Campaign '12, NASA

Gingrich calls for privatizing human spaceflight

Former Speaker of the House and current 2012 Republican presidential candidate said Thursday he would “absolutely” privatize human spaceflight if elected president. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Dallas, Gingrich was asked about the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing as required by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. “I think it is disgraceful the way getting into space has been turned into a political pork-barrel. It’s an abuse of the taxpayer and an abuse of America’s future,” he said, according to a statement from the Space Frontier Foundation, which also provided a transcript of the exchange. “It is a tragedy that between bureaucrats and politicians we have reduced NASA to the point where we are relying on Russian rockets to get to the space station.”

Gingrich did not stop there, though. “I would call for a total replacement of the current structure of NASA with a brand new system that is aggressively designed to challenge free enterprise,” he said. He went on to discuss his preference for prizes to enable exploration as an alternative to traditional government-led programs, something that dates back to his time in Congress. “If you had taken 5 or 10 percent of the NASA budget in the last decade and put it into a prize for the first people to get to the Moon permanently, you’d have 20 or 30 folks out there getting to the Moon, we’d already be on the Moon, and the energy level would be unbelievable.”

Not surprisingly, the Space Frontier Foundation strongly supported Gingrich’s comments in its statement, while noting that was not endorsing Gingrich or any other candidate. “We are gratified to hear Speaker Gingrich bring his years of experience and obvious intellect to the discussion of space policy,” said Foundation chairman Bob Werb. “Fiscal responsibility and a strong space program can go hand in hand, if we leverage the genius of the private sector.”

104 comments to Gingrich calls for privatizing human spaceflight

  • Coastal Ron

    I like Bolden where he is, but it would be fun to see what Newt could do as NASA Administrator…

  • Larson

    I’ve always wanted to see more prizes used to spur development. Just look at all the suborbital capability that was sparked by the x-prize earlier last decade.

    Prizes are one of the lowest-risk (to the taxpayer or other prize funder) ways of achieving capabilities. If no one meets the prize requirements, then no money is spent by the sponsor. If someone gets the prize, great, you now have a capability you didn’t have before, likely at lower cost than developing it yourself. Furthermore, you’ll likely get more than one system able to meet the prize objectives, since multiple groups will be competing to win. There really aren’t a lot of downsides to prizes.

    The caveat to this, though, is that the prize needs to be at least somewhat worth the effort. (Scaled and their supporters certainly spent more than the prize amount building SS1.) I think something like the google lunar x-prize probably wasn’t enough money to really spur development to win the prize in the time that was alotted. (But even then, there’s still time to prove me wrong.) Either the prize money should have been increased, or the prize window extended.

  • DCSCA

    “Gingrich calls for privatizing human spaceflight”

    Gingrich is desperately recycling failed policy from his youth. He knows the the deadly and disasterous attempt at the foolish notion of privatizing spaceflight in the Reagan era. Reaganomics can never propel humans out into the cosmos.Suppy side econimcs is a big a failure as the N-1. He knows little about spaceflight and even less about aerospace R&D projects of scale. This pseudo ‘historian,’ who has demonstrated he is incapable of managing his own life and career, is one of the most ignorant, corrupt politicians of our times which his own party recognized when it forced him out of office nearly 20 years ago. But his foolishness is consistent as the following news blurb from 1995 noted:

    “GINGRICH CRITICIZES NASA

    House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Saturday that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should have been disbanded after the Apollo moon program ended in the 1970′s. Source- NY Times February 6, 1995″

  • Problem with total privatisation is that we do need the basic science work done, which industry will not do. It’s a nice idea, but not practical. There’s no monetary market for the science data that NASA projects are producing, therefore there’s no private sector approach to solving the problem. And without growth in basic science, the private sector will eventually stagnate. It’s a mistake to think that existing industry can somehow represent or lead to the extent of future possible industry. New science creates new industry on a continuous basis, and right now there’s a lot of new science coming from space.

  • SpaceColonizer

    No Surprises here. Always knew this was Newt’s stance on space policy. It’s comments like this that make me like him, even though I’m still likely not going to vote for him over Obama (only Ron Paul holds that honor for me). Would love to see this asked at a debate and watch pretty much all the other candidates freeze like a deer in headlights.

    However, I am skeptical of a full blown prize format for NASA. I’m just wondering how it would play out for long term robotic missions. Take the Voyagers for example, our longest term robotic mission (I’m pretty sure of that unless someone knows of any science missions that have lasted longer than the Voyagers). How would something like that be converted into a prize format? Is there just one prize for having the probe built and launched and returning at least a minimum amount of data? Are there prizes for particular types of discoveries? Will NASA(or whatever this new “prize” awarding organization might be called) commit to paying off those discovery prizes which could be long awaited for? Also a whole team of scientists are on hand to receive telemetry, are the competing private groups (likely universities) going to pay/maintain that workforce or will NASA? Voyagers have made quite a few unexpected discoveries as well, how does the prize system account for such unpredictables?

    Also, being an advocate for space settlement, I’m left to wonder how the prize system helps in the long run if NASA doesn’t have it’s own program to act as a customer, an anchor market. Just seems like giving a one time award for development of a capability/acheivement of a goal doesn’t really create a lot of progress in space settlement, it’s just a cheaper/slower way of doing Apollo missions.

    Step 1: Award prize money for development of technologies and completion of missions.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Settlement!

  • DCSCA

    Memo to Bob Werb
    cc: Uncle Newt

    Private enterprise will NEVER spearhead space exploration. History has shown that when the opportunity to do so has presented itself to private industry on a silver platter, private enterprise balked and let government, in various guises and for various motivations, carry the bulk of the risk and the financial load to push the technology forward. Profiteers make for poor rocketeers. No sir, private enterprise is a follow along, cashing in where it can, and has shown over the 80 plus years of modern rocketry and half century of HSF, that it will never lead the way in space exploration. Space exploitation is not space exploration.

  • MrEarl

    Newt is still a candidate?
    The best thing he could do for his country is run up his credit cards a lot more.

  • common sense

    What the heck is going on? Did the continents shift or something? The 2012 alignment starting to show? Global Warming? It’s Friday? WHAT?

    I’ll admit it. Sometimes I agree with TPIS and sometimes with Gingrich… Arrghh. It hurts though.

    Nah. Must be the age thing setting in.

    Oh well…

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 3:40 pm
    “I like Bolden where he is, but it would be fun to see what Newt could do as NASA Administrator…”

    Exactly what he has done since he was forced out of office– nothing. Bolden is a glaring example of the Peter Principle, but at least he has some base knowledge of spaceflight. Gingrich does not.

  • amightywind

    Newt says a lot of silly things. He will soon be gone from the presidential race and then the silly things he says will no longer be news. You Nerdspace advocates are grasping at straws.

  • @common sense
    “What the heck is going on? Did the continents shift or something? The 2012 alignment starting to show? Global Warming? It’s Friday? WHAT?”
    Nah, Newt has always been a very vocal proponent for commercial space.

    @ablastofhotair
    “Newt says a lot of silly things.”
    And you are an expert when it comes to silly things. You consistently put out some Doozies.

  • Gary Miles

    Gingrich supports privatizing any government agency. He doesn’t give a flip whether its NASA or IRS. His beat is that government agencies are wasteful and accomplish little to nothing. He uses NASA to promote his agenda.

  • It makes about as much sense to privatize the US space program as it would to privatize the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. But there are governments that have hired mercenary armies to protect them. They were real effective for Kuwait when Iraq invaded Kuwait at the start of the first Gulf War:-)

    Our Federal investment in space has been good for private enterprise. And companies like Space X, the ULA, and Bigelow wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the Federal government’s investment in space .

    But there’s certainly nothing stopping private companies that are currently sitting on two trillion dollars of potential investment dollars from investing in private space companies like Space X and Bigelow and SpaceDev the way the US government already is. But I guess they’d rather invest their dollars in a free society like China:-)

  • Mr. Right

    Read To Renew America, pages 191-192. He’s a big fan of the space program, but a very cheap fan.

  • Its ok Common Sense, we at TPIS are common sense. Can’t wait to have you on a future telecon.

    Mr. Newt is correct with his assessment of SLS in its current iteration. It is sole sourced pork brought in by the United States senate. It is frankly shameful what this handful of senators did with .43 of one percent of the federal budget.

    What really gets me in all of this is why JSC and KSC are going along with this. SLS does nothing for them. It has been documented both by TPIS and local media outlets that SLS brings major pain to KSC and JSC.

    Privately, we hear the grumbling from people but they just seem to want to let it happen. Competition is good. NASA should set the standards for that competition and get the heck out of the way. NASA has a huge roll to play in our next space age.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • Robert G. Oler

    “ot surprisingly, the Space Frontier Foundation strongly supported Gingrich’s comments in its statement, while noting that was not endorsing Gingrich or any other candidate. “We are gratified to hear Speaker Gingrich bring his years of experience and obvious intellect to the discussion of space policy,” said Foundation chairman Bob Werb. “Fiscal responsibility and a strong space program can go hand in hand, if we leverage the genius of the private sector.”

    LOL

    there are many joyous moments in politics and one of them is when someone like Newt goes on like this.

    One of them is the joy of imagining how people like Mark Whittington are reacting to it. Whittington back when he had some grasp of politics was a devout “Mr. Newt” supporter, including Newts views on space and NASA…now while Newt has stayed fairly constant at least in his rhetoric Whittington has drifted into the lure of big government programs for reasons at time which appear at best incoherent.

    However Newt at least in his rhetoric has stayed constant…problem is that (until now at least) is as far as Newt has been willing to go.

    In his book “Dead Right” David Frum deals with the “power failures” of the right wing and its intellectual leaders like “Mr. Newt” in converting their rhetoric to actual policy…and in fact Frum discusses Newts space politics and policies in regards to the big government program of its era, the space station. On paper Newt and others are generally in the “right” column but they are practical pols and Newt was unable to execute his rhetoric because there were just to many GOP fortune cookies on the line with the space station.

    at one point Whittington, Rich Kolker and I went up to DC and did a little lobbying for “a change of direction in the space station” program…we meet with a good friend of mine (a classmate) who was then chief of staff for the senior Texas Senator. (we also met with some folks on Gingrich staff and Dana R). The reality was clear…the space station might have been to that point a turkey, but it was pork that kept a lot of politicans in the saddle back home and killing it or changing direction (alternate design ideas) was going to be very very hard (like impossible).

    Whittington has of course gone a different direction..SLS is in his world vital to the continuance of the US as a great power (Laugh)…but at least time has finally seemed to catch up to Newt’s position.

    Newt knows what few here grasp…there is no support for a 1960′s type human exploration program in the US and that today’s NASA is probably not capable of doing such a mission for any amount of money; much less something that is conceivable in the current financial world.

    So now Newt can make openly those statements and they might even help his so far crummy campaign. If Cain implodes Newt is going to get a second look by the ABW (anybody but willard) crowd…and I suspect that the people who support concepts like SLS will be surprised to learn that the rest of the right wing world…does not .

    Go get them “Mr. Newt”. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Newt says a lot of silly things. ”

    when “Mr. Newt” was The Speaker and banging on about Lewinsky even while he had his own little honey…I use to say the same things…but then he was the darling of the right wing and “Rush”…

    Remember “Wind” The Falcon 9 second stage is spinning out of control RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Gary Miles wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 8:15 pm
    “Gingrich supports privatizing any government agency. He doesn’t give a flip whether its NASA or IRS. His beat is that government agencies are wasteful and accomplish little to nothing.”

    Except, of course, the Congressional Pension Office, which keeps his checks going out on borrowed monies.

  • Byeman

    “big a failure as the N-1. He knows little about spaceflight and even less about aerospace R&D projects of scale.”

    Exactly, the N-1, Shuttle, Constellation, and X-33 are perfect example why gov’t shouldn’t be running aerospace R&D projects of scale.

  • @common sense wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 4:23 pm
    “I’ll admit it. Sometimes I agree with TPIS and sometimes with Gingrich… Arrghh. It hurts though.”

    TPIS is and will be non-partisan when it comes to space policy. The center always hurts the most because you are being tugged at both extremes. However, it is the most ‘common sense’ approach to moving our country (and the world) to a rational, fically sound, all encompassing space policy.

    My personal goal, and the basis of my earliest rants on this site and others was the constant changing of direction each time a new adminstration entered the WH. I want all us all marching to the same drummer. One focused direction, no wavering for all kind. Is that too much to ask for? I think not, and I think TPIS can lead the way. Our ‘hit’ count has my jaw dropping to the ground lately! Thats a good thing!

    1st Newt, how about Mitt? That will tell the tale.

    Gary Anderson
    Disclaimer: I’ll only put my title if I’m typing for the org. otherwise, it’s just a Gary rant! :)

  • Martijn Meijering

    “Mr. Newt is correct with his assessment of SLS in its current iteration. It is sole sourced pork brought in by the United States senate.” (emphasis added)

    Still spinning and shilling for an HLV eh?

    Gingrich understands that an HLV is unneeded and even harmful. Having competition for subsequent multi-decade sole-source contracts for individual components of a single launcher for exclusive NASA use is nowhere near as useful as fierce and ongoing competition for launch services with multiple, redundant and commercially available launchers. Indeed, one is hardly useful while the other is enormously helpful in about the only thing that really matters, namely reducing commercial launch costs and prices by an order of magnitude.

    As for your final qualification, the House has been just as harmful and pork-driven as the Senate.

    Gingrich isn’t advocating what you’re advocating. I think you’re twisting his words. I bet he wouldn’t agree with the caveats you added and the main aspect of replacing the entire existing NASA structure that you left out entirely. I bet you know this. That doesn’t sound very “respectful” to me.

    Do you take funding from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and / or Aerojet? I bet you do and I bet you will again decline to answer that question. I’ll have trouble believing you’re really on our side as long as you don’t come clean on your funding and as long as you don’t call for outright cancellation of SLS, in any form.

    And I call on every advocate of commercial manned spaceflight to do the same. Do not donate to the so-called, self-appointed “Tea Party” in Space until they publish their full list of donors with exact dollar amounts as well as any agreements made on public positions with their sponsors.

  • Scott Bass

    On a side note….wanted to post this link on Nasas efforts to protect the apollo landing sites. Here is my take on it………. It is obvious to me at least that any effort to preserve any site on the lunar surface would have to be agreed to by all space faring nations….I think if they want to be successful in this endeavor they probably should not be trying to make all the apollo sites sacred. They should probably simply ask for the Apollo11 site and the parts of sites that still have on going scientific value, such as the reflectors left to measure the distance from earth etc.

    everything else is fair game….I know alot of people may disagree with me on this but thats what I think.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44994619/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.TqLgHZyppG9

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    IIRC, in the ’90s, Mr. Gingrich was in favour of a COTS-like programme of milestone prizes for developing the technology for getting to Mars. Oddly enough, if Dr. Zubrin is to be believed, he thought that the HLV-enabled Mars Direct could be developed in this manner. As far as I can tell, this makes him the first person who, as far as I can tell, advocated a commercial path to Mars and HLV. Take from that what you will.

  • Hmmm. Facilitate the commercialization of LEO transportation. Allow NASA to focus instead on beyond-LEO exploration. Defer development of a NASA heavy-lift rocket until they’re truly ready to use it. Sounds a lot like what President Obama wanted to do before the Senate forced an early SLS commitment.

  • Gary Miles

    @DCSCA

    No argument there! ;-)

  • It makes about as much sense to privatize the US space program as it would to privatize the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

    One of those things is not like the others. But this sentence makes about as much sense as most of the things you write.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “It is a tragedy that between bureaucrats and politicians we have reduced NASA to the point where we are relying on Russian rockets to get to the space station.”

    Newt left ATK, W., and Griffin out of his statement.

    But then as my cousin points out, these people are crazy. Amazingly, it only took him 40 years to realize that.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    And companies like Space X, the ULA, and Bigelow wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the Federal government’s investment in space .

    What a nonsensical statement. You do realize that everything you say about SpaceX, ULA and Bigelow applies to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and all the other aerospace companies? That’s why your statement is nonsensical, since it’s like saying “without demand there wouldn’t be supply”, or some other obvious thing.

    But there’s certainly nothing stopping private companies that are currently sitting on two trillion dollars of potential investment dollars from investing in private space companies like Space X and Bigelow and SpaceDev the way the US government already is.

    Why would a company that makes food or electronic products want to invest in a company that makes space transportation products? NASA is making strategic investments because it needs specific products and services, which in the case of SpaceX is cargo and crew transportation to the ISS.

    Maybe a consumer analogy will help you understand this. Apple in the in news these days, so we’ll use them. Apple makes cutting edge products, and needs so many new technology components that sometimes it needs to help it’s suppliers to build the products that they need, in the volume that they need them.

    Apple has spent billions investing in things like building LCD plants for suppliers and buying CNC lathes for making their product housings. Apple gets the right to have access to the new products first, usually for at least a year before the supplier can sell to anyone else.

    This is essentially what NASA is doing with COTS and CCDev. NASA wants a specific service done in a specific way – there are no commercial equivalents. Once the capabilities are in place, NASA is also the first user of the service, but the providers will be free to sell their services to others, like Bigelow.

    To get back to your “two trillion dollars of potential investment dollars”, why would Apple, who is sitting on $81.6 billion in cash and short-term investments, want to invest in a space transportation company? They don’t, which is why you need to understand supply & demand forces to understand the challenges in the space arena.

  • vulture4

    Andrew Gasser: What really gets me in all of this is why JSC and KSC are going along with this. SLS does nothing for them.

    Good point. JSC is run by people who believe the SLS is the only hope for American leadership and Obama is intentionally trying to destroy NASA. KSC is run by JSC, at least as far as human spaceflight is concerned. Momentum is everything. Logic is hard to come by.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 10:38 pm
    you wrote:
    “It makes about as much sense to privatize the US space program as it would to privatize the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.”

    yes and no.

    It makes no sense to NOT privatize things like station crewing and lift. This is done routinely in other parts of the federal government (almost all the troops that went to Iraq went on Delta, United, CAL, and American. And they will come home that way.

    It makes no sense to privatize exploration as the basics of privatization dont work. The problem is that neither does government. If Justin K is correct and we are getting about 1 person week of experimentation out of a 6 person crew…something is really really wrong there.

    “Our Federal investment in space has been good for private enterprise. And companies like Space X, the ULA, and Bigelow wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the Federal government’s investment in space . ”

    this is true despite the GOP Tea Party nuts in almost all aspects of the nation We are a superpower in direct correlation with the rise of hte strength of the federal government.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 22nd, 2011 at 9:38 am

    In her speech, Lori referenced a 1961 essay by then-GE CEO Ralph Cordiner.

    Titled “Competitive Private Enterprise in Space,” the essay appeared in a book titled Peacetime Uses of Outer Space, edited by Simon Ramo…

    the humor in this for :”me” is that the conference I referenced that Whittington, Rich Kolker and I went to, and spoke at…I used Cordiner as a sort of baseline of why things were going ary with the station…and Garver at the time was not all that receptive of the notion (grin).

    We have however gotten there…if Justin is to be believed (and I do) we have a station where only 1 out of 6 person weeks goes to doing anything but maintaining the station and the cost are enormous and no one has a clue what to use the station for…and as I noted in the speech “we will all be ready to move on to the next excitement”…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mr. Right

    Newt would provide a prize for the 1st commercial crewed spacecraft (contracts to carry crews to ISS and your complete development cost reimbursed by the Gov).
    The 2nd would get a bit less, etc. That’s a better model (to me anyway). Most of you should be for him. His plan is more in line to what many of you preach.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Prizes are a good idea, but you have to be careful not to set up perverse incentives. We don’t necessarily need the fastest way to go to the moon, but the most sustainable way or the way that has the most synergy with commercial development of space, the way that reduces total costs per seat the most. I think it is hard to come up with a better scheme than competitively buying launch services in bulk. And that of course would work extremely well in combination with exploration.

  • Matt Wiser

    Interesting comment from someone who has two chances of becoming POTUS: slim and none.

    DCSCA: In complete agreement: And Newt as NASA chief would be a disaster worse than the one we’re in.

    amightywind wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 4:46 pm
    Newt says a lot of silly things. He will soon be gone from the presidential race and then the silly things he says will no longer be news. You Nerdspace advocates are grasping at straws.

    Agreed. He’s at less than 5% in recent polling-about where Bachmann and Huntsman are. He’ll be gone after the first round of primaries-and he can go back to writing books.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    One wonders what exactly does Gingrich mean when he says he wants to “privatize” space flight. Prizes are great up to a point, but if Gingrich thinks that any Congress is going to put up a $20 billion Mars prize or a $5 billion Moon base prize, he would be advised to think again. Past a certain point, prizes are unworkable and unsustainable.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Just as a reference point, 5 to 10 percent of NASA;’s budget for the past ten years in 8 to about 16 billion. Does anyone think that Congress would appropriate that amount of money in a “moon base prize?”

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    We have however gotten there…if Justin is to be believed (and I do) we have a station where only 1 out of 6 person weeks goes to doing anything but maintaining the station and the cost are enormous and no one has a clue what to use the station for…and as I noted in the speech “we will all be ready to move on to the next excitement”…

    I would like to read for myself the analysis that came up with the 1-in-6 number.

    Keep in mind that, until this summer, the ISS has been in a construction mode. STS-134 completed construction in May. So if you average 13 years of construction over six months of operation, some of which are with a three-member crew for reasons we all know, then of course it looks like they’re doing little research.

    Try again in 2020, starting the baseline at May 2011, and let’s see what the number is then.

  • Andrew Gasser wrote:

    What really gets me in all of this is why JSC and KSC are going along with this. SLS does nothing for them. It has been documented both by TPIS and local media outlets that SLS brings major pain to KSC and JSC.

    Constellation wasn’t going to generate many jobs for either KSC or JSC until later in the 2010s, if at all, but people here in the Space Coast thought it meant each and every job here was guaranteed in perpetuity.

    It didn’t matter to these people if it really does something for them. It was the perception.

    I will say this … Very few people here seem to know about SLS. A lot of locals still think KSC is being shut down, sold to China, plowed under for a solar farm, and similar nonsense.

    In my opinion, most of the people working here wanted a guaranteed job for life turning their wrench on the same thing every day, so after work they could drive down the road and go to a bar. Those are the jobs that have disappeared, for the most part. Those with marketable specialty skills are quickly findings job elsewhere in aerospace. The ones suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome are the ones without a job.

  • Frank Glover

    “It is obvious to me at least that any effort to preserve any site on the lunar surface would have to be agreed to by all space faring nations….”

    Getting universal agreement on anything is a stretch, but what would they have to lose by doing so? There’s nothing of any particular commercial or resource or scientific value where those descent stages are parked, or within any reasonable radius of them. And there’s the entire far side…

    The Moon has a surface area of about 3.793 × 10^7 square km. There’s plenty of Moon where the Apollo sites aren’t. Avoiding them won’t cost anybody anything.

    (And all those ‘spacefaring nations’ will likely want *their* ‘first landing site’ respected, as well. [though most will get there by way of someone else, much as all non-US/Russian/Chinese that have reached LEO have done...indeed, the only Iranian in space, bought her own ticket] )

  • Frank Glover

    @ Martin:
    “We don’t necessarily need the fastest way to go to the moon, but the most sustainable way ”

    Amen. So few people seem to understand that the Apollo architecture of getting a couple guys to the Moon on a single launch of an HLV, with as little new technological development than necessary, was chosen because it was the former, not the latter.

    The pre-Apollo concepts of assembling and fueling stuff in LEO, at a space station, in order to go deeper into space is still valid, when beating country X and/or doing it before date Y, isn’t of prime importance…

    And the ‘race’ with China that some salivate for, would only tend to push us back to the former model…

  • Justin Kugler

    Ellegood,
    Gingrich and Bob Walker actually endorsed the original FY2011 plan in a Washington Post op-ed.

    Stephen,
    Right now, Payloads are allocated 35 hours of crewtime per week, give or take. Now, many payloads can be run from the ground or automatically and only need the crew for setup and takedown, but that is our present baseline.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 12:47 am

    “One wonders what exactly does Gingrich mean when he says he wants to “privatize” space flight”

    You use to know.

    Right now there is “nothing” private about human spaceflight. The project you like, SLS is a sterling example of NASA functioning with its “contractors” functioning as a Soviet style design bureau. There is “nothing” private about it. The design is sized to meet the requirements of each individual “stakeholder”, they are not competing anything, there is no innovation in the SLS design, and there is no real financial reward for coming in under budget, in fact the reverse is reality…the longer the contract drags out the longer the federal checks come in. Even “what” the rocket does now is simply unimportant rather just all the stakeholders are involved.

    And you support this.

    More important you shill for this. You misstate what it does, you label other projects that are commercial as something they are not. You are the poster boy for disinformation.

    At the very least NASA could really “compete” out the notion of a heavy launch system. And they would do that as long as any design has solids, uses the shuttle engines and the ET and probably the J2-X. so much for innovation.

    What Gingrich wants (and again you use to know this, in fact you use to support it) is at least some issue of innovation in federal contracts, the folks who get the contracts act more like Boeing building the 787 then Lockheed building the F-35…

    And then where it is possible to simply buy services; well do that. It is ok in your world for a Marine to fly to Afland on a hopeless mission riding on Delta, United, American etc…but heavens forbid that an astronaut go to the space station on a vehicle where he/she is a passenger on a SpaceX or Boeing CST 100 or something.

    Mark, you have come a long way. You use to know what privatize space meant…and today you are left shilling for SLS which has nothing private in it. Much like the GOP in total your descent has been sad.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Try again in 2020, starting the baseline at May 2011, and let’s see what the number is then.”

    I am game for anything Stephen, but one thing I have learned at NASA is that buried in the BS that passes for “what this project will accomplish” is that somewhere someteam has really put the numbers together and figured out what “really” will happen as the future rolls out.

    We are moving and a lot of stuff is in transit but in mine and Rich Kolker’s space news op eds and someother places we had some good documentation about what the station would really do with 3, and then 6 people (as the crew downsized from 8)…and the way its built the numbers of 1 person week on science is not surprising.

    The reality is that the Russians dont give a fig about science so they simply dont do much of it…the European and Japanese do and most of the science is done on their labs, the US was cutting deal after deal to try and get “the coalition of the willing” on the station…so we more or less shoved off a lot of things.

    Its pretty doomed right now to mediocrity RGO

  • @Steven C. Smith

    I will say this … Very few people here seem to know about SLS. A lot of locals still think KSC is being shut down, sold to China, plowed under for a solar farm, and similar nonsense.

    So how do we reach those people?

    Please contact me.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew L. Gasser
    TEA Party in Space
    andrew@teainspace.com

  • amightywind

    The editor delights in dredging up GOP outliers to bolster Nerdspace. Gringrich, Rohrbacher, and others are featured time and again on this page. It is not a representative sampling of GOP canon. It is just the democrat tactic of picking off a few GOP stragglers to bolster a hugely unpopular position. Journalism at its worst.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Andrew Gasser wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 12:39 pm >>

    Stephen can answer himself publically or as you note privately…but in the end the notion of “reaching” the people who have been involved as “a stakeholder” in STS and hoped to be involved in SLS etc…is 1) its not going to happen and 2) its not important.

    The “stakeholders” in what has passed for Human spaceflight the last few decades are part of the main problem that has infected the US in the last 10 years…ie I am all for cutting government spending, just not what affects me because well that spending is vital to the fate of the nation”…this is why you see (sadly) tea party folks holding signs saying “keep your hands off my medicaid/medicare dont support socialized medicine”.

    and their views dont matter…right now history and the currents of the future are simply moving against really narrow interest on federal spending. No one will touch medicare or social security because well they affect to many people (and the great fear of the far right…sorry Rand…is that when single payer health care comes to everyone that is the end of the argument…people will love it)…but human spaceflight is one of those very very small federal slices that affects a lot of people but in the end not that many in terms of society…that is why Cx died without much of a whimper…as did the shuttle.

    The stakeholders support would be nice, but it will not change anything. We are headed for a massive reorg of almost every aspect of American society and the government…and the outcomes are either a America run by corporations using either politically naive or people who have their own self interest at heart…or we are headed for the end of the corporate government industrial complex…and the DOI triumphing.

    Space policy is caught up in that RGO

  • @ablastofhotair
    “The editor delights in dredging up GOP outliers to bolster Nerdspace. Gringrich, Rohrbacher, and others are featured time and again on this page. It is not a representative sampling of GOP canon. It is just the democrat tactic of picking off a few GOP stragglers to bolster a hugely unpopular position. Journalism at its worst.”

    The problem YOU have is you would prefer it if the coverage extended only to the comments of proSLS/proMPCV advocates. While Jeff’s heart may be in proCommercial and he does slant that way, he at least reports the opinions from both sides rather then just the proSLS notables and that’s what you really can’t stand.

  • Justin Kugler

    Robert,
    I think we’re going to see things really take off with the CASIS non-profit org. They can do the matchmaking of researchers, implementation partners, and investors that NASA can’t as a government agency. It’s through the National Laboratory that we’ll really bring in outside ideas and new ways of doing business in microgravity.

  • Peter Lykke

    Andrew G: “So how do we reach those people?”

    Excellent question, I’ve been asking myself the same since the poor reception of the 2011 budget proposal. A lot of the buzz was – is – nothing but misunderstandings and I just couldn’t understand why. I still can’t.

    Maybe those people just want to stay in the cozy, familiar dark?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 12:59 am

    “Just as a reference point, 5 to 10 percent of NASA;’s budget for the past ten years in 8 to about 16 billion. Does anyone think that Congress would appropriate that amount of money in a “moon base prize?””

    I cannot see the GOP House authorizing anything unless it is laden with pork (the second engine for the F-35 which is a “Speakers pork”) as an example…But one could see a coherent effort to spend 800 million (the cost of one shuttle flight) to a billion a year in some escrow effort to build up money for a prize…

    The problem with “prizes” is that they are in large measure a misread of history or an assumption on the future which really is not warranted.

    One could put out a prize for crossing the Atlantic by airplane because in no small measure and with not much foresight one could see a market for the technology AFTER the prize was won. I am not for sure that such a market develops for a “lunar prize”…

    It MIGHT, if someone some group could do it and do it at a price point where afterwards it is possible to see some commercial value in the effort…but that would imply a lot of thing that are “faith based” right now.

    Where a prize might work is to have one for the first satellite in GEO to be “refurbished” by some uncrewed addon or even by a crewed effort…

    but otherwise…

    Having said that NASA has wasted oh what 15-20 billion trying to build the SLS that you support so what the heck…RGO

  • Dennis

    Return the Newt to his pond and lets get a Pres. who will move us on to Mars. No candidates in sight, thats for sure!

  • Dennis

    I like prize money too, but as long as government makes the rules, private wont go the distance.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    The editor delights in dredging up GOP outliers to bolster Nerdspace.

    Considering how few politicians actually talk about space, the ones that do tend to get attention. Now that may be Republicans right now, since they are grabbing all the national headlines due to the Republican Presidential race, but I would imagine you would complain if all that was reported was comments from non-Republicans, so there is probably no pleasing you.

    Of course you’re free to comment anywhere that tolerates your comments, so don’t feel tied down to Jeff’s Space Politics blog. But since you are a constant commenter I tend to think that you really do enjoy the topics that Jeff provides, and that this is just another whiny tactic to try to seem like a victim. Man up you wimp!

  • Andrew Gasser wrote:

    So how do we reach those people?

    I don’t think you can.

    For example, today I gave a couple presentations on what’s next for NASA and human spaceflight. Some locals asked, “Where are the jobs?”

    It didn’t matter to them what’s best for the United States.

    They just wanted to know where they would get their next government job.

    I explained that NASA is not a jobs program, that at the height of Apollo in 1969 we had 46,000 jobs here, that five years later it was down to 23,000, that at the height of Shuttle it was 16,000, and now it’s 9,000. I said that commercial space and SLS will bring jobs in a few years, but it’s not about the jobs, it’s about what’s best for the U.S. space program.

    It’s not what they wanted to hear, but at least they didn’t argue the point.

    Please contact me.

    I’m not a Tea Party type, but my e-mail address is spacekscblog@gmail.com.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    … and the way its built the numbers of 1 person week on science is not surprising.

    You and I have disagreed before on ISS, so there’s no point in plowing old ground.

    But I will point the potential fallacy in this 1-in-6 argument.

    I want to know just what was counted. For example, did they count sleep periods? Let’s assume 8 hours in a 24 period. That’s two hours out of six. How many hours a day do they work? Let’s assume they work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week like you and me. That’s another two hours out of six, although it doesn’t discount for weekends. We also know they need to exercise at least two hours a day to minimize the consequences of return to Earth.

    In any case, if they work 2/6 the time in one day, and if half of that is for research, that means half their WORK time is spent on research — which is a very different number than portrayed by the person claiming 1-in-6. 4-in-6 might include off-duty time, exercise, sleep, etc.

    So let’s see the source analysis to find out what’s really involved.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 12:40 pm
    The editor delights in dredging up GOP outliers to bolster Nerdspace. Gringrich, Rohrbacher

    You mean digging up. these two are Reagan Era dinosaurs. An asteroid sent their predecessors into extinction. The failure of supply side economics and the Rock of Ages has these two fossils doomed as well.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Justin Kugler wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Robert,
    I think we’re going to see things really take off with the CASIS non-profit org.>>

    Justin you are a smart guy and a thoughtful one, and besides we have to hope. I guess my notion is that our space policy whatever it is should be focused on making some use of the space station RGO

  • Matt Wiser

    Peter: The administration failed to “make the sale.” The botched rollout and their presentation, not to mention failure to anticipate the blowback, all but guaranteed a hostile reception. Professor Ed Crawley (a member of the Augustine Panel) did “make the sale” re: FlexPath at that “space summit” (read: choir meeting) at the Cape last year, but the Administration didn’t. Throw in the perception of the Administration ending NASA’s HSF program for good, or the spin of “if you’re for Commercial to LEO, you’re against NASA for BEO”, and things went to hell in a handbasket from then on-from the Administration’s POV. Not to mention failure to prebrief members of the key committees on Capitol Hill-as Charlie Bolden has admitted-simply ensured a nasty tone in House and Senate Hearings.

  • Alan

    amightywind wrote @ October 21st, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    You Nerdspace advocates are grasping at straws.

    Are you trying out for a part in the remake of Animal House?
    You “Jockspace” types are all alike, don’t you know Nerdspace wins in the end?

  • reader

    Just look at all the suborbital capability that was sparked by the x-prize earlier last decade.

    What .. suborbital capability would that be ? Black Brant, Skylark and the like have been flying for decades ..

  • Martijn Meijering

    I like prize money too, but as long as government makes the rules, private wont go the distance.

    Haven’t you heard of the Ansari X Prize? Or the Google Lunar X Prize?

  • Peter Lykke

    Matt: The question is if it is possible to “make the sale” at all. Me, I didn’t need no steenkin’ sale – I immediately decided for myself that this was the most visionary space policy since ..well, ever. But then again I am just a stupid engineer and only look at the technical aspect of things. I can decide for myself whether something is good or bad. And forget about feelings, economy, jobs, national pride and similar minor things. :)
    But soon after the rollout strange statements popped up from all over: Obama killed the shuttle, HSF was being outphased, a heavy lift like the shuttle is needed to reach Mars, space jobs is being cancelled, etc, etc. And you can present all the rational arguments you want, NOTHING can change the minds of people that believe such things.
    So the real question is: Who are you going to persuade? And are rational arguments any good?

  • Peter Lykke wrote:

    But soon after the rollout strange statements popped up from all over: Obama killed the shuttle, HSF was being outphased, a heavy lift like the shuttle is needed to reach Mars, space jobs is being cancelled, etc, etc. And you can present all the rational arguments you want, NOTHING can change the minds of people that believe such things.

    My personal opinion is that all the squawking came from people with a vested interest in the status quo, and no amount of behind-the-scenes schmoozing was going to change their attitudes. In fact, it could have backfired, because these people would have been tipped in advance and started lining up all their firepower to protect Constellation and kill CCDev.

    In the end, the Obama administration pretty much got what it wanted — they cancelled Constellation, and used the savings to extend the ISS and begin CCDev. The political price was this ridiculous SLS, but if $3 billion/year in political porkery is the price for extending the ISS, so be it.

  • What .. suborbital capability would that be ?

    The cost-effective type.

  • Vladislaw

    Matt Wiser wrote:

    “Peter: The administration failed to “make the sale.” The botched rollout and their presentation, not to mention failure to anticipate the blowback, all but guaranteed a hostile reception.”

    I am so tired of hearing about the “botched” rollout. There was absolutely no way that President Obama could have rolled out his changes correctly. He was proposing to cut out the pork for Constellation from several space states.

    There was nothing he could have said, short of, “I am providing an extra 3 billion a year for 15 years and extending Constellation’s schedule by 10 years” for it to be a “successful” rollout. That is the only thing that would have shut down the likes of Shelby, Hatch, Nelson, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Of course the House of Representives and the Senate would have never funded it, but it was the only thing they wanted to hear. Anything that touched their pork was dead on arrival.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I honestly dont think we disagree that much I view ISS as the “keys to the kingdom” of space…ie we have to make it work. Where I got the number from was Justin and looking at the timelines. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 23rd, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Pretty weak analysis…you are off in Whittington and Wind country.

    The roll out could have been with the Kilgore Rangerettes (or the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders) in the background and it wouldnt have mattered…as long as the “NASA jobs” are going away then the people who are against it now would be against it. Throw in people like Whittington who are for everything Bush the last did and against anything Obama does then you have the “we dont like Obama’s space policy crowd”

    Which one are you in ? RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    In the end, the Obama administration pretty much got what it wanted

    Which in politics is all that matters – the end result. Matt only remembers the bloviating and hand-waving, thinking that it means something.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Peter –

    Good point about rational debate.

    Note how Steve Jobs’ offer to work for Obama’s 2012 re-election has become “Steve Jobs told Obama he would only have one term”.

    You’re getting off message.

    The message is what a crummy company ATK is, unable to deliver on time or at cost, and what a crummy rocket their ARES1 (er,m Liberty) is.

    We just spent $10,000,000,000.00 to put ATK in the medium heavy launch market, and ATK’s failure to deliver on time and at cost has disrupted the lives of many workers at Kennedy for a while.

  • Peter Lykke

    Stephen: “if $3 billion/year in political porkery is the price for extending the ISS, so be it”.

    Sorry to say it, but doesn’t that make you a porker by definition? You accept to pay a price in pork in return for funding of a project you support? I bet Senator Shelby’s mind works that way. I know, it is all done for a good cause, but still… ?

    I simply refuse to go that way. Call me an idealistic dreamer, if you must.

    And to the cause of all this calamity, I’ll say it came from within NASA. If, when Nelson first started his mumbling about heavy lift, NASA had given clear and consistent signals about what they felt was the best way forward, I doubt anyone in Congress would have had the brains to oppose them. A simple thing as correcting all the mistakes put forward from Senators, journalists and astronauts could easily have been done. I don’t think any elected person wants to get proven wrong by the proven authority on the subject matter, but right now it is free for all to say what they want without risk of rebuttal from NASA.

    And NASA is not an organisation speaking in one voice, which has to be blamed on top management, as likeable as it may be.

    But the organisation will harvest as they have sown. I don’t think SLS will die a silent death like Constellation did, this time it will not be a clear cut. The whole national pride thing will make it more likely to die slowly and suffocate everything in the vicinity in the process.

    Just you wait.

  • Coastal Ron wrote:

    Which in politics is all that matters – the end result. Matt only remembers the bloviating and hand-waving, thinking that it means something.

    And this is the essential point when people flasely claim “Obama killed Shuttle” or “Obama killed Constellation” or whatever. No President can cancel a program approved by Congress. Only Congress can do that.

    A President might propose it, but unless Congress goes along then it’s the President’s job to execute the program.

    In the real world, of course, Presidents have been known to drag their heels, throw sand in the crankcase, etc. But the bottom line is that today’s government space program exists because Congress approved it and the President signed whatever larger legislation contained it.

  • Peter Lykke wrote:

    Sorry to say it, but doesn’t that make you a porker by definition? You accept to pay a price in pork in return for funding of a project you support? I bet Senator Shelby’s mind works that way. I know, it is all done for a good cause, but still… ?

    It’s reality, sad to say.

    I’ve been in politics for several decades as a part-time consultant and occasional appointee. You will never get 100% agreement on anything. If you sit in the chair demanding 100% of what you want and refuse to budge until you get it … then you wind up with today’s Congress.

    Significant change rarely comes at once. It’s usually incremental. For example, even Obama acknowledged when he signed it that the new health care bill had problems, but it was that or nothing for many years. And look at how long it took to get equal rights for minorities; even today, we have the GOP trying to limit voting rights in certain states.

    With government space, we needed to move away from the porkfest model that’s been around since the 1960s. This administration is the first in history to achieve the first steps in that direction.

    The SLS is a stinker that will collapse upon itself as did Constellation, but when that happens five years from now Commercial Space will be too far down the line for the porkers to kill it.

    NASA is not an organisation speaking in one voice, which has to be blamed on top management, as likeable as it may be.

    No organization “speaks with one voice,” unless you’re living in Hitler-era Germany or the Stalin-era Soviet Union. If you’re looking for everyone to say the exact same thing, you’re living in the wrong country.

    And I’ll note that I’ve worked in the private sector since 1990 or so, where I’ve seen plenty of examples of the same flaws we lament in the public sector. At my last employer in California, $50 million was flushed into rewriting a mainframe application that was bought only because the CEO had a personal connection with the vendor. Never mind it was a dog that didn’t do what we needed.

    That was our version of the SLS. Does that make me guilty for taking a paycheck? Whatever. I slept soundly at night because I had food on the table.

  • reader

    What .. suborbital capability would that be ?

    The cost-effective type.

    I’m pretty sure you are as aware as anyone else here, that there is no more particularly cost-effective suborbital capability in service this decade, than there was a decade or two ago.
    If you don’t count various HAM radio and other amateur balloon folks regularly reaching 100kft or more with cheap hardware. But thats hardly suborbital.

    X-Prize may have sparked various things, but it very clearly did not spark a vibrant suborbital launch industry overnight.

    Even looking at currently announced suborbital plans, two major entrants had little if anything to do with X-Prize, Blue Origin and XCOR. And as always, everyone is about two years away from the first real suborbital flight .. but this has been the case forever.

  • amightywind

    I am so tired of hearing about the “botched” rollout. There was absolutely no way that President Obama could have rolled out his changes correctly. He was proposing to cut out the pork for Constellation from several space states.

    A more gifted politician like Reagan, or George Bush would have built consensus in congress, compromised, and perhaps turned some of the opposition. We had none of that. We got, “The moon?” “We’ve already been there?” Obama’s minions schemed in a smoke filled back room. (And you can guess with his appointees what kind of smoke that was!) But they learned the hard way that you cannot eliminate America’s space program by executive fiat. Obama indeed botched it.

  • John Malkin

    @Peter Lykke

    Silent death? Unless you are talking about the silence from congress in defending the continued funding of Ares I and additional funding for Ares V Heavy Lift. Instead the space committees created the SLS which uses contracts from both Ares I and Shuttle. Bolden is hoping the modified contracts will be somewhat useful in developing a reasonably expensive HLV that MIGHT get completed because it will fall within the annual budget that the appropriators are willing to assign to NASA HSF. You shouldn’t hold your breath.

    Heavy lift has always been in the “NASA plan”, the question was how fast and which contracts. SLS will stick around as long as its costs stay close to the projected development costs. Note NASA will not publish official cost per flight (I image that was part of the deal with congress to fund CCDev2).

  • Coastal Ron

    Peter Lykke wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    …I doubt anyone in Congress would have had the brains to oppose them. A simple thing as correcting all the mistakes put forward from Senators, journalists and astronauts could easily have been done.

    I don’t think you are much of a student of American politics. American politicians are not held to the confines of facts, and have no problem in spouting as fact things that are rumors and fiction (see the origin of the Twitter #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement). And there are few journalists that are familiar enough with space issues and hardware to 1) point out the errors, and 2) have a big enough audience that notices to make a difference.

    NASA, which receives oversight from Congress and relies on the good graces of the various members of the oversight committees, can’t come out directly and say that a member of Congress is lying or not telling the truth – that would be antagonist, and not how things are done.

    It’s up to the President to fight the fights, but NASA is such a small agency (0.5% of the total budget) that it doesn’t merit much attention.

    I agree with Stephen when he says that no amount of pre-notice would have softened the blow for the various Congressional members losing the Constellation work from their districts – no one likes to give up money and jobs. If anything, it was the soundness of the Presidents plan that allowed the majority of it to be passed, with only the inclusion of the SLS as a “loss”. Pretty good for something deemed “a failure” by some on this blog.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    A more gifted politician like Reagan, or George Bush would have built consensus in congress, compromised, and perhaps turned some of the opposition. We had none of that.

    And yet Congress agreed with Obama on 80% of what he asked for – Constellation cancelled, the ISS saved and extended, and Commercial Crew funded. Boy, they really showed Obama, huh?

    And maybe you didn’t realize it, but isn’t it ironic that it was Obama that saved Reagan’s space station legacy from Bush 43′s space plans when Obama saved the ISS?

    I’m sorry the facts keep getting in the way of you trying to make a political point… ;-)

  • I’m pretty sure you are as aware as anyone else here, that there is no more particularly cost-effective suborbital capability in service this decade, than there was a decade or two ago.

    There will be soon.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Peter -

    “The SLS is a stinker that will collapse upon itself as did Constellation, but when that happens five years from now Commercial Space will be too far down the line for the porkers to kill it.”

    You haven’t watched Thiokol operate for long.

    Remember that we have comet fragments headed our way in 2022.

    With SLS, ATK has managed to block the other heavies that do not use their 5 seg boosters.

    As to how much of the rest of the launch market ATK will manage to get, and how they’ll do that, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    I don’t mind the SLS as much as Ares 1 (er,m Liberty). A heavy mass load dampens the oscillations, and they can always use cross bracing (dead mass) as well.

  • reader

    I’m pretty sure you are as aware as anyone else here, that there is no more particularly cost-effective suborbital capability in service this decade, than there was a decade or two ago.

    There will be soon.

    And the same thing was being said years before X-Prize was won.

    I think this was a running gag on sci.space.policy at some point .. “your first flight is always two years from now .. or something along these lines.

    Again, it’s hard to trace much actual progress back to X-Prize being won.

  • vulture4

    I agree. ATK lobby is well financed and determined, but by holding up to ridicule the public servants who lowtow to them we can at least keep the debate alive. ATK is nothing if not consistent; our first reusable spacecraft, the X-15, was liquid fueled and powered by the Reaction Motors XLR-99. Reaction Motors was bought by Thiokol and shut down. I am not against solid fuel where it is appropriate, in missiles and small, one-piece SRBs used on ELVs. But large segmented solids are more expensive to process than liquids and have never been economically reusable.

  • Matt Wiser

    Peter, Congress is NOT a rubber stamp. And the Administration simply underestimated the amount of opposition that the original FY 11 Budget Plan would generate. A Space News piece last year said it all-this isn’t a quote, but it’s essentially it: The Administration assumed that their plans for NASA would receive a warm welcome on and off of The Hill, that blowback and opposition would be a minimium, their plans would be praised to the skies by the space community, and that Congress, with some grumbling, would go along. They were wrong on all counts. Within 24 hours of that disaster being rolled out, there were “Save Constellation” sites on the web with online petitions, Members of both Houses and both Parties were coming out against it-with people from affected communities going in front of the cameras, and the negative reaction is what generated that “space summit” last year at the Cape (yeah, right, where everyone was singing from the same song sheet, with no real discussion of anything but FlexPath). The Authorization bill that passed Congress wasn’t even the Administration’s. It was written by several members of Congress, and passed with bipartisan support in both Houses, and POTUS signed it into law.

    Perception counts in politics. and because the Administration was perceived as ending the U.S. HSF program, the opposition was venomous. Charlie Bolden didn’t help any when at a House hearing two weeks after the rollout, he was asked if he was concerned that the Chinese might beat us back to the Moon, and he replied no. The Congressman who asked that question replied “It does to me.” Then things were spun to where it was “if you support Commercial to LEO, you’re against NASA going to BEO” and the other way around. Leroy Chao, a former astronaut and a member of the Augustine Panel, was surprised at the way it was being spun (according to MSNBC and Space.com), and he was trying to get the point across that commercial LEO enables NASA to fly BEO, but that was lost in the rancor. Then the Administration’s shabby treatment of NASA’s veterans (John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, Chris Kraft, and Gene Kranz, among others) didn’t help their case before Congress. Bottom line: the Administration did very little to counter the negative perceptions of their plan, and they’re still paying for it

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    E.P. It won’t matter how ATK operate, SLS will sink through it’s own inertia. It will start out as a bloated NASA flagship program and end up exactly like Cx did – a non-starter. Believe what you like but that’s how it will finish and it’ll be less than 5 years. I’d give it half that – max. There’s no mission, insufficient funding, obsolete technology, viable existing alternatives and even a new commercial HL LV underway. Why would NASA go down this path other than to satisfy the porkers and only for as long as necessary.

  • Peter Lykke

    @John M: I’m talking about the situation immediately after the rollout of the 2011 plan where suddently it was apparant that Constellation was too expensive. That everyone afterwards disagrees about what exactly should be done is another matter, but I believe there was consensus back then that “something” needed to be done.

  • And the same thing was being said years before X-Prize was won.

    What’s your point? That was then, this is now, and the vehicles are under development.

  • John Malkin

    Peter Lykke wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 5:03 am

    Why would NASA go down this path other than to satisfy the porkers and only for as long as necessary.

    NASA has no choice but they can propose. They have to follow the laws passed by Congress with very little wiggle room. These laws for the most part come from the space committees in which space states have the largest influence.

  • John Malkin

    Sorry it was:

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 3:09 am

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    The Authorization bill that passed Congress wasn’t even the Administration’s. It was written by several members of Congress, and passed with bipartisan support in both Houses, and POTUS signed it into law.

    Matt, bills are always written by Congress – it’s their job.

    And you keep forgetting that despite all the moaning and groaning, Congress gave Obama 80% of what he asked for.

    Perception counts in politics.

    And results are all that matters. In this case the perception was that it was a horrible idea to cancel Constellation, and yet Congress did. What does that tell you?

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Then the Administration’s shabby treatment of NASA’s veterans

    Set the standard here Matt. We have over 300 retired astronauts, so what is the criteria for politicians to listen to any of them, especially if the retired astronauts are not active in the space community as employees, consultants, speakers or teachers?

    Make this good, because we’re setting it in stone.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    “. Within 24 hours of that disaster being rolled out, there were “Save Constellation” sites on the web with online petitions, Members of both Houses and both Parties were coming out against it-with people from affected communities going in front of the cameras, ”

    I am trying to sort out if you are 1) just goofy or 2) naive or 3) just blowing smoke to blow it.

    Do you really think that any “roll out” that did not include programs where every one of the “people from affected communities” still getting a afederal pay check…would have not generated the same response?

    Which one is it? I am voting on 2 but that is because I am nice RGO

  • John Malkin

    John Malkin wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    These laws for the most part come from the space committees in which space states have the largest influence.

    I know they are bills but these bills remain fairly intact once they make it to any President. I don’t think a President has ever vetoed a space related bill based on its space content. My emphasis was to point out that the space states control the Human space program for the most part.

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “A more gifted politician like Reagan, or George Bush would have built consensus in congress, compromised, and perhaps turned some of the opposition. We had none of that. We got, “The moon?” “We’ve already been there?” Obama’s minions schemed in a smoke filled back room. (And you can guess with his appointees what kind of smoke that was!) But they learned the hard way that you cannot eliminate America’s space program by executive fiat. Obama indeed botched it.”

    You gotta be freakin’ joking. President Reagan was fillibustered 24 times, President Obama over 300! President Bush was fillisbustered 78 times, President Obama was fillibustered OVER THREE HUNDRED TIMES! President Obama was fillibustered more than the last three Presidents combined. Now you say he should have compromised?

    The Republicans stated THEE most important task was to make sure the President was a one term President. They simply said no to EVERYTHING he proposed. A simple strategy. The Republicans even fillisbustered proposals they had themselves tried to pass before Obama came into office. Once President Obama endorsed and proposed some of those ideas, the Republicans even fillibustered and voted down their own previous proposals.

    Windy you are beyond silly now and are entering the twilight zone. There was to be no compromising with this President on anything.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Malkin wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 11:44 am
    My emphasis was to point out that the space states control the Human space program for the most part.”

    right up to “now” I think that is an accurate statement…but I dont think its accurate anymore. Two things have killed it…one NASA has underperformed and two the money is running out RGO

  • reader

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 11:02 am
    And the same thing was being said years before X-Prize was won.

    What’s your point? That was then, this is now, and the vehicles are under development.

    Obviously there were lots of vehicles “under development” then as well.

    The point is, there is nothing flying, and there is not really much to “look at”. X-Prize has not ended up sparking much anything substantial so far, contrary to the joyful proclamations way up in this thread.

    Just that a bunch of startup companies have announced plans for providing a service, obviously does not mean that such service will actually come about. It is anyones guess if the actual flights will be starting 2 years, 5 years or 20 years from now, or never.

    I’m not arguing that prizes are not useful, and X-Prize did a lot of good, but overstating their case does nobody any services. Read Larson’s second post, and you will see what i mean.

    And your one liners like “there will be” make you come across as a believer, not as a critical thinker.

  • Matt Wiser

    Reader: that’s exactly what the Commercial Space zealots think “It has to happen, therefore, it will happen.” That’s what General Tom Stafford was saying when he was on the Hill testifying about Commercial Crew last year. His view, in a nutshell, was this-and no, it’s not an exact quote, but it’s basically this: “to expect NASA to stand aside and allow commercial providers to provide a service and expect it to magically appear is naive.”

    Ron and Oler: this time, they succeeded, in a way. SLS is essentially the Ares V light variant the Augustine Panel suggested as a Heavy-lift vehicle. So one could argue that part of the Panel’s suggestions (along with Commercial Crew and FlexPath) has been adopted.

    Ron: the Administration is acting like the Chicago Machine: Either you play along or we’ll treat you like dirt. Congress has been much more appreciative of what Neil Armstrong, Captains Lovell and Cernan, and General Stafford have had to say than the Administration has. And until this Administration changes its tactics, or admits that they went about their plans for NASA the wrong way (yeah, right) Congress-regardless of which party controls it-will be skeptical at best.

  • Obviously there were lots of vehicles “under development” then as well.

    Actually, there weren’t. There was a lot of talk, but not actual vehicles under development.

    Sorry that you haven’t been paying attention.

  • @Matt Wiser
    “That’s what General Tom Stafford was saying when he was on the Hill testifying about Commercial Crew last year.”
    B.S. What Stafford said was spoken with the assumption that the EELVs of today were no more reliable than ELVs of yesteryear. If you don’t believe it, look at the transcripts. Again, you’re spinning the issues like you were about the questions you said you thought would be asked by the committee today.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Reader: that’s exactly what the Commercial Space zealots think “It has to happen, therefore, it will happen.”

    More goofiness.

    The only people I know, and I read on this forum who think thoughts like I quoted above…are people like you with SLS. The notion that NASA can have spent 15 billion dollars on Ares and got nothing combined with the 16-30 billion they want to spend on SLS is an amazing testament to the faith you mention and I quote.

    Anyone who thinks that NASA has to be involved in a human spaceflight endeavor to make it suceed or to give it any chance of success is bordering on simpletonism.

    you never answered my question, which is it 1, 2, or 3? RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    the Administration is acting like the Chicago Machine

    LOL. The Obama White House organization pales in comparison to the one Bush 43 had – pales. That moniker is meant to scare weak minded Republicans.

    Congress has been much more appreciative of what Neil Armstrong, Captains Lovell and Cernan, and General Stafford have had to say than the Administration has.

    It doesn’t matter what politicians say, it only matters what they do, which in this case means laws passed.

    What, pray tell, has Congress done that is a direct result of the testimony of Messrs Armstrong, Lovell, Cernan and Stafford?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    “Ron: the Administration is acting like the Chicago Machine: Either you play along or we’ll treat you like dirt.”

    it is very impressive to me how people like you grab onto Fox news rhetoric and do so with little or no thought.

    “treat you like dirt”? Were you alive in the Bush years? When people who said “the iraq war wont be free, wont be fast, wont be anyof the things that Bush and his band of idiots are saying” were called traitors and other goofy words.

    Same for space politics and policy in the era. Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @Matt Wiser wrote @ October 24th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    “Then the Administration’s shabby treatment of NASA’s veterans (John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, Chris Kraft, and Gene Kranz, among others) didn’t help their case before Congress.”

    It only makes the Administration’s position look shabby– and in tatters. Those fellas actually accomplished something. It’s a matter of fact. So far, the Administration has only demonstrated it excels at going no place fast.

  • Vladislaw

    “Those fellas actually accomplished something.”

    Ya it is amazing what you can accomplish when you have a blank check from uncle sam. Imagine what commercial space could do if they were given 140 billion dollars and the orders to waste anything but time.

  • DCSCA

    @Vladislaw wrote @ October 29th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    “Ya it is amazing what you can accomplish when you have a blank check from uncle sam.”

    That’s why governments do it and have been for the 80 plus year history of modern rocketry. Persuade for profit, quarterly driven, risk averse, private capital markets to pay the freight and invest in a limited market withe a minimal ROI and get flying. Otherwise, it’s tick-tock-tick tock time for another 50 years. They had a chance to lead the way in the early 1960s, balked and chose to let the taxpayers shouler the financial risk- but then manned missile systems, per Chris Kraft, had a reliability of noy much more than 60% when NASA lofted Shepard in that start-up period. Which is WHY GOVERNMENTS DO IT.

  • Dan

    The thought of a Saturn 5 type rocket is awesome but the cost of the SLS ($41 billion by the time it is all said and done) is a waste. Congress has mandated this to keep old Shuttle jobs around but we could do a lot of other things with 41 billion. Also the heavy lift is not going to be ready until 2030. The Spacex Falcon 9 can do the job for a lot less and a lot sooner. Either way SLS or Falcon it will be great to get back into something other than low earth orbit again,,,just wish it was sooner.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>