Congress, NASA, White House

Nelson vows to fight for commercial crew funding in Congress

Bill Nelson

In a speech Thursday, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, said he would work to get NASA’s commercial crew program funded at the level requested in the administration’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal this week, while insisting that the president himself is a “fan” of the space agency.

Nelson, speaking at the FAA’s 15th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington on Thursday morning, gave a long and sometimes meandering account of the current state of space policy, shifting from concerns about budget sequestration to a first-person account of his lobbying efforts to secure the passage of the Senate’s version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 in the House in September 2010. “And thus, the blueprint was set for three years going forward” for NASA, he said.

That legislation authorized $500 million in FY2012 for NASA’s commercial crew program, and while the administration originally requested even more—$850 million—the program got less than half that request, $406 million, in the final FY12 bill. This year is setting up to be a repeat: the legislation authorizes $500 million for the program, while the administration is requesting nearly $830 million. Nelson suggested, though, that this year would end differently. “We will get it on up in the appropriations coming up this year,” he said, “but there’s always a struggle.”

Part of the problem securing commercial crew funding, he claimed, was that “people were uncomfortable with a new player on the block,” a reference to SpaceX. He noted that some Apollo-era astronauts have been “very suspicious” of SpaceX’s claims, but, “once you inserted in there the name of another competitor, which was a name they were familiar with—Boeing—the tension in their faces would relax.”

The upcoming COTS demonstration flights by SpaceX and Orbital for cargo delivery to the ISS may be critical to winning support for commercial crew, Nelson said. “We need SpaceX and Orbital to succeed, and we need to prove that the emerging commercial space industry can fly to the ISS safely, and meet all of NASA’s standards,” he said. SpaceX’s COTS mission, recently delayed to April, will take place “right at the right time, because that’s about the time decisions are starting to be made in regards to the appropriations.”

Nelson also touched upon his perceptions of the White House’s view of space in his talk. He called his efforts to convince the Obama Administration to nominate Charles Bolden for NASA administrator in 2009 “one of the best day’s work that I think I ever did”, but later said he “had to strain and grunt in my work down at the White House” to secure that nomination.

Later in the speech he complained that there had to be “a lot of education down there at the White House” on space, but that the problem was not with the President. “The President is a fan,” Nelson said. “The President, in internal meetings where they’re trying to take money away from NASA, has said no, and I know this for a fact,” he claimed. The problem with the administration is instead with the Office of Management and Budget, he argued. “For too long, OMB has thought it was running the space program instead of NASA. We’ve had to have a few head-knocking sessions to start to smooth that out. And I’m happy to tell you today that it is finally getting smoothed out.”

62 comments to Nelson vows to fight for commercial crew funding in Congress

  • amightywind

    You mean fight for it they way he fought for the 1000′s of laid off NASA shuttle workers? How reassuring.

    NASA, please pick one winner, preferably Boeing, from your silly CronyDev2 project so that we can have something to launch before we have to deorbit ISS. Stringing along four contenders in a protracted and political beauty contest, all for a minor contract, is moronic.

    “people were uncomfortable with a new player on the block,”

    Endless SpaceX delays have shown that our fears are well founded. It pains me to see Atlas V’s routinely flying complex mission profiles in launching billion dollar satellites and be denied the relatively simple ISS mission. Why can’t the Euros and Japanese take up the slack for cargo delivery?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “He noted that some Apollo-era astronauts have been ‘very suspicious’ of SpaceX’s claims, but, ‘once you inserted in there the name of another competitor, which was a name they were familiar with—Boeing—the tension in their faces would relax.’”

    It’s a sad and weird state of affairs in U.S. civil space decisionmaking when the Senate is relying on judgements about facial cues in 80-year old astronauts recalling corporations as they existed 40 years ago, instead of measuring actual performance and accomplishments with current programs, vehicles, and workforces.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ February 17th, 2012 at 1:28 pm
    “It’s a sad and weird state of affairs in U.S. civil space decisionmaking when the Senate is relying on judgements about facial cues in 80-year old astronauts recalling corporations as they existed 40 years ago, instead of measuring actual performance and accomplishments with current programs, vehicles, and workforces”

    it is a sad state of affairs but it is the current state of “notalgia” politics that is being lead mostly from the right wing of the GOP but also by others who refuse to acknowledge that circumstances, events, and solutions have changed from how they perceive things nearly half a century ago.

    One sees this in a longing for a Chinese/US confrontation in (insert place here) while the Chinese are confronting the US in economic policy, which the right wing refuses to tackle because that is how many of its leaders made their billions…one sees this in the longing for “some goal” that NASA could hitch up its big government bureaucracy and drive toward…even when it spent 15 billion on Cx and got nowhere.

    The reality is that these are different times requiring different solutions so today asking “What would Reagan have done” is about as useful as in 1950 babbling on about Coolidge or harding or well Hoover.

    Nelson is finally getting the message (or at least facing reality publically) RGO

  • Vladislaw

    “Endless SpaceX delays have shown that our fears are well founded.”

    How much are these “endless” delays costing taxpayers, how much does and has NASA/Boeing/Lockheed/ATK delays cost taxpayers?

  • Vladislaw

    What was Nelson supposed to do with the three individual tile crews for the shuttle? An old system with old skills? Would you have fought for the buggy whip makers when the automobile replaced the horse drawn carriage?

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://news.yahoo.com/lets-obamas-high-speed-rail-money-return-moon-173100857.html

    this is a pretty good hint at nostalgia politics. It is a solution in search of a problem.

    IN the end “High speed rail” may have flaws but 1) it leaves infrastructure on earth where it can be used by “ordinary” americans…and 2) the same sort of logic in opposition to it, would have been used in the 50′s as opposition to the Ike highway system….and three Newt pretty much made it clear that there is little or no public support for a return to the Moon….and four NASA has demonstrated that with 15 billion dollars…it cannot build a blessed thing.

    Its just longing for the past. RGO

  • From his remarks, you’d think Bill Nelson is the NASA administrator and not Charlie Bolden. Nelson seems to think he is.

  • Coastal Ron

    Having a declared champion of Commercial Crew should be a big help this year. As I recall, there were none last year, including Nelson.

  • E.P. Grondine

    RGO –

    “some goal” already really exists – impactor detection and prevention.

    But trying to get the bureaucracy refocused on it has been like trying to steer an ocean liner away from an iceberg, while the passengers all cry out “But we’re supposed to be going to New York”.

    As Nelson says, the President is a space enthusiast, as Obama himself put it “a part of that generation”.

    Given what happened to Gingrich, I hope Obama does not get swift-boated for his endorsement of the DPT’s architecture for a manned Mars mission. Obama better have his defense team ready – it looks to me like Nelson is in that line.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Vlad –

    “rocket science” (space systems engineering) is heuristic.
    That’s true everywhere, including China.
    It includes SpaceX.

    On a bi-partisan basis, I would like to mention here that Musk’s deep pockets are just getting way way deeper, regardless of government action.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “‘Endless SpaceX delays have shown that our fears are well founded.’

    How much are these ‘endless’ delays costing taxpayers, how much does and has NASA/Boeing/Lockheed/ATK delays cost taxpayers?”

    More to the point, SpaceX is not the cause of the bulk of the delays on COTS 2/3. It took NASA until December 2011 (only three months ago) to finally and formally approve the mission. Add the failure of Progress 44 shifting the ISS manifest to the right and NASA adding new integrated software testing requirements, it’s hard to see where SpaceX is at fault for COTS 2/3 moving into spring 2012. Like another other customer, no matter how ready SpaceX may be, they can’t launch a NASA payload until the agency wants them to.

  • SpaceColonizer

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 17th, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    “Having a declared champion of Commercial Crew should be a big help this year. As I recall, there were none last year, including Nelson.”

    What about Rohrabacher?

  • For what it’s worth, I fired off e-mails this afternoon to my two Senators (Nelson, Rubio) and Representative (Adams) urging them to fully fund and support commercial crew in the FY13 budget.

  • Coastal Ron

    SpaceColonizer wrote @ February 17th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    What about Rohrabacher?

    I was thinking Senate, but I didn’t say that, so I’m glad you pointed that out.

  • What about Rohrabacher?

    Maybe he meant in the Senate.

  • Fred Willett

    The question is not if SpaceX (or Orbital) has slipped. The question is if you have ever known a complex program not to slip. Look at SLS. It kept slipping right to the last flight. And we’d better not mention JWST.
    The important point is that slips for COTS cost NASA nothing. The COTS contractor has to pick up the cost of the slip. They don’t get paid till they make the milestone and then they only get paid the agreed amount.
    On the other hand look at a traditional contract like JWST. The cost has ballooned to $8B+ and the contractor bears no cost penalty. Indeed the more the JWST slips the more the program costs and the more the contractor gets payed.
    Of course windy seems to think that’s the way it should be. Keeping your snout in the public trough is the way business should work. Companies that work for a fixed price and put up a lot of the capital themselves are, to him, crony capitalism.
    Isn’t it strange how twisted some peoples ideas can get?

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 17th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    NASA, please pick one winner, preferably Boeing

    You can stop pretending – you are no conservative, and certainly no capitalist (unless you count crony capitalism).

    Why do you hate competition so much?

  • Guess Who

    Clearly, Sen. Nelson was shifting his position on Commercial Crew, while trying to make it seem like a natural shift. The speech was about justifying the shift as “Boeing is in the game now”.

    The fact that Boeing has publicly committed to building their vehicles in Florida, and flying out of Florida, had nothing to do with it. The fact that powers in Florida have been telling Sen. Nelson he needed to shift his position, had nothing to do with it. The fact that SLS is becoming an obvious train wreck to all, and has a probability of ever launching that is rapidly converging on zero, had nothing to do with it. The fact that Florida is getting very little from the SLS budget, even as it is, had nothing to do with it.

    This all means that Commercial Crew is on the verge of becoming a done deal. A success by SpaceX this Spring of going to ISS will guarantee it.

    FWIW,

    Guess Who

  • pathfinder_01

    “What was Nelson supposed to do with the three individual tile crews for the shuttle? An old system with old skills? Would you have fought for the buggy whip makers when the automobile replaced the horse drawn carriage?”

    Well tile crew are not totally useless yet. Orion uses tiles as part of it’s backshell and offcoruse dreamchaser. However the number needed won’t be anywhere near as high as it was for the shuttle.

  • tomtom

    What is so difficult with the budget FY2013 ? This is the first budget without Shuttle costs but nevertheless NASA needs to cut planetary missions. Of course there are new budgets for technology and commercial crew. With perhaps hopefully first flight in 2017 or in 10 years, are there the benefits of the end of shuttle era?

  • GeeSpace

    “The President is a fan,” Nelson said. “The President, in internal meetings where they’re trying to take money away from NASA, has said no, and I know this for a fact,” he claimed. The problem with the administration is instead with the Office of Management and Budget

    I thought that the Office of Management and Budget (TOMB) was under the control of the President. That is, the President can tell TOMB what it should do.

    The President is a fan. Isn’t a fan something that blows a lot of hot air around? President Obama projects (plans) some possible beyond the Earth orbit space activity so far in advance that it’s irrevelant or meaningless.

  • Donald Ernst

    It’s my guess that commercial crew as presently envisioned won’t happen.There is no compelling economic justification for it. The Soyuz is our commercial crew excess to the ISS. If the ISS were to continue operation beyond 2020 then a case might be made for it however even that is by no means certain.

  • IN the end “High speed rail” may have flaws but 1) it leaves infrastructure on earth where it can be used by “ordinary” americans…and 2) the same sort of logic in opposition to it, would have been used in the 50′s as opposition to the Ike highway system

    Nonsense. That’s a foolish analogy.

  • Vladislaw

    “Well tile crew are not totally useless yet. Orion uses tiles as part of it’s backshell and offcoruse dreamchaser. However the number needed won’t be anywhere near as high as it was for the shuttle.”

    It is my understanding that Orion is not going to be reusable. The shuttle has something like 17000 tiles? Orion just a couple?

    I thought dreamchaser wasn’t going with glued on tiles?

  • Vladislaw

    I looked it up.

    “the company has released information (see below) about its progress with the Orion crew exploration vehicle’s heat shield. At one time, long long ago, Orion’s heat shield was supposed to be a segmented structure made of Phenolic Impreganted Carbon Ablative aka PICA – Boeing even got to do some work on it. But eventually in April 2009 PICA was officially dumped in favour of a reformulation of the Apollo programme’s Avcoat material; reformulated to meet current environmental legislation. But with Avcoat you get a single monolithic bloc of a shield”
    http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2010/03/picture-lockheed-reveals-orion.html

    No tiles at all, just a single piece of avcoat.

  • Coastal Ron

    tomtom wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 6:39 am

    What is so difficult with the budget FY2013 ? This is the first budget without Shuttle costs but nevertheless NASA needs to cut planetary missions.

    In the Science portion of the budget, where the planetary missions reside, it’s JWST that is sucking away the funds.

    It was never planned that the end of the Shuttle would mean more money for the Science portion of the budget. The end of the Shuttle, as well as the end of the ISS, were to benefit the Constellation program. Also keep in mind that in the Griffin years, he was requesting an increase in NASA’s budget every year, and what Congress has provided is a decrease.

    Purely from a budgetary standpoint, it looks like the JWST is the biggest reason that Planetary Science has been decreased.

    Which would you rather have – JWST or more robotic exploration?

  • Mark

    One wishes that Nelson would not try to insult out intelligence. If Obama is a “fan” of space, one would really hate to see what he would do if he really detested the idea.

    On the other hand, he wants to spend $47 billion on high speed rail that is not needed. I guess he must be a super fan of 19th Century transportation technology.

  • Coastal Ron

    Donald Ernst wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 11:37 am

    The Soyuz is our commercial crew excess to the ISS.

    However, it’s not “ours”, it’s Russia’s, and we’re just buying rides. Though the Soyuz has been reliable, Russia could stop giving us rides tomorrow if they wanted, so we do not control our own destiny for accessing space. I don’t know about you, but I see that as a problem.

    It’s my guess that commercial crew as presently envisioned won’t happen.There is no compelling economic justification for it.

    Just like there was no compelling economic justification for the Transcontinental Railroad or the National Highway System. The scale is different, but the concept is the same – everyone that wants to do HSF needs redundant transportation that will decrease in price over time. There is a known market for transport to the ISS, and there are companies that have expressed a desire to use the same transport for trying out new businesses.

    If the ISS were to continue operation beyond 2020 then a case might be made for it however even that is by no means certain.

    Why do we have to wait until 2020? If anything, waiting means that we’ll be held back that much longer from truly finding out if there is a market beyond the ISS. And if anything, the ISS partners will have better access to the ISS sooner, which could spur them to use the ISS in new ways.

    The best way to utilize the ISS is to utilize it as much as possible, and lack of access is one of the biggest restrictions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I wrote:
    IN the end “High speed rail” may have flaws but 1) it leaves infrastructure on earth where it can be used by “ordinary” americans…and 2) the same sort of logic in opposition to it, would have been used in the 50′s as opposition to the Ike highway system

    You replied:
    “Nonsense. That’s a foolish analogy.”

    that is your viewpoint and you are happy to it, but you make no supportive statements in its behalf RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    “On the other hand, he wants to spend $47 billion on high speed rail that is not needed.”

    on the other hand if you asked Americans which had more impact on their daily lives “high speed rail or a few NASA astronauts on the Moon”…well high speed would win hands down.

    The irony of it is that people like you are all for federal investment in areas that “you” think constitute some useful area, but then beat up on others…in the end people like you were those who oppossed the IKE highway system. Until he clothed it in national defense. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    There is a known market for transport to the ISS, and there are companies that have expressed a desire to use the same transport for trying out new businesses.

    There is also enormous synergy with unmanned launches, for both commercial and government payloads.

  • on the other hand if you asked Americans which had more impact on their daily lives “high speed rail or a few NASA astronauts on the Moon”…well high speed would win hands down.

    They’re both a monumental waste of taxpayer money.

    The highway system opened up America to anyone with a car. No credible ridership estimate of high-speed rail has shown it to make any economic sense. That’s why so many states, like Florida (and soon, California) are giving up on it. The only place it could possible make sense is the densely polulated northeast corridor, and there it will be difficult to get the right of way for true high speed, which requires larger-radius curves, and much wider right of way due to the need for continuous fencing to keep things off the tracks..

  • Vladislaw quoted:

    At one time, long long ago, Orion’s heat shield was supposed to be a segmented structure made of Phenolic Impreganted Carbon Ablative aka PICA – Boeing even got to do some work on it. But eventually in April 2009 PICA was officially dumped in favour of a reformulation of the Apollo programme’s Avcoat material; reformulated to meet current environmental legislation. But with Avcoat you get a single monolithic bloc of a shield.

    SpaceX is using a variant of PICA called PICA-X for their Dragon heat shield.

    http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20090223

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    “The highway system opened up America to anyone with a car. ”

    they are looking at it between Austin and Houston and Houston/Dallas and Austin/Dallas…its the same triangle SWA came up with.

    I dont know if High speed rail is viable or not, but in the scheme of things if 50 billion give or take some nickles is the price to find out…I have no problem with the Federal government giving it a try.

    As Obama said in his State of the Union speech, we have tried and failed at many things as we try and succeed at some, but few of these things take off without substantial federal investment…some of it works and some does not.

    The federal government has invested hundreds of billions in human spaceflight…now I think you and I BOTH agree that money was not well spent and should have been spent another way…but we both agree (I guess) that some federal money should be spent.

    We can agree (or disagree) on the merits of various projects/programs (and we should) but the notion of federal investment to change the future course of The Republic is in my view something that cannot be questioned…At one point no one knew if the transcontinental railroad would work RGO

  • amightywind

    No credible ridership estimate of high-speed rail has shown it to make

    Amen. In an age when you can hop on a plane and safely travel to any US city in a few hours for an affordable price, it is unfathomable that government malinvests in an anachronism like passenger rail. Expanding US airports has become almost as taboo as building coal fired power plants in this benighted nation.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Expanding US airports has become almost as taboo as building coal fired power plants in this benighted nation.

    When was the last time YOU lobbied to have a coal-fired power plant built next to your house? Or the expansion of your local airport runway so that larger and louder aircraft can take off over your house at all hours of the night?

    Something tells me that you are a hypocrite on this matter…

  • Vladislaw

    Mark wrote:

    “If Obama is a “fan” of space, one would really hate to see what he would do if he really detested the idea.”

    If President Obama was not a fan of space would he have:

    Tried to get NASA an extra billion in the stimulus?

    Try to get 400 mil for commercial space, in the stimulus, but had to settle on 50 million because of Senators like Shelby, Nelson, Hutchinson would wanted more pork for constellation?

    Try to get extra flights for the space shuttle past the retirement date set out by President Bush in the Vision for Space exploration?

    Try to get an extra flight paid for so the space shuttle could put an experiment on the ISS that had already been built and was ready to fly?

    Call for an increase for NASA in each of his yearly budgets over what congress wanted?

    Christ almighty mark you are getting down right delusional now!
    What does he have to do to prove it, say he can see the Kennedy launch center from his backdoor?

    “On the other hand, he wants to spend $47 billion on high speed rail that is not needed. I guess he must be a super fan of 19th Century transportation technology.”

    You are honesty going to put up going to the moon as more needed then high speed rail?

    You could just look at the Engineer’s report card for America’s infrastructure: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

    Aviation D
    Bridges C
    Dams D
    Drinking Water D-
    Energy D+
    Hazardous Waste D
    Inland Waterways D-
    Levees D-
    Public Parks and Recreation C-
    Rail C-
    Roads D-
    Schools D
    Solid Waste C+
    Transit D
    Wastewater D-

    America’s Infrastructure GPA: D

    Estimated 5 Year Investment Need: $2.2 Trillion

    Crumbling roads and bridges, a loss to the economy of untold hundreds of billions of dollars in both productiving and tax revenue and you are going to argue about NEED for an agency like NASA to get us to the moon?

    sheesh, time for you to check into the betty ford clinic.

  • Vladislaw

    Stephen C. Smith wrote:

    “SpaceX is using a variant of PICA called PICA-X for their Dragon heat shield”

    I know, we were talking about the heat shield for Orion as a place for the three shuttle tile crews to transition to. My point is there is no need for those skill sets anymore.

  • Vladislaw

    With an estimated population heading into 600 million + by 2040, high speed mass transit will start making more economic sense, or electric cars, I can not imagine the freakin smog in the major cities then and the asthma.

    Car exhaust fumes linked to asthma epidemic

    Something will have to give.

  • I dont know if High speed rail is viable or not, but in the scheme of things if 50 billion give or take some nickles is the price to find out…I have no problem with the Federal government giving it a try.

    It is not the federal government’s job to build a rail line between Austin and Houston. You are very free with gambling other peoples’ money.

  • Jeff Foust

    Discussion of high-speed rail is off topic in a space policy blog, folks. Thanks for your cooperation keeping the discussion on topic.

  • Just came back from the KSC Visitor Complex event honoring John Glenn and Scott Carpenter on the 50th anniverary of U.S. orbital spaceflight.

    Among others on the dais were KSC director Bob Cabana, U.S. senator Bill Nelson, Rep. Bill Posey, and of course Glenn and Carpenter. The event was hosted by CNN correspondent John Zarrella.

    Posey talked about Space Coast history, but the others pushed hard on the what’s next button, the ISS in particular. Nelson talked about the discoveries already made, including potential salmonella and MRSA vaccines in the pipeline. Glenn made it very clear that he thinks the ISS is the most important space exploration program in our history.

    All this appeared to be telecast live on NASA channel, so hopefully it’ll show up online in their archive. I think everyone needs to watch this event.

    Glenn also told an old astronaut joke …

    Three old astronauts are walking across the launch pad.

    The first old astronaut says, “It’s windy.”

    The second old astronaut says, “No, it’s Thursday.”

    The third old astronaut says, “So am I. Let’s go get a beer.” :-)

  • DCSCA

    “Part of the problem securing commercial crew funding, he claimed, was that “people were uncomfortable with a new player on the block,” a reference to SpaceX. He noted that some Apollo-era astronauts have been “very suspicious” of SpaceX’s claims…”

    Nelson is wrong. SpaceX is not a competitor at all because they have not successfully launched, orbited and returned anybody. nASA did that 50 years ago this Monday, Feb. 20, with Glenn’s flight. Garagin and Titov did it for the USSR even earlier. Half a centutu on, commericial HSF is going no place fast.

    The problem is anybody trying to pitch securing commercial crew funding from the U.S. Treasury for private firms instead of insisting they tap private capital markets instead. Especially when the U.S. already has several space programs, civilian, military and covert, up and running to fund with dwindling resources in austere times. Resources the government has to borrow– 43 cents of every dollar it spends is borrowed from Communist Red China. Socializing the risk on the many taxpayers to benefit a few Musketeers is not going to sit well with Americans, who just went through this with the banks and Wall St., not very long ago.

    Nelson is desperate, fighting for political survival. He’s going to have to convince desperate Americans trying to make ends meet to subsidize private enterprise firms with Treasury funds denied capital by wary investors in the private sector. Granny doesn’t get a COLA but multimillionare rocketeers get subsidized. Wont wash. It’s as big a waste of dwindling government resources to fund commercial space today as it was for taxpayers to fly Nelson aboard STS-24, 25 years ago on the ultimate Congressional junket, where he took up space to get into space for no purpose at all. There’s no need to subsidize commercial space with ‘seed’ monies from the Treasury when we already have NASA, DoD and other assorted space programs to fund. The private capital markets are the place to source funding for commerical space, not Uncle Sam.

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ February 17th, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    “It’s a sad and weird state of affairs in U.S. civil space decisionmaking when the Senate is relying on judgements about facial cues in 80-year old astronauts recalling corporations as they existed 40 years ago, instead of measuring actual performance and accomplishments with current programs, vehicles, and workforces”

    Gee, 50 years on from Glenn’s February 20, 1962, three orbit flight, the successes of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and shuttle, the experienced space hands have a base line of success which validates criticism because as of February 20, 2012—SpaceX has not launched, orbited and safely recovered ANYBODY. Tick-tock, tick-tock..

  • Here’s the link to NASA’s TV schedule:

    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/schedule.html

    Replays of last night’s Glenn/Carpenter event are at 11 AM EDT / 8 AM PDT and 10 PM EDT / 7 PM PDT.

    The Glenn/Carpenter press conference is at 2 PM EDT / 11 AM PDT and 8 PM EDT / 5 PM PDT.

    Both contain a lot of discussion about the future of U.S. human spaceflight, including ISS and commercial launches.

    You can watch online if you don’t have NASA Channel.

  • Vladislaw

    “Resources the government has to borrow– 43 cents of every dollar it spends is borrowed from Communist Red China.”

    I believe you are off the mark here, if we are borrowing .43 cents on the dollar than China is financing about 3.44 cents per dollar.

    China is not even close to financing every dollar we borrow.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Resources the government has to borrow– 43 cents of every dollar it spends is borrowed from Communist Red China.

    Actually, China holds 26 percent of all foreign-held U.S. Treasury securities, which is 8% of total US public debt.

    And you wonder why people don’t listen to you…

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “50 years on from Glenn’s February 20, 1962, three orbit flight, the successes of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and shuttle, the experienced space hands have a base line of success”

    These Apollo-era “experienced space hands” are all deep into retirement or resting in peace. There has been no “baseline of success” for the develop of new U.S. human space flight vehicles for almost two generations. Shuttle starting flying in 1982. With the exception of SpaceShipOne, it’s been 30 years since anyone in the U.S. has successfully brought a human space flight vehicle to flight.

    “… SpaceX has not launched, orbited and safely recovered ANYBODY.”

    I didn’t even mention SpaceX in my post. Point your obsessive, hateful, hard-on for Elon Musk somewhere else, creep.

    “Tick-tock, tick-tock..”

    Are you threatening to bomb SpaceX? Or me?

    Whatever, wierdo.

  • DCSCA

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Your post is in reference to Nelson’s commentary on SpaceX as a competitor and the skepticism of savvy and experienced Apollo era astronauts and, of course, the fasle premise of any valid comparison between Space X and Boeing. It’s like comparing a radio-controlled aieplane to a Dreamliner. And this forum on space policy can do w/o your childishly personal attacks. Clearly you’re a frustrated Musketeer who watches the clock and waits… and waits… and waits… as SpaceX goes no place fast.

  • DCSCA

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    “China, Largest Holder of U.S. Debt, Remains Tied to Treasuries … ” source- http://www.nytimes.com

    You can spin and play w/t percentages all you want but the operative point with respect to financing space projects of scale and the policies surrounding them – which is the focus of this forum BTW- is that 43 cents of every dollar the U.S. government spends is borrowed. Worse still, is the absurdly socialistic proposal by a sitting United States Senator to fund private enterprised firms with dwindling government resources from the Treasury with the nation wallowing in massive debt and facing astronomical deficits while it already funds several DoD and civilian space programs. America’s infrastructure is crumbling, its schools a joke, its economy in shambles and this foolish senator wants to fund private firms with government monies to socialize the risk on the backs of the many to benefit a select few. It’s nonsense. The place for capitalistic, ‘free enterprised’ private firms to source venture capital investment are the private capital markets, not the government.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Glenn’s been remarkably consistent in his public position on manned spaceflight over five dcades and his common theme has been the pursuit of ‘basic fundamental research.’ He has never waivered from this sentiment.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    …the skepticism of savvy and experienced Apollo era astronauts

    Those “Apollo era astronauts” were chosen for their skill in operating government equipment – not because they knew how to run profitable businesses.

    Now if someone needs to understand the challenges of operating 40-year old space vehicles, then they are among the best to ask – LM should be talking to them about the MPCV.

    But there is a whole generation of astronauts that have far more space experience, and far more relevant advice for what we need today – reusable vehicles for accessing LEO. The people that operated the Shuttle have far more relevant perspective on Commercial Crew than retired Apollo astronauts.

    It’s not personal, it’s strictly business. And that’s the topic here, the business of space transportation.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    You can spin and play w/t percentages all you want

    So what you say is “not intended to be a factual statement“? That explains a lot.

    Let us know when you’re done with the hyperbola and you’re ready to talk real issues…

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    You seem to be of the school of thought that a smaller increase in yr annual budget over the previous years budget is actually a cut. You’re just cranking to crank. Sad. Again- “China, Largest Holder of U.S. Debt, Remains Tied to Treasuries … ” source- http://www.nytimes.com

  • DCSCA

    “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business. And that’s the topic here, the business of space transportation.”

    Uh no, the forum is space politics. See header for details.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    “Those “Apollo era astronauts” were chosen for their skill in operating government equipment – not because they knew how to run profitable businesses.”

    Ask Bill Anders.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Ask Bill Anders.

    He went into business after Apollo. My assertion stands.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 1:21 am

    You seem to be of the school of thought that a smaller increase in yr annual budget over the previous years budget is actually a cut.

    My observation is that since the foreign debt of the United States of America is your signature topic, that you are woefully ignorant about the actual details of it.

    And then when you try to show the source of your data, all you do is link to the home page of the New York Times – how lame.

    So much for your credibility…

  • He went into business after Apollo. My assertion stands.

    Logic has never been the troll’s strong suit. It’s equivalent to claiming that astronauts were lousy at business by pointing to Frank Borman.

  • I’ve posted on my blog links to various YouTube videos of the NASA Glenn/Carpenter events this weekend.

    The relevance to this site is that all three events the participants spoke eloquently and forcefully about the importance of ISS and commercial space as key not only to space exploration but also biomedical and physical sciences research.

    The event called “On the Shoulders of Giants” includes a great speech by Bill Nelson fiercely defending ISS and commercial space. I’d like to see him do this on the Senate floor, although his porking colleagues probably wouldn’t care.

  • gregori

    @ DCSCA

    SpaceX never claimed to fly humans tomorrow. They have said publically they think it would take 3 years. You are setting goal posts that are deliberately unachievable by any entity so you can proclaim them to have failed. Seems more out of bitterness and spite than any logical reason.

    It is progressing on a budget that is fraction of what NASA usually spends on these projects. A capsule has been returned from orbit and the SuperDraco LES thruster has been tested.

    NASA at the moment, flies NOBODY!!! The earliest likely time they will fly somebody is in the 2020′s and at cost of over 20 Billion to repeat Apollo 8. That’s embarrassing. For an agency and contractors that have 50 years of experience of human spaceflight, this is appalling!

    Ofcourse, I can see how you will redefine the terms in the future to denigrate this one company. When they put someone in orbit, you will complain that its only LEO, and NASA did that 50 years ago. If they go to the Moon, it will be oh, NASA did that in 1969, how come they are not flying anybody to Mars! A kinda rhetorical treadmill to dismiss SpaceX because, SpaceX succeeding is an embarrassment to those who insist that spaceflight is only possible by bloated bureaucracies and the military-industrial complex preselected contractors.

    Private companies are trusted already with multibillion dollar satellites and the military vehicles/equipment that keeps troops safe without the equivalent of NASA overbearing the process. Commercial crew is just the application of what is done already in every other part of the government and industry. There is nothing magical or special about NASA in this regard, no matter how many times its repeated.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Seems more out of bitterness and spite…”

    Probably had a tenuous touch with reality to begin with, applied to the company, got rejected, and has been off-the-rails since.

    “NASA at the moment, flies NOBODY!!! The earliest likely time they will fly somebody is in the 2020′s and at cost of over 20 Billion to repeat Apollo 8. ”

    It will be at least 50% more than $20 billion.

    Estimates are $18 billion just through the first _unmanned_ SLS/MPCV launch in 2017. (That milestone has already slipped one year and will slip again now that the Europeans have turned down participating in MPCV.)

    SLS/MPCV costs through 2025 are at least $41 billion. Doing the math, that’s a run-rate of $3.3 billion per year after 2017.

    The first manned, Apollo 8-like mission for SLS/MPCV isn’t scheduled until 2021 at the earliest, or four years after the first unmanned launch in 2017. Four years times $3.3 billion is over $13 billion. Added to the $18 billion through 2017, we’re we’re looking at something over $31 billion through that Apollo 8 redo.

    “That’s embarrassing. For an agency and contractors that have 50 years of experience of human spaceflight, this is appalling!”

    Agreed.

  • DCSCA

    gregori wrote @ February 21st, 2012 at 1:30 pm
    In fact, astronaut on NASA’s payroll are flwon– aboard the ISS and reach it via Soyuz and, of course, NASA has been flying astronauts for half a century. In the sape periof, commerical space has failed to launch, orbit and return anybody. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

    Coastal Ron wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    You imply they lack the skills and clearly you’re wrong. Anders, the late Sghepard excelled at it- Scott, Cernan, Lovell, even Borman ‘commanded’ Eastern through turbulant times. Simberg, as usual, embarasses himself w/irrelevance. You’re just cranking to crank.

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