Campaign '12, Congress, NASA

Briefly: Budget turmoil, 2012 lobbying

The least surprising headline of the day is from Aerospace Daily: “NASA Funding Mired In Budget Politics”. While politics has always played a major role, the article suggests that the situation this year is even more complicated and uncertain than usual. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, told Aerospace Daily that the Senate has barely started work on the FY2012 appropriations bills, as it sorts through the consequences of the final FY11 continuing resolution as well as the ongoing debate about raising the debt limit. Mikulski and other appropriations subcommittee chairs have yet to receive their budget allocations, which means that they can’t start work on marking up appropriations bills.

The path is a little clearer in the House, at least from a procedural standpoint. According to the schedule published in May by the House Appropriations Committee, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee (which includes NASA and NOAA) will mark up its appropriations bill a week from today, July 7 (which by coincidence is the day before the last shuttle launch); the full committee will take up the bill on July 13. But the committee is otherwise keeping its plans close to its vest, beyond a budget allocation that suggests the potential for significant across-the-board budget cuts.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who does not serve on the appropriations committee, told the Huntsville Times earlier this week. “Hopefully, NASA can survive. But that’s going to be up to the public to decide what they want… That’s going to be a battle.”

In the same interview, Brooks also addressed comments made in a debate earlier this month by Republican presidential candidates about funding NASA. Dismissing perceptions by some who watched the debate that the candidates were not supportive of NASA, Brooks said that any of the candidates would back NASA more than President Obama, and that specifically “you’ve got Mitt Romney and you’ve got [Tim] Pawlenty” as “likely” supporters of the agency. Romney, as previously noted here, does have a modest track record on space policy from his 2008 campaign, but Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, does not.

Those Republican presidential candidates may be getting a visit in the coming months from someone who freely speaks his mind on space policy: Buzz Aldrin. “I’m going to be talking to the people” running for the GOP presidential nomination, he said in a speech this week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Aldrin, who according to the report “expressed disappointment” that the president made no public speech or other acknowledgement of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s speech calling for a manned lunar landing by the end of the 1960s, said space exploration needs a “specific public objective”.

64 comments to Briefly: Budget turmoil, 2012 lobbying

  • Mark R, Whittington

    Hmm. I thought that Presidenyt Obama’s April 15, 2010 speech was supposed to have provided that “specific public objective.” I suspect Buzz Aldrin regrets having allied himself with Obama.

  • “But the committee is otherwise keeping its plans close to its vest, beyond a budget allocation that suggests the potential for significant across-the-board budget cuts.”
    I predict the sound of a death knell for SLS or at least the start of a slow death from massive slashes. Congress critters outside of space agency constituencies are going to start paying attention to things like that they didn’t really much notice in years past. If these guys look into things close enough to see that SLS is the space equivalence of the “Bridge to Nowhere”, things will change.

    CCDev shouldn’t take too big a hit (proportionately) because it’s our only hope of breaking away from Russian dependence anytime soon.

  • Major Tom

    Is there a link to Romney’s civil space statement(s)/position from the last campaign, on this website or elsewhere?

    Thx…

  • amightywind

    Dismissing perceptions by some who watched the debate that the candidates were not supportive of NASA, Brooks said that any of the candidates would back NASA more than President Obama, and that specifically “you’ve got Mitt Romney and you’ve got [Tim] Pawlenty” as “likely” supporters of the agency.

    There is no question NASA would receive more solid backing from any of the GOP candidates than President Obama. Buzz must have swallowed the worm this time. He expresses disappointment with President Obama after backing him in his assault on NASA and taking a ride on Air Force One? Any self-respecting GOP candidate should call him on it. No, Aldrin and other NASA turncoats like him (anyone on the Augustine Committee) owns current policy and the damage it has wrought. They deserve all of the scorn that can be heaped upon them. After 2012 Aldrin and others like him will be marginalized as they we before Obama came to power.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “NASA more than President Obama, and that specifically “you’ve got Mitt Romney and you’ve got [Tim] Pawlenty” as “likely” supporters of the agency. ”

    this statement is almost Rumsfeldian…”likely” supporters (maybe we hope they would be but well who knows) ….and “supporters of the agency” …what does that mean?

    Doubtless wind will chime on and talk about a traditional NASA, which is a hoot. At some point the choices will be “The Senate launch system” or we pave roads or keep the schools open or ….and there wont be any choice.

    The folks hoping for a return to the good old days of sloth and turpor under Bush the last…are hoping for something that is gone with the deficits. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 30th, 2011 at 7:44 am
    “I predict the sound of a death knell for SLS or at least the start of a slow death from massive slashes”

    yes …actually it is the sound of the death knell for a lot of what NASA does. The next two months will be fascinating in terms of the future of The Republic RGO

  • NASA Fan

    Everyone seems focused on the Senate Launch System “To Nowhere” as meat to be hacked out of the budget, in favor of paying for more teachers or paving of roads; however, don’t be surprised if NASA Space Science is also punished for the MSL and JWST fiasco’s. Those two mission are very visible to budgeteers in Congress; ..and while they might not get whacked, other Science might.

    Gonna be a bloody summer/fall.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Best case scenario – Funding is cut, the SLS is scrapped and the focus is shifted away from a public LV and towards supporting domestic commercial rockets.

    Worst case scenario – Funding is cut, plans for a public LV continue at significantly less funding having to push back deadlines by years and siphon funds from science missions. Essentially we’d be right back where we were two years ago.

  • Florida Today delivered a broadside in today’s editorial criticizing Congress for porking:

    … NASA’s first rocket proposal in January was a dud with the agency saying it would cost about $9 billion more than allocated and arrive two years late.

    That angered Congress and the battles have worsened with senators trying to carve off pieces of the program to major aerospace companies in their home states to create jobs …

    The national interest demands this spectacle end, but that doesn’t appear likely with members of Congress continuing to inject their parochial interests.

    By the way, as an aside, Boeing’s Orion test vehicle is at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through the Fourth of July.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Old habits die hard.

    The “specific public objective” is finding the next piece of crap from space well before it hits, and then preventing it from doing so.

    As far as Dr. Aldrin goes, the Constellation launch system was unsustainable, i.l. unaffordable. While the redirection was clumsy, Dr. Aldrin’s architectural engineering is impeccable.

    Dr. Schmitt will likely give Republican candidates the same advice.

    But all of this is an aside. The important fact is this:

    http://www.aerith.net/comet/catalog/0073P/2011-pictures.html

    which will be better known by October of this year.

    My estimate is that the advice of the astronauts working in B611 will be sought by everyone at that time, as if even a 30 or 60 meter fragment survives intact to 2022, uh oh.

    By the way, nothing has to hit. Even a comet dust veil can have substantial effects on food supplies, worse than those of a volcanic eruption.

    Technologies to clear dust from the upper atmosphere may become very important.

    Perhaps Ed Weiler will be fired by October.

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ June 30th, 2011 at 11:02 yes you are correct…which makes “Buzz’s” comments even more “tone deaf”.

    What people like Whittington cannot grasp, and is a product of politicans that they supported…is that the era of “human exploration” of space just to do it, is over. Bush, like he did so many other things; killed it by a Cx program that spent 12-16 billion and got nothing for it…and an economy that he killed.

    There is no chance that the Congress is going to be caught funding “missions for NASA to rocks that no one cares about” while cutting old people’s health care and schools and roads and just about everything else that makes the US a truly great country.

    This is one reason that all the GOP candidates at the debate who were calling for “cuts cuts cuts” were not going to call for more NASA spending.

    Robert G. Oler

  • I wouldn’t worry about NASA right now. The Republic is now in serious trouble thanks to the inordinate political paralysis in Washington!

    And neither party is addressing the nation’s serious problems:

    1. a titanically expensive and inherently inflationary Medicare and Medicaid system to compliment a titanically expensive and inherently inflationary private premium based health insurance system,

    2. enormous expenditures on foreign wars,

    3. no coherent energy policy that will gradually move America away from foreign petroleum and fossil fuels,

    4. a rising economic super power in China that’s rapidly sucking jobs out of America,

    5. a violent crime and homicide rate in America that is an enormous burden to the economy and is one of the highest amongst world’s democracies (the UK has a per capita homicide rate than is more than four times lower than in the US; Australia has a per capita homicide rate more than ten times lower than in the US). Some estimate that crime is a $1 trillion a year economic burden to the US economy.

    and, of course

    6. a 9.1 % unemployment rate

    So I wish that these problems were as easy to solve as NASA’s tiny $17 to $20 billion a year budget:-)

  • John Malkin

    Rick Boozer wrote @ June 30th, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I predict the sound of a death knell for SLS or at least the start of a slow death from massive slashes.

    Nothing moves or dies fast in Congress. That might be good for CCDev since it cost so little.

    Congress should just start working on the 2012 CR and save time.

  • Let’s step back from FY 2012 for a moment…People should be aware that _FY’11_ funding is not yet getting to (the program formerly known as) CRuSR, for example.

    Is this because NASA’s Operations Plan for FY’11 has not yet been approved by Congress, which is too busy making sure that the impossible SLS is built exactly to the most porkish requirements? That’s what I hear.

    Then how come CCDev 2 is getting money? They just had a 60 day update yesterday. So NASA must have some way of using FY’11 funds for some programs. This is frankly confusing.

    As to FY’12, I think people may be fantasizing if they think that SLS will become a target. Everything else in NASA? Sure. But stop thinking real utility for spaceflight has anything to do with vulnerability. SLS has the strongest “utility” of all: buying votes.

  • @ Major Tom wrote @ June 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am

    None that I can trace MT, I even used the *ugh* Wikipedia :P

    Goes to show the issue is only important to us space cadets.

  • A Seeker

    Calling the SLS a “Bridge to Nowhere” is an insult to the Bridge to Nowhere. Some vehicles would have used the Bridge. Nothing will ever fly on the SLS.

  • pathfinder_01

    “By the way, as an aside, Boeing’s Orion test vehicle is at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex through the Fourth of July.”

    Orion is Lockheed martin. Boeing is the CST100

  • For lack of a better place to put it … The SpaceX Dragon capsule that orbited the Earth last December will be on display through July 10 at the U.S. Air Force Space & Missile Museum’s History Center in Cape Canaveral.

    Click here for the announcement.

    So far as I know, this is the first public appearance of Dragon since it’s first historic flight.

  • pathfinder_01 wrote:

    Orion is Lockheed martin. Boeing is the CST100.

    You’re right, of course. I saw the exhibit and walked inside, where I struck up a conversation with a Boeing employee. That’s why I was thinking Boeing, but I know it’s a LockMart craft.

  • red

    “Then how come CCDev 2 is getting money? They just had a 60 day update yesterday. So NASA must have some way of using FY’11 funds for some programs. This is frankly confusing.”

    I may be remembering things incorrectly, and I’m not looking them up, but I thought the budget deal reached a couple months ago reduced the Exploration account for Human Research, Robotic Precursors, Exploration Technology development, Commercial Cargo acceleration, and Commercial Crew development to $808M (a considerably cut). It was left to NASA to figure out how to divide the remaining money among those programs. I know where some of that money is going, but I’m not sure how the full $808M was/will be divided.

    Meanwhile I don’t think general Space Technology (which houses CRuSR) got anything, although Bolden had a talk where he said he nevertheless expected to have the authority to put something in that account.

    Those cuts were in the context of an overall cut in NASA’s budget compared to the Authorization figures, and in the context of a big boost compared to the Authorization figures for MPCV and SLS.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the confrontation today is over Congress’s “breaking the deal” by not letting MPCV and SLS take their share of the budget cut hit. In other words the SLS/MPCV faction in Congress needs to make a deal where they support certain Administration space priorities if they want their jobs program supported.

  • CNN has been advertising a special to air Sunday night called “CNN Presents: Beyond Atlantis” about commercial space. It’s to air at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM EDT.

    A preview article is now on CNN.com. It features mostly Virgin Galactic and SpaceX.

  • amightywind

    CNN has been advertising a special to air Sunday night called “CNN Presents: Beyond Atlantis” about commercial space. It’s to air at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM EDT.

    I can’t wait to watch it given CNN’s sterling reputation for balanced news. I wonder if they will discuss SLS/Orion? But since they are talking about SpaceX, perhaps they should call the program ‘CNN Presents: Way, Way Beyond Atlantis’.

  • I told you guys once the California politicos started calling for open competition on SLS boosters that it would lead to a call to compete the whole SLS. Now iSenator Mark Warner of Virginia has done just that:
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=37582

    I’d just as soon not go the super heavy lift route because of low flight rate or if it’s shuttle derived causing it to never get finished due to huge cost overruns. But if it has to be done, this at least might let the American taxpayer get the most for his/her money. It could even lead to something that might actually fly.

  • Das Boese

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 30th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    CNN has been advertising a special to air Sunday night called “CNN Presents: Beyond Atlantis” about commercial space. It’s to air at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM EDT.

    Interesting. Bummer that I won’t be able to view it here in Germany, guess I have to go with the hope that someone will DVR it and put it on youtube ;P

  • amightywind

    Here is an interesting link about the ‘don’t worry, be happy’ management at NASA. I do agree with the Boozer that the SLS is just the start of another round of chaos and indecision. The NASA leadership is flat out too weak to hold their own with congress.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It could even lead to something that might actually fly.

    That wouldn’t be a good thing.

  • @ Martijn Meijering
    That wouldn’t be a good thing.”
    Didn’t say it would be. As I said, I would rather not go the heavy-lifter route, but if the attempt to build it is inevitable, compete it so that at least there is a chance there could be some money left over for fuel depots and so on.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I agree with that sentiment, but I think there would be more money for such things after an HLV was cancelled than after it was successfully deployed. As for propellant depots, I prefer to leave those to the market.

  • pathfinder_01

    Rick from what I read the only thing he wants competed is the propusion, not the whole thing.

  • @pathfinder_01

    I goofed up. I glanced at Clark Lindsey’s post about it. Clark said he wished Warner would compete the whole thing. I misread his comment. I really goofed up! Sorry! Need to quit trying to post while I’m doing my research!

  • Red, thanks for the reminder re the budget amts for ’11, but it’s not just them that we’re talking about; NASA’s “operations plan” theoretically has to be accepted first by Congress before they can start spending the new FY’s money. My impression was that that being held up was a contributor to the problem with CRuSR funding.

    Maybe NASA feels that the ops plan is a formality to go ahead with spending on CCDev since it did get _some_ money, but OCT/CRuSR got none?

  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden gave a major speech today at the National Press Club. The text is at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/566100main_11%200701%20Final%20Bolden%20NPC%20.pdf

    It’s almost defiant in tone. Charlie said:

    So when I hear people say – or listen to media reports – that the final Shuttle flight marks the end of U.S. human spaceflight, I have to say . . . these folks must be living on another planet. We are not ending human space flight, we are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary – and difficult – steps today to ensure America’s pre-eminence in human space exploration for years to come.

    Go get ‘em, Charlie. :-)

  • mr. mark

    For some things may looking down but, Spacex is looking up and has aquired the Delta 2 building at the cape…

    A New Home for Falcon-9 Processing at the Cape (Source: SPACErePORT)
    Last month, Space Florida’s board of directors approved several infrastructure investments at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. One of those investments was apparently intended to meet SpaceX’s need for expansion at the spaceport. With limited room at a Launch Complex 40 building for horizontal processing of Falcon-9 rockets, and scant extra room in the same facility for work on Dragon capsules, SpaceX was looking at excess facilities within the CCAFS Industrial Area nearby. With support from Space Florida and the Air Force 45th Space Wing, SpaceX is now modifying the Delta Mission Checkout (DMCO) facility–which formerly supported Delta-2 rocket processing–for Falcon-9 operations. (7/1)

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ July 1st, 2011 at 8:47 am

    CNN disbanded its space/technology broadcast unit about 18 months ago to save $ — around the same time it jettisoned Miles O’Brien. Expect soft news mixed with nostalgia and press release-styled speculation from NASA and NewSpace firms of ‘things to come.’ ABC News made a similar attempt on predicting ‘the next frontier’ in July, 1979 with a telecast titled ‘Infinite Horizons- Space Beyond Apollo’ predicting the then next 20-30 years in space with a group of futurists of the era. They were over projecting and grandiose, as such programs do– everything from the late Gerald O’Neill’s orbiting space habitats to space-based manufacturing by 2001 with shuttle. About the only things they got right were personal communication systems- in the ’79 broadcast it was Jules Bergman sporting wrist phones- (cellphones of today); female astronauts and women shuttle controllers; shuttle ferrying crews to a space station and Musgrave simulating the Hubble’s deployment. The real question is if CNN will cease to exist (rumors of a possible merger w/CBS News persist in the industry) and/or if cable and network news operations will be granted access to cover any private enterprised space operations in the next 10 years. Private firms have an incentive to restrict coverage through their own media outlets to control their message, hide mistakes and trumpet successes as well as protect propietory information– that is, ‘corporate security’ not unlike military space missions cloaked by ‘national security.’

  • DCSCA

    Das Boese wrote @ July 1st, 2011 at 2:54 pm
    CNN Iternational should run it at some point.

  • It mistifies me, and mind-boggles me, why an astronaut like Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, would be so fiercely opposed to future Lunar exploration. He got the GREATEST HONOR & PRIVILIEGE ever that could be given to an American astronaut: He got to not only reach the Lunar vicinity, an amazing privilege in and of itself—that only a mere 24 persons have ever done—but he got to freaking land on the Moon! Only 12 persons in the history of humankind have ever attained that holy grail—-and Buzz Aldrin would deny that amazing experience to anyone else! All in the name of ignoring the Moon, simply because it’s no longer 100% virgin territory anymore. Look around you boys!—-Low Earth Orbit is NOT virgin territory anymore! LEO space stations ARE repeats of the past! Why can’t people draw the same laughable conclusions as Dr. Aldrin, and conclude that because man has occupied LEO repeatedly, for the last forty years, that NASA does NOT ever need to send men there again; that there’s nothing worthwhile left for us to do there, once we got those first thrilling photo ops—-granted that you can’t plant a flag nor do footprints in Low Earth Orbit. (Neither can you do any of that on an asteroid! Ha!) If space stations are a sport still worthy of doing, after forty freaking long years in the business, then the arena of manned Lunar exploration deserves to be re-visited—-beyond the mere FOUR YEARS that were devoted to it, as an endeavor [1968 to 1972].

  • Das Boese wrote:

    Interesting. Bummer that I won’t be able to view it here in Germany, guess I have to go with the hope that someone will DVR it and put it on youtube ;P

    If I see it on CNN.com I’ll post a link.

  • Byeman

    “Private firms have an incentive to restrict coverage through their own media outlets to control their message, hide mistakes and trumpet successes as well as protect propietory information– that is, ‘corporate security’ not unlike military space missions cloaked by ‘national security.’”

    False, not when the gov’t is paying for the ride. Also, why does there have to be continued intensive media coverage? Every airliner takeoff is not covered by the media.

  • pathfinder_01

    Chris if you know anything about Buzz’s work he isn’t for ignoring the moon. He is for programs that not only go to the moon, but go elsewhere too. What he and frankly I are against is an Apollo repeat.
    Apollo could land men on the moon, but only 2 and only for 3 days. At about 2 billion a launch and at the launch rate Saturn V had, a permanently manned moon base would be unsustainable. You can’t support a moon base if you can only afford to launch an HLV twice a year (on average) and that was with a massive budget by today’s standard.

    Heck the lunar Lander could only land about 5MT unmanned! The Russian progress carries 2.7MT but launches 3-5 times a year!

    IMHO imagine a primitive tribe living near the shore that just found out how to make boats. One day three strong men paddled way far away to a island in a lake. The trip was risky and expensive as the boats were large took many hours and much labor to construct. The men were brave and they made it. The boats were only good for one round trip and they couldn’t carry all that much too or from the island. Heck the boat couldn’t fit women, children or anything else for that matter just the 3 guys.

    Settling the island was out of the question and the island didn’t have much of anything ready to eat on hand(It might make great farm land, but you would have to import some supplies to even hope to stay here long term.). That is what the moon is like and what Apollo was like. Now it does not mean that the island is of little value, or that the island won’t be settled but it may mean that perhaps we need to work on our strategy and technology.

    After 10 trips, tribal leaders decided that going to this island in the middle of the lake was not worth it. Some members of the tribe were upset and constantly protested. I mean we can keep building the same big expensive boats, heck let’s build a bigger 6 manned boat (ignoring the fact that settling some place is a lot harder than visiting (i.e. what are these 6 guys going to eat out there?). This is the exploration only crowd today. Nothing in space is worth it unless we go to the moon or mars. Space travel elsewhere is useless.

    I mean even if the tribe decided against going to that island in the lake, you could still do a lot with boat technology. You could transport goods along the shore or down a river cheaper. You could go further out into the lake fishing (allowing you to bring back larger and different types of fish from the shore) and you could work on your boat technology at an more affordable scale( You can build 4 small boats for the price of 1 large boat). And if your boat technology breaks down you stand a better chance swimming back to shore from a short distance than from that island out in the lake. This is what Leo is. You can use an EELV to crew and resupply the ISS as well as launch satelights but an HLV esp. a NASA only one can’t do anything other than exploration missions.

    The exploration crowd is much more interested in the giant leaps than the small steps it takes to become a space traveling species.

    And I can take this Analogy further. Working on their boat technology after a time they were able to build boats that were much sturdier and could make many trips (reusability). They also worked on advanced propulsion (a sail) so that you could travel further with less paddling. They made boats that took less labor to build (Falcon 9 workforce vs. STS) which made them more affordable. While going around the shore they found some small but nearby islands that could be great resting overnight or preposition supplies (The ISS/Prop depots). They learned how to grow food and how to make better tools (ISRU).

    That is what needs to take place in order for the moon to become a place where you can do more than Apollo.

  • Martijn Meijering

    You can use an EELV to crew and resupply the ISS as well as launch satelights but an HLV esp. a NASA only one can’t do anything other than exploration missions.

    And EELVs can do exploration missions too, so even if huge leaps forwards are your thing, HLVs are not the answer.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ July 2nd, 2011 at 2:12 am

    It mistifies me, and mind-boggles me, why an astronaut like Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, would be so fiercely opposed to future Lunar exploration.”

    I dont think he is. I think he is oppossed to Apollo style “exploration”. 12 people and 25,000 on the Earth RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Byeman wrote @ July 2nd, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Just because government ‘pays for a ride’ or has an element of oversight doesnt mean private firms willingly comply to open their books, shed sunshine on methods of operation to public scrutiny or compromise proprietary information. They cut corners to save a buck which can result in costly mistakes. Witness the BP oil spill. Nor does it mean a contractor will necessarily suffer. Recall the mess w/Perkin-Elmer and the flawed Hubble mirror or the O-ring design flaws with Thiokol’s SRBs. Apparently you missed the smoke and mirrors of the banking collapse as well as which had ‘government oversight’ that was blind to the mess or the collapse of the auto industry– an industry which literally ‘paid for a ride’ in purchasing/leasing agreements for vehicles.

    “Every airliner takeoff is not covered by the media.” Nor is every missile launch– or for that matter, every manned space launch, as Soviet Russia cloaked coverage for decades. Why you’d believe private enterprised firms in the space field, whose goal is to make a profit, not explore space, would operate any differently than firms in other fields is amusing. Space exploitation is not space exploration. The goal of private enterpriised firms– be it SpaceX, McDonald’s or Exxon for that matter- is to make a profit.

    @Chris Castro wrote @ July 2nd, 2011 at 2:12 am
    First, Aldrin legally changed his name to Buzz years ago so ‘Edwin’ is not really applicable. He’s 81 now and most of the surviving Apollo veterans are in that age range as well. Face lift and marriage #3 disintegrating aside, Buzz’s perspectives are increasingly fading from relevence as are most of the remaining Apollo era crowd. Buzz is about Buzz these days. The most vocal voice of the Apollo group has been Gene Cernan and his capacity to persuade isn’t producing any tangible results. Sadly, he comes across as an agitated old man these days to younger media consumers. The Apollo crowd’s last lobbying gasp was trying to save Constellation. Their pitch fell on the deaf ears of a generation assuming power in both business and government that’s familiar with Apollo chiefly through Tom Hanks’ ‘Apollo 13′ film and recognizes Aldrin as a dancer on TV. This is simply going to be a lengthy transition period as shuttle ends and both the government and private sector retool, refocus and re-establish priorities for space opoerations in the first half of the 21st Century– a century already nearly 11% over.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 2nd, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    This is simply going to be a lengthy transition period as shuttle ends and both the government and private sector retool, refocus and re-establish priorities for space opoerations in the first half of the 21st Century– a century already nearly 11% over.

    Wow, something I mainly agree with.

    I’m not too concerned with where we are in the 21st century, mainly because I think our ability to explore will come from our ability to get to and travel in space.

    Fake dates only serve as distractions – they make us try to get to places like the Moon in the most expeditious manner, but not the most sustainable. That’s why I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space.

    Anyways, have a good weekend.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Fake dates only serve as distractions – they make us try to get to places like the Moon in the most expeditious manner, but not the most sustainable. That’s why I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space.

    Those two things are not at all mutually exclusive. In fact, they could be highly synergetic. The desire to lower the cost of access to space dramatically is precisely why I advocate early exploration, though not necessarily manned exploration. It all depends on how you do it of course, since HLV-style exploration would be harmful, while exploration based around propellant transfer would be extremely helpful. Looking at it purely from the perspective of lowering costs this is even more important than commercial crew, but I agree that commercial crew is more important right now since the desire is to maintain the ISS and a manned spaceflight program.

  • Vladislaw

    I believe that commercial crew is the most important program NASA has going in human spaceflight. It will be important for America’s future space sector because it will take congress and the Whitehouse out of the picture.

    Once Bigelow is up and running with two providers giving rides money will actually mean something in the space sector.

    No matter how wealthy and successful you are, no matter what kind of space “invention” for human spaceflight you want to test. NASA and the space shuttle was no friend. With flight manifests measured in years getting yourself into space was next to impossible. Amazing that American entrepreneurs had to turn to the ex socialist country to get to space.

    Commercial space will break the lock.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 3rd, 2011 at 6:29 am

    It all depends on how you do it of course, since HLV-style exploration would be harmful, while exploration based around propellant transfer would be extremely helpful.

    I’m definitely for propellant transfer and fuel depot capabilities. I’m also not necessarily against HLV’s, or to be more accurate, Super-Heavy Launch Vehicles (SHLV). But I would only support them when there is enough demand to keep them busy (and there are no lower-cost alternatives).

    I guess I’ve become a firm believer in identifying supply and demand forces so I can understand what the different choices bring to the table. So far the SLS is a bunch of supply, but with no demand to support it, and that’s why I think NASA is being set up to be a jobs program instead of a transportation one (which isn’t in the charter anyways).

    Vladislaw wrote @ July 3rd, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Commercial space will break the lock.

    Agreed. And just so others understand what we’re talking about, it’s not that commercial replaces NASA, but that commercial space will do what commercial companies do best, which is expand the marketplace.

    And that’s how we’ll expand into space, not on the back of NASA’s meager (and likely shrinking) budget.

    Oh and Vladislaw, I like your posts over at Paul’s The Once and Future Moon blog.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 2nd, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Yes, but organizations, both public and private, need dates, soft or firm, as benchmarks to measure performance against budgeted time and resources to meet goals.

    “Anyways, have a good weekend.”

    You, too. And safe one.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 3rd, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Yes, but organizations, both public and private, need dates, soft or firm, as benchmarks to measure performance against budgeted time and resources to meet goals.

    I agree from an organizational standpoint. I mean fake dates for doing exploration.

    It’s kind of like the Project Triangle, where out of three choices (GOOD, FAST, CHEAP), you can only pick two. Apollo did GOOD and FAST, and ended up consuming up to 4% of the National Budget.

    NASA only has 0.5% of the budget now, and that’s where I think Constellation ran into problems, since they had a huge task in front of them, and their initial dates were so close. Their plan was to run FAST, and of course they wanted GOOD too (Ares I/V), while ignoring any lower cost alternatives (i.e. CHEAP).

    My definition of CHEAP, FAST and GOOD are:

    CHEAP – That lower cost alternatives are considered, even if they don’t support the desired date.

    FAST – Lacking a National Imperative, the date is considered “aggressive but doable” (rarely ever turns out that way).

    GOOD – All choices, high or low cost, are assumed to be as safe. This really pertains to how much “new” stuff has to be built. For Constellation relying on existing launchers was not considered optimum, but a huge new rocket that allowed everything to be put up on one flight was GOOD.

    I think that instead of having NASA (or Congress) dictate an exploration architecture, NASA should hold an open series of competitions that takes the time to fully consider the best ways going forward to explore space. This should include not only industry, but universities too. Engage the best and the brightest we have.

    If properly done, this would end up with a comprehensive plan that not only has wide support within the space community, but with the public in general. I think NASA would still have to live with it’s meager budget, but I would hope there would be less back-tracking and false starts, and the space/aerospace industry would be more likely to share the burden since they know what the roadmap is.

    My $0.02

  • @Pathfinder01: Listen, dude, there is NOTHING wrong with flying another Apollo, so long as it expands & builds upon what that program achieved! What would you all rather have?—a repeat of the Space Shuttle?—a repeat of the ISS? Because then, we never ever leave Low Earth Orbit! Apollo was the grandest, most majestic manned space flight venture ever launched! Project Constellation would’ve been a fantastic heir project, from which to accomplish the second great round of Lunar exploration. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin did everything he could, campaign-wise, to destroy the possibility of renewed Lunar exploration by this country. He deseves much scorn. So, he got the AMAZING PRIVILEGE of actually landing on the Moon, in July of ’69; and now he wants to block that road to Luna, and deny that glorious experience to anybody else in the future! What a slime-ball! If Constellation had been allowed to fly, and America gained full cislunar manned flight capability, I’m sure that then, sometime after the first Lunar sortie missions, there might have been room to launch a crewed mission to some nearby charcoal slab. Maybe the quasi-satellite Cruithne…? But asteroid missions should NOT be flown as a full substitute for Lunar missions! The Moon is vastly far more important of a destination, and should NOT be ignored, in favor of asteroids! Asteroids can wait, until the first new Moon missions have been flown, and the landing hardware has proven itself.

  • I think that instead of having NASA (or Congress) dictate an exploration architecture, NASA should hold an open series of competitions that takes the time to fully consider the best ways going forward to explore space. This should include not only industry, but universities too. Engage the best and the brightest we have.

    That will never happen until it becomes nationally important that we make actual progress in space. We’re clearly not there yet.

    Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin did everything he could, campaign-wise, to destroy the possibility of renewed Lunar exploration by this country. He deseves much scorn. So, he got the AMAZING PRIVILEGE of actually landing on the Moon, in July of ’69; and now he wants to block that road to Luna, and deny that glorious experience to anybody else in the future! What a slime-ball!

    There is someone who is a slime-ball here, but it’s not Buzz Aldrin.

    Here, go read this article. It might help you (but based on previous experience, probably not).

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Apollo was the grandest, most majestic manned space flight venture ever launched!

    It’s obvious that you are in awe of what the Apollo program did, and that you are “very enthusiastic” about the prospects of going back to the Moon.

    That’s fine, but the vast majority of the U.S. public doesn’t share your enthusiasm for returning to the Moon. If they did, their voices would have been heard long ago, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion 40 years after we last left the Moon.

    In fact the U.S. public in general doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for doing anything in space if they have to pay for it, so don’t feel picked on.

    Until you can make getting back to the Moon a lot less expensive, we won’t be going. You better get busy.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 11:27 am

    That will never happen until it becomes nationally important that we make actual progress in space. We’re clearly not there yet.

    Unfortunately you are correct.

    However I do think it’s possible it could happen, and maybe NASA’s budget getting lowered will be part of the impetus.

    A lot of big-name people would have to step forward and lead it, check their ego’s at the door, and toil towards an outcome that may not be what they originally desired. I wonder why it hasn’t happened yet… ;-)

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’m definitely for propellant transfer and fuel depot capabilities.

    I know, but I was responding specifically to your point about “false dates” being harmful. I was trying to make the point that early exploration missions using propellant transfer would be very helpful, thus making the early date not at all harmful. The reasoning being that early exploration missions using propellant transfer mean early commercial propellant launch markets and thus early R&D money for RLVs.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 11:27 am
    “That’s fine, but the vast majority of the U.S. public doesn’t share your enthusiasm for returning to the Moon. If they did, their voices would have been heard long ago, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion 40 years after we last left the Moon.”

    The “the vast majority of the U.S. public” are seldom heard by the powers that be these days. Witness public opinion on the war(s). The majority want out; the ‘powers that be’ remain deaf and indifferent to the public will. The ‘the vast majority of the U.S. public’ want a ‘public option’ on nat’l healthcarte and taxes raised on the upper 2% of income earners; the will of the people remains unfulfilled on these points as well. Only the folks who pen the checks to re-election committees are ‘heard’– and it is a elite and lucrative voice.

    A return to the moon is inevitable- whether it is an American-led enterprise, public or private, remains questionable. But someone will go. It is a logical progression point- a rational destination to develop experience, procedures and hardware for expanding the human presence out into the cosmos.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Until you can make getting back to the Moon a lot less expensive, we won’t be going.

    Going back to the moon the right way (i.e. in a way that creates a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market) could be one of the best ways to make going to the moon (or anywhere else) a lot less expensive.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 12:42 am

    “I agree from an organizational standpoint. I mean fake dates for doing exploration.” Have to agree with you there, unless the dates are dictatated by budgetary constraints. Can’t really see establishing a ‘firm’ date for exploration purposes. Those ‘target dates’ really apply to budget and performance time lines. As that CNN piece stated Sunday night, ‘They’ve been talking about going to Mars in 20 years for the past 30 years.’ In fact, Hugh Dryden tossed it out as a faux ‘goal’ in 1964 as well, along with manned flights to Venus.

  • DCSCA

    @Chris Castro wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Buzz has done a good job of diminishing his credibility in matters space related over the past few years. It appears to have been a business decision on his part. This takes nothing away from his aviation and aerospace accomplishments in times past, but Buzz is all about Buzz these days. For better or worse, he has embraced his ‘celebrity’ –sometimes well, sometimes quite poorly– and channelled it into some very odd enterprises of late- everything from the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ bit to hosting WWF events in Canada last year where a new generation witnessed him literally ‘moonwalking’ across a wrestling ring. Sad stuff. Years ago he was appearing on TV game shows and some sitcoms (‘Punky Brewster’ & v/o work in ‘The Simpsons’ comes to mind) as well as doing TV commericals endorsing commerative Apollo coin sets for some island nation; appeared on QVC peddling costly signed posters of himself on the moon and in 1994 he was at Macy’s in NYC peddling signed ‘moonrock’ neckties. Shades of Joe Lewis– and somewhat sad he’s still at it at 81. In his defense, he has said his underlying motivations have always been to keep the Apollo accomplishments in the public mind in some form. Of late that appears to be an increasingly tepid rationale.

  • common sense

    I am baffled by the lame attacks on Buzz Aldrin by people whose claim to fame is what? Exactly?

    Pathetic.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Chris Castro:

    “@Pathfinder01: Listen, dude, there is NOTHING wrong with flying another Apollo, so long as it expands & builds upon what that program achieved! What would you all rather have?—a repeat of the Space Shuttle?—a repeat of the ISS? Because then, we never ever leave Low Earth Orbit!”

    Why do you write as if the Apollo architecture as we knew it is the only, or even the best way to reach the Moon? Do you understand why it was even chosen?

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/factsheets/Rendezvous.html

    Keeping in mind what Costal Ron has said about being able to pick only two of the ‘good, fast, cheap’ options, the single-launch mission approach to reaching the Moon was chosen from the alternatives, Lunar Orbit Rendezvous was selected because it had the best chance of getting men there ‘before the decade is out,’ and before the Soviets. Not because it was cheapest, most economical. Also, there were too many unknowns about fuel transfer in microgravity. (and there still are a few where cryofluids are concerned, but no obvious showstoppers…further reducing that risk is one of the tings we need to now be doing).

    Today, there’s no such time pressure. beyond LEO systems can be assembled, tested (re)fueled, and operated Re-doing Apollo. or anything that ‘looks’ like it, won’t give us that. at a pace that makes engineering, not political sense.

    What would capability would Constellation have given us that Apollo didn’t? Three men instead of two on the Lunar surface, for a slightly longer time, at more than we could afford, per infrequent mission? Do you understand when the first Lunar Constellation mission was projected to happen? (hint: STILL long after Shuttle retirement) What is ‘full cisclunar capability’ about that? That’s *marginal* capability. It’s not the 60′s. We can do better.

    “What would you all rather have?—a repeat of the Space Shuttle?—a repeat of the ISS?”

    I’m not interested in re-doing that either. What’s needed are *better* re-useable launchers and space stations, not giving up on the concepts. In the long run, you won’t be able to support ‘exploration’ or much of anything else without them. You see, we’re not ‘finished’ with LEO, no matter how many people are ‘bored’ or ‘stuck’ or ‘tired of round and round.’ There’s plenty to do there, including being a staging area to points beyond. Even Columbus needed a good harbor to start from.

    “The Moon is vastly far more important of a destination, and should NOT be ignored, in favor of asteroids!”

    I’m inclined to agree. Constellation would not have let us do it soon, in an affordable way, or in anything approaching a regular, large and permanent way. Much of what we already have, or is near-term, is adequate:

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

    Apollo is over, as are the circumstances that led us to do things that way. If anything, today’s plans are more nearly a ‘throwback’ to the perfectly rational, pre-Apollo concepts of assembling deep spacecraft in Earth orbit. As indeed, Apollo almost was, in EOR.

  • Here’s a link to the Space Show webcast with Grant Bonin explaining why medium lift launch vehicles make more sense for crewed moon and Mars missions than heavy lift (especially SLS):
    http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1586-BWB-2011-07-03.mp3

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 4th, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Hence, for good or bad, my focus on putting capabilities in place.

    The challenge as I see it is two fold:

    1. Have a sense of urgency to get things done. Dates can do that, but not if everyone thinks they are just “movable goals”, and not real.

    2. There has to be a perception that the money can run out, and that delays and overruns will continue to be funded.

    Competition, when properly used, is very good at managing these two challenges.

    Competitions don’t need firm completion dates, since everyone involved knows that only the winner(s) get rewarded and keep going.

    For funding, as long as the competition identifies the monetary goals, the teams manage that too.

    I think if Constellation had been run as a series of competitions, instead of having major portions chosen by a select few, it wouldn’t have run into the budget problems it did, and likely wouldn’t have ended so ignominiously.

    And so far the COTS and CCDev programs have created redundant solutions (i.e. capable of sustaining failure and still continue on), while spending far less that comparable government-designed solutions.

    Competitions are not perfect, but I think overall they create better outcomes than the alternative. I just hope NASA is allowed to expand it’s use.

    My $0.02

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ July 5th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The problem w/Constellation comes back to Ares. Griffin’s bird was a lousy rocket; a flawed concept to build another 30 year program around and developmental problems coupled w/the economic collapse doomed it as configured.

  • @DCSCA
    “The problem w/Constellation comes back to Ares. Griffin’s bird was a lousy rocket; a flawed concept to build another 30 year program around and developmental problems coupled w/the economic collapse doomed it as configured.”
    For once, you are absolutely right. But the reason why “Griffin’s bird was a lousy rocket” and “a flawed concept” was that in the pursuing of “another 30 year program” they grabbed onto something that would have as a major goal the retaining of the maximum amount of Shuttle workforce without consideration of all of its flaws. All Coastal Ron is saying is that if the launcher for Constellation had been competed (preferably without cost-plus contracting), there would have been several designs very different from Ares and the one with the best overall characteristics could have been chosen. One of those required characteristics could have been a combination of affordability and reasonable development time.

  • Without some interesting reforms, all this talk is for naught.

    The Columbia Accident Investigation Board reported on a variety of problems with NASA and its industrial supporters that, as recently as a few years ago, apparently have not even been addressed.

    I am starting to say that NASA needs more Sidney Harmans, Benjamin Franklins (the man, not the $100 bill) and Arthur C. Clarkes and fewer Wernher von Brauns.

    Why did I choose the three examples I did? Sidney Harman was the leading pioneer in creating high fidelity sound systems back in the 1950s. People of all stripes went out and bought such systems to improve their lives. They didn’t ask government to support Harman, Kardon and company. Benjamin Franklin was a great man who helped found — in many ways — the United States of America and much else. Once again, people flocked to support his works. Finally, Arthur C. Clarke, besides writing some fine science fiction, came up with the idea of putting up communication satellites — a space business that benefits all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. People freely pay for that industry. Interestingly enough, these three men were polymaths strongly inclined to supporting democratic societies.

    Werner von Braun, on the other hand, created no such industry. The things he created depended upon government support. And support for democracy? He did flee in the direction of the Untied States when the Third Reich collapsed. I would have been more impressed if he had left for the United States in 1935, rather than 1945.

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