Campaign '12

Romney and Gingrich offer contrasting space policy views in Florida debate

The two current frontrunners in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, both had the opportunity to speak out about space policy during a debate Monday night in Tampa, Florida. Romney mentioned space first in passing as part of a longer comment about the problems experienced in the state during the Obama Administration. “This president has failed miserably the people of Florida,” he said. “His plans for NASA? He has no plans for NASA. The Space Coast is struggling.”

A little later, a moderator asked a specific space policy question: “Governor Romney, this is the state that put the first man on the Moon. America right now has no way to put people into space except to hitch a ride with the Russians. Meanwhile, the Chinese are ramping up their space program. At a time when you all want to shrink federal spending, should space exploration be a priority?”

Romney’s response:

It should certainly be a priority. What we have right now is a president who does not have a vision or a mission for NASA. And as a result of that, there are people on the Space Coast that are suffering, and Florida itself is suffering as a result. So what’s the right way forward? Well I happen to believe our space program is important not only for science but also for commercial development and for military development. And I believe the right mission for NASA should be determined by a president together with a collection of people from those different areas: from NASA, from the Air Force space program, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises. Bring them together, discuss a wide range of options for NASA, and then have NASA not just funded by the federal government, but also by commercial enterprises, have some of the research done in our universities, let’s have a collaborative effort with business, with government, with the military, as well as with their educational institutions, have a mission that once again excites our young people about the potential of space and the commercial potential will pay for itself down the road. This is a great opportunity. Florida has technology, the people here on the Space Coast have technology and vision and passion that America needs. And with a president who is actually willing to create a mission and a vision for NASA and for space, we can continue to lead the world.

The moderator then turned to Gingrich. “Would you put more tax dollars into the space race to commit to putting an American on Mars instead of relying on the private sector?” His answer:

The two are not incompatible. For example, most of the great breakthroughs in aviation in the 20s and 30s were the result of prizes. Lindbergh flew to Paris for a $25,000 prize. I would like to see vastly more the money spent encouraging the private sector into very aggressive experimentation, and I’d like to see a leaner NASA. I don’t think building a bigger bureaucracy and having a greater number of people sit in rooms and talk gets you there. But if we had a series of goals that we were prepared to offer prizes for, there’s every reason to believe that you’d have a lot of folks in this country and around the world who would put up an amazing amount of money and would make the Space Coast literally hum with activity because they’d be drawn to achieve these prizes: going back to the Moon permanently, getting to Mars as rapidly as possible, building a series of space stations and developing commercial space. There are a whole series of things we could do that could be dynamic that are more than just better government bureaucracy. They’re fundamentally leapfrogging into a world where you’re incentivizing people who are visionaries and people in the private sector to invest very large amounts of money and finding a very romantic and exciting future.

The other two candidates, Congressman Ron Paul and former Sen. Rick Santorum, were not asked the question and did not volunteer comments on space policy elsewhere in the 100-minute debate.

The responses by Gingrich and Romney are a study in contrasts in more ways than one. Gingrich has spoken on space previously on a number of occasions, far more than any other candidate, as regular readers of this blog know. His comments tonight are very similar to what he’s said before, promoting prizes and denigrating NASA bureaucracy. Romney, on the other hand, has said virtually nothing about space; his comments tonight are perhaps the most substantial comments he’s offered on space during the 2012 campaign. He offered a very different vision, where civil, commercial, and military organizations would collaborate with and even help fund NASA. Without further details, it’s a somewhat puzzling concept: what benefits would the military and commercial sectors get from more closely tying themselves to, and helping pay for, NASA programs? Perhaps over the next week—the Florida primary is a week from Tuesday—the Romney campaign will fine-tune that message.

94 comments to Romney and Gingrich offer contrasting space policy views in Florida debate

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA really has nothing right now to offer in terms of people in space. Think of it we are on the verge of seeing human spaceflight capability completely developed by private enterprise using modern technology throughout with very very lean staffs and offered as a product.

    In the end this is the kind of development that brought the US the DC-3, the B-17, the 707 and yes the Cessna 172…

    The USAF is on the verge of mastering spacecraft reusability.

    What does NASA have to offer? Old ideas, old thinking and fracked out bunch of bureaucrats.

    Willards answer is simply boilerplate…it is the kind of babble he presses into every answer about the economy or some economic system.

    RGO

  • RocketBuilder

    Its obviously a no-brainer that the first time space is mentioned in this election season happens to be in a Florida debate. However, Romney just sounds to me like he’s making it up as he goes along. Reminds me of an undergrad engineering student giving a team project presentation when pressed by a reviewer for details that were never analyzed before by the students. Words, words, words and BS to fill the time while trying to score brownie points from the locals. At least Newt, crazy as he is, has been consistent in his message about space policy as of late (2010 op-eds not included). Once the campaign drifts to other states, space, sadly, will not be a topic again (until the fall when Florida is again important).l

  • Romney:
    1. You cannot fund a federal agency with private money. CANNOT.
    2. Plenty of NASA’s research is done by universities across the country! Did you know that JPL is managed by Caltech?

    Gingrich:
    1. Prize competitions take a lot of forethought and careful management to produce anything worthwhile. They also take years to be won–if indeed they are ever won. NASA has already had a prize with a $1 million purse go unclaimed (see: MoonROx. Also, Congress does not like leaving hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in escrow (just ask NASA!).
    2. If any of your prizes are funded by “folks…around the world” then US teams will be hindered by ITAR. Even inside the US, ITAR hinders developments.
    3. You still have to get all this downsizing & prize-awarding stuff past Congress.

  • Romney is essentially asking for another Augustine Commission since he apparently doesn’t have any ideas of his own about space.

    Newt, of course, wants to turn the New Frontier over to the corporations (What a surprise:-). And he seems to have completely forgotten the huge impact the Federal government had on helping to develop the aviation industry in America– right from its earliest beginnings. It was the US Army that forced the Wright Brothers to place propellers at the front of the plane instead of in the back of the plane after a series of fatal accidents. The Wright Brothers were reluctant to do this since their patents were for rear propulsion:-)

  • Mark

    Romney’s answer is a muddle with no there there.

    If Gingrich’s space policy is nothing but a set of politically unsustainable and unworkable prize competitions, it will be still born and will represent a great failure of opportunity.

  • DCSCA

    Pious baloney, as usual, from Gingrich, who is mixing apples and oranges.

    Reaganomics is not gonig to finance space projects of scale to move the human speciese out into space- or back to the moon on a permanent basis. Yo borrow a phrse from Newt, ‘it’s simply absurd.’

    There’s no comparison between ‘early aviation’ and the cutting edge of modern space operations. For one, early aviation was an overlay to established patterns of travel and commerce exiting for centuries. No such established sector of commerice or travel exists outside the bounds of the atmosphere of the planet. Secondly, there’s no comparison between Ortig’s $25K and Apollo’s $25 billion. The $25,000 Ortig Prize was a private stake which cost both lives and aircraft in several failed attempts before Lindbergh suceeded. Newt advocates government funding as a stake for prizes. Paging Bob Walker and fellow traveller, Fred Thompson. That’s backdoor government subsidizing of private enterprise- and as Newt 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 again, 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, invest and lose Callista’s jewelry? 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 travel and 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. Newt best look up the history of ‘rocket mail’ and realize why it is not a business model FedEx embraced.

  • Coastal Ron

    Romney thinks the Air Force wants to partner with NASA on space stuff?

    - The Air Force has a reusable spaceplane of their own, and all NASA has plans for is an over-priced single use capsule.

    - The Air Force is getting ready to spend significant money to develop reusable flyback boosters so they can lower their launch costs. NASA, by force of Congress, is pursuing the most expensive non-reusable rocket in history.

    - No one knows what the Air Force has planned for it’s space program, and they want to keep it that way. NASA doesn’t know what Congress wants it to do with the SLS & MPCV, and Congress is happy with that.

    Oil and water.

    Gingrich with his prize idea is a little better. He wants the government to step in and be the prize provider, whereas a private businessman did it for the Orteig prize. That could raise some questions.

    I’m not too sure Gingrich has really thought his ideas through too much more than Romney, but that’s not unusual for any Presidential candidate who is scrounging for votes. If anything, both candidates raised more questions than provided answers…

  • mike shupp

    It’s disconcerting to see Romney talk about space in such parochial terms. NASA is a agency of the Federal government, it’s funded by the government, it already has connections to universities and DoD and NOAA, etc. The suggestion that it’s just some neglected tourist spot in one Florida county is bizarre.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 23rd, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    “Think of it we are on the verge of seeing human spaceflight capability completely developed by private enterprise using modern technology throughout with very very lean staffs and offered as a product.”

    Nonsense. Unlike the developing aviation industry- which had pre-existing modes of commerce and transport upon which to overlay and offer progressive alternatives- such as competition with existing methods of transport by ship, train, truck, bus etc., commercial HSF has no such thing to offer because there is no space airline service servicing Tokyo, London or Singapore. There is no rocket mail to Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Newt likes to drawn upon this silliness as a comparison, too.

    “In the end this is the kind of development that brought the US the DC-3, the B-17, the 707 and yes the Cessna 172…” Uh no, it’s not.

  • The Florida GOP primary is January 31.

    After that, Romney will never mention space again.

  • NASA Fan

    Romney: “I haven’t a clue, but lets study it with lots of people from across America’.

    Gingrich: “I’m smarter than you, gov’ment sucks, and prizes are the way to go!

  • As we await Newt’s Kennedy-esque space speech tomorrow here in Brevard County, it’s timely to recall that just before he was assassinated Kennedy was looking for a way out of the Space Race.

    More evidence of that was released yesterday by the JFK Library. It’s a brief recording of JFK talking in September 1963 with his ambassador to the USSR, Foy Kohler.

    Kennedy was about to propose at the U.N. that the U.S. and USSR combine their space programs. The recording reveals that JFK had already proposed the idea to the USSR privately through Kohler.

    JFK had ordered three reviews in 1963 of Apollo, because its costs were way beyond what NASA had projected. (Sound familiar?!) His feeler to the USSR was an attempt to lower the cost and drop that end-of-the decade deadline.

    More on my blog, if interested.

  • DCSCA

    Tim846 wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Pretty funny. Romney’s description of a civilian, military, university, industry team pretty much describes NASA and America’s space program, circa 1959. That’s our Mitt.

  • DCSCA

    @Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 12:51 am

    “And [Newt] seems to have completely forgotten the huge impact the Federal government had on helping to develop the aviation industry in America– right from its earliest beginnings.”

    Yeah. Of course when he says foolish things in a authorative tone, they sound factual. That’s our Newt- a fairly poor historian who mixes half-truths facts to create self-serving myths. Government projects of scale- like war- have a history of accelorating development of technologies. Things like jet aeroplanes and V-2 rockets.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:18 am

    =yawn= Old news. Khrushchev said nyet to it within hours or a day or two. He saw no reason to share missile information with the second place team at the time. Context is everything. America was behind, Mercury was winding down, the early Saturns were just getting off the ground, Gemini was a year off and Apollo was still a paper project. And conservatives in Congress were opposed. And politically, JFK knew there was no guarantee a lunar landing would occur in that dedade, let along within his second term. A joint expedition was a reasonable option to explore at that time. And it was quickly shelved, thanks to Nikita.

  • amightywind

    I prefer the Romney vision. We are in the process of destroying Newt in Florida over his shady involvement with Freddie Mac.

    Romney is essentially asking for another Augustine Commission

    Hopefully this one won’t be stacked with left wing activists.

  • Byeman

    “He saw no reason to share missile information with the second place team at the time. Context is everything. America was behind, ”

    DCSCA shows his lack of knowledge. America was ahead in missile deployments.

  • MrEarl

    Neither Romney nor Gringritch really have a clue about what to do with NASA. What NASA doesn’t need right now is yet another change in course.
    What Romney is asking for is yet another Blue ribbon commission that will come to the same conclusion as the others have, sometime in the future a manned landing on Mars. FAIL

    Gingritch is like a carpenter who’s only tool is a hammer. Pretty soon every problem starts looking like a nail. So how much is the first permanent moon base worth?, first mission to Mars? How wasteful to have more than one team working on those two projects. What company or group of companies are willing to drop $20 $30 $40 billion or more on the good chance it could lose it all? FAIL

    The VSE is a good plan to extend our presence into the solar system. Let’s go from there.
    If your worry is about access the LEO than the best course of action right now is to increase funds for CCDEV and speed up time frames.
    If a permanent lunar base is what you want, start building the infrastructure you’ll need now using prizes and CCDEV like programs while the SLS and MPCV are being developed. We’ll need EML1 transfer stations, landers for crew and cargo, modules for the lunar base. All these could be developed now through CCDEV like programs, prizes and cooperation with other nations.
    Journeys to Mars will require a new type of propulsion. How about a prize to the first group that can develop an engine that can put out X amount of power, for X amount of time to reach Mars and return to Earth, where the engine and all the fuel can be launched on a single SLS block 2?
    Most important is that NASA has to be cleaned out and stream lined. Centers will be merged and some will be closed. Org charts will be flattened and paperwork will be cut in half.
    All these things can be developed in tandem. The one big expense for tax payers will be the SLS/MPCV which I think will cut development time and expence for the other pieces since volume and weight will no longer be a problem. It will cut deployment time by launching large fully loaded modules and equipment in one piece.
    Once a permanent lunar base is established than another COTS/CCDEV program for crew and cargo transport while NASA’s HSF concentrates on a mission to NEO’s and Mars.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Mr. Earl –

    Why do you think that EML1 is better than Moon Orbit as a staging point for supporting a lunar base?

  • common sense

    @ Byeman wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I think if one follows even a little history of the Missile Gap one should know at least that “Like the bomber gap of only a few years earlier, it is believed that the gap was known to be illusionary from the start, and was being used solely as a political tool, another example of policy by press release.”

    DCSCA has claimed if I am not mistaken s/he is some sort of journalist. I truly hope DCSCA is not.

    Whatever…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_gap

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I think once again there are very few here who have problems with the VSE. Are you mixing up VSE and Constellation??? Anyway the VSE and what this President said he wanted to do are very much the same. The VSE and Flexible Path are very much the same and the original implementation of the VSE by O’Keefe was very close to the plan this WH wanted to follow. So it’d be nice we stop those arguments.

    No one will merge and close centers. Not now anyway. Org charts will take some time before they are “cleaned” and “flattened”. Further, NASA will never be run like a private company, even less so like a start up, which it was, somewhat, during Apollo.

    Again, SLS/MPCV will not come to be. Go ask any one in this business but please don’t ask ATK or Lockheed Martin… There is not enough money to build either.

    If you really want big, major, changes at NASA then you ought to support the cancellation of business as usual, you know, SLS/MPCV. Until then nothing major will change.

  • MrEarl

    Hi E.P:
    Lunar orbit is fine if you are only landing in the same place or region of the moon every time, but from EML1 every part of the moon’s surface can be accessed. Multiple bases on the lunar surface can be accessed from the same staging point saving the need for either multiple staging points or landers with a lot of fuel to create the dV required to access these basses.
    This was an idea most recently forwarded by Boeing in November.
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/604643main_2-Panel%202_Donahue_Final.pdf
    See page 15

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “Hopefully this one won’t be stacked with left wing activists.”

    I bet you want it to be stacked with right wing activists that want NASA shut down.

  • Hopefully this one won’t be stacked with left wing activists.

    More stupid insanity from the usual source of such.

  • Joe

    common sense wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 12:41 pm
    “Again, SLS/MPCV will not come to be. Go ask any one in this business but please don’t ask ATK or Lockheed Martin….”

    Ok, which is it; can anyone in the business be asked or only ones who work for companies of which you approve. Is it, for example, alright to ask someone who works for Boeing, how about Northrup Grumman? Please supply an approved list.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:18 am

    =yawn= Old news. Khrushchev said nyet to it within hours or a day or two. He saw no reason to share missile information with the second place team at the time. Context is everything. America was behind,

    >>>

    Lots of laugh really funny you are no historian. The Hero Of Stalingrad knew better…he and his military had seen SCORE fly in Ike’s time and they knew exactly what that meant.

    goofy RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 23rd, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    “Think of it we are on the verge of seeing human spaceflight capability completely developed by private enterprise using modern technology throughout with very very lean staffs and offered as a product.”

    you replied:
    Nonsense. Unlike the developing aviation industry- which had pre-existing modes of commerce and transport upon which to overlay and offer progressive alternatives- such as competition with existing methods of transport by ship, train, truck, bus etc., commercial HSF has no such thing to offer because there is no space airline service servicing Tokyo, London or Singapore”

    None of which refutes my point, indeed I have made exactly the same point you made (why I dont have a clue) and shown how it is a data point which argues for government “anchor services” which is precisely what ISS is doing and SpaceX among others is the result.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I prefer the Romney vision. We are in the process of destroying Newt in Florida over his shady involvement with Freddie Mac.”

    It is an interesting tactic by Willard I will be interested to see if it works…I bet not…it could but I bet not.

    The GOP establishment is pretty much in meltdown over the Gingrich “wave” and I expect them to bring out the usual slime…the problem is is that Willard and his millions at 13 percent are more or less hated by the “howard Beal” wing of the party…

    Robert

  • MrEarl

    Come on CS, you know I don’t mix up VSE for Constellation.
    Look at Romney’s response, he talks about forming a new mission for NASA with the DoD, commercial companies and the WH involved. That’s just a “blue ribbon panel” that lasts a year during which time all activity is suspended and comes up with the same recommendations as before with just enough difference that most of the preceding work useless. That’s just a delaying tactic for someone who has no idea what to do and really doesn’t care.
    Gingrigh see prizes as the answer to practically everything. They have their place and can be effective bringing new technology on line but you can’t build a permanent presence in space on prizes.
    As for closing centers, the same thing was said about military bases but a way was found to do it and a similar way could be used with NASA. I never thought or said that NASA can be run like a private company. It’s just not possible for a government agency, but it can be managed much more efficiently than it is now.
    Canceling SLS/MPCV most likely will not change NASA’s “business as usual”. Canceling Constellation didn’t, it just morphed into MPCV and SLS. Lord knows what it will morph into next time. Cut things like Cross Agency Support. Taking a billion from that will more than cover what is needed for CCDEV. NASA needs to learn to do more with less. Not Golden’s “Better Faster Cheaper” but real reform.
    Too many people on this blog think that canceling SLS and MPCV will solve all NASA’s problems but it won’t. Congress has supported a new launch system like SLS and a capsule like MPCV since 2004. That support was made clear to most when congress insisted on first the Orion then SLS in the 2010 authorizations bill. Call it what you want, pork, misguided, whatever, if you believe in extending man’s permanent presence into the solar system, find a way to make these programs work for you as efficiently as possible. I think Boeing did as shown in that link in my response to E.P.. All this bickering is getting us no ware and keeps us realizing the real goal of advancing our presence into the solar system.

  • gregori

    Left-wing activists advocating privatizing space…

    There is no universe in which that statement makes sense, other than under assumption that if Obama does it, its is by definition “socialist”.

  • Byeman

    McEarl’s fallacies
    “Once a permanent lunar base is established than another COTS/CCDEV program for crew and cargo transport while NASA’s HSF concentrates on a mission to NEO’s and Mars”

    Why? There is no need or directive for NASA to establish a lunar base.

  • Joe

    gregori wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
    “Left-wing activists advocating privatizing space…

    There is no universe in which that statement makes sense, other than under assumption that if Obama does it, its is by definition “socialist”.”

    There is in the Universe where political operatives sometimes set up operations they want to fail.

  • gwm

    We need definite goals and timetables. The goals should be achievable in a reasonable time frame. That is what Kennedy did. Not to say that we should build big rockets again, just saying that it is a model of a successful program that achieved the stated, explicit goal in a definite time frame.

    So, what is the goal and what is the timetable? Is it achievable? Can we commit ourselves to it? What would it take to do it? and so forth

    I am interested in hearing what Gingrich has to say.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 8:53 am
    “I prefer the Romney vision. ”
    He has none. He was in Florida and checked the box marked ‘space’.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    It totally refutes your point. There is no economic overlay for commerical HSF comparable to commerical aviations overlay to existing modes of commerce and transport, unless you’re making the case that investing in hSF is a more viable economic enterprise than 787s or travel by Greyhound bus or stamship. Oh wait, the SST/Concorde is a museum piece, a victim of economics.— and as Marcel Williams noted, military/government contracting around the world ‘propelled’ the industry at accelorated pacing, not ‘commerical enterprise.’ The only promising commerical HSF enterprise is Branson’s VirginGalactic.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    Which has nothing to do w/NK’s rejection of JFKs feelers and a smart CIC explores all options. It’s a matter of public record. Look it up.

    @common sense wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Context is everything. The politics of 1963 look different w/20-20 hindsight and if you knew your history, the famed ‘missile gap’ was an issue both RMN and JFK campaigned on in 1960. We all know today why Soviet missiles/LVs of that period were capable of lofting heavier payloads than those in the West. Given the successes of the Sputniks, Gagarin and Titov and the then very recent Cuban Missile Crisis, the ‘gap’ appeared very real to the American electorate, and at the time U.S.missile systems had a 60% success rate per Kraft & Kranz in that time frame. There’s lots of colorful footage of American rockets exploding in public view which reinforced that perception in that era. Mistaken as usual. Good grief.

    @Byeman wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Missile deployments?? The dicussion was of NK/JFK and the fledgling space race, which JFK very publicly reiterated in speeches and pressers: ‘We are behind.”

  • John Mankins

    There is some historical precedent for Gov. Romney’s concept: during the period from 1988-1992 (G. H. W. Bush was President), there was a significant push by the then National Space Council to integrated space activities across multiple agencies, with some funding for civilian space related activities coming from each. Perhaps there is someone on the campaign who remembers this now ancient history?

  • common sense

    @Joe wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    “Ok, which is it; can anyone in the business be asked or only ones who work for companies of which you approve. Is it, for example, alright to ask someone who works for Boeing, how about Northrup Grumman? Please supply an approved list.”

    I missed you… You know the expression “conflict of interest”? Or is it okay in your world? Also you might try Northrop Grumman. Might help you, I don’t know.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    “…SpaceX among others is the result.”

    Ah, so now you’re saying SpaceX raison d’etre is the ISS. So you’re tying commerical HSF, ‘free enterprise’ ventures as servicing big government space projects of scale. That’s pretty funny, not to mention back door subsidizing, and not ‘free market capitalism’ at work. And, of course, most importantly, SpaceX is not operational w/ISS servicing as of 1/24/11 and has not delivered any cargo or crews to the ISS to date. As Bowersox knew all too well. So he quit. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    There is in the Universe where political operatives sometimes set up operations they want to fail.

    In general I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories, but if I was, then I would have to believe that Michael Griffin was trying as hard as he could to make the Constellation program fail. What else would explain his bizarre, duplicative and uninspired hardware choices?

    But since I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories, instead what I think happened was that a poorly defined goal was not only implemented badly, but it was also poorly managed. Not the first time that’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

    However this being you Joe, I would imagine that you’ll just let the allegation of a conspiracy lie in public and see if anyone looks at it, knowing that there are lots of gullible people that will see the worst in anybody, or any situation. Of course you could provide hard facts and details, but that would go against your modus operandi, now wouldn’t it… ;-)

  • Doug Lassiter

    I find the idea of prizes creative and a nice incentive. But … a big but, doing things by offering prizes is expressing zero commitment to the underlying task. If it gets done, nice. We can pat ourselves on the back and move on. But if it doesn’t get done, that’s the end.

    I can’t quite understand Gingrich’s motives here, in that regard. Does he consider space exploration that unimportant that he’s going to float a prize that no one might well win?

    That is to say, Gingrich’s plan seems to be one in which space exploration is important ONLY if commercial outfits are going to come in and do it. If they don’t, then it isn’t important. That seems to mean that what’s important to him is commercial involvement, and not space exploration itself. That’s not an indefensible position, but it is a bit curious for a space nerd like Gingrich. If you really need to expand the species, do you do that with prizes? If you really need humans to defend the planet against NEOs, do you do that with prizes? I mean, why don’t we operate the Defense Department that way? Give prizes for who can build the best tactical fighter, tank, or aircraft carrier.

  • DCSCA

    John Mankins wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Yes but Eisenhower directed the HSF program to be a civilian effort and ordered the military services to turn over relevant HSF assets at the time to the new NASA. But then the economics of the Age of Austerity today are much leaner than in Ike’s time when the top tax rate was 91%. Consolidating space operations makes economic sense today and unfortuinately, NASA is a sitting duck.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    “Look at Romney’s response, he talks about forming a new mission for NASA with the DoD, commercial companies and the WH involved. That’s just a “blue ribbon panel” that lasts a year during which time all activity is suspended and comes up with the same recommendations as before with just enough difference that most of the preceding work useless. That’s just a delaying tactic for someone who has no idea what to do and really doesn’t care.”

    My apologies then, I misunderstood what you meant.

    “Gingrigh see prizes as the answer to practically everything. They have their place and can be effective bringing new technology on line but you can’t build a permanent presence in space on prizes.”

    They have to differentiate themselves. Gingrich already endorsed the HW’s plan but as I suspected he would not, how could he say so as a Republican? He’s only choice is to address a minor issue.

    “As for closing centers, the same thing was said about military bases but a way was found to do it and a similar way could be used with NASA.”

    No they cannot right now close anything. See SLS/MPCV as you know. However “they” are looking at the budget in a very serious (for now) way. There will be change but I do not believe they will suddenly happen. It’ll take a while, by attrition. We’ll see. Unless something major in the economy happens again…

    “I never thought or said that NASA can be run like a private company. It’s just not possible for a government agency, but it can be managed much more efficiently than it is now.”

    It could but you’d have to remove Congress from the equation and I don’t know how you do that. Today NASA is a political organization, creating jobs, especially HSF. Unfortunately. The only real way is to get rid of SLS/MPCV (did I mention that before?) and recycle the existing workforce into doing things that have more value: Advanced propulsion for example might be one. Why in heck do we have to reuse SRBs ad nauseam? And yes DoD can pay for them if they need them so much.

    “Canceling SLS/MPCV most likely will not change NASA’s “business as usual”. Canceling Constellation didn’t, it just morphed into MPCV and SLS. Lord knows what it will morph into next time.”

    It will self-cancel. We’ll just have wasted billions in the process. The money from SLS/MPCV, I agree, will NOT go to CCDev or any like effort, maybe a portion of it. It actually is the whole point if we want to reduce cost.

    “Cut things like Cross Agency Support. Taking a billion from that will more than cover what is needed for CCDEV. NASA needs to learn to do more with less. Not Golden’s “Better Faster Cheaper” but real reform.”

    I don’t know what you can cut without any damage. And yes cutting SLS/MPCV will make some damage but it might force people to recognize what is important, or not.

    “Too many people on this blog think that canceling SLS and MPCV will solve all NASA’s problems but it won’t. Congress has supported a new launch system like SLS and a capsule like MPCV since 2004. That support was made clear to most when congress insisted on first the Orion then SLS in the 2010 authorizations bill. Call it what you want, pork, misguided, whatever, if you believe in extending man’s permanent presence into the solar system, find a way to make these programs work for you as efficiently as possible. I think Boeing did as shown in that link in my response to E.P..”

    No cutting SLS/MPCV will not solve “all” NASA’s problems. It will solve some. It might work by example. Congress does not support SLS/MPCV. It is not true. They support a law they enacted that provides jobs. If they were able to make it efficient then yes it might come to be. But they are not. Because you cannot support an army of workers AND build the vehicles AND launch them on missions AND build payloads for the same amount.

    “All this bickering is getting us no ware and keeps us realizing the real goal of advancing our presence into the solar system.”

    There is no bickering. SLS/MPCV will implode yet again. Commercial space is the way to go for now. If commercial space fails then all will be moot for several decades. There will be no threat from China, no Moon first nonsense, no prestige required in any way for HSF.

    C’est la vie.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 12:23 pm
    “Why do you think that EML1 is better than Moon Orbit as a staging point for supporting a lunar base?”

    As stated, because EM L1 (or L2) offers equal access to all lunar surface sites, poles and equator. Superb depot sites to serve many lunar surface locations.

    The delta-V to get to low lunar orbit is somewhat higher than to get to L1 or L2. As a depot site, holding things until you need them, you don’t want to expend extra propellant to keep them in storage.

    L1 or L2 offers 24/7 line-of-sight visibility to sites on an entire hemisphere.

    L1 or L2 requires little stationkeeping propellant, unlike most low lunar orbits, which are heavily perturbed by mascons.

    L1 or L2 are almost continually sunlit, greatly simplifying power systems. Things in lunar orbit go in and out of shadow.

    All that being the case, low lunar orbit does allow more rapid transit back and forth to the surface than from L1 or L2.

  • Call it what you want, pork, misguided, whatever, if you believe in extending man’s permanent presence into the solar system, find a way to make these programs work for you as efficiently as possible.

    There is no way for these programs to work for anyone, efficiently or otherwise, other than for those who work on them.

  • Joe

    common sense wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 4:25 pm
    “I missed you… ”

    I find that rather strange. In any case, be assured, I have not missed you.

    If anyone working for a contract is to be considered dishonorable enough to slant their opinions to support that contract; might not anyone not attached to that contract slant their opinions to attack the contract, in the hopes that their employer might pick up the pieces? Or is that concept to difficult for you?

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    “Ah, so now you’re saying SpaceX raison d’etre is the ISS. So you’re tying commerical HSF, ‘free enterprise’ ventures as servicing big government space projects of scale.”

    In a free enterprise economy with a representative government the relationship of the government to the economic system is always a tricky one and defies rhetorical solutions and encourages thoughtful nuance…both of which are sadly in the wrong measures of supply.

    There is right now NO Economic reason for human spaceflight. That doesnt mean that there cannot be one nor does it mean that there is one, but what it means is that after 50 years of “next logical steps” (to use a NASA phrase) one does not exist. Maybe there will not be one.

    The commercial case for geosynch comm satellites while in theory good was in fact not so good until the right combination of government and free enterprise was found…and one driver for the case…was a heavy dose of “want” from the military.

    Despite a lot of effort the case for people “living” on the ocean floor has never quite materialized except in movies or TV series. We might be seeing the case being made for some industrialization of the Sahara (solar power plants)…

    The key fact remains that after 50 years and about 1/2 trillion dollars the case has never been made for human spaceflight…and WONT until there is some heavy involvement by private enterprise. How to do this is tricky but the ISS/private lift contract is one such venue.

    It has pluses besides the notion of allowing private enterprise a window to succeed or fail..and that is that NASA has among other things simply priced itself out of running both cargo and human spaceflight lift. So even if that is all it does (ie make a stand alone government effort possible on an affordable scale) then that is an improvement.

    There might be more, only time will tell.

    And you dont know what you are talking about with Ken Bowersox. you just dont. Believe it or not but you dont. And I dont feel any need to enlighten you. RGO

  • @common sense:

    But they are not. Because you cannot support an army of workers AND build the vehicles AND launch them on missions AND build payloads for the same amount.

    You can, you just can’t expect much from the first two flights before it’s back to the drawing board. And that’s only because of a caveat you failed to mention, the Administration has locked in–”to the extent practicable”–both industry and the customer into a contract legacy from Constellation. For the first two lifters, NASA has to go to ATK, and ATK has no other option than to provide a SD booster. NASA has to go to P&W, and P&W has no other option than to deliver J-2X.

  • Vladislaw

    MrEarl wrote:

    “They have their place and can be effective bringing new technology on line but you can’t build a permanent presence in space on prizes.”

    Actually you could, it would depend on what that new technology is. For example, 20 billion dollars for the first team that builds a reusable launch system for putting humans into LEO.

    That is a chunk of change and would probably get some investment. It is a lot higher than what I believe congress would go along with.

    If you offered a prize for a better life support system, not so much.

    The bottom line is how much is the Nation willing to offer for a capability that WOULD really help put a presence in space. Robert Bigelow offered 50 million for LEO transportation and there were no takers. I always thought he should have spent a few million advertising it and trying to get additional funding added to it from the public.

  • common sense

    @ Joe wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    “In any case, be assured, I have not missed you.”

    I don’t believe you. Why do you answer so quickly otherwise? You can tell. It’s okay.

    “If anyone working for a contract is to be considered dishonorable enough to slant their opinions to support that contract;”

    Who is using the word “dishonorable”? Did I say this at any time? To you conflict of interest equates with “dishonorable”? Interesting. I’d love to see the record of what you ever did for the government or a company you might have had an agreement with. Did you ever refuse to sign a paper telling you NOT to enter into specific actions because of conflict of interest? Ever? Because I can see the scene where you say you are not a “dishonorable” person and therefore won’t sign any such paper. Whatever.

    “might not anyone not attached to that contract slant their opinions to attack the contract, in the hopes that their employer might pick up the pieces?”

    Yes they might but since they are not under contract they will do as so they please (so long it is legal) because they did not sign any agreement related to “conflict of interest”. The reason they won’t do it sometimes is to not offend a potential future customer. Do you know that when a contract is awarded the losing bidders have some time to file a complaint. Sometime they do and sometime they don’t. Anyway.

    “Or is that concept to difficult for you?”

    If this only concept were too (check spell again) difficult for me my life would be simpler. It’s not.

    Yep I did miss the babbling and empty arguments. It’s like watching an afternoon talk-show. It frees my mind. Or brainwash or something like that.

  • common sense

    @Vladislaw wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    “For example, 20 billion dollars for the first team that builds a reusable launch system for putting humans into LEO.”

    Not a slim chance. Who would benefit? A very limited number of people. $200M would already be pretty amazing.

    “If you offered a prize for a better life support system, not so much.”

    If you can show that the technology or a derivative may be of interest to the community/industry then you have a good chance. You probably have a better chance with “small” technology rather than “big” technology.

    “The bottom line is how much is the Nation willing to offer for a capability that WOULD really help put a presence in space.”

    Consider something like zero dollars your target.

    “Robert Bigelow offered 50 million for LEO transportation and there were no takers. I always thought he should have spent a few million advertising it and trying to get additional funding added to it from the public.”

    Bigelow is not the Nation. Now if you can make the case that Bigelow represents national interests…

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “So you’re tying commerical HSF, ‘free enterprise’ ventures as servicing big government space projects of scale. That’s pretty funny, not to mention back door subsidizing, and not ‘free market capitalism’ at work.”

    The government wants a service that is currently unavailable in the commercial marketplace. The military is always creating small start ups to provide a part or service not available. As long as that part or service is available for sale to everyone and it not limited by law to only provide for the government it is a commercial firm. You can howl at the moon all you want, but that is a commercial firm, it doesn’t matter that during any particular point in time the government happens to be the sole consumer purchasing that product or service.

    The United States has had a regulated economy almost from the get go starting with the whiskey taxes. The idea that the United States is a 100% ‘free market capitalism’ economy still in the Robber Baron era with 10 year kids working underground in coal chutes pushing coal down trays with their feet is silly.

    The government ROUTINELY provides and takes away from business.

    SpaceX has stated that ultimately one for their long term goals was providing human access to LEO. It was NOT a priority. What part of this do you constantly fail to understand? Do you need flow charts on a chalkboard or what?

    The federal government wants a service. That service does not exist. They are BUYING/purchasing milestones for a fixed priced that they believe ANY company will need if they plan to launch NASA astronauts.

    A private firm like SpaceX may considering doing a different way. The federal government, which will be the first purchaser of this service is demanding, through fixed priced milestones, that the company has to do things a certain way, and this is how much the federal goverment will pay you to add that part/unit/etc in the form of a milestone.

    This is not a freakin’ subsidy and to moronically repeat something that no economist in the nation would call it is beyond silly.
    Now is this clear to you or do I need to explain at a 1st grade level.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    “In a free enterprise economy with a representative government the relationship of the government to the economic system is always a tricky one– ”

    LOL the trick being to sucker the U.S. tax payer to socialize the risk on their backs. Old news.

    “There is right now NO Economic reason for human spaceflight…The key fact remains that after 50 years and about 1/2 trillion dollars the case has never been made for human spaceflight…and WONT until there is some heavy involvement by private enterprise.”

    Nonsense. HSF was a battlefront in the Cold War. And of course there’s an economic reason- several in fact- for HSF and the benefits from it for ancillary industries be in direct or indirect– you fail to see or acknowledge the capacity for geopolitical advantage, affirmation of industrial prowess or national prestige. You’re not a big picture fella. .

  • Robert G. Oler

    The politics of 1963 look different w/20-20 hindsight and if you knew your history, the famed ‘missile gap’ was an issue both RMN and JFK campaigned on in 1960. We all know today why Soviet missiles/LVs of that period were capable of lofting heavier payloads than those in the West. Given the successes of the Sputniks, Gagarin and Titov and the then very recent Cuban Missile Crisis, the ‘gap’ appeared very real to the American electorate, and at the time U.S.missile systems had a 60% success rate per Kraft & Kranz in that time frame…..

    LOL

    there is a difference between politics and people who run the military on both our side and the then Soviets…ie they knew then what you dont know now…

    US rockets passed the Soviets in terms of being an ICBM ready with Atlas and that was demonstrated with SCORE.

    The American people lead by politicians sometimes think goofy things…Bush had Saddam attacking us in balsa wood planes…but the military new better…and with SCORE so did the Soviets.

    RGO

  • @Bigelow:

    Robert Bigelow offered 50 million for LEO transportation and there were no takers.

    Undoubtedly. $50 million would be enough for 10 years of of salary at $80,000 on average for about 30 employees.

  • @Vladislaw:

    Above was meant for you, and that assumes the firm takes half for other operating expenses and profit.

  • Just to jump in on the EML1 bandwagon, as much utility as it offers Lunar efforts via access 24/7 to the entire Lunar surface (about a one-day journey, as Doug L. notes above), it also offers utility for other efforts as well:
    -GEO work (less dV from/to EML1 than just LEO – GEO)
    -LEO work (some level of gross debris mitigation can be staged from EML1, as it offers access to all LEO inclinations for roughly the same dV. Very roughly for Polar orbits, friggin’ J2…)
    -Solar system exploration (on-ramp to InterPlanetary Superhighways, lowest dV launch site to deep space in near-Earth space)
    -NEO access (materiel can be stockpiled at EML1, components can be cobbled together, and someone will light out for an asteroid)
    -Earth-Moon comm link (one exciting idea is to have Solar Sail comm sats ‘sitting’ over the Lunar poles as another link pointing down into the Polar craters)
    -Lunar sortie capability (instead of being tied to a single Moon base location, global exploration efforts can be contemporaneously conducted with the establishment of facilities at key sites)
    -Logistics node (if you have regular traffic from LEO to EML1 to Moon/GEO/LEO/Elsewhere, EML1 can serve as a ‘break bulk’ facility to divide the large shipments from Earth into smaller bits for a variety of destinations)

    EML1 is the crossroads of cislunar space, and can serve as the keystone of a robust and strategic exploration and development of not only the Moon but the Solar System (and beyond, for far dreamers). If we ignore it we make everything else way more difficult than it has to be.

    Re: the politicians. Empty rhetoric from empty suits. They don’t have real, strategic space visions because it’s not their jobs. Space is a sliver of a plank of platform. Until it becomes a significant industry in this country (at the level of computers and automobiles and so on), it will remain such. I consistently fail to understand why people think that the government is going to be the one to gift this industry unto the American citizenry. Have we learned nothing from the last 30, 40, 50 years?

  • That should be “Space is a sliver of a plank of a platform”

  • Mr Earl

    @ Vlad:
    Prizes have their place but their usefulness is limited. In the scenario you propose a $20 billion prize to the first team that builds a reusable launch system. Now you have to realize that it will cost at least $10 billion to actually develop. That’s a huge gamble for any company and the fact another company could launch a week before you leaving you with a $10 billion investment with nothing to show for it would bankrupt you. On the other side, it gives the sponsor of the prize with little input in the process. A company may win the prize with a system that isn’t very useful for your purposes. You would have to be very careful in how the specifications are written. On the third hand, $20 billion is a lot of money for NASA too and for that amount they could get exactly what they want through a COTS/CCDEV type of agreement.
    Also you prove your point wrong in your last paragraph. Bigalow offers a $50 million prize for crew transport to the space station he plans to construct and gets no takers. Now he enters into a limited CCDEV like agreement with Boeing.

  • Mr Earl

    CS: Just a few things….
    “Why in heck do we have to reuse SRBs ad nauseam? And yes DoD can pay for them if they need them so much.”
    We use SRB’s because it’s the devil we know right now. The Block 1 SLS uses 5 segment SRBs because they’ll be ready by 2017 when NASA hopes to have the first launch. Block 2 of the SLS is supposed to use the winner of a contest between advanced SRB’s and a liquid booster using kerosene (RP1). My person preference is for the liquid booster because of the options it has for stand-alone use and the extra safety margin it provides. As for the DoD, I absolutely agree.
    “If they were able to make it efficient then yes it might come to be. But they are not. Because you cannot support an army of workers AND build the vehicles AND launch them on missions AND build payloads for the same amount.”
    Ok, first let’s put to bed the myth of the “standing army”. That term has been used to imply that any launch vehicle that is “shuttle derived” will require a s-load of workers. I have never been able to get exact numbers but I’ve been told by workers at KSC that almost half of that standing army was just for refurbishment of the shuttles, the engines and SRB’s. None of that will be applicable to the SLS as the shuttle will not be involved and neither the engines or SRB’s will be reusable. Workers at KSC are even taking out the engine plumbing from each shuttle to make SLS development faster and cheaper. I think the mindset is slowly coming around.
    Payloads in the form of lunar base modules, landers and such can be done much more cost effectively through CCDEV-like programs and agreements with other nations. As a matter of fact the service module for MPCV will be derived from the ESA’s ATV’s and built by ESA contractors.
    C’est la vie indeed!

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr Earl wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Ok, first let’s put to bed the myth of the “standing army”.

    For the Shuttle, it wasn’t a myth. The big question is how big it will be for the SLS, and what the standing army, regardless of size, will do in the months, or years, between launches.

    I’ve been told by workers at KSC that almost half of that standing army was just for refurbishment of the shuttles, the engines and SRB’s.

    I considered the Shuttle standing army as the people employed by United Space Alliance, the contractor co-owned by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The contract for USA accounted for almost half of the $200M/mo. cost of the Shuttle program. Here is the original USA contract announcement for six years of support at $7B.

    The SRB’s were refurbished under a contract with ATK, which was performed at their facilities in Utah. This I think was the last contract extension.

    The SSME’s were maintained by P&W under a separate contract too. Here is the last contract that was issued.

    Being that except for the SRB boosters, everything else on the SLS will be disposable, then there should be a smaller workforce that is needed for it. But the SLS is a much larger vehicle, and that affect the number of people needed.

    Look, every transportation system needs people to maintain the system. The biggest argument against the SLS is that it only has one purpose – to fly government funded payloads that can’t fit on commercial rockets.

    How often will it fly? No one knows. If it doesn’t fly enough, then the workforce will not be able to become proficient at keeping it flying safely. And no matter how infrequently it flies, our tax dollars will be spent employing people that don’t have their primary job to do. That is waste we can’t afford.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    $50 million would be enough for 10 years of of salary at $80,000 on average for about 30 employees.

    What’s your point?

  • Vladislaw

    Mr Earl wrote:

    “I have never been able to get exact numbers but I’ve been told by workers at KSC that almost half of that standing army was just for refurbishment of the shuttles, the engines and SRB’s.”

    Each shuttle had it’s own individual team from what I have read. So once the shuttle was serviced several teams were not really busy for months of the year.

    You will have to watch the lay off numbers at NASA and how pressure from members of congress will demand some form of make work to lower the % of workers from their district/state that gets laid off.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “@Vladislaw wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    “For example, 20 billion dollars for the first team that builds a reusable launch system for putting humans into LEO.”

    Not a slim chance. Who would benefit? A very limited number of people. $200M would already be pretty amazing.

    “If you offered a prize for a better life support system, not so much.”

    If you can show that the technology or a derivative may be of interest to the community/industry then you have a good chance. You probably have a better chance with “small” technology rather than “big” technology.”

    You appear to have missed what I was responding to.something MrEarl wrote, namely, that it was virtually impossible to increase the Nation’s presence in space through a prize. I disagreed.

    The Nation could throw out so much prize money it would start a classic capital flow pattern seen in new industrial starts.

    Just because we could doesn’t mean we would. The Nation could offer so much prize money with second and third place prizes that mutiple players would be induced to jump in.

    If went from 50-80 americans going into space per year, to 150-300. That would be a dramatic increase. If the vast majority are staying up for 6 months it would also be accompanied by a huge increase in cargo flights.

    The trick is the balancing act of the right number to get multiple players at the lowest cost. Personally, I believe the number would be higher than congress would ever pay.

  • Dennis Wingo

    original implementation of the VSE by O’Keefe was very close to the plan this WH wanted to follow. So it’d be nice we stop those arguments.

    You have got to be kidding. I sat in on a significant number of those meetings and week long strategy sessions and not once was an unaffordable heavy lifter, without the necessary payloads, going to an undefined destination, mentioned as a viable option.

    I seem to remember a president who said things about propellant and perhaps the vehicles that go to Mars being obtained from the Moon. You may be entitled to your own opinion, and maybe facts, but not an entire new reality.

    I also am amused at the bashing of prizes here. Paul Allen put up a lot of money to win a prize and there is still one hell of a lot of investment money in this country sitting on the sidelines. If a really good prize came up, a lot of the money would be shaken out, especially if ZGZT was attached to it as well.

    From what I am reading not one of the commenters in this thread are actually out there, talking to investors on a daily basis about space, or any other business for that matter. A major cash prize like that, especially if it has milestones, can be a major risk reduction factor today for people who already want to do things in space.

    Romney? The republican Obama will be a disaster for the nation.

  • DCSCA

    Vladislaw wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:28 pm
    “SpaceX has stated that ultimately one for their long term goals was providing human access to LEO.” LOL SpaceX issues lots of press releases; says a lot of things; loses high profire personel… has a flamboyant CEO… does everything but fly. BTW, Space X’s ultimate “long term goal” is the same as Target or Exxon or Burger King- to make a profit. End of story.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    “… there is a difference between politics and people who run the military on both our side and the then Soviets…ie they knew then what you dont know now.”

    ROFLMAO except “they” really didn’t. The late F. Gary Powers would have been amused. You’re not a big picture fella. And of course, Atlas was a very iffy bird fir its time- 60% rates of success and reaffirmed quite publicly. 2 of the 5 MA lauinches were less than satisfactory before Glenn climbed aboard MA-6. You drift off topic a lot, Oler. Wrong decade for Saddam and Bush references. Might as well accept space is not a priority in this election cycle and stop reaching for strained references.

  • DCSCA

    Vladislaw wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Of course its a subsidy and w/o the ISS as a faux market to aim at servicing, LEO commercial HSF is DOA.

  • The latest schedule update for GOP candidates visiting Brevard County:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120125/BREAKINGNEWS/120125001/GOP-hopefuls-visit-Brevard

    * Newt’s space policy address is this afternoon in Cocoa.

    * Romney’s campaign announced yesterday they would hold an event Friday afternoon in Titusville, no details.

    * Santorum appears Saturday at a lunch in Viera, which is about 40 miles from KSC, not exactly the heart of where space workers live around here.

  • red

    ” “original implementation of the VSE by O’Keefe was very close to the plan this WH wanted to follow. So it’d be nice we stop those arguments.

    You have got to be kidding. I sat in on a significant number of those meetings and week long strategy sessions and not once was an unaffordable heavy lifter, without the necessary payloads, going to an undefined destination, mentioned as a viable option.” ”

    I don’t think he’s talking about the current “compromise”, but rather what the Administration wanted to do, as defined in the FY11 budget proposal after the Augustine Committee. They got rid of the unaffordable heavily lifter there. They spelled out multiple destinations, which noone doubted was in the Flexible Path sequence. Not long after the budget rollout they included payloads such as numerous major technology demonstration missions (tugs, advanced solar electric propulsion, propellant depots, inflatable habitats, etc). They included increased funding for prizes. They included robotic precursor missions to the Moon, technology development for lunar ISRU, etc. Congress negotiated most of that away, and here we are with SLS/MPCV instead. Yes, the original FY11 wasn’t exactly the same as the VSE, but it was a lot closer than the current state of affairs or Griffin’s catastrophe. It could have been tweaked to be more like the VSE depending on the results of initial robotic precursors, technology demonstrations, etc.

    It will be interesting to see what Gingrich says. He’s been on the board of the National Space Society for decades, so I don’t expect the usual political pandering some have suggested.

  • Vladislaw wrote:

    You will have to watch the lay off numbers at NASA and how pressure from members of congress will demand some form of make work to lower the % of workers from their district/state that gets laid off.

    NASA employees aren’t laid off. They’re civil servants. The layoffs are among contractors who have known since January 2004 that the Shuttle jobs would be eliminated once Shuttle completed ISS construction.

    It should be noted that we just passed the eight-year anniversary of the Vision for Space Exploration speech on January 14, 2004. Click here to read the speech.

    As a reminder for everyone, here’s the key paragraph:

    To meet this goal, we will return the Space Shuttle to flight as soon as possible, consistent with safety concerns and the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Shuttle’s chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the Space Shuttle — after nearly 30 years of duty — will be retired from service.

    It turned out to be 2011, because both the Bush and Obama administrations each added one more flight, but everything that has transpired for Shuttle in the last eight years came out of that speech.

  • Byeman

    “The late F. Gary Powers would have been amused. ”

    He didn’t see much anything that would back your assertions. two R-7 pads were not a threat.

    Again, DCSCA doesnt know what he is talking about.

  • gregori

    There is no reason to have zero tax on putting things into orbit other than “i like space”. Its a market distortion that other industries are not going to be too happy about. The fear of taxation is not what is holding back companies putting more things in orbit… its the rational fear of no return. I foresee most companies just pocketing the saving of ZCZT rather than invest in risky business. It would be rational.

    A lot of the private space companies exist for sole reason that their leaders are geeks who made more than a sensible amount of money on computers, and can afford to throw money at another nerdy pursuit that very few venture capitalists would touch with a 10 light year barge pole.

    I’m ABSOLUTELY glad they are doing this, and are working on ways to bring down the cost of spaceflight. New technology is going to be needed to make more profitable activities in space, not financial magicians. New Technology (esp rocketry and spacecraft) is expensive. I think this is something NASA should be at the forefront of, not building an SLS, a capability industry can already provide for cheaper.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    What’s your point?

    You’re not going to meet Bigelow’s requirement from scratch for $50 million.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 5:15 am
    The late F. Gary Powers would have been amused.”

    no he would not..and that is not my opinion that is Gary Power’s viewpoint which he shared both in private to several of us and in public speeches at the AOPA convention two years before his death…AND at the distinguished speakers forum at Texas A&M University for the centennial in 1976 a year before his death..I introduced him. These are on the record and in the case of TAMU can be found at the web site for the distinguished speakers forums. Indeed as he put it the only thing that he found scary over the Soviet Union was the SA-2 missiles coming up at him.

    Deterrence in a MAD scenario is half showmanship. YOu want the other person to know your weapons work, particularly if you know that theirs do not and they really dont have all that many of them. Powers and the rest of his U2 buddies were finding that out exactly.

    The legacy of Soviet arms estimations by aspiring politicans was the same as people today who want to make Iran into something it isnt…ie giving the other guys capabilities that “You” (meaning we) dont have and we have a far better manufactoring base.

    Knowledge is power and Ike kenw what you seem to not be willing to accept. He had the stronger strategic force.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 1:50 am

    From what I am reading not one of the commenters in this thread are actually out there, talking to investors on a daily basis about space, or any other business for that matter. A major cash prize like that, especially if it has milestones, can be a major risk reduction factor today for people who already want to do things in space.

    Romney? The republican Obama will be a disaster for the nation.”

    extremely interesting comments AND you are certainly out there on the front lines…

    what you might do is pass along to some of the folks who you interact with that if they truly believe that prizes would be a stimulative effort…they should say so in public. I am not as tuned in as you and so I dont go to all the conferences that I know you do…and that is where they might be pushing the word (and if so great) but just out in the “public” space media…you dont hear that.

    As for Romney and Obama. It strikes me that really in this race if there are polar opposites but people who are similar it is Newt and Barack.

    Romney is really no where in public service Disraeli use to claim that there were three requirements for good public service; commitment, motivation, and spontaneity. And while I dont really care all that much for Newt both he and Obama (who I have some issues with) have those three things in spades. They both have a motivation to serve the country, to influence its future, and to do it for the good of the country. Both have modified their views to suit the political winds…but neither of them has done just the amazing about faces that Willard Mitt Romney seems to do with ease.

    I suspect that whatever speech Newt is going to give (or is giving as I type this) will have some reasonable clarity in it about his view for human spaceflight. Obama certainly has a policy that to the best the political system full of pork will move him has a similar clarity.

    Read Willards statement. Who the frack knows what that means. It is like his debate performances they are polled, gamed, and then mushed to almost mean nothing.

    I would vote for Obama in a Willard/Barack race…but I would like that race (knowing that Gingrich could win it) because it would be a race of two people who I think believe to the extent that anyone can in politics state what they believe and discuss the issues in that light.

    If Willard Mitt Romney found that he could pick up three points in the polls by advocating condo’s on the sea floor…he would be for that tomorrow.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I would vote for Obama in a Willard/Barack race…but I would like that race (knowing that Gingrich could win it) because it would be a race of two people who I think believe to the extent that anyone can in politics state what they believe and discuss the issues in that light.”

    I wrote the above…

    the editor regrets this error it should read “I would for for Obama in a NEWT/Barack race…”

    Sorry typing to fast. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Wingo wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 1:50 am

    “You have got to be kidding. I sat in on a significant number of those meetings and week long strategy sessions and not once was an unaffordable heavy lifter, without the necessary payloads, going to an undefined destination, mentioned as a viable option.”

    Dennis please read what red wrote at red wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 7:37 am. Thanks red.

    “I seem to remember a president who said things about propellant and perhaps the vehicles that go to Mars being obtained from the Moon. You may be entitled to your own opinion, and maybe facts, but not an entire new reality.”

    Where is this coming from? Sometimes you leave me perplexed. I know your attachment to ISRU on the Moon but??? Anyway.

    “I also am amused at the bashing of prizes here. Paul Allen put up a lot of money to win a prize and there is still one hell of a lot of investment money in this country sitting on the sidelines. If a really good prize came up, a lot of the money would be shaken out, especially if ZGZT was attached to it as well.”

    Since you seem to be in a rather let’s say emotional mood, let me ask you to provide any proof or reference showing that ZGZT would help the whole thing. Just curious.

    “From what I am reading not one of the commenters in this thread are actually out there, talking to investors on a daily basis about space, or any other business for that matter. A major cash prize like that, especially if it has milestones, can be a major risk reduction factor today for people who already want to do things in space.”

    From what you are saying you don’t really know what you are talking about. I’ve seen much better from you than just broadband bashing of the posters here.

    “Romney? The republican Obama will be a disaster for the nation. ”

    Romney is not Obama, not even close, Republican or Democratic. Even Gingrich will not get you what you want from this Congress. The President is NOT the problem, Congress is. And until you and others get to understand that we will just argue about the next step in HSF without any real budget.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Then you should have read his book. THere’s room for it on your wall.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I was specifically addressing/refuting your two examples not the inherent value of a prize.

    1. $20B for an RLV will never see the day of light. If it were true then COTS would have appeared as a Prize and the budget would have most likely been large enough for 1 or 2 companies to make it. COTS is not, was not. Missed opportunity? Again the magnitude of your theoretical prize is way too large.

    and

    2. A Life Support System may be worth a prize if the proper requirements are put together. Again, see Tech Transfer.

    I don’t think your case was strong, not that it was not valid.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Then you should have read his book

    autographed copy. I always did that at the Speakers Forum…best catch was A. Clarke and R. Heinlein Live long and prosper RGO

  • Googaw

    Romney’s idea that private groups will want to pay to fund NASA’s economic fantasies was obvious drivel, but DCSCA and some other commentators are quite correct on Gingrich’s prizes. Prizes are certainly an improvement over the traditional bureaucracy, which Gingrich properly observes needs to be but. But offer prizes for these fantasies and you will either have a bunch of prizes go untaken (when the amounts are insufficient to motivate private enterprise to embark on a terribly unprofitable business) or you will spend large amounts of taxpayer’s money and end up with no viable ongoing business as a result.

    Might as well offer prizes to build a bridge from Russia to Alaska, to build high-speed rail from Bakersfield to Fresno, to build a sustainable sailing ship to import solar cells from China, to manufacture solar cells in one of the highest cost labor market regions in the world (the California Bay Area), or to try to make any other daydream of power-tripping bureaucrats come true. Prizes don’t magically transmogrify collectivist fantasies into private enterprise realities.

    Prizes only work when they are about things that the private sector was on the cusp of doing anyway — _without_ the motivation of other economically unaccountable government contracts. As observed above, most space prizes have not fallen into that category: with one prominent exception (the original X Prize) ) they have either gone unclaimed or led to no new kind of business. These prizes have failed because they have been based on sci-fi economic fantasies dreamed up as a job for NASA rather than on things people would have actually paid the entire cost of with their own money. The ones Gingrich proposes are even worse. The orbital HSF nonsense is about as astronomically far away from a viable private customer business as one can get.

    OTOH, prizes for nice incremental advances, such as a nanosat launch, better spacecraft insulation, a deep space nanosat, the first private satellite-satellite refueling, and so on, could be quite useful. Something like the Google Lunar X-Prize might work if the prize was somewhat larger and the timeframe several years longer. Alas I doubt we will see such rationality coming out of a politician in the space arena. Much easier to gull the masses with the old NASA power-tripping fantasies.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “I was specifically addressing/refuting your two examples not the inherent value of a prize.

    1. $20B for an RLV will never see the day of light. If it were true then COTS would have appeared as a Prize and the budget would have most likely been large enough for 1 or 2 companies to make it. COTS is not, was not. Missed opportunity? Again the magnitude of your theoretical prize is way too large.”

    My point was to make the prize amount so large that it would guarantee entry of capital into the market. I am not saying anything about the economics, or if congress would approve. I am saying as long as a government can toss ridiculas amounts of money at something you will see capital flows. Which the other commenter said wouldn’t happen. It would.

    The point was to increase the presence of people in space. The easiest way to do that is with a cheaper reusable system to leo. If the government basically pays back all the development cost + plus, a business could launch people to leo cheaper because they wouldn’t have to amoratize any of the design, development and testing costs of the system.

    People in space creates automatic demand for consumables.

    I do not care how great of life support system gets designed tomorrow, with no ships, or stations to put them on they are worthless.

    The first leg on the stool is lower cost, reusable human access to LEO, the second leg, a destination for humans in LEO the third leg is cheap, high flight rate, cargo runs. that equals a higher human presence in space.

  • Dennis Wingo

    From what you are saying you don’t really know what you are talking about. I’ve seen much better from you than just broadband bashing of the posters here.

    Lets see, I am in direct negotiations right now on a space project that is extremely conservative and almost a slam dunk and people are still afraid to put money out there, even though we have a complete A list of people working on it. This particular project would not benefit from ZGZT as it is a much more traditional satcom play but I can tell you 100% from experience that the investment community is extremely skittish right now because of our uncertain economic times. For even more risky ventures that ZGZT would enable, there is little money out there, even with the Google lunar X prize. We have to change the risk/reward equation and denying that is baffling in the extreme.

    Take a look at the total size of deal flow and the size of the deals. The most active market is software with $2 billion in Q3 with 263 deals. That is an average of $7.6 million per deal. There is NO industry getting an average of more than $10-15M per deal right now. Space is capital intensive and just one new comsat is several hundred million dollars to raise. Space in general is FAR above the typical risk profile that is out there these days, that is why all of these energy manufacturing firms are getting government money, the deal flow simply won’t support and and you are claiming that ZGZT would not help? Anything that lowers risk and increases return will help an industry that has long been fraught with risk and loss. To state otherwise is counterfactual to the reality of the market today.

    I repeat, I am astounded at the comments, as the investors that I am talking to across the board would rethink the risk profile for high risk missions should ZGZT come into being. I have the money pledged for a congressional round table on this subject but I personally don’t have the time to run it. We need rational people who are working to execute on this business today to have a say rather than the uninformed speculation that is rampant on these forums.

    Where is this coming from? Sometimes you leave me perplexed. I know your attachment to ISRU on the Moon but??? Anyway.

    Read the Bush VSE speech, I directly lifted those lines from that speech in paraphrase.

    Dennis please read what red wrote at red wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 7:37 am. Thanks red.

    The current debacle was allowed to happen by the Obama administration that did not put one iota of political capital into their effort after the tossed it over the wall. Obama made the insane statement about the Moon that we had “already been there and done that” when he was at KSC. The heavy lifter was never off the table (The Ares 1 was the only thing cancelled and even then it lurched on spending money for several months), and not once did the White house stand up and oppose it.

    As far as presidents right now, I am with Richard Pryor in Brewster’s millions, vote for none of the above dem or rep.

  • Dennis Wingo

    Woops

    Here is the link on the current state of deal flow for VC money in this country.

    http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/20/most-active-venture-capitalists/

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    You’re lost in the weeds. The focus of the source posting was on what was known by the electorate at the time of the famed ‘missile gap’ was in public discourse, not what’s known w/50 yrs of hindsight, and how that shaped their decisionmaking and perceptions at that time. The evidence the public had was of barking and beeping Sputniks, Gagarin, Titov, Power’s shootdown, Vanguard’s blow up, Berlin Walls, Cuban Missile Crisis and U.S. rockets very publicly exploding with a 35%-40% failure rate. What Ike or JFK secretly knew regarding the gap, the legalities of overflight rights, Corons and U-2 shootdowns was irrelevant to what the public perceived- and what the public saw was an America being left behind which shaped it. You’re not a big picture fella.

    Byeman wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 9:50 am
    You’re not following along. We’re discussing what the electorate was aware of in that time frame in making decisions.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ January 24th, 2012 at 2:28 am
    Romney thinks the Air Force wants to partner with NASA on space stuff?

    The AF will salute and do what the CIC directs it to do. What they ‘want’ is irrelevant.

  • DCSCA

    Googaw wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Yep.

  • common sense

    @ Dennis Wingo wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    “Lets see, I am in direct negotiations right now on a space project that is extremely conservative and almost a slam dunk and people are still afraid to put money out there, even though we have a complete A list of people working on it.”

    All right. I don’t know in what way your comment goes against what I say. What I said is that you don’t know how many people here are actually taking steps towards the private industry. You do it, great! Just don’t assume you are the only one. What does it tell you that investors are afraid? Here it is, the business case, to them, probably is not solid enough.

    “you are claiming that ZGZT would not help? Anything that lowers risk and increases return will help an industry that has long been fraught with risk and loss. To state otherwise is counterfactual to the reality of the market today.”

    I don’t remember claiming any such things. It is upon you to show it will work and I am asking references which you are not providing. I too am astounded about (apparently) unsupported claims. You want to do the outreach then do it while not telling every one and any one that they don’t know what they are talking about.

    “I repeat, I am astounded at the comments, as the investors that I am talking to across the board would rethink the risk profile for high risk missions should ZGZT come into being. I have the money pledged for a congressional round table on this subject but I personally don’t have the time to run it. We need rational people who are working to execute on this business today to have a say rather than the uninformed speculation that is rampant on these forums.”

    You see again you have a very inflammatory language and you assume you only know what needs to be done. How far have you gone? How far do you think you will go like this? When did you first propose ZGZT? 2008? Earlier? So please make an effort. Reaching out is not what you are doing.

    “Read the Bush VSE speech, I directly lifted those lines from that speech in paraphrase.”

    So? Did I personally mention Mars anywhere?

    “The current debacle was allowed to happen by the Obama administration that did not put one iota of political capital into their effort after the tossed it over the wall. Obama made the insane statement about the Moon that we had “already been there and done that” when he was at KSC. The heavy lifter was never off the table (The Ares 1 was the only thing cancelled and even then it lurched on spending money for several months), and not once did the White house stand up and oppose it.”

    Oh come on! Political capital for HSF??? “You’ve go to be kidding”!!! This President had a couple of more pressing things to do that may not have been your priorities but were those of the public, said public you seem to easily disparage here. Not very astute. And if you think that Gingrich or any one will do more then you’re up for a nice wake up. At least Obama asked for an increase of NASA money. And to fully support commercial space, which Gingrich supported. Your VSE President did not as far as I can remember request an increase of NASA budget. And even though the VSE was a good start it went to the ditch thanks to Ares/Constellation and those who supported Ares/Constellation. And yes that mess happened under the President who formulated the VSE. Enough of this nonsense!

    “As far as presidents right now, I am with Richard Pryor in Brewster’s millions, vote for none of the above dem or rep.”

    Well your choice here.

  • common sense

    Come on people. In those difficult times (at least until 2014 if you follow the news…) we will offer $10Bs worth of prizes?!?!? You are dreaming awake. It will not happen. UNLESS you can show there is some benefit to the US public.

    Said public will soon wonder why NASA’s budget of around $20B/yr needs about half for HSF when the Shuttle is gone.

    You may want to start articulating an answer to that question.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    [responding to my question] You’re not going to meet Bigelow’s requirement from scratch for $50 million.

    I’d agree with that. Thanks.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Wingo wrote @ January 25th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I am in direct negotiations right now on a space project that is extremely conservative and almost a slam dunk and people are still afraid to put money out there, even though we have a complete A list of people working on it.

    As I’m sure you know, you’re not just competing on the merits of your proposal, but you’re also competing against other companies that want that same pot of investor money. Maybe you offer an 8X ROI after 5 years, but someone else might have a deal that could be 10X after 3 years.

    Take a look at the total size of deal flow and the size of the deals.

    There is some skewing of the data going on here that is not readily apparent in the gross numbers. The recent fad for big VC’s has been to do additional investments in companies they are already in – doubling down so to speak. That means that the overall investment numbers don’t equate to what the investment market used to mean.

    Also, it’s kind of meaningless to look at overall numbers, since investors tend to stick with markets that they know. There aren’t too many investors that specialize in space related stuff, so that’s something else working against you. I know our local angel group has only recently started investing in internet companies, mainly because the member backgrounds were in other areas (new blood has started coming in). I doubt they would even look at a deal for space related stuff, as they have no expertise in which to evaluate or manage it – what value could they bring to the Board?

    …as the investors that I am talking to across the board would rethink the risk profile for high risk missions should ZGZT come into being.

    I hope that would make a difference, although you’re still competing against all the other potential deals out there. Good luck with your proposal.

  • Vladislaw

    “What does it tell you that investors are afraid? Here it is, the business case, to them, probably is not solid enough.”

    Investing always follows the same herd mentality. I doubt investors are quaking in their shoes afraid. They are mearly waiting. In more modern terms it is refered to as the ‘netscape moment’.

    We need that first killer “app” for space that generates extra normal profits. Capital automatically flows towards extra normal profits and you would see this “fear” disolve overnight with the first IPO.

    You then enter into the speculation phase as hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars pours into that start up industry. Every would be company with space in their name would start seeing capital flowing in.

    Production/services would now suddenly be over producing for the market and prices would plummet as cut throat competion sets in. Un productive, mismanaged companies fall to the wayside and declare bankruptcy. A company’s production capabilties are bought up for pennies on the dollar and the shake up leads to the industry leaders and a new equilibrim pricing for the masses is established.

    We are close to the tipping the point as we now have more than one angel venture capital firm specializing in space ventures. We have seen this play out countless times in the US.

  • vulture4

    Prizes work well when imagination is needed but not much money, like the light aircraft eficiency prize, lunar robotic mining contest, or the suit glove competition. But when billions are at stake, investors want assurance of a profit.

  • From:

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/01/23/romney-and-gingrich-offer-contrasting-space-policy-views-in-florida-debate/

    Mr. Romney:

    Clearly, Mr. Romney’s level of analysis is as shallow as is his advisors’ laziness in educating him about what the Augustine Commission has recently concluded. His bland, boilerplate response of what we already do is clear evidence of how little this issue means to him, other than necessary duckspeak for winning an election. There’s no need for additional studies, there’s need for an executive position on an important issue about the nation’s future.

    Just as Mr. Obama prematurely terminated the shuttle, the only Bush policy he upheld, so Mr. Romney will ignore NASA, upholding the current Obama policy.

    Mr. Gingrich:

    More political grandstanding in this statement much ameliorated by his subsequent statements.

    If indeed he had some ideas about “fundamentally leapfrogging into a world where you’re incentivizing people”, he had, and lost, an opportunity to elaborate on this. The idea of prizes is a good one, but you can’t make any money off of them because they’re too small. Take GLXP. If you could pull it off for $29M, you could pocket a cool $1M. Can’t be done. Increase the prize by two orders of magnitude, maybe you could make a profit. If his suggestion were $10B for the Moon, not Mars, that might be a profitable undertaking.

    That the prizes aren’t big enough, isn’t Mr. Gingrich’s problem necessarily. His first problem is that his simple analysis concludes that the current prizes are sufficient for profitability, and they aren’t. Secondly, Mr. Gingrich may not like bureacracy, but if the government is handling those prizes, there will certainly be a lot of people sitting in rooms and talking about it. And thirdly, where’s the prioritization? Mars is unrealistic without the experience of the Moon in hand.

    While it’s generally true that “there are a whole series of things we could do that could be dynamic” with regards to HSF, it’s also generally true that peace is better than war. If the issue were important to him, he’d list that series of things. He’s just saying what he thinks some voters want to hear. If he continues to bring HSF to the forefront of his campaign, and places it appropriately on his website, then his committment would be genuine.

    His subsequent statements on this issue have been very good in general, I’d say. It really depends on whether he speaks any more about HSF after he crosses state lines.

    ***************

    Both candidates err in thinking that as a subset of Florida thinks about HSF, so thinks the nation. They both pander to the parochial. Mr. Romney hasn’t thought about HSF in any depth. If the nation is to have the HSF program that I would have, then every state needs to be brought into the discussion, and this plank would be well known on their official websites to demonstrate their interest and committment. It isn’t, and they aren’t.

  • @Fornaro:

    Clearly, Mr. Romney’s level of analysis is as shallow as is his advisors’ laziness in educating him about what the Augustine Commission has recently concluded.

    1. Augustine found six integrated options (three Moon First, three Flexible Path) to be viable.
    2. All but one includes a 70+ ton heavy lifter, and three (two Moon First, one Flexible path) includes an SD HLV.
    3. SLS is a 70+ ton SD HLV.
    4. Both of Romney’s advisors–as late as last year–are on record supporting SLS.

    So what’s the problem?

    His bland, boilerplate response of what we already do is clear evidence of how little this issue means to him, other than necessary duckspeak for winning an election.

    Really? The US has a unified strategy for civil and military space?

  • vulture4

    We need that first killer “app” for space that generates extra normal profits.

    Communications, navigation and imaging (weather and recon) are all profitable now. If you mean human spaceflight, no profitable mission exists without a factor of ten reduction in launch costs.

    Most of Mr. Romney’s supporters in the space program believe he will “provide strong leadership” and “a clear goal”, which they believe are the main reasons for the failure of Constellation/SLS/Orion, and they believe he will fully fund Constellation and start us back to Mars immediately.

    Mr. Romney plans to reduce the NASA budget (by at least 6% according to the Ryan proposal) and (based on his statements) will direct NASA to get part of its funding from industry. This is not realistic. There are some areas where industry will pay government for services but human spaceflight is not one of them as there is no external customer to whom the product can be immediately resold.

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