NASA

Fundmental differences and an underlying similarity in space policy

For over a year and a half the space community has debated what the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program should be, after the Obama Administration announced plans to cancel Constellation and focus more on technology development and commercial crew and cargo development. The outcome has turned out to be something of a hybrid: some funding for technology development and commercial crew, but also development of a new heavy-lift rocket and a crewed spacecraft (the latter, the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, effectively an uninterrupted continuation of Constellation’s Orion). But for the differences between the approaches of the current and previous administrations, one person suggests that they share a fundamental similarity—which may also be a weakness.

“I think there is, underpinning the debate, a fairly fundamental disagreement about how to carry out a long-term program of human spaceflight,” John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, said in a presentation at the National Air and Space Museum last Tuesday. Some people, he argues, advocate for “re-creating the Apollo-era NASA, modified for the 21st century”, while others call for “a new NASA, one based on technological innovation,” as he described the two camps. “If you want to, you can call them the Griffin paradigm and the Garver paradigm,” he said, referring to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin and current NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver.

On the first approach, Logsdon said later he didn’t want to make it sound like attempting to “recapture past glory” couldn’t work, but past efforts to do so have failed. However, the alternative approach, he said, required “a radical paradigm shift, probably too radical for the political system to accommodate.”

Despite these sharp differences in how to do human spaceflight, Logsdon sees something in common between the two paradigms. “The basic Bush vision is the basic Obama vision: that human exploration beyond Earth orbit is the purpose of government-sponsored human spaceflight,” he said. “If one believes that human spaceflight is an important part of the US government portfolio, I believe there is a consensus that spaceflight has to include travel beyond Earth orbit.”

That condition in his statement, though, may be critical: does the nation really believe that human spaceflight is something the US government should be doing? “If you say you have to go beyond Earth orbit, the next question is ‘why?’, and we continue to search for one or several justifications,” he said. He worries that the space community may have concluded that human spaceflight is “inevitable and good and right and obvious”, but that the broader public is unconvinced. “So if you say that the only reason to send people into space is to go places, but there are inadequate reasons to spend the billions of dollars required to do that, where does that leave you?”

96 comments to Fundmental differences and an underlying similarity in space policy

  • Fred Willett

    This is the idea that you gotta have a reason. A narrative that explains why we have to go beyond LEO.
    But if we were talking about world aviation the need for a narrative would be obviously silly. The person flying to Paris on holidays has a different motive to the businessman on a business trip or any of the millions of other passengers who fly all around the world every day. Each person has their own reason. A collective reason is unnecessary.
    We want a narrative for space because it’s a government program and governments need a reason that they can justify to their voters.
    I feel if we get the government out of the way business will find a reason. “It’s what our customers want.”
    It’s a simple reason. It’s a sufficient reason.
    Leave it at that.

  • Doing some research this morning, I came across a web page with the entire October 2009 press conference releasing the final report of the U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans committee:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/meetings/10_22_pressconference.html

    This report provided the foundation for the Obama administration’s space policy.

    It’s worth watching again as a reminder of how we got where are now, and more importantly where we’re going.

    Norm Augustine echoes what John Logsdon says. We need to establish our priorities and then pay for it.

  • amightywind

    “If you want to, you can call them the Griffin paradigm and the Garver paradigm

    Profound.

    The basic Bush vision is the basic Obama vision: that human exploration beyond Earth orbit is the purpose of government-sponsored human spaceflight

    Throughout his presidency, Obama has repeatedly said one thing and done another. Logsdon’s equivocation is too much to stomach. Obama’s approach to space, as in most other policy areas has been distracted and quixotic. Indeed it was outsourced to his radical appointees. The challenge in the next election is for America to choose clearly between the two ‘visions’, and defeat one completely.

  • Robert G. Oler

    There is no scenario under which Apollo and the massive public support for it (which got tenuous in the Gemini program and collapsed as soon as the bootprints were on the Moon) can be recreated.

    There are a few reasons.

    1. The political and politics of the times (the cold war era) are unlikely to resynch again. This is true for so many reasons, not the least of which is that human spaceflight is no longer AMONG THE GENERAL PUBLIC that novel or unique. What made human spaceflight a “race” in the 60′s is that it was viewed as one of Kennedys “new frontiers” IE a place for human expansion…that is no longer true.

    2. NASA is an old tired agency with pale dull people in its leadership who cannot build a toliet without endless 100 people meetings, lots of viewgraphs and a decade……….and billions of dollars.

    3. There is no money to do these things anymore, nor is there any trust in the federal government to do these great things anymore. It is somewhat odd that folks like Whittington are all gung ho for the federal government doing massive “public option” (what a joke) programs in human spaceflight but then have an issue with public programs being done in things like well roads and airports and other public works.

    What is it Mark that makes you think that the government can do human spaceflight and you dont like high speed rail?

    4. (and final for at least this morning…off to an early go here). there is no push for such an effort by the public…

    In the end those reseeking apollo (ie great projects for no reason other then to do them) are a dying breed of people who cannot measure value for cost. and are big government toady’s at least in space flight.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Fred Willett,

    Just one point: Although everyone uses commercial aviation (and state-run aviation, to wit the military) for different reasons, they all have reasons. These do not have to necessarily be unique to aviation (if you don’t mind going slower, there are alternatives); nonetheless, these reasons exist.

    So, what is needed is for people to list the ‘whys’ of spaceflight, commercial and government-funded alike. If the user requirements can be clearly identified, then so can the ideal methods, technologies and budgets.

    Let’s make one thing clear: Something does not need to be a ‘killer app’. So long as there are sufficient people who want the service and are willing to see it paid for (from tax is nothing else), then there is a market. This is so no matter how relatively inefficient, expensive, dangerous or contra-logical the reason. On this basis a lot of markets have developed.

  • jeremie

    @ Fred Willett

    “I feel if we get the government out of the way business will find a reason. “It’s what our customers want.””

    Do you have any idea of the marketing cost of bringing the customers to desire something?

    Business needs storytelling as much as governments do, and as a scriptwriter, I’m amazed at the number of spindoctors attending to McKee and Truby Scriptwiting master classes on behalf of big corporations or governments agencies.

    Corporations will get there if there’s money to be done; governments are supposed to be catalysts for the public’s will. Look at the work DIRECT did – I don’t know to what extend it’s bragging, but the recently announced NASA heavy lift rocket looks a lot like the Leviathan they advocated http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT

    My point is, it’s gonna be as difficult to make big business go to space (considering they’re for now the only ones able to do it) as making governments do it.

    The NASA and else fellows from DIRECT organized themselves as a lobby. We have a strong spacefans community that needs to organize itself, go for lobbying and storytelling.

    I know that in the US there’s an awkward relationship with the Government, but maybe it’d be wise not to idealize business either and trust people to find a way. I’d watch closely what Frednet is doing in the Xprize competition. Smae goes for Copenhaguen Suborbitals and late Open Moon. Every Open Source and DIY initiative in space is a good story because it’s going to bring back to the cause people that say “it’s not for me”, “not in my lifetime” and so on, and they’re a lot. Newspace societies have the same effect.

  • Dennis

    Quite probably the whole of the answer for the hopes of spaceflight lies in future resources. As they dwindle here on Earth, we see the elements that we need for expansion everywhere out therein space. Necessity pushes our limits, so too will the need for the replenishment of our resources. It must happen for the survival of our species. Can our world support 9 Billion people? While we are not there yet, it is predicted.

  • William Mellberg

    “‘If you want to, you can call them the Griffin paradigm and the Garver paradigm,’ he [John Logsdon] said, referring to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin and current NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver.”

    It is worth noting (again) that Ms. Garver was one of Dr. Logsdon’s students.

  • Justin Kugler

    Griffin paradigm was a failure because it did not line up the necessary resources to properly execute it. I was at Professor Logsdon’s talk at the Baker Institute last night and he reiterated that we’ve drawn the wrong lessons from Apollo. That paradigm cannot be recreated because the political conditions cannot be replicated today.

    When combined with Augustine’s assessment that large programs without proper planning and reserves are disastrous, it would seem that the current political prominence of the SLS approach is a Pyrrhic victory.

  • Aremis Asling

    Dennis,
    Most people, rightly, roundly reject the ‘to save the species’ justification. While I expect someday a business case for space resource collection will be made, the point at which collecting those resources in space becomes a better alternative than improving processes here on the ground for extracting what little we’ve got left is far far out into the future. Furthermore, as seems to be the case with many of our complex problems, I suspect we’ll surpass our limits before we realize we’ve done so and won’t have the resources to mount the sort of effort necessary to start a space resource collection operation.

    We need a justification that can get us out there sooner so that we’re already ready when the time comes, because necessity will likely come too late.

    The same goes for colonization. I do believe we may need to be an interplanetary species to survive a catastrophe at some point in our future. But I don’t think the public will buy that as a driving factor behind our space program until that catastrophe happens, at which point it will be too late.

    Both scenarios are valid reasons for going into space. Neither of them will be effective enough with a long enough lead time to achieve their goals. We need something shorter term. Our species isn’t good at looking beyond next week more or less decades or even centuries in the future. We just don’t think on those time scales.

  • Coastal Ron

    As to the why we should be sending humans out into space, here’s my take:

    We humans have always been explorers. For various reasons, we have felt the need to go beyond what we were comfortable with and travel out beyond the edges of our world to find new places and discover new things. This is how we spread across our world, and space will be no different.

    I think our national goal should be to become a spacefaring nation and continue that exploring and discovering out into space.

    Absent a recognized national need to do otherwise, the goal should be to continuously expand out into space in a sustainable way, creating transportation pathways and areas of commerce as we go. Reaching too far, too fast, without sustainable support, will only slow down our expansion.

    I’m more concerned with the pace of our space program, not the destinations. My assumption is that we will eventually go back to the Moon and reach asteroids and Mars, and it’s only a matter of sequence and when, not if, so let’s figure out the best way to do them all.

    My $0.02

  • Justin Kugler wrote:

    I was at Professor Logsdon’s talk at the Baker Institute last night and he reiterated that we’ve drawn the wrong lessons from Apollo.

    Did anyone film it? I’ve been looking around on the Internet but haven’t found it yet, if it exists.

  • William Mellberg

    Aremis Asling wrote:

    “Our species isn’t good at looking beyond next week more or less decades or even centuries in the future. We just don’t think on those time scales.”

    I don’t know about that.

    The Egyptian pyramids weren’t built overnight, you know. Nor were the great cathedrals of Europe. And neither Rome nor the Great Wall of China were built in a day.

    It isn’t our “species” that isn’t good at looking beyond next week.

    It’s our culture.

    Others might have more patience and greater vision.

    China is set to launch its Tiangong-1 space station next week. And they have a long-range plan for Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3, as well.

    Unfortunately, we live in a culture where “instant gratification” has become the norm.

  • common sense

    I am common sense and I approve John Logsdon message.

    Should it not be the Bolden/Garver paradigm though?

    Oh well…

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Elevating Lori Garver to the level of Mike Griffin is a little precious. Giffin has a vision for space, that involves the expansion human civilization beyond this Earth and includes private and public activities. Lori Garver’s vision is the expansion of Lori Garver’s political power and influence. Whatever happens in space is coicidental.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 10:05 am

    It is worth noting again that Griffin has an appointment at the University of Alabama, a public university, therefore paid for by the government of Alabama.

  • William Mellberg

    Common Sense wrote:

    “It is worth noting again that Griffin has an appointment at the University of Alabama, a public university, therefore paid for by the government of Alabama.”

    You might have missed my point. In mentioning that Lori Garver was one of John Logsdon’s pupils, I was simply suggesting that his opinions of “GarverSpace” vs. “GriffinSpace” might not be entirely neutral. Thus, his remarks should be taken with that background in mind.

    On the whole, I think he described the two sides of the debate fairly accurately.

  • The Egyptian pyramids weren’t built overnight, you know. Nor were the great cathedrals of Europe. And neither Rome nor the Great Wall of China were built in a day.

    They didn’t have that pesky “democracy” thing going on.

  • Justin Kugler

    Stephen, I saw a photographer, but I don’t know if the auditorium video cameras were on. There was no mention that we would be recorded.

    William, I’ll note that Logsdon was not unsympathetic to Griffin’s view. He just thought it was not formulated to succeed in today’s political and fiscal environment.

  • Lori Garver’s vision is the expansion of Lori Garver’s political power and influence. Whatever happens in space is coicidental.

    What ignorant slander (unsurprising, considering the source). It applies to the senators who have foisted the crony-capitalist Senate Launch System on the agency and taxpayers, not Ms. Garver.

  • Karl

    Great discussion. I feel that we have to all believe that we will one day make Mars into another habitable planet. If we believe that, then the path is simple and follows the “manifest destiny” idea more or less.
    If you feel that mankind has no purpose in space other than to gain knowledge for life on earth, then a human space program makes no sense.

  • Aremis Asling

    “The Egyptian pyramids weren’t built overnight, you know.”

    They were, however, completed as separate projects over the span of hundreds of years with no overarching project linking them together and with varying purposes as time went on. Furthermore not all Pharoah’s had a pyramid constructed (very few did in fact) Few, if any, were completed outside of the span of a single Pharoah’s lifespan. The design of the buildings, the religious justification, the burial process, and the incantations changed every time a new one was built, and sometimes (like the bent pyramid) they changed mid-construction.

    “Nor were the great cathedrals of Europe.”

    Most of the Cathedrals of Europe were started and stopped multiple times over their construction period and were redesigned and sometimes demolished and rebuilt several times over their lifespans. Many of the most famous are still incomplete to this day. Some have been incomplete for over half a century.

    “And neither Rome nor the Great Wall of China were built in a day.”

    Rome was a city, not a project. It was built organically by its citizens as the demand arose. Again, it wasn’t a single project, nor did it have a single aim. And few of its component projects spanned more than a single lifetime.

    The “Great Wall” is actually a series of several smaller walls built by multiple dynasties and even multiple cultures for various reasons. None of them were actually completed, and few served their intended purpose. To this day no one can actually define in it’s entirety, or even in significantly large pieces, what components comprise the “Great Wall”. They have been viewed as a symbol of national shame by the Chinese until very recently. It has actually been western influence that has congealed it into a single object and a symbol of Chinese pride.

    But back to space:

    “China is set to launch its Tiangong-1 space station next week. And they have a long-range plan for Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3, as well.”

    China has had three or four separate manned space programs since the space race, depending on how you count. Two or three were cancelled, one on the very doorstep of first flight. The most recent, and only successful project has taken considerably longer than originally planned, and has no plans anyone is aware of beyond Tiangong-3. Indeed the US, to date, has made the only strong commitment, to whatever extent it can carry that label, to go beyond LEO. Tiangong itelf is a project that has equally received several rewrites over its lifespan. Of the three nations that have launched humans into space, China is perhaps the best example of shortsightedness.

  • Aremis Asling

    “Many of the most famous are still incomplete to this day. Some have been incomplete for over half a century.”

    I meant half a millenia.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I don’t think I missed the point. When I stated that Griffin is being paid by the State of Alabama it may explain why he is such a fervent supporter of the Ares architecture and his manipulative political attitude similar to that of Sen. Shelby.

    You MUST know this is a very small community and therefore you will often find a relationship between this or that person and someone else.

    In any case. Logsdon did a good job summarizing the situation.

    And by the way, if the whole thing was not so politicized and driven by egos rather than by reason we could go much further but we don’t. It is politically convenient to keep the community divided: “Divide and rule”.

  • Both camps could be accommodated for a relatively trivial increase of the Federal Budget (debt). A Commercial Space Race with China may be the political motivator needed to create this as an American industry. So far Wolf is the only politico to sound that call. If it caught on, the idea could loosen the purse strings?

  • Vladislaw

    “China is set to launch its Tiangong-1 space station next week.”

    You should inform China they are launching a space station and not a target vehicle designed to test docking procedures needed for their future space station. Only 3 capsules, with only one being manned will dock with it in it’s 2 year lifespan. According to the China National Space Administration.

  • Vladislaw

    “They were, however, completed as separate projects over the span of hundreds of years with no overarching project linking them together and with varying purposes as time went on. “

    Recently some researchers are concluding that there was actually a plan for pyramids.

    “On earth as it is in heaven”

    Robert Bauval, the author of The Orion Mystery, outlines the Orion Correlation Theory. The three pyramids at Giza are laid out to mimic Orion’s belt. He also is moving towards a theory that all the pyramids might have been placed to create a scene of the heavens.

  • Vladislaw

    “Do you have any idea of the marketing cost of bringing the customers to desire something?”

    You are describing market push versus demand pull. The difference is if the product is designed to fill a need.

    “Technology push is a term used to describe a part of a business strategy of a company. In the innovation literature there is a distinction between technology-push and market-pull or demand-pull.[2] A technology push implies that a new invention is pushed through R&D, production and sales functions onto the market without proper consideration of whether or not it satisfies a user need.[2] In contrast, an innovation based upon market pull has been developed by the R&D function in response to an identified market need”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_push

    As Russia experienced when they first offered a ride to the ISS, there was more demand than just 1 seat every year or two. Russia didn’t have to advertise or market the service. After Tito flew the customers came to them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The three pyramids at Giza are laid out to mimic Orion’s belt. He also is moving towards a theory that all the pyramids might have been placed to create a scene of the heavens.

    It’s not inherently implausible that the Egyptians would have had astrological reasons for lining up buildings with the stars, but Bauval’s theory has been debunked. You can find similar mirrorings with underground railways all over the world.

  • E.P. Grondine

    IMO, John is covering over ATK’s 5 seg fiasco with a lot of elegant words.
    $10,000,000,000.00 to put ATK in the medium heavy launch market, and that just the beginning of this. It will get worse.

    As far as the impact hazard goes and the resources needed to deal with it, the general ignorance is stunning, even within the space community, from what I know with a fair degree of certainty about the problem.

  • DCSCA

    “If you want to, you can call them the Griffin paradigm and the Garver paradigm,” he said, referring to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin and current NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Logsdon’s provincial thinking falsely elevates these two failed and incompetent bureaucrats as framing a ‘debate’ that simply doesn’t exist outside of a clique of American civil space circles. The space world does not revolve around the US of A. Only the United States has had a reactive HSF policy. It always had– and increasingly, it appears to be a function of America’s political and economic system- not any visionary capacity to lead in this field. On the other hand, it’s chief competitors in HSF have incorporated it into their national character virtually from the inception of manned spaceflight. These cultures place a different- if not higher value- on education and investment in the technologies and the sciences that support spaceflight. Not so in America, as the degrading state of the education system as well as the HSF program today in America shows. President Obama’s ‘Sputnik moment’ comment last year for the most part fell on deaf, if not dumb, ears.

    For the U.S., it’s much more down to earth between Griffin and Garver. Both of these individuals represent past plannig and failure. Griffin wants vindication for advocating an over budget and failed rocket design. Garver, wholly unqualified to even begin to assert any course for HSF policy to begin with, is little more than a lobbyist, whose primary motivation has been to secure endless contracting for clients with no firm direction or destination for the policies she advocates. Witness Garver’s relentless support for the 25 year ISS, an ‘aerospace WPA project’ -as Deke Slayton called it- an utterly useless an expensive boondoggle, permanently manned for over a decade now and has returned nothing of value for the $100 billion wasted on it– except make work for the aerospace indusrty, which Garver has lobbied for in years past. Divorcing both of these people from HSF planning would be a good political and economic step in the right direction.

    “[A condition in Logsdon's] statement, though, may be critical: does the nation really believe that human spaceflight is something the US government should be doing?”

    The American response was clear and settled over fifty years ago by the U.S. reaction to proactive Soviet space efforts when Gagarin orbited the Earth. HSF is a part of Russian culture and raison d’etre– an element of their national character maintained for half a century through both massive economic and political upheaval. It is not in the United States. HSF in America is like soccer (aka football) and the metric system; the vast majority of the nations of the world embrace them while America resists.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 8:10 am
    There is no scenario under which Apollo and the massive public support for it (which got tenuous in the Gemini program and collapsed as soon as the bootprints were on the Moon) can be recreated.

    Nonsense. When the PRC heads for the moon, the USA will do as it always does- or try to- react and compete. If indifference wins the day, then it most certainly signals a ‘superpower’ in decline, its best days behind it, with a bloated and expensive military and two social classes; a thin strata of vast wealth separated by a grand expanses of poverty– just like Britain was as it declined 100 years ago.

  • Robert G. Oler

      Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 11:23 am
    Elevating Lori Garver to the level of Mike Griffin is a little precious. Giffin has a vision for space, that involves the expansion human civilization beyond this Earth and includes private and public activities. Lori Garver’s vision is the expansion of Lori Garver’s political power and influence. ………

    This from a person who thinks that a fee for service contractnbis crony capitalism and thinks that a pork project is “the public option”. Goofy mark. Robert

  • Ben Joshua

    Cathedrals were not tossed into the ocean after one use. And with the advent of pyramid robbers, Egyptian leaders opted for the lower profile and less expensive hidden resting places that are still being found today.

    “The” Saturn V was not flown multiple times, except in our imaginations. Each one was built at great expense, and then, kerplop.

    How is that a basis for sustainable launch services or human exploration of our solar system?

    Perhaps the next generation of space policy leaders will take a different approach. Those who dreamed of visiting space in their lifetimes will not be finding available seats aboard the MPCV/SLS anytime soon.

  • Aremis Asling

    “The American response was clear and settled over fifty years ago by the U.S. reaction to proactive Soviet space efforts when Gagarin orbited the Earth.”

    That response has changed significantly. Most polls out there suggest, rather strongly I might add, that most folks beyond our sphere of debate could honestly care less about HSF. A good number of them would actually rather we not do it. We do HSF despite public opinion, not because of it.

    “HSF is a part of Russian culture and raison d’etre– an element of their national character maintained for half a century through both massive economic and political upheaval.”

    HSF? Yes. BEO? No. They had a manned moon program which was scrapped with the failure of N1 and they haven’t seriously proposed anything BEO since. They aren’t the Ferraris of the space world, they’re the Volvos. They’re quite good at it, but their capabilities can’t be considered superior to our own solely on the basis of long-term survival.

    “It is not in the United States. HSF in America is like soccer (aka football) and the metric system; the vast majority of the nations of the world embrace them while America resists.”

    Wow. That just about takes the cake as the most inaccurate assessment of international commitment to manned space I’ve yet seen on this site. Europe, Japan, and India have been mulling HSF for decades. India only now has actually committed to a LEO capsule and they haven’t funded it (calling seriously into question the 2016 first flight). Japan and the EU have alternated back and forth between vehemently opposing it and weakly toying with the idea.

    China dragged its feet for 3 decades before starting a half-hearted, ploddingly slow effort which will have taken over 20 years to launch as many Taikonauts as could fit in a single Space Shuttle, assuming their manned flights go without a hitch next year (a huge assumption given their delays on other HSF launches). Iran is about the only other modern player on the field, and if they are truly committed to it, there’s zero evidence of it. No other country on Earth has any more committment to HSF than getting one or two native astronauts launched on (usually) American launchers as tag-alongs.

  • Aremis Asling

    “Nonsense. When the PRC heads for the moon, the USA will do as it always does- or try to- react and compete.”

    Call me when they actually announce moon plans. If China continues to plod along at the current rate we could fire our entire space workforce, burn the blueprints, drop an A-Bomb on Cape Canaveral and start over from scratch and still make the Moon before they do. And in case you hadn’t noticed, we already beat them there, anyway.

  • vulture4

    Garver is right. Griffin was wrong. The problem is that so far no one has bothered to tell NASA or the Senate.

  • common sense

    “If China continues to plod along at the current rate we could fire our entire space workforce, burn the blueprints, drop an A-Bomb on Cape Canaveral and start over from scratch and still make the Moon before they do.”

    Not bad. It looks like long term planning to me!

    Note that items 1 and 2 on your list have been happening. I hope they don’t go for 3 though. No need really. Just start from scratch ;)

  • vulture4

    My Chinese friend thinks attempts by NASA to create a new moon race reveal either ignorance of Chinese political goals or desperation on the part of NASA. A new moon race would serve no purpose. If China lost, they would look incompetent. If they won, they would irritate their biggest customer. Chinese launch schedules bear him out; China’s goals are to enhance domestic pride and advertise its commercial aerospace services. Neither goal requires more than one or two flights a year, just enough that people do not forget.

    A new moon race would be disastrous for the US as well. Given demand for tax cuts, the only way we could pay for it would be to borrow even more money from China. I have found very few people at NASA today understand why we went to the moon the first time. It was an appropriate geopolitical strategy for the Sixties, but times have changed.

  • William Mellberg

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “You should inform China they are launching a space station and not a target vehicle designed to test docking procedures needed for their future space station. Only 3 capsules, with only one being manned will dock with it in it’s 2 year lifespan.”

    Are you suggesting that Salyut-1 was not a space station? It was something of a prototype for the improved stations that followed. Tiangong-1 will be a similar prototype. Tiangong-2 will be more akin to Salyuts 6 and 7 with multiple docking ports. And Tiangong-3 will be similar to Mir with multiple modules.

  • William Mellberg

    Aremis Asling wrote:

    “Rome was a city, not a project.”

    My reference was to the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

    My point, of course, was that it often takes a long time to build something complicated or impressive. But in our “instant gratification” culture, people don’t often have the vision or the patience to plan and build great things that might span decades or generations (i.e., projects that span more than the next election cycle). Too many people get easily bored … and just change the channel.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “What ignorant slander (unsurprising, considering the source). It applies to the senators who have foisted the crony-capitalist Senate Launch System on the agency and taxpayers, not Ms. Garver.”

    One wonders where one begins. Garver’s actions since becoming Deputy Administrator are what they are. By supporting the current regime’s assault on space exploration and the true crony capitalist commercial crew program (Rand seems to be confused about that) she has proven where her priorities are. Anyone who actually believed in humankind’s expansion into space would have resigned in protest.

  • Well, some aerospace engineers of tomorrow (high school, undergraduate and graduate students) have sent this letter to congressional staffers, the President, the media and Neil Armstrong. Here is a link to the letter at the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space website.

    http://seds.org/2011/03/letter-from-students-on-future-of-human-spaceflight/

    Reminds me of when I was younger and trying to get those “untried companies’ ” personal computers accepted against the resistance of the old guard big iron guys who thought “only big mainframe computers can do important stuff”. Does that sound like anything going on now in a different arena? Disruptive advances are always resisted, generation after generation. Thus apparently is the human condition.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    “My Chinese friend thinks attempts by NASA to create a new moon race reveal either ignorance of Chinese political goals or desperation on the part of NASA.”

    Confucius say man on top of hill not on level. The artful science of disinformation remains strong. All that matters is the position of the Chinese government– a communist government, which remainded decidely red.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Garver is right. Griffin was wrong.
    Garver is utterly useless and decidely unqualified to even be in any political fce off w/Griffin. She was a go-for in Glenn’s office, for goodness sake. Dr. Griffin, who may be in error in his decisions on Ares, is quite qualified. Garver is not– she is a lobbyist, no more, no less.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “This from a person who thinks that a fee for service contractnbis crony capitalism and thinks that a pork project is “the public option”. Goofy mark. Robert”

    Oler, as usual, is confused about his definitions. Commercial crew involves NASA being the primary investor for a new service for which it will likely be the sole customer. One of the companies recieveing government money is an Obama campaign contributor, which at the very least has bad optics.

    “Pork” has a very specific meaning which does not include “spending I do not like.” If the SLS is “pork” then everything the US military buys from the largest aircraft carrier to office supplies is also “pork.”

  • DCSCA

    Aremis Asling wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 3:46 pm
    “Nonsense. When the PRC heads for the moon, the USA will do as it always does- or try to- react and compete.”

    Call me when they actually announce moon plans.

    Ring-ring, they did years ago. The fact they pace themselves differently than quarterly driven, myopic Americans who cannot see or read of it is always amusing. Even the Soviets announced they had plans to launch a satellite back in the late 50s and Americans knew it, ignored it, then expressed surprise- then panic, when they did it.

  • NASA Fan

    There is no rationale justification for this American democracy to continue to invest in HSF w/o there being a business case in the offing.

    Commercial servicing, cargo or crew, of the ISS is not a business case. It’s business as usual: Private companies making money off the government.

    With the exception of sub orbital tourism, which does not need government investments, there is no business case to be had in the arena of HSF.

    We are now seeing the end game of HSF: once SLS finds the light of day with the American public, and today’s generation of politicians who pushed it along are gone, we’ll see co incidentally the end of SLS and HSF

  • Vladislaw

    I am mearly telling you what China is saying about it, it doesn’t matter if I think it is a space station or not, it doesn’t matter if you think it is a space station or not. China doesn’t think it is a space station.

    “”The main task of the Tiangong 1 flight is to experiment in rendezvous and docking between spacecraft,” said the Chinese spokesperson, who added that this would “accumulate experience for developing a space station.” “
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/20/us-china-space-launch-idUSTRE78J0RM20110920

    If China doesn’t think of it as a space station, who am I to argue with them.

    I guess I could say it is a habitat for future Mars missions, but that would not be anymore correct than you calling it a space station, when China calls is a test lab for developing the technology for building their future space station.

  • DCSCA

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Well said. Garver’s has no vision beyond the next aerospace contract to be secured. The faster she is fired from NASA, the better.

  • William Mellberg

    vulture4 wrote:

    “A new moon race would serve no purpose.”

    I don’t believe China has an interest in another Moon “race” per se. And I agree that their human spaceflight program has primarily served (thus far) a propaganda and prestige purpose at home and abroad.

    However, the Chinese have indicated an interest in Helium-3 extracted from the lunar regolith as a potential alternative source of energy to fuel their growing economy. A lot of work would need to be done (and money spent) not only to mine and ship the He-3, but also to develop the fusion technology that would make use of the fuel. That is the sort of enterprise that requires long-range vision and long-term commitment (i.e., the will to do it).

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    And Tiangong-3 will be similar to Mir with multiple modules.

    But with a two-year lifespan.

    The point is that China is not engaging in some sort of space race, either for space stations in LEO or for the Moon, so they are not an excuse to increase NASA’s spending or reprogram existing funding for a U.S. Moon program.

    A need for the SLS still does not exist, and it continues to limit NASA’s future HSF efforts.

  • Rhyolite

    ““If you say you have to go beyond Earth orbit, the next question is ‘why?’, and we continue to search for one or several justifications,””

    There is a lot of interesting research and exploration we can do but whether it is useful depends on the cost. Cx was going to cost of order $1B to send an astronaut to the moon for a couple of days after spending more than $100B up front. There is nothing an astronaut can do at that price that would be worth the cost. That would change and the applications would multiply if the cost were $10M per astronaut or $1M per astronaut.

    SLS doesn’t even try to address the cost problem. It will keep HSF uselessly expensive for decades to come. COTS and CCDev at least attempt to address the cost issue indirectly through competition. I don’t think this is enough but at least it is a step in the right direction. SLS is just an expensive dead end.

  • Frank Glover

    @ Mark Whittington:

    “Elevating Lori Garver to the level of Mike Griffin is a little precious. Giffin has a vision for space, that involves the expansion human civilization beyond this Earth and includes private and public activities.”

    I’m at a loss as to understanding how the Constellation architecture as he gave it (or its resurgent offspring Liberty and SLS) would have gotten us from here to there, even as a first step…

  • Justin Kugler

    I have met Lori Garver in person several times and one of my mentors has been a friend of hers for years. The caricatures drawn of her on this comment thread bear no resemblance to the Lori Garver that I know of, whatever mistakes were made in the rollout of the FY2011 plan.

    Whether you agree with Ms. Garver’s goals or not, I am sick and tired of the insults and deliberate misrepresentation of the opposition, no matter who is doing it. For what it’s worth, I believe that Mike Griffin is doing what he thinks is best for the space program and the country, even if I ardently oppose his approach.

  • NASA Fan

    There is no rationale justification for this American democracy to continue to invest in HSF w/o there being a business case in the offing.

    Commercial servicing, cargo or crew, of the ISS is not a business case. It’s business as usual: Private companies making HSF monies off a single customer: the government.

    With the exception of sub orbital tourism, which does not need government investments, there is no business case to be had in the arena of HSF. If there were, we’d have seen commercial HSF long ago.

    We are now seeing the end game of HSF: once SLS finds the light of day with the American public, and today’s generation of politicians who pushed it along are gone, we’ll see co incidentally the end of SLS and HSF

  • Matt Wiser

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 6:14 pm
    “This from a person who thinks that a fee for service contractnbis crony capitalism and thinks that a pork project is “the public option”. Goofy mark. Robert”

    Oler, as usual, is confused about his definitions. Commercial crew involves NASA being the primary investor for a new service for which it will likely be the sole customer. One of the companies recieveing government money is an Obama campaign contributor, which at the very least has bad optics.

    “Pork” has a very specific meaning which does not include “spending I do not like.” If the SLS is “pork” then everything the US military buys from the largest aircraft carrier to office supplies is also “pork.”

    Hear, Hear! And Mark, you forgot to mention one other thing about RGO: his opposition to HSF in any form.

    Remember this saying from D.C.: “One Congressman’s pork is another’s essential project.” SLS advocates say this about Commercial crew, Commercial/EELV exploration advocates say this about SLS.

    As for the two approaches each Administration had to HSF: we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the previous Administration had given NASA what it wanted for CxP from the get-go. We’d be seeing test flights and crew selection for the first Orion test flights in 2013. Ah…another alternate history to work on, but I digress. Concurrently, we also wouldn’t be having this conversation if the current Administration had sold its plans for NASA that it rolled out to such disaster on 1 Feb 2010. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: the Administration by its own admission didn’t sell its plans to either the Congress or the public. Charlie Bolden himself has said this on several occasions-including a presser prior to a shuttle flight after that rollout. The Administration didn’t help its case by having a “space summit” that was basically people singing from the same song book-and even Sen. Bill Nelson, who got that summit, wasn’t happy with it. The Administration didn’t fight the perception that it was giving up on HSF, or outsourcing it to commercial providers, and that didn’t help any. Perception counts-especially in politics-and that perception was something the Administration hasn’t recovered from. What emerged from the 2010 Authorization Act was the best possible compromise that was politically possible. And as long as Congress writes the checks for NASA, that is something to remember: it’s not what you want to do, it’s what Congress will allow you to do.

  • common sense

    @ Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    “If the SLS is “pork” then everything the US military buys from the largest aircraft carrier to office supplies is also “pork.””

    Well of course it is pork!!! You really think that all the budget allocated to the military is needed budget??? That if we don’t have that budget we will suffer at the hands of… Of whom?

    Reality check: 9/11 with box cutters. What is the budget of the Iraqi insurgents? That of the Afghani? Do they compare to our budget for the DoD? I know we already won in Iraq but it is kind of long in the tooth as a victory. And a war that started in 2003, 8 years later is not even close to be over.

    Come back to reality someday. It’ll hurt but the longer you wait the more it will hurt.

  • Mark Whittington blathered, as usual:

    One wonders where one begins

    Of course “one” does, when “one” is unable to form a coherent argument, or to provide any evidence for one’s lunatic pronouncements.

    Matt Not-Very-Wise, let alone “Wiser,” proclaims:

    “Pork” has a very specific meaning which does not include “spending I do not like.”

    What an idiotic straw man. No one here believes that is the definition of pork. The definition of pork is spending whose sole purpose is to ensure that it occurs in certain zip codes.

  • Martijn Meijering

    If the SLS is “pork” then everything the US military buys from the largest aircraft carrier to office supplies is also “pork.”

    Nonsense. SLS is pork because it is meant to channel money to political constituencies. Aircraft carriers and office supplies fulfil real needs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    ““Pork” has a very specific meaning which does not include “spending I do not like.” If the SLS is “pork” then everything the US military buys from the largest aircraft carrier to office supplies is also “pork.””

    Mark is morphing the word “pork” to his own definition…and then trying to justify his version of pork by spreading that definition across the federal government buy.

    First you write “Mark R. Whittington wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    “This from a person who thinks that a fee for service contractnbis crony capitalism and thinks that a pork project is “the public option”. Goofy mark. Robert”

    Oler, as usual, is confused about his definitions. Commercial crew involves NASA being the primary investor for a new service for which it will likely be the sole customer”

    if “sole customer” is a bad thing (and there is no indication taht NASA will be the sole customer of commercial crew, then MARK HOW DO YOU DEFEND SLS?

    Not only would SLS if it could be built (and it wont) ONLY have NASA as the “sole investor” In it (the companies unlike SpaceX and OSC will put essentially NONE of their own money into it) it will have NASA as its sole customer. Falcon9 will have other customers both in and out of the federal government, SLS will have, despite the rantings of people on the DIRECT phone line, NO USERS other then NASA. NASA will not be a customer of SLS, it will be the sole USER…there is a difference.

    Pork is not “spending you dont like” and I Have never used that definition. It is spending that is done solely to perpetuate local (in terms of federalism) infrastructure.

    And one does not have to go far in the SLS debate to see that unless SLS keeps the “stakeholders” that have been porking at the government trough under shuttle, then whenever it drops a “shareholder” the Congressperson representing that shareholder drops their support.

    Federal spending has been spread out among congressional districts since the dawn of The Republic and it is easily seen in the building of the class of ships that would include the USS Constitution. BUT the class of ships itself had value past the jobs that they provided to the local groups….they were going to be built simply because the Navy needed them…where they were built did not make them pork.

    What is of course surprising to me, is that SLS is exactly the kind of project the article which you asked to have your name attached to, and took payment for, and on your web site claim some credit for to substantiate your creds as a writer….railed against.

    Then you were all for projects like commercial crew…or at least YOU ASKED to hae your name attached to a paper which advocated that concept in the exact form it is today.

    Can you explain the change? Or are you just confused suffering some sort of Obama hate? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 10:09 pm
    “Remember this saying from D.C.: “One Congressman’s pork is another’s essential project.” SLS advocates say this about Commercial crew, Commercial/EELV exploration advocates say this about SLS.”

    Nope that is just some goofy congressman trying to justify his pork.

    Pork is pork…it is spending that has no value to the nation as a whole but only to local constituencies.

    So for instance building a second runway at an airport that barely can justify a control tower…is pork; building another runway at Hobby in Houston (one of the busiest commercial airports in the country) is not.

    SLS is pork. It has no constituency outside of the folks who are going to get a paycheck from it.

    “As for the two approaches each Administration had to HSF: we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the previous Administration had given NASA what it wanted for CxP from the get-go. We’d be seeing test flights and crew selection for the first Orion test flights in 2013″

    Nope we would not. Even had they had “all the money they wanted” CxP was no where near flying…and the money that they wanted was more then it has taken to do the R&D on the Ford CVN and build the first one.

    Dont be goofy like Whittington RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Goofy there is, outside of a very very small group of space advocates such as yourself…no one in The Republic who cares that the Obama administration “gave up” on human exploration of space. The only people who care even in places like Texas and Florida…are the folks who get a paycheck from it.

    I bet you the “space advocates” who care…wouldnt even fill up a 747 400 RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Oler, as usual, is confused about his definitions. Commercial crew involves NASA being the primary investor for a new service for which it will likely be the sole customer.

    As someone that is familiar with these types of business arrangements, it’s you that is confused.

    NASA has a need for a custom service, and is paying companies to learn how to do the service in the way they require. This is pretty standard stuff in the commercial world, but you would only know about it if you were involved with purchasing or contracting.

    Regarding “sole customer”, you already know that Bigelow has stated publicly that they are waiting for two commercial crew providers to be established before they start up their space habitat business. And as you already know, they have already signed MOU’s with seven countries, so this is not some theoretical business.

    So no, it’s not likely that NASA will be the sole customer for commercial crew.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 21st, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the previous Administration had given NASA what it wanted for CxP from the get-go.

    Matt, Matt, Matt. You’ve already forgotten the rule “the Administration proposes, but the Congress disposes“.

    Support for Constellation (or the lack thereof) can be traced directly to Congress.

    But let’s not forget why the program went off the rails to begin with. What was supposed to be Safe, Simple and Soon turned into this family picture:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ares_I_Evolution.jpg

    This financial mess can be laid at the feet of one man. That man, Michael Griffin, was not only the architect of the Ares I, but was also the NASA Administrator when the program went out of control. He also let the JWST go out of control too, so this was not an isolated incident. The man simply doesn’t know how to be an effective administrator.

    Concurrently, we also wouldn’t be having this conversation if the current Administration had sold its plans for NASA that it rolled out to such disaster on 1 Feb 2010. It’s been said before…

    I remember once hearing that politicians have no long term memory, and it’s true. Whatever happened in the past can be conveniently forgotten, and you can be enemies today, but allies tomorrow.

    No one dwells on any of the stuff you dwell on Matt. Life’s too short to remember political gaffs that wouldn’t have mattered in the long run. No politician was going to support losing the Shuttle jobs without something backfilling them, and since Congress agreed with the need to cancel Constellation, they made up a reason to build the SLS. It was jobs they were complaining about, nothing else.

    But otherwise the President got what he asked for in his plan, and that’s all that matters. Now the battles afoot for the future, not the past. Where are you going to live?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Justin –

    “For what it’s worth, I believe that Mike Griffin is doing what he thinks is best for the space program and the country, even if I ardently oppose his approach.”

    For what it’s worth, I agree with you. But then I think Griffin is an idiot, and stupidity gets people killed, and industries as well.

    It is interesting to watch attack politics carried to the New Frontier, with Garver promoted to demon in chief by the neocons. Simple slogans to dumb down the minds of the public.

    Then reality intrudes, and people are suddenly left wondering what happened, lacking concepts to deal with reality’s complexity.

    So here’s my simple view: We just spent $10,000,000,000.00 plus to put ATK in the medium heavy launch market with a not very good rocket.

    As usual, reality is more complex.

  • Terence Clark

    “My point, of course, was that it often takes a long time to build something complicated or impressive.”

    No, your point was that humans are capable of long term focus, but the US in specific is not. My point was that Rome, et al, were not products of a singular, organized focus. We’re no less capable of the kind of focus needed to build the aforementioned wonders of the world. And by that I mean very little focus at all.

    “Ring-ring, they did years ago.”

    You seem to be confusing a general wishy-washy statement of interest with an actual plan. China does not now have an actual program in place to go beyond LEO. They never have. The US has made a far stronger commitment to manned BEO missions than any nation on the planet. Granted that’s because no other nation on the planet has offered anything beyond the vaguest statements of interest since N-1 crashed and burned (three times).

    And frankly the constant beating of the “China just takes a slow and steady approach” drum is as annoying as it is inaccurate. Such a statement suggests that they are taking their time to do it right. Their latest failure and frequent delays suggest otherwise. Their numerous HSF programs cancelled for no good reason other than “the party said so” are equally evidence against it. They are as shortsighted as we are, if not more so.

    We can’t completely ignore them, to be sure, but we need to stop losing sleep over the communist boogey man in the closet.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Matt –

    “Commercial crew” is the use of launchers for manned launch which have payloads other than manned launch or DoD payloads.

    Glad to clear that up for you.

  • William Mellberg

    NASA Fan wrote:

    “There is no rationale justification for this American democracy to continue to invest in HSF w/o there being a business case in the offing.”

    What is the “business case” for the Department of Defense?

    It is the “commercial” space industry that needs to justify its existence with a business case. But there is no current business case for space exploration — human or robotic. Rather, it falls into the category of “long-term investment” with no obvious or short-term ROI. Whether or not a Great Nation chooses to spend that sort of money on the future is up to the taxpayers and their elected representatives. A truly Great Nation ought to be able to spend money on more than entitlements alone.

    NASA Fan also wrote:

    “Commercial servicing, cargo or crew, of the ISS is not a business case. It’s business as usual: Private companies making HSF monies off a single customer: the government.”

    Agreed. That is not “commercial” space. Not in the sense of “commercial” aviation at any rate. The challenge for “commercial” space will be to generate more customers. That’s where Bigelow could make or break the industry. But unlike what the U.S. Post Office did in terms of serving as a catalyst for the commercial airline industry in the United States, there is no existing mass market to sustain “commercial” space. Time will tell.

    NASA Fan added:

    “With the exception of sub orbital tourism, which does not need government investments, there is no business case to be had in the arena of HSF. If there were, we’d have seen commercial HSF long ago.”

    Agreed. That is why I’ve commented many times that if there were a business case to be made for human spaceflight, Arianespace might have pursued it long ago (with Hermes, for instance). It is why I have also expressed my belief that Virgin Galactic might just find a big enough market to make a go of it — in large part because the cost of a seat aboard SpaceShipTwo is at least 100 times less than what the cost of a seat might be aboard an orbital spacecraft (and 250 times less than the cost of a seat aboard Soyuz).

    Was the International Space Station worth the cost of building it? Is it worth the cost of keeping it going? One could argue that having built it, the facility should at least be utilized. One might also argue that the ISS is a long-term investment in the future, which is why multiple governments were (are) willing to put money into it. But what kind of business case can be made for the ISS?

    If the United States can no longer afford to spend money on space programs without having to justify their cost on business grounds, then we are truly entering a period of permanent economic decline brought about by too many military entanglements and out of control entitlement spending.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt wrote:

    “As for the two approaches each Administration had to HSF: we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the previous Administration had given NASA what it wanted for CxP from the get-go.”

    Matt, Major Tom has posted the numbers, not once, not twice, but DOZENS of times. Constellation killed the budget. NASA actually got more than originally budgeted for the program that was to follow the shuttle. Griffin CHOSE an architure that ran past those numbers and he never bothered to look back. He over spent and we got nothing for the effort.

  • It is interesting to watch attack politics carried to the New Frontier, with Garver promoted to demon in chief by the neocons.

    By the what? What are “neocons” and what do they have to do with space policy?

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 3:04 am

    What is the “business case” for the Department of Defense?

    From the DoD website:

    The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.

    Sounds like a pretty solid business case to me. The ROI is keeping us safe.

    It is the “commercial” space industry that needs to justify its existence with a business case.

    Odd that a former business person doesn’t recognize a market need for products and services. NASA has needs, and businesses are there to take care of those needs, and make a profit while they are doing it. Capitalism 101.

    NASA has a need to get crew to/from the ISS, and that is the reason for Commercial Crew.

    NASA has a need for cargo delivery to the ISS, and that is the reason for CRS.

    NASA has a need for launching payloads on missions, and that’s what the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II Contract takes care of, which has as it’s providers Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX, and United Launch Services. LMSS and ULS contract with ULA for rockets.

    Without demand you don’t need supply. There’s lots of demand from NASA, as it spends 85% of it’s budget on contractors.

    Any other questions?

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 pm
    “Odd that a former business person doesn’t recognize a market need for products and services.”

    Quite the contrary. Savvy ‘free market’ investors see it, recognize the limitations and risks weighed against the financial gains at this time and see they can make more money faster investing in other venues. Odd you can’t comprehend that goal is to make the most profit possible providing ‘goods and services’ to the marketplace.

  • William Mellberg

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Sounds like a pretty solid business case to me. The ROI is keeping us safe.”

    No. There is no ROI. There are no profits. Defense spending is a bit like paying insurance premiums. It’s an expense. It produces no dividends for the shareholders (taxpayers). “Keeping us safe” is a worthwhile expense. But it produces no revenues, no profits and no dividends. Ditto for police and fire departments, as well as for public schools. They do not create wealth. They spend it.

    Coastal Ron added:

    “Without demand you don’t need supply. There’s lots of demand from NASA, as it spends 85% of it’s budget on contractors.”

    But the demand is solely from government, and taxpayers are paying the bills. That isn’t a “commercial” market. It’s government contracting — no different than the supposed “pork” that is spent on other NASA projects.

    And Coastal Ron opined:

    “Odd that a former business person doesn’t recognize a market need for products and services … Capitalism 101.”

    Our business was selling aircraft in the commercial marketplace. Our development costs came from the company’s accounts, as well as from private sector investors and lending institutions — not from taxpayers. Our profits went to the shareholders. THAT is Capitalism. Like so many other people these days, including Barack Obama and and Elizabeth Warren, you seem to be talking about government spending and Socialism 101.

    Incidentally, Fokker filed for bankruptcy when its costs exceeded its income, and when private sector investors and lendors were no longer willing to inject any more money into the enterprise. There was no government bailout, either. That, too, is Capitalism 101.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    There is no ROI. There are no profits. Defense spending is a bit like paying insurance premiums. It’s an expense. It produces no dividends for the shareholders (taxpayers).

    If you don’t think safety has a price, then you’re ignoring the world around you. And defense goes beyond the insurance model, since defense is proactive – you wouldn’t have a safe place to live without protection from bad elements, both domestic and foreign. And without that protection, and the stability it provides, you couldn’t do business.

    Why did you work in a building at your company? Because it provided protection from the elements. You couldn’t have functioned without it, yet the building itself didn’t provide any direct profit, but you couldn’t have made profit without the protection it provided. It’s part of the cost of doing business, but with the DoD it’s at the national level.

    But the demand is solely from government, and taxpayers are paying the bills.

    But in the case of Commercial Crew it is the government that needs the service, so it doesn’t matter who provides it. If Boeing and SpaceX didn’t step up, then Northrop-Grumman and someone else would have. You’ve caught yourself up in circular logic.

    But I will agree that it is a chicken-and-egg situation with getting a commercial crew market going, but you can either complain about the lack of government alternatives (MPCV/SLS once a year @ $2B/flight) or you can use existing government demand to create an industry that can grow beyond the government’s needs.

    You can either complain, or do something about it. Which is it?

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Sometime you are so wrong or is it naive?

    “No. There is no ROI. There are no profits. Defense spending is a bit like paying insurance premiums. It’s an expense. It produces no dividends for the shareholders (taxpayers). “Keeping us safe” is a worthwhile expense. But it produces no revenues, no profits and no dividends. Ditto for police and fire departments, as well as for public schools. They do not create wealth. They spend it.”

    Where to start? Let’s take Iraq. If our military and government had really been successful they would have secured a large portion of the oil market. No I will not even go that far as saying they would control it. BUT if the result of the invasion had really been a safe and stable democracy you really don’t think we would have had an ROI? Really? safe and secure delivery of oil to the US is not a good enough ROI to you. I am sure you can find a few americans that would not agree with you. The public benefits from our defense spending. DoD employs how many civilians? Outsource how much work to the private industry? Come on you cannot be THAT naive. It is not seen as pork BECAUSE it is served every where in the country. But there is pork a lot of it. When we go after programs that are not necessary such as the F-22 or for another engine for an aircraft that does not need another engine what do you call that? And I am sure I can find other programs if I only took the time. I have experience with programs that are only in existence in order to provide work to the defense contractors since there is no, none, zip, nada, chance they will ever see the light of day. Such as SLS or MPCV.

    Are you aware that we sell weapons and weapon systems outside the US? So yes those weapons are developed and built with taxpayers money. In return defense contractors sell them and make money outside the US. Ideally this money is being reused in the US but that is a different story. In so doing they bring up the price of their stocks for those who are PUBLICLY traded. So yes again the public sees an ROI.

    “But the demand is solely from government, and taxpayers are paying the bills. That isn’t a “commercial” market. It’s government contracting — no different than the supposed “pork” that is spent on other NASA projects.”

    This is not true. There is NO demand for SLS, nor there is for MPCV! NASA expresses the demand, not Congress. And NASA said we don’t need SLS. In time they will say they don’t need MPCV.

    “Our business was selling aircraft in the commercial marketplace. Our development costs came from the company’s accounts, as well as from private sector investors and lending institutions — not from taxpayers. Our profits went to the shareholders. THAT is Capitalism. Like so many other people these days, including Barack Obama and and Elizabeth Warren, you seem to be talking about government spending and Socialism 101.”

    Are you saying that Boeing, Lockheed Martin for example are part of a socialist government? Because as far as I know they makes tons of dollars out of the government. And they are diversified.

    “Incidentally, Fokker filed for bankruptcy when its costs exceeded its income, and when private sector investors and lendors were no longer willing to inject any more money into the enterprise. There was no government bailout, either. That, too, is Capitalism 101.”

    Are you praising a board of a company that drove it to the ditch because they could not be competitive on the market? I thought you, personally, were involved in marketing their products? Who is to blame then for the lack of market? WHO? Tell us please.

  • Vladislaw

    William Mellberg wrote:

    “Our business was selling aircraft in the commercial marketplace. Our development costs came from the company’s accounts, as well as from private sector investors and lending institutions — not from taxpayers.”

    So your company hired it’s own police and firefighters to make it safe to build and run a factory?

    So your company paved it’s own roads and built it’s own railroads to get materials to your factory?

    Your company drilled it’s water supplies to get water to the bathrooms?

    You campany built all the airports and runways so your product would have a place to land?

    The business of America is business and a long time ago our population realized that the better our infrastructure the easier it is for a business to create jobs and succeed.

    Yes, if your company had profits they probably paid taxes, but there is no way those taxes would have paid for all the infrastructure your company used to become a success.

  • William Mellberg

    Common Sense asked:

    “Are you praising a board of a company that drove it to the ditch because they could not be competitive on the market? I thought you, personally, were involved in marketing their products? Who is to blame then for the lack of market? WHO? Tell us please.”

    Since you asked … Fokker was done in by the Socialist policies of the Dutch government and the demands of the trade unions. Fokker could not hire or fire people based on the market requirements. For a long time, the company missed sales opportunities because production was fixed so as not to change the employment figures. For example, Fred Smith wanted to buy 48 of our F.28 jets for Federal Express. He wanted one a month. But because our production line was fixed, we could only offer one every three months (four aircraft per year). Smith went to Boeing and bought 727s. In the end, Fokker’s cost per aircraft (because of government regulations and union contracts) rose above the selling price (which was often fixed years ahead of deliveries). Fokker was losing money on every aircraft that rolled off the line. When the company folded its wings, it still had a large backlog of unfulfilled sales. So the problem wasn’t marketing. It was labor costs. Unfortunately, Fokker could no longer compete with firms such as British Aerospace who offered similar products (such as the BAe 146) for less money because of lower overhead. That was due, in part, to Mrs. Thatcher privatizing BAe. Since then, the regional transport market has been dominated by Bombardier (Canada) and Embraer (Brazil).

  • William Mellberg

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “So your company paved it’s own roads and built it’s own railroads to get materials to your factory?”

    Good grief! This sounds exactly like the comments Elizabeth Warren made that are now going viral on YouTube. Some people no longer seem to understand the difference between capitalism and socialism — between free markets and government spending.

    Take the roads, for instance. How much do truckers pay in taxes — not only on their shipments, but also on the trucks themselves? How much do we all pay in gasoline taxes? It isn’t the government that’s paying for those roads. It’s “We the People” who are paying for those roads — including corporations.

    The class warfare that’s being waged in America at the moment reveals the poor record of our schools in recent years to teach the fundamentals of free enterprise and capitalism to the masses. A lot of people have no idea how wealth is created. And some people seem to think that we are beholden to government for everything.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 12:13 am
    “As someone that is familiar with these types of business arrangements, it’s you that is confused.”

    ROFLMAOPIP It doesn’t show. The goal of commercial space, manned or unmanned, is to make a profit for investors in the corporation. And as history has shown, rocketeers make for very poor profiteers as the financial risks outweigh the rewards in this era. Space exploitation is not space exploration. That’s why governments do it.

  • pathfinder_01

    However, William if we the people can get lower prices via the commercial route than the government route then it is a waste of tax payer dollars to go the government route. In the case of commercial crew you get lower prices and faster development because you are not using the shuttle’s infrastructure and you can extend commercial as needed.

    You can spend billions on an HLV that will be disposable and have high fixed costs or you could for instance invest in technology like ah a solar electric tug. If you had one you could supply a moon base with existing rockets and such a tug could be reusable. The rocket relives past glories the tug advances our game.

    You could work on prop depots which free you from the high fixed cost associated with an HLV that is oversized for commercial use and developed with a view of maximizing money spent in the right districts. The shuttle was costing 4 billion a year. You could by nine flights of a Delta IV for 2.7 billion (ULA offered to charge NASA that much a flight in 2008 for Orion). Nine flights could by you two moon landings and enough money to develop a Lander.

    A relative of mine got rich delivering mail for the post office. Again a case of government focusing on what it needs to do (i.e. the post office just deliver the mail to your door…commercial companies move it from city to city).

    We can either pine for the glories of the past or live for the future. Sadly too many people pine for the past. I suspect if humanity keep wasting resources building pyramids we might not ever have figured out how to build a skyscraper.

  • Vladislaw

    You missed the point, I get tired of some people in business who make it sound like they carved their business out of the wilderness with no help. But fail to acknowledge why it is easier to have a business here with the infrastructure we have put in place. You don’t have to pay bribes to get resources. You do not have to build infrastructure. A lot of times businesses will get tax breaks to locate at a place. A lot of times local and state governments will kick in if a business locates there.

    I just didn’t like the crack that somehow taxpayers have never helped pave the way for a business success.

  • common sense

    @ William Mellberg wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I tell you what I have no idea, not a clue why Fokker folded. But it seems to me that Airbus is doing pretty well today. Of course they use some form of aid or another from their respective governments to succeed. Just like Boeing here. And Airbus has to deal with all sorts of “socialist” rules yet they make it work it seems to me. AND they are competitive with Boeing.

    See one thing is the way you adapt to the market and maybe, just maybe, Fokker management just did not know how to do it. It’s sad for such a legendary manufacturer to fold but other legends folded before and it will happen again. Market includes governments rules. Those who adapt win the others fold.

    There is no such thing as a “free” market. Never was, never will be.

    C’est la vie.

  • William Mellberg

    pathfinder_01 wrote:

    “However, William if we the people can get lower prices via the commercial route than the government route then it is a waste of tax payer dollars to go the government route …”

    As I have mentioned in several previous posts, this is why I would like to see a genuine space “summit” — not a staged affair with a pre-determined outcome, but a genuine meeting of the minds where the best ideas from a variety of sources could be laid on the table and (hopefully) some common ground found. There is too much either/or and “us” vs. “them” in all of these exchanges — and too little give and take. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas. Which is why a coordinated, long-term plan for space exploration and development would be a good thing. But we’ve never had one. Incidentally, such a summit could/should include international partners.

  • pathfinder_01

    If Wikipedia is right Fokker was bailed out in 1987 by the Dutch and forced to find a partner (sort of like Chrysler now). Also your description of Fokker sounds a lot like NASA today. …

    Unable to change from shuttle derived to something cheaper due to political pressure. Unable to do what it can do best (tech development)(i.e. find another market) due to political pressure.

    When the cost of doing something exceeds the budget it cannot be done. This is what happened to the moon program and what will probably happen to SLS.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ September 22nd, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    As I have mentioned in several previous posts, this is why I would like to see a genuine space “summit”

    What you’re describing is most likely was has already happened with The Global Exploration Roadmap:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2011/09/23/09.xml&headline=Humans%20Envisioned%20On%20Mars%20In%2025%20Years&channel=space

    But a “summit” is not the right place to figure out how to create a competitive, sustainable and lower cost transportation system.

    And as the Global Exploration Roadmap highlights, there is not even consensus on the best way to get to Mars.

    You keep hoping that one person will step forward and utter the magic words that will align everyones interests in space. Without a clearly recognized reason to do so, and I mean clearly recognized by the average citizen, there won’t be the mandate for that to happen.

    Until then, my hopes are pinned on incrementally putting in place the next segment of transportation we need to keep going further in a sustainable way (SLS does not do this). Once you have the transportation, people will use it, and NASA doesn’t have to bankroll the entire system. It’s the only way we’ll be able to afford to leave Earth.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: yes, it is. Get all the talking heads together, those who support the Administration’s ideas and those who don’t, and see if there’s common ground. Btw, that GER has two options: Moon first and Asteroid first. Expect the usual acrimony if one strategy is picked over the other. Again, it won’t be what’s technically possible, but what’s politically possible. Something people here need to remember.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 23rd, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Again, it won’t be what’s technically possible, but what’s politically possible. Something people here need to remember.

    We know it all too well Matt, and anyone that has followed NASA thru the decades have always known that decisions for NASA are fraught with politics. This is nothing new. Politicians aren’t interested in doing things in space, they are interested in spending money where it benefits their constituents.

    And it’s precisely for that reason that “space summits” like the one that just happened don’t change the political equation. You even admit as much:

    Moon first and Asteroid first. Expect the usual acrimony if one strategy is picked over the other.

    Yet you still cling to the idea that “if only we had a summit here in the U.S., it will magically pull people together.

    As long as politicians decide what we’re doing in space, “space summits” don’t matter, since it’s the politicians that decide where we’re going, not those that attend the summit.

    The SLS proves that, in that it won’t be mission ready for a decade and leaves no money for an actual mission – we could be back on the Moon within a decade using existing rockets if we needed to, but (and this is important) we don’t need to.

    Until the politicians let NASA use affordable rockets for exploration, we will have to be content in not going anywhere.

  • Matt Wiser

    Ron: I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat: I do want the private sector to succeed, as that frees up NASA resources to fly BEO. But keep in mind that Lord Musk is not the Messaiah when it comes to HSF, Space X is not run by gods, and there’s several other companies (Boeing, Orbital, Sierra Nevada) in the running for commercial crew. You’ll likely see one of the startups and one of the established firms (Boeing, preferably) getting contracts.

    Now, where we disagree is on HOW NASA goes BEO. You’re forgetting that NASA is beholden to Congress, as Congress writes the checks, and Congress is not a rubber stamp-the Administration found that out the hard way with the pushback to that piece of crap that was FY 11. They really did expect that their proposal would be hailed to the skies, that pushback would minimal to none, and that Congress would rubber-stamp the proposal. WRONG on all three. The 2010 Authorization Act is the end result. Congress has told NASA to build a crew vehicle and a heavy-lift launcher, and has voted funds to do so. NASA has to comply, just as any other government agency. It cannot pick and choose which laws it will follow and which it won’t (which some here in previous threads seem to believe). Now, if you want Congress to tell NASA to use a strategy similar to what ULA has proposed, good. Write your Congresscritter and Senators and see what happens.

    Again, a real “space summit” would blend those who favor the Administration’s approach and those with reservations and alternatives, and see if some common ground is possible-not just an event where everyone’s singing from the same song sheets. Is some of the acrimony directed at the Administration political? Some is: given the climate in D.C. these days, but when there are Senators and Congresscritters from BOTH PARTIES critical of the Administration’s approach to NASA, it shows that the Administration still hasn’t recovered from that botch of a rollout a year and a half ago, and it’s still playing catch-up. Having a real “meeting of the minds” might just lay out an approach that both sides can live with.

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ September 24th, 2011 at 3:39 am

    But keep in mind that Lord Musk is not the Messaiah when it comes to HSF, Space X is not run by gods, and there’s several other companies (Boeing, Orbital, Sierra Nevada) in the running for commercial crew.

    It’s funny that only detractors of Elon Musk and SpaceX refer to Musk in that way. I see him as a savvy businessman doing the one thing I think needs to happen if we’re ever going to leave LEO – lowering the cost to access space.

    You support the exact opposite of that. You support things that RAISE the cost to access space.

    You also support the political reasons why NASA can’t keep a long-term HSF program going, which is politicians spending money on things that benefit their constituents, but not the nation’s efforts in space.

    The SLS is the product of politicians of both parties coming together to keep money flowing to their constituents, not some sort of bipartisan support for NASA HSF. They have even said that in press announcements, so anyone that has open eyes (hint hint) will see that Matt.

    Again, a real “space summit”

    When was the last time someone held such a thing? Never, as far as I can tell. But yet you blame Obama for not doing it. Uh huh.

    What about Congress? When was the last time they summoned current experts from NASA, industry and science to see what they recommend Congress fund? How come the people responsible for providing the money don’t get any of your anger?

    You know they could commission a study to recommend different approaches to human exploration – find out what the industry could support, and what could be done affordably to reach the Moon, asteroids and ultimately Mars.

    You know why they haven’t done any of that? They don’t care.

    And that, my friend, is why the SLS is yet another program that will fail, and NASA will have to wait for our space industry to develop (slowly) on their own the transportation and systems NASA will use for leaving LEO.

    What a wasted opportunity.

  • But keep in mind that Lord Musk is not the Messaiah when it comes to HSF, Space X is not run by gods, and there’s several other companies (Boeing, Orbital, Sierra Nevada) in the running for commercial crew.

    Why don’t you go over to some other forum (probably in some other universe), and argue with people who actually believe that Elon Musk is the Messiah and that SpaceX is run by gods, and are unaware that there are several companies in the running for commercial crew.

    Actually, you must believe yourself that SpaceX is run by gods, because you keep calling him “Lord Musk.” I don’t know any of rational people who do so. You really make yourself look foolish and illogical with these ridiculous straw men.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt wrote:

    “But keep in mind that Lord Musk is not the Messaiah when it comes to HSF, Space X is not run by gods, and there’s several other companies”

    What is a messiah? It is not a god, but a messanger. If you are using in a religious term then there is no way he could be. If you are using it in a non religious term then define what a spaceflight messiah would be?

    What are the requirements of a spaceflight messiah? Someone who brings the good news? A redemer?

    Is Musk bringing good news for human spaceflight? Like costs can be a lot cheaper than the government would have the taxpayer believe? That development does not have to be billions but millions?

    Come on Matt, define your spaceflight messiah? Tell how we need someone preaching the good news of Big Government rockets.

  • Das Boese

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 23rd, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the link, Ron.

    The “Asteroid Next” pathway calls for an initial piloted mission to a Deep Space Habitat in the 2025 to 2028 time frame, followed by a pair of four-person expeditions to yet-to-be-selected asteroids between 2028 and 2033. The “Moon Next” approach calls for five extended-stay missions on the lunar surface for a crew of four between 2020 and 2030, followed by missions to a Deep Space Habitat at an Earth-moon Lagrange point and a Near Earth Asteroid during the following decade.

    The lunar missions would focus initially on polar exploration. They would feature demonstrations of long-distance rovers under development for the Mars expeditions, which could follow in the mid-to-late 2030s.

    Yeah, the airless Moon… just the perfect place to “demonstrate” vehicles intended for operation in an entirely different planetary environment. It’s like testing a new swimsuit design in the middle of Antarctica.

    If the goal is Mars, a return to the lunar surface in the way described is an unnecessary distraction, a delay and waste of money, or in short the best way to make sure we won’t get there before the second half of the century.

  • Coastal Ron

    Das Boese wrote @ September 26th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    If the goal is Mars, a return to the lunar surface in the way described is an unnecessary distraction, a delay and waste of money, or in short the best way to make sure we won’t get there before the second half of the century.

    Agreed. That’s not to say I don’t think we shouldn’t settle down on the Moon at some point as a separate activity, but the road to Mars doesn’t go through the Moon.

  • Daddy

    It is apparent that Professor Logsdon in coining the “Garver Paradigm” is saying what NASA employees have whispered to each other for the last couple of years. Lori Garver is running NASA into the ground while Charlie Bolden is stuck defending his boss’s hopelessly muddled space policy….. “Garver Paradigm” — Can someone please explain to me what the political scientist had in mind with the original Obama Space Plan? As near as I could tell it involved spending billions on directionless research with the POSSIBILITY of maybe some decades from now going to an asteroid…. For what purpose? Because it would be cool? Even Garver herself couldn’t or wouldn’t defend the asteroid objective when questioned about it. Why would any teenager bother taking a math or science class when Ms. Garver demonstrates you don’t have to know anything about math, science or engineering to run NASA? Just suck up to the latest charismatic Presidential candidate and talk about your favorite Star Trek episodes. This is sad….

  • @Boese:

    Yeah, the airless Moon… just the perfect place to “demonstrate” vehicles intended for operation in an entirely different planetary environment. It’s like testing a new swimsuit design in the middle of Antarctica.

    Or a new rover design on Ear…wait.

    You’re taking the the old saw about how the best scale to test at is 12 inches to the foot to a ludicrous extreme.

    If the goal is Mars, a return to the lunar surface in the way described is an unnecessary distraction, a delay and waste of money, or in short the best way to make sure we won’t get there before the second half of the century.

    You’ll live.

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