Campaign '12

Hoping to make space a campaign issue

“Obama campaign could trip over space policy” reads the headline of a Houston Chronicle article today that sounds almost hopeful that space policy—specifically, continued US reliance on Russian vehicles to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station—will become an issue during this year’s presidential campaign. The article tries to make the case that the “politically embarrassing reliance on Russia” could give Republicans “a potential avenue of attack on Obama in the fall campaign”, at least in Florida. (The article is tied to President Obama’s visit to Florida today, but that trip is focused on an energy policy speech in Miami and campaign fundraisers, not space.)

It’s possible space could become an issue, but there are a couple issues with that assessment. One is that regardless of the decisions made by the Obama Administration on Constellation, we would be relying now on Soyuz vehicles for ISS access: the original Vision for Space Exploration featured a gap of up to four years between the 2010 retirement of the shuttle and the introduction no later than 2014 of a Crew Exploration Vehicle. By the time Obama took office, the entry into service of what had become Ares 1 and Orion had slipped to at least 2015, and perhaps much later, in the opinion of the Augustine Committee. Short of extending the shuttle program or simply stretching out the remaining missions—at significant cost—the US would likely be using Soyuz vehicles right now even if Constellation remained alive and on schedule.

The second issue is whether this issue rises to worthy of national debate in the general election. Space has traditionally been a topic of niche, regional interest, and that seems unlikely to change this year given bigger concerns about economic, foreign policy, and social issues that have dominated the Republican primary campaign to date. There is the Space Coast in Florida, a state expected to be up for grabs in the 2012 campaign. But it’s worth noting that Brevard County—the heart of the Space Coast—is a small part of the state overall, and one that leans Republican: John McCain won the county by 30,000 votes in 2008 but the lost the state overall as Obama had much larger margins of victory elsewhere in the state, including more populous portions of the state’s “I-4 Corridor”, where space is not an issue. A campaign may decide to maximize its resources by focusing on other issues in other regions of the state where it thinks it may get better leverage.

The counterexample, of course, is last month’s unexpected debate about lunar bases triggered by Newt Gingrich’s speech on the topic of space on the Space Coast. For several days people were talking about space—until they moved on to other topics. Space was brought up in campaign ads and statements even after the candidates moved on from Florida, but I noted earlier this month that this was less a discussion about space but instead a way of criticizing Gingrich’s conservative bona fides by other candidates, who argued that Gingrich was pushing a half-trillion-dollar government program instead of finding ways to reduce government spending and budget deficits. That doesn’t augur well for a sustained, substantive debate about space policy once the campaign moves on to the general election phase.

56 comments to Hoping to make space a campaign issue

  • SpaceColonizer

    If you had told me a couple of months ago that the likelihood of space being a general campaign topic was lower than contraception I would have called you crazy… but here we are.

  • The decision to fly U.S. astronauts on Russian Soyuz capsules was made by the Bush administration in January 2004. Funny how no one in Houston cared until Bush left office in 2009.

    The Bush administration made that decision after the Columbia accident, because Soyuz was considered to be safer and less expensive than Shuttle.

    Constellation was going to be funded by de-funding ISS in 2015, ergo the Ares I had nowhere to go. Therefore, Ares I had no mission and therefore no purpose (kinda like SLS).

  • GeeSpace

    An idea to make Space a national campaign issue.

    Someone should “find” a report or intelligience anaylsis stating that alQaeda and other Muslim extremists have built a base on the Moon and they are building nyclear rochets to fire at the United States.

  • Justin Kugler

    I remain unimpressed by Powell’s “reporting” on space policy.

  • amightywind

    and perhaps much later, in the opinion of the Augustine Committee.

    You keep citing this committee on this forum but never question its partisan makeup.

    Norman Augustine (chairman), former CEO of Lockheed Martin
    Wanda Austin, CEO of The Aerospace Corporation
    Bohdan Bejmuk, former Boeing manager
    Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut
    Christopher Chyba, Princeton University professor
    Edward F. Crawley, MIT professor
    Jeffrey Greason, co-founder of XCOR Aerospace
    Charles Kennel, former director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Lester Lyles, former Air Force general
    Sally Ride, former NASA astronaut, 1st American female in space

    How many of these people are conservatives? How many carry water for Obama. Thought so. I wish Obama paid as much attention to the results of his Simpson/Bowles Committee.

    NASA is a mess and Obama’s handling of it has been incompetent. Obama can only resort to, “it’s not my fault!” arguments, on this and a host of other issues. I encourage Obama to emphasize other issues along the I-4 corridor, home of $6 gas.

  • amightywind

    ergo the Ares I had nowhere to go. Therefore, Ares I had no mission and therefore no purpose (kinda like SLS).

    How ignorant. Ares lunar and asteroid mission profiles use earth orbit rendezvous, strictly separating crew from cargo at launch. This was a key criticism of the shuttle architecture. Ares I was to fill that role. SLS has a mission. It is beyond earth orbit exploration. The moon and asteroids. This hasn’t changed since 2004, although Obama and the entrenched ISS lobby tried. Congress corrected them.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “How many of these people are conservatives? How many carry water for Obama.”

    Wow… you are one flaming idiot, aren’t you?

    “Norman Augustine (chairman), former CEO of Lockheed Martin”

    Augustine has long served Republican Presidents and Vice-Presidents. Before joining Martin Marietta, he variously served as Assistant Secretary of the Army, Under Secretary of the Army, and Acting Secretary of the Army in the Nixon and Ford Administrations. He also chaired the Advisory Committee on the Future of the United States Space Program (the first “Augustine Commission”) at the request of Vice President Dan Quayle. Even his extracirricular activities exude conservatism, serving as President and Chairman of the Association of the United States Army, Chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association, and Chairman of the Defense Science Board. Heck, he’s even been President of the Boy Scouts of America.

    Contesting Augustine’s conservative credentials is really, really, really stupid.

    “Wanda Austin, CEO of The Aerospace Corporation”

    Austin has had a long career in the milspace and space intelligence communities. She’s won the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service, the Air Force Scroll of Achievement, and the National Reconnaissance Office Gold Medal. She’s run Aerospace Corp.’s National Systems Group and Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) Division.

    Only a dummy would think that the kinds of jobs that Austin has undertaken and the kinds of awards she has won attract liberals.

    “Bohdan Bejmuk, former Boeing manager”

    Bejmuk chaired NASA’s standing review board for Constellation. At Boeing, he was the Space Shuttle Orbiter Program Director and previously the Program Manager for Shuttle System Engineering and Integration.

    Only a dummy would think that someone with Bejmuk’s positions didn’t want to see Shuttle elements continue via Constellation.

    “Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut”

    Chiao’s parents fled to Taiwan to escape the Chinese communist revolution, and then made their way to the United States.

    Only a dummy would think that someone with Chiao’s family background harbors socialist sympathies.

    “Edward F. Crawley, MIT professor”

    Crawley designs oil exploration systems for British Petroleum.

    Only a dummy would think that he doesn’t harbor some conservative viewpoints.

    “Lester Lyles, former Air Force general”

    Over a 40-odd year military career, Lyles earned the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

    Only a dummy would question whether someone with Lyles’ record of service is a pinko.

    “Thought so.”

    No, you didn’t. At all.

    What an idiot.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Ares lunar and asteroid mission profiles use earth orbit rendezvous, strictly separating crew from cargo at launch. This was a key criticism of the shuttle architecture. Ares I was to fill that role.”

    Not until Ares V came online circa 2030.

    Stephen is correct. Ares I/Orion would have had nowhere to go for a decade and a half.

  • Contesting Augustine’s conservative credentials is really, really, really stupid.

    That would be abreakingwind.

    Also, the notion that Jeff Greason “carries water for Obama” is insane to anyone who knows him. The notion that the the Augustine committee consisted of leftists is sheer lunacy. No one believes this except abreakingwind.

  • Vladislaw

    Ya, ‘left wing liberals’ like Norm usually have this on their bio:

    “Norman Augustine is the former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest U.S. defense contractors, and a long-time advisor to Republican administrations and militarist advocacy groups whose defense policy preferences closely dovetail with the interests of the defense industry.

    Augustine has served as an advisor to the hardline Center for Security Policy, led by Frank Gaffney, and has participated in initiatives organized by the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. He has also served on the board of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a key promoter of controversial counterinsurgency strategies for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Augustine has spoken at various CNAS events, including a January 2010 panel entitled the “The Contested Commons: The Future of American Power in a Multipolar World.”

    Does breaking wind realize that everyone on here has the ability to use search engines?

  • SpaceColonizer

    @Dark Blue Nine

    “Wow… you are one flaming idiot, aren’t you?” @Amightywind

    You must be new here. Say hello to our resident troll.

  • Left Out

    The notion that the the Augustine committee consisted of leftists is sheer lunacy.

    If it had, we might have gotten a more rational unbiased result, and perhaps we still wouldn’t be stuck with Constellation and the never ending problem of how to make a congressionally mandated launch vehicle system have value.

  • Michael from Iowa

    “You keep citing this committee on this forum but never question its partisan makeup. How many of these people are conservatives? How many carry water for Obama.”

    I see… so a group composed of defense contractors, businessmen, astronauts, and military generals are all part of an eeeeevil liberal conspiracy?

  • We’ve already had the space debate this cycle.

    Newt tested the political will, and it’s there not to eliminate NASA entirely but it’s also there to control spending. The net result is “not much”. NASA will have funding consistent with what’s it had all along without much change in initiatives. SLS and JWST have put NASA on the ground for a long time, unless commercial pops up with some radically cost-effective innovations.

    Political blame, if there is anything to blame about, can be laid at each and every door. US accepted reliance on Russia many ears ago and has had the chance many times to find other solutions; both Democrats and Republicans have put America in this spot. For good or bad.

  • Mark

    The problem was never the Augustine Committee. The options it gave were, by and large, sensible. The problem was that Obama cherry picked the ones that suited him and pitched the rest.

    As for making access to space a campaign issue, I think it might be tough in Romney tries it for reasons given. On the other hand, Obama has been in office over three years and the problem has just gotten worse.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 8:29 am

    You keep citing this committee on this forum but never question its partisan makeup.

    Only a hyper-partisan would complain that a bi-partisan commission was partisan.

  • Left Field

    The problem was never the Augustine Committee. The options it gave were, by and large, sensible.

    You hypothesis is unable to explain SLS and MPCV.

    The problem was that Congress cherry picked the ones that suited them and pitched the rest.

    Fixed that for you. The problem is that they had several untenable Augustine options to pick from, options that would simply not have been available if the committee had been truthful and had not white washed Constellation.

  • Vladislaw

    “The problem was that Obama cherry picked the ones that suited him and pitched the rest.”

    As opposed to what? Cherry picking only the ones that suited you and pitch the rest?

    Can you at least try and make a little sense? The President asked the group to provide him some different options. He chose an option, you don’t like it, get over it. Where the hell does cherry picking come in, you should do stand up… you will kill them at the comedy clubs.

    You are always like this.. If you don’t like it .. it’s a subsidy .. even when it isn’t.

    It’s crony capitalism, even when it’s not.

    But of course the things you do support are the kings of pork, cost plus, subsidies, no bid contracts, escalator clauses, crony capitalism….

    How do you get around that in your own mind… everything you go against are the opposite of what you claim about them, and what you do advocate for all are doing what you falsely claim the others are doing.

    You REALLY need to start talking to a therapist. maybe a couple. Honesty you are running off the rails.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    The problem was never the Augustine Committee. The options it gave were, by and large, sensible. The problem was that Obama cherry picked the ones that suited him and pitched the rest.”:

    a goofy claim.

    The Augustine group gave some recommendations but it is the job of The CinC to pick which recommendations support policy paths that 1) he is willing to work for politically and 2) which support some sort of national goal he can advance to the people.

    It must be clear even to thunderheads now that there is no political support in The Country for things like a “lunar base” or any real serious type of human space exploration more or less to anywhere…if it cost money.

    AS for things getting worse. If the GOP toadys (OK some Dems) who carry water for SLS and Orion would funnel that money into commercial crew…we would have access in a short period of time.

    dont be goofy RGO

  • Uh, Jeff, don’t you think the Congressional delegation from Texas is quite vulnerable on this, given that they’ve been more SLS than Commercial Crew?

    Plus the whole Wilderness of Mirrors thing since the Tea Party in Space wholeheartedly supports Commercial Crew and competition while Congressional SLS supports look like they are jockeying for pork?

    Hard to beat up on the Administration when you 1) underfund a cost-effective program for developing commercial space flight and 2) have been publicly been warned by NASA officials on several occasions that *NOT* fully funding means we by more seats/services from Russia.

  • DCSCA

    “Hoping to make space a campaign issue…”

    “Obama campaign could trip over space policy” reads the headline of a Houston Chronicle article today that sounds almost hopeful that space policy—specifically, continued US reliance on Russian vehicles to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station—will become an issue…”

    Not a chance. Focus the spotlight back on NASA now and they’ll look for more places to cut. The best thing that could happen to the space agency is for the PRC to accelorate its space efforts and head for Luna. For as we all know, American space policy has historically be reactive, not proactive.

    “The counterexample, of course, is last month’s unexpected debate about lunar bases triggered by Newt Gingrich’s speech on the topic of space on the Space Coast.”

    That’s far too generous. There was no ‘debate.’ Only eyerolling, laughter and complete dismissal by fellow GOP candidates on global television and endless chuckling by 40-something media types playing at journalists and punditry. MSNBC’s Joe Scarrborough made it a go-to punch line again just two days ago. .

  • Robert G. Oler

    It is unlikely to me that space politics or policy will surface again in the primaries…in the general…lets see.

    If Rick S is the nominee probably not. Willard…maybe. At some point Willard will try and draw some distinction between him and Obama and rumor is hard (I”ve seen the position papers) that some groups here in Houston are trying to pitch to Willard a space policy which is mostly Orion centered…doesnt mention a thing about SLS except by implication kills it because the money to use Orion to do a few Things has to come from somewhere…

    But the issue of reliance on the Russians will not come up. Thats a sword that can be thrust right into the GOP ie it was Bush that did this and it is mostly GOP people who are grinding on about spending money on SLS….

    In the meantime SpaceX will either have flown to ISS (or have failed) and that will be a data point …if it is a success then the discussion is over more or less.

    Newt and his GOP buds more or less killed space policy from being something that is taken seriously along with a 200 billion dollar space station…that no one seems to know what to do with.

    Now back to contraceptives….RGO

  • DCSCA

    It’s not in ‘Houston’s’ interest to draw attention to the fact the Bush Administation scuttled shuttle and accepted a ‘gap’ in flight operations as part of the VSE and Constellation planning. It always comes back to the same thing, decade after decade, does the United States want to pay the price and be in space or not. The Russians made that decision affirmatively, developed a GP spacecraft of sorts they could live and work with, and have been flying it for 40 years. It’s ugly, but it gets you there.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    On the other hand, Obama has been in office over three years and the problem has just gotten worse.

    How do you figure?

    Shuttle ended as planned by Bush.

    Commercial Crew, despite being proposed during Bush’s tenure (COTS-D), has only been moved forward because Obama has made it significant goal of NASA. And Obama wants two or more commercial choices by 2017, whereas the Constellation program would have only provided one possible option in the same time period, for 10X more taxpayer money.

    Where is the “gotten worse” part caused by Obama?

  • Unless GOP presents a candidate more palatable to moderates polls all suggest President Obama will enjoy a second term. Depending upon how many seats GOP loses in the House, NASA will be focused more to his liking, which means no rush on SLS and more funding for the “new commercial”.

    Not a bad thing if that gets America launching Americans again.

  • Chuck

    At least GW Bush did SOMETHING! The presidents from Reagan to the present did absolutely nothing, and that’s why the “gap”. And I don’t think anyone can argue that Obama hasn’t just made that gap much larger. So maybe let’s not say that GW Bush created the gap – it was more like Reagan, GH Bush, Clinton, etc. The thing that bothers me is that at the point in history where many other countries are getting into space, we seem to be leaving it. And yes, the Russians did the predictable thing and tripled the price as soon as the Shuttle infrastructure was dismantled. Especially irritating when you take into account that we paid for their part of the ISS also! Meanwhile America’s space expertise is drizzling away…

  • guest

    Remember that USA proposed continuing Shuttle at a reduced flight rate, which they said they could do for $1 billion a year.

    Obama had plenty of time to reassess and make changes to Bush’s policy, so Obama can take a large measure of responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves.

    Bush’s policy never insisted on a Constellation Program, Orion or Ares rockets. Remember that under O’Keefe and Steidle the goal was reduced cost access to space by 2010 using a spaceplane. The moon and Mars remained goals for some time in the future.

    Lay the blame squarely on the idiotic leadership within NASA, including Griffin and his cronies, some of whom are still there. Bush and Obama helped too, though by Obama’s election the handwriting was on the wall and he should have taken steps to make positive changes.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    “more or less killed space policy from being something that is taken seriously along with a 200 billion dollar space station”

    The first module for the ISS went up in 1998, about 13 years ago.

    200 billion divided by 13 years is 15.38 billion per year.

    Where the hell has NASA been getting 15 billion a year for the space station?

    The ISS cost about 35 billion, maybe double it for the shuttle launches. The rest has been pork and misuse of funds.. there is no way in hell we have spent 200 billion on the station, even kicking in the rest of the partners funding.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chuck wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    At least GW Bush did SOMETHING! The presidents from Reagan to the present did absolutely nothing, and that’s why the “gap”.

    The ISS is nothing? You’re obviously one of “those” space types that doesn’t think we need to learn to live and work in space before, you know, actually living and working in space. The ISS is the best place to do that.

    I think the VSE “he who must not be named” created was fine, except for the stupid “2020″ date. That forced the program to take an unaffordable route, and culminated with Congress canceling Constellation without nary a concern. BTW, Griffin gets the blame for the Constellation fiasco, although Bush wasn’t the fiscal conservative everyone thought they were getting, and he let the budget grow uncontrolled.

    Obama has proposed an asteroid mission, but I guess you don’t like asteroids, so of course you would say that is, like Reagan and Bush 41, “nothing”. Regardless, to me we need to do affordable exploration, not exploration at any cost.

    The thing that bothers me is that at the point in history where many other countries are getting into space, we seem to be leaving it.

    Pardon me for being blunt, but you have no idea what the current state of our efforts in space are. Go look at what Congress wants for the ISS, and go look at the COTS/CRS and CCDev/CCiCap programs. Once fully in place, we will have capabilities far beyond any other country.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Robert wrote:

    “more or less killed space policy from being something that is taken seriously along with a 200 billion dollar space station”

    The first module for the ISS went up in 1998, about 13 years ago.”

    the space station project/program etc has been spending money in large amounts since 1984 in epic amounts RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    guest wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Remember that USA proposed continuing Shuttle at a reduced flight rate, which they said they could do for $1 billion a year. ”

    thaat is so funny…1 billion for 1 flight or maybe 2 and no real clue how that was going to happen…weak RGO

  • DCSCA

    Chuck wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 6:11 pm
    “At least GW Bush did SOMETHING!”

    Which isn’t saying much. With the smouldering wreckage of Columbia raining down across Texas towns, he had little choice but to do ‘something.’ And, as usual for American space policy, it was ‘reactive’ not ‘proactive.’ But if you recall the context of the times, it was a sad and oddly obtuse diversion in the middle of his planning amidst the drum march to war. If Columbia has not been lost, they most likely would have stuck to their manifests, done periodic retrofits and recertification over the years. completed the ISS and pressed on to keep the orbiters flying , perhaps quarterly, to service the station.

  • Robert G. Oler

    sftommy wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Unless GOP presents a candidate more palatable to moderates polls all suggest President Obama will enjoy a second term. >>

    a discussion of human spaceflight is a “big idea/ideal” item…right now the GOP seems to be in a race to the bottom to discuss small ideas such as well contraception. It is hard to imagine Ronaldus the Great standing on a stage answering insane issues such as where the GOP is now RGO

  • Guest wrote:

    Obama had plenty of time to reassess and make changes to Bush’s policy, so Obama can take a large measure of responsibility for the situation in which we find ourselves.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave.

    One of the first things Obama did was appoint the Augustine Committee, on May 7, 2009, less than four months after he took office. Officially known as the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, the report (click here to read) was issued in October 2009.

    Based on the report, the Obama administration proposed its changes in early 2010 as part of the proposed FY11 budget (which began on October 1, 2010). No President, Democrat or Republican, can unilaterally implement programs or change existing programs, unless Congress approves it. This is in the U.S. Constitution; perhaps you should read it.

    The earliest Obama’s proposals could take effect was October 1 2010. Congress failed to pass the FY11 budget on schedule, passing continuing resolutions until the FY11 budget was finally passed on April 15, 2011.

    The Augustine Committee found that the earliest the government’s Ares I (designed for ISS crew rotations) would be ready was 2017 — but it would be funded by defunding the ISS in 2015, ergo the Ares I had nowhere to go.

    Obama cancelled the worthless Ares I, saving the ISS. He also expanded on the existing commercial cargo program to jump-start commercial crew. It should be noted that both commercial programs began during the Bush years, but Obama was the one that gave it priority.

    Commercial crew was to give us ISS capability by 2015. For FY12, Obama asked for $850 million to accelerate commercial crew development so we could get off the Russian Soyuz as soon as possible. Congress, unfortunately, cut the budget to $406 million. NASA estimates that this Congressional budget cut will delay commercial crew flights until 2017, although some of the companies say they still hope to be flying by 2015.

    Obama’s proposals would have cut the gap by at least two years while also preserving the ISS. Congress is to blame for extending the gap.

    It should be noted that extending the Shuttle was not a viable option. Let’s not forget that the reason Bush cancelled Shuttle (a proposal approved by Congress in 2004) was that it was dangerous and inefficient; to quote the CAIB report, the Shuttle was “a complex and risky system.” NASA therefore spent the next seven years phasing out Shuttle, ending third- and second-tier contracts.

    A study in 2009 found that extending the Shuttle would have cost at least $3 billion a year with a gap of two to three years as we waited for all those contractors to restart. It would have taken two years minimum to build another external tank, as that production line had been shut down. In the meantime, we would have been paying a standing army of 10,000 people to sit around and polish the chrome. That would have been a waste of $3 billion a year to extend a dangerous system while also failing to fund the next-generation spacecraft that would have reduced the gap.

    Obama did what was necessary. He saved the ISS and helped midwife the next generation of U.S. spacecraft, while also growing a new commercial launch industry. The price was allowing Congress to direct pork to their districts through the Space Launch System, which has no mission or destination, but again Congress has the authority to create new programs, not the President.

  • DCSCA

    A postscript and slightly off topic:

    condolences in memory of Astronaut Janice Voss- who recently passed away, far too soon. Janice’s contributions to human spaceflight are in the history books. Her chipper, cheerful contributions to cable television coverage of shuttle operations were not only informative and folksy- they were inspiring– particularly to young women across the land.

    Condolences, as well, in memory of Roger Boisjoly.. If only they’d listened… RIP both.

  • Vladislaw

    Chuck wrote:

    “At least GW Bush did SOMETHING! The presidents from Reagan to the present did absolutely nothing, and that’s why the “gap”. And I don’t think anyone can argue that Obama hasn’t just made that gap much larger.”

    What exactly did President Bush do?

    He gave a speech, in Jan of 2004, about NASA and a new direction for American space policy. It was called the Vision for Space Exploration and was released in Feb of 2004.

    It called for a lot of new directions for both the NASA and the commercial aerospace industry. Then he did what most Presidents do, they file the speech away and never give NASA another thought.

    President Bush called for the STS or Space Shuttle to finish our International obligations for the completing the International Space Station and then, in 2010, be retired.

    He also called for the start of a new CEV or crew exploration vehicle. This space capsule was going to be launched on a commercial launch vehicle because the VSE called for NASA building NO new launchers. The first unmanned test flight was supposed to start in 2008 with crewed launches begining in 2012. This created a two year gap, from the time the Shuttle retired and a new capsule was operating.

    O’Keefe, the NASA Administrator was replaced before any of that really started and Dr. Micheal Griffin was brought in to replace him. Admin Griffin immediately froze those plans and called for a new study. The ESAS, a 3 month study to basically rewrite the Vision for Space Exploration requirements and plot a new course for NASA.

    The gap, within months, when from 2012 to 2014. From there that gap only increased, no matter how much funding Admin Griffin moved from other accounts to fund the Ares I, medium lift rocket.

    All this President Bush allowed. The Vision for Space Exploration was totally gutted and special interests took over and priced our space program out of the market with 12-13 billion wasted with not one single orbital test launch of any hardware. Money down the rathole and 7 years lost.

    By the time of the Augustine group’s findings were published that gap had now moved to the 2017-2019 range. From a 2 year gap to a potential 9 year gap. And when the Ares I and Orion capsule did finally launch, the space station would have already been deorbited at the end of 2015 so there would have been no place to dock.

    President Obama’s NASA budget still didn’t defund the Constellation program at this time, we were still wasting billions. Senator Shelby and others, saw to that.

    President Obama wanted 400 million from the stimulus used for commercial crew start up that President Bush had called for as soon as the shuttle retired. Members in the Senate only allowed 50 million to go towards commercial crew. They were still trying to protect funding for Constellation and didn’t want any commercial options being funded that would compete with it.

    In the 2010 budget for NASA, President Obama called for 6 billion over five years to fund multiple players in commercial crew to close the gap. This was soundly defeated by Shelby, Nelson, Hatch, Hutchinson etc. Again commercial crew was knee capped by special interests and commercial grew only received 250 million.

    President Obama’s next try was the next NASA budget, he called for 850 million for commerical crew and once again special interests styimed those efforts. Only 405 million was allocated and appropriated for commercial to close the gap. Those same special interests that do not want to see lower cost commercial competition made sure that only about 300 million of that can be spent until money is poured down the new pork lined rat hole.. the Space Launch System, or SLS.

    Those special interests and that handfull of Senators also tried to get NASA to switch from the lower cost contracting system, SAA’s to the extremely more costly contracting method called FAR.

    The Space Act Agreements are a lot more flexible, require less paperwork for the builder and changes can be implemented quicker.

    I was glad to see that NASA didn’t cave in on that, as it was recently was reported NASA will continue to use SAA’s in the next round.

    Chuck you really have to read some history.

  • John

    While everyone argues and points blame, ATK out of Utah still maintains a healthy monopoly, and because of that monopoly the United States will not have a reliable launch vehicle for crew or cargo in the foreseeable future, let alone a viable space program. Cancelling the SLS would end a monopoly that’s been going on for over 30 years.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Chuck wrote @ February 23rd, 2012 at 6:11 pm
    “At least GW Bush did SOMETHING!”

    I will agree that the conception of VSE by Dubya was a remarkable and long-needed acknowledgement of the importance of space exploration. I don’t think any other administration expended as much in the way of policy smarts on space. I thank them for that. I will also say that having generated this new policy stance, the Bush administration totally cratered in its followup. It gave the reins to a NASA administrator who, as far as I can tell, was motivated more by lunar colonization than anything else, and (perhaps thankfully) didn’t give him the cash to do it.

    That being said, I’m also dismayed at the low profile that space has taken in the Obama administration. Now, the Augustine Committee, and the closeout of Constellation, was a desperately needed response to a fiscally unexecutable plan. But having done that, the Administration never ventured to assert a clear path forward, or even a mechanism to decide a clear path forward. Obama’s brief mention of a voyage to a NEO was ill-thought out, from both a science and exploration perspective, and I think a lot of people are thankful that he never mentioned it again. Though having mentioned it once, it has become a defacto goal that is distracting the space community from the policy renovation that really needs to get done. In fact, the high level study that Congress has now mandated that NASA get the National Academies to do (which is, I understand, picking up some speed in getting organized) is something that the Administration should have organized.

    It sounds as if, with regard to the importance of space, Obama considered the mention of a trip to a NEO as a box that he could check. No mention of why such a trip was important, and why it should be a national priority. Real leadership is in expressing rationale rather than in expressing a destination. That’s where Gingrich went down in flames a few weeks ago. There’s the lesson in making space a campaign issue.

  • amightywind

    While everyone argues and points blame, ATK out of Utah still maintains a healthy monopoly

    Aerojet builds the solid rocket boosters that will help boost the CST-100 to space on an Atlas 5 412. Facts are stubborn things. Are shuttle SRBs will be used on the SLS. It is a shuttle derived vehicle after all.

  • @John
    “While everyone argues and points blame, ATK out of Utah still maintains a healthy monopoly, and because of that monopoly the United States will not have a reliable launch vehicle for crew or cargo in the foreseeable future, let alone a viable space program. Cancelling the SLS would end a monopoly that’s been going on for over 30 years.”
    Unfortunately, there is a lot to what you say. Because of SLS backers we are going to be relying on the Russians for years longer than we have to and every year we are waiting for the completion of SLS for crewed deep space missions (without proceeding with a deep space plan involving launchers and vehicles developed through commercial competition coupled with fuel depots) will be an extra year we will remain stuck in LEO.
    See: http://images.spaceref.com/news/2011/21.jul2011.pdf

    Even the legendary former Director of the Johnson Space Center, Chris Kraft is now on the anti-SLS bandwagon. He recently said,
    “Building a great big rocket is not a necessary expenditure at this time. In fact, the budget that will be consumed by this big rocket will prevent NASA from any meaningful human exploration for at least the next decade and probably beyond. We don’t have to march in place while we wait for the powers that be to cancel it. Let’s be innovative; let’s wake up the sleeping giant and have at returning to the Moon right now.”
    That quote is from this article written by him:
    http://spacenews.com/commentaries/111219-nasa-needs-wake-reality.html

    Contrary to the claims of its backers, SLS is the problem not the solution. They are doing a grave disservice to their country’s future in space. Ironically, these are some of the same people claiming fear of China gaining space leadership. This claim is a paradox of the first order. Want to help China gain space leadership over the U.S.? Then continue supporting SLS,

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    That being said, I’m also dismayed at the low profile that space has taken in the Obama administration. Now, the Augustine Committee, and the closeout of Constellation, was a desperately needed response to a fiscally unexecutable plan. But having done that, the Administration never ventured to assert a clear path forward, or even a mechanism to decide a clear path forward. >>

    after Newt the reasons why must be perfectly obvious. What I find amazing is that it seems a very bitter pill to swallow that there is NO GOAL IN HUMAN EXPLORATION OF SPACE that any politician thinks that the American people are willing to support.

    Why in the middle of a near depression; when people who actually work for a living doing things that have value, should some pol come on and describe/support a program which will spend tens of billions sending a few people to a planet/solar body which will not change anyone on Earth’s life.

    I know most people here think human space exploration is a god given right…but please. RGO

  • @ablastofhotair
    “Aerojet builds the solid rocket boosters that will help boost the CST-100 to space on an Atlas 5 412. Facts are stubborn things. Are shuttle SRBs will be used on the SLS. It is a shuttle derived vehicle after all.
    The only reason why Atlas and its commensurate Aerojet SRBs is even being used to loft CST-100 is because Commercial Crew was partially devised to be an end-run around the traditional SRB monopoly for manned launchers that ATK had with the Shuttle and now would have with SLS. If you had better reading comprehension you would have realized John was talking only about SLS not Commercial Crew, so yours was a stupid argument. Facts are indeed stubborn things.

  • The presidents from Reagan to the present did absolutely nothing, and that’s why the “gap”.

    Reagan laid the policy foundation for the commercial launch industry, which is what will ultimately get us off the planet.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 11:15 am
    “What I find amazing is that it seems a very bitter pill to swallow that there is NO GOAL IN HUMAN EXPLORATION OF SPACE that any politician thinks that the American people are willing to support.”

    You know, that would have been an interesting topic for the Administration to bite on. As I said, the Administration never ventured to assert a clear path forward, or even a mechanism to decide a clear path forward. That clear path might have been a challenge to the country to come up with compelling rationale for human space flight. Yep, facing bitter pills isn’t easy to do, but that’s where leadership lies. The Administration must think there is a goal for human space flight that the American people are willing to support, because we’re spending $8B/yr to do it. But they haven’t told us what that goal is.

  • It gave the reins to a NASA administrator who, as far as I can tell, was motivated more by lunar colonization than anything else, and (perhaps thankfully) didn’t give him the cash to do it.

    If so, he had a strange way of showing it, since lunar colonization would have been utterly unaffordable with his chosen transportation architecture.

  • Vladislaw

    Chuck wrote:

    “Meanwhile America’s space expertise is drizzling away”

    Could you do a bullet point of what is drizzling away, that is needed immediately today?

    If the federal government opened it’s checkbook and said we need .. X … are you honestly saying the aerospace sector would collectively scratch their heads and say “duh .. how you do you do that?”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 11:37 am
    The Administration must think there is a goal for human space flight that the American people are willing to support, because we’re spending $8B/yr to do it. But they haven’t told us what that goal is.”

    Doug…I was tempted to move this to the Mars thread…because I think that the same results are in play there.

    Look I dont speak for the administration nor do I really have a clue what their political theory is…but ..

    by looking at their approach to other issues.

    In my view the greatest failing of the Obama administration is that they really dont have a clue or at least state it publically how they intend to reform the federal government on a “government” scale much less individual agencies who have either outlived their usefullness or who are in massive need of “reorg”.

    That is a failing but other then “they would cut government” no one really running for POTUS has done anything like it either…and I think I understand why (at least on the administrations part) …aside from the possibility that they might not have a clue…I think that they believe that any massive reorg effort of any agency will be meet by stubborn GOP (and some Dem) opposition in large measure just to oppose things…but also to protect their individual pork pies.

    One can I think see this in their space policy. I honestly think that they were stupid here…but they were genuinely surprised that the opposition to their space policy came not from “anti space” people but from people whose only intent was not to advocate a space effort but to protect their pork.

    There is a space program for humans to be had using both EELV’s and new rockets that could be done for the 1.8 billion spent this cycle on SLS or the 3.0 billion spent on SLS/Orion…but the pork folks would rather define their space program as building SLS/Orion then actually doing anything IN SPACE.

    I think that the Congress as a whole would pass some sort of human exploration “effort” that consumed 3.0 billion and actually flew people and hardware…but the pork folks who represent individual districts prefer to have aa build program rather then one that actually does things. I think that surprised Bolden…I am told by buddies of his that this surprised him.

    As long as building things (or at least planning on building them) is what the interest want as a program…there is no other program to be had.

    Robert

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    “the space station project/program etc has been spending money in large amounts since 1984 in epic amounts”

    Even if you backed it up to 1984, you would still be looking at over 8 billion a year on the ISS. Wasn’t it the Freedom station back then and still on the drawing board?

    Now if NASA had to spend 8 billion a year, every year, year in and year out, since 1984, where did it get the 8 billion if the total NASA budget was only 7 billion and change in 1984? Same as in 1985 under 8 billion.

    Here is some budget date from 1984, can you find the “epic” spending for a space station? I sure couldn’t find it.

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/…/documents/Budgets/o3490366_1984_pt_1.pdf
    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/…/documents/Budgets/o3490366_1984_pt_2.pdf

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I put things in constant dollars and push the space station and shuttle programs together because the only reason to keep flying the shuttle was to finish the space station. The numbers might be a tad high, but in the end they are around 100 billion just for the station if you put things in constant dollars and then work them out from the moment Reagan said “go”.

    100 billion over thirty years…is about 3 billion in real dollars a year. RGO

  • well

    Obama is backing the only realistic route to restore US launched access to ISS. Low information voters will never understand that but independents might be able to grasp it if presented with the facts. I’m not sure that this is the winning issue that the Houston Chronicle imagines it to be.

  • DCSCA

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 11:29 am

    “Reagan laid the policy foundation for the commercial launch industry, which is what will ultimately get us off the planet.”

    Inaccurate. In FACT, ‘we’ have been getting off this planet since April, 1961 and humans have maintained semi-to-permanent presence off it since the earliets space stations lofted by both the Soviets and the United States. And, of course, Reagan’s foolish push to commercialize government space operations, particularly shuttle operations, proved to be quite literally disasterous as it played a part in the loss of Challenger and its crew.

  • well wrote:

    Low information voters will never understand that but independents might be able to grasp it if presented with the facts. I’m not sure that this is the winning issue that the Houston Chronicle imagines it to be.

    The Houston Chronicle is pandering to a particular demographic they hope to sell newspaper subscriptions. They couldn’t care less if it’s true or not.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Reagan’s foolish push to commercialize government space operations, particularly shuttle operations, proved to be quite literally disasterous as it played a part in the loss of Challenger and its crew.

    You are confused. This is nothing new, but I thought I better say it right up front so you can understand it.

    Reagan called for the commercialization of launch services, whereas you are confusing that with NASA contracting for services (something every agency does). Reagan specifically stated that NASA would continue to be solely responsible for Shuttle operations. Here is a legal analysis of what Reagan implemented:

    NASA’s role was further redefined in early 1988 by President Reagan’s new Space Policy. The Space Policy stated, “NASA will continue the lead role within the Federal Government for advancing space science, exploration, and appropriate applications through the conduct of activities for research, technology, development, and related operations ….”NASA will also continue to have full responsibility for all non-military Space Transportation Systems (STS) (the space shuttle program). However, NASA will not maintain expendable launch vehicle systems adjunct to the shuttle. In addition, the Space Policy reaffirmed that NASA will provide launch services on the shuttle for commercial payloads only where the payloads need to be on a manned mission, require other unique qualities of the shuttle, or are important for national security.

    The Shuttle was never commercialized.

    Regarding the Challenger disaster:

    The Rogers Commission found NASA’s organizational culture and decision-making processes had been key contributing factors to the accident. NASA managers had known contractor Morton Thiokol’s design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but failed to address it properly. They also disregarded warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching posed by the low temperatures of that morning and had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.

    NASA owned the Shuttle, and was ultimately responsible for it’s operations.

    As usual, you don’t know what you are talking about.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ February 24th, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    as it played a part in the loss of Challenger and its crew.>>

    NO it did not RGO

  • josh

    all this doesn’t really matter since obama will win this easily. the gop is in a meltdown and won’t recover anytime soon.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert G. Oler wrote :

    “I put things in constant dollars and push the space station and shuttle programs together because the only reason to keep flying the shuttle was to finish the space station. “

    I didn’t realize you were including the shuttle program, that said I believe it would be a bit more than 200 mil. I was only counting the marginal cost of the roughly 35 shuttle flights used to hoist the station parts.

    For the basic shuttle flights that were just bringing up crew I chopped part of the cost because the payload was used for something else like a sat launch.

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