Campaign '12

Gingrich, Romney spar on space in Iowa debate

(Updated at 11:45 pm with full quotes and video.)

At Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, space made a cameo appearance in an exchange between two of the frontrunners, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. When Romney was asked by the moderator to describe how his positions differed from those of Gingrich, Romney brought up, as a rather unexpected example, that Gingrich supported the development of big lunar colonies, whereas Romney did not. “We could start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the Moon,” Romney said. “I’m not in favor of spending that kind of money to do that.” The line was greeted with laughter from the debate audience.

Gingrich, in his response, brought up space. “I’m proud of trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology, and telling them that some day in their lifetime that they can dream of going to the Moon, they can dream of going to Mars,” he said. “I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important, where, frankly, it is tragic that NASA has been so bureaucratized.” He then cited Iowa State University, just up the road from the debate in Ames, as an example of a place doing “brilliant things” that attract students. “I’m happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way.”

The portion of the debate that included that exchange is below:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

45 comments to Gingrich, Romney spar on space in Iowa debate

  • Louis Vargas

    I’m glad Newt is supporting space flight. He’s already announced he is doing away with NASA. Maybe he cares enough to fix the situation. Its obvious the NASA management doesn’t see the problem.

  • Egad

    Ay, Newt, you still show the occasional flash of what you could have been had you not gone over to the Dark Side.

    So sad that you went the way you did.

  • NASA Fan

    FWIW, Newts reference to Univ of Iowa could be that some of their X ray research scientist are co investigator of a Small Explorer Mission, GEMS, managed out of Goddard Space Flight Center. UI also has some planetary researchers. Somehow I doubt he knows this though.

  • Jeff Foust

    NASA Fan: Gingrich was referring to Iowa State University, not the University of Iowa: two separate institutions. Confuse them at your own peril within the state…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Went and found the exchange…there are a few things that should be said about it (in my view)

    First and most important to this board; this should put down the notion pushed by many on the “right” here that the GOP folks who want to be POTUS are just itching for a chance to restart NASA human space exploration by humans with a lot of money. It isnt going to happen.

    The flagship programs SLS and probably WEbb are going to sink into the Abyss due to the financial situation of The Republic …and their bloated cost. Webb will probably survive in some form, but SLS is gone.

    Second. Both Willards attack and Newts recovery (which I thought was pretty good) show where each of the candidates are on human spaceflight. Willard is clearly just uttering sound bites that he has little clue about. Newt has a good handle on space politics and policy…As one poster here noted “Ay, Newt, you still show the occasional flash of what you could have been had you not gone over to the Dark Side.” and thats pretty accurate.

    Third the attack and recovery shows where each person is in the race. Willard doesnt have a clue how to attack Newt and so far Newt has got the magic.

    As I have said for sometime on my facebook page…the two candidates that Obama should be afraid of in the GOP are Newt and Huntsman. The later probably doesnt have a chance in the primary. You can see a line of attack by Gingrich on Obama here.

    Its going to be a fun year RGO

  • DCSCA

    “Historian” Gingrich best bone up on his own history. THose who do not learn from history, especially their own, are ciondemned to repeat it. Per the NY Times, past is prologue, eh Newt:

    “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. In a lecture at Reinhardt College in this town in northern Georgia, Mr. Gingrich, Republican of Georgia, said that he generally favored Government support for science and technology but that NASA had become increasingly bureaucratic. [Duh!] Source- NY Times February 6, 1995″

  • DCSCA

    “The flagship programs SLS and probably Webb are going to sink into the Abyss due to the financial situation of The Republic …”

    Nonsense. If it comes down to SLS vs.JWST, Webb goes bye-bye– it has one budgetary foot in the frave already. Americans will give manned spaceflight an thumbs up and ‘go’ with expanding the human presence out into space over another expensive toy for astroacademia. The planet is festooned with them already.

  • NASA Fan

    Thanks Jeff; that’s what I get for late nite postings. Iowa State University has some astrophysicists involved in NASA’s Kepler and NASA’s Student Launch initiative; great proving grounds for innovation! Still, I wonder how much of that involvement Newt is aware. If he is, he’s done his homework.

  • DocM

    I too think Gingrich svored major points on the space debate, and defended well his perceived weaknesses. On the other hand, Romney did himself no good continuing his fight with Perry with that stupid bet. Ignore him.

    In the general election I think people make a big mistake when they think Obama will have the innate advantage normally granted the incumbent. To the contraty, for many reasons obvious to poll watchers this has the makings of a classic “Anyone but….” election where as long as the opponent doesn’t drool like a rabid dog the incumbent is in big trouble.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It has occurred to me that there is not a lot of daylight between Romney and Obama on two key areas. Both supported government run health care and both oppose a return to the moon.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    The flagship programs SLS and probably WEbb are going to sink into the Abyss due to the financial situation of The Republic …and their bloated cost. Webb will probably survive in some form, but SLS is gone.

    The recent appropriations process showed the opposite is true.

    Congress voted to appropriate more money for SLS than was requested in the White House proposal. Congress cut more than half of the money requested for Commercial Crew Development.

    SLS is a congressional pork program and will be left standing long after everything else is cancelled.

    That may change with the pending retirement of Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), since she was one of the two SLS architects. If Sen. Nelson (D-FL) loses re-election next year, he was the other architect. If both are gone, there may be less advocacy for SLS, but other porkers might step in to replace them.

  • Doug Lassiter

    If Gingrich is trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology, he should realize that it makes little sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on lunar colonization and mining to do that. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars you aren’t spending on educating these same young people. So they might have a reason to study it, but they won’t be able to study it as well as if that money was spent more strategically.

    We haven’t been on the Moon for forty years, and somehow we now have a lot of young people who want to study science, math, and technology. China has more students studying science and engineering, and they’ve never been to the Moon at all! How did that happen?? Although Newt seems to have a hard time understanding this, at least contemporary scientists and engineers largely don’t point to the Apollo program as what got them where they are.

    Of course, he’s a candidate who believes that having poor kids pulled aside to clean lavatories in their schools will inspire them to go on to do great things in life. That “inspiration” thing is pretty handy, no?

    Using the “inspiration” argument to justify the expense of human space flight is really quite bogus. That’s not to say that going to the Moon might not be important for other, more credible reasons, but wallowing in the “inspiration” argument is really pretty insipid, and doesn’t come close to passing the value test.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “Historian” Gingrich best bone up on his own history. THose who do not learn from history, especially their own, are ciondemned to repeat it. Per the NY Times, past is prologue, eh Newt:

    ” Mark R. Whittington wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    It has occurred to me that there is not a lot of daylight between Romney and Obama on two key areas. Both supported government run health care and both oppose a return to the moon.”

    both of you miss the point and the notion of what Gingrich is saying…and of course his rise in the GOP process.

    (thats OK Obama’s folks are equally as dull)

    What is wrong with The Republic might be its economic and military and foreign policy and almost everything systems…this is a function both of bad leadership under Bush the last…and the reality that most of these processes have existed for over half a century and they are mostly broken (as all static processes become in the dynamics of time)…but how all these events are addressed are not by technical fixes…but by Grand leadership.

    Newt is no Ronald Reagan, but he has taken a page out of the Gipper’s 80 campaign (just as Reagan changed his 80 campaign from what he learned in 76)…the issue is LEADERSHIP.

    The nation right now is suffering a complete deficit of leadership. Newt today like Reagan in 80 is running a “big ideas/ideals” campaign…and Willard attacking him on those will be seen, in my view as a person with no ideas, with no beliefs attacking someone who has a grasp on at least what “they” think the future should look like.

    When Whittington, Spudis, or NASA talk about returning to the Moon, they cannot think out of the box of Apollo…Newt can sustain the Ideal…with out the idea of Apollo.

    Great powers cannot exist long without single person leadership; they can coast for a bit with no leadership (Obama) or go in a bad direction for sometime under poor leadership (Bush the last) this is true in any time but particularly in a time when the notion of a world superpower is fading (it does this occasionally). I dont agree with a lot of Newts leadership ideas…but unlike any of the GOP candidates (Maybe Huntsman is an exception) HE (NEWT) Is advancing the notion of leadership.

    Mark, Willard doesnt believe in returning to the Moon…its worse then that he cannot even imagine that human spaceflight can change life on earth. DCSA…you dont understand leadership period

    I find myself in a strange position here; I dont care so much for Newt, but having said that he has figured out the dynamics in this years election RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “The flagship programs SLS and probably WEbb are going to sink into the Abyss due to the financial situation of The Republic …and their bloated cost. Webb will probably survive in some form, but SLS is gone.”

    you wrote:

    The recent appropriations process showed the opposite is true….

    it is the last stand of the current appropriations process. the world is about to change enormously. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DocM wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 7:31 am
    “In the general election I think people make a big mistake when they think Obama will have the innate advantage normally granted the incumbent. ”

    I concur. If it stays a two person race (ie the major parties being the only actual contenders)…it is 1980 or 2004…the question is can the other person make a plausible case for change.

    Obama has a very very hard reelect field. there is no convincing case for his reelection other then “the other people are nuts”

    RGO

  • MrEarl

    I don’t think we can gain any insite into either man’s space policy by what has been said recently.
    As most on this site know, I’m a huge proponent of a NASA return to the moon in the next ten years but moon colonies and mineral exploitation is the domain of commercial enterprise.

  • DocM

    “That’s not to say that going to the Moon might not be important for other, more credible reasons,”

    Any of those “credible reasons” done by humans on or over other solar system bodies will be inspirational by their very nature, so I don’t ser your point.

  • SpaceMan

    Newt has ZERO chance of beating Obama.

    The Republicans have strolled into the trap set for them over the last two years. SNAP, the trap springs shut over the next few months and Obama gets his second term to do as he desires.

  • Robert G. Oler

    SpaceMan wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Newt has ZERO chance of beating Obama.>

    that is exactly what the Carter people thought of Reagan. And in both instance the folks who thought that were wrong.

    Mondale had little or no chance of beating Reagan (although had Ronaldus the Great had a second bad debate performance …..maybe) but Obama is the most vulnerable president in a reelect since Carter.

    I say that as someone who would in a Newt/Barack race right now vote for Barack…but I am so tired of no leadership from The POTUS it annoys me that I might change my mind. (and I agree with Morning Joe…if Newt is the smartest person in the room…leave the room…) RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    In other words, ATK launchers, with Florida and Texas joining with Utah in splitting up the pig.

    The problem is, there’s no pig.

    You don’t go to the Moon to mine anything, except maybe 3He, and that’s only if it can be used for fusion.

    You go to the Moon to build CAPS, and any one nation can not afford to do that by itself.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    If Gingrich is trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology, he should realize that it makes little sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on lunar colonization and mining to do that….

    Defending Newt is like Defending Garver…annoying…(although I do treasure a very nice letter from Newt after my Weekly Standard Piece)…but I dont think Newt means inspirational in the traditional sense of how NASA uses that word.

    There are two things that will hurt Newt with conservatives…Newt does believe in “big government” programs and he doesnt care much about social issues…it is the former that is entertaining. Newt in my view believes that federal programs which have value for cost find that value in the way in which “doing them” motivates the rest of the nation to participate in them…and one of his anti NASA arguments is that NASA is so fracked up internally that it executes programs in such a manner that outside forces CANNOT participate in them.

    Muncy hangs out here and he can probably do a better job of defending Newt then I can since I have some issues with him…but in the end what Newt means by inspiring and NASA means is well different. RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    DocM wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    “Any of those “credible reasons” done by humans on or over other solar system bodies will be inspirational by their very nature, so I don’t ser your point.”

    Nor do I see yours. Nothing is “inspirational by its very nature”. I recall when ISS was going to be inspirational. What was the nature of ISS that made us think that? Where are all the young scientists and engineers who say “I did it because of ISS!”? I think most people who use that word do so without really understanding what it means, except that it means something good. When I go into schools to talk about space, the kind of wide eyed excitement I see is (depending on the grade level) exactly what one sees from firefighters, military in uniform, and even dinosaurs. In the case of the first two, it’s about heroes, and human space flight isn’t cleanly synonymous with heroes. The uniforms do help a lot, though!

    But the point here is not to argue about inspiration but just to point out that the cost of colonizing the Moon isn’t worth what doing so will “inspire” in kids. Not by a long shot.

    Credible reasons? Well, species preservation by expansion is a pretty good one, and if there are species-useful products that the lunar regolith would uniquely provide (which I’m fairly skeptical about) then that would be good as well. So if Newt would suck it up and say that we need to move out into the solar system for those reasons, then he might have a case. Maybe even, as per Apollo, the chest-beating national superiority that such an endeavor would signal might be something worth the cost. But inspiration? Except to the extent you get that from that latter, I’m afraid not.

  • Michael from Iowa

    Both the University of Iowa and Iowa State are heavily involved in NASA research programs.

    UI’s involvement is more on the instrumentation and research side of things (we have faculty here involved with everything from JUNO to IXO). Iowa State’s involvement, as someone else mentioned, tends to be more focused on engineering.

    … this of course makes it all the stranger that so many Republicans would advocate defunding or shutting down NASA while at the same time cheering on universities working with them.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Nonsense, as usual. 1. You don’t understand the difference between good leadership that motivates and bad leadership that obfuscates. Gingrich been a demonstrated disaster and already left a trail of wreckage in both his political and personal lives. He has contributed nothing to America’s space program in the past and at 68 years old, offers nothing for its future. ‘Nuff said. 2. And given the choice between the SLS, an investment in human spaceflight, or the financial disaster of the JWST, , the basic emotional bond people have to one of their own touching other worlds wins out over the machines. That common denominator among humans goes from customer service calls to spaceflight.

    And on a historical, manned spaceflight related note- a quick story to share, confirmed by Buzz Aldrin himself. Related to a friend the famous “inside baseball” tale in space circles about that iconic photo of Buzz Aldrin, the famous ‘man on the moon’ picture and the back story of how it was taken just as Buzz had paused on the edge of a crater to ‘relieve’ himself in is urine collection bag. Friend shared the story with her physical therapist in Los Angeles and by coincidence, Buzz Aldrin is currently getting some physical therapy from the same therapist. (Word is he’s in great shape for his age BTW.) The therapist asked Buzz about the tale and Aldrin confirmed it with the caveat that he’d just paused on the edge of the crater and with thier busy checklist to follow, it was as good a time as any to ‘fill the bag’ and he’d just finished up when Armstrong took the famous picture. Buzz then relayed to the therapist that although Neil may have been the first man to step on the moon, he was the first man to pee on it. True story, confirmed by Buzz.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DL –

    I have had entirely too much of the elitist and fantasist “species expansion” propaganda.

    Try species preservation by species preservation instead – CAPS.

  • Dennis Wingo

    If Gingrich is trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology, he should realize that it makes little sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on lunar colonization and mining to do that. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars you aren’t spending on educating these same young people. So they might have a reason to study it, but they won’t be able to study it as well as if that money was spent more strategically

    Who says that this has to cost hundreds of billions of dollars? Pass Zero G Zero Tax for starters…

    http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc109/h1024_ih.xml

    Then put up three prizes.

    Fifteen billion dollars for the first U.S. company to deliver at least three humans to the Moon, keep them alive there, and return them safely to the Earth.

    Twenty Five billion dollars for the first U.S. company to deliver 100 kilograms of Platinum Group Metals from any extraterrestrial source to the Earth.

    With this we would change the world.

    Quit the old think ways

    Think Different About Space

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 4:36 pm
    “I have had entirely too much of the elitist and fantasist “species expansion” propaganda. Try species preservation by species preservation instead – CAPS.”

    Yes, it is indeed elitist and fantasist, because of course any effort at preservation by one nation is going to be about preserving what many view as *that* species. That is, our taxpayer dollars aren’t going to be spent preserving Asians or Africans, and maybe not even the French. But hey, it’s just about the only reason around!

    Oh sure, protection from small bodies is hugely important for species insurance, but that won’t help against wars, disease or, shall we say, big mistakes. Of course wars and disease are easily transferred to species refuges.

  • Jim Muncy

    I think I can speak fairly authoritatively that Newt wasn’t talking about spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars on lunar colonies. As he
    said in an earlier debate, we didn’t need a Department of Railroads
    to build not one but five transcontinental railroad lines.

    As Dennis pointed out, there are completely non-bureaucratic ways
    to achieve great things in human space exploration, development,
    and settlement.

    Frankly, I was disappointed in Romney’s attack… it smacks of the kind of beancounter thinking that corporate takeovers often propagate. Romney needs to communicate a vision of the future, and he has some smart people advising him on space. Apparently they weren’t asked if lunar development and settlement was a good idea.

  • SpaceMan

    This coming election is NOT a rerun of the past. The Republicans are not Ronald Reagan etc and the social environment is very different. Back in 1980 how many citizens were on the Internet for instance ? How many private citizens had mobile devices/phones ? Etc.

    Obama has done the best one could expect w/the current Congress. Congress has been and will continue to be THE problem.

    Certainly there ARE events (Black Swans, “wild cards”) that could cause a large enough shift to allow one of the reactionary nut cases on the right to win. Just remember that the Obama Team cleaned every professional’s “clock” to get where they are. Those folks are very savvy. Nothing the Republicians can point to was caused by Obama & POTUS has zero budget authorization authority. The blame lies in the lap of Congress and in particular the Republicans.

    Hide and Watch.

  • Dennis Wingo

    Obama has done the best one could expect w/the current Congress. Congress has been and will continue to be THE problem.

    This is completely incorrect. The reason for Obama’s problem with congress has been delved into by none other than Chris Matthews. He said that there are some democratic congress members who Obama has not called since his inauguration. I have been reading the diary of Ronald Reagan during his tenure as president and one thing that struck me is just how hard he worked to work with congress. He actually had more problems with republican members sometime than he had with democrats. Reagan was on the phone or his team was working with the congressional leadership and the rank and file almost every single day. Reagan did things like invite the entire congress to the white house with their families for get togethers and parties just to allow them to feel that they were working together and socializing for the good of the country. Obama has never done any of this and thus this is the crucial reason for his lack of success as president.

    Also in reading the Reagan diaries you get a feeling of just how duplicitous Tip O’Neil was and that it is an amazing thing that Reagan was able to get as much done as he did.

    This is where I actually have hope for Gingrich. He was in congress during these years, having been elected in 1978 and he was a founder of the congressional space caucus. He was there as a junior congressperson during the Reagan years and saw how Reagan got things done. Couple this with his congressional experience and you have the potential for a great president.

    We will see where things go.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I know bad leadership…Bush the last was the poster person for bad leadership. He had at one point the complete attention of The Republic to follow him and it was one bad step after another.

    I am not a Newt fan (as must be obvious from my post), Newt in my mind is largely responsible for the goofy atmosphere that is in our politics now; particularly on the side of the GOP…and in my view if he became President we would be in for a bad ride…but who knows.

    Only Nixon could go to China…that phrase is not historically idle…I doubt Newt has had some epiphany that “things have gone to far” on the GOP side, but maybe. At any rate Obama has in my view been the worst in terms of leadership in my lifetime; with a populace behind him, he has let idiots in his own party and the idiots of the GOP just completely derail his Presidency.

    I would be interested to see Newt debate Barack…

    as for Buzz re leaving himself…like SLS a trud is a turd and SLS will be dead this coming year RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Muncy wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    “Frankly, I was disappointed in Romney’s attack… it smacks of the kind of beancounter thinking that corporate takeovers often propagate. Romney needs to communicate a vision of the future, and he has some smart people advising him on space.”

    its the best Willard can offer…he has no real vision of anything except he would like to be POTUS…he is as your former boss noted a career pol in all but name. “Smart people advising him…”. LOL they are hangers on. RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    “Who says that this has to cost hundreds of billions of dollars? Pass Zero G Zero Tax for starters…”

    So you don’t pay taxes on space income. Nice. But …

    Let’s see, so a private company sends people to the Moon, those people survive, and the company wins $15B? Sure. But we’re talking outposts, mining, colonization. Who’s going to put up the second $15B for visit #2, where they start to construct the outpost? Or what about visit #5, when they bring the bulldozers? Or visit #13 when they install the platinum group refinery?

    Yep, hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Space prizes are a nice idea, if you’re talking about a one-shot just-for-show deal. Not very useful if you’re trying to actually do something useful. What’s the “this” that you’re talking about?

    So, um, I’m still wondering. What exactly does Newt Gingrich mean by using lunar colonization to “inspire” students to do math, technology, and science? If that’s the best way he can come up with to do that, we’re in really big trouble. Again, there might be good reasons to colonize the Moon, but inspiring kids isn’t one of them.

  • Lyle Upson.

    Then put up three prizes.

    Fifteen billion dollars for the first U.S. company to deliver at least three humans to the Moon, keep them alive there, and return them safely to the Earth.

    Twenty Five billion dollars for the first U.S. company to deliver 100 kilograms of Platinum Group Metals from any extraterrestrial source to the Earth.

    With this we would change the world.

    …………………….

    fully agree with Dennis

    hoping to see the third prize he has in mind

  • E.P. Grondine

    DL –

    Saving say 50 people max does nothing for the other 300,000,000, not to mention the 7,000,000,000.

  • Dennis Wingo

    Yep, hundreds of billions of dollars.

    It is this kind of thinking that indicates that it will be the few of us that make this happen. It is so incredibly easy to be a naysayer, but it is those of us who understand what to do that will make it happen.

    If this is what you think, then why in the hell are you even wasting your time with these forums?

  • Dennis Wingo

    Third Prize

    $10 billion dollars for the first 10 megawatt class thorium reactor on the Moon.

  • common sense

    Watching this particular episode it is obvious that Gingrich has a lot more charisma than Romney. He’s more flamboyant so he may in the end get the nomination of his party. Romney keeps making mistakes.

    This being said. A debate between Gingrich and Obama would probably be the most fun. At this time I still believe Obama would win. I suspect that a lot of stories will surface about Gingrich that have been “forgotten”.

    I also believe that it would not make any difference in the implementation of commercial space and I mean today. Of course if, when, SLS/MPCV gets the axe then things will be a lot easier. Especially if people like Shelby, Nelson and Hutchinson are no longer in Congress.

    Would I base my vote on their space policies? Nope.
    Would any one with any sense base their vote on their space policies? Nope.

    Did any one of those guys provide any plan to rescue the economy? Nope.
    Do they even mention that the economy is worldwide? Nope.

    “That guy” still is a great debater and probably you, we, need to review his past performances just as I am sure the GOPers are doing.

    We’ll see.

  • Vladislaw

    “Let’s see, so a private company sends people to the Moon, those people survive, and the company wins $15B? Sure. But we’re talking outposts, mining, colonization. Who’s going to put up the second $15B for visit #2, “

    Where are you getting these numbers from? 15 billion for a ride to the moon? That is beyond being silly.

    The point of prizes is to deliver a product to the general marketplace and spur commercialization of that product.

    Do you honestly believe that commercial interests would do it the NASA way? You know, spend 50-60 billion developing rockets then toss away 2-3 billion in hardware every flight? Do you HONESTLY believe that is how commercial space would do the moon? No fuel depots? No reusable habitats? No reusable EDS’s? No reusable lunar landers? No reusable return capsules? That commercial firms would not utilize existing rockets? Come on and at least be reasonable.

  • DCSCA

    @Jim Muncy wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    “I think I can speak fairly authoritatively that Newt wasn’t talking about spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars on lunar colonies.”

    Hmmm. Can speak matter of factly that Newt advocated disbanding NASA after Apollo. He is, in fact, what less informed folks think a smart person sounds like. Mining the moon is the babbling of a loon, particularly when veiled in the aura of Reaganomics-styled commercialism. Supply-side efforts at managing HSF has met with disasterous results as Challenger so tragicly showed and of late, has failed America and has failed to get HSF off the ground. Newt needs reminding that capital investment by the private sector in commercial HSF remains tepid at best and as of December, 2011, no commercial firm has yet to launch, orbit and recover a crewed spacecraft wheras the Soviets- and the U.S. government accomplished this half a century ago. VirginGalactic remains the most promising sub-orbital enterprise and Branson recently stated he expects to begin flight operatrions in a year. Gingrich’s comments simply dovetail with the discredited philosophy that advocates privatizing everything government. That’s worked well for the bankrupted post office, hasn’t it.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    “I know bad leadership…”

    Sure you do. No doubt you reflect on it daily, particularly as you pass a mirror. And now we can add labelling Buzz ‘a turd’ to your oft-posted disdain for human spaceflight. Strsnge. Sad.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    do you really think that any of these are politically viable? I dont but curious RGO

  • Doug Lassiter

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ December 12th, 2011 at 12:20 pm
    “If this is what you think, then why in the hell are you even wasting your time with these forums?”

    I could just as well ask why you are here. Your own blog seemed to have left off soon after that thought was expressed.

    I’m here because there is usually thoughtful discourse about space policy and, as per the title, space politics. We express opinions and we debate them, thanks to Jeff. The nature of discourse is that one has to muster compelling arguments sometimes, and sometimes you have to listen to arguments you don’t agree with. That’s the way it works. In fact, as per the topic of this thread, that’s how politics works.

    If you can make it happen, that private concerns win your notional three prizes, then more power to you. To be honest, it is indeed incredibly easy to be a naysayer about things that just seem patently unrealistic. If believing it’s true would make it true, I’d be more positive, but that’s not a religion I subscribe to. I can’t imagine even a self-styled space nerd like Newt Gingrich subscribing to that religion.

  • Dennis Wingo

    To be honest, it is indeed incredibly easy to be a naysayer about things that just seem patently unrealistic.

    Hmmm,…. I seem to remember people telling Elon that several years ago.

    At the end of the day today, it is about money, technology is no longer the limiting factor in the economic development of space. It is the role of the space advocate today, whether through the development of their own private space enterprise, or through making money in other venues to apply it to space.

    There is nothing unrealistic in the economic development of the space frontier today and if the government does not do it, then through a lot of blood sweat and tears we will.

    I could just as well ask why you are here. Your own blog seemed to have left off soon after that thought was expressed.

    Don’t flatter yourself on this one, I was working 90 hours a week on a new venture. I still don’t have time to do what I want to do with it so I am leaving it until the new year.

    As for Robert’s question, dunno six months ago people would have said that Newt Gingrich could not have gotten his mother to vote for him and now look. I am a lot more hopeful about Gingrich than some as I really don’t give a crap about his baggage, it is what he can do as president. We have been living through a presidential administration that came to town with zero baggage, a faithful husband, and with no other stains and look at what it got us. You know it is bad when people are pining for the good old days of a president who knew how to govern and liked blow jobs from interns in his office.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ December 11th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Then put up three prizes.

    Fifteen billion dollars for the first U.S. company to deliver at least three humans to the Moon…

    With this we would change the world.

    I think prizes and challenges can create healthy competition, and even some accomplishments. However if taxpayer money is involved, then it has to show some public ROI too.

    For instance, the DARPA Grand Challenge moved along the state of the art for self-guided vehicles, which DARPA likely thought would help future war fighters. As a side effect they probably advanced the point in time where we’ll have self-guided cars too, but that wasn’t DARPA’s goal.

    I think a lot of people were surprised when the outcome of the Ansari X Prize (a private competition) was the winner actually trying to commercialize their success beyond just the competition. We haven’t seen a similar outcome from the DARPA challenge, so I don’t think we can expect every challenge to create a market.

    The other thing I think needs to be taken into account is the timeframe and risks. If the timeframe is set too far out, there is little sense of urgency. Set too close, and not enough people will feel it’s doable. If there is no date, then potential challengers will try to keep tabs on each other without having to commit too soon. Lots to consider.

    The risk level is a big factor too. If you have to spend $1B before you know if you’ll have a competitive entry, then button-down public companies probably won’t try. This certainly encourages teaming, but still, $Billions is a lot of money, and they have to see payoffs beyond just the prize money.

    I do like the idea of ever increasing levels of difficulty, and since we’re dealing with a challenge that only one country has been able to match, but at a level of spending it can’t even afford today, then the first challenge shouldn’t be landing and returning from the Moon. Maybe orbit a crew of four around the Moon for two days, then return? That ensures that it won’t be a Soyuz, and that it’s not just free return trip either. Then on to something incrementally more challenging.

    But the outcome of each prize has to be something that is somehow important to the nation. Not that we feel it would be neat to mine water on the Moon, but to solve a specific problem that has specific payoffs. So far though, no one has identified anything on the Moon, besides scientific knowledge, that we need, so good luck getting money from Congress to fund any challenge.

    My $0.02

  • “Its obvious the NASA management doesn’t see the problem.”

    Um…People seem to forget that NASA management works for the White House and is beholding to laws by congress. NASA is not the problem.

    Some say that NASA needs a mission. Some say it needs a specific mission. I do not agree.

    IF congress passed an authorization act which simply stated that NASA’s mission was to explore the universe and expand human presence beyond terrestial limits and left the details to NASA for the last 30 years, we would be there. They have never been allowed to work it the way they want to given only a consistent budget constraint. They have always been used as a political football to get other pork projects funded.

    NASA management gets it. They have been trying very hard to do as they are required and also push the industry in the right direction. I applaud every single NASA center director for their efforts to keep a positive attitude while trying to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

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>