Campaign '12

Gingrich talks up prizes in Florida

As previously noted here and elsewhere, Newt Gingrich is the Republican presidential candidate who, so far, has talked the most about space during the 2012 campaign by a large margin. Moreover, central Florida is one of the few places in the country where space is a major issue. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that, when Gingrich talked with the editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel Friday, part of a visit to Orlando to open a new campaign office there, that the issue of space came up.

However, the newspaper’s account of that editorial board meeting didn’t provide much in the way of new insights about his thoughts on space policy beyond what he has previously discussed. He said he loves “the romance of space” and believes that NASA should be “more realistic about risk taking”. He also talked up the benefits of prizes, something he has long endorsed. However, he was short on specifics, beyond suggesting that five to ten percent of NASA’s budget be used for prize programs.

The article includes a video with clips from his meeting with the editorial baord, including a couple brief comments about space. In one, he talks about prizes in a little greater detail, while in the other he brings up the criticism of past space-related ideas expressed last month by another Republican candidate, Mitt Romney:

You know, I was very surprised when Governor Romney twice recently sort of poked fun at ideas I’ve had about space. I thought it showed a total lack of vision on his part…

So I want to start with the idea that I believe we need to reclaim John F. Kennedy’s vision and we need to decide to go boldly out into space. I think that I’d like to set at least five, and maybe ten, percent of the NASA budget aside for prizes. Because if you go back and look at the history of aviation in the twenties and thirties, prize money got huge multipliers of effort: Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic for $25,000, for example. If you had set aside just five percent of the NASA budget over the last ten years, you’d have $8 billion in prize money.

70 comments to Gingrich talks up prizes in Florida

  • Coastal Ron

    Though it’s looking less and less likely Gingrich will become the Republican Presidential candidate, his idea for prizes is not as bad as letting small constituencies in Congress mandate exploration hardware.

    We need competition for ideas, and competition to ensure one BOOM doesn’t shut down our program for years. Competition also keeps prices lower than sole-sourced alternatives.

    Is five or 10% the right number? I don’t know, and you’d probably want to start out small and validate the process first.

    In any case, it sure would shake things up, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

  • Rhyolite

    “So I want to start with the idea that I believe we need to reclaim John F. Kennedy’s vision and we need to decide to go boldly out into space.”

    It’s not 1961. We know better wich activities in space pay for themselves. Invoking blank check investments dosen’t make sense. Apollo is the wrong model for today.

  • Vladislaw

    “Is five or 10% the right number? I don’t know, and you’d probably want to start out small and validate the process first.”

    I am the opposite, go big. If no one goes for a small prize it is a waste of time. If you offer a larger purse you get immediate investment, regardless if they continue that funding and actually win the prize. It has not cost the taxpayer anything if no one actually wins the prize. But if the prize amount was large enough to induce investment, then the taxpayer gets a return regardless if someone finishes and actually wins the prize. If investment continues and a winner is declared, the nation gets a new capability, generally faster, and at a lower overall cost because all the investment multipliers.

  • SpaceColonizer

    I love the idea of prizes, and I hope that Gingrich’s failure to get on the GOP ticket won’t be the end of this idea in the political world.

    An idea I was hoping would help such a program would be if NASA offers to match any prizes offered by private sector sources. Like the Google Lunar X-Prize is only $30 million, but if NASA matched that it would be $60 million and would make the prize more attractive without full funding by the government. This would create a double multiplier effect. Not only do we get the multiplier of multiple investments competing for the same prize, but we would also create an incentive for the creation of more and/or bigger prizes. And I seriously doubt the money paid by NASA for these prizes would come anywhere close to even the 5% of the NASA budget that Newt suggests be used for prizes.

  • DCSCA

    “So I want to start with the idea that I believe we need to reclaim John F. Kennedy’s vision and we need to decide to go boldly out into space. I think that I’d like to set at least five, and maybe ten, percent of the NASA budget aside for prizes. Because if you go back and look at the history of aviation in the twenties and thirties, prize money got huge multipliers of effort: Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic for $25,000, for example. If you had set aside just five percent of the NASA budget over the last ten years, you’d have $8 billion in prize money.”

    Pious baloney, as usual, from Gingrich, who is mixing apples and oranges and he best review the various alternatives JFK actually proposed and what LBJ actually financed to get it done. There’s no comparison between Ortig’s $25K and Apollo’s $25 billion. The $25,000 Ortig Prize was a private stake but now Newt advocates ‘five percent of NASA’s budget over 8 years’- that is, government funding as a stake for prizes. Paging Bob Walker. That’s backdoor government subsidizing of private enterprise- and as he well knows, the place to source that kind of ‘venture capital’ is at firms like Romney’s Bain Capital, not the U.S. Treasury which has to borrow 41 cents of every dollar it spends. Bad boy, Newt.

    If Newt wants a private enterprised space program to flourish, let him sell off some of his personal assets- and some of Callista’s Tiffany jewelry- or borrows some money and invest in VirginGalactic or SpaceX or some of the other fledgling free market space enterprises. And although Lindbergh was successful, Newt overlooks there were several high profile and costly failed attempts resulting in loss of pilots and their aircraft and the investments there in in a quest for the prize. Is he prepared to take the same high risk and invest? Seems not. Risky business this space stuff is- but the market potential for aviation was promising against the primary modes of moving goods and people around the planet at the time- ship and rail and to a lesser extent, trucking. No such avenues of commerce exist in space and private capital markets remain wary of investing in what remains a limited market requiring a high cost to invest in a limited market with a great deal of risk. That’s why governments do it. See Mars-Grunt for the latest ‘risk’ gone bad.

  • NASA Fan

    Does anyone think Congress would go for this? A big chunk of prize money going to one single winner? Congress like to spread the pork. This encourages lobbyist and PAC’s to contribute to their campaign war chest – all effort to influence where money goes.

    Great idea , don’t get me wrong here, but I wonder if it would support the dysfunction that is our form of government.

    Maybe Obama would be willing to appoint Gingrich as the head of some kind of Space Policy task force, once the 2012 elections are over?

  • so a politician recognizes that there are a group of voters with a special interest that no one else seems to have pandered to and he throws them a bone so that they rally behind him, regardless of all of his other positions or previous behavior. Like that’s never happened before.

    Ask yourself this: if space were not on Newt’s “Agenda”, would you still consider him a worthwhile candidate for president?

  • Mark

    Ah, Space Cynic, Gingrich has been a space supporter since he was first elected to Congress in 1978.

  • A M Swallow

    NASA fan wrote “Does anyone think Congress would go for this? A big chunk of prize money going to one single winner? Congress like to spread the pork. …”

    For safety reasons space rockets may have to be launched from the Eastern seaboard but they can be made in any state. So any state can win the money. Prizes spread the pork around.

  • guest

    Gingrich has my vote! I like his politics. I especially like his interest in space.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    Congrats to Stephen Smith…nicely done RGO

    If Jeff will permit the temporary topic drift … Thanks, Robert.

    I’m amused by the posted comments. Those who can’t refute what I said simply wrote insults or made things up. But that’s S.O.P. for the Internet.

    At least no one has shown up at the front door with a shotgun yet … since many of my neighbors make a living off that government monopoly. :-)

  • Back somewhat on topic …

    This morning’s Florida Today has an article suggesting that the GOP primary race may be over by the time the road show arrives in Florida in a couple weeks.

    The GOP has punished Florida for moving up its primary by taking away 50 delegates at the convention.

    So it looks increasingly unlikely that space issues will have any impact on the GOP nomination.

  • gregori

    Oh dear god when i read articles like one above, i want to puke.

    Its not a government “monopoly”. The government is not preventing people going into space using their own money or insisting that they use NASA vehicles to achieve this. Its more like a Monopsony.

    If people want to go into space and there is a market for that, private companies are free to design vehicles and provide this service. In fact a few people did this and went up on a Soyuz. What these people are crying about is that the government is not acting as guaranteed customer for their products because there is such a small market for them elsewhere.

    No offense, but they’re not entitled to government funds to prop up their industry. They might desire that, but its not a constitutional right or “free enterprise”. Space is not special and i don’t think any industry is entitled to government funds.

  • Coastal Ron

    gregori wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 11:59 am

    No offense, but they’re not entitled to government funds to prop up their industry.

    No one is saying that. Well, no one but ULA, who says that they need the government to commit to a decade of orders in order to fend off price increases. ULA, of course, if 50/50 owned by Lockheed Martin (#1 NASA contractor) and Boeing (#2 NASA contractor). But I digress.

    The point of Stephen’s article is that NASA’s charter doesn’t support doing things like building and operating rockets, and that laws going back to the Reagan era state that NASA should be relying on the commercial sector to the fullest extent possible.

    I see it more a matter of how NASA spends money, not who they spend it on.

    Space is not special and i don’t think any industry is entitled to government funds.

    I agree that space is not special, and that no industry is entitled to government funds, but you have to remember that NASA is essentially a contracting agency, spending 85% of it’s budget on contractors. NASA is going to pay someone, it’s just a matter of who has the better bid or is best qualified.

    There are a number of battles going on, with the largest right now being whether Congress should be directing NASA to build a mega-rocket that NASA didn’t want yet. That is the biggest example of bad spending, not who is being contracted to build it.

  • Ferris Valyln

    gregori – the flipside is also true. Nowhere is it required that government send anybody into space. Space, as you say, isn’t special. Its certainly not mentioned in the Constitution

  • No offense, but they’re not entitled to government funds to prop up their industry.

    It’s not about “propping up the industry.” It’s about ending our dependence on the Russians as soon and as cost effectively as possible.

  • gregori

    Actually, I perfectly agree with that. There isn’t a requirement for the government to send humans into space.

    Saying its about ending dependence on the Russians is totally farcical because its implies their is a desperate need to have people in space in the first place when their really isn’t. Besides, parts for the several of the commercial vendors come from Russia. The politicians don’t act like there is a pressing need to be independent from Russia, because A) they like money going to preferred contractors and B) they don’t think Human spaceflight is particularly important.

    I think its overly hostile in anyway and not in the spirit of the project. The attitude is that the United States should dominate the ISS. Europe and Russia are dependent of the USA for the station, but they are not resorting to hysterical jingoism, demanding independence. They don’t think its a crisis being dependent on others.

  • DCSCA

    @Mark wrote @ January 15th, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Ah, Space Cynic, Gingrich has been a space supporter since he was first elected to Congress in 1978.”

    Not really. Gingrich advocated disbanding NASA after Apollo.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
    “No offense, but they’re not entitled to government funds to prop up their industry.” “It’s not about “propping up the industry.” It’s about ending our dependence on the Russians as soon and as cost effectively as possible.”

    In fact, it is about propping up the industry. Using Soyuz has been part of the ISS operations plan for decades. And Americans ‘buying rides’ on a Soyuz is short term and purely reactionary. Private enterprised HSF firms only need to go to the private capital markets, pitch a profitable plan, sell the idea, get funded and fly. Bain Capital awaits…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Using Soyuz has been part of the ISS operations plan for decades.

    So what? Using the Shuttle as the sole method of U.S. crew access to space ended last year, and NASA, the President and Congress want a new domestic crew capability. Though there is disagreement on how much to spend for it, all are united in their desire to see it happen.

    The Russians have been competent space taxi providers, but from a international relations standpoint it would be silly not to have a domestic alternative.

    Funny how you flip flop on sending money out this country – one day you’re against it, the next for it… ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Back somewhat on topic …

    This morning’s Florida Today has an article suggesting that the GOP primary race may be over by the time the road show arrives in Florida in a couple weeks.>>

    it is going to be an interesting “watch” In South Carolina. As it stands now the primary seems to be shaping up as a battle of the establishment candidate versus a series of nuts who seem unable to coalesce the substantial percentage of the base who dont like the establishment candidate.

    I am amused by the “god squad wing” which seems to be trying to get its people to drift toward Ricky S…and that might be the only thing that can stop willard…although Ricky S seems to have little or no “real” support.

    Willard is in my view the least likely candidate to beat Obama…

    GOP space policy will be whatever the money folks want it to be as they divy up the scraps at NASA…thats why SLS is toast in the near run.

    Congrats again on your piece. The folks who commented really dont want the facts…they are either like the Jack N character in “A few Good Men’ or the Sheriff in Cool Hand Luck…they simply dont want to hear. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I would add this (I’ve been very very busy so I apologize for not having quicker reply)

    None of the Republican candidates except perhaps Newt and Paul have any vision whatsoever, in space politics or really anything. vision requires something different then looking in the past or searching the past for answers, it requires “defining the future in a way unexplainable in the present in other then general terms” (Ronald Wilson Reagan who modified it from T. Roosevelt)…

    And except for Gingrich none of the GOP flunkies see space as that potential. In space politics one needs to shed the past because what has happened since Tranquility base is that the future is defined as simple reruns of the past…the phrase “next logical step” assumes for instance that the current step is complete. and yet far from it. Not a SINGLE effort in human spaceflight, something now that has happened for almost 50 years is sustainable ON THE EFFORT ITSELF.

    Various groups can argue about various goals (people here can argue to dump the ISS for instance) because none of the money spent so far has developed something that is absent federal funding self sustaining. 50 years, really 25 years after the Wright brothers flew; the effort was self sustaining. Even federal investment in a DEPRESSION was sustaining because the nation could not visualize the same life style that it ahd without aviation…and that is not accurate of human spaceflight…it is easy for most Americans to imagine life without people in space.

    They live it every day.

    Other then Newt none of the GOP candidates have a clue how to change that…because really other then Newt and Paul none of them have a vision for this country passed the various sound bites that are obligatory for their constituencies. “god” (or their version of the creator) is a big winner, Willard wants to do for the US what he did for Bain. (well maybe that is a vision although a depressing one)

    Go look at Spudis recent “montage” of number 1000 in his restatement of why we have to go to the Moon…its no longer even about what is done on the Moon, it is that simply being there will allow the chinese to own the Moon…

    Obama’s space politics and policy was in my mind wise because it enabled “possibilities heretofore unimaginable”. Gingrich has some notion of those same possibilities, he is however in Newt form simply unable to put them into a coherent message.

    The people who work in the human spaceeffort cannot see a future passed that pay check…as for your neighbors hating you…well dont worry I had equally entertaining pieces published when I was an elected official and still got elected! More is coming! Again nice job RGO

  • Another article on the front page of today’s Florida Today about the upcoming Florida GOP primary:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012301170008

    The article suggests that most of the Republican votes and wealth are in the Tampa area, so expect them to spend more time there and not much in Brevard County.

    The Brevard Republican Executive Committee has invited all the candidates to a January 27 Lincoln Day dinner at the Radisson in Cape Canaveral. So far, I’ve seen no indication that any of the candidates has accepted.

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    GOP space policy will be whatever the money folks want it to be as they divy up the scraps at NASA…thats why SLS is toast in the near run.

    As I’ve written before, I think SLS will be the last program standing simply because it’s where the Congressional pork is at its fattest. Everything else will go first. We saw that recently when Congress cut the CCDev budget by more than half, while giving SLS more money than the White House requested.

    SLS is guaranteed $3 billion/year for the next five years. That’s chump change in the federal budget. The remaining $15 billion/year in the NASA budget has no significant group of protectors in Congress.

    If it wasn’t for the international obligations, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Congress tried to cancel the ISS program. Not much pork there either now that it’s built.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:58 am

    “None of the Republican candidates except perhaps Newt and Paul have any vision whatsoever, in space politics or really anything. vision requires something different then looking in the past or searching the past for answers, it requires “defining the future in a way unexplainable in the present in other then general terms” (Ronald Wilson Reagan who modified it from T. Roosevelt)…”

    Hmm, finally coming to my views? How do you like my predictions so far?

    After South Carolina Perry is probably out. Santorum will get another boost. Gingrich will stay if he has enough cash. Romney and Paul will go on.

    In the end it will be Romney and Paul. There will be a form of arguing about getting Paul’ voters and Romney will not get them if he does not include Paul in his ticket one way or another. And he will not.

    Romney will lose to the incumbent. Not because of Bain but because of healthcare…

    Gingrich will fade after Florida… Santorum will fade but I am not sure when. Possibly after Gingrich.

  • JohnHunt

    I don’t favor very large prizes. Say you put up $1 billion for the first Falcon-sized lunar lander. Who’s going to risk $500 million when they might come in second? No one.

    Rather than very large prizes, I think that incentives should be either prizes for small items such as a lunar excavator our go the Lunar COTS route and pay for milestones achieved. Using these two approaches plus having matching prizes while allowing PR rights could probably get a cis-lunar infrastructure based upon lunar ice for less than $4 billion and, if done right, position the US to return humans to the Moon using the same Landers.

  • Byeman

    “There isn’t a requirement for the government to send humans into space.”

    Wrong, See NASA authorization acts. It directs NASA to operate the ISS.

  • Ferris Valyln

    Byeman – to quote Ron Paul – “Show me in the Constitution that requires having a space agency”

  • Vladislaw

    JohnHunt wrote:

    “I don’t favor very large prizes. Say you put up $1 billion for the first Falcon-sized lunar lander. Who’s going to risk $500 million when they might come in second? No one.”

    You do not want to award prizes for a capability that is not easily repeatable or doesn’t have a commercial application. The Longitude Act that was passed by the British government and the Orteg prize are two examples where a new capabilty was fostered and products were almost immediately produced for commercial gain.

    I would rather see an “America’s Lunar Cup” prize. Take off from LEO in a space based vehicle and loop around the moon and return to LEO.

    Once you create traffic to lunar orbit you have a reason to put a commercial station there, once you have a commercial station and regular traffic you have a reason for a commercial lunar lander.

    A NASA researcher should beable to take a commercial flight to LEO, board a commercial vehicle to Lunar orbit, take a commercial light from Lunar orbit to the lunar surface, check in at a commercial lunar base, then take off for a couple weeks in a NASA winabago rover pulling a trailer with a nuclear power system.

    There is no reason NASA researchers can be taking commercial transports to the moon the same way a NASA researcher goes to antartica.

  • Byeman

    “Byeman – to quote Ron Paul – “Show me in the Constitution that requires having a space agency””

    The people of the US through Congress decided that the US gov’t will send humans into space. So a requirement is not needed if it is the will of the people.

    “Ah, Space Cynic, Gingrich has been a space supporter since he was first elected to Congress in 1978.”
    Not really. Gingrich advocated disbanding NASA after Apollo”

    Usual, DCSCA doesn’t know what he is talking about. One can be a space supporter and advocate disbanding NASA. They are not mutually exclusive.

  • NASA Fan

    Show me in the Constitution that requires a “Fill in the Blank” federal agency.

    The horse has already left the barn wrt toeing the line at the boundary of the Constitution.

  • Ferris Valyln

    Byeman – please understand, I was very specific, intentionally, with what I said.

    “There isn’t a requirement for the government to send humans into space.” And, if you look purely at the Constitution as the primary requirements to run the country, you’ll find no mention of funding humans to space.

    This doesn’t mean that it can’t do it, or that it would be illegal to do so, but its not a requirement.

  • DCSCA

    @Byeman wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 4:28 pm
    “Byeman – to quote Ron Paul – “Show me in the Constitution that requires having a space agency”” The people of the US through Congress decided that the US gov’t will send humans into space. So a requirement is not needed if it is the will of the people.”

    “Ah, Space Cynic, Gingrich has been a space supporter since he was first elected to Congress in 1978.” “Not really. Gingrich advocated disbanding NASA after Apollo” Usual, DCSCA doesn’t know what he is talking about. One can be a space supporter and advocate disbanding NASA.”

    Did you read your own posting? “The people of the US through Congress decided that the US gov’t will send humans into space. So a requirement is not needed if it is the will of the people.” Which makes Newt advocating disbanding NASA not a particularly credible space advocate one as he was Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America- the 3rd highest office in the land- which your own words note charges him with the responsibility to carry out the ‘will of the people’ through the government agency, NASA. Sober up.

  • GuessWho

    And in other news, SpaceX demonstrates yet again a lack of ability to meet schedule.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.12a0e5692890342566e9d97aa2af9cd6.f1&show_article=1

  • amightywind

    One can be a space supporter and advocate disbanding NASA.

    Like one can be a supporter of the US military and cut it by $1 trillion? And yet today we hear that ‘alternative’ (SpaceX) is delayed indefinitely, but I’m sure their pay hasn’t been.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 7:25 pm
    So ISS planning incorporated Soyuz in ISS operations- The ‘I’ standing for international’ you know, and has little to do w/long range planning for U.S. HSF efforts- especially as the ISS is not really key to any core, long range planning for U.S. HSF. You really ought to start thinknig in loger term time frames, especially in the Age of Austerity. Soyuz represents an affordable, adaptable design.- originally for lunar flight BTW. It’s ugly, but it gets you there- and been doing so for over 40 years quite well. .

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 16th, 2012 at 7:28 am

    “I think we need to start with the basics. What is ‘the space program’? I would say it’s as defined in the National Aeronautics and Space Act. … Nothing in the Act requires NASA to fly people in space, to explore other worlds or even to own its rockets.”

    You might say that and define your own ‘space program’ parameters but history lays it out differently. You’re being deliberately misleading, simply ignorant of NACA/NASA/U.S. history or just a desperate proponent of the kind of ‘convenient forgetfulness’ common to commercial human space advocates these days. But it’s quite easy to refute. FACT- The responsibility for U.S. HSF was placed with NASA by the White House even before the NASA ‘officially’ came into existence in October, 1958- [90 days after the Space Act was signed in late July,] from the White House through an executive directive from a decision made by President Eisenhower:

    “Like everyone else, including Air Force leaders, [Hugh] Dryden wanted to avert a potential conflict between NASA and the Air Force regarding manned space flight. On the same day that Eisenhower signed the Space Act, July 29, Dryden met with Roy Johnson and Secretary of Defense Neil H. McElroy to discuss the future management of manned space programs, but no agreement was reached. The conferees adjourned to await action from the White House. Some time between then and August 20, probably on August 18 , [President] Eisenhower made his decision … he assigned to NASA specific responsibility for developing and carrying out the mission of manned space flight.”

    “The Air Force would proceed with its Dyna-Soar project in conjunction with NASA and later would inaugurate a “Discoverer biosatellite program” … After August 1958, however, the project to rocket into orbit a man in a ballistic capsule was under undisputed civilian management, although it would draw heavily on all three services as well as industry and universities.”

    “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration received authorization to carry out this primitive manned venture into lower space {aka Project Mercury] mainly because Eisenhower was wedded to a “space for peace” policy.” – source, NASA

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4201/ch4-8.htm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 15th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    In fact, he’s quite easy to refute. See above.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    GuessWho wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Yeah and NASA has been squeaky clean wrt schedules??!! LOL.

    Since SpaceX is developing a brand new space vehicle, some schedule slippage is to be expected and in fact NASA has allowed for it by flying the extra shuttle mission specifically to cover such an eventuality.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    “Like one can be a supporter of the US military and cut it by $1 trillion? ”

    Yes.

    Spending money on something is not the same as supporting it. What it more closely resembles is simply “kowtowing” to it. Spending in both NASA and the military is mostly “programmed” not by the needs of the armed forces or the evolving tactics and strategery of either combat or the notions of space policy…today it is pushed by the Military industrial complex and space industrial complex which need feeding and mold the rhetoric of their programs to satisfy lackies in large measure like you.

    This unwise spending has maintained both military, civilian government, and contractor forces which long ago outlived their usefullness. Programs which take decades to come to fruit and then underperform or are out of place in the world which has evolved are not useful.

    SLS in point. there is no reason for it other then 1) to satisfy spending requirements at the contractor/political base and 2) to keep people like you who love rhetorical triumphs going. This allows people like you and Whittington etc to babble on about American greatness when you have no earthly idea of what it means.

    SpaceX flying successfully will be a triumph of American greatness.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    And in other news, SpaceX demonstrates yet again a lack of ability to meet schedule.

    they are closer to it Who then Cx ever was…and Cx spent 15 billion dollars RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    especially as the ISS is not really key to any core, long range planning for U.S. HSF.

    Oh? Learning to work, live and survive in space is not core to our long range HSF plans? Better alert NASA! ;-)

    You really ought to start thinknig in loger term time frames, especially in the Age of Austerity. Soyuz represents…

    Apparently it’s you that doesn’t see the dichotomy of what you’re saying. On the one hand you pretend to be concerned about our foreign borrowing, and on the other you advocate vigorously for foreign spending.

    I’m sure you don’t think of yourself as anti-American, but advocating for our reliance on a decaying Russian space program is not very smart for our future HSF needs. Something else you apparently can’t see or understand…

  • Coastal Ron

    GuessWho wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    And in other news, SpaceX demonstrates yet again a lack of ability to meet schedule.

    Hello. Test flight. What part of “test” don’t you understand?

    Do you want them to pull a Challenger and launch before it’s safe? I thought everyone learned the right lessons after that?

    Besides, it’s their own money they are burning right now, not NASA’s, so why does a week or two matter?

    Sheesh.

  • Byeman

    DCSCA, you are living in the past and getting senile. What was done in 1958 is not applicable today. NASA no longer has the mandate or responsibility for US HSF. FAA, DOD, commercial entities etc have roles and responsibilities. NASA only does HSF for its and some of the US gov’t needs.
    So get with reality, instead of living in the past.

    As for Newt, again, you are wrong. He still could support the will of the people and abolish NASA. The US gov’t doesn’t need NASA to do spaceflight, it could have formed a new agency and/or reassigned roles. NASA does not have to exist. Just as it was formed by an act of congress, it can be abolished and its tasks assigned else where.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Learning to work, live and survive in space is not core to our long range HSF plans?

    What does that have to do with ISS?

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 11:25 am

    It is hard (at least for me and I admit to being very very busy…but I do follow it as an interest)…for me to see exactly where the GOP nominating process is going. Odds are Money Willard is going to win the thing and then I predict (as you do) he goes down to defeat. The money wing of the GOP is more organized but in some ways is a lot like the “god” wing in that it overestimates the support it NOW has inside the American people who are not in the various wings of the GOP.

    But except for Gingrich and Paul none of the candidates in my view really have a clue where they want to take the US in terms of a future for this century. Willard might but he isnt telling he is trying his own version of creator and country …but Newt and Paul have a notion of where they would like to take the country and in my view that includes space issues…

    although I have been a tad dissapointed at Newt’s proclamations in Florida…they seem vague he talks about a robust space program like Kennedys but he never really talks about it.

    Look we are in a position in space policy where after half a century of human spaceflight we are at best only on the verge of it attempting to become a self perpetuating effort outside of federal government expenditures.

    IMagine 50 years of aviation by the early 50′s how aviation affected the life of most Americans was simply indescribable because it was becoming on a day to day basis more invasive. Now you could not explain to any American how life was before flying then you could tell them how life was like without electricity.

    no problem with human spaceflight so far it hasnt changed society one bit

    Robert G. Oler

  • And yet today we hear that ‘alternative’ (SpaceX) is delayed indefinitely, but I’m sure their pay hasn’t been.

    They don’t get paid until they fly, you moron.

    Sorry, Jeff, it’s like a keyboard macro with this creature.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 10:22 am

    “Hello. Test flight. What part of “test” don’t you understand? Do you want them to pull a Challenger and launch before it’s safe?… Besides, it’s their own money they are burning right now, not NASA’s, so why does a week or two matter?”

    You do spend other people’s money well, don’t you. It matters a great deal to wary investors who expect commercial firms to meet schedules.

    And of course it’s got nothing to do with ‘safe’ in this instance and everything to do with ‘risk’ as the primary goal of commerical HSF firms is to generate profits and a SpaceX failure would be a major setback to that business plan. ‘Hello- test flight’ turns into ‘goodbye credibility,’ ‘so long, investors’ and ‘bye-bye government contracts.’ Minimizing ‘exposure to risk’ is capitalism 101 but spaceflight- particularly HSF, will always be a high risk enterprise- high enough to keep capital investors wary in this era given the minimal market and low ROI. That’s why governments do it. And in the case of HSF, been doing it for over 50 years.

    Another schedule slip after so much hype is now routine for SpaceX, which in case you need reminding, has still never launched, orbited and returned a crewed spacecraft to date and keeps damaging its own reputation in the dependability/reliability area. Announcing a schedule and missing target dates just fuels suspicions of sloppy managment – a bad rep good commercial firms seek to avoid. You don’t broadcast schedules in the business community unless you plan to stick to them. SpaceX doesn’t. It was bad for NASA as well when it was flying shuttles and ‘in the business’ of hauling satellites up for paying customers when they slipped launch dates, too. Spaceflight is never going to be ‘safe’ – or at least at a risk level low enough to ease commerical concerns completely and reassure investors given the costs involved. NASA launched Shepard and Glenn when missile systems reliability was in the 60% range and when the ‘profit’ was measured in political currency, not dollars and cents. Today that technical reliability percentage should be higher given half a century of experience. Human spaceflight is a high-risk business, especially for quarterly driven, for profit enterprises with investor capital at stake along with lives. That’s why governments do it. And have done it well for half a century. Commerical HSF, not so much- in fact, not at all. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    “SpaceX flying successfully will be a triumph of American greatness.”

    Another press release to ease the pain of a now routine schedule slippage. They’ve been ‘flying’ for several years- just not flying human beings. But their goal is duplicating what Soviet and American HSF efforts accomplished 45 years ago- when the stakes- and risk levels were higher- and make a profit at it. That’s not even great. And to date, not even done. But it’s quaint.

    @Byeman wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 10:49 am
    “What was done in 1958 is not applicable today….NASA only does HSF for its and some of the US gov’t needs.”

    Hmmmm. In fact, NASA was directed to conduct HSF because of an executive decision from the White House made by President Eisenhower.

  • Teddy Ballgame

    They don’t get paid until they fly, you moron.

    No, Idiot Boy, they get paid for milestones, not just flying. They’ve been paid over $300 million for dozens of milestones.

    Rough day for Commercial Space? Bowersox quitting, Orbital delayed again, Space X indefinite delay?

    Jeff, not sorry for belittling this little worm.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Peculiar. Take some time and tabulate the actual ‘down time’ when American HSF was nil between Mercury and Gemini, Gemini and Apollo, Skylab and ASTP and the gap to shuttle- and the down times when shuttle was grounded for engineering flaws and accidents- and now the current gap. Years and years… to a decade. So Americans have to buy some seats for a few years before Orion gets flying. Of course, they don’t have to buy any at all… as the ISS is a colossal waste of tax $ any way and no ISS means commercial LEO HSF is DOA.

  • No, Idiot Boy, they get paid for milestones, not just flying.

    Their next paid milestone is the flight.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Peculiar.

    From you, I’ll take that as a compliment. As to the rest of your justification, you continue to live in the past, which has no bearing on what is going on today.

    And still you dodge the obvious – you support borrowing money to send overseas for certain countries (i.e. Russia) – so much for your “age of austerity” mantra. You also support the U.S. being dependent on Russia for access to LEO. Why is that comrade?

    If you think commercial crew is under-funded in the U.S., then that’s still better than the string of failures Russia has been experiencing with their under-funded space program. Even their own President is calling for people to be fired. That and their support of Syria means that even though the Russians have been dependable in the past for transportation to the ISS, the future is unclear.

    So Americans have to buy some seats for a few years before Orion gets flying.

    Now you’re going from ignorant to just plain silly – the SLS is going to cost $1.5B per flight, and the MPCV as currently designed is single use only, adding even more cost. For the same price as one ISS support flight using the SLS & MPCV, we could certify two or more commercial carriers and pay far less for each astronaut we want to send to LEO after that.

    As Ben Franklin would say, you are being pennywise but pound foolish.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Teddy Ballgame wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Bowersox quitting, Orbital delayed again, Space X indefinite delay? >>

    good news, not surprising, “indefinite delay”? NO thats SLS

    Ball get a life RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    And of course it’s got nothing to do with ‘safe’ in this instance and everything to do with ‘risk’…

    That you see the two as completely separate says it all.

    SpaceX failure would be a major setback to that business plan

    Hence the delay while they make sure everything is good to go. Apparently you would have them launch before they are ready – talk about risk…

    Minimizing ‘exposure to risk’ is capitalism 101

    And yet you criticize them for minimizing risk when there is no schedule pressure to launch. Oh, and let’s remember that you’ve previously failed Capitalism 101 conversations, and you’re still on shaky ground.

    but spaceflight- particularly HSF, will always be a high risk enterprise

    They said that about commercial aviation and naval submarine operations too, but we do both routinely now. Apparently you think that spaceflight involves intangibles that can’t be controlled, and back in the 60′s there was quite a bit that we didn’t know. A lot has changed since Shepard and Glenn flew, but apparently you wouldn’t know that.

    which in case you need reminding, has still never launched, orbited and returned a crewed spacecraft

    They don’t have a contract to fly anyone. Next you’ll be complaining that that they haven’t circled Uranus… ;-)

    You don’t broadcast schedules in the business community unless you plan to stick to them.

    What an inane comment. NOBODY announces schedules unless they plan to meet them – otherwise you wouldn’t announce them.

    However, as Boeing and Airbus will tell you, sometimes you can’t anticipate everything, and schedules have to be changed. I suppose you thought Boeing should have shipped their 787 before it was ready? That SpaceX should fly before they are ready? What a maroon.

    I guess we’re lucky that you don’t hold any position of responsibility in the transportation field, otherwise the world would be a less safe place…

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ January 17th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    It’s important for commercial HSF- VirginGalactic, SpaceX, Orbital… whatever… to get flying crewed spacecraft, up to and back from LEO space, Windy. We want them to succeed, just on their own dime w/o risking taxpayer funds or trying to socialize percentages o/t risk though back door subsidies on the backs of the taxpayer. Of course, w/o haning the ISS as a destination, orbital commercial HSF is screwed in this time frame.

    Bowersox punching out of SpaceX signals a problem. On the public face of it, a disappointing development, but then in business, executive talent comes and goes all the time, so it has to be w/commercial HSF firms as well. He can be replaced but the timing is lousy for them. Given SpaceX’s predilection for delays, it will fuel questions about management stability and operations. The best thing SpaceX- in fact any commercial HSF firm can do is to just get somebody up, around and down safely– which is the only true ‘milestone’ that matters. Not only as an actual flight achievement but in the very down to earth terms of basic business credibility. On the other hand, Bowersox may have bailed because he realizes Dragons may haul cargo but may never carry crews- or he’ll never crew one himself. Branson might take his call. Meanwhile, tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Bowersox punching out of SpaceX signals a problem.>>

    actually it does not. It signals that the “corporate” body of SpaceX is good at rejecting people who cannot move with the culture.

    Here is how this works.

    SpaceX will either succeed or fail this year…and a few weeks one way or the other wont make any difference. As I tell my start up airline clients “when is important but not nearly so as getting it correct”.

    remain calm RGO

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    actually it does not. It signals that the “corporate” body of SpaceX is good at rejecting people who cannot move with the culture.

    Funny how the trolls never say a word when an executive bails at Boeing or LockMart.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 10:13 pm
    =yawn= What you fail to comprehend is that the goal of any commercial operation, be it HSF or the Ford Motor Company is to make a profit. Revisit the ‘safety’ battles over seat belts which added cost and reduced profit margins on cars back in the day until they were mandated by legislation. But then, you drive a Tucker, don’t you. You’re jsut crankin’ to crank. Meanwhile, tick-tock, tick-tock.

    “The point of Stephen’s article is that NASA’s charter doesn’t support doing things like building and operating rockets, and that laws going back to the Reagan era state that NASA should be relying on the commercial sector to the fullest extent possible.”

    1. ‘Stephen’s’ article really has no point other than to shill for commercial space and his initial premise was easily refuted in an earlier posting on this thread as a directive from the Eisenhower WH to couch HSF within NASA is a matter of historical fact. So the precedence of executive directives beyond the base contents in legislation exists. Reagan ‘directed’ NASA to build a space station within a decade in a SoU, too. If the WH directs NASA to get into te rocket biz, it’ll explore methods and procedures. If you oppose it, write your congressman. Good grief. 2. In an earlier posting you cranked on alarms of another ‘Challenger’ accident when SpaceX gets pressed and criticized for failing to keep to their annnounced schedules. Meeting schedules/deadlines is how commercial enterprises keep and attract customers. It’s business. However, the pressures to operate the shuttle with the close-to-the-margin business models common in to commerical enterprises BTW, and the managerial mind set that brings– contributed to that tragic disaster. And after shuttle got flying again, policy moved away from hauling up subsidized commercial payloads and ELVs carried the load, instead. The simplistic notion of ‘privatizing’ all things government – like post offices and space programs- is just more ultra-conservative, anti-ig-government foolishness. Reaganomics is not going to fuel human expansion out into space.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 18th, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    =yawn= You really are short-sighted. LEO is a ticket to no place and the discretionary purchase of a few rides to the ISS (which was pencilled in by NASA planners to be deep-sixed in 2015/16 just a few years ago BTW) over ‘the gap’ as long as there’s some justificatrion for it is managable but that justification remains highly quesionable as the ROI for the ISS is highly questionable. Good money after bad is lousy policy- as Consterllation haters proved. The only folks cranking over the ISS as a ‘destination’ are the fledgling commercial HSF firms desperate for contracts and subsidies. American space policy is riddled with gaps in operational flight periods. It has always been reactive, not proactive. When Orion is flying and the SLS is in work the good ol’USA will be moving forward with access to LEO and beyond.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    It can say any number of things of course. What it most likely says, considering how things seem to work at Tesla and SpaceX, is that Bowersox and Musk did not agree on things, whatever they are. Is it important that Bowersox was in charge of astronaut safety? Probably to some extent but not necessarily. What about Reisman? http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20110304

    Now if we start seeing an exodus of senior execs then it might mean something. Are we?

    For example: What happened to their VP structures? VP guidance and navigation? To their CIO?

    Just a reorg? It happens all the time right?

    Note that these people are expensive too. Cost control?

    How about a little conspiracy theory from our dedicated posters?

    Oh well…

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Meeting schedules/deadlines is how commercial enterprises keep and attract customers.

    The primary goal of a launch provider is to get the customers property to the right destination safely – everything else is secondary. The entire industry is aware that target dates change, and yet they still place orders with companies that miss target dates but safely deliver their property to the right destination.

    The Challenger accident happened because NASA’s management felt compelled to stick to a schedule instead of sticking with safety, and we all know what happened there. You are not impressing anyone with your drivel.

    Here is a little test you can do in your neighborhood to see how wrong you are. Ask everyone you know which they would prefer:

    A. An airline that puts schedule before safety
    B. An airline that puts safety before schedule

    One emboldens confidence in a company, the other fear. Case closed.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 12:42 pm
    Except it does.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    actually it does not. It signals that the “corporate” body of SpaceX is good at rejecting people who cannot move with the culture.

    you replied:
    Funny how the trolls never say a word when an executive bails at Boeing or LockMart.>>

    exactly. My experience is with airlines but I HAVE A LOT OF IT with startup airlines (mostly plane acquisition, training program approval, and safety) is that there is about a two year period when they start where people “adjust” to the culture which is an ongoing development issue and either affect the development of the culture or are tossed out of it. It is essentially an “N” body gravitational problem…as the culture coalesces people either continue to contribute to it or their “mass” gets tossed.

    I know and have flown with a lot of the NASA astronauts and know many of them particularly the so called safety folks pretty well…there is in general hard to find a more worthless and difficult to get along with bunch…they have a hard time adapting to anything that is not NASA and dealing in particular with safety issues in a non NASA way; the NASA way being rejected by almost every technical organization in the US; particularly flying ones.

    The odd thing is while at NASA most of them stand silently by and do nothing in terms of safety. the safety officer in the astronaut office sat silent during the Columbia reentry discussions. Stone cold silent.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    I think Orion’s first launch has strangely enough slipped RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    The Challenger accident happened because NASA’s management felt compelled to stick to a schedule instead of sticking with safety, and we all know what happened there. >>

    Not so much. The Challenger and Columbia accident (and a few other ones were dodged by random chance) because of a simple fact…management accepted flying with a known problem that they could not characterize well which could (and did) when random chance went against them result in loss of the vehicle.

    Schedule had almost nothing to do with it.

    The analogy is an airline that is observing on C and D checks various cracks spreading in the wing box…and does nothing to deal with that. Nothing. but keep flying.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 19th, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    Bowersox knew the culture- both sides of it- all too well, which is why he bailed. Smart fella.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Schedule had almost nothing to do with it. In fact, it was a significant factor in the Challenger accident and a contributor to Columbia as well. Scheduling had a great deat to do w/Challenger as the pressure to keep flying and make a buck is why the fixes were deemed acceptable flight risks and put off– the down time to engineer repairs was unacceptable in that era. Columbia was a hodgepodge of science experiments flown to clear the board for ISS assembly flights.

  • Ten days until the Florida primary, and still no GOP candidates have visited here.

    (But President Obama has …)

    Florida Today reports that a couple of them will finally show up a few days before the election. Gingrich will be here on January 25 and Santorum on January 28.

    Once again, this shows that space plays absolutely no significant role in presidential politics.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “It can say any number of things of course. What it most likely says, considering how things seem to work at Tesla and SpaceX, is that Bowersox and Musk did not agree on things, whatever they are. Is it important that Bowersox was in charge of astronaut safety?”

    I think it was probably headhunters. I imagine Musk tries and keeps salaries down with stock warrants for the IPO rather than cash up front. Some other company, like a Boeing or Virgin offers a pile of cash, Bowersox goes to Musk to see if he will match the offer, Musk says no and Bowersox leaves.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ January 21st, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Yes, that too.

    ;)

  • Florida Today reports that Newt Gingrich has two campaign stops Wednesday in Brevard County.

    At 3:30 p.m Wednesday, Gingrich will attend a “Space & Technology Roundtable” with leaders of the space community at the Simpkins Fine Arts Center on the Brevard Community College Cocoa campus, 1519 Clearlake Road. Those interested in attending should contact the Space Coast Economic Development Commission at 321-638-2000.

    At 4:45 p.m., Gingrich will attend a Town Hall Meeting at the Holiday Inn Express Space Coast Convention Center, 301 Tucker Lane, Cocoa. The Town Hall is open to the public.

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