup up by the COTUS.

    If after going through such liposuction NASA can trim down to half its current manpower (both civil servant and contract workers), by getting rid of multiple layers of bureaucracy and streamlining its workflow by reducing paper-pushing to a minimum, NASA could someday focus on BEO activities and actually be able to do something about them (instead of just producing paper spaceships). However, to achieve this it will take the POTUS pushing the NASA administration, backed by the COTUS. In short, it takes courage on multiple levels to make this happen.

    Once the above can be accomplished (if it ever could be accomplished) NASA could put a base at the moon’s south pole and commercial could supply it without breaking the budget bank. Who knows, by this time NASA may be able to pay for rides all the way to the surface of the moon on a Dragon Mark II and purchase moonbase parts from Bigelow. NASA need do no spacecraft building or operating, just research.

    So really, was Homer so far off from what we argue toward?

    Curtis Quick

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 5:03 pm
    “The performance pre and post Bolden at MAW 3 speak for themselves.”

    No it doesn’t– and, in fact, you have presumed to speak for them, which is totally meaningless in this context. Read ‘The Peter Principle’ and you may be enlightened as to how Bolden has risen to the level of his incompetence.

    “Besides, leading a shuttle crew is fairly simple stuff.” You have no baseline of experience to reach this conclusion unless your name has appeared on a shuttle crew manifest since ’81. Perhaps reading “The Peter Principle” may be a personal enlightenment to you as well. Homer hit a homer. Accept it. You’ll sleep better.

  • The problem is that Homer (like Mike Griffin) doesn’t recognize that the problem is not with the individuals at the top, but the management and incentive structure itself, and just putting The Right Man (or Woman) in charge will not fix it.

  • Bryan R

    The problem is not in the Administrator’s suite. Bolden might be able to help turn things around, but he is not and has not been the problem.

    The problem is not the civil servant base, most of whom have or used to have expertise that is real and useful.

    The problem is the SES managers, mainly the ones overseeing the programs and in the program offices.

  • NASA Fan

    NASA can never be like Space X. If anything, Space X is like the young NASA of the 1960′s, when nothing seemed impossible.

    NASA is like the gas light industry executives, knowing full well what Thomas Edison was up to, but convinced themselves that the light bulb would never catch on.

    Anyone with a sense of the history of Technological Development knows that transformation does not come from the industry leader. It comes from an outsider.

    We are seeing this history in action now with Space X.

  • @ Ferris Valyn

    After reading this paper (Zegler/Cutter 2010) very closely

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/DepotBasedTransportationArchitecture2010.pdf

    I am even more persuaded that EML depots will best leverage access to more destinations – and provide more general capability – than just about any other single proposal.

  • Gregori

    Space is expensive, people die, sex results in babies, gravity makes things fall and other unfortunate facts of life…

    The commercial spaceflight companies are mostly using technology that’s been proven for 50 years, nothing amazingly revolutionary. And its a very expensive way to conduct transport no matter what way you cut it. Those hoping SpaceX, Orbital, Boeing,Virgin, SNC or ULA are going to massively reduce costs are going to be very VERY disappointed. Sorry :(

    The future is bright though!! NASA is not getting Apollo era budgets again so it will have to work with what it has. If it pools resources with commercial, international and military customers, prices of those services will go down a significant amount and it will be able to carry out more missions for the same budget!!

    For space transport to be made cheap, it will have to acquire all the salient features of the other forms of Earth transport…low maintenance, reusable, high reliability, mass producible, quick turn around times, frequent use, long service life, non exploding, versatility, useful for multiple missions and destinations, runs on schedule, multiple different passengers/goods………….whole bunch of important stuff.

    We need new technologies to make this happen. Maybe NASA should be running some sort of X-Prize for that, rewarding specific areas that would help cheapen spaceflight. Say, 250 Million per year on it :O

  • Robert G. Oler

    Curtis Quick wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    In my viewpoint and with kind words for what Homer has done in the past…the article is more then worthless…it is essentially babble.

    I’ve made some key points, which I notice no one (including Homer who reads this blog) has adequately refuted…but aside from that…while his realization that SpaceX is a efficient company is “good” really he still doesnt get it.

    Human exploration of space, at the cost that it is likely to need for the next couple of decades is essentially dead, sending people into space simply for no other reason then to do heroic things is pretty lame period, but is really lame in a country that is self destructing its middle class. Particularly when one factors in the notion that our machines do have a high value for the cost that they incur. Grant you few get excited about what a machine does, but even fewer seem to care what NASA astronauts do in space…and a destination is not going to change that.

    Fixing NASA human spaceflight requires several steps not the least of which is defining some role and purpose for it that is a fit for this age. Until then attempts to prune deadwood, at any level in the bureaucracy will flounder because the good wood has no idea what it is suppose to be…

    Bolden et al attempted to do that with the notion of technology experiments something again Homer seems deaf to.

    Homer owes Charlie a public apology for his misstatements about Charlies career…and then Homer needs to try and get a grip on the realities of today, not some era long ago that he manage to romanticize in a book that turned into a good movie.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Hickam has been playing this “I love you, but I hate you” game with NASA for years. When are people going to stop proclaiming that NASA engineers are just getting a bum steer from management and realize that anyone any good left the organization decades ago?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Curtis,

    The fact that he’s come around on Commercial Crew is interesting. I know he was pretty outspoken against trusting LEO access to “unproven companies” – at least, I am pretty sure that was the case.

    I did find that very interesting

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA
    FHS how about that SpaceX hasn’t been asked to fly anybody yet. Why do you keep on with these dumb assertions. Be assured that based on their performance to date, they’ll be able to do so when asked, unlike NASA who although flying people, has also killed them and will lose that capability shortly. They may already have done so if they can’t sort out the ET cracks which, since they’ve been known about for some time, should have been sorted before now anyway.

  • Das Boese

    “Hickam believes the president has (…) turned things over to presidential science advisor John Holdren and the administrator and deputy administrator of NASA”

    Excuse me if I’m not savvy on all of the peculiarities of executive power in the USA, but isn’t that what he is supposed to do?
    I don’t know any country* that’d expect their head of state to micro-manage every miniscule aspect of governance. I certainly don’t expect Chancellor Merkel to personally involve herself in the day-to-day operations of the DLR.

    “convince the president to install new management at NASA.”

    Isn’t that what he kinda did when he appointed Bolden etc.?

    *well, perhaps North Korea. Supposedly, KJI is responsible even for letting the sun rise in the morning over there…

  • Vladislaw wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Here is a basic question to be asked, WHY can’t NASA do cheap?

    Here’s a great article that illustrates why.
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-06-13/news/os-mike-thomas-elon-musk-061310-20100613_1_spacex-falcon-nasa

  • Anne Spudis

    Das Boese wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 5:06 am [Excuse me if I’m not savvy on all of the peculiarities of executive power in the USA, but isn’t that what he is supposed to do? I don’t know any country* that’d expect their head of state to micro-manage every miniscule aspect of governance.......Isn’t that what he kinda did when he appointed Bolden etc.?]

    Good luck using that argument. It won’t work.

    Evidence?

    Recall the harangue over the Bush administration’s “hands off” of NASA after his announcement of the VSE?

    You are correct though. Executives do expect their agency administrators to do what they asked. Executives aren’t educated in all (or even some) aspects of everything they administer.

    Along those lines: Keeping an Eye on NASA

  • Ferris:

    If we can get past this need for a “grand declaration” of a particular destination, we may find we’ll get there that much sooner.

    We’ve gone without a “grand declaration” for thirty years, and all we have is a $100 billion piece of crap in LEO to show for it. VSE, regardless of its actual execution, finally changed that equation.

    To answer your question in the previous thread, you’re going to have to develop Earth orbit, lunar orbit and libration to go anywhere you want to go. But at the end of the day, these are just stepping stones on the way to the real prize. And as prizes go, the Moon is the nearest, most accessible economic one in space. VSE is the closest we’ve come to recognizing that fact. Now NASA is right back to where she started, twiddling her thumbs while Americans to wait decades until the private sector figures out an economical path to generally developing space.

  • @Ferris:

    The fact that he’s come around on Commercial Crew is interesting. I know he was pretty outspoken against trusting LEO access to “unproven companies” – at least, I am pretty sure that was the case.

    He hasn’t, insofar as anyone is actually “against” commercial crew. The argument (at least from the center-left to the right) has never been about whether the private sector should be in the business of launching people, but whether the private sector will be able to do so sooner rather than later. Hickam is still in the “later” camp, which is where I suspect most of your Congressional opposition lies. Can’t really blame them either; the view that early lineage rockets must regularly explode isn’t going to change until someone can demonstrate otherwise. At 4-3, SpaceX is closer than most, but not close enough yet.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Now NASA is right back to where she started, twiddling her thumbs while Americans to wait decades until the private sector figures out an economical path to generally developing space.

    The path was figured out long ago, but NASA never provided the money because they preferred to build their own fiefdoms. That is the problem, NASA twiddling its thumbs. For the money allocated to SLS + Orion they could be working on a real exploration program instead.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Can’t really blame them either; the view that early lineage rockets must regularly explode isn’t going to change until someone can demonstrate otherwise.

    Excuse me? Have you ever heard of Atlas and Delta? The real question is whether the public sector will be able to do so sooner rather than later. And the answer to that question is ‘later’. That much was obvious several billions ago.

  • @Vladisaw and Boozer:

    Here is a basic question to be asked, WHY can’t NASA do cheap?

    Here’s a great article that illustrates why.
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-06-13/news/os-mike-thomas-elon-musk-061310-20100613_1_spacex-falcon-nasa

    Only thing I’d take issue with here is the notion that NASA assembles “the best and brightest.” NASA assembles the usual suspects, which is why she embraces a supply chain across all 50 states in the first place. She’s stuck with engineering that’s entrenched itself into the budgetary lymph nodes of the United States–metastasizing over a half century. This happens in almost every industry. It’s the same reason Microsoft dumps hundreds of millions evolving Windows and can still survive even though her competitors combined can dump a fraction of a percent of the investment in a nominally free, lower risk, comparatively richer in features *family* of operating systems.

  • @Martijn:

    For the money allocated to SLS + Orion they could be working on a real exploration program instead.

    Or better yet, a real space development program. NASA *is* exploring. Anything and everything–aimlessly, and apparently not just in space. There’s a whole other half of the budget that hasn’t been sunk into Constellation in cycles past.

  • @Rand:

    The problem is that Homer (like Mike Griffin) doesn’t recognize that the problem is not with the individuals at the top, but the management and incentive structure itself, and just putting The Right Man (or Woman) in charge will not fix it.

    NASA’s rotting approach to launch services is only half the problem. The non-Constellation side of the house is just as unfocused and wasteful.

  • Ferris Valyn

    We’ve gone without a “grand declaration” for thirty years, and all we have is a $100 billion piece of crap in LEO to show for it.

    Pretty harsh language, for a system that is actually flying, as compared to something like Constellation. Its certainly doing more to advance the cause of space development and colonization than the Apollo rockets that sit on the grass.

    VSE, regardless of its actual execution, finally changed that equation.

    Sorry, no. What changed the equation wasn’t VSE (and its worth noting that VSE wasn’t just about destination). What changed the equation was the loss of Columbia, and the decision to cancel the Shuttle. It meant that NASA not only would need a shuttle replacement, it would have to get one, and get one soon. And thus we get debates about rockets, and capsules, and spaceplanes, and what do we mean by “shuttle replacement.”

    It was the loss of the shuttle that changed the equation.

    you’re going to have to develop Earth orbit, lunar orbit and libration to go anywhere you want to go.

    But, you also have to know to what level you’ll develop it to. Apollo level development? Commercial Space level development? What level?

    But at the end of the day, these are just stepping stones on the way to the real prize. And as prizes go, the Moon is the nearest, most accessible economic one in space.

    Based on? If we want to do microgravity development & production, the moon certainly won’t work. If we want to do earth based location & communication, there are much better places (which, to be fair, we’ve already done). If we want access to physical resources, its worth noting that there are tons of space junk from various man-made objects in various orbits that can be recycled & re-purposed for other uses. The list goes on. To borrow a comment I once heard, we need to be careful of gravity well prejudice.

    Now NASA is right back to where she started, twiddling her thumbs while Americans to wait decades until the private sector figures out an economical path to generally developing space.

    Interesting comment – are you therefore saying that NASA has never had to worry about how to do things in an economically sustainable fashion? I’d tend to agree, and submit thats why we have remained stuck. Not because we haven’t had another presidential speech at Rice University.

    Finally,

    He hasn’t, insofar as anyone is actually “against” commercial crew. The argument (at least from the center-left to the right) has never been about whether the private sector should be in the business of launching people, but whether the private sector will be able to do so sooner rather than later. Hickam is still in the “later” camp, which is where I suspect most of your Congressional opposition lies.

    When someone, who has been defending the need of Ares I & Orion, all of a sudden now says

    suck it up and fund SpaceX

    I’d see that as a change in position. I’d go one step further and also add that the tone seems to forget that that is precisely what President Obama has been trying to do for the last year.

    Finally

    Can’t really blame them either; the view that early lineage rockets must regularly explode isn’t going to change until someone can demonstrate otherwise. At 4-3, SpaceX is closer than most, but not close enough yet.

    And that has what to do with the 13/14 record of Delta IV, or the 22/23 record of Atlas V? I ask merely because those are Commercial Rockets as well.

  • Presley Cannady wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 9:03 am
    NASA assembles the usual suspects, which is why she embraces a supply chain across all 50 states in the first place. She’s stuck with engineering that’s entrenched itself into the budgetary lymph nodes of the United States–metastasizing over a half century.
    Manifestly true.

    “It’s the same reason Microsoft dumps hundreds of millions evolving Windows and can still survive even though her competitors combined can dump a fraction of a percent of the investment in a nominally free, lower risk, comparatively richer in features *family* of operating systems.”
    I like Linux too. Though there are still a few things I do under Windows for the sake of convenience and compatibility with those who use it. It’s those “budgetary lymph nodes” that you talk about.

  • Pretty harsh language, for a system that is actually flying, as compared to something like Constellation.

    You can say the same for anything that comes out of the ISS poop shoot. While you’re at it, please point out where I endorsed Constellation.

    Its certainly doing more to advance the cause of space development and colonization than the Apollo rockets that sit on the grass.

    Explain to me how doing nothing is doing more to advance the cause of space development than…well…doing nothing?

    Sorry, no. What changed the equation wasn’t VSE (and its worth noting that VSE wasn’t just about destination).

    No, it’s really not worth noting, since the only part of VSE most anyone actually cared about was *permanent* lunar return. Drop that out of the VSE, you’ve nothing more than the meaningless platitudes that have sustained the space program since its inception. That is unless you can identify a constituency that actually comes out and says they want an unsustainable, unworkable, and expensive approach to “exploring” space.

    What changed the equation was the loss of Columbia, and the decision to cancel the Shuttle. It meant that NASA not only would need a shuttle replacement, it would have to get one, and get one soon. And thus we get debates about rockets, and capsules, and spaceplanes, and what do we mean by “shuttle replacement.”

    No argument from me here, but that’s an entirely different discussion from the one we’re having–you know, on whether destinations mean something.

    But, you also have to know to what level you’ll develop it to. Apollo level development? Commercial Space level development? What level?

    To the degree for the particular mission you’re executing. In this case, the first strategic objective is to establish a permanent American presence on the moon.

    Based on?

    Based on the fact that it’s the nearest substantial deposit of stuff that humans regularly convert into economic activity.

    If we want to do microgravity development & production, the moon certainly won’t work. If we want to do earth based location & communication, there are much better places (which, to be fair, we’ve already done).

    All of which is marginal to extracting and processing raw material, and in large part dependent on the viable flow of physical resources. We didn’t colonize the New World by sending manufacturers across the Atlantic, shipping them the raw materials, and then buying their finished products.

    If we want access to physical resources, its worth noting that there are tons of space junk from various man-made objects in various orbits that can be recycled & re-purposed for other uses.

    You can save yourself a pretty penny just by foregoing the launch and junking your satellites right here on Earth. C’mon, Ferris. Salvage is no substitute for proper prospecting of raw materials.

    The list goes on.

    Sort of like the green hype list; all these marginal activities that we expect to outweigh the enormous costs of accessing space in the first place. Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical of this proposed path to developing space.

    To borrow a comment I once heard, we need to be careful of gravity well prejudice.

    Yes, you do. I’m certainly not arguing we toss billions behind some damned fool who wants to go strand himself on Mars, or billions more to rescue him when he gets bored. Hell, if we had ring of asteroids and comets instead of a Moon, I’d be delighted. Unfortunately, you deal with the celestial bodies you have, not the ones you want.

    Interesting comment – are you therefore saying that NASA has never had to worry about how to do things in an economically sustainable fashion?

    Of course not. NASA only has to figure out how to work within its budget, which is easy enough to do when you get $20 billion to do generally whatever the hell you want.

    I’d tend to agree, and submit thats why we have remained stuck. Not because we haven’t had another presidential speech at Rice University.

    I never mentioned the speech, nor do I have to. Before Constellation’s cancellation, NASA was doing nothing constructive towards the goal of developing space. Nowadays, she’s simply free of any obligation to pursue any such an objective.

    When someone, who has been defending the need of Ares I & Orion, all of a sudden now says

    suck it up and fund SpaceX

    I’d see that as a change in position.

    Probably because you’ve arguing past the guy the entire time. Do you seriously believe Hickam would object to funding Ares I and Orion again?

    I’d go one step further and also add that the tone seems to forget that that is precisely what President Obama has been trying to do for the last year.

    Forgets what? That Obama wanted to fund commercial spacelift?

    And that has what to do with the 13/14 record of Delta IV, or the 22/23 record of Atlas V? I ask merely because those are Commercial Rockets as well.

    1. They’re *all* commercial rockets.
    2. I didn’t say “commercial rockets,” I said “early lineage” rockets. In this case, specifically the upper stage lineage.

  • At 4-3, SpaceX is closer than most, but not close enough yet.

    It is misleading in the extreme to characterize SpaceX’s record as “4-3.”

  • byeman

    “The non-Constellation side of the house is just as unfocused and wasteful.”

    Wrong, it is the most productive side of NASA. Yes, it has some issues (JWST and MSL) but that doesn’t over shadow SDO, Kepler, LRO, Wise, OSTM, IBEX,Dawn, Phoenix, GLAST, etc. Also, this side of the house does know the proper approach to launch services, it buys them commercially.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Based on the fact that it’s the nearest substantial deposit of stuff that humans regularly convert into economic activity.

    Most economic activity in the civilised world no longer involves transforming physical stuff.

  • @Rand:

    It is misleading in the extreme to characterize SpaceX’s record as “4-3.”

    It’s misleading to focus on launch rates for any young family of launchers in the first place. That’s the point.

    @byeman:

    Wrong, it is the most productive side of NASA.

    You and I have very different definitions of “productive.” For one, mine isn’t so broad as to include billions in taxpayer dollars to keep astronomers, cosmologists and planetary science types busy.

  • @Martijn:

    Most economic activity in the civilised world no longer involves transforming physical stuff.

    And man no longer spends most of his wakeful hours acquiring food and water. Man still eats and drinks, and the service sector of the economy doesn’t stand except on the back of raw material, agriculture and manufacturing–you know, stuff.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Sure, the service sector still needs the other sectors, but that doesn’t mean you have to transform physical stuff in space. We may want that eventually, but it is not the easiest place to start. LEO tourism would be much less of a challenge than lunar mining.

  • Martijn Meijering wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Based on the fact that it’s the nearest substantial deposit of stuff that humans regularly convert into economic activity.

    Most economic activity in the civilised world no longer involves transforming physical stuff.

    And this us why I advocate using space exploration to facilitate intangible economic activities such as entertainment & marketing and harnessing the revenue flows that can come from such activities.

    That said, the tangible resources of the Moon do offer our species our first and best opportunity to establish a permanent presence out there, if only to drive the story line and narrative that will be the foundation for intangible economic activities such as entertainment & marketing.

    I would assert that moon miners (whether water ice, PGM, rare earth materials or lunar gemstones) will better hold the interest of terrestrial crowds than scientists visiting NEOs or LaGrange points, even if LaGrange points offer fabulous leverage for accomplishing these other goals.

    Of course, folks racing spaceships NASCAR style would also get a fair share of attention.

  • @ Presley

    Martijn is correct to the extent that today the greatest profits come from intangible businesses (and from finance).

    For example, Nike can make FAR more money from branding shoes that it ever could by actually making shoes. Therefore they don’t make shoes, they buy shoes from low wage sub-contractors, add logos, and harvest large profits.

    Yes, mining and manufacturing and agriculture remain absolutely essential; they simply are far less profitable than other activities.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Explain to me how doing nothing is doing more to advance the cause of space development than…well…doing nothing?

    See, the facts don’t fit this. How is ISS advancing the cause of developing space?

    Right now, there are 3 companies that I know of that actively use ISS for development projects – NanoRacks & Astrontech & Astrogenetix. Additionally, there is another company that makes intermiten use of ISS, Space Adventures. Thats real space development.

    Name for me companies that are actively using the moon for space development right now.

    No, it’s really not worth noting, since the only part of VSE most anyone actually cared about was *permanent* lunar return. Drop that out of the VSE, you’ve nothing more than the meaningless platitudes that have sustained the space program since its inception. That is unless you can identify a constituency that actually comes out and says they want an unsustainable, unworkable, and expensive approach to “exploring” space.

    Well
    1. Obama also endorsed permanent human settlement in his KSC speech. Only he didn’t limit it to the moon.
    2. Merely having that on record isn’t enough – you have to back that up with actions. Otherwise, a declaration of permanent lunar return is itself merely meaningless platitudes.

    No argument from me here, but that’s an entirely different discussion from the one we’re having–you know, on whether destinations mean something.

    My assumption was that you were saying that it was VSE that changed things, and got us out of the shuttle forever plan, moving us towards doing larger space stuff, because it picked the moon as a target. If that isn’t what you are saying, then feel free to correct me.

    Based on the fact that it’s the nearest substantial deposit of stuff that humans regularly convert into economic activity.

    Martijn makes a point, although I think he may have got a part of it wrong. But the majority of the worlds population isn’t building their jobs around mining & extraction. That is part of it, but not all of it, by a long shot. Additionally, mineral resources are not the only form of resources – there are others.

    All of which is marginal to extracting and processing raw material, and in large part dependent on the viable flow of physical resources. We didn’t colonize the New World by sending manufacturers across the Atlantic, shipping them the raw materials, and then buying their finished products.

    Thats an issue of transportation costs. If its cheaper to send raw material up from earth, than from the moon, microgravity production will favor the earth as its source of material.

    You can save yourself a pretty penny just by foregoing the launch and junking your satellites right here on Earth. C’mon, Ferris. Salvage is no substitute for proper prospecting of raw materials.

    You gotta process those raw materials into a usable format, as opposed to the salvager who, in many cases, already metals & materials in a usable format. Thats particularly true for something like Aluminum. Additionally, the transportation cost back to the largest market, earth, is much less.

    I’d bet on the salvage market before I start betting on the lunar mining market.

    all these marginal activities that we expect to outweigh the enormous costs of accessing space in the first place. Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical of this proposed path to developing space.

    Some already are. And you’ll still have to overcome the high costs of transportation if you go to the moon (only, more so, since its further, and costs more

    Hell, if we had ring of asteroids and comets instead of a Moon, I’d be delighted. Unfortunately, you deal with the celestial bodies you have, not the ones you want.

    1. Actually, we do, in the form of salvageable material vis-a-vie old satellites in graveyard orbits.
    2. We don’t really have a good idea on the number of NEOs, and we may find some worth while.

    Of course not. NASA only has to figure out how to work within its budget, which is easy enough to do when you get $20 billion to do generally whatever the hell you want.

    Please don’t act like you are that stupid. Thats crap, and you should know better, if you don’t.
    1. NASA doesn’t get to do generally whatever it wants – The President & Congress dictates a lot of what its going to do
    2. It doesn’t get $20 B for HSF – it only gets about $8-9 B for HSF

    I never mentioned the speech, nor do I have to. Before Constellation’s cancellation, NASA was doing nothing constructive towards the goal of developing space. Nowadays, she’s simply free of any obligation to pursue any such an objective.

    1. In the case of the time before Constellation’s cancellation, all you had were empty platitudes then. Somehow, that doesn’t do much for me.
    2. Actually, not so much, because there are parts of the authorization laws that give objectives. In fact, there was an earlier one that spelled out the importance of colonization, well before VSE.

    Probably because you’ve arguing past the guy the entire time. Do you seriously believe Hickam would object to funding Ares I and Orion again?

    A valid point. That said, he seems to be taking commercial space serious enough such that he’s open to not having the government develop its own crew launch system. Thats a move forward

    1. They’re *all* commercial rockets.
    2. I didn’t say “commercial rockets,” I said “early lineage” rockets. In this case, specifically the upper stage lineage.

    Well, I would argue that Shuttle & Ares I weren’t commercial rockets
    Also, there is enough launches in the pipeline for Falcon 9 that, by the time we put humans on it, I suspect we’ll have passed the point of it being considered an early lineage rocket. Because SpaceX has plenty of unmanned payloads manifested.

  • byeman

    “For one, mine isn’t so broad as to include billions in taxpayer dollars to keep astronomers, cosmologists and planetary science types busy.”

    Then get rid of NASA. The non HSF portion of NASA is more in line with its charter than the VSE.

  • @Bill White:

    Martijn is correct to the extent that today the greatest profits come from intangible businesses (and from finance).

    That was never in dispute. Primary and secondary sectors globally account for only 35 percent of GDP; and under 30 percent for the US as of 2009. The point raised is that the primary and secondary sector is the vital input to activity in the service sector and beyond, and that the Moon is the most accessible source of raw material for developing the space economy near Earth.

    @Ferris:

    Sure, the service sector still needs the other sectors, but that doesn’t mean you have to transform physical stuff in space.

    If you want to develop it for settlement, you do.

    We may want that eventually…

    We want that as soon as possible, and if we’re going to spend taxpayer money to speed things up, then by all means let’s do it.

    , but it is not the easiest place to start. LEO tourism would be much less of a challenge than lunar mining.

    1. I was unaware that we had to proceed serially, or
    2. that the government agency responsible for national priorities in space had to defer taking steps to make space accessible to general population in order to cater to the entertainment of the wealthy.

    If somebody wants to build resorts and casinos in LEO, by all means let them raise the money to do so. As for the $20 billion a year in space funds footed by the taxpayer, that’s better spent laying the foundation for a general economy in space. At least, that’s my take on where our priorities should lie.

  • @byeman:

    Then get rid of NASA.

    That’s the long term plan, I would hope.

    The non HSF portion of NASA is more in line with its charter than the VSE.

    Sec 102(d) is a comedy of platitudes. Bottom line, people were sold on an agency that would conquer space. The non-HSF portion of NASA doesn’t do a damned thing to achieve that goal.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martijn makes a point, although I think he may have got a part of it wrong.

    Can you elaborate?

  • Martijn Meijering

    1. I was unaware that we had to proceed serially, or

    I don’t understand what you mean by that.

    2. that the government agency responsible for national priorities in space had to defer taking steps to make space accessible to general population in order to cater to the entertainment of the wealthy.

    I didn’t say that. I merely think that your argument that the moon must come first because it has mineral resources is inconclusive. And note that I’m not saying commercial LEO infrastructure is what NASA should focus on. In my opinion the single biggest obstacle and the only serious obstacle is high launch prices. The best way to reduce those is to go out there and explore thus creating enormous demand for commercial launch services. The precise destination doesn’t much matter, as long as you have one, nor does the exploration have to be manned.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Presley Cannady

    Sure, the service sector still needs the other sectors, but that doesn’t mean you have to transform physical stuff in space. We may want that eventually, but it is not the easiest place to start. LEO tourism would be much less of a challenge than lunar mining.

    Since it was Martijn who said that, and not me, I’ll let his response speak for itself.

    Sec 102(d) is a comedy of platitudes. Bottom line, people were sold on an agency that would conquer space. The non-HSF portion of NASA doesn’t do a damned thing to achieve that goal.

    That may or may not be the case – I tend to suspect that many space advocates have convinced themselves thats the case, but I suspect the American public might think otherwise.

  • Vladislaw

    “Before Constellation’s cancellation, NASA was doing nothing constructive towards the goal of developing space”

    Although it was a marginal part of NASA’s overall budget they were doing two constructive programs towards the goal of developing space, in my opinion.

    COTS and the unfunded COTS-D also the Centennial Challenges. I also believe the 25 million Garver was pushing for suborbital experiments (Crusor?) i believe it was called, I don’t recall seeing if that did get funding in the final 2011 package.

  • @Ferris:

    See, the facts don’t fit this. How is ISS advancing the cause of developing space?

    Right now, there are 3 companies that I know of that actively use ISS for development projects – NanoRacks & Astrontech & Astrogenetix. Additionally, there is another company that makes intermiten use of ISS, Space Adventures. Thats real space development.

    I know went round and round with this earlier this year, so we probably still won’t agree. But bottom line, none of those ventures comes close to amortizing ISS’s cost within its remaining life. By that measure, ISS *isn’t* developing anything.

    Name for me companies that are actively using the moon for space development right now.

    I can’t name for you a company outside of telecom that is developing any part of space for anything. That’s the *problem*.

    Well
    1. Obama also endorsed permanent human settlement in his KSC speech. Only he didn’t limit it to the moon.

    Who’s limiting settlement to anything? The debate is over whether or not NASA has a path forward to settlement period. At present, she doesn’t.

    2. Merely having that on record isn’t enough – you have to back that up with actions. Otherwise, a declaration of permanent lunar return is itself merely meaningless platitudes.

    No argument from me here, but then again I’m not here to defend VSE as an astounding success, or Constellation as the vehicle that got us there. I’m pointing out that the new “strategy” is anything but.

    My assumption was that you were saying that it was VSE that changed things…

    It did. It articulated a vision of permanent human presence on the Moon. It’s the first time that an Administration and Congress agreed to actually do something in space that didn’t revolve around cosmic navel gazing or (for lack of a better term) moonshots.

    …and got us out of the shuttle forever plan, moving us towards doing larger space stuff, because it picked the moon as a target. If that isn’t what you are saying, then feel free to correct me.

    Yeah, def. I’m not comfortable enough with launch architecture to make any judgements about execution. That’s why I have next to nothing but questions about how Constellation stacks up against its any of her prospective alternatives.

    Martijn makes a point, although I think he may have got a part of it wrong. But the majority of the worlds population isn’t building their jobs around mining & extraction. That is part of it, but not all of it, by a long shot. Additionally, mineral resources are not the only form of resources – there are others.

    No doubt. Never said dirt work forms the majority of human activity, but it should be obvious that it is the fundamental input to all other sectors of the economy. And in space, primary sector activity and the stuff it acts on will either source from Earth or elsewhere. Relative to any freefall point in the Earth sphere, the most accessible source of that stuff (by delta-v) is the Moon. I wish it weren’t. I wish we could just blow up the Moon and mush around in the rubble (who says debris is bad?).

    Thats an issue of transportation costs. If its cheaper to send raw material up from earth, than from the moon, microgravity production will favor the earth as its source of material.

    As long as the Moon remains undeveloped, that will be painfully true.

    You gotta process those raw materials into a usable format, as opposed to the salvager who, in many cases, already metals & materials in a usable format.

    And if that logic scaled, we’d close the mines and turn entirely to recycling.

    Thats particularly true for something like Aluminum. Additionally, the transportation cost back to the largest market, earth, is much less.

    But not much less than extracting material right on Earth, and certainly not nearly as sustainable. We’re talking about a couple thousand tons of material at most, distributed widely from grain sized specks to clumps measured in kilos. It’d be like trying to sustain a gold market on dust sifted from a stream, only instead of a stream you have an ocean.

    2. We don’t really have a good idea on the number of NEOs, and we may find some worth while.

    Possibly, but at the moment we have no such candidates more accessible than the Moon. In fact, the most delicious targets we can presently identify will require a sustainable human presence in space to capture. Yet one more reason to get on with exploiting the Moon.

    Please don’t act like you are that stupid. Thats crap, and you should know better, if you don’t.
    1. NASA doesn’t get to do generally whatever it wants – The President & Congress dictates a lot of what its going to do.

    On the non-HSF side, you seriously think Congress and the President are sitting around drying to figure out whether Webb’s worth it or not? They toss it to NASA and let the geeks fight it out. On the HSF side…

    2. It doesn’t get $20 B for HSF – it only gets about $8-9 B for HSF

    …you’re right. $12B to do whatever the hell they want.

    1. In the case of the time before Constellation’s cancellation, all you had were empty platitudes then. Somehow, that doesn’t do much for me.

    Before constellation, you had a directive to go back to the Moon and stay there. No matter how you slice it, that’s no platitude. It’s as clear a friggin’ mission as anyone could hope.

    2. Actually, not so much, because there are parts of the authorization laws that give objectives. In fact, there was an earlier one that spelled out the importance of colonization, well before VSE.

    There’s plenty of documentation generated within the bureaucracy for pretty much any point of view on space out there. What matters is that VSE made it into law.

    A valid point. That said, he seems to be taking commercial space serious enough such that he’s open to not having the government develop its own crew launch system. Thats a move forward

    Everyone takes commercial space seriously; that is, no one ever looked at Elon Musk and saw another Paul Moller. Likewise, the question of whether commercial launch will become self-sustaining *in the near future* is also treated seriously. Commercial manned launch even more so. At this point, the future is so uncertain it is eminently reasonable to question whether any of the launch providers–including the old mainstays–will survive the next decade or more.

    Well, I would argue that Shuttle & Ares I weren’t commercial rockets.

    You gotta love the terminology hoops we have to jump through to have this debate. ;) But okay, we’re going to call Shuttle and Ares I something other than commercial, then let’s hold EELVs to the same standard and get back to defining Newspace as everybody but USA and ULA. I’m pretty sure Congress isn’t even that deep in the weeds.

    Also, there is enough launches in the pipeline for Falcon 9 that, by the time we put humans on it, I suspect we’ll have passed the point of it being considered an early lineage rocket. Because SpaceX has plenty of unmanned payloads manifested.

    And we’ll cross that bridge when we do. But now, with a 4-3 record, the Falcon family is clearly early lineage. If for no other reason than to be fair to SpaceX, we can at least agree on that.

  • That may or may not be the case – I tend to suspect that many space advocates have convinced themselves thats the case, but I suspect the American public might think otherwise.

    My guess is the American public gives no more than a few minutes of a thoughts a year to the non-HSF side of the shop, and most of that thought is given to Photoshopped photos or overhyped pronunciations on our place in the universe.

  • Although it was a marginal part of NASA’s overall budget they were doing two constructive programs towards the goal of developing space, in my opinion.

    COTS and the unfunded COTS-D also the Centennial Challenges. I also believe the 25 million Garver was pushing for suborbital experiments (Crusor?) i believe it was called, I don’t recall seeing if that did get funding in the final 2011 package.

    I’ll grant that.

  • But now, with a 4-3 record, the Falcon family is clearly early lineage.

    That remains a mischaracterization of SpaceX’s record.

  • Justin Kugler

    Presley,
    The ISS taught us how to build and sustain large structures in space (both in terms of what works and what doesn’t), is actively contributing to a better understanding of human physiology in the space environment, and is the only long-duration microgravity science platform we have.

    We’re really only at the beginning of Station’s utilization lifetime and I see what’s in the pipeline, so I don’t share your pessimism. Now that Constellation isn’t sucking all the air out of the room, we’re actually going to be using it for exploration technology testbeds, biomedical research, fundamental physics, atmospheric science, and hyperspectral ground and ocean imaging, just to name a few.

    Once the National Lab non-profit gets up and running, I really think we’re going to see a renaissance of-sorts on the ISS. Their entire job will be finding ways to use the Space Station that NASA cannot, lining up the resources that NASA cannot, and facilitating on-orbit research with direct benefit to the nation. This is going to take some time, though.

    If we actually had any sort of lunar exploration infrastructure in place, I could perhaps understand closing out the Station. If there were commercial platforms available, I could see the argument. Until either of those come to pass, though, the ISS is all we’ve got for a destination. Putting it in the Pacific Ocean while that is still true wouldn’t help any of us.

    With regards to your other comments, a vision is not a path and we have never had a path forward to space settlement.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Vladislaw

    CRuSR (the suborbital program) was fully funded, last I checked. I haven’t reviewed either the CR or the omnibus bill, but I suspect it’ll be there.

    Presley Cannady

    I know went round and round with this earlier this year, so we probably still won’t agree. But bottom line, none of those ventures comes close to amortizing ISS’s cost within its remaining life. By that measure, ISS *isn’t* developing anything.

    The bottom line is that they’ve only begun, so calling it a failure at this point is rather unfair. At this point, I will grant that the money doesn’t equal out. But it may, by the time ISS comes to an end.

    I can’t name for you a company outside of telecom that is developing any part of space for anything. That’s the *problem*.

    Then you are ignoring some other sectors, which is unfortunately. More to the point, they wont’ develop the areas of space unless they see a market there, and building a market for lunar flights is much more difficult.

    Who’s limiting settlement to anything? The debate is over whether or not NASA has a path forward to settlement period. At present, she doesn’t.

    I submit she does. The FY 2011 proposal would’ve been the best, but the 2010 Authorization act gets us a little closer

    It did. It articulated a vision of permanent human presence on the Moon. It’s the first time that an Administration and Congress agreed to actually do something in space that didn’t revolve around cosmic navel gazing or (for lack of a better term) moonshots.

    Again, no its not. Go look at previous NASA authorization laws. I can’t remember which one it was, but an earlier one directed NASA to make its long term goal colonization. There was another (or it might have been the same one – I don’t remember, and the article that talked about it seems to have disappeared) that directed NASA to produce a report every 2 years, speaking about how close it was to making space colonization a reality (you can guess how often the report has been produced)

    Yeah, def. I’m not comfortable enough with launch architecture to make any judgements about execution. That’s why I have next to nothing but questions about how Constellation stacks up against its any of her prospective alternatives.

    Then you’d better get comfortable. Grand statements about our next destination are meaningless if you don’t understand how to produce the capability to make it happen. And, to be fair, its not enough to understand the technical issues, but you need to understand the social & economic issues as well.

    Never said dirt work forms the majority of human activity, but it should be obvious that it is the fundamental input to all other sectors of the economy. And in space, primary sector activity and the stuff it acts on will either source from Earth or elsewhere. Relative to any freefall point in the Earth sphere, the most accessible source of that stuff (by delta-v) is the Moon. I wish it weren’t. I wish we could just blow up the Moon and mush around in the rubble (who says debris is bad?).

    But no one is saying its unimportant. What I am saying is that to assume the primary method of financial support will come from industries that involve have extraction, or heavy extraction & processing, is unlikely, because that involves sinking vast sums into something that won’t develop for many years.

    What you are talking about ultimately is a colony that is totally independent from earth, but that is decades, if not centuries away. But there are nearer term objectives – specifically, financially self-sufficient, or even better, financially growing. You don’t have to be in the extraction business for that.

    As long as the Moon remains undeveloped, that will be painfully true.

    And its also true for LEO, and suborbital. Which is why the development of that is very important.

    And if that logic scaled, we’d close the mines and turn entirely to recycling.

    Except that, this ignores the point that for current society, the companies have invested resources in mining & production, and not so much on recycling.

    In space, there is no such pre-established situation.

    But not much less than extracting material right on Earth, and certainly not nearly as sustainable. We’re talking about a couple thousand tons of material at most, distributed widely from grain sized specks to clumps measured in kilos. It’d be like trying to sustain a gold market on dust sifted from a stream, only instead of a stream you have an ocean.

    That did a good job in California. And most of that material is already tracked. The key aspect is energy expenditures to get at those materials, and there are some really cool things coming out about tethers.

    On the non-HSF side, you seriously think Congress and the President are sitting around drying to figure out whether Webb’s worth it or not? They toss it to NASA and let the geeks fight it out. On the HSF side…

    Absolutely they are, at least in congress, for the very simple fact that its in congressmembers’ districts. That means federal funds for them. There are some great examples of that in the past.

    Before constellation, you had a directive to go back to the Moon and stay there. No matter how you slice it, that’s no platitude. It’s as clear a friggin’ mission as anyone could hope.

    Of course its a platitude. It only stops becoming a platitude if you allocate resources and effort to do so.

    There’s plenty of documentation generated within the bureaucracy for pretty much any point of view on space out there. What matters is that VSE made it into law.

    Read my comment again – I said LAW, not documentation. As in, passed by congress, signed by the president.

    Everyone takes commercial space seriously; that is, no one ever looked at Elon Musk and saw another Paul Moller. Likewise, the question of whether commercial launch will become self-sustaining *in the near future* is also treated seriously. Commercial manned launch even more so. At this point, the future is so uncertain it is eminently reasonable to question whether any of the launch providers–including the old mainstays–will survive the next decade or more.

    A lot of em have tried to make Musk look like Moller. And commercial launch is self-sustaining. The problem is we destroyed our commercial launch industry, thanks to things like ITAR, and total shuttle dependency.

    You gotta love the terminology hoops we have to jump through to have this debate. ;) But okay, we’re going to call Shuttle and Ares I something other than commercial, then let’s hold EELVs to the same standard and get back to defining Newspace as everybody but USA and ULA. I’m pretty sure Congress isn’t even that deep in the weeds.

    You could argue that Shuttle was somewhat commercial, but the primary point isn’t whether its developed and build initially for government or initially for private industry – its about the contracting mechanism, and whether there is room enough to allow for innovation & new users to be brought to the board. Ares I never even came close to that. EELVs did.

    And we’ll cross that bridge when we do. But now, with a 4-3 record, the Falcon family is clearly early lineage. If for no other reason than to be fair to SpaceX, we can at least agree on that.

    But we are at that bridge. Thats the point. We start planning for it now, we can reduce the gap. Or don’t we care about that?

  • DCSCA

    @byeman wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 1:40 pm
    Before there was a ‘NASA’ these brainiacs found employment at universities and reasearch centers worldwide. Back in the day many good colleges and universities maintained small observatories on campus along with a football team. Good grief.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ December 14th, 2010 at 8:44 pm
    “The problem is that Homer (like Mike Griffin) doesn’t recognize that the problem is not with the individuals at the top, but the management and incentive structure itself, and just putting The Right Man (or Woman) in charge will not fix it.”

    The fish rots from the head down.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 1:18 am
    Nonsense. Bolden owes the people of the United States and the spae community an apology for rising to the level of his incompetent and not resigning for the ‘good of the service’– the service being the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Homer hit a homer. He’s spot on target.

  • Rhyolite

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    “And that has what to do with the 13/14 record of Delta IV, or the 22/23 record of Atlas V? I ask merely because those are Commercial Rockets as well.”

    The safety record of Delta IV and Atlas V are actually better than they appear from these statistics. Both of these failures left their payloads in lower than planned orbits but didn’t damage them otherwise. If these had been manned launches, the mission might have been compromised but the passengers would have returned safely to the earth.

  • Major Tom

    “Bolden owes the people of the United States and the spae community an apology for rising to the level of his incompetent…”

    A sure sign of incompetence in the space community is applying the wrong form of the word “incompetence” and misspelling “space” in the same sentence.

    Sigh…

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    Comment on the SpaceX flight record. Firstly only the F1 can be considered as operational and it will not fly again since it’s being upgraded to the F1e. It’s record stands at:
    Flight Op/Test Outcome
    1 Test Failure
    2 Test Failure
    3 Operational Failure
    4 Test Success
    5 Operational Success

    F9/Dragon configuration:
    1 Test Success
    2 Test Success COTS-C Demo1

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    If you want to know what destroyed the U.S. commercial space launch industry it was cost and consequently price. Nothing else. U.S. launch providers decided it was easier to go after the government cost plus contracts of DoD, NASA, etc. than actually change their existing processes to make launch cheaper. So far SpaceX has em beat and for the first time in decades, a U.S. launch provider is internationally competitive. That really should be bigger news than the recent successful Dragon mission.

  • Drunk, so mind yourself.

    @Vladislaw, or somebody…:

    1. I was unaware that we had to proceed serially, or

    I don’t understand what you mean by that.

    It means I didn’t know that our government agency had to wait for space tourism to take off before going all Lewis and Clark on the whatever’s worth going Lewis and Clark up there.

    I didn’t say that. I merely think that your argument that the moon must come first because it has mineral resources is inconclusive.

    Forgive me if I read you incorrectly; I got the impression that you wanted to see how space tourism pans out before we do God knows whatever else between that and…well…developing the nearest, most accessible clump of stuff off Earth.

    And note that I’m not saying commercial LEO infrastructure is what NASA should focus on.

    Awesome. So what should NASA being doing with the $20 billion a year we’re willing to shell out?

    In my opinion the single biggest obstacle and the only serious obstacle is high launch prices.

    No argument there.

  • @Rand:

    That remains a mischaracterization of SpaceX’s record.

    How would you characterize it?

  • Coastal Ron

    Presley Cannady wrote @ December 16th, 2010 at 7:41 am

    How would you characterize it [SpaceX launch record]?

    I would say their launch record is 1-0 from an operational standpoint. They have had only one paid payload mission since Falcon 1 became operational (Malaysia’s RazakSAT), so their customer record is perfect. Falcon 9 is still in test, so I don’t count it yet.

    If you want to count their test flights, then that’s really open to interpretation, especially since this is a new company. I think what is the most relevant thing to look at is how they have progressed through their test programs, and that they did not repeat problems – each test accomplished more and more of the mission profiles, until they finally solved the problems and orbit was achieved.

    With all things, I gauge companies based on what they do when things go wrong, not only on when they go right. And so far SpaceX seems to be doing well.

  • How would you characterize it?

    Beancounter did it quite well. To simply tot up the failures and successes as though they are equivalent is meaningless and misleading, because it implies a Bayesian probability of a 3/7 chance of failure on the next flight, which is clearly nonsense. The order in which things fail and succeed is very important. At this point, Falcon 9 has a perfect flight record, and it’s reasonable to estimate that its reliability probably exceeds ninety percent. If they have another ten consecutive successes, we could assess it in the high nineties.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I got the impression that you wanted to see how space tourism pans out before we do God knows whatever else between that and…well…developing the nearest, most accessible clump of stuff off Earth.

    Not at all, if we did that we might have to wait a very long time.

    Awesome. So what should NASA being doing with the $20 billion a year we’re willing to shell out?

    Explore. Create as much demand as possible for commercial launch services. This will start the probably lengthy process of driving down launch prices by enough so that we’ll see commercial development of space before everybody here is dead and buried. All else being equal, spend as much as possible on launching propellant and as little as possible on space hardware and directly funded R&D. Markets, not bureaucracies, will determine how much of that should be channelled into R&D. My current near term favourite would be a set of NEO tagging / sample return missions using an unmanned reusable spacecraft based at L1/L2, not LEO. Relatively cheap and low-tech and hard to screw up. This would create a large demand for propellant at L1/L2 and in LEO (good for RLVs) as well transport services beween LEO and L1/L2 (good for SEP tugs and aerobraking R&D). A market driven solution.

  • DCSCA

    @Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ December 15th, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Nonsense. SpaceX has flown nobody and it is a bogus argument to propose future performance from them will meet expectations when they have not orbited a soul while government space agencies have been orbited crewed spacecraft for half a century. It’s just a bogus. But if you have such high confidence in SpaceX one would expect the firm to be flooded with investments from Aussie sources.

  • @Rand:

    Beancounter did it quite well. To simply tot up the failures and successes as though they are equivalent is meaningless and misleading, because it implies a Bayesian probability of a 3/7 chance of failure on the next flight, which is clearly nonsense.

    It was certainly not my intent to extract a measure of reliability from 7 launches, which is why I said: “[i]t’s misleading to focus on launch rates for any young family of launchers in the first place. That’s the point.”

  • @Martijn:

    Driving up launch rates does not require artificially propping it up on billions in taxpayer dollars sunk into projects with no evident prospect of return near, mid, or far just for the sake of lowering transportation costs. This approach wasn’t “market-driven” when we called the Tennessee Valley Authority and it certainly isn’t dressed up as you’ve proposed. That’s not to say that government has no place intervening in an emerging market. She certainly does; for half a century starting 150 years ago, Americans cottoned to railroad and homesteading legislation, fort building, and eventually a powerful navy to expand agriculture and industry into the old frontier and foreign markets.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There’s nothing artificial about launching propellant in support of exploration, in fact for the foreseeable future there is no way around that. If you don’t like NEO missions, or unmanned missions, then there are alternatives. It would work just as well with manned moon or Mars missions, I just gave unmanned NEO missions as an example, the cheapest and simplest one I can think of right now.

  • @Martijn:

    There’s nothing artificial about launching propellant in support of exploration, in fact for the foreseeable future there is no way around that.

    Then there’s nothing artificial about farm subsidies.

    If you don’t like NEO missions, or unmanned missions, then there are alternatives.

    It has nothing to do with whether or not I like a particular mission, but whether or not taxpayer money should be spent on missions that do away with even a pretense of contributing to the economic bottom line. Once again, we probably agree that government has a role to play until such time as markets emerge that can sustain the launch services industry without taxpayer intervention. What I’d also like to do is re=purpose our spending on space on missions that aim to explode such markets as quickly as possible.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Then there’s nothing artificial about farm subsidies.

    Actually, that’s completely different. If there is going exploration soon (and until recently that was the plan), then it will need massive amounts of propellant, not foodstuffs. It will cost a lot of money to launch that propellant. That money can be used to develop cheap lift that is available to everybody or heavy (and expensive) lift that is available only to NASA.

    What I’d also like to do is re=purpose our spending on space on missions that aim to explode such markets as quickly as possible.

    That’s precisely what an exploration program using freely competing commercial propellant launchers would do.

  • Actually, farm subsidies tend to pay people to not do things.

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