Campaign '12

A backlash against the backlash

While Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri held Republican primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was not in any of those three states. Instead, he was on the campaign trail in Ohio, looking ahead to that state’s primary on Super Tuesday next month. In an appearance in Dayton yesterday, he mentioned space, sticking to his plans he laid out in a speech in Florida two weeks ago. “Immediately two of my opponents rushed into to say that’s really stupid,” the Wall Street Journal reported Gingrich as saying, referring to fellow candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. He defended his support for space exploration, according to POLITICO, citing the potential for job creation and technological spinoffs. “When we talk about job creation, just remember the iPhone you’re using, the iPad you’re using, the BlackBerry you’re using, the home computer you’re using, all those have components that were developed from the space program,” he said.

This is not the first time in recent days that the campaign has pushed back against criticism of his space policy from fellow candidates. “I am deeply concerned that Senator Santorum so easily relinquishes space development to the Chinese and Russians,” Gingrich national security advisor Stephen Yates said in a statement released by the campaign on Saturday. He was apparently referring to a radio ad released by the Santorum campaign Friday which dismissed Gingrich’s lunar base plans as “fiscal insanity”. “American success in space is not only about being the first to develop a station on the moon,” Yates said, citing an “explosion of math, science, engineering and national security technology” that would benefit the nation.

Commentators outside the Gingrich campaign are also coming to the candidate’s defense in recent days. In an op-ed in The American Spectator, former Reagan White House official Jeffrey Lord criticizes Santorum in particular for his attacks on Gingrich’s space policy. Lord calls Gingrich’s plan an “obvious intent to carry forward with the Reagan space legacy”, and thus attacks on Gingrich’s policy are, by Lord’s extension, an attack on Reagan’s legacy. “If Rick Santorum is going to try and become The Conservative Alternative at the expense of the Reagan space legacy — he should stop and get out of the campaign right now before he inflicts any more damage to himself and the conservative cause,” he writes. (Romney doesn’t escape Lord’s criticism: “his remark that he would fire anybody who came to him with a suggestion to continue Reagan’s space legacy with a program to colonize the moon was stunningly telling of exactly the problems a Romney nomination will bring.”)

Others have also defended the idea of a lunar base, although perhaps not the same level of rhetoric as The American Spectator piece. “Whatever misgivings you might have about Gingrich, in this case he is right,” former NASA official and longtime space advocate Charles Miller writes in a CNN commentary. He describes how the technology is there to allow a return to the Moon in 10 years for $40 billion, while also supporting development of commercial reusable vehicles that could lower the cost and increase the frequency of space access. “It’s time to go back to the moon — and, this time, to stay,” concludes Univ. of Colorado professor Jack Burns in a Denver Post op-ed today. He doesn’t explicitly endorse the Gingrich plan but lays out why a human return to the Moon in general “is not a loony idea”.

81 comments to A backlash against the backlash

  • GeeSpace

    It’s good to see other people publicly take a stand on the United States having a short pr near term active space program.

    It would be nice if the space advocacy groups and space advovate leaders take a stronger position (other than some mild statement) on having a more forceful human space program beyond Earth. I think people like Professor Jack Burns and Charles Miller should be thanked by all of us that believe in human space exploration beyond Earth.

    I personally would suggest to Gingrich that he drop the 51st state when there was a lunar population of 13,000. I think that if there was a 13,000 lunar population that 12,998 of those folks would want political and economic independence if they had a choice.

    Over the last several months, perhaps years, I have read various people saying that it won’t be great if Space was a national campaign issue. When one of the candidates has raised human space exploration as an issue, Si what do some people do, they nit-pick—saying that the issue should have been presented in more detail, that the issue of space would not continue, etc,

  • amightywind

    Among other issues it was the ‘moon base’ that helped marginalize Newt and open the door for rock-ribbed conservative Rick Santorum. So keep talking Newt, please. It should be clear now that Newt lacks the the message discipline it will take to win an election, even though he provides ample material for space politics.

    It is too bad the site has abandoned issues of Russian space and the precarious position of ISS.

  • P. Edward Murray

    Thanks for your Blog! Personally, I don’t like Newt or Rick but I really hate the fact that other nations seem to be gearing up for ambitious plans in space…going to the moon etc and we seem to be “losing it”:(

    Very few, including President Obama, seem to realize that if we don’t do “it” some other nation will and along with that will come new industries and new jobs, both of which we need in America right now!

  • Yesterday NASA announced its solicitation for final proposals to have a viable commercial crew vehicle by the end of 2014. The solicitation includes a requirement for an optional demonstration flight by the commercial company using four private sector astronauts for three days at an altitude of 200 miles.

    You’d think that a press conference kicking off the process for America’s next human spacecraft would have drawn a lot of media attention.

    According to the Florida Today reporter, only about “a dozen” media types attended.

    Reports of the event appeared almost nowhere outside the space blog and web sites. MSNBC.com did a story, but I haven’t seen a story on any other “mainstream” media sites.

    I guess it’s more important to focus on the Republican candidates trying to outduel each other in insulting human spaceflight.

    One would hope that Gingrich, who endorsed this approach in a 2010 guest opinion column, would say something about it on the campaign trail to show that his ideas for privatization of spaceflight are possible and practical. He needs to talk less about moon missions and more about current events so voters realize it’s not only possible but practical.

  • A quick comment before plunging into job#1 of a two job wage earner.

    In the last three weeks more people have come to me to talk ‘space’ than ever before. I look around and I read this and that, view something on television regarding Newt’s Lunar excursions, Mitt’s ‘firing’, or space in general.

    Whether in support or in jest, the public discourse of ‘space’ has been elevated to a point not seen since the Challenger tragedy of 1986.

    I think this is a good thing.

    Enjoy the work day.

    Gary Anderson
    NE Coordinator
    Tea Party in Space
    PS instead of just typing your points of view here, take the 3 minutes and a .44 stamp and mail your congressman/woman in support of HR3288 to boost American jobs and ease export regulations on space assets. TPiS will be getting out large #s of letters.
    Congress ‘ain’t’ seen nothing like it!

  • Doug Lassiter

    Let’s be careful, as Jack Burns was clearly trying to be. Yes, he did say “It’s time to go back to the moon — and, this time, to stay”, and he did lay out the importance of the Moon for future efforts. But he also said, after talking about the importance of the Moon … “A lunar base, possibly at the moon’s south pole, is a more costly and complex undertaking. We must first demonstrate tele-operation of robotic vehicles by astronauts aboard Orion to usher in a new era of combined human-machine exploration and resource extraction on the surface of the moon, and then asteroids and Mars.”

    So Burns is saying that the Moon is important, but there are some steps we need to take before setting up a human-occupied lunar base there. That was hardly the point that Gingrich was making. Burns is saying, quite properly, I think, that there are a host of important tasks that can be accomplished telerobotically before we need to start thinking about human bases, outposts, and statehood. It’s time to go back to the Moon, for sure, but it’s not necessarily time for people to go back there. That’s something that people tend to get confused about — separating the importance of the lunar surface from the importance of having people standing there.

    What Jack is trying to do here, in a diplomatic way, is separate the ideas of the Moon as an important place from the ideas propounded by Newt Gingrich that have been so roundly ridiculed.

  • MrEarl

    I think this dead horse has been beaten long enough. Nothing really new here.

    On Spaceflight Now they quote, “Ed Mango, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said the space agency plans to award Space Act Agreements, or SAAs, to multiple contractors by August. The agreements will each be worth between $300 million and $500 million,”

    It would be interesting to know exactly how many agreements they estimate will be awarded and since the whole program was only given a total of $400 million this year what are they expecting funding wise in the ’13 and ’14 budget.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Steve –

    You have to remember the economics of space reporting. Sadly, in today’s environment, with a few exceptions, and they know who they are, many reporters can do little more than write up what is handed to them.

    NASA’s announcement was really good news, but there were three other big stories yesterday that got no coverage. One was Russian officials speaking about CAPS. Another has been that the world wide layer of impactites at the end of the ice age has been confirmed by multiple teams. Another story is what has been going on at the annual meteorite mart in Tucson.

    You know, I don’t even think that there are many reporters out there who are working through what a deadlocked GOP convention would entail.

  • amightywind

    Yesterday NASA announced its solicitation for final proposals to have a viable commercial crew vehicle by the end of 2014…

    You would think this would draw more interest from the editor than the latest ravings of Newt and his supporters. The feckless ideologues in NASA management fantasize over funding 4 manned projects when the budget will support 1. These are the same people who criticized Constellation for being under funded. The CCDev2 program is both wasteful and slow. Witness Solyndra 2. Hopefully it is back to reality in 9 months.

  • NASA will not have a rational manned space program until it finally makes the next logical step of establishing a permanent base on the Moon. Once NASA is exploiting lunar water resources to reduce the cost of space travel, then most people are going to wonder why they didn’t do this a long time ago.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Vladislaw

    “Burns is saying, quite properly, I think, that there are a host of important tasks that can be accomplished telerobotically before we need to start thinking about human bases, outposts, and statehood. It’s time to go back to the Moon, for sure, but it’s not necessarily time for people to go back there. That’s something that people tend to get confused about — separating the importance of the lunar surface from the importance of having people standing there. “

    Same thing I have argued for years. Let’s focus on the actual space based vehicles first, do road trips to Langrange points, Lunar orbits etc. Do not get bogged down in another gravity well until we have the infrastucture in place to start a ‘gas n go’ system.

  • Vladislaw

    “It would be interesting to know exactly how many agreements they estimate will be awarded and since the whole program was only given a total of $400 million this year what are they expecting funding wise in the ’13 and ’14 budget.”

    I would imagine this would be a multi year award with Boeing and SpaceX getting the bulk and SN and Blue Origin getting small token awards to keep them going. Although Jeff Bezos said that regardless of funding from NASA he plans on continuing.

    Could Stratolaunch put in a bid at this stage or would it be limited to the four from the previous award?

  • Googaw

    How many Americans have ever heard of any of those people? It looks like Gingrich trotted out a handful of people he knows from Trekkie conventions.

    Back in the world of actually important politics, Santorum soundly thrashed Gingrich yesterday:

    Colorado:
    Santorum 40%
    Gingrich: 13%

    Minnesota:
    Santorum: 45%
    Gingrich: 11%

    Missouri:
    Santorum: 55%
    Gingrich: too busy daydreaming about astronauts to get on ballot

  • Googaw

    “One would hope that Gingrich, who endorsed this approach in a 2010 guest opinion column, would say something about it on the campaign trail …You’d think that a press conference kicking off the process for America’s next human spacecraft would have drawn a lot of media attention.”

    Who needs a boring LEO spacecraft when we can have “visions” of lunar colonies? It’s like dreaming of Jack Daniels and then discovering that all you have in the house is a wine cooler. What a letdown.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Let’s be careful, as Jack Burns was clearly trying to be. Yes, he did say “It’s time to go back to the moon — and, this time, to stay”, and he did lay out the importance of the Moon for future efforts. But he also said, after talking about the importance of the Moon … “A lunar base, possibly at the moon’s south pole, is a more costly and complex undertaking. We must first demonstrate tele-operation of robotic vehicles by astronauts aboard Orion to usher in a new era of combined human-machine exploration and resource extraction on the surface of the moon, and then asteroids and Mars.”

    We should be careful, but this is so much babble (ie Burns notion)

    There is no reason to have Orion…period. Robots on the Moon can be teleoperated by someone sitting comfortably on Earth.

    Look, in the end to have a Moonbase we are going to have to have a leader “Like” Gingrich…one who simply says “we are going to do it” and then goes out and sale/sells/sail (grin) the notion to the people …because there really is no reason to sell it otherwise.

    Cost coming down, something happening in LEO that justifies humans in space all are important but at somepoint unless it is just a stunt (ie some business goes to the Moon to demonstrate something) there is no way that there is going to be a base on the Moon that does anything commercial without Federal involvement and Federal cash.

    Newt has many flaws, but he has projected a bold leadership notion of a space vision and space advocates reject it at the peril of nothing ever happening in the future. RGO

  • amightywind – I am never surprised to see your statements against this or that, but rarely see you post anything to reveal what you specifically support. Can you describe your ideal space policy?

    Taking into account the same economic/diplomatic/budgetary pressures facing NASA and the Obama administration today, what specific space programs, policies and destinations would survive under your ideal conservative administration?

  • I just mailed twelve letters to ten democratic representatives, one democratic senator, and one republican senator from Massachusetts regarding HR3288 ITAR (see previous story below).

    What did you do today since my earlier post to advance United States space policy?

    My cost?

    $5.28 + 10 minutes (to set up a mail merge for future use).

    Gary Anderson
    PS I have a simple template that anyone can use.
    gary.anderson@earthlink.net (yes for real)
    FB raren2go
    Twitter raren2go

  • amightywind

    what specific space programs, policies and destinations would survive under your ideal conservative administration?

    I’d start with a mandatory 10% RIF across the board. Most of us who work in industry go though these every 5 years or so. It is healthy and would get rid of the dead wood on NASA’s payroll. I would defund ISS, greatly reduce the earth, atmospheric, and life sciences programs and some legacy planetary programs. I’d transfer some to NOAA or the USGS. I’d close at least one NASA center. That is about 1/3 of the budget. Then I’d development for the replacement of Ares I/Orion, all components developed domestically. I would settle for an EELV based design. I would enlarge SLS to the Ares V specification. NASA would operate rockets once again. I’d set successive goals for expanding Orion’s flight regime, culminating in an asteroid rendezvous, and a return to the moon. All in a shrinking budgetary environment.

  • gregori

    They shouldn’t be risking astronauts lives to go to empty points of space.

  • MrEarl

    @ Garry,
    As a matter of fact I contacted Barbara Mikulski’s aid for space affairs and asked for the senator’s support for a bigger budget for Commercial Crew development while protecting the budget for SLS and the MPCV. She told me the senator was right there and I could tell her myself. We had a nice 30 second conversation and I thanked her for her time.

    My family has know the senator since my mother and her were clasmated at IND.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    “There is no reason to have Orion…period. Robots on the Moon can be teleoperated by someone sitting comfortably on Earth.”

    Depends on what you want to do. For many applications, several hundred millisecond comm delay, compared with 2.6 second comm delay from the Earth, is very useful. This is actually being looked at carefully. It sounds like a small factor, but the human brain doesn’t work anywhere near as well at the longer delay as it does with the shorter delay.

    “Newt has many flaws, but he has projected a bold leadership notion of a space vision and space advocates reject it at the peril of nothing ever happening in the future.”

    But he has projected it as HIS bold vision, not that of a nation. He’s not trying to work any collaborations, or partnerships, or deals. He’s saying “follow me, and I’ll do it!” He won’t. Leadership done that way, in a “follow me or else” mode, isn’t very constructive and, as we all can see, doesn’t encourage followers. Gingrich may know what boldness is, but I’m not convinced he knows what leadership is. A large fraction of Congress feels the same way.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I would enlarge SLS to the Ares V specification. NASA would operate rockets once again. >>

    so you are not really a conservative…you are a big government centralized planning person…

    “It came to me Mandrake, in the act of making love….I lost my essence…”

    RGO

  • Googaw

    amightywind comes out of the closet with his policy: cancel practically every other program at NASA in order to fund his own big big big pet rocket.

    And they say we shouldn’t dream!

  • John Mankins

    Dear Colleagues,

    In the context of the current discussion of space on this site, and in the campaign, I thought that I would reintroduce some words that resonated for me some 8 years ago, when I thought NASA and the US were on the right track for space exploration and development. ( This post is a little long; but I think the points are important…)

    WHAT were US goals for the Moon in 2004? …

    • “Undertake lunar exploration activities to enable sustained human and robotic exploration of Mars and more distant destinations in the solar system;”

    • “Starting no later than 2008, initiate a series of robotic missions to the Moon to prepare for and support future human exploration activities;”

    • “Conduct the first extended human expedition to the lunar surface as early as 2015, but no later than the year 2020;” and

    • “Use lunar exploration activities to further science, and to develop and test new approaches, technologies, and systems, including use of lunar and other space resources, to support sustained human space exploration to Mars and other destinations.”

    HOW would the seek these goals…?

    Advanced Technology…
    “In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring. For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused, have systems that could be applied to more than one destination, and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews. NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly, that could enable these kinds of vehicles.”

    “These technologies will be demonstrated on the ground, at the Space Station and other locations in Earth orbit, and on the Moon starting this decade and into the next. Other breakthrough technologies, such as nuclear power and propulsion, optical communications, and potential use of space resources, will be demonstrated as part of robotic exploration missions. ”

    And commercial participation…
    “Pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the International Space Station and exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.”

    And WHY would we do these things?

    “Preparing for exploration and research accelerates the development of technologies that are important to the economy and national security.”

    “The accomplishments of U.S. space explorers are also a particularly potent symbol of American democracy, a reminder of what the human spirit can achieve in a free society.”

    “However, space exploration also encourages international cooperation, where spacecraft and explorers come to represent our world as well as our Nation.”

    And so on…

    In my view, the ORIGINAL Vision for Space Exploration had the right of it. The most important change did not occur after the current Administration came into office (from a focus on the Moon to a focus on Mars by way of an asteroid). Rather, we turned from a commerce enabling, technology advancing approach to risk-averse, low-technology path for human exploration in spring/summer of 2005.

    Best regards,

    - John Mankins

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    But he has projected it as HIS bold vision, not that of a nation. He’s not trying to work any collaborations, or partnerships, or deals. He’s saying “follow me, and I’ll do it!” He won’t…

    Well in essence “he” will if he becomes POTUS. Look, I see myself voting for Obama in any event…but I am intrigued by Newt and in particular his space vision because as I have watched this primary unfold I have come to the conclusion that Newt understands something that Willard clearly does not and Ricky probably doesnt…the Reagan coalition in the GOP is dead…and Newt is trying in my view to build a new one…

    So he is saying in affect “follow me and I’ll do it!” in terms of a lot of things (economics etc) and that includes his space notions.

    In my view Obama simply stumbled into the notion of privatization (which I support completely) but he did it without a vision. Newt has a vision, although its not completely fleshed out of what he sees American space “infrastructure’ looking like and with that infrastructure I think he believes (oddly enough I do to) that “he” could do great things…(and I believe he thinks that as an across the board effort).

    That alone makes his policies a serious something and makes him unique…particularly in the GOP where both Willard and Ricky S are just trying to pump life 30 plus years later into Reagan style policies that worked well in another time…but this is not their time anymore.

    I cannot release the poll because part of the deal with Charlie Cook when you subscribe at the plan I have is that non public polls you dont release and if you are caught doing it…you are toast. But Charlie put a poll in the field for “someone” (it could be the Newt campaign) about the “space vision”…and its selling pretty good. What is selling is a notion of revitalization of the American economy through a new government/industry partnership.

    newt is in his politics a lot like say in the military world…Halsey or well my analogy is Custer. He is a person who 1) rewrites textbooks using new technology and in Newts’ case politics, 2) is sometimes incoherent in his organization and 3) sometimes he runs into goofs.

    What is so disturbing to a lot of people in the space business about “Newt’s” plan…is that if the guy who he asked how long it would take to human rate the Atlas etc…didnt have an answer. He would under a President Gingrich…be gone. Most of the space bureaucracy in this country so under performs they cannot give you a straight answer about anything. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    “Depends on what you want to do. For many applications, several hundred millisecond comm delay, compared with 2.6 second comm delay from the Earth, is very useful.”

    if so they dont have the right mix of people and technologies. About oh 8 months ago I got to observe some “drone” operation in the control room that was going on. I was curious and asked the very question you pose. The folks who were doing the “droning” (as they call it) were doing very delicate work…lets say for public purposes they were installing a valve and then welding it and doing some other installations like cable connectors etc. It was pointed out to me that due to the “connection” they were working with had about 4 second delays round trip.

    The people doing the stuff were in their twenties and could have done it in their sleep (or with their game box or whatever alongside…sorry I dont know exactly what they use, I am old!) RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Gary Anderson wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I just mailed twelve letters to ten democratic representatives, one democratic senator, and one republican senator from Massachusetts regarding HR3288 ITAR (see previous story below).>>

    Just some blogging…today was filled with trying to figure out if a 50 million dollar airplane is junk sad times RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Almighty,

    why is it so important that the NASA actually launch the rocket, rather than just getting the payload to orbit at the best commercial rate? You do not want all of the Nation’s eggs in one basket?

    Is the Ares V class rocket needed so the NASA can do the all in one Apollo style launches to the moon?

    Do you not want to see space based vehicles?

    Do you not want fuel station technology developed?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I’d set successive goals for expanding Orion’s flight regime, culminating in an asteroid rendezvous, and a return to the moon.

    Sounds like you support something like “Flexible Path”. Just an observation…

    NASA would operate rockets once again.

    Why should the government do the job of the private sector? And who says you even need an SLS, or the upsized Ares V version?

    Why not let NASA focus on defining the mission elements, and let the commercial transportation industry take care of moving them where they are needed?

    I think if you were to ask each of the remaining Republican Presidential candidates, none would support a government-owned, government-run transportation system, regardless where it is going – especially one that has no known need.

    Should one of them win in November, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to label the SLS as a “Rocket to nowhere” and repurpose the funds to an exploration architecture that could be done for less, in a shorter period of time.

  • Coastal Ron

    John Mankins wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Rather, we turned from a commerce enabling, technology advancing approach to risk-averse, low-technology path for human exploration in spring/summer of 2005.

    You’re a little unclear who you’re talking about. Is this supposed to be a critique of the Griffin Constellation architecture, or the Augustine/Obama asteroid plan?

  • In my view, the ORIGINAL Vision for Space Exploration had the right of it. The most important change did not occur after the current Administration came into office (from a focus on the Moon to a focus on Mars by way of an asteroid). Rather, we turned from a commerce enabling, technology advancing approach to risk-averse, low-technology path for human exploration in spring/summer of 2005.

    Yes, the Obama plan actually was closer to the original VSE and the Aldridge recommendations than Constellation was. The only significant way in which it differed was in removing the lunar return as an explicit goal (which didn’t really matter, since Mike Griffin’s NASA wasn’t devoting any resources to lunar return, either).

  • DCSCA

    “obvious intent to carry forward with the Reagan space legacy”

    Reagan’s ‘space legacy’ – injecting the push for profits into HSF- gave us Challenger and his silly, thoroughly discredited ‘supply side economics’ mantre is as dead as the crew of STS-25. There is absolutely nothing ‘Newt Gingrich, Moon President’ can say to mute the inevitable laughter any attempt at a serious discourse on human spaceflight activities, particularly regarding Luna, will generate through this elction cycle- and perhaps for years to come. The damage is done. Santorum, Romney and Paul have all curtly dismissed it very publicly during debates on the national stage. Most likely it will be an external event- such as the PRC launching out on an expedition to Luna– which will kickstart American HSF out of neutral. But there is no guarantee, as Tom Stafford quietly noted some years back.

    Gingrich, Walker and his pals in the ‘Reaganomics will lead us into space’ clan should revisit a book published in 1970, titled ‘First On The Moon’ to understand the times, the context, resources, the motivations and the why such complex space projects of scale, like moon landings, space staions and lunar bases, are best conducted by governments, not left to quarterly driven, for profit, private firms. And how that kind of largess benefits all who engage in it. The epilogue, penned by the late Arthur C. Clarke, carries a message and mind set which still echoes true. The wise will pick up on it. The neanderthals will club it to death.

  • Vladislaw

    gregori wrote:

    “They shouldn’t be risking astronauts lives to go to empty points of space.”

    That is quite possibly the dumbest statement ever made on here. Astronaut means space sailor. Astronauts want to sail in space, I can not imagine, if given the opportunity, any astronaut not wanting to fly to a langrange point.

    They also represent the best place for a lot of observation type satellites, they also represent take off points to other areas, and if traffic flows increase to the points satellites can be designed to human tended for annual upgrades, maintenence and servicing.

    For this point in time, I would much rather see the Nation develop space based, gas n go ships and instead of pumping billions into landing craft for the moon build the infrastructure for working on that area of space we already have billions in assets, namely satellites.

    The idea of building a 10 billion dollar telescope that can not be serviced is insanity on a bun.

    Whichever large constellation of satellites becomes the first to be human tended and can be physcially upgraded at will stands to reap a huge competitive advantage, no more 10 year swap cycles and with satellite real estate becoming more valuable you will not want to take the chance of losing slots.

  • “It would be nice if the space advocacy groups and space advovate leaders take a stronger position (other than some mild statement) on having a more forceful human space program beyond Earth.”

    I can speak for The Moon Society in saying that we are taking no position on any of the proposals of any of the candidates. We are a 501c3 dedicated to education and science research needed to advance the cause of humans living and working on the Moon, serving both Earth and points beyond. Our focus is on the commercialization side, reflecting our roots in The Artemis Society founded by Greg Bennett back in the day.

    I’ve run this by my leadership team, and everyone is in accord that there is no reason to make any kind of endorsement, of either plan or candidate. It’s not our bailiwick, and we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize our 501c3 status. We are, however, addressing the educational and commercial aspects of this with a Moon Society track at this year’s ISDC themed on the CisLunar EconoSphere.
    [Disclosure: The Moon Society is an affiliate of National Space Society, the sponsor of the ISDC.]

    ——————————————————

    My own, personal, non-TMS Ken’s only opinion can best be summed up in a quick anecdote. At last year’s FenCon science fiction writers conference, I was on several of the science panels, once of which included Dan Lester of MSFC and Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books. The panel and audience had devolved into a general back and forth about the problems with NASA and how it should be done and ‘Apollo!’ and where we should go and so on. After some five minutes of nonsense I cleared my throat in the mic, and made a comment something along the lines of “I’m just sitting here listening to all this chatter, and trying to reconcile it with the fact that all of you seem to expect that the government is going to make this space thing happen for us.” Pause for questioning, palms up WTF? look. “That’s cognitive dissonance for me on a Brobdingnagian scale.”

    If it’s going to happen, it’s going to be by OUR investments, OUR inventions, and OUR initiative. It’s not a responsibility that we the citizenry can pawn off on the government and expect the results we want. It’ll be the results that best serve the politicians, and we’ve seen this time and time and time again (and where has that gotten us?). And yet we expect that “next time it’ll be different”?

    Seriously, WTF?

    Don’t get me wrong. There are valid roles for a government agency devoted to space. There is valid science to be done on the Moon, and not all of it can be done by robots. There is much the government can do to pave the way back to the Moon, not all of it technical. I’m personally in favor of having space considered an export domain from a legal perspective, which would open up all kinds of interesting financing options.

    I am not anti-NASA, though I do wish they’d hand over management to the next generation, so we can start getting stuff done instead of just talking about it. That’s my personal opinion.

  • John Mankins

    A brief follow-up to my earlier post on this thread…

    I believe that Dr. Griffin made a terrible tactical mistake in foreclosing on advanced technology options for the VSE for the sake of schedule acceleration (that did not materialize). AND, I believe that the current Administration made a serious strategic mistake in turning US attention away from the Moon.

    The Moon will always be the doorway to the Solar System, and the high ground wrt Earth. Without actually making the advances in technology that are now possible, we will never be able to afford an ambitious future in space science, exploration or commercial development — including a permanent presence on the Moon.

    During the past three years, there has been a new, and much needed, emphasis on advancing technology. That is outstanding. And, asteroid missions are certainly useful in the development of deep space capabilities. However, the capabilities that are needed to return to the Moon at an affordable price would open the entire inner Solar System to humanity: the US blazing the trail with our international partners, and private enterprise expanding on the opportunities that emerge.

    As I said earlier, I believe that the VSE — as originally framed — had “the right” of this.

    However the election turns out, I hope this is the direction we take in the future…

  • Doug Lassiter

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 6:05 pm
    “The folks who were doing the “droning” (as they call it) were doing very delicate work…lets say for public purposes they were installing a valve and then welding it and doing some other installations like cable connectors etc. It was pointed out to me that due to the “connection” they were working with had about 4 second delays round trip.”

    Not a compelling argument. I can do that kind of work with *minutes* of delay. But it’ll take me weeks. Did you ask them if they’d rather have a few hundred milliseconds delay instead of four seconds? I’ve asked that question of such high-latency task directors, and they absolutely start to drool.

    “Well in essence ‘he’ will if he becomes POTUS.”

    Hardly. You’re just telling us that he’ll take full credit for it if it gets done on his watch. I’m telling you that he isn’t going to get it done on his watch. Why? Because Gingrich hasn’t developed the kind of working relationships with Congress that he’ll need in order for it to get done on his watch. His “vision” isn’t fully fledged, in that no one (his primary competitors, the media, the public — see below) really understand why he wants to do it and how it brings value. He hasn’t even tried to make that argument.

    “But Charlie put a poll in the field for ‘someone’ (it could be the Newt campaign) about the ‘space vision’…and its selling pretty good.”

    That’s nice, about a poll we can’t see the results of. But The Hill did a poll on this the other day, and you can even see it — http://thehill.com/polls/208763-the-hill-poll-voters-reject-newts-lofty-lunar-ambitions — and the results weren’t that sweet. 21% approved, and 63% disapproved of building a permanent Moon base in the next decade. The most striking part of the survey is that only 16% said they weren’t sure! Now, that assuredly doesn’t say that those polled didn’t want us to have a permanent base on the Moon, but just that they didn’t accept Gingrich’s vision to do so. Not the mark of leadership.

  • Doug

    Burns delays going to the moon because we have no funds to design and develop a lander a G-well lander. Why not???? BECUASE THE GO NOWHERE SLS PORK PROGRAM SUCKS UP ALL THE FUNDS!!!!! WE MUST FEED THE NASA PORK MONSTER FIRST. Burns comments are designed to divert attention from this reality. We could and should do lunar first only feeding the NASA pork monster will not allow it to happen. Burns sugar coats the fact that NASA has no intention of ever going to moon. NASA only intends to maintain the pork monster SLS (must keep the shuttle infrastructure for jobs going) and Burns knows this. He offers LG points and near zero-g astroides. ITS A DIVERSON TO JUSTIFY THE PORK and your falling for it. SHOOT THE MOON COMMERCIALLY and dump the go nowhere porker SLS. Burns I am on to your BS same old BS NASA has been feediing the public for past forty years…..

  • Googaw

    “They shouldn’t be risking astronauts lives…”

    For all practical purposes you could have stopped right there.

  • Googaw

    Coastal Ron: “Why not let NASA focus on defining the mission elements, and let the commercial transportation industry take care of moving them where they are needed?”

    Because NASA, economically unaccountable for its entire history, has a long-standing cult(ure) that pursues radically different mission elements than real commerce. Its grandiose economic fantasies “require” something far different for “moving them” than real commerce demands. Different destination orbits from real commerce. Payloads heavier and launch volumes lower than real commerce. And most importantly the “man-rating” system in which the paramount safety of our holy cosmic pilgrims demands an obsessively paranoid redesign of rockets, adding with lavish gratuity to the costs of a rocket which could otherwise be sensibly designed for the launch of commercial satellites.

    It’s a nice coincidence that Dragon happens to have a similar form factor to an upper stage + communications satellite. (Not so coincident actually — for all the preposterous hype coming out of SpaceX, in their pursuit of NASA contracts, about their own grandiose NASA-like “visions”, the actual Falcon 9, designed for the commercial satellite form factor, and Dragon designed to fit that, is far saner than their NASA politics marcomm).

    Designing around the real commerce form factor is a huge cost saver, but it doesn’t fix the holy-man-rating problem. NASA’s taxpayer-funded pilgrimages are becoming ever more a distraction that is keeping SpaceX from much better addressing the real commerce market in which, given its costs reductions, it has great potential to become a leader.

  • Googaw

    “Whichever large constellation of satellites becomes the first to be human tended and can be physically upgraded at will stands to reap a huge competitive advantage.”

    Paging the Space Transportation System! Did I hear somebody say STS? A quote from one George Santayana about history comes to mind.

  • Googaw

    John Mankins, NASA consumed the entire budget it had available for that splendid fantasy just trying to make the rocket.

  • gregori

    @ Vladislaw

    Sailors generally sail to ports and places, not random parts of the Sea. I think that’s dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. If they’re not willing develop the equipment to actually land somewhere and let humans explore, they shouldn’t doing at all.

    Astronauts are not needed to repair satellites btw and technology to service satellites unmanned is only going to get better. The military does not have an astronaut corp for example.

  • DCSCA

    @Ken Murphy wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Revisit a book published in 1970, titled ‘First On The Moon.’ The epilogue, penned by the late Arthur C. Clarke, carries a message and mind set which still echoes true. It’s factual, it’s prescient and reads fresh 40 years on. The wise will pick up on it. The neanderthals will club it to death.

  • Doug Lassiter

    gregori wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 6:46 am
    “Sailors generally sail to ports and places, not random parts of the Sea.”

    On the contrary, the explorer-type of sailors usually sailed to random rocks, planted a flag, slapped themselves on the back and then at least tried to go home.

    Much as for naval forces with the sea, there are places in free space that are strategically useful. Being at those places, and learning what you can learn there, are steps can advance greater goals. We’ve spent fifty years in LEO, which isn’t a rock. It’s not a “port” or a “place”, except what we’ve put there. It’s an orbit, and it’s defined dynamically, rather than by rock being there. We have accomplished some pretty awesome things in doing so and, in many respects, paved the way to more distant travels.

    Yes, astronauts eventually may not be needed to repair satellites. For exactly the same reason, they may not be needed to drive bulldozers on the Moon. It is of some exasperation to military pilots that remotely operated drones are increasingly doing their jobs for them.

  • amightywind

    amightywind comes out of the closet with his policy: cancel practically every other program at NASA in order to fund his own big big big pet rocket.

    Exaggeration makes your point less credible. The only program I’d cancel outright is ISS. Science programs would be reduced in real terms. Not eliminated. NASA should operate a fleet of large rockets the same way the Navy should operate a fleet of aircraft carriers, to project power.

  • DCSCA: “Revisit a book published in 1970, titled ‘First On The Moon.’”

    If it’s the biography of Neil Armstrong, it’ll be a while. The Lunar Library needed shelf space for more current Moon books, and so all of the historical Apollo-related books got boxed up and moved into storage. Maybe once I get a house…

  • Sailors generally sail to ports and places, not random parts of the Sea.

    There is nothing “random” about Lagrange points. They are natural ports to the moon and solar system.

    NASA should operate a fleet of large rockets the same way the Navy should operate a fleet of aircraft carriers, to project power.

    What a monumentally stupid statement. We have a military to project power. It isn’t done by having an expensive civil bureaucracy fly a billion dollar rocket every couple years. That just projects policy idiocy.

  • Gppgaw

    “NASA should operate a fleet of large rockets the same way the Navy should operate a fleet of aircraft carriers, to project power.”

    Military projects like aircraft carriers are the job of — oh I forgot — what are those branches called? — the military branches! You know, those astronaut-hating satellite guys at the USAF and NRO. (They hate astronauts for good reason BTW — see previous paging of STS).

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 8:28 am

    NASA should operate a fleet of large rockets the same way the Navy should operate a fleet of aircraft carriers, to project power.

    The Navy doesn’t throw away an aircraft carrier every time it deploys, and the aircraft they launch are reusable, unlike the MPCV. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the military is relying more and more on civilian supply lines now, not only to save money but also to increase their supply options.

    Forcing NASA to operate a transportation system, which they have no obvious expertise in doing, is the epitome of “the government must do everything itself”.

    I think if the Republican Presidential candidates were asked if the government should be building and operating it’s own transportation system, every one of them would say no. Ironically, the future of the SLS is probably more secure with Obama in the White House, although I think he will eventually try to zero it out of the his budget too.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi John Mankins –

    Clearly, OKeefe was a much better Administrator than many realize.

    THE QUESTION is how Griffin came into that position with his Ares 1 architecture. Do you have any answers to that one yet?

    googaw – man rating other launchers reduces their insurance cost per launch.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    ” Because Gingrich hasn’t developed the kind of working relationships with Congress that he’ll need in order for it to get done on his watch. His “vision” isn’t fully fledged, in that no one (his primary competitors, the media, the public — see below) really understand why he wants to do it and how it brings value. He hasn’t even tried to make that argument. ”

    Well..

    I agree little with that.

    The GOP is going through a (interesting) Process just as the Dems did in 08 where they are trying to pick a “President to be” and almost none of that has anything to do with convincing Congress of squat.

    Now how someone plays with Congress once they get elected is another matter…and purely the force of their personality, charm and ability to take their case to the American people.

    Obama is in my view one of the weakest Presidents in my lifetime simply because with 1) large election victories and/or 2) the people supporting things “He” claims to support he cannot translate that into movement of The Congress.

    Bush 43 was in my view a complete failure BUT what he could do is beat Congresses of both parties into complete submission. I find it dispicable but how he beat the Congress into voting for the Iraq war for instance was masterful.. When the Dems took over in 06 I was pretty sure his Iraq effort was toast…and then he completely pounded them into sand in terms of being able to “change course but stay it”.

    How “President Gingrich” would deal with a truculent Congress or a Congress mirrored in self interest is yet to be seen, you nor I know that…campaigns give a hint, but Obama was merciless in his campaign and couldnt lead flies to warm human excrement as President.

    BUT AND HERE IS THE MAIN POINT…if there is to ever be a lunar base or some other “large” space effort that is a “key turner” (Ie it opens the door for some effort in space that is unforseen at its conception) IT WILL HAVE TO BE because someone was able to make the case to the American people and push the effort through Congress…

    And so far Newt is the only one who has shown any interest in that.

    So badly are space efforts thought of in general now…that it will take some leader like that.

    The “poll” I reference was a “Push poll” ie it stated an assumption and saw what the support of that assumption was. That is what makes me “think” it is a Newt poll…ie they are trying to figure out how to engage on this.

    Robert

  • E.P. Grondine

    RGO –

    The problem is that the answer Newt has to the “WHY?” question is not anywhere near the correct one.

    I believe that I guessed correctly as to Evangelical Christian response to the Mormon faith, as those living closer to Utah voted against Romney.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 8th, 2012 at 6:05 pm
    “The folks who were doing the “droning” (as they call it) were doing very delicate work…lets say for public purposes they were installing a valve and then welding it and doing some other installations like cable connectors etc. It was pointed out to me that due to the “connection” they were working with had about 4 second delays round trip.”

    you replied:
    “Not a compelling argument. I can do that kind of work with *minutes* of delay. But it’ll take me weeks. ”

    That is a limitation you have.

    They dont.

    I was there to observe 1) what was happening and 2) get some information on the training methodology. BUT

    There is a scale (I dont recall it its been so long) that rates remote controlled machine commanded task in relationship to what it would take a human to do the effort on scene.

    These were fairly complicated task that were being done remotely not in the same time frame a human would (or even a human would with less time delay) but in a reasonable fashion particularly based on the economics and operator safety factors pushed in.

    ANY effort on the Moon right now is going to be “economics short” meaning that there are no economic results foreseable which justify the expense of ultimate performance on the part of task completion.

    So for instance it is accurate that a “person” on Mars could do in a few minutes what the Rover(s) do at any one site and they take weeks, but the economics of the effort do not justify the expense of the versatility of humans. There is no set of circumstances where that is not likely to be accurate in ANY foreseeable lunar effort.

    Or put in simpler terms…for what would be done with the versatility of humans there is no economic return for the expense in putting them “nearer” the machine in terms of time delay.

    If it takes “weeks” for an operator to do on Earth what one could do with less time delay…who cares?

    Robert G. Oler

  • man rating other launchers reduces their insurance cost per launch.

    No, it doesn’t. At least, there’s no intrinsic reason that it would do so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    someone wrote:
    man rating other launchers reduces their insurance cost per launch.

    you replied
    No, it doesn’t. At least, there’s no intrinsic reason that it would do so.>>

    Interesting, you clearly are in a better position to speak on this then myself…and I share (I think) the dislike of the term “human rating”.

    But I am curious…if Rocket X were to launch X or XX times with people on board successfully…you dont htink that would have any affect on the insurance rates?

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    “I believe that I guessed correctly as to Evangelical Christian response to the Mormon faith, as those living closer to Utah voted against Romney.”

    I just would say this, I consider myself to be a Christian, I believe in the virgin birth, salvation through grace by faith…etc. I have people in my family who are self described “Evangelicals”…I have met Evangelicals which I can count without leaving double digits who are coherent in their beliefs. The vast majority of them, are in my view completely incoherent in their belief system. I think it has little to do with religion and more to do with their notions of culture.

    Robert G. Oler

  • But I am curious…if Rocket X were to launch X or XX times with people on board successfully…you dont htink that would have any affect on the insurance rates?

    That’s a separate issue from man rating. It’s the flight record that would reduce insurance rates, not the man rating in itself.

  • well

    It’s perfectly sane to have an idea of how to better spend the $18 billion that is already being spent. Thumping your chest for a photo-op, reciting, “to infinity and beyond”, and then forgetting about the $18 billion dollars is not sane. Saying that your opponent is out of touch for bothering to address the massive investment is also not sane.

  • John Mankins

    To: E.P. Grondine

    You asked…

    “THE QUESTION is how Griffin came into that position with his Ares 1 architecture. Do you have any answers to that one yet?”

    To the best of my knowledge, there was NO discussion of the approach that Dr. Griffin would take to implementing the VSE during the process (in large measure congressional) that resulted in his nomination and confirmation by the Senate… All of those critical details of his strong views on these tactical implementation emerged later (following ESAS)…

    Best regards,

    - John

  • Googaw

    Doug, RGO is quite right on on the teleoperation. Putting an astronaut in orbit around the moon would cost over $1 billion per astronaut per year: 4 orders of magnitude higher than the cost of paying an employee to do it on earth. So even if teleoperation from earth takes 100 times the effort as doing it from lunar orbit, it’s still 100 times more productive to do it from earth.

    Just as important, the up-front costs of a robot project are in the tens of millions vs. an astronaut project in the tens to hundreds of billions. The former is conceivably within the bounds of a private investment, the latter is many orders of magnitude removed from it.

  • It’s perfectly sane to have an idea of how to better spend the $18 billion that is already being spent. Thumping your chest for a photo-op, reciting, “to infinity and beyond”, and then forgetting about the $18 billion dollars is not sane.

    It’s insane to think that Newt did that. Or at least clueless.

    Saying that your opponent is out of touch for bothering to address the massive investment is also not sane.

    That’s not why he said he was out of touch. Apparently you weren’t paying attention to what anyone was saying.

  • Vladislaw

    “Astronauts are not needed to repair satellites btw and technology to service satellites unmanned is only going to get better”

    Ya, I guess your right, better to spend 10 billion on a space project like the James Webb and then not even have the ability to change something as simple as a switch.

    If it fails, and it wasn’t designed with a modularity for swapping out and upgrading, better to just let it die and then spend another 10-20 years and 10+ billion building another one.

    Actually you have a brillant strategy here, do not build anything where a human can easily repair, service and maintain and upgrade it. Especially the more expensive the project is. Don’t do maintence or repair, hell forget plug and play upgrades. Build it and if it doesn’t work toss it and build another. That’s the ticket alright.

  • Googaw

    Ah Vladislaw. Everything in space is just a prop for your precious astronauts. Why don’t you take a break for just one week and for that time think only unmanned when you think space — you know, like real commerce and real military activities in space, using for decades of practical utility and profit the very strategy you think is so stupid.

    Just one week without astronauts. I don’t think you can do it. The withdrawal symptoms would be too severe.

  • gregori

    @Vladislaw

    Exactly the point. You don’t need humans up there to do that. It can be either done with robots teleoperated from earth or by just sending up a replacement satellite. Either would be much cheaper than sending humans up there to do repairs.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Everything in space is just a prop for your precious astronauts.

    I think robotic exploration has been one of our biggest successes, and I think we should be continuing, if not expanding, that line of exploration.

    But we have to ask ourselves why we are out exploring in space. If it’s not to eventually go there ourselves, then what’s the point?

    Because I see the point of our efforts in space as a way to pave a way for us to be a multi-planet species, I support the expansion of human activities in space. It won’t be fast, and it shouldn’t from a cost standpoint, but I think we should be building up our capabilities so that we can follow our robotic explorers with real people, and eventually live in those places.

    Otherwise, why explore?

  • Space Realist

    All of those critical details of his strong views on these tactical implementation emerged later (following ESAS)…

    That is patently untrue. His strategic and tactical views were well known and indeed published well before his confirmation and ESAS. ESAS was fudged to support his preconceived predispositions and both technology and goals.

    Those who were truly interested already knew Griffin would be a disaster.

  • DCSCA

    Ken Murphy wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 9:05 am

    No, it was originally publish in 1970. Believe it is still in print at B&N. It is not a ‘bio’ but a narrative. The epilogue is the key chapter, titled ‘Beyond Apollo’- penned by Clarke. It is precient, it is factual and fresh given i was penned 40 years ago- and Clarke touches all the bases relevant to current discussions. He was pretty much spot on the issues in play today.

  • well

    “That’s not why he said he was out of touch. Apparently you weren’t paying attention to what anyone was saying.”

    I actually do pay attention and know exactly what he said. I have more energy for it than you do because I am not driven by personal demons to seek endless combat on space forums.

  • Googaw

    Coastal Ron: “Otherwise, why explore?”

    We explore (and even more importantly, invent) to enable useful things for people on earth, that’s why. Useful including scientific knowledge, such as the amazing things we are learning every day about extrasolar planets from our telescopes. But useful mostly meaning real commerce and real military applications. Communications. Navigation. Intelligence. Et cetera. (All three, BTW, spinoffs of the 1950s missile race, not of NASA. One practical application begets another. Economic fantasies such as the Shuttle by contrast are sterile).

    BTW, “eventually” is usually a very long time. We have a hard time predicting what will happen in the next ten years, much less in twenty, much less “eventually”. Let our (grand)children solve the problems that they will be able to solve far better, when their time comes, than we can now. In the now let’s solve the problems that we know how to do well.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi John –

    My estimate is that Griffin’s appointment didn’t just “happen”.

    As we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems for what was wasted on Ares 1, the exact process in this instance is of more than “historical” interest.

    Thank you for your gracious reply –
    Ed

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “But we have to ask ourselves why we are out exploring in space. If it’s not to eventually go there ourselves, then what’s the point?”

    The rather sharp point is that “space” will come to us.
    I believe that I am the only person here who has made the paradigm shift.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    We explore (and even more importantly, invent) to enable useful things for people on earth, that’s why.

    In other words, we explore to exploit.

    Useful including scientific knowledge, such as the amazing things we are learning every day about extrasolar planets from our telescopes.

    And what, pray tell, do we get from finding extrasolar planets, if not to eventually use that knowledge to immigrate?

    Let our (grand)children solve the problems that they will be able to solve far better, when their time comes, than we can now.

    I don’t think our grandparents thought the same. What ever happened to “carpe diem”? Instead of making a better tomorrow today, you are advocating making a better tomorrow, tomorrow. Maybe you should consider this;-)

  • Doug Lassiter

    Googaw wrote @ February 9th, 2012 at 4:04 pm
    “Doug, RGO is quite right on on the teleoperation. Putting an astronaut in orbit around the moon would cost over $1 billion per astronaut per year: 4 orders of magnitude higher than the cost of paying an employee to do it on earth. So even if teleoperation from earth takes 100 times the effort as doing it from lunar orbit, it’s still 100 times more productive to do it from earth.”

    Not so fast. Most near-term credible telerobotic systems on the Moon, in most parts of the Moon, will last just a few weeks. That’s all. So your return (science or otherwise) will be proportional to your operational efficiency. In that sense, it’s more about how many telerobotic systems you can put on the Moon for the cost of a human being in orbit there. Also, although it’s a small budgetary effect, control from the Earth is about a lot more than one person.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 10th, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Not so fast. Most near-term credible telerobotic systems on the Moon, in most parts of the Moon, will last just a few weeks…

    if you are refering to something that last “one” (or maybe two) Lunar days then that notion should be abandoned completely. Anything sent to the Moon should have months/years of operation in it. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    gregori wrote:

    @Vladislaw

    “Exactly the point. You don’t need humans up there to do that. It can be either done with robots teleoperated from earth or by just sending up a replacement satellite. Either would be much cheaper than sending humans up there to do repairs.”

    Exactly, Let’s just send up another 10billion dollar James Webb telescope and wait for 10 – 20 years while it gets built.

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw wrote:

    “Ah Vladislaw. Everything in space is just a prop for your precious astronauts. Why don’t you take a break for just one week and for that time think only unmanned when you think space — you know, like real commerce and real military activities in space, using for decades of practical utility and profit the very strategy you think is so stupid.

    Just one week without astronauts. I don’t think you can do it. The withdrawal symptoms would be too severe.”

    Robby the Robot has more than enough advocates, I prefer advocating for humans.

    “Um, look, this isn’t what I do, but I’ve got an idea for one of your commercials. You see… a carpenter, making a beautiful chair. And then one of your robots comes in and makes a better chair twice as fast. And then you superimpose on the screen, “USR: Shittin’ on the Little Guy”. That would be the fade-out.” Detective Del Spooner: [to the head of USR]

    If you had actually read over the seven years of posts of mine you would know I don’t have a problem with probes doing science or with robotics. I do have a problem with putting robots ahead of humans. I don’t like the idea of humanity relagated to a couch with robots doing everything.

    There is only one logical conclusion of replacing humans with artifical people.

  • Googaw

    Coastal Ron: “And what, pray tell, do we get from finding extrasolar planets, if not to eventually use that knowledge to immigrate?”

    Of course as I described science is not the main useful thing we get out of space. But it is one of those things. In the case of extrasolar planets, first our culture properly considers the accumulation of scientific knowledge and the goal of solving scientific mysteries (e.g. the origin of life) a good in itself. Second, it properly considers the discovery of new worlds a good in itself. Third, we learn very useful things about our own planet (e.g. about its climate) by comparing it to other planets. Especially useful in this regards are the discovery of planets that differ from earth less than Venus and Mars, the current main points of comparison, do.

  • Googaw

    me: “Let our (grand)children solve the problems that they will be able to solve far better, when their time comes, than we can now.”

    Coastal Ron: “I don’t think our grandparents thought the same”

    Sure they did. Ford and Chrysler were building cars, not daydreaming of moon colonies. Bell Labs when they invented the semiconductor was trying to accelerate phone switching times, not give people rides to Mars. Even Goddard was building military devices (e.g. bazookas) and other very small rockets, whatever else he may have been dreaming of. These people were solving the problems they could actually solve with the resources at hand, not demanding that taxpayers pay for economic fantasies. And even the grandiose Roosevelts, while ramping up the scale, pushed forward projects of the kind (canals, hydroelectric dams) that people had already been doing profitably for many decades or even millennial. NASA is with its useless sci-fi-inspired “infrastructure” is a true freak of history.

  • Googaw

    Doug, RGO is right again. The up-front costs are many orders of magnitude too high for the market if astronauts have to be involved. Shorter lifetime of the robots doesn’t change that (except by making the project in any form less viable). BTW what is the reason for the short lifetime and why doesn’t it apply to rovers on Mars?

  • Googaw

    “I prefer advocating for humans.”

    You prefer advocating for a miniscule and useless fraction of humans, while neglecting the other 99.99% of them.

  • I have more energy for it than you do because I am not driven by personal demons to seek endless combat on space forums.

    Comedy gold.

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