Congress, NASA, White House

House Science Committee members complain about NASA budget

In the first opportunity for members of Congress to publicly question the administration on details of its fiscal year 2013 budget request for NASA, members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee expressed concern Friday about proposed cuts to NASA’s Mars program and its exploration program.

“NASA seems to have been singled out for unequal treatment,” committee chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) said in his opening statement at a hearing on the overall FY13 research and development budget proposal for the federal government. He noted that other civil research and development agencies has received at least modest increases, while NASA got a small overall cut. Hall specifically called out the agency’s planetary science program and its “grossly disproportionate cut” of 20 percent.

Hall also complained that the administration was trying to “slow-roll development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle”, the SLS. “I cannot stress enough the importance of accelerating the launch system to ensure we have an alternative method to transport people and cargo to the ISS as well as the ability to launch missions beyond low Earth orbit.”

The committee’s ranking member, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), also brought up the “significant changes and reductions” in the NASA budget proposal in her opening statement. “I have questions about how the proposed cuts to the Mars science program will affect US leadership,” she said. “I’m also worried about the perception this plan may create that the United States is an unreliable partner in international collaboration.”

The hearing’s sole witness, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) director John Holdren, defended the administration’s Mars plans when asked about it by Hall. Despite the decision not to participate in ExoMars, he said, “we retain the most vigorous and forward-leaning Mars exploration program that there’s ever been, the most forward-leaning in the world.” He cited the ongoing missions, as well as the Mars Science Laboratory rover en route to Mars and the MAVEN orbiter slated for launch in 2013. “We are in no way retreating from our commitment to a vigorous program of Mars exploration, including laying the groundwork for human exploration.”

Later in the hearing, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked Holdren whether that commitment to Mars exploration meant “that you feel that there will be no more delays in the development of the SLS.” Holdren said he had a “cloudy crystal ball” when it comes to predicting the development of complex technical projects like the SLS, but “our expectation is to keep SLS on schedule.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) asked Holdren why NASA’s education budget was cut from $136 million in FY12 to $100 million in the FY13 request. “We constantly have a big challenge with NASA,” Holdren said, “namely, budget caps, and too many great and important missions inside that agency to fit within the budget.” Holdren suggested that NASA’s education program lost funding because it didn’t stack up as well against either other agency programs or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education programs in other agencies. “The NASA program lost a bit in that domain. And that was partly the result of the comparative assessment across the STEM ed programs, and partly the result of the overall pressure in NASA to do everything, and to do everything well.”

Not everyone on the committee, though, expressed displeasure with the NASA budget proposal. “Given where we are in terms of the overall budget, I guess I’m one who thinks that you’ve done a reasonably good job in trying to put something together that will work, and I want to complement you for that,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told Holdren. She said she had a “high degree of skepticism” that Europe would be able to live up to its own commitments for ExoMars given the fiscal turmoil in the EU. “The proposal being made by the administration is a prudent one, and I think the overall NASA budget is a pretty solid one,” she said.

87 comments to House Science Committee members complain about NASA budget

  • SpaceColonizer

    Why do these morons still think SLS is sending anything to the ISS? And for them to bellyache about having a means of getting to ISS and then turn around and gut CCP (a la last time we danced this dance) is mindbogglingly ludicrous.

    My assessment of the FY2013 NASA budget is akin to Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Tough fiscal times, cuts had to be made somewhere, and Europe could have just as easily been the one to bail out later after we were more financially invested in the project.

  • @Spacecolonizer

    100% agreement with you. On Monday, maybe tomorrow, I’m firing off a letter to Shana Dale (I will not be putting any title to it, just my name) that her new boss sounded very ‘unintelligent’ regarding SLS and ISS.

    Basically my line will be, from one republican to another, get your act together, before looking foolish.

    I will also be asking NASA, “you are looking for $850M”. Last year you got only $406M. What would you have asked for this year had you gotten your full funding last year? What would it take this year to bring in line the loss last year? If we get that information, then we will take an official tact at change in CCDEV (whatever the new acronym is today) for the positive. We do have a budget review team looking at every line item.

    But I can still be an independent taxpayer as well!

    Gary Anderson
    PS Senator Hatch staff…. I it is a pleasure you follow me on Twitter! I am honored. ;) Utah Republicans…. you know what you got to do!

  • Robert G. Oler

    I’ve noticed this shift…as one after another mission for SLS has fallen alongside the way…not we are left with a 1.8 billion dollar (and Orion whatever that is costing) being a backup for a 400 or so million dollar a year program…odd RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Hall also complained that the administration was trying to “slow-roll development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle”, the SLS. “I cannot stress enough the importance of accelerating the launch system to ensure we have an alternative method to transport people and cargo to the ISS as well as…

    Hall, like every other SLS supporter, is flailing around to find a use for the SLS.

    Maybe I’ve been ignoring their inept justifications, but isn’t this the first time someone has tried to justify the SLS as a cargo carrier for the ISS? Of course that is yet one more thing (on a long list) that has not been funded by Hall/Congress for the SLS to do, so I guess it should not be a big surprise. What’s one more fantasy when you’re already in La La land.

    Next Hall will say that the SLS is needed to be the backup for ULA. And why not? Isn’t the most expensive rocket in the world a natural choice?

  • amightywind

    The CCDev2 mission is evaporating. Commercial space development is nowhere near as fast of inexpensive as advertised. At best a CCDev2 will fly 6 missions to ISS before that tragic facility is decommissioned. Then it has no mission. I share congressman Hall’s frustration about SLS (nee Ares). But I never expected NASA’s current socialist leadership to act competently or in good faith.

  • Its astonishing that NASA’s tiny budget is being used as a symbol of Congressional intent to reduce deficit spending when cuts in science and technology development actually hurt the economy.

    However, there’s still no logical reason to continue spending $3 billion a year on the hyper expensive ISS LEO on steroids program!

    Its time to move on to larger and substantially cheaper space stations that can be deployed with interior volumes larger than the ISS with a single SLS launch. Large SLS launched rotating artificial gravity space station should also be deployed into orbit by the 2020s. We need to find out if humans can adjust to artificial gravity environments.

    Most of the ISS savings, however, should be used to establish a permanent outpost on the lunar surface so that we can determine how well the human body can adjust to low gravity environments while we also begin to exploit the the Moon’s natural resources for long term economic benefit.

    Marcel F. Williams

  • Doug Lassiter

    Re Hall and SLS, you have to remember that Hall’s number one priority for human space flight is crew safety. Absolutely number one. Hall simply doesn’t trust anyone not under Congressional jurisdiction (via congressional support) to do the engineering to keep our astronauts safe. So a NASA specified launcher and MPCV seem the only way to go. But is that really the right philosophy? If preserving human lives were our number one priority, why should we send anyone at all?

    If preserving human lives were our number one priority in 1969, you can bet that we never would have sent anyone to the Moon.

    Please don’t misinterpret me. I value human lives very highly. But I believe that much of our lack of progress in human space flight has been caused by an inability to come to terms with the fact that human space flight is inherently dangerous, and that accidents, when they happen, elicit not just mourning, but total cratering of our national spirit for human space flight. These are lessons from Columbia and Challenger.

    I just hope that as the future of human space flight in our nation is pondered, there be some effort devoted to the assessment of tolerable risk. If what we’re doing isn’t important, then risk simply isn’t tolerable. This is an assessment I don’t believe that Congressman Hall has ever dared to make. Where is the member of Congress who can stand up and say THIS is why we need to take risks in doing human space flight?

  • NASA Guy

    There is nothing in this article that claims that the SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM is going to be used to send Orion to the ISS. Its a BEO space launch system.
    Other rockets can put the Orion into LEO.

    Without a HLV like the SLS, NASA will be a LEO space exploration service for the next 20 years.

    The few SPACE X Kool Aid drinkers on this thread know that Elon Musk is all talk and SPAMMING threads like this with anti SLS and HLV comments that are incorrect.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Do people who argue for SLS + Orion as a backup for commercial crew want to see EELV / Falcon + commercial crew as a backup for SLS + Orion? If not, what does that suggest about their real motives?

  • It was buried in a NASASpaceFlight.com article a few days ago, but Senator Hutchison’s Orion/ISS fantasy was exposed by NASA exec Bill Gerstenmaier on February 13:

    “The focus is for us to get a redundant capability as soon as we can. In terms of using Orion for that back up capability, we’re not precluding that, but we’re not doing anything actively to allow that to occur,” noted Mr Gerstenmaier. “NASA is not doing any design work on Orion or SLS that would allow it (Orion) to go to the Station.

    “It’s not a very effective way to get to LEO. It’s really designed to go to BEO, and that’s where we want to stay focused on.”

    NASA is doing no design work on Orion or SLS to go to ISS. Period.

    If Hutchison truly wants to convert it into a space taxi, then throw all the design work in the trash and start over.

  • GeeSpace

    I wonder if the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will “find” additional funds remove the proposed cuts to NASA’s Mars program.

    Dr. Holdren said, “we retain the most vigorous and forward-leaning Mars exploration program that there’s ever been, the most forward-leaning in the world.”

    What alternative universe is he in? Other than a mission in 2013, what is the most vigorous and forward-leaning Mars exploration program that there’s ever been?

    As to the SLS, NASA should define the purpose of SLS as a system for manned missions beyond Earth orbit; Trips to ISS can probably be done by private companies. The bigger questions are why the NASA estimated cost is so high and why NASA expects to take 20 years to create a rocket that will fly once every year or one every other year,

  • Doug Lassiter

    GeeSpace wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 8:31 am
    “I wonder if the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will ‘find’ additional funds remove the proposed cuts to NASA’s Mars program.”

    That committee doesn’t “find” funds. They authorize funding. It’s up to the appropriators to “find” FY13 funds. In fact, the authorizers almost always authorize expenditures larger than the appropriators end up writing checks for. What the authorizers could do is to point out to their appropriator colleagues the extent to which the Mars budget cuts are inconsistent with NASA Authorization legislation. (Except they probably aren’t, at least in the FY11 bill. Words about the science portfolio are almost entirely lacking there.) That’s sort of what they’re grumbling about here. Of course, next year, when the usually multiyear Authorization legislation is put together, a stronger case could be made for Mars science.

    Now, in the FY08 authorization bill, there is some specificity about the importance of Mars science.

    SEC. 503. MARS EXPLORATION.
    Congress reaffirms its support for a systematic, integrated program of exploration of the Martian surface to examine the planet whose surface is most like Earth’s, to search for evidence of past or present life, and to examine Mars for future habitability and as a long-term goal for future human exploration. To the extent affordable and practical, the program should pursue the goal of launches at every Mars launch opportunity, leading to an eventual robotic sample return.

    The authorizers could well ask, in an agency that would get almost as much as it did last year, in what way an aggressive Mars science program isn’t affordable and practical.

  • Mark

    I know that the term “teachable moment” is much overused, but it applies in this case. The only aspect of the space program Obama and her cronies have any enthusiasm about is the Solyndra in space commercial crew project. In any event, Bob Zubrin is right about John Holdren. He doesn’t like all this space exploration nonsense as it smacks too much of human aspiration and American exceptionalism. Those two things are politically incorrect under the current regime.

  • I value human lives very highly. But I believe that much of our lack of progress in human space flight has been caused by an inability to come to terms with the fact that human space flight is inherently dangerous, and that accidents, when they happen, elicit not just mourning, but total cratering of our national spirit for human space flight.

    We irrationally crew’s lives so highly because what we are doing in space is not perceived to be important. Had we had the same attitude toward previous frontiers, we’d still be in Africa.

  • Sorry, that should be “…irrationally value crew’s lives…”

    Bob Zubrin actually has a pretty good take on this in the February issue of Reason.

  • Space Camper

    Other than a mission in 2013, what is the most vigorous and forward-leaning Mars exploration program that there’s ever been?

    The American Mars exploration program? If you can’t see that, you’re blind.

    Rover on the ground, rover on the way, spacecraft in orbit, what more do you want? Oh, sorry, you want some footprints. Good luck with that fantasy.

  • Mr Earl

    First I’d like to address Ron’s, RGO’s and GeeSpace’s comments on SLS.
    John Shannon is heading a group to define missions for all versions of the SLS and are expected to report on their findings in the March/April time frame. No missions have fallen by the wayside. As a matter of fact, planetary and scientific groups in NASA are looking seriously into what 70, 100 and 130mt to LEO with up to a 33ft wide fairing can do for their planned projects. Before you say it, it wasn’t SLS or MPCV that put a huge dent in the robotics missions budget, JWST did that all by it’s self.
    For planning purposes, Shannon’s group is looking at 3 SLS flights in 18 months. The first flight is scheduled for late 2017 for a Block 1 SLS with an RFP soon to be sent out for the advanced boosters that make up the Block 1A. That would indicate a first flight of around 2022 for the 1A version but I haven’t seen that in writing yet. The Block 2 will be the addition of a second stage. While there are preliminary studies going on now, development time for that will depend on budget and need. The 20 year time frame quoted is only the worst case scenario.

    @ Martijn:
    “Do people who argue for SLS + Orion as a backup for commercial crew want to see EELV / Falcon + commercial crew as a backup for SLS + Orion? If not, what does that suggest about their real motives?”
    SLS and Orion/MPCV are designed as a BEO system. Without the missions document it would be hard to comment on if any of the commercial systems would be able to backup the MPCV/SLS in their missions but it would be fair to say that those missions would take advantage of the unique abilities of both SLA and MPCV. MPCV could support crew transfer and “lifeboat” duties on the ISS using a modified Delta IV heavy. As for SLS delivering cargo to the station it’s like an 18-wheeler delivering what a station-wagon can handle. As for Hall’s statements about the SLS/MPCV as a backup, the greater expense is what makes those two systems backups. If it was lower cost it would be the primary access to the ISS.

    On an optimistic note, if I’m reading between the lines properly, comments by Nelson, Hall, Johnson and others indicate to me a willingness by members of the committees to increase NASA’s budget to address any funding shortfalls in particular projects and not to cannibalize other projects. We’ll have to see how this all plays out in the months ahead.

  • GeeSpace

    Space Camper wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 11:23 am
    Rover on the ground, rover on the way, spacecraft in orbit, what more do you want? Oh, sorry, you want some footprints. Good luck with that fantasy.

    No, Soace Camper, I don’t want some footprints, What I want are human cities, towns, and other settlements on Mars and locations within our Solar System

    Some would think that is funny or a fantasy’ I see it as a hopeful human future which is not bound on increasing limitations. In other words a good future for humanity.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote
    “We irrationally value crew’s lives so highly because what we are doing in space is not perceived to be important. Had we had the same attitude toward previous frontiers, we’d still be in Africa.

    Bob Zubrin actually has a pretty good take on this in the February issue of Reason.”

    Thanks for the pointer to Zubrin’s article. It’s one of his more thoughtful essays. This is really what it comes down to. Whether we see what we’re doing in space as being important. If we “walked the talk” of it being important, our tolerance for risk would be higher. Of course, as human space flight becomes less focused on “exploration”, and more focused on material gain, and “bringing the solar system into our economic sphere”, it is inescapable that one starts assessing astronaut worth in dollars, as Zubrin tries to do.

    It’s more than just saying that risk is tolerable. It’s about a nation behaving that way when bad things happen, which they most certainly will. It’s about acknowledging that progress comes with costs.

    But Hall has been the congressional point-man for astronaut safety as being goal #1 for human space flight. He talks about safety more than he talks about accomplishment. I admire his concern for astronaut safety. I don’t admire that he talks about it more than accomplishment.

  • Vladislaw

    I found this extremely funny coming from him:

    ““I cannot stress enough the importance of accelerating the launch system to ensure we have an alternative method to transport people and cargo to the ISS as well as…”

    Remember when the numbers were coming out on SLS and the Booz Allen report said the 18 billion was probably light and if the program was accelerated it could push costs to around 40 billion. Remember how Hutchinson almost had a cow and ranted how this program was NOT going to be accelerated and the program was not going to cost 38 billion.

    What a joke, now I imagine congress is going to have to “accelerate” it! lol

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr Earl wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 11:31 am

    As a matter of fact, planetary and scientific groups in NASA are looking seriously into what 70, 100 and 130mt to LEO with up to a 33ft wide fairing can do for their planned projects.

    I’m going to make a radical assumption that NASA’s budget stays flat going forward. Within that context, can you, or anyone, show how any of those groups will have budgets big enough to not only build a mission that requires a 70-130mt launcher, but operate it too? And not just one, but a series of them?

    I thought not. That is the reason I see the SLS as a ginormous waste of money, because it is improperly sized for it’s potential customers.

    We already have a 22.5mt launcher that is not used very much today (Delta IV Heavy), and ULA has a 29mt launcher (Atlas V Heavy) that no one needs. If the Planetary Exploration group needed a rocket bigger than Atlas 541 for MSL, Delta IV Heavy could have thrown a rover 50% larger to Mars – why didn’t they use that capability? Because they were restricted by the size of their budget, just as everyone will be with the SLS.

    So yes, everyone has dreams of building and operating massive amounts of hardware in space, but there is no budget to support building and operating them. What you see is what you get. If Congress decides to greatly increase NASA’s budget, well then maybe that will change. Until then, the SLS is a huge waste of time and effort – it is a rocket being built before it’s needed.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Had we had the same attitude toward previous frontiers, we’d still be in Africa.

    Even with that attitude we could have been back to the moon and well on our way to Mars and we could have had large scale commercial activity in LEO and meaningful commercial activity on the lunar surface. Pork is a much greater obstacle than risk aversion.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Without the missions document it would be hard to comment on if any of the commercial systems would be able to backup the MPCV/SLS in their missions but it would be fair to say that those missions would take advantage of the unique abilities of both SLA and MPCV.

    In other words, they are being wilfully designed not to be compatible with commercial crew. If NASA had focused on building a universal SM, much like the one they proposed ESA build for Orion, then they could use Dragon or a modified CST-100 as the CM. It would involve a mass penalty, but that’s no big deal if you use propellant transfer.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ February 18th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    The CCDev2 mission is evaporating. Commercial space development is nowhere near as fast of inexpensive as advertised.”

    “I refuse to go down as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.” …”Mr. President I am not telling you that we wouldnt get our hair musted, 10-20 million tops” (as General Turgidson holds a book “Cities in mega deaths”

    Dr. Strangelove exchange between President Muffly and General Turgidson

    If Commercial space were four times as expensive and four times slower then it was, it would still be faster and less expensive then SLS or its legacy program Cx.

    Wierdest statement on your part since “The second stage is spinning out of control”

    Robert

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 12:14 pm
    This is really what it comes down to. Whether we see what we’re doing in space as being important. If we “walked the talk” of it being important, our tolerance for risk would be higher”

    There are some questions that are so easy to answer…like the question above…the answer is no.

    Nothing we do in space in human spaceflight is important. It changes nothing, it doesnt affect our lives, leisure, or national security…none of it pushes the state of the art, its just well we do it.

    Hall uses Astronaut safety much as his friends at NASA (and in particularly the NASA safety office) do…as a shield to deflect criticism of anything anyone else has as a plan. Hall is the turkey who came up with the “NASA stands up for the safety of our astronauts line” and he didnt appreciate my comments as to “where were those people as Challenger and Columbia blew up?”

    Safety is not only a farce at NASA, it is an excuse for everything that they do or fail to do mostly the later.

    sorry there simply is nothing of value done in human spaceflight that is worth the risk of a life…thats why when they are lost the entire nation gasp.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mr Earl wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 11:31 am

    First I’d like to address Ron’s, RGO’s and GeeSpace’s comments on SLS.
    John Shannon >>

    well we are fine then. I mean since Shannon hasnt gotten a fracken thing correct this century; isnt he the clown who came on this forum trying to defend the shuttle cost? Cant recall.

    “No missions have fallen by the wayside. ” sure when it is on viewgraphs anything is possible. You can have Titan landers and this or that…viewgraphs are cheap and the dates on them can be changed forever.

    Dont be goofy. There is not a chance that SLS will be used for any planetary probes or any DoD missions or (and this is the most goofy thing) …”For planning purposes, Shannon’s group is looking at 3 SLS flights in 18 months”

    SLS has as much chance of flying by the mid point of 2013 as my little daughter Lorelei graduating from college by then. The difference is Lorelei will graduate from college around two decades from now. SLS wont be flying then. No matter what goofy John Shannon “plans”

    He is a joke RGO

  • Mr Earl

    Thanks Ron, but I think I can answer your question about exploration missions by myself.
    First, SLS was designed to expand human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit. With the block 1 -1A versions missions like sorties to the moon and NEO’s, establishment of stations and fuel depots at the EM Lagrange points and the start of small bases on the moon become possible. With the development of Block 2 sorties to Mars and not so NEO’s become possible along with larger lunar bases if deemed particle.

    Second, the real drain on planetary science, JWST, will hopefully be finished by the time the SLS will be available to carry planetary missions in the early 2020′s. Also, I’m not convinced that NASA’s funding will be flat for the foreseeable future. Surly I don’t think there will be a great increase but a 1 to 2% increase over inflation is not out of the question.
    Third, the key to putting something the size of SLS to greatest use in planetary science will be cooperation with other nations. Multiple nations building components or even separate probes, orbiters and landers launched on the same vehicle. One launch of an SLS could provide capabilities on Triton, orbiters, landers and rovers, that took over a decade to establish on Mars.

  • Until then, the SLS is a huge waste of time and effort – it is a rocket being built before it’s needed.

    An expendable vehicle the size of SLS will never, ever be needed.

  • Space Camper

    What I want are human cities, towns, and other settlements on Mars and locations within our Solar System

    You’d better stick with Elon Musk and SpaceX then, because he’s the only person I know of that wants what you want, knows what must be done to make it happen, and has taken the first tentative step out of the many sequential steps and processes that must be taken to make it happen.

    I happen to want what you want too, but I understand that it requires a whole lot more than what NASA and SpaceX are doing, and it also is no longer dependent upon unmanned Mars exploration. What we need to know about Mars with respect to space colonization is already known. Mars surface operations are way down on the priority list anyways.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mr Earl wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks Ron, but I think I can answer your question about exploration missions by myself.
    First, SLS was designed to expand human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit.>>

    no it was not. It was designed to keep the various shuttle “stakeholders” on the federal payroll and keep all or as many as possible of the people employeed.

    it was designed to allow NASA to do what it does best…sit around study things and dream about space. There is not a chance that a single uncrewed payload of planetary exploration will ever be built for SLS…the planetary folks learned their lesson with shuttle. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    First, SLS was designed to expand human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit.

    No, it was designed to channel US federal funds to certain constituencies and campaign contributors.

    With the block 1 -1A versions missions like sorties to the moon and NEO’s, establishment of stations and fuel depots at the EM Lagrange points and the start of small bases on the moon become possible.

    No, they don’t “become” possible. As far as launch vehicles and technology levels are concerned both are already possible, with the restriction that the depots can only use noncryogenic propellant for now. As far as spacecraft are concerned the bases will not be possible until we actually have the spacecraft and surface hardware. And spending money on SLS and Orion will delay that, not accelerate it. The same goes for cryogenic depots.

    With the development of Block 2 sorties to Mars and not so NEO’s become possible along with larger lunar bases if deemed particle.

    No, again existing launch vehicles are perfectly adequate (and natural upgrades are available if necessary) and the required spacecraft and surface hardware are only delayed by SLS / Orion.

    If you truly want depots and planetary bases, then SLS / Orion are enormous obstacles.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    An expendable vehicle the size of SLS will never, ever be needed…

    well said RGO

  • It’s more than just saying that risk is tolerable. It’s about a nation behaving that way when bad things happen, which they most certainly will. It’s about acknowledging that progress comes with costs.

    As I’ve said many times (first suggested by Paul Dietz) a visionary president would give a major speech and dedicate a large, Arlington-like plot of land, and say that this was where we are going to bury all of the people who die opening up space to humanity. That would indicate a seriousness of purpose. Don’t expect it to ever happen.

  • Space Camper

    No, again existing launch vehicles are perfectly adequate

    They are still orders of magnitude too expensive and wasteful of hardware.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
    “As I’ve said many times (first suggested by Paul Dietz) a visionary president would give a major speech and dedicate a large, Arlington-like plot of land, and say that this was where we are going to bury all of the people who die opening up space to humanity”

    he would get the same result Newt Did. laughter RGO

  • he would get the same result Newt Did.

    Newt’s problem was that he assumed too much knowledge on the part of his audience, and didn’t lay out a coherent explanation of what he wanted to do and why. He was just winging it.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “John Shannon is heading a group to define missions for all versions of the SLS and are expected to report on their findings in the March/April time frame. No missions have fallen by the wayside. As a matter of fact, planetary and scientific groups in NASA are looking seriously into what 70, 100 and 130mt to LEO with up to a 33ft wide fairing can do for their planned projects.”

    What “planetary and scientific groups in NASA” are you talking about? NASA’s “planetary and scientific groups” can’t afford to cost-share with the Europeans on a 2016-18 ExoMars mission that fits on a 22mT Proton launcher. Further, they’re being directed to recalibrate for even smaller missions than that. No planetary scientist or mission team is looking at 70-130mT launchers with any seriousness. They can’t even look at 20-25mT launchers.

    “NASA to Exchange ‘Flagship’ Missions for Small-Ball Projects”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0214/NASA-to-exchange-flagship-missions-for-small-ball-projects-video

    “Before you say it, it wasn’t SLS or MPCV that put a huge dent in the robotics missions budget, JWST did that all by it’s self.”

    SLS/MPCV did not, but they’re predecessors sure did. To help pay for Ares I/Orion in his very first budget, Griffin whacked the planetary science budget by $4.8 billion over five years.

    “The first flight is scheduled for late 2017 for a Block 1 SLS…”

    This is going to slip again (it already slipped from 2016) due to MPCV. Now that the Europeans have turned down participating in MPCV, the program is going to have to pay for its propulsion itself, which is going to stretch out MPCV’s schedule.

    “France, Italy Shun Orion Development”

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=aerospacedaily&id=news/asd/2012/02/16/02.xml

  • Coastal Ron

    Mr Earl wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    First, SLS was designed to expand human exploration of space beyond Earth orbit.

    It’s just a rocket. Stick potato chips on top of it, and it becomes the largest potato chip delivery vehicle in the world. The SLS is designed to lift mass to LEO and beyond. Don’t romanticize a collection of hardware.

    But you are missing he point. There is not enough money in the NASA budget to utilize the SLS. Let me give you an example:

    Coastal Ron’s Mars Mega-Lander Program (MMLP)

    LAUNCHER:
    According to this recent NASA study, the 130mt SLS will cost $1.6B/launch, and that is assuming a launch rate of two/year with a nine-year procurement commitment. The 70mt version would cost $1.4B/launch using the same assumptions, and we’ll assume using this version.

    The proposed monthly budget for Planetary Science starting in FY2014 is $1.1B, and that is divided between seven major disciplines within Planetary Science. So just paying for the SLS rocket to launch a mega-mission payload will take more than one years worth of the ENTIRE Planetary Science budget.

    MISSION PAYLOAD:
    The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) was originally budgeted at $1.6B, but per NASA SOP (standard operating procedure), delays and other factors transpired to increase slip the original launch date and increase the budget to $2.5B.

    MSL only weighs 900 kg (2,000 lbs), so let’s increase that by some multiple in order to justify using the SLS – let’s say 5X bigger, or 4.5mt (10,000 lbs). The budget needs to go up too, but I’m willing to concede some efficiencies with size, even though there are commensurate engineering challenges when upsizing anything. Let’s say the MMLP will cost 4X, or $10B.

    SUMMARY:
    Using these estimates, my MMLP estimate is around $11.4B, or ten years worth of the entire Planetary Science budget. So if we didn’t do anything else in Planetary Science – abandoned operating all of our current missions, and stopped building every planned mission – we could launch one MMLP type mission every 10 years using the SLS.

    I don’t think that is doable, and it’s this type of math that leads me to the conclusion that the SLS is unsupportable. Sure we can build the SLS – we can build and safely operate anything, given enough money. But we can’t afford the SLS within the constraints of NASA’s budget.

    We don’t lack for possible uses, we lack the money to do them.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The CCDev2 mission is evaporating. Commercial space development is nowhere near as fast of inexpensive as advertised. At best a CCDev2 will fly 6 missions to ISS before that tragic facility is decommissioned.”

    Doubtful. Both the American and Russian sides are talking about a 2028 extension, and the partnership is formally examining what it would take.

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/07/iss-partners-assess-extension-2025-potentially-2028/

    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/ISS_could_be_used_for_satellite_assembly_until_2028_999.html

    That’s 22 NASA missions minimum, assuming CCDev starts flying in 2017. More if Soyuz has a bad day or otherwise has slack that needs taken up.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The only aspect of the space program Obama and her cronies have any enthusiasm about is the Solyndra in space commercial crew project.”

    Both the DOE loan guarantee program and the NASA commercial space transportation program were started under the second Bush Administration, not by the Obama Administration. I’m no fan of the Obama Administration, but this White House is not responsible for the structuring of either program.

    Moreover, the NASA commercial space transportation program is not a loan guarantee program like DOE. NASA uses Space Act Agreements with pay-for-performance milestones. Unlike the few failed DOE loan guarantees, NASA and the taxpayer only pay after a company achieves an agreed-upon milestone. The companies have to do all their own fundraising.

  • Martijn Meijering

    They are still orders of magnitude too expensive and wasteful of hardware.

    Not for commercial satellites and not for the early stages of an exploration program. Using them would allow us to use an exploration program to establish a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market. That in turn would over time lead to a reduction in launch prices of an order of magnitude or more through market forces. The fact that there are launchers capable of fulfilling useful missions is what allows us to leave the details of launch vehicle development (and more generally infrastructure development) to the market. All NASA would have to do is to provide or procure spacecraft that can accept propellant in orbit and to do missions with them. The spacecraft do not even have to be manned for this to work.

    If we didn’t have adequate launch vehicles already, we would have to develop them first and that would mean yet another launch vehicle development program that is unlikely to be successful, let alone to lead to cheap lift. That’s why it is important to realise existing launch vehicles are technically adequate.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 2:41 pm
    “As I’ve said many times (first suggested by Paul Dietz) a visionary president would give a major speech and dedicate a large, Arlington-like plot of land, and say that this was where we are going to bury all of the people who die opening up space to humanity. That would indicate a seriousness of purpose. Don’t expect it to ever happen.”

    While this might suggest the President sees a sense of purpose in human space flight, it’s another matter to tell people what that purpose is. Dedicating a cemetary as part of a major speech doesn’t inspire anyone. Nothing particularly uplifting or inspirational about planting bodies. Sounds like technology and site development. In order to send humans to Mars, we have to refine our ECLSS hardware, make strides in propulsion technology, erect a giant launch tower, and invest in a plot of land … But why again are we sending people to Mars?

    Did JFK, to the extent we want to consider him a space-visionary President, ever refer explicitly to death?

    The “purpose” speech is one that needs to be the major one, and it should briefly note that in achieving this challenging purpose, we’re going to lose both money and people as we try to move forward. Those are investments of the highest order that we, as a people, choose to make in order to achieve this purpose. I don’t think having an Arlington National Cemetary makes anyone want to go fight a war.

    But that’s the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what the purpose really is, and how to sell the American public on the idea that space needs to be opened up to humanity. One speech won’t do it. Dubya gave his VSE speech before he walked away from Constellation, no? It’s about changing perspectives, which is more of a culture change than a speech. It’s about connecting human space flight with lots of potentially mundane things. About talking about it when you don’t really have to. That was the noteworthy thing about Gingrich. He said a lot of stuff that he really didn’t have to say. Yes, seriously. What does a 51st state on the Moon have to do with a Florida campaign? Now he said it without much serious thought or background, which is where he tripped up.

  • GeeSpace

    Space Camper wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
    You’d better stick with Elon Musk and SpaceX then, because he’s the only person I know of that wants what you want, knows what must be done to make it happen, and has taken the first tentative step out of the many sequential steps and processes that must be taken to make it happen

    I never said anything negative about Musk’s interest in space and space development. We need an active space program that includes commerical space companies (several of them not just one), an effective NASA, robotic missions, and manned missions. All working together.

    .If Elon Musk the only person I (you) know of that wants what you want, then we (humanity) are in a terrible lot of trouble.

  • ArtieT

    Regarding use of SLS in early 2020′s for planetary mission (or anything else out of SMD)

    Two words: Forget it.

    When Bolden spoke at Goddard last week, he said that they (senior NASA officials) figured the cost of the MAR’s sample return mission would be too costly to carry out; hence, there was no need for Exo Mars. In the back of their minds they know they can’t afford another JWST fiasco so soon after the JWST fiasco. And they figured they’d get another fiasco with Mar Sample Return

    Regarding the possibility that an international partnership with ESA may mount something to fly on the SLS

    Two words: Forget it.

    ESA has been ditched at the alter not only by nervous bachelor ExoMars, but two recent Astrophysics missions in gravity waves and x rays. Future cooperation between the two agencies will only take the form of ‘a contribution that if you bail out on , I’m not screwed, left holding the bag, and can still mount my mission w/o you.’

    That is not a recipe for equal shared risk in any BEO SLS mission.

    SLS is the beast that will end NASA human space flight.

  • Coastal Ron

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Did JFK, to the extent we want to consider him a space-visionary President, ever refer explicitly to death?

    I think Kennedy acknowledged the danger involved with his Moon challenge when he said:

    First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

    The goal was to do it safely, but remember that this was said during the context of 1961, when people died at a higher rate for just about everything, including flying experimental aircraft. Even commercial aircraft crashed on a regular basis.

    The Shuttle astronauts knew they had little chance of surviving if something went wrong during their mission, yet we never lacked for crew members. As long as people know the odds, and the laws and regulations recognize that spaceflight is not yet routine, we shouldn’t stop what we’re doing just because people die. People die all the time from recreational pursuits, so unless we’re going to outlaw all risky behavior, let’s investigate, evaluate, eulogize and move on.

  • MrEarl

    @Ron:
    That ”NASA study” you refer to is not a NASA study, its a story in NASAWatch about a story writen by Paul Sudis so those figures are suspect.
    Read my previous post as one way an SLS launch could be benefichial to planetary science.

  • GeeSpace

    Space Camper wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    There is also another person that want are human cities, towns, and other settlements on Mars and locations within our Solar System.
    This person stated, “for me the single overarching goal of human space flight is the human settlement of the solar system and eventually beyond. I can think of no lesser purpose sufficient to justify the difficulty of the enterprise, and no greater purpose is possible.

    The person’s name is Michael Griffin.

    Because of that some people who wanted human settlements will change their minds because Griffin supports settlements and. of course, Griffin is a “bad guy”

  • Space Camper

    There is also another person that want are human cities, towns, and other settlements on Mars and locations within our Solar System – Michael Griffin.

    Read my statement carefully. Michael Griffin hasn’t got a clue how to go about it, and he doesn’t even have a rocket, and when he was in a position to do something about it, he did have a rocket and he screwed up doing what had to be done to take the first step toward that goal.

    Epic fail across the board for Mr. Griffin, NASA and the US government.

    Now we have Constellation II.

    Explain that if you can.

    Like I said, stick with Mr. Musk. He’s got a rocket and knows at least one way how to go about it. There are others. They don’t involve ULA rockets.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Read my previous post as one way an SLS launch could be benefichial to planetary science.

    It doesn’t matter how “beneficial” this or that rocket would be to planetary science. Delta IV Heavy would be beneficial to planetary science, yet no one uses it. Why is that?

    You’ll also notice that in my example the SLS was only 12% of the total cost, so substitute in any number you want – NASA’s Planetary Science budget can’t afford SLS-sized missions.

    You keep seeing this debate in terms of unlimited money, whereas I look at the situation from a cold, hard view of the real world. Just show us where the money will come from to use the SLS and it’s payloads.

    Here is the proposed budget for NASA to use for reference. Show us an example of what an SLS=sized Planetary Science program would cost, when will Congress have to start funding it, and how long it would take to finally launch it. Show us why we’re being irrational in our belief that we can’t afford the SLS.

  • Das Boese

    Space Camper wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    What we need to know about Mars with respect to space colonization is already known.

    You’re kidding, right?

  • It’s truly astonishing that we’re still having debates about supposedly “visionary” speeches.

    JFK’s supposed “moon speech” was nothing of the sort. It was a second State of the Union shortly after the Bay of Pigs, trying to regain some momentum as he prepared for a summit meeting with Khrushchev. It was a boring speech reciting a long list of proposed defense expenditures, which would also be used as a stimulus program to deal with a mild recession.

    The few paragraphs we know as the “moon speech” were near the end of this 45-minute presentation, buried there so if he was laughed at it was hoped it would be quickly forgotten. As it was, no one applauded and it was viewed as just another one of the shopping list items in the speech.

    I’ve written about the speech at this link, where you can also read the speech for yourself and listen to it.

    This speech is often confused with the Rice University speech in September 1962. This was given during Rep. Albert Thomas’ re-election campaign. Thomas represented Houston and was chair of the House committee responsible for funding NASA. The “not because it is easy, but because it was hard” speech was basically to support Thomas. Of course, all those jobs were coming to Houston so it was a pretty easy sell to Houston voters.

    No speech is going to convince today’s pork-obsessed Congress to spend more on NASA, unless the money goes to their districts. They’re not interested in vision. Only pork.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Newt’s problem was that he assumed too much knowledge on the part of his audience, and didn’t lay out a coherent explanation of what he wanted to do and why. He was just winging it.>>>

    all that is a possibility.

    The base of the GOP is some of the least educated people in The Republic and right now science et are not real popular in the GOP…

    Sadly however I think the issue is more then that.

    Since Apollo NASA has become year after year a progressivly worse sitting joke with both decision makers and the American people. They have not accomplished much of anything on time and on budget or even on the margins of on time and on budget…and its hard to believe that they could do a major project such as a lunar base anywhere near on time and on budget.

    Now could that change? Yes and a “President Gingrich” might appoint a NASA administrator who can fire people and “President Gingrich” might use such an effort as an attempt to both remake the agency and the entire federal government…

    But I doubt that is the stuff that could be explained in a speech. Or several.

    Truth be told I dont think that the current NASA can be fixed… RGO

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 7:19 pm
    ‘This speech is often confused with the Rice University speech in September 1962.”

    Only to the uneducated. In fact, it was tagged at the end of the speech. A ‘second SoU.’ no more, no less.

    ======

    This is increasingly becoming an annual exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Government funded/sponsored/managed manned and unmanned space operations, beyond the range of necessity in modern life and DoD requirements, are a discretionary expenditure drawn from an increasingly dwindling resource pool in the United States. A pool where 43 cents of every dollar spent is borrowed. The only hope of maintaining any kind of mid-to-long range planning and funding for space exploration programs and space research projects of scale is to partner w/as many international participants as possible, simplify objectives, streamline programs or just terminate them.

    Huge space projects of scale are inconsequencial to the people who have to go further into debt to fund them- burdening the many with the debts to satisfy the curiosities of a very elite and select few. There’s no hurry. Space has been there for eons and a few more years of waiting won’t hurt anything. Flags and footprints elicits laughter these days as well. Witness the chuckling by 40-somethings and younger to ‘Newt Gingrich – Moon President’ and how the phrase ‘sputnik moment’ uttered by President Obama a while back was greated with a yawn and fell to earth with a resounding thud. It means as much today as the phrase, ‘Remember the Maine.’

    Priorities have changed drastically and space is far down the list– much to the chagrin of space enthusiasts on all pounts of the compass. and much of th fault of this lies within the grandiosities expressed by space advocates themselves. Witness Gingrich and hos moon bases. Or Zubrin chattering on about Mars. For decades, talk was of getting a space staion. We finish the spiffy ISS (after Saylut, Skylab and Mir no less) and it’s lseen as nothing more than an expensive government works project. We might as well have reinvested in rebuilding roads, bridges and schools instead.
    Americans cannot afford to keep trying to maintain a hollowed ‘empire’ on the government credit card, burdening their kids with debt funding foolish wars, wasteful and redundant military systems (like trops, bases and aircraft carriers) and then telling Granny every year there’s not sufficent funds for a SS COLA increase as the national infrastructure crumbles, health and energy costs soar and their schools decay. Won’t wash. And now we have Glenn and Carpenter reminiscing with stories from a battlefront half a century ago in a ‘ cold war’ which thawed and melted away over 20 years ago. Quaint, timely… and a little sad. The Brits excel at celebrating the past benchmarks of their ‘empire’ as well– even as other nations paused, nodded… and passed them by.

  • Fred Willett

    Mark wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 10:51 am
    The only aspect of the space program Obama and her cronies have any enthusiasm about is the Solyndra in space commercial crew project.
    It’s easy to slander a program, but the funding model demonstrated by COTS and CCdev has been show to be incredibly cheap and incredibly cost effective when compared to NASA’s traditional way of doing business.
    Consider. Total cost of COTS $500M + an additional $300M for risk reduction. Total $800M with no possibility of cost over runs.
    For this NASA gets 2 new LV’s (Falcon 9 and Antares), two new space craft Dragon and Cygnus, and two new ISS resupply solutions from SpaceX and Orbital using the above hardware. All this for a fraction of the cost of developing the Ares 1 SRB. Not the whole Ares 1 you notice, just the SRB and even then the total development cost was less than one tenth.
    Or consider CCDev. The total budget was expected to be $6B. This to develop 4 crew systems through most of their design cycle and the two best of these right through to completion. Again it’s great value. it provides redundant crew to ISS capability and also opens the possibility of a real commercial market for human spaceflight. It opens the door to competition with no risk of cost over runs.
    One more advantage. Unlike Solyndra If a CCdev contestand fails it’s no great loss. Another company can step up to fill the void as Orbital replaced RPK in COTS. Note the failure of RPK did not cost NASA one cent. Orbital picked up the ball and ran with it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    GeeSpace wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 5:49 pm
    “There is also another person that want are human cities, towns, and other settlements on Mars and locations within our Solar System.
    This person stated, “for me the single overarching goal of human space flight is the human settlement of the solar system and eventually beyond. I can think of no lesser purpose sufficient to justify the difficulty of the enterprise, and no greater purpose is possible.

    The person’s name is Michael Griffin.”

    This can’t be taken seriously because, you know, Mr. Griffin was working for the Administration, and his activities were ultimately determined by Congress. I frankly don’t care what Mike’s single overarching personal goal is. Neither the Administration or Congress have EVER given a human space flight priority anything remotely like human settlement of the solar system.

    The purpose of the NASA Administrator is to run the agency, and run it in a way that conforms to Administration and Congressional directives. That Mike’s personal goals aren’t those of his Administration and Congress is really neither here nor there. But his job is to do what those bodies want him to do.

    It isn’t a question of what we think is right or wrong or who is “bad” and who is “good”. It’s a question of what the Administration and Congress want to do. If what they want to do isn’t what we want to do, we can spit and fume until we’re blue in the face (which happens a lot here!) but that will achieve nothing. The fair question for discussion here is what arguments could be brought to them to change their minds.

    BTW, the word “settlement” appears in Administration and Congressional space policy and legislation in one context only. That’s settlement of claims, not of humans.

  • ArtieT

    “The fair question for discussion here is what arguments could be brought to them to change their minds [Congress and Administration].

    Certainly, congress people who have NASA $ flowing into their district don’t need to ‘change their minds’ about NASA goals. Any goal that continues the flow money into their respective districts will garner their support.

    Its the other congress critters whose minds need replacing, er changing. For them, unless there is ‘oil in them thar fields’, I don’t see it happening. For certainly in the 40 + years since Apollo was cancelled there has been plenty of time to start a conversation (by anyone) that would have them ‘change their minds’ about the importance of HSF.

    Frankly, outside of American exceptional-ism, fear of not being seen as ‘leaders in the world’, I can’t see a rationale, a mind changing idea for HSF, that garners more than a slowly steadily declining budget for the foreseeable future.

  • GeeSpace

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 11:19 pm
    It isn’t a question of what we think is right or wrong or who is “bad” and who is “good”. It’s a question of what the Administration and Congress want to do. If what they want to do isn’t what we want to do, we can spit and fume until we’re blue in the face (which happens a lot here!) but that will achieve nothing. The fair question for discussion here is what arguments could be brought to them to change their minds.

    What arguments? By having a personal vision of humans living BEO in variety locations which turns into a marketing strategy which in turn develops into a political (funding) objective. In all probably no President or Congress will have Space as a major objective. So setting a goal to have a President or Congress has Space as a major objective is a false goal.

    So you frankly don’t care what Mike Griffin’s single overarching personal goal is. Well, do you care what Elon Musk’s personal goal in space is?
    You probably do because Musk is a “good guy” and Griffin is a “bad guy”.

  • Vladislaw

    It always comes back to the fundamental aspect of any sales pitch.

    “Sell the sizzle not the steak”

    Meaning sell the benefits to the taxpayer. Clearly the benefit is that the taxpayer gets to go along. If the taxpayer is not going to be brought along this time in the grand adventure there isn’t any interest.

    Anyone that believes American’s didn’t think they were going along for the ride RIGHT AFTER the success of Apollo is fooling themselves. Hilton and PanAm were sure were selling that idea along with Disney and the rest of Hollywood. Not everyone in America wanted to go, but they assumed anyone that did have the interest (rich people) would sure have that opportunity if they chose it.

    Trying to fund NASA to open up space is a non starter to the vast majority of taxpayers. They are jaded about NASA to the point of total apathy and only see NASA as a punchline to a joke about either government waste, congressional pork etc.

    Any “sale” about space to the American taxpayer has to have as it’s basic premise everyone is going and not just a couple of NASA employees.

  • Doug Lassiter

    GeeSpace wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 8:42 am
    “Well, do you care what Elon Musk’s personal goal in space is? You probably do because Musk is a ‘good guy’ and Griffin is a ‘bad guy’.”

    Heavens no. I think Musk’s personal goal is great – “I’m planning to retire to Mars!”, but it really doesn’t matter that much to me. That’s not his product. It’s not what he’s selling me. If he invests a huge amount of money in something the Administration and Congress don’t want to pay for, then he’s not going to sell his product. As a good businessman, Musk understands how to separate his personal goals from his business goals.

    It’s not clear that Mike Griffin was able to separate his personal goals from what he was being employed to do. What he was being employed to do was to execute a Vision for Space Exploration, which encompassed a lot of complementary pursuits. He focused on one, which was a lunar outpost. That served his personal goals best. Nothing “bad” about that, except as a responsible employee.

    Now, if Musk can retire to Mars without selling his product to fund his retirement, he should go for it! But if what he’s selling is space settlement, I don’t think the Administration and Congress want to buy it.

    To the extent the House Science Committee wants to grouse about NASA, and to the extent that it’s up to them, as authorizers, to articulate congressional intent about the future of human space flight, these are the kinds of things they should be facing up to. What exactly do we as a nation really want to buy? Of course, to much of Congress, their personal goal for human space flight is employment of aerospace workers.

  • The base of the GOP is some of the least educated people in The Republic and right now science et are not real popular in the GOP…

    What ignorant bigotry.

  • Dedicating a cemetary as part of a major speech doesn’t inspire anyone.

    I’m pretty sure I never claimed it would. The purpose of the cemetery dedication is to instill more of a sense of realism in both the government and the public about the risks.

  • E.P. Grondine

    I am beginning to think of this as group therapy, where various utopian fantasies come into conflict with certain facts. Or as a kind of hell, where no one changes anyone else’s opinions. Or as a place where people vent their space frustrations into typing.

    What it all finally comes down to is our own answers to the “Why?” question.
    and hoping that each of us finds someone here of the same opinion.

    I’d rather have a small rover going up Valles Marinaris to determine a well dated geological (impact) history of Mars.

    For that matter, the vast amount of data that is currently being returned and has been returned from Mars has not been fully used yet, and this is a pattern in NASA’s behavior going back to Pioneer. The recovery of the Lunar Orbiter data shows how bad this general problem is.

    In my area of “interest”, while Weiler spent large amounts on probes to asteroids and comets, he refused to fund detection. It became evident to me then that NASA’s purpose was to launch rockets.

    Right now, NASA SMD has a report due later this year which should serve to focus their attention.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 11:44 am

    The base of the GOP is some of the least educated people in The Republic and right now science et are not real popular in the GOP…

    What ignorant bigotry.

    Seeing as every single Republican presidential candidate left in the race has extremely antiscientific views, yeah, I’d say he’s on to something.

  • Coastal Ron

    GeeSpace wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 8:42 am

    So you frankly don’t care what Mike Griffin’s single overarching personal goal is. Well, do you care what Elon Musk’s personal goal in space is?

    Until this subject came up on this thread, I had no indications about what Griffin’s personal goals were. I still don’t, and that’s no big deal, since everyone has personal goals. The challenge is in being able to achieve them.

    Could Michael Griffin, through his position as NASA Administrator, have guided NASA’s goals to be support his goals? Maybe, but that wasn’t what he was hired to do. Maybe it would have benefited the country, but considering the lack of program management he did with JWST and Constellation, I guess we’ll never know.

    With Musk, I see his Mars retirement goals as providing some sense of direction to both his company and outsiders. I could care less where he spends his last days, but when he talks about his desire to retire on Mars, I understand his business goals better, and so do his employees. You better understand why he is focused on lowering the cost to access space.

    So the difference here is that Griffin could not really pursue his personal space goals while following the specific direction he was receiving from the President and Congress. Whereas Musk was providing his personal goals so people could decide if they wanted to support Musk and his efforts with his company, either as employees, customers, or investors.

    So far Griffin hasn’t been able to leverage his vision to get OPM (other people’s money), but Musk has. Regardless, it will take quite a while to find out who had the better vision, if either.

  • amightywind

    I’d rather have a small rover going up Valles Marinaris to determine a well dated geological (impact) history of Mars.

    Great except the strata revealed on the sides of Valles Marineris are more likely to be flood basalts from Tharis, or flood deposits, rather than impact breccia, not that the view wouldn’t be amazing. If you were really interested in such dating you would traverse the transition region between the northern lowlands and southern highlands. But craters are boring. MSL will attempt to climb up a sedimentary section several kilometers thick, a worth goal. I am concerned that the sediments found at that site will will not span a large fraction of Mars history. They look like they were deposited quickly. We’ll see. The problem with sending one rover is that there is no leeway in picking a bad landing site. Who can forget that the landing site at Gusev crater was a scientific stinker before Opportunity struck gold at Meridiani.

    In my area of “interest”, while Weiler spent large amounts on probes to asteroids and comets, he refused to fund detection.

    Despite that the last 20 years have been a golden age of discovery of the near earth asteroid environment, especially with radar. We’re doing pretty well.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 11:57 am
    “What it all finally comes down to is our own answers to the “Why?” question. and hoping that each of us finds someone here of the same opinion.”

    That’s just nonsense. What it finally comes down to is what our nation/species achieves in space and, in the spirit of this forum, how political forces and realities influence that. Going beyond that, how do we influence those forces and what rationalities and perspectives need come to bear? If this forum is just about group therapy and mutual aid, I think a lot of us are in the wrong place.

    Then again, perhaps we can all decide on “Twelve Steps” of spiritual and character development to achieve freedom from the agonies of unfulfilled space policy. Of course, the vile liquid that has brought many drinkers here is Kool-Aid.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Doug –

    You just gave us your own answer to the “Why?’ question.

    The voters perception of reality will determine how they vote, and thus become political forces.

    Our species already is in space, the problem for me is that many just don’t fully understand what that means yet.

    You point to “experts” with refereed papers. Suppose one could demonstrate that those “experts” published refereed papers that are now known to have been clearly erroneous.

    In other words, suppose that one could demonstrate that our national space policy is being made on the basis of worse than flimsy theoretical models?

    And then how would you propagate that information to the public?

    What mechanism would you use for that, given that “space enthusiasts” are generally elitist

    As far as all of us here being “elitist” goes, you overgeneralize. The poor will be the people most likely to be starved to death by any climatic hiccup caused by cometary dust loading.

  • E.P. Grondine

    AW –

    You’re kind of gliding by what caused those “floods”, releases of volatiles.

    While our understanding of asteroids has improved, our knowledge of impads with the Earth has kind of stagnated, which is why you have “Ancient Aliens” fighting wars with nuclear weapons being put forth as a theory for the astroblemes in India.

    This whole episode is going to end up being one of the saddest pages in the history of science since Galileo.

  • E.P. Grondine

    The Ares 1 fiasco demonstrates that Musk has far better vision than Griffin.
    Musk’s other peoples money comes from investors, not taxpayers.

    The fundamental product of SpaceX is lower cost launch systems.

    While most here focus on the manned use of that product, you can be sure that Musk will not openly discuss or reveal his current business plans to his firm’s competitors.

  • Seeing as every single Republican presidential candidate left in the race has extremely antiscientific views

    Huh?

    Newt Gingrich has “extremely antiscientific views”? Mitt Romney has “extremely antiscientific views”?

    What are you talking about?

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
    “You point to ‘experts’ with refereed papers. Suppose one could demonstrate that those ‘experts’ published refereed papers that are now known to have been clearly erroneous.

    In other words, suppose that one could demonstrate that our national space policy is being made on the basis of worse than flimsy theoretical models?

    What mechanism would you use for that, given that “space enthusiasts” are generally elitist”

    I said it before, and I’ll say it again. When you don’t listen to the experts, who are those confident enough in their work to to try to publish refereed papers (have you published any?) and who participate in real professional dialog (have you done any of that?) then what you degenerate into is simple paranoia. Refereed papers and professional dialog are the accepted way to “demonstrate” things. By convincing people in formal ways, and not just railing to the world that everyone else is wrong. So when you do that, we can stop supposing.

    That paranoia is when everyone else is erroneous, and simply can’t be experts, because they don’t believe in you, and elitist as well, because they band together, in a band that intellectually agrees on things that you don’t. That paranoia is when there are evildoers (Ed Weiler, in your tired case), who didn’t do things that you think they should have done. Poor Ed. It’s not about his policies any more, but about his name. Did you know that Ed retired? You can take him down off your punching bag. He didn’t deserve your scorn before, and he most certainly doesn’t deserve it now. Go down to Florida and he’ll wear some fake horns and kick some sand in your face.

    But if you want to get back on topic, it’s interesting that the nature of the House Science hearing was for the GOP to disagree with Holdren, but not really to tell him he was wrong. They respect him as an expert in what he does.

  • DCSCA

    “Newt Gingrich… ‘Moon President.’” Funny stuff.

    And thanks to SNL– as well as most of the 40-somethings playing pundits and journalists rooted across the media landscape chuckling right along– a go-to punch line forever. Half a century ago, comedians Bill Dana, aka ‘Jose Jimenez,’ Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks cracked wise about ‘astro-nuts’ and “space monkeys,” too. Funny stuff.

    But fifty years ago today, February 20, 1962, nobody was laughing much as dawn broke over Cape Canaveral– or in tens of millions of American homes, offices, coffee shops or any place that had a radio or television set switched on. Much of the United States had paused, tuned-in and was listening and watching, live, as their nation was about to attempt, after weeks of repeated technical and weather delays, to put its first man into orbit around the Earth, the then 40 year old astronaut, John Glenn.

    Those alive at the time may have some fragment of memory of that day as much of the Western world was focused on events transpiring down at the Cape and up in space. But the intense pressure to succeed in the context of those times has dimmed over the decades. The Cold War was near its chilliest point and it’s difficult to convey these days how much was really riding along with Glenn besides national prestige in those days.

    The Russians had already done it. Twice. Gagarin and Titov. In its first three years, NASA had tried to put 28 satellites into orbit. Only 8 succeeded. Flight Director Chris Kraft noted in his memoirs that missile systems in that period had roughly a 60% success rate. Two of the five Mercury-Atlas test flights experienced mishaps and as Gene Kranz, then a young flight controller, has said, Glenn’s MA-6 was either going to be the fourth success or the third failure. That was the state of the technology in that era– and those were the calculated risks facing Glenn, his country and the credibility of the politics, the ideologies, the managers, educators and industries in the ‘free world’ that created, designed and built his spacecraft, his launch vehicle and its support systems network.

    The facts and figures surrounding Glenn’s three orbit, 81,000 mile flight aboard Friendship 7 are easy to look up. It was all over in about five hours; an errant signal falsely indicated a loose heat shield; the capsule, primitive by today’s standards and not much bigger than a phone booth, had no on-board computer; after Glenn was recovered from his Atlantic splashdown, the post office issued a ‘Project Mercury’ first class mail stamp– 4 cents– and today the heat-scarred Friendship 7 is displayed in the lobby of the NASM in Washington. The lights of Perth, Rockingham and mysterious ‘fireflies’ are colorful footnotes. Before the flight, Glenn stopped by a Cocoa Beach drug store and bought a small, 35mm camera to take photos from orbit out his small window as an afterthought. It was Scott Carpenter who prayerfully urged at liftoff, “Godspeed, John Glenn,” and Walter Cronkite famously broke objectivity and cheered, “Oh, go baby, go!” to his TV audience as the Atlas, a modified ICBM originally built to loft nuclear warheads, disappeared into the Florida sky.

    Framed on the wall here with Glenn’s signature is a front page of the New York Times from February 21, 1962 headlined with news about Glenn’s successful flight. There was other front page news that day, of course. Nelson Rockefeller opposed NY state bonuses to Korean War vets; Robert MacNamara reported gains by the Vietnamese over Communist insurgents; Adenauer urged a meeting of the ‘big four’ foreign ministers in Berlin to ease tensions and good news for commuters, the NJ bus strike ended. Assassinations, the expanded Vietnam war and much of the turmoil of the 1960′s lay years ahead.

    By today’s standards, three orbits isn’t much. But in early 1962, Glenn’s success was a reaffirmation of everything America stood for in the world at that time on the other battle fronts of the Cold War– and a confidence-building validation for the people who made it happen both in government and in private industry. For space officials at the time, it benchmarked ‘the end of the beginning’ of the “early days” of human spaceflight by the United States.

    In a statement that afternoon, President Kennedy noted, “We have a long way to go in the space race. We started late. But this is the new ocean, and I believe the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none.”

    Of course comedians today could quip if a position ‘second to none’ was first tried on all interns at a White House pool party. Might make a good skit on SNL. And the 40-somethings playing pundits and journalists rooted across the media landscape would chuckle right along.

    “JFK…’Moon President.’” Yep. Funny stuff.

  • Coastal Ron

    In an article on Msnbc.com titled “US needs new space ride“, and talking about the 50th anniversary of Glenn’s historic flight, the article said:

    In his remarks Friday, Glenn blamed the Bush Administration for its decision to retire the shuttle without having a viable replacement lined up.

    In the same article, Scott Carpenter said:

    I think that we’re going to be able to take care of safely desiging and flying a spacecraft. The industry in this country is able to do that,” Carpenter said. “What I deplore is the fact that we’ve lost our national resolve to do it, and that’s reflected in the amount of money not given to NASA. It’s reflected in depriving NASA of a mission.

    I can understand Glenn’s critique, since the Ares I/Orion combo was not really designed for LEO operations, and no matter what some peoples opinions are regarding doing things in LEO, we need reliable access to LEO, especially now. Griffin started COTS for cargo going, but never started the crew portion (likely to preserve all available funds for Constellation).

    Regarding Carpenters comments, I don’t necessarily agree with it completely, but what I’ve noticed is there is a lot of complaining but not a lot of proposed solutions that come with these types of complaints. Complaining may be good for the sole (and for making political points), but it’s useless for solving problems.

    We need to encourage discussion of solutions, otherwise we’re going to have a hard time not only getting to LEO, but going beyond it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Newt Gingrich has “extremely antiscientific views”? Mitt Romney has “extremely antiscientific views”?..

    No they are worse, they are pander bears. They have changed their positions on various “topics” with no explanation of what “science” caused them to change those views…just well the politics of it.

    Willard had no problem lying while he was attacking Newts lunar plan…its all politics with these guys. Now Ricky Santorum is anti science. RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ February 19th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    “Newt’s problem was that he assumed too much knowledge on the part of his audience, and didn’t lay out a coherent explanation of what he wanted to do and why.”

    No. Newt’s problem is Newt. Bad messenger.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Newt Gingrich has “extremely antiscientific views”? Mitt Romney has “extremely antiscientific views”?

    What are you talking about?

    Neither of them accept the scientific consensus on evolution or climate change, it doesn’t get more anti-science than that.

  • Das Boese

    Both of them also have made pretty loony statements on contraception and abortion.

  • Das Boese

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 20th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    While our understanding of asteroids has improved, our knowledge of impads with the Earth has kind of stagnated, which is why you have “Ancient Aliens” fighting wars with nuclear weapons being put forth as a theory for the astroblemes in India.

    Please, tell me you don’t seriously think that a badly made TV show in any way represents the actual state of impact research?

  • Vladislaw

    “Or as a kind of hell, where no one changes anyone else’s opinions.”

    I have changed opinions I had on at least a couple of issues since posting on here starting in 04.

    BDB, big dumb boosters, Rand forced me to actually THINK about that one and discovered that not having the Saturn V wasn’t the reason we were no longer flying past LEO.

    It was the steadfast refusal of adopting the concept that every form of transportation America has ever used has adopted. Fuel depots/stations/oceanic shipping ports/airports etc.. Christ almighty even horses had a livery stable and blacksmith shop. Except for space. Somehow we need a gas station every 200 miles on terra firma but not for traveling 25,000 miles to GEO or 240,000 miles to Luna. Total and complete insanity on a bun.

    Hell Dr, Griffin, the BDB king at NASA during the last administration even proved it at a recent Senate committe meeting, by saying how the Chinese will have Lunar capability as soon as they have the Long March V, a 25 ton launcher. He even bragged about how they could easily do this with only 4 launches.

    To me, it sure freakin’ begged the question, why the hell did America waste 12-13 billion on Constellation when we already had the capability you said China needed to goto Luna.

    The second thing I changed my opinion on was using NASA to open up space, as Bill White said … go around NASA.

    The last 40 years have proved one thing, congress, the final arbitrator of what gets funded at NASA, does not give a flying #$%@#$ about getting to the moon, mars and beyond.

    It is about:

    Continued corporate contractors campaign contributions from the usual suspects in their districts.

    Continued high paying jobs in their district that provide a healthy tax base.

    Pay for performance is a foreign concept to them as Crony Capitalism for their contractor buddies with no bid, cost plus-fixed fee contracts. The only thing going to the moon is their escalator clauses.

  • Neither of them accept the scientific consensus on evolution or climate change, it doesn’t get more anti-science than that.

    I haven’t heard either of them say anything about evolution. And it’s not “anti-science” to be skeptical about scientific theories, particularly ones as flawed as AGW. Skepticism lies at the heart of science.

  • Both of them also have made pretty loony statements on contraception and abortion.

    Which has bugger all to do with science.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 21st, 2012 at 10:49 am
    “I haven’t heard either of them say anything about evolution. And it’s not “anti-science” to be skeptical about scientific theories, particularly ones as flawed as AGW. Skepticism lies at the heart of science.”

    Skepticism lies at the heart of science, right next to being informed and scientifically literate and those sit on the foundation of trying to find the truth…not pandering to people because that is what you think that they want to hear.

    Both Gingrich and Willard have completely reversed their positions on rather important scientific issues of our day, things which to be fair are completely open for debate…but they have done so without a scintilla of reason as to why they have reveresed their views…other then it is what their voting block (or the one that they want) want to hear.

    Of course their is Rick Santorum who is just well ignorant.

    Put it another way. If Willard had good polling data that said if he came out in favor of an Earth Centered universe then he would get the Santorum group of voters…who here things he would not start passing that off as a “belief”.

    The worst thing for Newt and his lunar gambit is that the vast majority of the GOP right wing…(and this has been amazing to me) No longer really believe in space or human spaceflight as a symbol of American power even.

    This puts the lie to the notion expressed here dailyl by people like Wind and Whittington RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    DL, DB –

    Ed Weiler’s failures as an engineering manager are evident to all now.
    I simply spotted them early.
    I’m pretty sure Ed loves his wife and dog, and doesn’t beat them.
    But that does not change the fact the Griffin and Weiler committed contempt of Congress.

    I have written a book, not refereed, but I face my “peers” everyday.
    You have your “impact specialists”, I have mine.
    You have your historians, I have mine.
    My historians take their history very seriously.

    “Refereed papers and professional dialog are the accepted way to “demonstrate” things”

    No: you’re mistaking models for data.
    DATA is what demonstrates things.

    Essentially, both of you would rather trust in models than data.
    Each individual has his own reasons for doing this, but googaw has it fundamentally right, those reasons are usually “theological”.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DB –

    EP – While our understanding of asteroids has improved, our knowledge of impacts with the Earth has kind of stagnated, which is why you have “Ancient Aliens” fighting wars with nuclear weapons being put forth as a theory for the astroblemes in India.

    DB-Please, tell me you don’t seriously think that a badly made TV show in any way represents the actual state of impact research?

    Nice try DB. Did you know that Daivd Morrison believed in “Niburu”?

    In reality, DB, there are several Indian scientists who are working on the astroblemes in India, and the peoples’ memories of them. Its just that neither you nor the general public has ever heard of them.

    Its simply that it is way more fun to fantasize about “Ancient Aliens” than it is to think about death by impact. The “theological” hopes vary, but seem to be that the aliens will save us from our own stupidity.

    Here in the states, we face the same kind of problems when working with the extinction of the mammoth. Every other reason is trotted out to explain it; the main effort directed to discrediting the layer of impactites found globally.

    The data is that the mammoth starved to death in a climate collapse brought on by a cometary dust load.

    So did a lot of people.

    It wasn’t gradual climate change, it wasn’t over-hunting, it wasn’t a disease.

    Now I know that according to the models of your experts, comets don’t hit.
    But the data is what it is.

    I’ve told you before, I want all of Hubble’s observing time until the debris stream of comet 73P is located and imaged.

    You can call this paranoid fringe kook thinking.

    I sure hope googaw posts some more.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ February 22nd, 2012 at 11:22 am
    “I have written a book, not refereed, but I face my “peers” everyday.

    No refereed papers, no science community dialog at professional conferences. That’s what I thought. You’ve written a self-published book, yes indeed.

    “You have your “impact specialists”, I have mine. You have your historians, I have mine.”

    I don’t have any “impact specialists” personally. But the science community does, and those people have deliberated and formally reported in various NRC studies. Historians? Perhaps Newt Gingrich got some money from you?

    “No: you’re mistaking models for data. DATA is what demonstrates things.”

    Exactly right. Data published in refereed papers, where experts have passed formal judgement on the quality of that data.

  • I’ll toss a late comment about the education issue.

    I will point people to a long piece on my blog I titled A Tale of Two Space Days.

    I’m on the outside, looking in. I’ve proven an ability to organize successful educational events. What’s wrong with this picture? Oh — I am too independent for the insiders.

  • Das Boese

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 21st, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I haven’t heard either of them say anything about evolution.

    I was damn sure I did, but I can’t for the life of me find it now, maybe I was wrong. I don’t know, maybe I thought of Santorum or Perry instead?

    And it’s not “anti-science” to be skeptical about scientific theories, particularly ones as flawed as AGW. Skepticism lies at the heart of science.

    A discussion of AGW would probably invoke Jeff’s wrath, so I’ll just briefly say that indeed skepticism is the central tenet of science. BUT. When the overwhelming majority of experts in a field agree on something and you don’t, that’s not skepticism. That’s denial.

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