Congress, NASA, White House

A much quieter Florida visit

Just over a year ago President Obama visited the Kennedy Space Center to give a major space policy speech about his vision for NASA’s future in space exploration. Yesterday, the president returned to KSC, a visit originally intended to watch the launch of space shuttle Endeavour on its final mission. Although the launch was scrubbed over three hours before launch, the president still made the stop with his family, spending a couple hours at the Cape before he continued on to Miami for a commencement address.

Yesterday’s stopover, though, was a much lower profile visit. There was no speech or other statement to the media; a handful of pool reporters trailed the president for much of his time at the center. The president apparently didn’t intend to use the visit to make any significant statement about his space policy. In a press conference at KSC about the shuttle launch scrub after the president left, KSC director Bob Cabana offered only general comments about what the president said during his visit. “He was extremely supportive of what we were doing,” Cabana said. “I think it was great that he came down today. I think the family really enjoyed the visit.”

Later, Cabana said, “The president supports our spaceflight program. He’s very supportive of what we’re doing,” adding that the president “is supportive of us building a large rocket and crew vehicle to go beyond our home planet” as well as the commercial crew program. “Everybody that he ran into, he thanked them for what we’re doing,” Cabana said. “He enjoyed his tour and seeing all that he saw, and he wants us to keep doing good things.”

Those comments fell short of some expectations for the president to say more about NASA’s future in a region that is facing the impact of thousands of layoffs when the shuttle program ends later this year. “Obama had a parallel purpose for the trip — to ease the political damage of job losses in the space industry and reaffirm his commitment to space exploration,” POLITICO reported. His visit “highlights the need for the president to mend fences in a state stung by proposed cuts to the space program,” The Hill stated. It’s not clear that his visit did much to ease damage and mend fences.

Both articles noted that President Obama isn’t responsible for the decision to cancel the shuttle (which dates back to the unveiling of President George W. Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration in January 2004), and POLITICO in particular that his space policy isn’t necessarily what one would expect from this White House: “For a president described by Republicans as a big-government liberal, even a socialist, his space policy has cut against the stereotype, experts say.”

However, the issue of jobs on the Space Coast is something that Republicans are likely to bring up in their 2012 campaigns there against both the president and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who will be running for reelection. On the same day as the president’s visit, the campaign of Republican challenger George LeMieux issued a video lambasting Nelson for allowing what it claims will be 23,000 lost jobs when the shuttle ends. “Florida, we have a problem, and his name is Bill Nelson,” read the graphics on the 42-second video, which features no narration or other comments by LeMieux. “Bill Nelson is letting NASA die on his watch.” The campaign, by contrast, positions LeMieux as “a champion for our space program and a defender of our American exceptionalism,” without offering any specifics about what he would do differently.

119 comments to A much quieter Florida visit

  • It’s not clear that his visit did much to ease damage and mend fences.

    He no doubt thought that his mere physical presence would rewoo the voters. Because Obama is awesome.

    And while I’d certainly like to see the end of Bill Nelson’s career, LeMieux is pretty unimpressive.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    “He no doubt thought that his mere physical presence would rewoo the voters. Because Obama is awesome.”

    there is no data to support that statement. You are welcome to your own opinions but dont assume they are more then your fears surfacing

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Obama is awesome. I agree.

    As for Nelson and Lemieux… Well. Maybe Obama did not say anything since Nelson did not even try to support his policy. Why would he do more already? There was a senator who thought that the policy by this WH would not be enacted who followed the steps of Shelby! What else does he deserve than that? Lemieux? You know it means “Thebest” right? Whatever. What would he say better than the usual empty rhetoric? That the space policy and FY11 are the way to go? I’d love to see that but I doubt it. I wonder what Lemieux was doing back when VSE was enacted, Shuttle cancelled and Constellation ruined NASA. Another clown.

  • Apparently some people are sarcasm challenged. Robert is particularly hilarious in that regard.

  • Actually, this is the link I meant to post. Though the other one is probably good, too.

  • I find it laughable that Republicans claim they would somehow save local space worker jobs in the Space Coast. Reps. Adams and Posey have repeatedly voted for bills this year that cut the NASA budget and cut the funding for the jobs program that was going to help transition space workers into new jobs.

    Republican or Democrat, I hope 2012 candidates here in the Space Coast hammer these incumbents with ads documenting their hypocrisy.

  • DCSCA

    “Yesterday, the president returned to KSC, a visit originally intended to watch the launch of space shuttle Endeavour on its final mission. Although the launch was scrubbed over three hours before launch, the president still made the stop with his family, spending a couple hours at the Cape before he continued on to Miami for a commencement address.”

    The schedule of the day was in place and wasn’t going to change on such short notice.

    More disturbing was the post-scrubbing news conference w/Linebaugh, Moss and Cabana, aired on C-SPAN, which had planned to cover, live, the pre-launch prep through launch and ascent to orbit.

    A clearly greying, aging press corp (peppered with a few young reporters) soft-balled questions about Giffords, scheduling matters and the particulars on thermostat/heater problems. one- two, ten or whatever avionics components are suspect. As usual, they patted themselves on the back for doing a ‘great job’ even though they failed to meet schedule and launch on time. Another expensive schedule slippage. The very first question should have been: ‘You’ve had months to verify the systems on this orbiter and have been flying them for three decades. You know the problem areas so why didn’t it launch on schedule, embarrassing yourselves in front of the nation, the world, and the CIC?’ Of course, softballs prevailed. But most alarming were the glossy responses by the three shuttle managers. ‘Great team,’ ‘Great job they did’ etc., was their boasting… except it didn’t work and the scrubbed the launch! And they literally have had months to service and verify the systems and components. These managers have been flying these spacecraft for 30 years; they know the hardware well and the problem areas, as they repeatedly said; and they’ve had APU system bugs since STS-2.

    An excuse given to one of the reporter questions was, essentially, the systems in question worked the last time Endeavour flew, didn’t fail, so they must still work. <– That's Challenger logic. That's the same 'in family' thinking that brought down Columbia. Nothing has changed.

    The problem has not been the aging shuttles. The technology is what it is. The glaring problem remains the decision-making mindset of the space shuttle management process. It obviously hasn't changed much. There's no accountability for incompetence and you can't fire them. It is clear that the only way to sweep mediocre management out of NASA is to end the program that keeps protecting it. The country has moved on from shuttle long ago. High time NASA does as well.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    You should have put the link in your first post though but “I don’t care Obama is still awesome…”

    ;)

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Rand

    The entire internet is sarcasm challenged. Try using italics or something to show you’re using a different “speech” pattern. Otherwise do what I usually do and put “end sarcasm” in parenthesis after your statement. I knew you were sarcastic because I know you to be a conservative and wouldn’t refer to Obama as “awesome.” Rob should have know better too but that’s besides the point.

    @ NObody in particular

    I was kind of expecting some words from Obama. Think maybe he decided his prepared speech wasn’t appropriate for a non-launch? Or maybe there was never going to be a speech… he just wanted to make it look like he wasn’t bummed about not getting an invite to the royal wedding (end sarcasm). I WISH space policy could be a topic of discussion for the 2012 elections and GOP primaries. If they do another youtube debate, space enthusiasts everywhere should submit videos so they might be forced to bring up the issue if they get enough related submissions.

  • Joe

    common sense wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 5:12 pm
    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
    “Obama is awesome. I agree.”

    Do you like have a little statue of Obama at home that you burn incense in front of.

  • Doug Lassiter

    So Lemieux says ““Bill Nelson is letting NASA die on his watch.” Really amusing, given that the NASA budget and appropriation have actually increased regularly. If NASA is dying, the agency is sure doing it in style! Of course, Lemieux is concerned that NASA’s investment in the space coast is dying. That might be a defensible comment, but he should call a spade a spade.

    The presumption that what is called the space coast represents NASA is, in my view, pretty reprehensible. Not a great way for other districts with NASA investment to be supportive of the space coast.

  • ok then

    For all the sturm and drang over space policy. I think this just shows how unconcerned Obama, or most Presidents, are over the details of the policy. SLS and CC are fine with him. He’s on to other matters.

  • Scott Bass

    So far Obama has done just about everything he said he would…. That obviously makes some people mad lol…… But their are exceptions, NASA being one of them….. I do realize many people embrace his new direction but it is not same policy he got elected on….. It still rubs me the wrong way when I think about it but so far their does not seem to be a real alternative for 2012….. Especially since the republicans have decided to make dismantling Medicare part of their platform….. I sure do not see myself voting for that nonsense.
    Looks like 4 more years to me at this point

  • Scott Bass

    …wonder why all my there’s are misspelled lol ….long day

  • GWM

    The endless, mindless wail over “O” killing NASA merely offers succor to those who dare not doubt the honor of their preferred politician. Why the supposedly conservative political faithful would attack what was perhaps one conservative decision of the most uber-pro-government President, escapes me.

  • I knew you were sarcastic because I know you to be a conservative and wouldn’t refer to Obama as “awesome.”

    Well, you know something that is untrue, because I am neither a conservative or a Republican.

  • common sense

    @ Joe wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    “Do you like have a little statue of Obama at home that you burn incense in front of.”

    Nah not really. How about you? Do you have a nice Sidemount mockup you kneel to every morning and night? Is there a chant coming with it too?

  • common sense

    @ Scott Bass wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Wow are you saying there are things somewhat slightly more important than space policy???? Can’t be true. Are you sure? What will happen when all these voters in Florida will have to weigh at election time “the end of NASA” with “the end of Medicare”??? What about Zebigroket? They won’t care you say?

    Anywho.

    What’s the average age of the voters in Florida again? I don’t know. Just asking.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 30th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    well said. Robert G. Oler

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi OT-

    “I think this just shows how unconcerned Obama, or most Presidents, are over the details of the policy. SLS and CC are fine with him. He’s on to other matters.”

    When you’re President, you don’t get to pick and chose which problems come at you, which direction they comet from, or what caused them.

    You may not have noticed, but there was an 8.9 earthquake in Japan, with multiple nuclear reactor failures, and I’m sure that Obama, like every other President for the last 50 years, has been amazed at how much of his time has to be spent dealing with the “middle east”, from which part of the world comes a good part of the oil which drives our own and every one else’s economy on this planet.

    Obama has to work with the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, on a wide variety of issues, and I wouldn’t take it as an indicator of “unconcern” that he did not give a deliver a detailed position statement on space today.

    There are 3 competitors, USA, ULA and SpaceX, for HLV, and two major companies, Boeing and SpaceX, competing for CC, tests occurring shortly.

    Who knows, perhaps Obama may attend the final shuttle landing and say a few words, or perhaps there may be something far more pressing that arrives on his desk that morning.

    Aside from that, have you checked the major scheduled events for that time frame? Or perhaps you are psychic, and can give us all some details of the future events occurring in those days.

    I’m not psychic, but my guess is that the frame of reference for space policy/space politics will change by October

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Florida, we have a problem, and his name is Bill Nelson,” read the graphics on the 42-second video, which features no narration or other comments by LeMieux. “Bill Nelson is letting NASA die on his watch.”

    One thing that Windy is good for – letting us know well in advance the latest round of nonsense that the neo-cons will try to peddle.

    But then I’m getting off message:
    “Florida, we have a problem, and its name is ATK.”
    “ATK will spend enormous amounts of money from arms sales to convince you it’s not their fault.”

    “The campaign, by contrast, positions LeMieux as “a champion for our space program and a defender of our American exceptionalism,”

    The first thing to go is language.

    What the heck is “American Exceptionalism”? AW, do you have any idea?

    What the heck would LeMieux say to the other Representatives and Senators which would suddenly make an ATK 5 seg medium heavy work safely at any reasonable cost?

    I guess you have to say it as simple as possible for folks to understand.

  • Personally, I happen to like both Nelson and Lemieux. They deserve credit for coming up with a reasonable compromise that did not give anyone everything that they want, but does give commercial space a real chance to get it’s foot in the door while providing NASA with BEO human spaceflight capabilities significantly sooner than Constellation would have permitted.

    Senator Nelson and Congresswoman Giffords deserve additional credit.
    In the words of Dumbledore, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

    As for Obama, he has changed his tune on NASA so many times that he makes John Kerry look comparatively steadfast…

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Rand

    My dearest apologies then…. I thought you were on the board of some conservative space policy lobbying group… guess I jumped to some conclusions based on that. Have never heard any of your non-space related political opinions (not that I would have). My apologies for mischaracterizing you and I’ll be careful not to make the same mistake against others in the future.

  • Back in August 2, 2008, Obama gave his speech in Titusville, promsing:

    “We cannot cede our leadership in space. That’s why I will help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn’t suffer when the Shuttle goes out of service by working with Senator Bill Nelson to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight beyond 2010; by supporting continued funding for NASA; by speeding the development of the Shuttle’s successor; and by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the Shuttle is retired – because we cannot afford to lose their expertise.”

    Although not always flawless, in this instance Mark Whittington’s analysis of Obama’s campaign promise was certainly spot-on :

    “Barack Obama’s space flip flop has certainly not come as a result of a change of conviction. Barack Obama’s attitude toward space has been, up to this point, one of unrelenting hostility. That fact may make one suspicious as to whether Barack Obama will follow through should he be elected President.”

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/925423/barack_obama_flip_flops_on_nasa_funding.html?cat=15

  • amightywind

    Friday could not have been a politically profitable day for Obama. First he blew threw Alabama where he got about 4 votes in 2008 and stands to do worse in 2012. Then he headed over to the spacecoast, where he is universally loathed for destroying the space program, to bask in the light of Gabrielle Giffords and the last ATK SRBs. He didn’t even get a photo op there. The shuttle ground crews have obviously grown rusty as the flight rate has declined. Lets hope we can milk a few more months of shuttle program out of these last flights. What else is their to do?

    Nelson Bridwell:

    Thanks for the Whittington post. I wish there were more scrutiny on Obama’s policy reversals. But I think the damage on the spacecoast, Houston, and Utah is already done.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 4:02 am

    Whittington’s analysis is sour. Almost everything Bush did was great; he never told a fib to the American people, it was fine that Scooter actually lied and the economy was wonderful under Bush.

    The converse is accurate with Obama…almost everything he does is bad. Whittington was all cheering Sarah Palin explaining why we needed to go into Libya, now that it has turned into the morass that anyone with half a brain thought it would; he is with Palin demanding “what are we doing there”.

    At one point Whittington thought we could take and garrison Iraq with 50,000 troops and that Cx would work just fine. I dont think he has gotten a thing correct in space (or other) policy since he tagged onto The Weekly Standard piece that I wrote and Kolker edited…which described more or less the space policy that Obama has.

    The piece was published in July 1999…when he didnt like Clinton’s space policy or politics.

    While we are at it, why wont you answer why Cx so far cost about as much as the shuttle to build and more then Gemini to fly and there was no flight worthy hardware? Why wont you answer that question?

    I’ll keep asking it

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Great George LeMieux video! I was taken aback. I think my own words were used by his campaign staff. They are welcome to them. Very effective.

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 1:26 am

    “What the heck is “American Exceptionalism”? AW, do you have any idea?”

    the latest phrase to describe the behavior of the right wing which is like a teenager explaining how their anatomical parts are larger then anyone elses…it is the phrase one uses when there are no other explanations for what one is supporting….hence NASA is part of “American Exceptionalism”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Although not always flawless, in this instance Mark Whittington’s analysis of Obama’s campaign promise was certainly spot-on :

    No, like most of Mark’s analyses, it was idiotic. Obama is not “hostile” to space. He is indifferent to it.

  • ok then

    @ E.P. Grondine

    I wasnt really focused on his lack of a speech. I was commenting on his support for “building a large rocket”. What fight remains will play out in the funding wars. I don’t believe the president will spend any capital to change policy beyond that. Space just doesnt rate further public argument from him.

  • Doug Lassiter

    American exceptionalism is, apparently in the view of George LeMieux, keeping 23,000 space related jobs in Florida instead of putting them somewhere else. That’s Floridan exceptionalism, not American exceptionalism. LeMieux wants to be a champion not for our space program, but for our space program in Florida. That may buy him a Senate seat, but it’s unlikely to buy him anything else.

    LeMieux, in his Senate introduction of the amendment he sponsored last month to call upon NASA to continue Constellation, repeatedly referred to the importance of having NASA follow the “will of Congress” and holding them to “follow the law”. Looking back, that Senate address was somewhat laughable, because few weeks later, the will of Congress formally rescinded that law, at least for FY11 appropriations.

  • common sense

    @amightywind wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 9:43 am

    “Great George LeMieux video! I was taken aback. I think my own words were used by his campaign staff. They are welcome to them. Very effective.”

    Speaks volume about LeMieux incompetency! Thanks for acknowledging it.

  • Scott Bass

    While on politics, I recommend viewing the whole media dinner last night, I am sure it’s on YouTube somewhere…. It was pretty funny and trump got hammered pretty hard. I’ll tie it in to this thread by saying the moon was mentioned ;)

  • Guest

    Mr. Lemieux was Gov. Charlie Crist’s Chief of staff for the 3 1/2 years (2007-2010) where there was still time for something to be done to draw in new work or set up some kind of response plan. What happened was that the entire space issue was turned over to a friend of Tom Ridge’s that Jeb Bush had hired – and nothing was done, in spite of repeated pleas by Space Coast elected officials and business groups. Nobody even talked to USA for three years.

    But don’t take my word for it – Florida has a very expansive government in the sunshine law. Mr. Lemieux and others in the Governor’s undoubtedly received a number of emails and letters on this point which should be available upon request. I presume his primary opponents are already doing so.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Back in August 2, 2008, Obama gave his speech in Titusville, promsing:

    “We cannot cede our leadership in space. That’s why I will help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn’t suffer when the Shuttle goes out of service by working with Senator Bill Nelson to add at least one additional Space Shuttle flight beyond 2010; by supporting continued funding for NASA; by speeding the development of the Shuttle’s successor; and by making sure that all those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the Shuttle is retired – because we cannot afford to lose their expertise.””

    “Barack Obama’s space flip flop has certainly not come as a result of a change of conviction.”

    How about the current disruption arose out of ATK’s effort to block DIRECT, and their effort to insist that NASA had to buy their Ares 1 launcher, which rocket could not provide safe, adequate, and affordable launches.

    “Barack Obama’s attitude toward space has been, up to this point, one of unrelenting hostility.”

    Except that Obama supports manned BEO space flight, when many in his party would just as soon see it stopped entirely.

    “That fact may make one suspicious as to whether Barack Obama will follow through should he be elected President.”

    My guess is that Gration probably would have made a fine NASA Administrator.

  • DCSCA

    @Nelson Bridwell wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 4:02 am

    The poor performance by shuttle management on April 29 reinforces President Obama’s decision to modify his space policy. And NASA brought it on themselves. The space agency as configured needs a serious house cleaning. It would be disasterous to reward it by permitting the kind of mediocre management culture from shuttle to migrate and infect another 30 year program such as Constellation or anything close to it. The entrenched resistence of NASA shuttle management culture to change in the face of two disasterous losses was on display in microcosm last Friday when, with literally months to prepare, repair and verify shuttle systems, NASA again failed to meet a scheduled launch date. Worse, they made excuses for same as they very publicly patted themselves on the back for doing a ‘good job’ with ‘great teams’– yet failed as Endeavour’s launch was scrubbed w/the CIC, the nation and the world looking in.

    The problem at the space agency is not the technology. It is what it is. And after 30 years of flying it, they know the vehicles, their systems, and the trouble areas within them. The problem is the management operating ther space shuttle program. They resist change and you can’t fire them for incompetence. Hence the only way to clean house is to end the program with a bureaucratic culture that protects them.

  • “Obama is not “hostile” to space. He is indifferent to it.”

    My guess is that Obama also harbors a cultural hostility. I have never been able to find out exactly what is the issue, but I suspect it could be for the same reason that Bolden said in an interview that when he was young, he never wanted to be an astronaut because “they were all white.”

    If you identify with people who are at the lower end of the income spectrum, and have lots of basic needs, it would be only human to resent a program that spends billions and accomplished nothing to help your people.

    When you look over Obama’s 2007 campaign promise to put Constellation on hold for 5 years in order to boost funding for early childhood education (i.e. Head Start), using “fiscal responsibility” as a flimsy excuse, my guess is that was an attempt to take the black vote away from Clinton.

    In any case, that was not a pro-commercial-space maneouver. It was not a spend-more-on-science-misisons maneouver. It was not a save-the-earth maneouver. It was purely an anti-manned-space-flight maneouver.

    When you combine that with his Feb 2, 2010 proposal to bring to an end all real plans for BEO missions, only allowing commercial into LEO, his decision to visit KSC on tax day, April 15th, and his ADA attempts to put as many NASA contractors out of work as possible, in clear contradiction to his campaign promise, it is not entirely impossible to get the clear impression that he is hostile to American manned space exploration.

    This was not accidental. It was not coincidence. It was pure and simple contempt.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi guest –

    “What happened was that the entire space issue was turned over to a friend of Tom Ridge’s that Jeb Bush had hired – and nothing was done, in spite of repeated pleas by Space Coast elected officials and business groups. Nobody even talked to USA for three years.”

    I think that everyone involved expected ATK’s rocket to work, and to be delivered on time, or at least sometime close to on time. Griffin probably hoped to transfer the shuttle refurbishment team over to other work.

    I don’t know if I have Mark Wade’s initial forecast of the Ares 1 problems lying around, but it turned out to be extremely accurate.

    While Democratic supporters’ hired investigators may focus on Tom Ridge, hoping to find some dirt they can hand off and hand out on a person they may view as a future opponent, my guess is that they won’t have too much success, but that is just my guess.

    Tracking the Republican supporters’ hiring of investigators and their actions may prove to be more lucrative for the Democrats and more rewarding for them politically.

    As we all know, and sad to say it, but most journalists today can not investigate their way out of a paper bag, and rely on what’s handed to them.. the internet hits the paper press, and for all of their intelligence, they are reeling

    The reported ATK lobbying “investment” appears to be too low by almost an order of magnitude. If one looks at their expenditures over time…???

    I will not try to forecast the 2012 elections, as 2012 is a long way off, and many things will happen between now and then, including on space issues.

    Some of the “exploration enthusiasts” here have been demanding yet another instruction from the Congress to NASA to deal with the impact hazard.

    Okay, you want yet a third act of Congress on this? I guess you’re going to have to get one, but damn I’m tired, worn out, and limping along here…

  • ok then

    *My guess is that Obama also harbors a cultural hostility. “”

    –@Nelson Bridwell

    That’s ridiculous. Obama has increased research funding across the board and I’m sure you’ll find a great many white faces in those other communities as well. Obama also tried to give NASA a funding bump, though not as significant as the non-NASA increases. It’s obvious that, as he has said, R&D is an activity he sees as beneficial. And it appears to be regardless of the # of black faces in the work force.

    Try your race baiting somewhere else.

  • Coastal Ron

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Yikes, what a rant. It’s interesting to watch you careen from sober professor to, well, it’s hard to describe the color and kind of muck you’re throwing around in that post. I can’t do anything about your perceived racial biases, but I will take a stab at your faulty description of the current space program.

    It was purely an anti-manned-space-flight maneouver.

    You would have to be completely ignorant of the facts to make this kind of description, because it ignores the vast number of conspirators that would have to be involved, including a majority in Congress.

    Bush cancelled the Shuttle, and Congress agreed. Congress overwhelmingly agreed with Obama that Constellation was a fiscal fiasco, and cancelled it. Congress also agreed that commercial crew was the primary method of supporting the ISS. How does that make Obama anti space?

    In fact the first Obama budget request asked for $6B MORE money for NASA, and it was Congress that didn’t provide the extra money (for many reasons both good and bad). But yet you read conspiracy in asking for more money?

    But here is a simple test – count up the number of flights and space-man-hours the four-mission Constellation program would have done, and then count up the number of flights and space-man-hours the ISS will require from 2016 and on. You’ll find, by a large margin, that we are traveling to space more often, and spending more time working, AFTER the Constellation program has been cancelled.

    Although I know your definition of “space program” means going to the Moon, and nothing else is worthwhile. But that’s your problem.

    When you combine that with his Feb 2, 2010 proposal to bring to an end all real plans for BEO missions

    You mean bring an end to fake dates to go back to the Moon? Why do so many people like to believe the lie, but ignore the truth? Constellation was not getting to the Moon until the mid-2030′s at the earliest, missing by far the “aspirational” 2020 date listed in the VSE. That means 20 years of nothing to do in space – how is that good?

    But you “Moon or bust” types ignore that instead of building 100% disposable space systems, we should instead be building reusable transportation systems that can get us to the Moon, or anywhere, in a less costly fashion. In fact the irony is that we’ll likely go back to the Moon quicker without the Constellation program than with it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    When you combine that with his Feb 2, 2010 proposal to bring to an end all real plans for BEO missions

    1. pet peeve: it’s beyond LEO, not BEO (beyond Earth orbit). The moon is in Earth orbit, not beyond it.
    2. The proposal did end real plans for exploration, but only because HLV research was offered to MSFC as a sop. MSFC is the main problem, not JSC but of course they brought what happened on their own heads by siding with MSFC. Pourquoi mourir pour Huntsville I’d ask, but apparently KBH had her reasons.

    only allowing commercial into LEO

    This is not anti-manned spaceflight, it is anti Shuttle political industrial complex. You are again using terms inaccurately, and no doubt deliberately so.

    , his decision to visit KSC on tax day, April 15th, and his ADA attempts to put as many NASA contractors out of work as possible, in clear contradiction to his campaign promise, it is not entirely impossible to get the clear impression that he is hostile to American manned space exploration.

    No, again you are using terms inaccurately. He struck a blow against the shuttle political industrial complex, not against manned spaceflight.

    But at least it’s now clear what your real problem is, you are sour about job losses in the shuttle industrial complex and are trying to misrepresent the situation as a blow to manned spaceflight in order to drum up support for parochial and selfish interests.

  • When you look over Obama’s 2007 campaign promise to put Constellation

    That wasn’t a “campaign promise,” and there’s no evidence that Obama himself was even aware of it. Why do you make things up?

    Oh, that’s right. Because reality doesn’t support your delusions.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Scott Bass – it absolutely matches up with the policy he got elected on. Point to something in his final position (either the white paper or his Titusville speech) that would demonstrate otherwise

    Nelson Bridwell – The amount of crap in your 4:28 post is incredible. I should respond to it, because it is over the top to the point of insulting, but I don’t have the energy nor the time right now

  • amightywind

    What the heck is “American Exceptionalism”? AW, do you have any idea?

    Talk about trolling! ‘American Exceptionalism’ is that special swagger that comes with being the greatest nation on the earth. I personally think it goes back to John Quincy Adams and the Monroe doctrine. NASA is an important part of this. How can’ you watch 2000 ton shuttle launch and not think this country is exceptional? Every 30 years or so when the electorate dallies with the wine sippers on the left, the nation will naturally and briefly lose its mojo. It happened under Wilson, FDR, Johnson, Carter, and now Obama. We cannot be surprised since we knowingly elected a transnational from with a well known history of anti-Americanism. It is nothing more that a new generation of GOP leaders and an election can’t cure. Happy May Day socialists.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Nelson Bridwell wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    “My guess is that Obama also harbors a cultural hostility. I have never been able to find out exactly what is the issue, but I suspect it could be for the same reason that Bolden said in an interview that when he was young, he never wanted to be an astronaut because “they were all white.””

    the entire post referenced above is racist. Or completely stupid…but in any respect it has no place in considered discussion.

    There is NOTHING in Obama’s actions, that have any hint of cultural hostility and you even use Charlie’s line more or less out of context. Almost your entire post is “my guess”…meaning that what you are doing is letting your preconceived fears and notions of how different races grow up to color your thoughts. It would be analogous to me saying that you are a NASA toady in your post because you are a white guy and love it when white guys do well.

    I grew up adoring the effort to land people on the Moon, I have the op eds to show for it approving of the transition from expendables to shuttle, support for the shuttle program, support for the space station program….UNTIL over a period of time because of non performance by NASA, overruns on all those programs, the deaths of 14 astronauts and goofy performance period…I changed my mind, to where the only disagreement with Obama’s policy is where he started to compromise with the status quo forces.

    Indeed I have along with Rich Kolker (and Whittington simply tagged along) a Weekly Standard piece on July 1999 detailing how to evolve the space program, to what Obama is more or less proposing.

    When Bush proposed his Cx program I said it wouldnt work, that it would fail and how…the folks here, including Whittington and Keith C from NASA watch and a lot of other people ascribed that to “bush hate”…but in the end I was dead on and they were completely wrong.

    I am white, born in Texas grew up in the 1960′s south…so what are my cultural bias?

    People can have different opinions then the one I have or the one you have…but in the end those opinions should be based on facts and performance. Two things indicate when they arenot…

    the first is when (and you do this) people will not explain facts and performance that are injurious to the cause they promote and two when (and you did this in your post) people, having run out of facts, start attributing the thoughts of others to cultural bias or some other external reason; when there is no clear evidence of that.

    This is your version of the birther scam. It is a lot of “my guess” masquerading as facts and being presented as facts…when all it does is show ignorance or some “ism” that really has no place in modern society.

    If you want to disagree with the policy do so…but try please try because you almost never do, do so on the facts. Answer some hard questions…why did Cx need to consume 12 billion dollars to do what SpaceX will do on under 1 billion or not even close to what Gemini did on 5 billion?

    instead of being racist answer that simple question and stop the slide you have going into irrelevance.

    I supported John S. McCain in 08, contributed money to his campaign, raised money for his campaign, and I dont like a lot of things Obama has done…I am mystified about what he is doing in Libya…but when I engage his policies and politics I do it on the facts. I did that with Mr. Bush. And I thought he was an idiot.

    Try and do better or just stop.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Griffin probably hoped to transfer the shuttle refurbishment team over to other work.

    I doubt it. I think he wanted to be rid of them.

  • Scott Bass

    Ferris, I don’t think it is necessary to rehash all of that but the white paper I read pretty much said in black and white that Obama supported Constellation and the return to the moon…… Now there have been arguments made in his defense that a leader has to be free to change their minds as the facts warrant…… But there is no doubt about the wording of his preselection policy.

  • Scott Bass

    Ferris…. Just to refresh your memory, here is a link to this sites coverage of the white paper from 2008 http://www.spacepolitics.com/2008/08/17/obamas-detailed-space-policy/

    Time does not change history for those paying attention as it happened

  • Regarding the 2008 white paper … An insider told me that once Obama won, his transition team started meeting with NASA staff who told them to start looking at Constellation, which was a disaster. That led to the Augustine Committee which led to the end of Constellation.

    The Constellation Ares I wasn’t going to fly to the ISS until 2017. Constellation was going to be funded by decommissioning ISS in 2015. Therefore there was no “business case” for Constellation, as the GAO put it.

    Furthermore, the first lunar flight under Constellation wasn’t going to be until 2028 at the earliest, if ever.

    Obama did the right thing by killing off Constellation. When the white paper was issued, his team didn’t know all this because no one had really done an independent review of this debacle. Once they did, Obama found the only real solution for reducing the “gap” and reliance on Russia, which is commercial space.

    Credit Obama with doing the right thing, never mind what an obsolete white paper said. That’s why we elect Presidents — and doing the right thing makes him a great President.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I personally think it goes back to John Quincy Adams and the Monroe doctrine. NASA is an important part of this.

    NASA was created under the Monroe doctrine? Windy is “spinning out of control” again!

    How can’ you watch 2000 ton shuttle launch and not think this country is exceptional?

    Aww, I bet you cry every time, don’t you? Do you need the approval of others to feel like your pitiful life has some pittance of value? That you have a modicum of “exceptionalism”?

    Recently NASA TV had a nice in-depth tour of the Shuttle launch pad as they were getting ready for STS-134′s launch. Wow, what a massive amount of infrastructure it takes to deliver a 15,000 lb payload to the ISS. That to me is not exceptionalism, but a huge waste of money.

    But is wasting money what you call American Exceptionalism? If so, then that would make sense, since those them promulgate that weird concept want America to spend money on things that are generally puffery, and don’t add value for most citizens. Luckily airheads like that are not the norm (although there are too many of them).

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Ferris, I don’t think it is necessary to rehash all of that but the white paper I read pretty much said in black and white that Obama supported Constellation and the return to the moon…

    no it said a shuttle successor Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Scott – point to one sentence in there that has the words Ares I, Ares V, Orion, or Altair. And the only reference to Constellation is that it is the current program of record.

    You WON’T find it.

    No promises were broken

  • Coastal Ron

    Scott Bass wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    But there is no doubt about the wording of his preselection policy.

    Thanks for the link to Space Politics article about this. Although all I see is that Obama “endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars.” Endorses means that from what the Bush Administration is saying, yeah sure, it sounds good.

    But also remember at that time that all we heard out of the Bush Administration and NASA was that everything was hunky dory on Constellation, and that both the GAO and the Augustine commission later said that the program lacked a clear business case, and was unaffordable. Congress even agreed with that assessment when they followed Obama’s recommendation that the Constellation program be cancelled.

    The VSE 2020 Moon date was an aspiration, not a law (who you going to arrest – Griffin?). And the funny thing is, that when commercial crew gets established, NASA could still get to the Moon by 2020 using commercial crew & cargo services – SLS certainly won’t be ready by then, and I doubt Congress will have found enough money to build an SLS-sized payload by that time either, so commercial could be the quickest way for NASA. A public-private mission to the Moon!

  • DCSCA

    @Nelson Bridwell wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    You’re venting accusations in the wrong direction. The problem is within NASA’s organizational structure, not within the White House. Frustrated Americans of sound mind usually hold ‘contempt’ for incompetent management and expect some level of accountability. Strongly suggest you listen carefully to the patter and patterns exposed in some of these shuttle manager briefings. It’s alarming- and pathetic– and a reason why NASA’s HSF program will be truncated for some years to come. It is clear, even in the face of two very expensive and deadly disasters, the HSF management structure and ‘in family’ culture has remained relatively closed and self-perpetuating, as well as self-congratulating, even in the face of blatant failure. Case in point: there is simply no excuse for STS-134 not to have been ready to launch on April 29. None. Yet with 30 years of shuttle flight experience, NASA still makes them. The management problems at NASA have been allowed to fester for three decades. And as timing would have it, it fell to this president on his watch to finally lance the boil. It is long overdue.

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…” -Shakespeare

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    EP:What the heck is “American Exceptionalism”? AW, do you have any idea?

    AW: “American Exceptionalism” is that special swagger that comes with being the greatest nation on the Earth

    There are a lot of people who might point out to you that unfortunately in some specific areas the US is no longer the greatest nation on the Earth.

    But that is aside the point here. The US can not maintain am international leadership role in space by wasting money trying to make a less than best rocket from ATK fly. It was interesting to hear the Chinese space leadership say that they could not match SpaceX’s launch prices, so let’s hope Musk’s effort meets with success. I’m pretty sure Commercial Crew is going to improve ULA’s launch vehicles as well.

    AW – How can’ you watch 2000 ton shuttle launch and not think this country is exceptional?

    The power of any rocket launch is impressive, depending on how close you are to it. In the case of the shuttle, the power is so great that you do not have to be that close – the ground shakes.

    Its similar to war, in that war is also impressive, at least at first…

    Even remembering the Challenger and Columbia launches while watching a shuttle launch will just serve to make that launch more “exciting”, and the relief following a successful launch warms the cockles of the heart.

    Yes, you’re proud of the power and the bravery.

    But after you been around large rockets for a bit, sometime after the launch you remember that that power could have been used to launch 70 tons of payload instead of 20. And then when you think about the lost crews, and their families and friends, its not exactly “excitement” that you feel.

    That said, I don’t think any other nation on the Earth could have 3 teams competing on 70 ton HLVs, with one of them largely privately financed, and at the same time developing 2 LEO manned craft, again with one of the largely privately financed.

    But you have to watch out, as pride can lead to hubris.

    That said, I’m surprised no one here has accused me of being a megalomaniac for telling you that yet another set of instructions to deal with the impact hazard will be issued to NASA by the Congress before the end of the year, since that seems to be necessary.

  • chance

    “Friday could not have been a politically profitable day for Obama.”

    No, but after Sunday night, re-election looks pretty likely. It’s his to lose now.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    DCSCA wrote …

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Cheers.

  • “American exceptionalism” is one of those buzz phrases currently being used by certain Republicans to dim-witted to think for themselves so they parrot what’s handed them by GOP spinmeisters. Rep. Sandy Adams, whose district includes KSC, used it recently in a press release smearing Obama over commercial space:

    Throughout history, scientific exploration has been a hallmark of the great nations — the ones that led. But once again, the Obama Administration’s budget willingly ceded that leadership to China, Russia and India — countries that understand the importance of human space exploration. We cannot continue to accept this administration’s assault on American exceptionalism and world leadership.

    The irony is that the phrase “American exceptionalism” was coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929, deriding the notion that U.S. capitalism was immune to a communist revolution. It goes to show you what mindless parrots they are.

  • The irony is that the phrase “American exceptionalism” was coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929, deriding the notion that U.S. capitalism was immune to a communist revolution.

    The concept of American exceptionalism goes all the way back to de Tocqueville. Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia. Of course, unsurprisingly, abreakingwind doesn’t understand what it means, either.

  • Vladislaw

    From spaceDOTcom:

    “The postponed launch of the space shuttle Endeavour on Friday (April 29) was not only disappointing for the thousands of spectators that flocked to the Florida coast to see the historic liftoff; the delay also carries a large price tag, NASA officials say.

    “It’s the cost of propellant,” NASA spokesman Allard Beutel told SPACE.com. “We capture most of the propellant back, and recycle it and use it again, but some of it gets boiled off. The propellant is really the cost.”

    Ground crews had to drain the propellant from the shuttle’s massive external fuel tank. Beutel estimates that this de-tanking process costs approximately $500,000. NASA now expects the next launch of Endeavour to occur no earlier than May 8. [Photos: Shuttle Endeavour's Final Voyage]
    …..
    A recent study of 30-year space shuttle program concluded that once the program retires this year, NASA will have spent nearly $200 billion on its 135 space shuttle missions. NASA’s first shuttle flight, STS-1, launched on April 12, 1981. Endeavour’s upcoming flight is dubbed the STS-134 mission. One more mission, STS-135, is scheduled to fly in late June aboard the shuttle Atlantis.

    The recent analysis, performed by science policy expert Roger Pielke Jr., and research associate Radford Byerly, concluded that the average cost of a NASA space shuttle flight is about $1.2 billion once lifetime costs of the reusable orbiter fleet are factored in.”

    So much for the 200 million per flight for the STS. Bottom line, after 30 years it was costing the American taxpayer 1.2 billion per launch. NASA was never about bringing down the launch costs. Like big pharma, they do not want to cure the disease, they want to manage it. NASA didn’t want to cure the disease of high launch costs, they wanted to service it.

    SpaceX cost to launch F9 and 7 people to LEO 140 million?
    SpaceX cost to launch two F9′s and 40 tons to LEO 106 million?

  • Vladislaw

    My apologies, forgot the link:

    Endeavour’s Shuttle Launch Delay Comes with Large Price Tag

    For the price of 4 shuttle launches, roughly 5 billion, 28 people to LEO and 120 tons of cargo.

    SpaceX prices would have put, 112 people into LEO for 2.2 billion and put 460 tons of cargo into LEO for 2.7 billion.

    Why is this even a conversation anymore?

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 1st, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “NASA was created under the Monroe doctrine? Windy is “spinning out of control” again!”

    Ah come on! That’s when he’s at his best! I like it. It’s great. Keep it up amightywind! Keep it up!

  • Scott Bass

    Just to be clear, I made no claims beyond President Obama did endorse returning to the moon by 2020 in that white paper, as was noted by the editor it may have been politically motivated to get votes at the time but regardless you can not say that that policy jibes with the one that he came up with after he took office.

    Again I am not saying in this thread whether or not his decision was right, I am just saying it is different, it’s simply turning a blind eye to say it was not.

    People who did let the white paper influence their vote were not necessarily constellation supporters, they may have just been moon return supporters and would have embraced any changes Obama saw fit to implement so long as it stayed on the core task of a lunar return. So that one endorsement in the white paper was completely scrapped after the election. That’s all I am saying so don’t try to connect dots that were not there… I admit poor wording by calling constellation by name in my initial post.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 11:20 am

    someone else wrote:
    “The irony is that the phrase “American exceptionalism” was coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929, deriding the notion that U.S. capitalism was immune to a communist revolution.”

    “The concept of American exceptionalism goes all the way back to de Tocqueville.”

    Yes but the problem is that de Tocqueville would not recognize how the phrase is being used today. It is one of those things that the “far right” of the GOP has morphed into meaning something completely different.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7545406.html

    a good read quoting some interesting people! The shuttle huggers are doing a big GRRRRRR

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Scott Bass wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    “That’s all I am saying so don’t try to connect dots that were not there… I admit poor wording by calling constellation by name in my initial post.”

    Maybe, just maybe, if you were trying for clarity then people would not be misconstrued.

    Now are you saying your vote was influenced by the white paper on space policy? If so I am not that surprised of all your usual comments. I am glad it is very important in your eyes but it influenced your vote? You know what they say? We have the democracy we deserve.

    On the other hand I am glad there is no white paper (that I know of anyway) on baseball or football or even basketball policy. I can see how fun our government would be then.

    Come to think of it…

  • amightywind

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/7545406.html

    “The difference between a pipe dream and his vision,” said one of those workers, spokeswoman Kirstin Brost, “is that he’s figured out a way to pay the bills in the meantime.”

    I worked for a company like that before the dot com bubble burst. Then end can come surprisingly swiftly. The CEO didn’t seem so visionary when other people’s money dried up. At least they admit that SpaceX’s ‘low costs’ are due to Musk’s willingness to burn cash. They don’t really have a better, cheaper idea.

  • Scott Bass

    Yes, space policy influenced my vote…… I take the future of human space flight very seriously and it is at least the equal of other issues of the day……. I do realize that is not true for most folks out there, but it is part of who I am, I don’t follow NASA as a curiosity, I deeply care about it’s direction and future

  • At least they admit that SpaceX’s ‘low costs’ are due to Musk’s willingness to burn cash. They don’t really have a better, cheaper idea.

    If they have low costs, what difference does it make how they get it? And if the costs are low, how is it not cheaper?

    What a moron.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I worked for a company like that before the dot com bubble burst. Then end can come surprisingly swiftly.

    While yours is not a unique story, the difference is that Musk actually thrived during that period by selling his first company in 1999 for $307M, and the same year starting the company that became PayPal and was sold in 2002 for $1.5B. Regardless what you think of SpaceX, the man knows how to start and run companies successfully, even is hard economic times.

    At least they admit that SpaceX’s ‘low costs’ are due to Musk’s willingness to burn cash.

    The efficient use of capital is not the same as “burning cash”. Elon Musk has turned $200M of investor money into $3B of customer backlog, and SpaceX has been profitable since 2007.

    If you look at their major capital outlays, you’ll notice that they look for bargains where they can. For instance, that Chron article says they were looking at California and New Mexico for engine test sites, but they chose the Texas site because it had the infrastructure left over from Beal Aerospace. Their L.A. factory is an old 747 structures assembly plant, and their Florida launch site uses a 2nd hand oxygen tank.

    Unlike startups back in Dot-com bubble, SpaceX is clearly using their money wisely, has paying customers, and is using disruptive technology to their advantage. In a market with plenty of supply (i.e. choices), the only way they can grow their backlog is by being a real company that stands up to customer scrutiny. No doubt challenges lie ahead, but so far they are doing all the right things to be successful in the long run. Galling, isn’t it? ;-)

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Apparently, neither do you. It’s a fallacy. There’s no such thing as ‘American exceptionalism.’ Ask a Roman- if you can find one.

  • Vladislaw

    Musk didn’t burn through anything even close to what Griffin and NASA burned through on Constellation, I guess “they don’t really have a better, cheaper idea.”

    Musk actually got some orbital launches, Constellation gave us nothing, no low costs, hell not even a functional rocket after 7 years and 10 billion.

    I will go with the SpaceX model.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 2nd, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Yes I will as well. My only concern, voiced by others, is the ability of SpaceX to pull everything together. They seem to be juggling a lot of balls in the air and my only worry is whether they can keep it together. So far so good however.
    And I just love the way they keep talking about making humanity a multi-world species. Even if the timeframe is out a bit, just keeping on talking about it means that it’s in people’s minds and the more real it seems.
    I’ve a view that the whole idea of ‘rocket science’ being hard has distinctly skewed the space business in everyone’s mind and made high cost seem somehow acceptable. It might be difficult but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has to be over-the-top expensive.
    Just my 2CW.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Scott Bass

    Just to be clear, I made no claims beyond President Obama did endorse returning to the moon by 2020 in that white paper, as was noted by the editor it may have been politically motivated to get votes at the time but regardless you can not say that that policy jibes with the one that he came up with after he took office.

    I submit that it does jibe – a lunar return is still in the possiblities (although the more Congress pushes on the issue of SLS, the more unlikely it gets)

    I will grant he didn’t put the moon on the critical path, per se, but nothing he did rules out a return to the moon (particularly if we had embraced the 2011 budget – the further we get from that, the further away a lunar mission is). True, we weren’t going there with Constellation, but that was never gonna happen

  • Bennett

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote

    “…the whole idea of ‘rocket science’ being hard has distinctly skewed the space business in everyone’s mind and made high cost seem somehow acceptable. It might be difficult but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has to be over-the-top expensive.”

    Wow, that nails it! This is the paradigm that the big aerospace contractors are fighting hard to protect. That, and the government has to pay me for the work (at a profit) and then guarantee me a massive profit beyond that…

    If SpaceX can end THAT nonsense, we actually have a chance to see real progress towards space faring in my son’s lifetime.

  • Dennis Berube

    I think the danger in this is if SpaceX has a rocket failure. If they can keep their eye on the ball and produce a series of successes, then they will be on their way. One disaster and everyone watching, including Congress will begin to question commercial spaceflight.

  • Ferris Valyn

    I think the danger in this is if SpaceX has a rocket failure. If they can keep their eye on the ball and produce a series of successes, then they will be on their way. One disaster and everyone watching, including Congress will begin to question commercial spaceflight.

    Only if you insist on living by the false paradigm of Commercial Spaceflight = SpaceX. It does not.

    We have 2 decent commercial rockets already in operation, that multiple users will be using – Atlas V & Delta IV.

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 am

    “I think the danger in this is if SpaceX has a rocket failure. If they can keep their eye on the ball and produce a series of successes, then they will be on their way. One disaster and everyone watching, including Congress will begin to question commercial spaceflight.”

    Even though unfair it is a very valid and legitimate concern. And I believe that SpaceX is fully aware of that.

    Now unlike what we read from the detractors it is in our full interest, not just theirs (SpaceX), that they succeed. Because think for one minute of the repercussions of a failure. That might put CCDev and CRS and COTS on hold, indefinitely. Note that a protest from Aerojet would put SLS on hold indefinitely. SLS which already has too tiny a budget to ever see the light of day would die even faster.

    So if we take our eye off the ball and SpaceX has a failure you better believe that we will be flying Soyuzes for years, if not decades to come.

    Think about this.

    And no SLS does not have enough budget, neither does MPCV. For once I’d love to see people try and understand what the Augustine Committee said about that.

  • common sense

    @ Ferris Valyn wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 11:47 am

    “Only if you insist on living by the false paradigm of Commercial Spaceflight = SpaceX. It does not.

    We have 2 decent commercial rockets already in operation, that multiple users will be using – Atlas V & Delta IV.”

    Ferris, this time Dennis is correct. It is not about the actual capabilities we have or whether it is fair to expect a possible failure or any rational thinking. It is about the perception that every thing commercial hinges on with SpaceX. Remember the “hobbyist rocket” comments inside Congress. They did not say that it included ULA or Boeing two of the main space vehicle providers for the past many decades. It would only be a pretext for those people to show how unsafe commercial is and blablahblah…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 am

    “I think the danger in this is if SpaceX has a rocket failure. If they can keep their eye on the ball and produce a series of successes, then they will be on their way. One disaster and everyone watching, including Congress will begin to question commercial spaceflight.”

    this is an unknown so reasonable minds can differ. I use to say that the shuttle would not survive one loss, imagine my surprise when it managed two…

    I agree that a “ball of fire” will be bad but a lot of how the recovery occurs will depend on 1) how the thing happened and 2) where we are in time.

    If “the thing” occurred because of obvious cost cutting or carelessness, it is not fair but while NASA could get away with this a company providing the service probably will not be able to. However we are approaching a time in history when “the damage” will only be to a single company.

    Before to much longer it is simply not going to be possible to continue forward with a shuttle derived system, in fact we might be there…this is why the rumors of a Senate Launch systems config have it being more or less being made up of “parts on hand”.

    Again one hopes we are not going to have any failures, much less “soon” but I have a feeling we will walk past those and be a lot smarter on the other side.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Common Sense – I agree this is a perception issue.

    And that means its not a real issue, and that people who are against commercial spaceflight are perpetuating a false meme, that needs to be pushed back on. And that people making such claims (IE if SpaceX fails it means we need to start looking at lot closer at Commercial Spaceflight) are at best ill informed, and at worst, lying.

    And thats where things stand

  • Dennis Berube

    I truly hope that SpaceX can succeed and will make a reasonable profit, to muster in competitive spaceflight cost. I do understand how Musk wants to prove himself, but I think he should concentrate on one fish at a time. Get Falcon 9 and Dragon going first, and then worry about Falcon heavy. He has alot of fish in his basket. IM not saying he cant do it, but I hope his focus doesnt get muddled down with to many ideas at first. I truly hope his Falcon heavy is successful too. Cant wait to see the launch. Also while we do have Delta and Atlas, the cost of utilizing one of those rockets still cant compare to Falconheave if successful. There i still a BIG IF on the horizon. When does the second Dragon fly?

  • Vladislaw

    Well I hope we start seeing more of this in the news and our politicians actually take note.

    NASA Considering Gas Stations in Space

    Once the public is made to realize that gas stations in space is the way to go maybe we can break the Apollo cargo cult. ( Rand is dead on with this)

    Sierra Nevada Details Drop Plan For Dream Chaser

    Would WK2 have the ability to carry a vehicle and the fuel it needs for orbital?

    Burt Rutan and T/space had proposed something like this, they used a 4 person capsule and a carrier plane.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Would WK2 have the ability to carry a vehicle and the fuel it needs for orbital?

    No, it would not

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Berube wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    You are mixing up things. Why would you think SpaceX does? So far they are following their plan rather well and accurately: F1, F9, Dragon, and possibly F9H. It seems to me you still feel they are a bunch of newbies. Some are for sure but others are not. If “space is hard” how would you explain a bunch of newbies having such a success when the real experienced people cannot? Please.

    Your original question was a legitimate one though. But it has nothing to do with LV development. Every one knows in this business that the rocket WILL fail at some point. Your question only, ONLY, has to do with SpaceX and its detractors. The very same people claiming small government say under the cover of national security bravo-sierra that this is why it is NASA that must do this work and oppose commercial and NASA. They equate commercial with SpaceX, despite all the others including Boeing!

    It is all about cash and where cash goes. Nothing else! Make sure you really, I mean really, understand that.

    Check their website for the next flight…

  • common sense

    @Ferris Valyn wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    “And that means its not a real issue, and that people who are against commercial spaceflight are perpetuating a false meme, that needs to be pushed back on. And that people making such claims (IE if SpaceX fails it means we need to start looking at lot closer at Commercial Spaceflight) are at best ill informed, and at worst, lying.”

    I am with you. I do understand what you say and agree. We need to push back. But in the particular case of Dennis question above, I did not feel he was pushing one way. I felt he was merely asking of the impact of a failure. It was a reasonable question. And others around me, in this business, told me similar things. More or less that “SpaceX cannot fail”. It is unfair I agree but it is where we stand as you said.

    Do not underestimate the effects of a failure by SpaceX on the whole program. But as Robert said too, it ill depend “when” the failure occurs. If they have several CRS flights and a rocket fails, probably recoverable. If they have a rocket failure in one of the next 2 or 3 flights you better believe that it will stink for every one.

  • amightywind

    If they have several CRS flights and a rocket fails, probably recoverable. If they have a rocket failure in one of the next 2 or 3 flights you better believe that it will stink for every one.

    A scary thought, but I agree. Musk did himself no good openly supporting Obama’s plan in early 2010. He made a lot of enemies unnecessarily. You didn’t see Orbital make that mistake. That could easily come back to haunt him. He may be a liability to the dems if there is a failure. To their credit SpaceX avoided the first few land mines, even if the first F9 rocket did spin out of control.

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Dennis

    I don’t think Musk is wrong in moving ahead with FH before getting more F9 flights under his belt. For one thing, it shows potential investors that the company is cofident in its own future. Also, none of the emerging commercial companies want the SLS built. If NASA builds SLS, they have to find something to use it for and with no budget for large payload missions the only thing in can do in the short run is take business away from the commercial crew and cargo market. If commercial can show that it can launch large payloads (FH at 53 tons) then it hurts the business case for SLS.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Common Sense

    But in the particular case of Dennis question above, I did not feel he was pushing one way.

    Short version – this is where we disagree.

    As for a SpaceX failure – your 3rd paragraph is pretty much dead on the money (I am more optimistic about how many CRS flights are needed before it becomes recoverable, but thats more based on personal feelings, rather than clear reasons)

  • common sense

    @ Ferris Valyn wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “Short version – this is where we disagree.”

    Perception IS everything ;)

  • common sense

    @amightywind wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    “A scary thought, but I agree.”

    Wow. How’bout that? Kinda scary I agree.

    “Musk did himself no good openly supporting Obama’s plan in early 2010. He made a lot of enemies unnecessarily. You didn’t see Orbital make that mistake. That could easily come back to haunt him. He may be a liability to the dems if there is a failure. To their credit SpaceX avoided the first few land mines, ”

    Nah. You give too much credit to Elon for that. The WH plan was “awesome” on its own merit… Orbital does not have a CEO with scrutiny anywhere close to that of Elon’s. Orbital probably is today just another defense contractor. Good? Bad? Not the problem. Probably good for the shareholders and bad for innovation. Always the same story.

    “even if the first F9 rocket did spin out of control.”

    Ah back to normal I see… ;)

  • common sense

    I would like to add of course the worst possible scenario would be a failure when crewed, if and only IF the crew is lost.

    If an abort is successful on the other hand then all the “safety first” people will just have to shut up I guess.

  • Vladislaw

    “If NASA builds SLS, they have to find something to use it for and with no budget for large payload missions the only thing in can do in the short run is take business away from the commercial crew and cargo market. “

    I don’t think it would fly to use a 130 ton heavy lift launch vehicle for pure cargo runs to the ISS. They would not have the room for that much cargo, it would have to be for ISS add ons or replacing defective modules/units.

    I just wonder how long the rest of the congress would want to support billion dollar+ heavy lift launches that only bring 4 people to the ISS. If they ever get it operational in the 2016-2020 timeframe I believe they will already be competing with commercial crew that is only charging 25% of the cost of the SLS and launching almost twice the number of crew.

    I had read that the ISS can actually hold 7 people, must be why all the commercial crew carriers are 7 passengers.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Let’s make the following changes:

    I think the danger in this is if NASA has a SLS failure. If they can keep their eye on the ball and produce a series of successes, then they will be on their way. One disaster and everyone watching, including Congress will begin to question NASA spaceflight.

    Do you think this version is as relevant? Why?

  • Vladislaw

    “even if the first F9 rocket did spin out of control.”

    Wow! I didn’t know that SpaceX launched the first Falcon 9 rocket into low earth orbit and then it was spinning out of control. Here I thought that the first Falcon 9 rocket launched a mock up Dragon capsule and after the capsule seperated from the Falcon 9 rocket the capsule went into low earth orbit and the rocket plunged back to earth.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    “Do you think this version is as relevant?”

    No. Not really.

    “Why?”

    Space in inherently difficult. It is a matter of national security not joyrides for tourists. And finally: Challenger and Columbia. Honor the memories of our fallen heros.

    How’s that?

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I don’t think it would fly to use a 130 ton heavy lift launch vehicle for pure cargo runs to the ISS. They would not have the room for that much cargo…

    Another issue would be the lack of “fresh” supplies, as well as a lack of timely scientific turnover. For instance, with the initial CRS program there will be 20 delivery opportunities, which means 20 opportunities to provide last minute supplies, repair parts or new equipment to try out. If you lofted one mega container of supplies, you would lose the ability to be “agile”.

    Imagine if your supermarket only stocked up once a month instead of multiple deliveries during the day? Your shopping habits would change, as would your consumption habits, due to the frequency of resupply constraints.

    The other issue is that the SpaceX Dragon will be providing the only dedicated downmass ability (6,614 lbs) from the ISS, which the SLS does not replace or solve on it’s own.

    Has anyone found a real need for the SLS yet? And not jobs, but real launch need?

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Ah… but that would be “business as usual” and the various centers would get more funding to figure out exactly who messed up enough to get transferred to a different position within NASA.

    HeadsTitles would roll (sideways).

    Don’t get me wrong, I love NASA, just not the culture that thinks it’s okay to fail at (or stifle) real HSF progress.

  • pathfinder_01

    “I truly hope that SpaceX can succeed and will make a reasonable profit, to muster in competitive spaceflight cost. I do understand how Musk wants to prove himself, but I think he should concentrate on one fish at a time. Get Falcon 9 and Dragon going first, and then worry about Falcon heavy. He has alot of fish in his basket. IM not saying he cant do it, but I hope his focus doesnt get muddled down with to many ideas at first. I truly hope his Falcon heavy is successful too. Cant wait to see the launch.”

    I think he is attempting to steer his company where it needs to be a few years down the road. If FH is available and SLS is not say in 2016/2017 then he is a good position to be seen as a viable alternative to SLS.

    “ Also while we do have Delta and Atlas, the cost of utilizing one of those rockets still cant compare to Falconheave if successful. There i still a BIG IF on the horizon. When does the second Dragon fly?”

    Depends on how you plan the use it. Both are more expensive than Falcon 9 but Atlas has more flight history than both Falcon 9 and Delta and is easier to man rate than Delta. Also Atlas and Delta both lift more than Falcon 9 and all three are cheaper than the Shuttle or any NASA rocket.

    The commercial cargo rockets are Taurus II and Falcon 9. The crew rockets (so far) are Atlas and Falcon 9.

    Dream chaser and Blue Origin plan to use Atlas V v402. Boeing CST100 plans to use any available rocket so will probably use Atlas but can use Falcon or Delta if need be. Space X Dragon plans to use falcon but is built to be able to use any EELV if need be.

    ULA is pushing Delta for Orion because it is the only rocket that can lift the thing at the moment. If NASA could get Delta IV man rated Orion would be capable of BEO missions with either 2 flights of Delta or 1 flight of Delta and 1 flight of FH. However politics at the moment prevents this (space states don’t want delta, Administration not crazy about Orion).

    2nd Dragon flight happens later this year (September). 1st flight of Taurus II this summer. Dragon may or may not go to the ISS on this flight. Taurus II first flight will be late this year and a demo flight later in the year. First cargo deliveries could happen either in October (if both cots flights are combined) or December (if not) by Dragon. Cygnus sometime in early 2012.

  • Get Falcon 9 and Dragon going first, and then worry about Falcon heavy. He has alot of fish in his basket. IM not saying he cant do it, but I hope his focus doesnt get muddled down with to many ideas at first.

    Why do you think that SpaceX = Elon Musk? The company has thirteen hundred employees. A lot of them are very smart. It can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    No. Not really.

    OK. The reason for the change was to test whether the original statement was biased or neutral in it’s views.

    What if we substituted Boeing for SpaceX? Would the statement still be relevant? Why?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “Has anyone found a real need for the SLS yet? And not jobs, but real launch need?”

    Yes: CAPS.

    But not necessarily SLS. A 70 ton HLV, whether from USA, ULA, or SpaceX, or whether from even more than one of the aforementioned, depending on costs, budget, and immediate needs, is still an open question, likely to be answered by roughly October of this year.

    NASA will get yet another set of instructions from the Congress to deal with the impact hazard around then.

    As someone pointed out, commercial crew launch does not equal SpaceX.
    ULA is in the running as well, and both will likely continue their efforts, thus providing two ways of servicing the ISS. Redundancy.

    As to the cargo market for ISS, among the other goals for ISS is the goal is closed loop, with as little supply as needed. On the other hand, there is down cargo and up cargo for future systems experiments.

    As far as launch failures goes, launcher development generally has been a heuristic process. If the failure is early enough, and if the failure is final enough, and fundamental, then will it lead to an end. Or when you demonstrate fundamental incompetence. Also when you have multiple similar failures, like Orbital with the Taurus, then you have a problem.
    Who will risk their payload?

  • Dennis Berube

    When NASA had failures, it was in the forefront, and of course with government backing they recovered. Could the private sector do that? Perhaps Boeing certainly could, but could SpaceX. I am not saying that the newbies dont know what they are doing. SpaceX certainly has shown what it can do. If they dont become complacent, just maybe they wll make it. Perception is very important, that is why early on a failure would make them look bad. If SpaceX were to have a failure, how long before another attempt could be made? Would the government get in on the investigation? Now that would slow things down.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 3rd, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    “What if we substituted Boeing for SpaceX? Would the statement still be relevant? Why?”

    Now you’re playing games ;)

    Here goes. If Boeing were near as close to launching as SpaceX, maybe. Not even sure. Remember the newbies are SpaceX and they also are the poster child of commercial space. Boeing is not using hobbyists for their rockets unlike SpaceX. Back to the same perception problem. But a more difficult question to answer than SpaceX or NASA failing a launch…

    FWIW.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CS –

    “Boeing is not using hobbyists for their rockets unlike SpaceX.”

    SpaceX is not using “hobbyists” for their rockets.

    “Back to the same perception problem.”

    Yes indeed.

  • Vladislaw

    “When NASA had failures, it was in the forefront, and of course with government backing they recovered. Could the private sector do that? “

    When the NAVY had failures and lost a ship it had government backing but if the private sector lost a ship could they recover? Guess not, there isn’t any private sector water transportation because no company can take a loss.

    When the AirForce had failures and lost a plane it had government backing but if the private sector lost a plane could they recover? Guess not, there isn’t any private sector air transportation because no company can take a loss.

    With 40,000 – 50,000 automobile deaths every year, guess I don’t even have to talk about car makers and the automobile transportation industry.

    That is the whole point for having multiple launch providers. If NASA has a failure the entire Nation’s human spaceflight is put on hold. That does not happen with any private sector transportation system, ever.

    If a company has a failure we use another until they get it fixed.

  • common sense

    @ E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 11:24 am

    “SpaceX is not using “hobbyists” for their rockets.”

    Make an effort and try to understand my posts…

  • common sense

    @ E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I was too abrupt I guess. I am sorry. Just a knee jerk reaction. Oh well…

    I was playing Devil’s advocate to answer Coastal Ron’s hypothesis.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “If a company has a failure we use another until they get it fixed.”

    Absolutely. In any rational sector it would play that way. Not for HSF and you know it. On the other hand I wonder what the political climate was on such issues back in the early aviation days. I kinda remember that the US Army was not too hot for example with an “Air Force” at least initially. And also the Navy I believe was reluctant to aircraft carriers.

    Anyone with good history?

  • Dennis Berube

    I think here we are just badgering one another. You know what I mean with regards to commercial and what will happen with the early loss of a launch vehicle. If say Musk and SpaceX were launching 7 people spaceward, and lost everyone on board, what would happen? What will happen with theloss of a very expensive unmanned probe? Will the government be the investigators? I think they would impose a grounding of said vehicle, as they would their own. Again impressions of what could come.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I was playing Devil’s advocate to answer Coastal Ron’s hypothesis.

    I don’t think I’m getting the intended result from my original post, so I’m fine with just dropping the whole thread.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Boeing is not using hobbyists for their rockets unlike SpaceX.

    A hobbyist is someone that is pursuing an activity done in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

    That does not describe SpaceX, which is a business with a $3B customer backlog, and it certainly doesn’t even describe XCOR, Armadillo or any of the other small companies that are generating revenue as they pursue their passions.

    Don’t reinforce false allegations.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Absolutely. In any rational sector it would play that way. Not for HSF and you know it.

    Robert Kennedy once said:

    There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

    Maybe I’ve been lucky enough to work at places that said “take all the good you want, and invent whatever else you need”, because I don’t adhere to the “because we’ve always done it that way” line of thinking.

    Human space flight today is changing because of the Shuttle retirement, and what we have a chance to do is change the paradigm of how people get to space.

    If we rely on NASA, then we are one accident or one Congressional budget away from stopping space flight. If, as Vladislaw points out, we change the industry so that it becomes commercialized, then it is far more likely to succeed and grow.

    I know you are not anti-commercial, and generally I concur with your views, but sometimes it’s hard to discern where you’re being facetious.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    “Don’t reinforce false allegations.”

    It looks like my message did not make it through.

    So. It was only intended as a hypothetical answer to your hypothetical question. And playing Devil’s advocate.

    I thought you’d know better by now but…

    I missed.

    Oh well…

  • If say Musk and SpaceX were launching 7 people spaceward, and lost everyone on board, what would happen? What will happen with theloss of a very expensive unmanned probe? Will the government be the investigators?

    The government will certainly be involved, as it is with accident investigations in other transportation sectors (e.g., airliner crashes). I would imagine that the NTSB might even be in charge. But this happens all the time in other industries. There’s nothing magic about space that makes it different.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    “sometimes it’s hard to discern where you’re being facetious.”

    Nothing ever is either black or white.

    So I’ll take your comment as a compliment.

    In my own awkward kind of way of course!

    ;)

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    You know what I mean with regards to commercial and what will happen with the early loss of a launch vehicle.

    The problem here Dennis is that you’re getting all worked up over issues that have not played out yet.

    Has NASA defined all the requirements for commercial crew? No.

    Has the FAA developed a complete set of flight rules for commercial crew? No.

    Has the insurance industry figured out what level of coverage they will provide for commercial crew? Most likely no.

    With the first commercial crew flight still at least 3 years away, all of this hand wringing is way too early. SpaceX, Boeing, SNC and NASA have professionals on staff that are responsible for working these issues, and the leadership of each organization is going to be overseeing this for the next 3 or more years. Nothing you’ve highlighted is new for this or any similar risky business.

    Just know that accidents will happen, and some companies will survive and some won’t. If NASA were to have back to back failures I don’t think they could survive either (from a spaceflight standpoint).

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis wrote:

    “You know what I mean with regards to commercial and what will happen with the early loss of a launch vehicle. If say Musk and SpaceX were launching 7 people spaceward, and lost everyone on board, what would happen?”

    I think it will depend on what is happening in the future with everything shuttle and the heavy lift congress wants. If the SLS is still getting funded(?) but is seen as another over budget, over schedule program ready for shutdown, I think it would be a boon for congressional supporters of cost plus contracting from the usual suspects.

    If the Nation wakes up and sees the SLS as another boondoggle EARLY and it doesn’t get funding anymore around the time of commercial crew is operating and an accident occurs, NASA will simply rely on Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra until the cause of the accident is figured out.

    Even with a crew loss SpaceX would still be able to carry out sat launches with the F9.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ May 4th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    So I’ll take your comment as a compliment.

    I don’t know if compliment is the right word, but certainly in a positive fashion. ;-)

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