NASA, White House

Could NASA warm up to a budget freeze?

Both ABC News and MSNBC are reporting that in his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama will call for a five-year freeze for non-security discretionary spending. There will be, according to ABC, some exceptions for new initiatives in areas such as innovation, education, and infrastructure, but it would appear that, by and large, agencies like NASA included in that non-security discretionary slice of the budget will be looking at flat budgets for the foreseeable future.

If NASA is, in fact, facing a long-term budget freeze (whether at the enacted FY2010 or the proposed FY2011 level is unclear, although it makes little difference at the topline level), it would be a setback for an agency that last year was projected to see modest but steady increases, to nearly $21 billion for FY2015. On the other hand, though, a budget freeze at current levels might not be so bad compared to proposals to cut overall federal spending to FY2008, or, as proposed last week, FY2006 levels.

48 comments to Could NASA warm up to a budget freeze?

  • Joe

    A question, if anybody knows the answer. With all the talk of freezes or reductions to nondiscretionalry (non military) spending, does this mean each agency is frozen at (or reduced to) some level or that the overall spending is (and the indivusual agencies might be shifted around within that top level)?

  • Joe wrote:

    With all the talk of freezes or reductions to nondiscretionalry (non military) spending, does this mean each agency is frozen at (or reduced to) some level or that the overall spending is (and the indivusual agencies might be shifted around within that top level)?

    Too early to say. It’s all hypothetical at this point. Once they get into the sausage-making phase, all those individual committees and subcommittees will start lobbying for their own personal pork, which is then the notion of “freezing” at a certain level will go out the window.

  • amightywind

    Obama won’t get a freeze from the GOP. A freeze doesn’t solve the problem, as congressman Ryan will point out. That would just lock in today’s obscene spending levels, and give Obama political cover. No, the thief must come clean. We must drop spending to 2006 levels or less. NASA funding must drop. It is time for NASA to decide what is important and what is not.

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA can do well on a 15 billion a year budget. Some serious changes have to be made…some failing projects cancelled and a new way of doing things embraced…

    but SpaceX built Falcon 9 on less then 1 billion. it can be done

    Robert G. Oler

  • James T

    I really don’t see how the NASA HLV can survive in this environment.

    If Republicans are successful in pushing the budget down to the levels they are suggesting, HLV has to go, because you can’t keep it and make those cuts to other areas or else HLV will have nothing to do except take business away from the private sector for ISS resupply and taxi.

    If Obama commits to this 5 year freeze, and agencies are made to assume for their budget assessments that it will proceed even under a new president in 2012, then HLV can’t even proceed under the FY 2011 budget.

    If the Republicans succeed in passing a budget of their own design, I seriously doubt that Obama would commit to freezing it. But if a reasonable bipartisan budget can be achieved, and Obama is willing to suggest freezing that, it would most certainly spell death for any HLV projects to begin before 2016.

    Having the HLV cancelled/delayed by any of these means gives plenty of time for commercial to make advances in crew transportation systems and general launch capabilities. Between science and commercial crew development, I think CCDev should take the back seat. I’m confident that commercial can achieve the goals set before them even without increased infusions of money, but some money could be helpful in accelerating the efforts, with the benefit of earlier services. Focusing on more science and technology driven initiatives will actually help to support the commercial industry also by increasing demand for launch services. Robotic missions and experimental system tests will have to be launched by somebody after all.

  • Egad

    > It is time for NASA to decide what is important and what is not.

    And if NASA decides that an HLV isn’t important at the present time?

    Or does NASA need to acknowledge that tax-mediated wealth redistribution, aka pork, is more important than anything else?

  • Coastal Ron

    As Stephen points out, it’s all in the sausage making part of the funding, and no matter which projects you favor, it’s going to be a bumpy ride this summer if/when they do reduce funding.

    I’m not as familiar with the pork politics of the individual centers, but it would seem to me that they should be able to protect their portion of the reduced pie. My hope would be that the last program started (SLS & MPCV) would also be the most likely to be cut, since the accompanying use for them would not be funded anyways.

    Luckily the commercial side will keep moving forward even with reduced funding, whereas SLS, if it survives, will just become jobs programs, ripe for the killing once a future space commission reviews it’s progress (and likely lack thereof).

    It’s going to be an interesting 2011.

  • Joe

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
    “Too early to say. It’s all hypothetical at this point. Once they get into the sausage-making phase, all those individual committees and subcommittees will start lobbying for their own personal pork, which is then the notion of “freezing” at a certain level will go out the window.”

    Agreed with you right up to the point where the referencing of “pork” starts. Pork is not just something you (or I for that matter) disagree with. Truth is we do not yet know how the budget process will work out or how individual congressional members even feel about it.

    amightywind wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
    “It is time for NASA to decide what is important and what is not.”

    Trouble is “NASA” does not decide anything, in fact for these purposes there is no “NASA”; only the Obama Administration political appointees who will have to “fight it out” with Congress as to “what is important and what is not “.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “NASA funding must drop. It is time for NASA to decide what is important and what is not.”

    Um, no. NASA will not make that decision. The White House and Congress will do that. Of course, if the top priorities in advancing American competitiveness (which is likely to be the main thrust of the SOTU) are increased investment in K-12 education, research in physical sciences, engineering, and math, and encouraging careers in these fields, then what’s important for NASA will be how it can be seen to serve these needs, either in what it does, or I guess in how it’s budget can be diverted.

    No, for NASA, it’s not about “inspiration”. The “inspiration” argument is a flaccid one that has never been quantified. It is patently stupid to believe that our work on ISS and Shuttle these last few decades have been responsible for inspiring the technological leaps we’ve seen during that time by young engineers and scientists.

    Yes, I suspect NASA funding will be considered expendable, as hard budgetary decisions are being made. Of course, the porkers will reign in dictating NASA policy.

  • That NASA Engineer@KSC

    Freezing the discretionary portion of federal spending is more tactical than strategic. It’s assumed that cumulative external debt levels are getting attention, as they should, and that internal debt (in the form of out-year projections) is hand-in-hand the major concern. That being the case, the first order of the day to truly address the future is a multi-variable problem as we would say in NASA – the national cost of health care to which the Federal Medicare program is linked at the hip. Related issues will include immigration and our aging demographic.

    Now addressing the prior would be a step towards getting a handle on deficits and adding to the external debt (every time we float treasuries) because of our intra-governmental debt (the math and law or goals of these insurance programs).

    Second, defense really has to be on the burner to address the balance of revenue and spending over time. We have grown too accustomed to a vicious cycle in the DoD akin to what NASA suffers from; every system coming into operations costs more adjusted for average inflation than the one it replaces. Then no one wants to retire the old one either. As with healthcare, no one wants to be “average” (like on inflation or a 3% here or there). Performance rules, costs are ignored in thinking through the system and our goals. Gates had an excellent observation on this once – “In the future, he said, weapons should be engineered to counter “the actual and prospective capabilities of known future adversaries,” not what a potential adversary might create with “unlimited time and resources.”

    Social security likely comes in a distant 3rd to healthcare and defense (if defense includes VA, hospitals, retirees, environmental cleanups, etc, all the in-direct costs). Though that can change given economic circumstances and being unemployed have made people join the ranks of the retired in the last few years who would otherwise have kept working. Also, the past Social security “surpluses” that exist as intra-governmental IOU’s are likely to come under fire.

    These 3 areas – health especially, defense too, and social security (a distant 3rd) are the real areas of concern that if managed better will get overall debt levels to more easily sustainable levels. Interest on the debt will come under control from there (as a 4th factor in the budget, paying past debt…). It is only “2nd order” to attack discretionary spending by freezing. Nonetheless, freezing discretionary spending is likely inevitable, while avoiding the real discussion for now. The matter for NASA is if the question will be “how much money would we have needed doing things as business as usual” (in which case here comes a lost decade) or “what can we do to explore the universe if we change, with the money we have”?

  • Robert G. Oler

    That NASA Engineer@KSC wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    yeap although I am all for a freeze in discretionary spending you nail at least the top two issues.

    We have to at some point get a grip on DoD projects, ie why does it take decades to do the F-35 and it only took two years to do the F-14…and what kind of weapons do we need.

    Then there is health care…..I am all for single payer.

    but that should not blind us to the notion that fat is fat and out of shape agencies are out of shape and NASA is fat and out of shape.

    Kolker and I had a notion (well Whittington did as well but he has gone Obama hater on us)…of splitting uncrewed missions off from the human ones, and technology efforts from human spaceflight.

    I still think that it is a good idea to split off uncrewed exploration missions from the agency…but in my world we move NASA back to a NACA and that means we can do a lot of cutting of the various centers.

    For instance why a NASA launch facility? In my world the JSC would cease being a “NASA” center and move into being a “space grant” effort that is run by several Universities aimed at running the space station…including training for folks going up there. That really needs to be streamlined.

    There are lots of places you can make streamlining efforts but the most important one is to identify the goals that one is trying to accomplish.

    Robert G. Oler.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    Luckily the commercial side will keep moving forward even with reduced funding, whereas SLS, if it survives, will just become jobs programs, ripe for the killing once a future space commission reviews it’s progress (and likely lack thereof).

    This was exactly the point of the letter I had published this morning in Florida Today. The only way out of this mess is to free space from Congress by growing the commercial launch sector.

  • Aremis Asling

    “That would just lock in today’s obscene spending levels, and give Obama political cover.”

    No, as a matter of fact he intends on trimming out 78-100 billion out of the defense budget per the defense department’s recommendations. Such a cut would actually exceed the ‘freeze at 2008 levels’ strategy of Republicans over a five year period and would bring under control a defense department that has consistently been eating a bigger slice of the budgetary pie every year, even as we are beginning to draw down our military commitments. Bush Sr. cut back on defense as the Cold War drew to a close. It’s about time we do the same with our current misadventures.

    I’m not opposed to further discretionary cuts. In fact I saw nearly 100 billion in program cuts proposed by the recent republican proposal that I could very easily go along with. Some I expect would be acceptable by many Americans, even other liberals like myself.

    “We must drop spending to 2006 levels or less. ”

    That is a pipe dream. Perhaps it’s a dream that’s worth pursuing and perhaps our budgetary issues require that we do, but we won’t see it. The Tea Party idealists will be hard pressed to win over even other Republicans on many of their proposed cuts. That said, I’m glad that those on the right are actually naming programs they’d trim back and proposing actual numbers.

    Back to NASA, it’s really not a substantial slice of the pie and NASA has been shortchanged so consistantly over the past 40 years, there’s not enough breathing room left without cutting back on real capabilities.

  • Scott Bass

    It is hard to believe how long NASA has been drifting aimlessly…..and so it continues……..

  • DCSCA

    “Could NASA warm up to a budget freeze?”

    Does it have any choice? No.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
    Your weak estimates on budget scaling matches your poor capacity at estimating time frames. $20- $25 billion would suit them nicely coinciding with a streamlining and housecleaning of deadwood. Falcon 9 is irrelevant. And as a reminder, SpaceX has flown nobody.

  • DCSCA

    “Both ABC News and MSNBC are reporting that in his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama will call for a five-year freeze for non-security discretionary spending.” Uh-huh. Gee-whiz, if only NASA was safely tucked under the protective ‘security’ wing of the DoD. ‘If only.’ It is inevitable, of course, that it will at some point through the Age of Austerity.

  • Coastal Ron

    James T wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Between science and commercial crew development, I think CCDev should take the back seat. I’m confident that commercial can achieve the goals set before them even without increased infusions of money, but some money could be helpful in accelerating the efforts, with the benefit of earlier services.

    I understand your reasoning, and agree in some ways with your suggestion to keep the science content going, but if you’re suggesting that CCDev be cut to zero, then I don’t agree.

    The largest ongoing science program NASA is the ISS, and I see CCDev and the future commercial crew program as ways for NASA to lower it’s ongoing operations costs, and create lower cost services for future science programs.

    No doubt most everything will have to take a budget hit soon, but one of the good side effects is that scarcity brings out the innovation in some people. Instead of inventing everything, I think constrained budgets make people look harder for existing solutions that cost less, are probably readily available, and do most of what you need.

    One recent example I like to think of is the NASA HEFT study. HEFT (Human Exploration Framework Team) was not constrained by the projected NASA budget (which will likely be even less now), and their hardware solutions could only be accommodated by a Congress that wanted to spend more on NASA. Instead, they should have been tasked with designing missions that fit well within the projected NASA budgets. To me the HEFT study was a failure to provide actionable suggestions, which means it was a waste of precious NASA time and money.

    Samuel Johnson said “nothing focuses the mind like a hanging”, and I guess regarding NASA budget, we’re in for an interesting spring and summer.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    “The largest ongoing science program NASA is the ISS…”

    The ISS represents past planning and remains an albatross in the Age of Austerity. Forget it in planning. NASA’s future, at least at accessing less vulnerable budgets, lay with getting tucked under the protective ‘wing’ of national security as a civilian division of the DoD. In its current configuration as a Cold War relic, it’s a sitting duck.

  • Bennett

    “a civilian division of the DoD”

    Your ability to spout nonsense is equaled only by allanalwind. This is a good thing, as you invalidate everything you type within a few sentences.

    ————–
    I don’t know the answer to NASAs problems but if you take JPL as how a center should work, and MSFC as the poster child of waste and incompetence, some bright administrator should be able to figure out why, and how to get other NASA centers to emulate JPL.

    It’d be a good start.

  • James T

    @ Coastal Ron

    I was not suggesting or supporting a reduction of CCDev to $0. I was simply stating that if we have to pick favorites then I’d go with science since the science efforts still would provide support for the commercial industry in the form of demand for launch services, mostly uncrewed. If I had MY way, CCDev would get enough to have services ready by 2016 at the latest, and then offer them a bonus for early delivery of services based on the amount we would save compared to Soyuz seats. The earlier the deliver, the more money we save, the more money they get… a very practical way of encouraging results without paying more for them in advance. My point was that commercial will be ready eventually even without our help, so we should only help them enough to best serve are needs, but not so much that it detracts from out science efforts.

    And excuse me if I’m being a bit presumptuous here, but I’ve noticed that me and you seem to be in the same “camp” in terms of a vision for NASA’s future. This was made painfully clear when we wrote almost the same post the other day on the “Reid speaks on JFK and his space legacy” topic.

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 24th, 2011 at 12:11 pm
    James T wrote @ January 24th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 6:27 pm
    It’s easy to see why advocates for commercial space would fear such a wise move. More’s the pity.

  • Republicans insists on cutting spending then cut the Heavy Lift development until 2016 like Obama recommended. Order a Falcon-XX heavy lift for a fraction of the development cost if you need one.

    As representatives of Corporate America they could also outsource NASA to India for even bigger savings!

  • Coastal Ron

    James T wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I was not suggesting or supporting a reduction of CCDev to $0.

    I wasn’t sure – thanks for clarifying.

    I’ve noticed that me and you seem to be in the same “camp” in terms of a vision for NASA’s future.

    Yes, and a number of others too.

  • red

    “If NASA is, in fact, facing a long-term budget freeze (whether at the enacted FY2010 or the proposed FY2011 level is unclear, although it makes little difference at the topline level), it would be a setback for an agency that last year was projected to see modest but steady increases, to nearly $21 billion for FY2015.”

    NASA’s projected budget from the Administration’s FY2011 proposal:

    2010 18,724.3
    2011 19,000
    2012 19,450
    2013 19,960
    2014 20,600
    2015 20,990

    If we assume the freeze is at the proposed FY2011 level, then NASA loses $5B from 2011-2015.

    The Congressional plan was for the SLS HLV to take $11.5B to develop. NASA says it will take much more than that given the Congressional constraints. Rather than waste $11.5B on something that won’t work, cancel the SLS in the face of the budget freeze.

    The $11.5 will cover the $5B budget cut with $6.5B left over. I don’t know how much transition costs NASA would still carry related to the SLS, but let’s say that cost is $1.5B. That still leaves $5B. NASA could allocate that $5B to other areas that don’t have enough money in the current “compromise” plan (e.g.: Commercial Crew, Space & Exploration Technology, Robotic Precursors, more modest “heavier lift” efforts, JWST, MPCV on Delta IV). There would be continued savings in later years from avoiding the SLS that could be used for efforts like these.

    Getting rid of SLS would also free 21st Century Launch Complex funding for more productive use, such as non-SLS launch infrastructure modernization.

    There is probably some more money hidden in the budget that could also be attributed to the SLS (e.g.: within Cross-Agency Support) that could also be redirected to more productive use.

  • VirgilSamms

    I believe the planetary defense mission can bring DOD funding to NASA for deep space flight and re-energize HSF. We have some flybys of asteroids coming up and that might be an opportunity to push DOD funds diverted to NASA for planetary defense. Sidemount is the only HLV possible at this point; better get Shannon and Obama talking.

    What is with this Robert G. Oler? Shouldn’t he be posting on a site that is against space exploration instead of one that is?

  • Bennett

    “…such a wise move. “

    It’s not a “wise move”, it’s a total fantasy. The DOD has no interest in NASA, and the entrenched management at NASA is in survival mode. They’re all beholden to their prime contractors and don’t give s*** about real exploration or science. It’s like a poor man’s version of Congress, f*** everyone so long as I keep my salary and perks and get reelected.

    Other than the MSL and other robotic missions set to launch, NASA is a big fail as far as I’m concerned. Lots of powerpoint presentations, but little substance. HEFT is a joke, as is any SDHLV design. Money for nothing.

    Your bitterness over the success of commercial space is comical. But it doesn’t change any opinions.

    Thanks to NASA’s management and Griffin’s folly, SpaceX is the best and brightest hope for continued USA deployment of cargo and astronauts to the ISS from 2012-14 onwards. It may tan your hide, but it’s true.

    Yes yes, the dragon has flown no one as of today, but who else is close, bucky?

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “The ISS represents past planning and remains an albatross in the Age of Austerity.”

    Is there any other federal labs that just got completed that we should immediately shut down also?

    I mean all research labs are creatures of past planning until they are constructed and if you believe it is a good idea to close them up as soon as they are finished could you provide some kind of list?

  • DCSCA

    RE-SOTU. Obama’s analogy to a ‘Sputnik moment’ is a bit strained if not tepid. It might send a tingle up Chris Matthews’ leg, but it most likely is meaningless to a generation of Americans under 40. And for the younger generation not well schooled in history, a curiosity, if that, disconnected and not particularly inspiring. If the president wants to go to space age analogies to spark some new national ‘enterprise’, he might want to review episodes of ‘Star Trek’ and do some self-reflecting. The nation needs a Captain Kirk. What it has, instead, is a Mr. Spock.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bennett wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    “I don’t know the answer to NASAs problems but if you take JPL as how a center should work, and MSFC as the poster child of waste and incompetence, some bright administrator should be able to figure out why, and how to get other NASA centers to emulate JPL.”

    two really inspired statements in your post but to be kind I will just comment on the one above…it is really a nice “bookending” of the situation.

    The problem at NASA in almost all its divisions except “uncrewed flight” is that there are so few “projects” that are going on, that what occurs is a rush to get “on the big one” and then since a sort of group think of mediocrity is enforced on the “big ones” sloth sets in.

    Where a fairly good peep into how badly tings were going at NASA could have been seen, and should have been obvious to the last administration was the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The NASA that was revealed in that report was an expose on medeocrity, of group think, of a sort of potemkin village of engineering.

    And someone in the administration should have read this report and said “you think that these people can do squat?”…And basic reforms started on that basis.

    What needs to happen at NASA is that “large projects” multi decade many tens of billions need to end…there is no responsibility in them…and we need to regroup in terms of assignments…and have projects where people can be held accountable for failures.

    JPL has goals and a reasonable number of projects where for the most part people can be held responsible for what they do or dont.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 12:42 am

    “the president wants to go to space age analogies to spark some new national ‘enterprise’, he might want to review episodes of ‘Star Trek’ and do some self-reflecting. The nation needs a Captain Kirk. What it has, instead, is a Mr. Spock.”

    a rare moment of agreement.

    I discribed the speech on my facebook page as Obama sitting in front of the faculty senate acting as Socrates explaining why the hemlock would taste great…

    The GOP response was goofy, but Obama is the leader uber allis and his speech was a tepid mix of “bipartisanship”, “we” , unity etc in an era when we badly need leadership against the direction of the forces (mostly GOP) which got us into this mess.

    Sputnik is a good analogy but it is lost on anyone under 40 (or even 50) and the transformation of the US during the 60′s that spaceflight was a part of…is simply not understood anymore (and thats typical) by most people alive today.

    There would have been away to bring space into this (and doubtless this is where our agreement will end)…he could have pointed out that SpaceX, Virgin etc are the innovators of today…but he didnt and both he and the GOP have the notion that failed industries and agencies must be saved…they just disagree on which failed industries and agencies.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anne Spudis

    DCSCA wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 12:42 am [.....The nation needs a Captain Kirk. What it has, instead, is a Mr. Spock.]

    Don’t you mean it has “Q?”

  • Bennett quoted:

    It’s not a “wise move”, it’s a total fantasy. The DOD has no interest in NASA, and the entrenched management at NASA is in survival mode.

    I scroll past messages posted by the troll you quoted, but I did want to know that the National Aeronautics and Space Act specifically forbids NASA from doing military work, and DOD from doing civilian work. To quote Section 102(b):

    The Congress further declares that such activities shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, a civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States, except that activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States (including the research and development necessary to make effective provision for the defense of the United States) shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, the Department of Defense; and that determination as to which such agency has responsibility for and direction of any such activity shall be made by the President in conformity with section 2471(e).

    It seems that the biggest critics of the current Administration’s space policy are the ones who haven’t read the law — or simply ignore it.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    And someone in the administration should have read this report and said “you think that these people can do squat?”…And basic reforms started on that basis.

    You’re assuming the last administration actually cared. :-)

    The last administration was all about looting the federal treasury for political gain. Reforming NASA was the last thing on their minds.

    The VSE was simply a fig leaf to make it appear Bush was doing something about the CAIB recommendations. As I wrote in this November blog, the scheme was exposed two weeks later when NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe appeared before the Senate Science Committee and presented the infamous Sand Chart showing the Bush Administration had no intention of putting any money into the project, other than to keep funnelling existing pork to the space centers. The first two speakers, John McCain and Bill Nelson, called him out on it, as did many other committee members.

  • Dennis Berube

    I thought the president met Leonard Nimoy one time and shook his hand. Certainly shaking the hand of SPOCK, should have warranted a better space program. You think? Maybe Spock didnt do the mind meld thing on him. NASA should use its funds to get Oriion up and running ASAP, and utilze existing Delta IVs, and or Atlas, to get the ball rolling. We have been stuck in LEO for to long and I for one will actually be glad to see the shuttle go. The machine has done amazing things, no doubt, but as a crew carrier it is very dangerous.

  • Robert G. Oler

    VirgilSamms wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    “What is with this Robert G. Oler? Shouldn’t he be posting on a site that is against space exploration instead of one that is?”

    greetings from Africa where you can tell today that summer is on the way…

    I am for space exploration. I think Cassini and Messenger etc are the wave of the future. I just dont like NASA projects where space exploration is defined as lots of people workingon earth to accomplish almost nothing in space.

    See 10 billion spent on Cx and nothing to show for it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:57 am

    “You’re assuming the last administration actually cared. :-)

    The last administration was all about looting the federal treasury for political gain. Reforming NASA was the last thing on their minds.”

    see you got me on that. well both of them actually.

    I know that it was to much to ask someone in the administration but the one that I sort of thought would read this thing was either Okeefe and then later Griffin…and try and figure out how to fix the agency before starting the new program on the road to oblivion.

    I became (imagine this!) very unpopular here for stating the obvious shortly after Bush’s speech, as Whittingtona nd other Bush lovers were stating the arrivial of the new golden era in human spaceflight by pointing out that the thing was doomed to failure because the same thunderheads that had destroyed Columbia were going to be running the entire go back to the Moon effort…and that nothing had really changed at NASA.

    Then I went overseas for three years and that was that…

    How can one imagine that an agency that at this date allows defective metal into the ET…can do anything like going back tot he Moon (or anything really)?

    Oh well its all ending. Really

    Robert G. Oler

  • Aremis Asling

    “And as a reminder, SpaceX has flown nobody.”

    As a reminder, Ares I/Orion hasn’t flown anyone either. Indeed, unlike Falcon 9, Ares I/Orion hasn’t flown… at all.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    How can one imagine that an agency that at this date allows defective metal into the ET…can do anything like going back tot he Moon (or anything really)?

    Yeah, that really bothers me that after more than 130 missions a tank with structural defects snuck through … And the STS-135 tank might have the same problem.

    It happens in the private sector too, but those who claim that NASA has the moral high ground simply have no credibility.

    Oh well its all ending. Really

    I don’t think it’s “ending” as transmogrify … In five years, we’ll have crew launches from CCAFS, and it’ll be back to the future. Delta at LC-37, SpaceX at LC-40, Atlas at LC-41. It’s going to be very cool.

    Florida Today had this blog post on Monday about leasing KSC facilities once Shuttle ends. I think there will be a certain prestige value for companies, or even other nations, launching from KSC.

    All that’s ending is the government monopoly.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “I discribed the speech on my facebook page as Obama sitting in front of the faculty senate acting as Socrates explaining why the hemlock would taste great”

    The average “laundry list” of things to do in the State of the Union address is 31 items and on average 40% of them see legislation. The President’s list was a three legged stool, innovate, educate, and infrastructure.

    I have no problem with this agenda, but the devil is in the details so will be in a wait and see mode for what congress actually tackles.

    As the Nation’s number one cheer leader and the State of the Union address as the “super bowl” pep rally, I believe the President used the address to make the Nation feel good. Personally, that’s what I want to hear. I want optimism about a better future not a doom and gloom senerio. From the poll numbers I saw after the address the vast majority, 77%, agreed with me and felt better about tomorrow.

  • Joe

    Anne Spudis wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:33 am
    DCSCA wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 12:42 am [.....The nation needs a Captain Kirk. What it has, instead, is a Mr. Spock.]

    Don’t you mean it has “Q?”

    :) :) :) :) :) :)

  • common sense

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:57 am

    “As I wrote in this November blog, the scheme was exposed two weeks later when NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe appeared before the Senate Science Committee and presented the infamous Sand Chart showing the Bush Administration had no intention of putting any money into the project, other than to keep funnelling existing pork to the space centers. The first two speakers, John McCain and Bill Nelson, called him out on it, as did many other committee members.”

    Well, I am not sure I agree with you here. The viewpoint I had, as many others did, is that NASA was tasked to fulfill the VSE with the budget they had. And if you remember O’Keefe’s strategy was the so called spiral plan where technologies are used as they come about. The current FY11 was very similar to that without the ludicrous timeline. So in essence the former WH told NASA “here is your new charter get going” and NASA HSF finally had a new purpose. Then Griffin came on board and that was the end. The WH never said “go to the Moon before the end of the decade and take as much money you can doing it”. Since NASA is priority number whatever the WH probably dropped the ball especially since AL, TX, UT, CO and some others were happy.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:31 am. Not quite. The imperative presented by Mr. Obama was misleading. And savvy space enthusiasts know it. The ‘Sputnik moment’ in 1957 (really it was Sputniks 1 & 2) was little more than a lousy PR scenario –a self-inflicted wound, at least with respect to reaction from the American public and the press at the time.

    http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/2004/3/2004_3_44.shtml

    As we know, Americans could have lofted a satellite at least a year earlier. It’s well documented.

    http://launiusr.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/beginning-project-vanguard/

    And the Soviets had indicated in the IGY circles, plans to attempt to orbit a satellite for the IGY as well. So within the scientific community, it was not a ‘surprise’ or an ‘if’ so much as a ‘when.’

    http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/sputorig.html

    And the recently declassified information, notably summed up for the general public in a 2007 PBS/NOVA titled ‘Sputnik Declassified’ indicate the ‘Sputnik moment’ worked to Eisenhower’s advantage. By lofting Sputnik, the Soviets verified free access to space by their own act, all but voiding any disputes regarding over flight rights and questions of national sovereignty in space and so on– something very much in question in the 1950′s. It also made the later successful flights of then new spy satellite system, known today as ‘Corona,’ that much more legitimate. It was the public and the press that panicked over Sputnik. Eisenhower’s reaction at the time was highly criticized for being far too cool and dismissive, but in fact, it fit with his planning, strategy and goal- pressing on to establish, in secret, a space reconnaissance capability for the U.S.

    @Anne Spudis wrote @ January 26th, 2011 at 6:33 am

    LOL. At least he didn’t go to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Or worse– Star Wars.

  • Aremis Asling

    “The viewpoint I had, as many others did, is that NASA was tasked to fulfill the VSE with the budget they had.”

    Except they didn’t. NASA under Griffin belly-ached about lack of funding from the moment the ink dried on the Cx plans to the day he left the position and the ghosts of Cx NASA kept it going until Obama pulled the plug. Even now I see the “If we’d just funded it, it would have worked” arguments. And that’s exactly, to a tee, why I am thoroughly nervous when NASA comes to congress Re: the new HLV saying “yes, we can do it, but not for that much in that time frame” and congress pulls the same old “you have your orders, now march!” routine. It’s a recipe for disaster and to my recollection has never produced anything but.

    Frankly, I think congress just likes it when they have a whipping boy set out before the inevitable failure.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 10:26 pm
    =sigh= It’s wise, smart, and in the Age of Austerity and consolidation, inevitable; and not with out precedent albeit on a smaller scale. If memory serves, in the 50′s the NRL that worked on Vanguard was essentially a civilian staffed department overseen by the USN– a part of the DoD. You just don’t get it. The DoD salutes, does what it’s told by civilian authority and flies off in it’s Osprey– another item it ‘didn’t want.’

  • Byeman

    What was true in the 50′s is not applicable today. The NRL analogy doesn’t prove anything,

  • common sense

    @Aremis Asling wrote @ January 27th, 2011 at 12:19 am

    “Except they didn’t.”

    I agree I was just saying to Stephen that there never was a notion that the WH would give more money to NASA. O’Keefe had set up an approach that might have worked which essentially FY11. Only in Griffin’s fantasy there was going to be more money.

    Oh well…

    “It’s a recipe for disaster and to my recollection has never produced anything but.”

    If they go SLS and/or Orion it will toll the bell for HSF at NASA. And that’s that. Period. No ifs no buts.

  • Joe

    “Joe wrote @ January 25th, 2011 at 1:04 pm
    A question, if anybody knows the answer. With all the talk of freezes or reductions to nondiscretionalry (non military) spending, does this mean each agency is frozen at (or reduced to) some level or that the overall spending is (and the indivusual agencies might be shifted around within that top level)?”

    I believe I just got an answer to my own question. Speaking on an interview show this morning Speaker of the House Boehner just said that while the overall budget target was 20%, the cuts would not be across the board.

    This is interim good news, while it does not guarantee a good outcome it is certainly a prerequisite to a good outcome.

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