Congress, NASA, White House

Administration responds to one pointed column

The transfer of the space shuttle Discovery to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport outside Washington this week, complete with a flyover of the DC area, triggered a number of reactions, including some editorials critical of space policy and the current state of the nation’s space program. For example, in an op-ed published by The Hill, Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the former chairman (and current vice-chairman) of the House Science Committee, criticized the “poor planning” that he blamed for “the crown jewel of NASA’s human spaceflight history, the Space Shuttle, being relegated to museums.” Sensenbrenner’s criticism, though, was not particularly partisan: after noting the Obama Administration’s cancellation of Constellation, he devoted more attention to why NASA should be “retooled” and that it should “clean up its problems” (Sensenbrenner has been a vocal critic in the past of NASA programs that have gone over budget, such as the James Webb Space Telescope.) “America’s role in space exploration is far from dead,” he concluded. “In fact, it’s possible its best years are yet to come.

Sensenbrenner’s criticism, though, was mild compared to what Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in a widely-syndicated piece on Friday. Krauthammer likened the arrival of Discovery at the museum to a funeral for America’s space program. “The pity is not Discovery’s retirement — beautiful as it was, the shuttle proved too expensive and risky to operate — but that it died without a successor,” he writes. But what about the Space Launch System (SLS) and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and NASA’s plans to use them for a human asteroid mission by 2025? He’s skeptical they’ll survive budgets: “Considering that Constellation did not last even five years between birth and cancellation, don’t hold your breath for the asteroid landing.” He also doubts the ability for commercial providers to transport crews to and from the ISS. Cargo, he says, is reasonable for commercial providers, but “manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky”.

While other commentary about the shuttle and space policy largely went unnoticed, Krauthammer’s funereal tone generated a rebuke from the administration. In a blog post late Friday on the White House website, NASA administrator Charles Bolden and Office of Science and Technology Policy director John Holdren argued that “nothing could be further from the truth” about that characterization. They then pick apart his arguments, mincing few words in the process. For example, when Krauthammer claimed that China landing people on the Moon by 2025 would demonstrate it was overtaking the US in space, they wrote, “How absurd!” They also complain later that Krauthammer “carps” about the Obama Administration canceling Constellation when the program was behind schedule and over budget.

The post by Bolden and Holdren is the second time in recent weeks that the administration has responded via the web to what it considers to be unfair criticism of the agency’s efforts. After an April 1 segment on “60 Minutes” about the aftermath of the retirement of the shuttle program on the shuttle’s workforce that generated some political reaction, Bolden responded in a blog post on the NASA website, saying the CBS newsmagazine “missed an awful lot of important context” about the shuttle’s retirement. It suggests that the administration is perhaps a little sensitive to criticism of this era of transition for human spaceflight, particularly in an election year.

143 comments to Administration responds to one pointed column

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is typical right wing Fox News crap…it is take a few things that are facts and then draw draconian conclusions from them…goofy RGO

  • Mark

    It looks like the administration realizes that it is vulnerable on space policy, hence the instant attack machine against journalists that point that out. Mind, Obama mouth pieces often sound like Jimmy Carter shouting how his American military was “second to none” while the Iranians were holding American diplomats hostage and the Soviets were riding rough shod.

    If Romney were smart (and he has demonstrated that he is capable) he will use this, just as soon as his aerospace brain trust reports to him what he thinks about space.

  • I expected that, as we get closer to the SpaceX launch to ISS, the opposition rhetoric would get nastier. They’ve been backed into a corner as history is about to be made, so they hope to distract everyone with bigger and bigger lies.

    Nine days to go, and the next generation of American space flight begins. The American public will forget about liars like Krauthammer and marvel at what U.S. private industry produced for a fraction of the cost that it would have cost if NASA went at it alone.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    It looks like the administration realizes that it is vulnerable on space policy>>

    No it is hopefully that Charlie etc has learned that to combat the liars of the right wing, instead of just laughing them off as “inept” one has to actually present the facts to blow them down.

    Charles K (and you) have been wrong on almost everything since Bush 43 got into office. He (and you) were wrong on Iraq, Afland, Cx, and now you both are wrong on space policy in terms of commercial crew and cargo.

    Neither of you are even consistent on ideology. Free enterprise is great for things you like Free enterprise in but well to quote Charles K. ““manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky”.}

    It is crewed flight and it is not more complex and risky…and the folks who have failed at it consistently are the government agencies you and Charles K love. NASA killed 14 people came close on several others and watched the cost of human spaceflight spin out of control.

    Its like Saddams WMD…neither you nor CHarles K know what you are talking about…

    Enjoy Mark…The Liberty vehicle which you once supported is about to fly. LOL RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    …just as soon as his [Romney's] aerospace brain trust reports to him what he thinks about space.

    And if you don’t like that “space plan”, just wait until he becomes President and changes his mind yet again.

    If Romney does win, it would interesting to see how that plays out with a pro-commercial Dana Rohrabacher in charge of the NASA Committee in the House. Romney could also appoint a new NASA Administrator that would also be pro-commercial… I guess it depends on what day of the week he nominates one, since on the other days of the week he’d be likely to nominate a pro-government person for NASA Administrator.

    That’s the great thing about Romney – sooner or later he takes a position on something that you’ll like. Kind of like a real life Zelig. Of course it doesn’t last too long, but still… ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    The American public will forget about liars like Krauthammer and marvel at what U.S. private industry produced for a fraction of the cost that it would have cost if NASA went at it alone.>>

    and that is the key to it…the key to the solar system and an American space future. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Krauthammer. Well I guess we’re lucky he’s not supposed to be an expert on anything, because he sure doesn’t know much about space related stuff. Let’s see:

    - “the Constellation rocket-capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the moon — was suddenly canceled in 2010.” Yes, it “suddenly” when out of budget and schedule control only after Obama was sworn in. Uh huh.

    - “why on earth cancel an incomparably sophisticated, uniquely American technological enterprise?” Because it went incomparably and horribly over budget and non-uniquely out of control schedule-wise? I guess it’s OK to waste money when a Republican President is charge…

    - “We lament the decline of American manufacturing, yet we stop production of the most complex machine ever made by man” Who wants to gently remind Charles that the last Shuttle rolled off the production line 20 years ago? Wow, he does good research.

    - “The result? Abolition of thousands of the most highly advanced aerospace jobs anywhere — its [Shuttle] workforce abruptly unemployed and drifting away from space flight, never to be reconstituted.” Yes, six years notice by a Republican President was not enough.

    - “Well, you say, we can’t afford all that in a time of massive deficits.” Yes, Congress does say that, and except for the few years that Constellation was around, every other Congress since the end of Apollo has said the same thing – Moon programs are too expensive for what we get out of them. Sorry Charlie.

    - “But manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky, requiring massive redundancy and inevitably larger expenditures.” Not just redundancy, “massive” redundancy! I thought professional writers were better at not writing redundant redundant statements? I guess not not. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why the Shuttle program cost so much, because NASA had “massive” redundancy? Well not in crew Launch Abort Systems of course, but certainly in support staff. “Massive” redundancy – it sounds so much more official somehow. We need more “massive” redundancy!!!

    - “Which is why museum visits to the embalmed Discovery will be sad indeed. America rarely retreats from a new frontier. Yet today we can’t even do what John Glenn did in 1962, let alone fly a circa-1980 shuttle.” Hmm, let me get this right – we last flew to the Moon 40 years ago, but just now we are “retreating” from the Moon? Or did he mean LEO, where the Shuttle flew to? Is he aware that the ISS is still in LEO? And that we have inhabited LEO for more than a decade? How is maintaining our presence there, and strengthening it by adding domestic commercial crew operations, retreating? I have a hard time with his Orwellian double-speak…

  • DCSCA

    A fossil critiques a museum piece. Funny how hypocrite Krauthammer and his ilk only take notice of space operations when they are forced to look up and see it flying over their upturned noses. If Konservative Krauthammer reviewed shuttle operations on costs- as conservatives always do- he’d be squawking a differnt tune. And if you caught the ‘ceremony’ on C-SPAN, it was a decidely pathetic exercise full of nostalgia and big numbers on miles travelled and astronauts on hand but void of any numbers that truly matter to Krauthammer types– the costs of operating the space shuttle. None of those costs were mentioned. Still, even Glenn’s rhetoric seethed with an undercurrent of disgust. Charlie K best revisit the history of his own wing of the party which takes much joy in clipping the wings of space flight operations as conservatives battled full funding for manned spaceflight projects for decades. Constellation was shelved because it was underfunded by Konservatives chaffing at deficits while running up costs for wars on the cuff rather than space exploration on the moon. The Far Right has battled financing HSF from the days of JFK onward- with a little help from some select Democrats as well (Proxmire & Mondale to name just two.). It’s all in the Congressional Record. So, Charlie, if you want to properly bookend your shuttle rant, consider that 40 years ago this week the vote for funding the shuttle was passed and relayed to the Apollo 16 crew on the moon. And Konservative columnist Nicholas Von Hoffman ran a critical column titled, “Two Klutzes On The Moon.”

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    “… as history is about to be made, so they hope to distract everyone with bigger and bigger lies.” Except it isn’t history made, but rhymed if successful, and a poor poetry at that. Progress spacecrat have been servicing manned space platforms for over 34 YEARS. “Nine days to go, and the next generation of American space flight begins.” <– Utter nonsense. And, in fact, disinformation. "Space X" is not 'American space flight' and is not the 'space flight program' of the United States of America, any more than American Airlines is the airline of the US of A. Space X is a corporation, that's all- and corporations owe no loyalties to any nation-state. Space X is about as 'American' as Anheiser-Busch's Budweiser.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    “Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    The American public will forget about liars like Krauthammer and marvel at what U.S. private industry produced for a fraction of the cost that it would have cost if NASA went at it alone.>> and that is the key to it…the key to the solar system and an American space future. RGO”

    Except it’s not ‘private industry’ — that’s the great lie xommercialists peddle– as they’ve has sought and rec’d government subsidies. Rich privateers make for poor rocketeers when they have to beg government to finance their efforts- financing denied by the private capital markets due to low or no ROI. Space exploitation is not space exploration. And delivering groceries in the future like the Russian Progress has for over 34 YEARS is nothing to crow about. Flying somebody is. Get somebody up,around and down. Until then, it’s all squawk, all talk, all the time. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    and that is the key to it…the key to the solar system and an American space future. RGO

    Nine more days until the birth of NewSpace and the demise of PorkSpace.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock …

  • amightywind

    When you hold power eventually you must be held to account. Obama came to power wanting to use NASA for muslim outreach. NASA’s astrophysics program is in total chaos, as is the planetary program. There have been no mission new starts during this administration. The shuttle program is dead and the world class shuttle workforce is scattered to the four winds. Obama killed Constellation and now his minions slow walk its less ambitious replacement. After 2 years there is no detailed vehicle design or mission plan. “Commercial space” has floundered. $100′s of millions have been spent, lining the pockets of Obama’s Silicon Valley campaign contributors, supposedly ‘opening a market’ to deliver supplies to the space station. Of course ‘the market’ is really the perpetual $3 billion annual ISS budget to begin with. There is no manned commercial flight planned for 5 more years. How absurd. The maudlin parade of the remaining shuttle orbiters to their museum homes is the capper. Even that process was politicised. The symbolism of decline was not lost on the usually fawning press, hence the reaction from the Whitehouse.

    Seems to me Charles went too easy on Obama and NASA.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    just as soon as his aerospace brain trust reports to him what he thinks about space.>>

    It is going to be awhile for that…Willard is still being told what he believes by every other Tom Dick and Harry in the right wing of the GOP…

    And the man compares himself to Ronaldus the Great…and you support him…sigh RGO

  • As long as the ISS is used as a perpetual $3 billion a year make-work program for the Commericial Crew companies, NASA and the tax payers will not see any savings.

    And NASA’s manned beyond LEO efforts will continue to be starved for funds with missions to the surface of the Moon and Mars pushed far into the future.

  • Jim

    Too much of what amightywind says is true in this case. Fact of the matter is that Obama, Holdren and Bolden had the power to turn things around, whether putting Orion or Commercial Space on a fast track, or slowing Shuttle down so that it could have been kept flying to begin to fill at least a part of the gap. It is all too likely that the Administration’s go slow approach is awaiting Obama’s second term so that he can kill the program in its entirety fulfilling his original promise.

    Krauthammer might not have been 100% accurate but he does accurately reflect the mood, feelings, and thoughts of the populace and many of us who have supported manned space from its inception..

  • Mark

    Actually the real birth of commercial space will be heralded by Planetary Resources, an actual private company that proposes a private business.

  • A M Swallow

    “News is what someone does not want you to print – the rest is advertising,” Randolph Hearst

    I am not surprised that NASA’s Administrator does not stories about NASA being unable to fly being printed.

    As for the advertising, NASA is about to become the Comeback Kid. Having fallen into the gutter, off the back of a Shuttle, it is now going back to the Moon.

    Cargo flight to the ISS – SpaceX and OSC

    Manned flight to the ISS – being developed under CCDev/CCiCap.

    Cargo lunar landing – Project Morpheus and the robotic lander from MSFC.

    When the press is invited to see a flight of the Morpheus lander is a few weeks time make sure that it flies and does not explode or crash. Anything else can be ‘explained away’.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 9:04 pm
    . Of course ‘the market’ is really the perpetual $3 billion annual ISS budget to begin with.>>

    so in the strange world you live in Ronaldus the Great (aka Ronald Wilson Reagan), who started the space station, would be far happier with NASA servicing and supplying the station on a government run and operated vehicle…then he would be with NASA contracting out to SpaceX to deliver cargo and some contract with similar commercial providers to deliver crew?

    RGO

  • Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Nine more days until the birth of NewSpace and the demise of PorkSpace.

    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock …

    … The demise of Porkspace…

    Fingers crossed.

  • Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    “And delivering groceries in the future like the Russian Progress has for over 34 YEARS is nothing to crow about….”

    Two words: down mass.

    BTW how has Progress been doing theses days? Haven’t had any launch failures lately have they?

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    =eyeroll= More disinformation by NewSpacers as they’ve been going after ‘porked subsidies’ since their failure to secure adequate financing in the private capital markets- and, of course, if Falcon/Dragon is launched on time for a test rendezvous grocery run, it will be from a United States government funded/maintained launch facility on a government installation at Cape Canaveral- refurbished for SpaceX use with tax dollars no less– when the firm was quite capable of financing/building/maintaining its own launch facilities. How open the firm is w/flight data for independent review remains to be seen as well- but then, as with any corporation, they’ll likely reveal what makes for good PR and the best spin. Their CEO excels at it.

    Musketeers are great clock watchers but they’d do well to look at the calendar as well- as what they’re attempting to crudely replicate has been accomplished by Progress spacecraft, routinely delivering supplies, hard-docking to space platforms for over 34 YEARS. But it will be a welcomed step for Space X to match what governments have been doing since the Cold War days of the Berlin Wall, the Betamax and the SX-70. It’s the stuff of museums as well. The real advance would be fwrrying crews to and from LEO and that’s years off– if then. But have no fear, remember, Musk is going to retire on Mars. .

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    You do realize, Windy, that amidst all the misty-eyed nostalgia over retiring shuttle, nobody is mentioning the harsh realities of the escalating costs of launching these 1970s era vehicles had reached between $750 million- $1.5 billion a pop. It is a Cold War relic and belongs in a museum after a 30 year run. The orbiters are simply too expensive to maintain and operate for accessing LEO, which is a sound argument NewSpacers have.

  • Aberwys

    I was working one of the NASA dsplays at the Hazy Center since Thursday. So many people came by to express their opinions about the end of the US’s spaceflight presence. One by one, we had to re-educate them.

  • GeeSpace

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 8:54 pm
    Nine more days until the birth of NewSpace and the demise of PorkSpace.
    Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock …

    Dream on, Stephen, dream on with cute and nice thoughts.

    Also, dream that the needed federal subsidies to “NewSpace” will continue to flow

  • Scott Bass

    Regardless of the arguments on both sides, the truth is the administration could have handled the transition much better…. It certainly has felt like a captainless ship over the last few years, still does

  • amightywind

    You do realize, Windy, that amidst all the misty-eyed nostalgia over retiring shuttle, nobody is mentioning the harsh realities of the escalating costs of launching these 1970s era vehicles had reached between $750 million- $1.5 billion a pop

    If I were running NASA, and knew that a follow on vehicle was delayed, I would extend the shuttle program by reducing the flight rate, or even fly it unmanned. The current situation is unacceptable.

    so in the strange world you live in Ronaldus the Great (aka Ronald Wilson Reagan), who started the space station

    When Reagan proposed the space station, it was called Freedom. It wasn’t the pointless, perpetual international tie up we have now. We can thank Clinton for that.

  • ArtieT

    Obama’s budget is also decimating the skill sets in robotic missions. JPL, GSFC, and LaRC all face much less work from the Presidents FY 13 budget proposal.

  • vulture4

    “The shuttle program is dead and the world class shuttle workforce is scattered to the four winds”

    Yes, I argued against this every year since Bush announced it in 2004. Strange no Republicans objected until now.

    As to Constellation, it is still spending just as much as it was under Bush and yet it doesn’t even have the budget for a lander. Where would it get more money? Will you argue for raising taxes? Borrowing from China? Romney and Congressional Republicans are opposed to both and plan to slash discretionary spending.

    DCSCA: “The orbiters are simply too expensive to maintain and operate for accessing LEO, which is a sound argument NewSpacers have.”

    Agree, unfortunately NASA made no attempt to find out why the Shuttles were expensive to operate. Without reusable systems human spaceflight will always be impractical; even SpaceX caannot reduce costs below $20M/seat to LEO. Logically the next generation of reusables should have been developed while the Shuttle workforce was still available as a resource.

  • Jim wrote:

    Too much of what amightywind says is true in this case. Fact of the matter is that Obama, Holdren and Bolden had the power to turn things around, whether putting Orion or Commercial Space on a fast track, or slowing Shuttle down so that it could have been kept flying to begin to fill at least a part of the gap. It is all too likely that the Administration’s go slow approach is awaiting Obama’s second term so that he can kill the program in its entirety fulfilling his original promise.

    Um, you need to read the U.S. Constitution. Budgetary power lies with Congress, not the President. Congress determines what the federal government does. The President implements it.

    The President can submit a budget, but Congress ignores it and does what they want.

    About all the President can do is veto the entire federal budget over one line item (since the President has no line-item veto power under the Constitution) or somehow direct his administration to not follow the will of Congress. But Congress regularly holds hearings and will call those administrators to task, typically retaliating by withholding funding for the President’s pet programs.

    Exhibit A is Congress whacking the commercial crew funding for the Space Launch System, the latter not having any missions or destinations other than to keep employing people in the states represented by those on the Congressional space subcommittees.

  • Aberwys wrote:

    I was working one of the NASA dsplays at the Hazy Center since Thursday. So many people came by to express their opinions about the end of the US’s spaceflight presence. One by one, we had to re-educate them.

    Thanks for fighting in the trenches. Rest assured, you’re not the only one.

    I do that every days as I encounter guests at KSC and CCAFS. The number who are misinformed is slowly dropping, but I still get people who think it’s over.

    One thing for sure … When I start telling them about commercial cargo and crew, about how American industry is investing mostly their own money to develop 21st Century space technology, how we will soon have a capability no one nation on Earth will have — they are riveted.

    The mainstream media usually has a week-long cycle building up to a big event, and a week after before they move on to something else. I expect that by the end of this week, all of a sudden we’ll find that the major networks will suddenly discover NewSpace and act like they knew about this all along.

    The April 30 launch has all the elements of a big story. A scrappy entrepreneur risking it all, combining two test flights into one, the near future of U.S. space flight at stake.

    There’s a saying here locally. The public likes “smoke and fire.” April 30 is “smoke and fire.” It’s a visual the public understands. So the mainstream media will be here.

    Page 1 of today’s Florida Today has a big splash about the April 30 launch. The media buildup begins. Florida Today is owned by USA Today so expect a lot of this to show up later in the week in the nationwide publication.

    The clock has started.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    Willard is still being told what he believes by every other Tom Dick and Harry in the right wing of the GOP…

    All we need to know about Romney and NASA comes from three incidents:

    (1) His ridiculing Gingrich for dreaming big about space.

    (2) His statement when he visited Cape Canaveral that we wouldn’t announce any space vision, just that once elected he would appoint a panel to study it.

    (3) His comment that if China goes to the Moon, we should ask them to bring back some of our artifacts for us.

    He clearly has no interest in space exploration, human or robotic.

    But if you told him he can strap his dog to the top of an Orion capsule, maybe he’d take interest. :-)

  • Daddy

    Let’s see where we are now…. Shuttle was halted in a very measured, professional, and sensitive way… OK, I’ll give Bush credit for that. Now Constellation spends roughly $9 billion on Orion design and prototyping, a successful launch Abort System, and a first stage Ares launch demonstration with reams of useful data, a lunar excursion system design and preliminary implementation…. OK, perhaps a little pricey, but a lot more was accomplished than people give credit and on a measured and thoughtful course taken by people and organizations that CAN DO IT. Ohhh… and for far less contemporary cost than Apollo. Hardly “pork”…

    Now comes 2010 and Cx is cancelled abruptly and replaced with… a proposed FY11 budget for $3 billion in ill-defined space research and a commercial crew program with no defined milestones…. Ohhh, then the Deputy Administrator confesses that she had no idea that the displaced Shuttle workforce was so dependent on Cx…. Really???

    Now 2 years later we have Orion back on track, after a contentious battle above and below the table, and some kind of heavy lift vehicle with no true mission… Unless you count a far off rendezvous with an asteroid that has few stated objectives or science or engineering advocates… NOW I smell pork.

    Interesting to note that we would have achieved much of the technological infrastructure for the asteroid-pork mission had we stayed the course with Cx, and in the meantime, perhaps had gotten back to the moon in the very near future. With the very practical potential of developing some pay-back initiatives in the form of logistics outposts in LEO, trans-lunar, and lunar positions, lunar material use, methane, H3, water, lowered beyond Earth launch costs….

    And we are still waiting for the repeatedly delayed, over-budget, SpaceX cargo mission which will demonstrate LEO rendezvous capability that NASA demonstrated back in 1965 with the Gemini program…. What a wonderful taste of nostalgia…

    RGO….tic toc tic toc…. That’s the clock running on the totally failed, wasteful and depressing Obama space policy… He actually invented a time machine that goes back to 1965 space technology and spent billions doing it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Krauthammer might not have been 100% accurate ”

    more right wing babble. This is Abraham arguing with God about saving Lot. “OK we were not 100 percent correct about the WMD in Iraq but there was the tools to make them…well OK there wasnt the tools to make them even but SADDAM REALLY WANTED TO GET THEM”.

    Charles K was not 100 percent accurate, he wasnt even 5 percent accurate…he was just totally wrong about everything. (on both Iraq and Space).

    You are wrong as well

    “nd Bolden had the power to turn things around, whether putting Orion or Commercial Space on a fast track, or slowing Shuttle down so that it could have been kept flying to begin to fill at least a part of the gap”

    the “gap” is not important unless you are right wing FLACKS like Charles K who are trying to puff it into their current theory aboutt he course of the American Empire…or you get a paycheck from the gravy train and you were determined to continue it.

    The reality is that continuing the fly the shuttle had no value, was dangerous, and cost a lot of money. “Speed up Cx” are you joking? That crappy program consumed 15 billion dollars for no flying hardware. NONE.

    When you can answer why Cx consumed 15 billion, three times the cost of the entire Gemini program and flew nothing you will have learned a lot.

    I wont let Fox News babble go here without being challenged RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Scott Bass wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Regardless of the arguments on both sides, the truth is the administration could have handled the transition much better>>

    How should that have happened? Had the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders behind Bolden?

    The reality is that the folks who were on teh technogravy train were not going to be satisfied unless they kept their phoney baloney jobs. Go over to NASAspaceflight.com and its “all about the jobs”…”save our jobs”…the right wing Republicans who hate government financed jobs everywhere…but their own are essential to the country.

    What would you have suggested could have made it different?

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:07 am

    When Reagan proposed the space station, it was called Freedom>>

    so if we called this one Freedom?

    Come on Windy answer the question…you think Ronaldus the Great would want a government run government operated resupply and recrew over a SpaceX/OSC type effort?

    have courage answer the question? Whittington you can chime in as well.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Actually the real birth of commercial space will be heralded by Planetary Resources, an actual private company that proposes a private business.>>

    and you say that with no knowledge of the “event”…

    Then by your definition commercial comsats did not start until Westar ….goofy RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

    the post you do are not as funny as Wind…but if you think Cx could have gotten us back to the Moon…I would love to know what you are smoking. We are planting sun hemp on our new farm for soil amendments…are you doing that? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler cited:

    http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Space-Launch-System-is-a-threat-to-JSC-Texas-jobs-3498836.php

    Amazing, they still think the sole purpose of NASA is to create jobs in Houston.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Logically the next generation of reusables should have been developed while the Shuttle workforce was still available as a resource.

    To the degree it was a resource it is still available. The fact that so few workers have found new jobs under the new program illustrates they weren’t an asset but a liability. Harsh but true.

    The right time to develop the next generation has little to do with the availability of the Shuttle workforce. It should have happened in the late eighties and early nineties.

  • Mann Up

    a first stage Ares launch demonstration

    You can retract that statement after you do some actual research, at your convenience, of course.

  • pathfinder_01

    “Agree, unfortunately NASA made no attempt to find out why the Shuttles were expensive to operate. Without reusable systems human spaceflight will always be impractical; even SpaceX caannot reduce costs below $20M/seat to LEO. Logically the next generation of reusables should have been developed while the Shuttle workforce was still available as a resource.”

    Not to be mean, but the very workforce that refurbished the shuttle and did it well is the reason why it was expensive. The shuttle required 10,000-20,000 people to keep functioning. ULA which builds both Atlas and Delta only has a workforce of 3,000. The shuttle needed to be less labor intensive by a factor of 3-4 times or it workers paid 1/3 as much as other aerospace workers in order to have a chance to break even.

    The lessons have not been lost imho, it is just that trying to go for total reusability combined with manned flight and a large cargo bay may have been too much at once. That is why fly back boosters are being studied, and why the ccdev craft don’t attempt to carry huge amounts of cargo and why the ccdev craft launch on regular expendables rather than combine the rocket with the crew vehicle.

  • Daddy

    @Mann Up,

    What is your point? That Ares I-X was missing one segment??? D. U. H. Or is there something else you’d like to specifically highlight? Please… I am very familiar with Ares I-X, but I may not see your perspective as clearly as you are implying that I should. I am willing to learn from those who have a knowlegible perspective.

    @RGO,
    I can come up with some cartoon analogies if that is more your speed… Or maybe we could compare Lincoln head cent collections…. Although, admittedly I would not be as qualified as you to comment, because I have spent my career working in aerospace test and operations.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Now Constellation spends roughly $9 billion on …. OK, perhaps a little pricey, but a lot more was accomplished than people give credit and on a measured and thoughtful course taken by people and organizations that CAN DO IT.

    Yikes, another koolaid drinking lunatic. Gee, where to start…

    OK, first of all you are aware of what the Constellation schedule was, right? Not what they hoped, but what the budget run-out at current NASA funding levels would have meant. Remember NASA is not getting MORE money these days, and that would have been the case with Constellation, even while ending the ISS (or selling it to China).

    That means you were putting all your lunar hopes on something that wouldn’t have happened for another generation – 20 years from now. If ever. With nothing to show for all the money spent during those two decades except for repeats of Apollo joyrides around the Moon.

    With the very practical potential of developing some pay-back initiatives in the form of logistics outposts in LEO, trans-lunar, and lunar positions, lunar material use, methane, H3, water, lowered beyond Earth launch costs…

    None of the stuff you talk about was budgeted for development. None.

    And really what you are proposing is the government subsidization of the resource extraction industry – for what reason? Do we need any of the stuff you mention? Except for the mythical amounts of He3 (not H3), which we can’t consume today anyways, everything else is cheaper to import from Earth. There is no market for lunar resources.

    We went to the Moon 40 years ago for a political reason, and 40 years later we still don’t have a reason to go back. Other than for giving 16 people a brief vacation on the Moon. Not worth $100B in my book.

  • Mann Up

    No point, Daddy, you’ve already made it just fine for me. You appear to be retroactively supporting a failed and canceled NASA launch vehicle program.

    May I suggest to you … Liberty? The future will be harsh to that one as well.

  • Russ

    Dr K should stick to the application of band-aids and write articles about the flu, etc. For instance – he gushes about: “..True, hauling MREs up and trash back down could be done by private vehicles. But manned flight is infinitely more complex and risky, requiring massive redundancy and inevitably larger expenditures. Can private entities really handle that? And within the next lost decade or two?”

    Ok Chuck, stop fluttering your tie and listen up: We KNOW how to fly in space. We have done it for half a century. It is NOT ‘infinitely more complex’ than hauling cargo. Where were YOU when we REGULARLY visited our nearest solar-system neighbor – the Moon ? It was a matter of engineering. We can do so much more than build a shuttle – built by the lowest bidder, not as originally designed. Hey – who can ever forget when the guys of Apollo 15 DROVE right up to the Hadley Rille !! Yes, remember ? We were so good at manned space travel – we even started bringing our CARS !

    NASA was great. America was great. It wasn’t Americans that destroyed our nation. This isn’t a political thing. There is a cult operating in the world, and this parasitic cult – they have a lobby.. a foreign lobby in the US ! And – many years ago this cult began dismantling this wonderful nation of America. We didn’t ‘outsource’ all our heavy industry, tear down modern factories.. dumb-down our educational system & vulgarize our TV, motion pictures & printed media. The sad thing is – we aren’t the first nation to be corrupted from within. Read Cicero. Look at history. In fact, many of us know who is DESTROYING this nation. But.. in Pavlovian fashion, every time we get the urge to blurt it out – our ‘dogs’ begin to bark. Even the few famous people that DO try to explain to the rest of us, they are slammed and called ugly names, untrue, but.. remember those dogs !

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Now 2 years later we have Orion back on track…

    Not quite. Despite already spending $4B on Orion, we still need to spend another $4-5B to finish it. And what do we end up with? Like Michael Griffin said, “Apollo on steroids”. Gee, who would have guessed that in the 21st century that space travel would look so retro, flying around local space in a tin can the size of passenger van.

    And where are we going with the Orion/MPCV? Not far, since it can’t sustain life after 22 days. And not far because a maximum crew size of four would come back with jelly for muscles if they had to stay cooped up in that thing for a trip to an asteroid.

    The Orion/MPCV design is the epitome of an extreme lack of imagination and forethought.

    And we are still waiting for the repeatedly delayed, over-budget, SpaceX cargo mission which will demonstrate LEO rendezvous capability that NASA demonstrated back in 1965 with the Gemini program.

    It’s funny how age plays tricks on the mind – Gemini didn’t transfer cargo between spacecraft, they just latched onto each other. And Gemini was also a piloted spacecraft, not autonomous, which is wasteful if you’re trying to maximize the efficiency of your supply system.

    Regarding “over-budget”, you must be thinking of the Orion capsule, which soared in cost when Michael Griffin’s Ares I kept changing again, and again, and again. Have you seen the Ares I family tree?

    For the COTS program, since the program is milestone based, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences don’t get paid until they complete their NASA milestones, so there is no way to be “over-budget” like Lockheed Martin was with Orion, or ATK was with Ares I. And extra costs are borne by the companies, not the taxpayer.

    But maybe you are a fan of “Old Space Cost-Plus” contracting, and you’re afraid that those days may be going away? Too bad.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 10:08 am

    good post both…I would note this

    the op ed is not the one I would have written (I am working on that invited by a major “conservative” magazine to submit one with no guarantee of publish as a follow on to my 1999 article…they remembered)…but …

    the fight in this election is really going to be over federal spending…and the reality is not that the federal government spends to much…but that most of what it spends now goes to things completely unproductive in terms of value for cost.

    Military and Space spending is really the worst of this. We spend almost a trillion when all the defense cost are summed (including the pittance at human spaceflight) on things which occupy large amounts of real industry (ie things that are actually built) and in reality they have no real value for the most part on the dollar…what dollars spent on the military that do keep us “safe” are value on the dollar but now most of that even is just “spend to maintain the corporate complexes”.

    Imagine if we spent say 1/2 of that trillion or even 1/2 of what we spent in Iraq and Afland…on internal infrastructure. Israel, our “buds” In the mideast are busily building (gasp) a solar power distributed network…they are doing it because we more or less pay for their defense with our foreign aide…and they are buying the solar panels from China.

    There is a reason why FDR and HST knew that the key to post war prosperity was to demobolize after the war…and did it. We have however moved first into perpetual preparation for war…and now of course the GOP has us in perpetual war.

    There is a requirement in my view to spend federal dollars to develop infrastructure. There is no automobile industry without the investment by Ike in interstate highways…there is no space future without an investment by the federal government in “incentive’s” for industry to move into a field which is iffy at best…and has been dominated by misguided federal policy.

    What is fascinating to me is the extent to which the “industrial complexes” will go to maintain themselves…it is not just the propaganda by “low information” people (such as sseveral who are on this page)…but it is the notion of the Chinese as some massive enemy, the attempts to upsurp the notion of what makes America great…etc.

    this campaign will probably not have much prose…but in the end it will be about that…and SpaceX upcoming flight is an inflection point in the notion that federal spending should go to develop infrastructure which either can initially or will soon…have value for the dollar spent.

    Robert

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 2:57 pm
    …. Although, admittedly I would not be as qualified as you to comment, because I have spent my career working in aerospace test and operations.>>

    at least you recognize your limitations. You remind me of a preacher I knew whose claim to fame was “I have spent my lifetime holding down the work” yeah he had a congregation of 25 or less.

    Some lifetimes of work leave one with a good sense of perspective and well Linda Ham had a lifetime of work as she burned down 7 astronauts.

    When you want to argue facts try putting some out…otherwise yeah stick with cartoon characters. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Agree, unfortunately NASA made no attempt to find out why the Shuttles were expensive to operate.

    Congress actually, not NASA. And that is because of the inertia that develops behind a program that is considered “ongoing” versus in development (which the Shuttle never really left).

    I think they should have done a study after at least the first ten years, and I would have hoped the outcome would have been to end it’s life earlier while replacing it with a new vehicle that would have solved the major problems.

    Doesn’t matter now, as the direct lineage of that vehicle has died, and we’re reseting the evolutionary path back to something that is less costly and faster to evolve.

  • @Stephen C. Smith
    “Amazing, they still think the sole purpose of NASA is to create jobs in Houston.”
    Yes, but that article by two persons who are venerated NASA officials from its vaunted “Golden Age” of Apollo and Shuttle, also puts the lie to statements like the following.

    @Earth to Planet Marcel
    “As long as the ISS is used as a perpetual $3 billion a year make-work program for the Commericial Crew companies, NASA and the tax payers will not see any savings.

    And NASA’s manned beyond LEO efforts will continue to be starved for funds with missions to the surface of the Moon and Mars pushed far into the future.”
    The real “$3 billion a year make-work program” is SLS/MPCV. Here we see the amazing unmitigated hypocrisy of a supporter of SLS complaining about starved funds for the Moon and Mars. Get rid of SLS and we can afford to develop the landers, depots etc. NOW (rather than waiting for SLS to be completed) using existing vehicles to get to deep space destinations; whilst using ISS as a testing ground for cutting-edge technology development related to deep space exploration.

    Apparently, paradox and dichotomy are unrecognizable concepts to supporters of SLS.

  • With all the mythologies out there about Constellation spending, I will point out two locations for the facts.

    The first is the Senate Science Committee hearing on January 28, 2004. NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe, representing the Bush administration, presented the proposed funding for Constellation, two weeks after Bush gave the Vision for Space Exploration speech. To pay for Constellation, O’Keefe asked for an increase of only $200 million per year over the next five years.

    O’Keefe also presented a chart which showed that Constellation would be funded by ending the ISS around FY 2016. Since the purpose of Constellation’s Ares I was to go to the ISS, obviously the Ares I was being built with no destination that would exist when it was finished.

    John McCain (R-AZ), the committee chair and future Republican presidential candidate, called this out in the first five minutes of the event, saying Constellation would cost a lot more than the administration was claiming.

    The funding for Constellation over the remainder of the Bush administration was laid out in NASA Authorization Act of 2005. That was the authorized funding for the next three fiscal years. I’ll note that it was passed by both houses of Congress, which were Republican majorities, and signed by a Republican Congress.

    By the time this authorization act expired, Constellation was already behind schedule and over budget, and the subject of scathing GAO audits.

    The regulars on this board know the issue is more complex than simple political partisanship, but let’s be clear about who was in charge when all the critical decisions were made in 2004-2005. It wasn’t Barack Obama.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Where they should have done the study is when Challenger went “bang”…

    At somepoint in parallel with the notion of “fixing” the system at some point some study should have been done toward the notion of “is it worth fixing and if so then where are the cost”. In an NSS piece at the time I argued for a Generation 2 orbiter which would have rethought the entire notion of the shuttle…

    ie it was clear the original mission profiles were flawed…and no one was talking about making the cost numbers anymore so somewhere there should have been a discussioni about “why we are doing this”.

    while the recovery from Challenger was underway the giant sucking sound you heard was everyone who was not NASA bailing off of the shuttle…and NASA frantically looking for something to justify flying the shuttle…and that became the space station.

    the shuttle (and to some extent station and to large measure Cx…and now SLS) have always been the victim of unreasonable expectations passing off as facts.

    there was no real way to make the orbiters cost effective. there were ways to lower the standing army but in the end the CORPORATE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX which had grown up around the shuttle needed that army…but even if you lowered the army…you never really could make the vehicle cost effective.

    I of course always find these discussions entertaining if for no other reason then Lori Garver’s various responses to my pieces in Ad Astra…and her role now.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Actually the real birth of commercial space will be heralded by Planetary Resources

    No reason to wait for the Silicon Valley glitterati to take the first steps toward asteroid mining. (Haven’t you all had enough of these phonies by now?) We could do so with a modest unmanned mission with rockets we have now if we selected the target intelligently. Indeed of one of these tiny bodies might be a good early mission for Ares/Orion Mark II. Hopefully our radar astronomers will be able to find such intriguing bodies soon, and that NASA leadership recognises their potential importance.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    “The regulars on this board know the issue is more complex than simple political partisanship, but let’s be clear about who was in charge when all the critical decisions were made in 2004-2005. It wasn’t Barack Obama.”

    Indeed. On this we can agree. However, Obama’s position on the space program did a complete 180 from his campaign rhetoric which is well documented and he could have pressed Congress to fully fund Constellation– but did not. Bad timing given the Second Depression delivered by failed trickle-down economics. (An annual funding bump for NASA for Sonstellation BTW was roughly equivalent to about six weeks of expenditures for the Afghan/Iraq war). Healthcare and saving the the banks, the auto industry as well as the rest of the economy was the priority. In addition, Obama has no interest in space. He simply delivered the recommendations at KSC in 2010 from commercialists infecting NASA like Garver and Peter Principled Bolden (the Garver feud with all things Griffin still simmers). As far as Obama’s concerned, he set space policy w/t speech at KSC and space is in his out box for term one. And we all know the alternative given Romney’s dismissive comments on space during the debates. A Romney space policy would be chilling- in fact, near absolute zero. So we’re left w/Obama’s plan for now. It’s holding pattern for the rest of the decade. If you’re a space advocate, NewSpace, OldSpace or any space at all around the compass points, Obama offers a future of some kind while Romney hints at no future of any kind.

    However, the caveat of Konservatism is GOP 101 these days, keep it simple for the dumbed down loyalists and seed the messaging w/partisianship and chip in another wedge issue. Konservative opposition to funding HSF programs has been SOP for the GOP since the days of JFK and the poisons of commercialization/privatization of all things government, including NASA, were injected into the space agency by the King of the Konservative Kause, worshiped by Krauthammer-types, Sir Ronald of Reagan. They want a space program to run like the postal service.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:07 am

    “{If I were running NASA, and knew that a follow on vehicle was delayed, I would extend the shuttle program by reducing the flight rate, or even fly it unmanned. The current situation is unacceptable.”

    In fact, it’s quite acceptable- been there, done that. See NASA circa 1975-1981. Windy, reducing the ‘flight rate’ to 1, 2, 3 or even quarterly servicing runs did little to reduce projected costs, added to expenses for maintaining them, keeping ground support on staff and hardware in work (like the ETs) and only would stall the inevitable. Mercury ended. Gemini ended. Apollo ended. Skylab ended. Shuttle ended and the ISS will end as well. The U.S. now is in the same position it was between 1975 and 1981- post ASTP. American space planning has always been subject to fits and starts and remains a reactive policy. It is simply not a part of the national character. Competition is, and with out it, the space program goes no place fast.

    However, Krauthammer’s assessment of the PRC and the Russians, who he still gives a Cold War slap using the term, ‘Boris’ remain sound. Lenin may be ‘embalmed in his tomb’ like Discovery at the Smithsonian, but visit Moscow and you’ll see the Russians proudly celebrate their ongoing space program as part of their national character. It has been that way since the days of Sputnik and Gagarin. Not so for Americans, where it remains a reactive program.

  • Daddy

    @Coastal Ron,
    Thanks for the clarifications… Yes, He3, not H3… A lapse of keystrokes… My bad. And, yes, I am advocating government subsidizing of resource extraction. The analogy is the Interstate highway system. We need to establish a space-based infrastructure for commerce to have a viable path to success. And, yes, I would expect the commercial sector to get much more involved with contributing capital once that infrastructure is established, so the “joyrides” around the moon would become more profitable. Then also, I would expect further incremental investment to get to that mystical asteroid and beyond. The point is a stepped approach beyond earth orbit.

    As for the “high tech” SpaceX rendezvous, it is simply a proximity rendezvous with capture from the ISS. Not a particularly ambitious advance from Gemini…

    @Mann Up,
    Yes, I recognize Cx was flawed, and I was very frustrated at how it starved various other NASA needs of funding. But I was equally frustrated at our agency leadership and national leadership lack of will to support the funding necessary to make it successful. The President’s Vision for Space Exploration was indeed a “vision”. I haven’t seen anything remotely inspiring out of Obama or his ignorant space lackeys.

  • DCSCA

    @Jim wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 9:57 pm
    @Aberwys wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 7:46 am

    “I was working one of the NASA dsplays at the Hazy Center since Thursday. So many people came by to express their opinions about the end of the US’s spaceflight presence. One by one, we had to re-educate them.”

    Perception is reality. Like NASA invented Teflon, Tang and Glenn flew to the moon. Except they didn’t. A lot of Americans who give space a thought think wrongly about it.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    “Charles K was not 100 percent accurate, he wasnt even 5 percent accurate…he was just totally wrong about everything.’

    Except he’s not. His assessment of ‘Boris’ (a pejorative Cold War slap to be sure which say more about CK than Russia BTW) and the PRC is accurate.

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 10:03 am

    “The public likes “smoke and fire.””

    =eyeroll= Satellites are launched all the time– and the crowds for those along the Space Coast…about the same as they are in Lompoc. They get a glance from Malibu and Ventura beach goers when Vandenberg launches on occasion, but that’s about all. The public likes ‘smoke and fire’ with crews on top. Check your SpaceX calendar- as they’ve got that attempt pencilled in for half a decade from now, if not more. “I wish it wasn’t so hard,” said Elon Musk. Except it is. Tick-tock, tick-tock… that’s why governments do it- and have been doing it successfully for half a century. Space X, not so much– in fact, not at all.

    @Ron wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 2:46 am

    One word- ‘waste.’ Dragon is redundancy, supplementing an existing and operational system– Progress, operational for 34 YEARS- to supply a doomed, 11 year old space platform crewed by just six people. It’s a waste.

  • Mann Up

    But I was equally frustrated at our agency leadership and national leadership lack of will to support the funding necessary to make it successful.

    Just a little more money and the laws of physics itself as well as supply and demand would have just bowed down to Michael Griffin’s little fantasies.

    Give it up. It’s over. The program failed and was cancelled. SLS will too.

  • amightywind

    Bad timing given the Second Depression delivered by failed trickle-down economics.

    Was it trickle down economics that caused the downturn or trickle up progressive mortgage lending? What a simpleton. Yeah, lets have some more of the fair economic policy we all enjoy now.

    who he still gives a Cold War slap using the term

    The cold war never ended. It was only joined by the Chicoms. Charles understands this. The US had the opportunity to dismember Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. We did nothing. Not unlike our failure to hang Saddam at the end of Gulf War I. Heck, The last US leader to win a war decisively was Truman. Russia is resurrected like the undead from Zombieland. And we are stuck funding their space program to the tune of $3 billion a year. Shrewd, America. It is America’s fatal weakness to always leave another war to fight.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    I of course always find these discussions entertaining if for no other reason then Lori Garver’s various responses to my pieces in Ad Astra…and her role now.

    I don’t know what the specific context of this is, Robert, but I’d like to point out that people are allowed to let their opinions and perspectives evolve, aren’t they?

    I knew Lori when she ran NSS. I found her to be an inspiration. Back then, I was all rah-rah for NASA. Years later, I’m a lot older and wiser about the politics behind the NASA bureaucracy and what caused the deaths of fourteen astronauts.

    I’d like to think that Lori’s beliefs have evolved just as have mine. I’d like to think we’re both open-minded enough that we’re not locked into a closed vision that denies the evolution of history. (Or that denies evolution, but that’s a different subject …)

    And I still find Lori to be an inspiration.

  • Fred Willett

    Guys, you’ve got to read the chron.com article Robert Oler pointed to.
    http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Space-Launch-System-is-a-threat-to-JSC-Texas-jobs-3498836.php
    Sure it’s arguing for jobs in Texas, but that doesn’t invalidate the points it makes. Besides it’s full of lovely lines like
    The current national human exploration strategy, which is based on development of the SLS, is economically unaffordable.
    and
    the SLS within a fixed or declining budget has crowded out funding for critical elements needed for any real deep space human exploration program.
    and
    SLS is killing JSC. SLS is killing Texas jobs. SLS is killing our national space agenda.
    If two ex top NASA people feel this strongly about the current direction of the space program they need to be listened to. You may argue they’re wrong, but you should at least listen to what they’re saying.
    And what they’re saying is clear.
    1/SLS is killing our ability to do actual exploration as there is no money left for exploration hardware.
    2/ JSC is losing key engineering talent needed to build this exploration hardware.
    3/ SLS pushes the date we can actually think about beginning BEO exploration out past 2030.
    These are the facts.
    GAO said it.
    Augustine said it.
    Booz Allen said it.
    Now two more authorative voices say it.
    This is not just “newspace fanboys”.
    Do we have to wait until SLS goes over budget and gets cancelled?
    Explore now on the LVs we’ve got.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 6:22 pm
    One word- ‘waste.’ Dragon is redundancy, supplementing an existing and operational system– Progress’

    Just a small correction, Progress has no down mass capability. In fact, only Dragon Cargo will have down mass capability and NASA recently referred to that as essential for the ongoing utilisation of the ISS. Note again, no other spacecraft used for the ISS has any down mass capability. You may cite Progress but that’s limited to a few kilos of personal items only, no research racks, no equipment for refurbishment, nothing, zip, nada.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    And, yes, I am advocating government subsidizing of resource extraction. The analogy is the Interstate highway system.

    Analogies, like medicine, are great when used correctly. This is not one of those cases.

    The Interstate Highway System was an improvement of an already existing network of transportation routes (i.e. infrastructure). The intent was to improve the speed at which someone or something (like tanks) could transit long distances within our great nation. Definitely a case of spending on something that benefited everyone in the nation, and the demand/supply equation was easy to see.

    The government paying for resource extraction on the Moon is not “infrastructure”, and it is not an improvement of anything that exists today. And as I previously pointed out, there is nothing on the Moon today that we know we need, or can’t get less expensively here on Earth. In other words, there is zero demand for lunar resources. Nada. None.

    It is also an unproven assertion that by spending $87B for the Spudis/Lavoie plan (as one example) we would end up with an equivalent amount of value to the U.S. Taxpayer in return. Now that value could be in terms of knowledge, or just the market value of the resources, but no one has been able to quantify a big enough reason for doing anything back on the Moon for the $100B or so current plans would require. That’s why no President had pushed a lunar return before Bush 43, and that’s why post Bush 43 Congress cancelled CxP without any protest.

    As for the “high tech” SpaceX rendezvous, it is simply a proximity rendezvous with capture from the ISS. Not a particularly ambitious advance from Gemini.

    If that were so, then why haven’t Boeing or Lockheed Martin done it using hardware they built mainly on their own nickel?

    The docking won’t be remarkable for what is being docked, or even how they are doing it, but because a government is not the owner or builder of the vehicle. If that’s not of any interest to you, then I think you are going to be sorely disappointed in the future, since our expansion into space will be because of private enterprise, not pure government/taxpayer efforts.

    Oh, and based on what you apparently consider “exciting”, Congress has funded nothing exciting for NASA”s future, since even the proposed SLS/MPCV test flight around the Moon will just be a rehash of what we did five decades earlier. Just thought I’d point that out… ;-)

  • Daddy

    @Mann Up,

    “Give it up. It’s over…”
    Exactly… I’m afraid it is ALL OVER.

    I really do wish SpaceX well come April 30th. But even if they make it, it’s a long haul to successful manned flight. By the time we’re back up, we will just have made it back to 1961 with not much more to come…. Yes, I fear SLS is dead years before arrival… The problem is that Obama made it OK to give up on space. Bush may have been too ambitious, but he didn’t give up. Nixon had a chance to give up on space after Apollo and chose not to. We got the Shuttle. It was a milestone, but not the answer. Reagan got us going in a direction for permanent manned space presence. Carter and Clinton at least understood that manned space inspired the public and left it alone.

    I don’t see any answers or a mission worth getting behind at all.

    Do I value my job? Yes. Do I believe I’ve earned my pay coming up with practical and effective ways to get things done safely? Yes. Do I feel like I’ve beaten my head against the wall getting the public and government to value our contributions? Yes.

    The public has not accepted failure in human space flight and yet today NASA is slapped around for being wasteful and redundant for working to minimize the threats to human space travelers.

    Elon, it is hard… Good luck.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 6:22 pm
    . His assessment of ‘Boris’ (a pejorative Cold War slap to be sure which say more about CK than Russia BTW) and the PRC is accurate.>>

    which brings up two points…if you think that Charles K is accurate about Boris why are you advocating depending on them with Progress…as for The PRC…why does the right wing want to trade with them RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Yes, I recognize Cx was flawed, and I was very frustrated at how it starved various other NASA needs of funding. But I was equally frustrated at our agency leadership and national leadership lack of will to support the funding necessary to make it successful. >>

    increased funding only covers and mitigates flawed programs it does not fix them. Cx did not have problems that funding would fix…it had as SLS does serious management and structural problems.

    That time in aerospace did not serve you well. RGO

  • Fred Willett

    On a related point, made by the mindless, that SpaceX is sucking on the public teat it’s worth recalling that the milestone payment SpaceX earns for COTS flight 2 is $5M and COTS flight 3 is $5M. That is SpaceX earns $10M for a launch of a $50M Falcon 9 carrying a $50M Dragon.
    And that’s only paid if the mission is a success. If they complete COTS 2 but not COTS 3 then they only get $5M and have to find another F9 and Dragon and redo COTS 3.
    NASA and the tax payer is getting incredibly good value here.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    The public has not accepted failure in human space flight and yet today NASA is slapped around for being wasteful and redundant for working to minimize the threats to human space travelers.

    they are slapped around because the “work” that they are doing to minimize the threats to human space travelers consist of meeting after meeting where a lot of people hang out but really do nothing in the least constructive.

    the folks at NASA wouldnt know flight safety if it hit them in the head RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    “The Interstate Highway System was an improvement of an already existing network of transportation routes (i.e. infrastructure). The intent was to improve the speed at which someone or something (like tanks) could transit long distances within our great nation. Definitely a case of spending on something that benefited everyone in the nation, and the demand/supply equation was easy to see.”

    not really. I know that is the story but really it is not

    What prompted the interstate highway system was the car manufactors who after WW2 had 1) a lot of excess production capacity and 2) brand new cars with new technology that needed far better roads then what existed “then”.

    Ike was trying to stabilize the post war economy and he knew what the GOP has forgotten that this is done through manufactoring jobs which then (and should be now) were high wage and employed a lot of people from WW2 who were out of work…the problem was new roads were needed.

    The GOP would hear none of it. The party has always had a sort of anti government infrastructure tweak in it…and Ike could not move them off the bat on the notion of the economy…

    However “Beetle” Smith, Ikes former Chief of staff during the war had a plan…and it was to tie the highway to national defense.

    the need to “move tanks” (Ike used the airborne as an example) was made up…the USAF would move most tanks like it does now…by air…but no one could argue with five star Ike on defense and that included his own party.

    The Ike highway system is a study in infrastructure and industry building. It spent a lot of federal money but it created the economy we have today (sigh Walmart, Home Deport etc would be dead without it)…and the money spent was returned several fold.

    Ike was one of the last Presidents to keep the military budget more or less in check…and he did it during the most dangerous part of the cold war. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I reread your post after typing mine…we are I guess not so much in disagreement as I thought RGO

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    It’s an international platform, not an American-only enterprise (and a platform being criticizied for having empty space BTW in the press) and reliance on Progress is a) irrelevant to the Cold War prejudices encrusting the Fossil Krauthammer and b) working to rule, minimizing exposure to fulfill contractual obligations to a doomed dinosaur is good long term policy planning for government space operations best used for BEO space projects of scale, not wasting resources on a Reagan era dinosaur, a relic of an era long past. As to GOP PRC trade, why did the right wing trade w/Germany in 1940; because business is business and corporations owe no loyalties to nation-states, which reinforces the absurd notion by some posters to label SpaceX ‘Amerca’s space program’— which it is not.

    @amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    “The cold war never ended.”

    Except it has. There is no USSR; there is no Berlin Wall; there is no East Germany, there’s a McDonald’s in Red Square and a Rolls Royce dealership to boot, etc., etc. Sober up, Windy.

    @BeanCounterfromDownunder wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    =yawn= After 11 years, there’s empty space up there and nothing being returned ansd any further investment in redundant supply systems to a doomed space platform that can house, at best, six people, is throwing good money after bad. But Australia is welcome to mail Uncle Sam a check to pay for it.

  • DCSCA

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    “I knew Lori when she ran NSS. I found her to be an inspiration.”

    Then you’re inspired by lobbyists for aerospace contractors and have no interest in space exploration. Personally bantered with her regarding the ISS vs. a lunar base and her argument for the space station was ithat it generated jobs for the industry and the moon base would come ‘later.’ The fast NASA jettisons her from the agency, the better.

  • mike shupp

    I’m finding this fascinating. Krauthammer is getting far more attention for that column than Norm Augustine got with his little panel a couple years ago. Everybody and his brother is mad as hell at the guy. And, naturally, just about no one is coming up with arguments that would really refute Krauthmammer’s declinism.

    “Of course the manned space program is dying!” seems to be the consensus.away from the standard space websites. “It was basically dead long ago, and no one wants it back, But we’ve got really nice robots on Mars and that means the US space program is bigger and better and braver than ever!” Somehow, I doubt this is going to alter Krauthammer views.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    DCSCA wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 2:25 am
    =yawn= After 11 years,…’

    You’re quite right, it is all very boring and why would Australia wish to participate in the boondoggle that the ISS has become? Something NASA admits to never having a plan on utilisation!! So your very welcome to it. We’ll wait for the Bigelow modules and private crew transport thanks very much. Lots more cost effective.
    BTW, I notice you didn’t address my point, but never mind, silence gives consent.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 1:27 am

    “not really. I know that is the story but really it is not.” Except it is. 1+1=2, not 11, nor is it some secret plan to get people to buy cars and trucks.

  • ArtieT

    There will be no expansion of private LEO orbital crew capability once ISS is splashed down. Suborbital , yes. Orbital, no. And when NASA goes under, starting with HSF, along with it goes suborbital customers for commercial suborbital.

  • Fred Willett wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 8:51 pm
    Hear! Hear! That’s my response to what you wrote, Fred. Either Mike Shupp didn’t read your comment or didn’t comprehend it.

  • Mann Up

    Elon, it is hard… Good luck.

    Yeah right. Human space flight is so hard apparently, that only the Russians and Chinese can do it. Surely American corporations will never attempt it.

  • Daddy

    @DCSCA,
    Bravo! Lori is a technically ignorant politician… It’s amazing Obama buys into her hollow ideas…. It just makes the point that neither of them share any practical knowledge of space or physics. Their inspiration must be purely based on Star Trek and Big Band Theory reruns.

    @RGO,
    I am proud of my aerospace career. I trust you are proud of your coin collections. Since you are so inspired by Lori, I take it your scientific knowledge is on par with hers… Zip… Goofy!

  • Robert G. Oler

    mike shupp wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 am

    I’m finding this fascinating. Krauthammer is getting far more attention for that column than Norm Augustine got with his little panel a couple years ago. Everybody and his brother is mad as hell at the guy. And, naturally, just about no one is coming up with arguments that would really refute Krauthmammer’s declinism. ”

    I thought Charlie did a pretty good job.

    Charles K’s “declinism” is a theme that has been sung by the GOP during almost every election since WW2 when they are in some sort of trouble with the voters for one thing or another.

    It has become a symphony under the GOP right with Obama taking office and come to embrace any attempt at pulling back from the Bush catastrophes that were left as Obama took office. Somehow Obama should try and continue the “course” with a lot of things Bush did (he has sadly on some things) and MAKE THEM WORK.

    you see that here in the endless calls to “fix”Cx as if that was possible.

    The only “fix” that the GOP wants is “more money ” to in the end come up with some conclusion on the program…what that conclusion is really doesnt matter a fig. Then the fools like Charles K can sit back and talk about American greatness as one “big rocket” a year goes off and the rest of the country goes to hell.

    The right wing (and Charles K is a good spokesperson for it) has come to be against anything Obama is for and for anything he is against…its goofy I know but that right now is their doctrine. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 9:12 am

    @RGO,
    I am proud of my aerospace career. I trust you are proud of your coin collections>>

    coin collections? Oh I have a few “historical pieces” but I am not a collector…stamps on the other hand!

    Linda Ham is still proud of her efforts with Columbia. Bush 43 is still proud of his decision to go into Iraq…being “proud” is not a real indicator of success.

    RGO

  • @Artie T
    “There will be no expansion of private LEO orbital crew capability once ISS is splashed down.
    Ever hear of Bigelow, Artie?

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 7:52 am

    ” 1+1=2, not 11, nor is it some secret plan to get people to buy cars and trucks.”

    the interstate highway system was. and in that particular case…it had/has a grand multiplier in terms of the economy.

    The Ike years are a fascinating study. It is both an amazing time in American history …it is the 8 years when we really transformed into a super power…and did so wth very little concentration on military spending…as most Republicans do now. Even though we faced real enemies. RGO

  • MrEarl

    As usual, the discussion has degenerated into petty bickering and strawman bashing.
    I think what everyone is missing here is something I’ve seen a lot of lately. In general, from anecdotal evidence from my own experiences, it seems the public feels that the US is in decline as a superpower. They feel our power and influence on world events and even our own fate, has been greatly diminished. We have become risk adverse, paunchy around the middle and lacking in the spirit of intuitive that defined the United States in the 1960’s when it seemed everything is possible.

    Let’s take the subject of space as an example. Fifty years ago the US was perceived to be behind the Soviet Union in manned spaceflight. As a response to that, President Kennedy set a goal of the US landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. There was dissent but overall the public found it was a goal worthy of a great nation. I think the mood of the nation was best summed up by Kennedys speech at Rice University when he said; “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. “ And as a nation we did succeed. It could be argued that during the very divisive time of the late ’60 the space program was one of the few things that kept us together as a nation. Even as we transitioned from the Apollo Program to the Shuttle Program, the public saw this as great step forward, that we were pushing the envelope of technology and that it was worth the 6 year wait.

    Today, unfortunately this blog seems to represent the general mood of the nation. Divisive, petty, win at any and all costs, lacking in any real reflection on important issues. As I talked with people I met at the Welcome Discovery ceremony at the Udvar-Hasy center last Thursday, they did relate to me how they felt this was more of a funeral for US manned space flight than the end of the Shuttle program. That even the possibility commercial human space flight and SLS/Orion to asteroids or Mars was just a pipe dream. They’ll get cut and/or canceled like everything else. That our nation doesn’t have the will, the energy or the guts to do great things anymore. President Obama may or may not have caused it, you can reasonably argue both sides, but it’s for certain he hasn’t done anything to stop the decline.
    That’s what people/voters are looking for. Leadership to make this a great nation again.

    Let the attack begin.

  • Coastal Ron

    mike shupp wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 am

    And, naturally, just about no one is coming up with arguments that would really refute Krauthmammer’s declinism.

    Then you’re not reading much of what most people are writing.

    “Of course the manned space program is dying!” seems to be the consensus.

    And apparently you’re not understanding the little that you do read.

    Like Charles Krauthammer, you apparently have forgotten that we’ve had a human occupied space station in orbit for over 11 years. The science we are getting from the ISS is far and above better and more voluminous than we ever got from the Shuttle, which is not a surprise considering that the Shuttle could only stay in orbit for two weeks at a time.

    Our future in space depends on both expanding our use of the ISS, and leveraging it’s technology and techniques to go beyond it, both in LEO and beyond LEO. With the Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, we’ll be able to lower the cost of sustaining our operations in space, which can allow us to do more in space – if we stop wasting money on a gigantic rocket that has not forecasted need.

    For people in the space industry, these are exciting times, and the future only looks brighter.

  • Robert G. Oler

    mike shupp wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 3:32 am
    Somehow, I doubt this is going to alter Krauthammer views.:

    Nothing will alter those views. Charles K and the rest of the right wing “America is going under” are without apology for every fool thing that they have said which has turned out to be flat wrong. CK was wrong on Iraq, he was wrong on Afland, he was wrong on the Bush tax cuts….he was wrong on Cx.

    “wrong” never matters with the far extremes in politics…they just flail on saying things like “well it could have worked if we had done it correctly”…some of them are still fighting the Vietnam war. Even the ones that never wanted to fight in it.

    These are mostly physcially weak people (Limbaugh is a tub of lard for instance) who revel in “great” projects that project power. All the while they really dont care that the foundation of America is really declining.

    Cx was a failure. It was a badly conceived program, it was goofy in its management…it had no real chance of doing much of anything other then eating money…but it was OK because it feeds one of the corporate industrial complexes that the GOP has come to love.

    FActs are not important to these people RGO

  • There will be no expansion of private LEO orbital crew capability once ISS is splashed down.

    There are no plans to “splash ISS down.” And there are plans for private orbital space facilities.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    The problem is that Obama made it OK to give up on space.

    Huh? Proposing larger budgets for NASA is giving up? Proposing technology programs for future needs is giving up? Naming a destination we haven’t been to and that stretches NASA’s abilities is giving up? Supporting and expanding the commercialization of space support services is giving up? Killing one of the worst run, over-budget programs in the history of NASA is giving up? Whoa, I think you are making up a new dictionary here.

    Bush may have been too ambitious, but he didn’t give up.

    Yikes, you are making up a new dictionary – or at least dabbling in revisionist history.

    Bush announced the VSE, and then did nothing to support it. He used none of the “political capital” that he said he had from the 2004 election. How in any way is that showing that “he didn’t give up”, or that he even cared?

    And regarding the VSE, I’ve said many a time that it is an OK vision statement except for one word – the “2020″ date stated for the return to the Moon. That line in the sand changed our efforts in space from being capability based, to being a race against time. In the project management triangle, where you can only get two of three choices (Good, Fast, Cheap), the Constellation program went from affordable (Good & Cheap) to unaffordable (Good & Fast). So yes, he was too ambitious, and look how much chaos it caused.

    Oh, and let’s not forget what else the VSE set in motion…

    Reagan got us going in a direction for permanent manned space presence.

    The ISS had to die in order for Constellation to live. How short sighted was that? And a good example of Bush giving up on something that he hadn’t even finished at that point.

    The public has not accepted failure in human space flight and yet today NASA is slapped around for being wasteful and redundant for working to minimize the threats to human space travelers.

    I think you’re being kind of myopic here – every day the public uses modes of transportation (including walking) that they know could end in death. Space travel is just another potential form of death, and everyone knows that.

    What matters is whether we are learning from those deaths, or if we will keep making the same ulta-expensive mistakes by not learning. The Shuttle was too fragile to depend upon, so I came to accept ending the program. We must do better on our next generation of vehicles, and so far it looks like the CCDev participants are. I hope they get the chance to show their stuff.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Once again, the bottom line is we could have had DIRECT and two manned launch systems for the money wasted on Ares 1.

    How the combustion oscillations of large solid grains escaped NASA Safety is a good question.

    How and why Griffin proceeded with the architecture he did is another.

    Finally, ATK is a crummy company which could not deliver a crummy rocket anywhere near on time or on budget.

    While propagandists can alter our view of history, there is nothing Romney can do to change physics.

  • DCSCA

    @Daddy wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Garver’s a registered lobbyist. Her history began as a go-for in Gleen’s office back in the early ’80s and is easy to track and she is most decidely unqualified to be in the position she’s holding today at NASA.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/education.php?id=70834

    @Mann Up wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Except it is. And profit motivated, private corporations have had half a century to get flying. It’s expensive, and being denied adequate capital investment from a wary private sector due to low to no ROI, seek to socialize the risk by tapping government subsidies, that benefit a select few at the expense of the many– and these days, 43 cents of every dollar used for that ‘subsidy’ is borrowed. It’s a waste and redundant as there’s already several government space operations at work, both civl and DoD in nature and every dollar wasted subsidizing commercial LEO siphons off dwindling resources for these existing space programs.

  • amightywind

    The science we are getting from the ISS is far and above better and more voluminous than we ever got from the Shuttle

    Links please. I contend that the the value of ISS as a science platform is the greatest misrepresention of all time.

    The ISS had to die in order for Constellation to live.

    This is at the heart of our malaise. You cannot distort the NASA budget with perpetual ISS costs and expect to have a shuttle replacement. Bush knew that. Obama picked ISS. Now we have no space program and no credible plans for one.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There are no plans to “splash ISS down.”

    Other than prudent contingency plans I presume.

  • vulture4

    @DSCA: If you do not think NASA should be helping private industry develop practical human spaceflight, I am a little puzzled as to why you think tax dollars should be spent on human spaceflight at all. The services the government actually requires in space for communications and imaging require only unmanned spacecraft and can be procured on the commercial market.

    NACA was not created to fly missions for the US government. It was created to help US industry develop new technology and expand US commerce. Why on earth should we be spending our hard-earned taxes sending a few civil servants to Mars?

    As to Garver, I’m not aware of her making any significant technical or political errors. Compare her record, for example, to Griffin and his bizarre “vision” that threw together Shuttle components in a completely impractical fashion, accomplished no mission of practical value, and was budgeted at a tiny fraction of its real cost, as Senator McCain clearly pointed out in 2004. Or to Golden’s off-the-cuff decision to double the size of the Webb telescope, beginning a long series of debacles. Or to Bolden pantomiming Russian roulette while talking publicly about the Shuttle to KSC employees.

    The disdain expressed toward Garver by many both within and outside the agency appears to be merely a symptom of the pervasive politicization of the agency, and indeed the country as a whole. Alone among NASA’s leaders, Garver has a clear and coherent vision, not of human spaceflight as a spectacular feat for a few intrepid explorers, but rather of a future in which it is practical and routine, affording large numbers of people the opportunity to live and work productively in space.

  • BRC

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 22nd, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    “Come on Windy answer the question…you think Ronaldus the Great would want a government run government operated resupply and recrew over a SpaceX/OSC type effort?
    have courage answer the question? Whittington you can chime in as well.”

    As I didn’t read any sort of response from either member – from the time of your posting, all the way until now, here’s the answer (or at least AN answer… and abeit a day late) directly from the horse’s… or should I say, Gipper’s mouth:
    ” I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 3942, the Commercial Space Launch Act. One of the important objectives of my administration has been, and will continue to be, the encouragement of the private sector in commercial space endeavors. Fragmentation and shared authority had unnecessarily complicated the process of approving activities in space. Enactment of this legislation is a milestone in our efforts to address the need of private companies interested in launching payloads to have ready access to space.
    “ This administration views facilitation of the commercial development of expendable launch vehicles as an important component of America’s space transportation program. We expect that a healthy ELV industry, as a complement to the Government’s space transportation system, will produce a stronger, more efficient launch capability for the United States that will contribute to continued American leadership in space.“ —– Ronald Reagan: “Statement on Signing the Commercial Space Launch Act ,” October 30, 1984

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 11:14 am

    In general, from anecdotal evidence from my own experiences, it seems the public feels that the US is in decline as a superpower.

    I had a grandmother who felt that during Reagan’s 1st term in office that the U.S. was going to end. No matter what good I told her I saw around us, she refused to recognize it.

    I kind of feel the same way about people that keep pronouncing “the decline of the U.S. as a superpower”. Kind of the complete opposite of irrational exuberance. I hope you get over your depression and are able to find some reason to live out the rest of your life.

    For me, I survived the Cold War and everything in between. What’s going on today is minor in comparison, and no one can invade countries with impunity like the U.S. can. The rumors of our decline have been greatly exaggerated.

    Let’s take the subject of space as an example.

    I’ll summarize what I think you said – the space-related programs you wanted didn’t happen, so you’re sad, and that’s your measurement of how the U.S. is doing in space. Then you went to a somber event about the end of a 30 year space program, and no one cheered you up. Uh huh.

    Oh, and then your only example of when the U.S. was doing things right was 50 years ago, but it’s only now that you say we’ve lost our mojo in space… Uh huh.

    Maybe because I’m a numbers type of guy that I tend to quantify things, and then judge them. And by any measure, I see a much better future for our efforts in space today then I did 20 years ago, and even 40 years ago.

    I mean, we’ve been continuously living in space for over 11 years! And we are within a couple of years of being the only nation that can not only put people up and back to space at will, but also independently supply just about anything in LEO with both up & down mass. The complete package.

    As a nation, we have a deep, capable aerospace and industrial base, and we have multiple companies of every size and type doing cutting edge product development. Tell me – what other country in the world can match our capabilities?

    Not Russia, whose own space industrial base can’t even upgrade their rockets and spacecraft. Not China, who is just starting to learn how to become comfortable with their upgraded Soviet-era hardware. Not even the ESA and JAXA organizations, who lack a complete understanding of manned vehicles.

    As Carly Simon said of 007 in the Spy Who Loved Me, nobody does it better. That’s the U.S. for all things space, and I don’t see any changes on the horizon.

  • BRC

    As a follow-on to the above, I’ve found it interesting that of all the things Obama’s done — and plenty of which I have disagreements with (but that’s an issue-by-issue thing), yet the one thing here he’s done with Commercial Space is in sync with exactly what Reagan espoused (how’d ya’ll like that? I think I hear some ideological-synapses popping)… probably because even he himself knew there was merit, even beyond political retoric.

    And yet the humorously ironic knee-jerk response of several GOP & alledged conservative pundits was to blindly jump on the total opposite of his position (never mind that they were now opposing Reagan of all things) and they now support maintaining if not an outright increase of Big Government (and a reduction of commercial) for space… a position that for ANYTHING ELSE, they’d otherwise be decrying as socialist, demonic & communist.
    Democrats & alledged “liberals”, OTOH, don’t escape either: This same irony carries over to their camp, with people who’d ordinarily howl at anything even remotely capitalistic (like even a lemonade stand) finding themselves running to the defense of their elected king of change.

    This whole comedy just spotlights that there are folks of ANY Political bent, who’re so hyper-sensitive/-active about gaining & keeping ALL the turf, that they willingly develop ideological blindspots of convenience, in effect saying: “I’m AGAINST IT, because YOU just said You’re FOR IT, and I’m ideologically bound to be 100% against ANYthing you’ve ever done, or said, or will ever say, in your life!! Because you are of Party X (the Party of Hate & Evil-naughtyness) and I’m Party O (the Party of Peace, Love & Chocolately Goodness).”

    I usually just sit back, reading all this Jekyll & Hyde reactions from this site, and get a big grin (& woeful shake of the head) out of it all.

  • Vladislaw

    Daddy wrote:

    “By the time we’re back up, we will just have made it back to 1961″

    So let me get this straight, in 1961, if I had a big checkbook, I could fly on a NASA rocket?

    You keep missing the point, the NASA monopoly is ending. There will be a commercial destination and a commercial LEO provider.

    How many President’s since President Nixon have called for more commercial space?

    ALL OF THEM!

    IF you can not see that we are about to see a paradigm shift in spaceflight and capital flows then there is no point in debating.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Links please. I contend that the the value of ISS as a science platform is the greatest misrepresention of all time.

    Really? You’re not aware that we get more long-term space exposure data from a six-month stay on the ISS than a two week jaunt on the Shuttle?

    Here is the link to the ISS Experiments by Category page, and specifically the Human Research section. As one small subset, here is a link that describes the work being done on the Human Research Facility – 1 (HRF-1).

    You cannot distort the NASA budget with perpetual ISS costs and expect to have a shuttle replacement.

    No Shuttle replacements were in the works under Bush, and none are in the works today, if you mean “replacement” literally.

    Orion couldn’t replace the Shuttle, and wasn’t meant to. It was the next vehicle NASA would operate, but it was not a direct replacement. This is a misnomer that many (including you apparently) have been suckered into believing.

    The functions of the Shuttle are being replaced by discrete solutions:

    1. Satellite Hauler – replaced long ago by commercial rockets
    2. Construction Shack – it built it’s own replacement in the ISS
    3. Cargo Hauler – being replaced by COTS
    4. People Hauler – it could only rotate people, not keep them in space like Soyuz. Commercial Crew will provide us with a capability that the Shuttle could never provide (i.e. keeping crews in orbit for longer than 2 weeks)

    Bush knew that. Obama picked ISS.

    Bush didn’t care about space, so he let Griffin wander off the space path and create a Plan B. Bad management of Plan B led the 111th Congress to cancel the over-budget, over-schedule, underwhelming Constellation program and go back to Plan A, which was to fully utilize the brand new ISS and maximize the amount of science we can learn from it.

    I don’t hear anyone in Congress regretting that choice, do you?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi V4 –

    I am surpised to hear that Golden doubled the size of the NGST on a whim. Quite frankly, I am highly sceptical that that is what occured.

  • I contend that the the value of ISS as a science platform is the greatest misrepresention of all time.

    Is there any reason that anyone, here or elsewhere, should care what ignorant trolls like you (or “DCSCA”) “contend”?

  • Other than prudent contingency plans I presume.

    Yes, obviously one should have plans on how to splash ISS, just as the Pentagon has plans on how to invade Canada. But there is no plan, associated with a specific date, to actually do so.

  • @Mr. Earl
    No attacks. Just a serious question. If the end of the Shuttle is as bad an event as you say it is, then why would two NASA officials (Kraft and Moser) who were key to the development and operation of BOTH Shuttle and Apollo have such a positive take on going with the competive commercial paradigm (and that includes getting rid of SLS)? Armstrong and Cernan bravely flew the things, but these guys were the ones that led the development and implentation of the hardware and systems that got them there safely.

  • Vladislaw observed:

    How many President’s since President Nixon have called for more commercial space?

    The Reagan administration in July 1984 amended the National Aeronautics and Space Act to add this section:

    Sec. 102(c) The Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (as established by title II of this Act) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.

    And President George W. Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration in early 2004 introduced the commercialization of space to send cargo and crew to the ISS.

    Under President Obama, we finally have a President who takes the law seriously.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 10:58 am
    Except it wasn’t.

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Longest time in space:

    1. Valeri Polyakov, launched 8 January 1994 (Soyuz TM-18), stayed at Mir for 437.7 days,[1][2] during which he orbited the Earth about 7,075 times and traveled 300,765,000 km (186,887,000 mi), returning 22 March 1995 (Soyuz TM-20).

    2. Sergei Avdeyev, launched 13 August 1998 (Soyuz TM-28), stayed at Mir for 379.6 days, returned on 28 August 1999.

    3. Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov, launched 21 December 1987 (Soyuz TM-4), stayed at Mir for 364.9 days, returned on 21 December 1988.

    4. Yuri Romanenko, launched 5 February 1987 (Soyuz TM-2), stayed at Mir for 326.5 days, returned on 29 December 1987.

    5. Sergei Krikalev, launched 18 May 1991 (Soyuz TM-12), stayed at Mir for 311.8 days, returned on 25 March 1992.

    6. Valeri Polyakov, launched 29 August 1988 (Soyuz TM-6), stayed at Mir for 240.9 days, returned on 27 April 1989.

    7. Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin launched 18 September 2006 (Soyuz TMA-9), stayed at ISS for 215.4 days, returned on 21 April 2007. This flight is also the longest of any American

    8. Talgat Musabayev and Nikolai Budarin, launched 29 January 1998 (Soyuz TM-27), stayed at Mir for 207.5 days, returned on 25 August 1998.

    9. Gennady Padalka, launched 26 March 2009 (Soyuz TMA-14), stayed at ISS for 198.7 days, returned on 11 October 2009.

    10. Gennady Padalka, launched 13 August 1998 (Soyuz TM-28), stayed at Mir for 198.7 days, returned on 28 February 1999.

    Russian space capabilities are to be respected, whetrher you like it or not.

    “I mean, we’ve been continuously living in space for over 11 years! And we are within a couple of years of being the only nation that can not only put people up and back to space at will, but also independently supply just about anything in LEO with both up & down mass. The complete package.” What’s this ‘we’– private corporations do not represent the united states of America- they have no loyalities to any nation-state. ‘We’ are part of a partnership- “An international partnership consisting of Russia, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and Brazil have jointly maintained a continuous manned presence in space since 31 October 2000 when Soyuz TM-31 was launched on a mission to dock with the International Space Station. The International Space Station has been in continuous use for &1000000000000001100000011 years, &10000000000000173000000173 days. It broke the record of 9 years 358 days of the Soviet/Russian Space Station Mir on 23 October 2010.”- source, wikipedia/NASA

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I contend that the the value of ISS as a science platform is the greatest misrepresention of all time.

    Disagreement is fine, IF you can supply an equal or better alternative.

    For me, the long-term payoff of drug discovery is likely a long way off. I see that effort as piggybacking on the capabilities we’ve put in place for the real value of the ISS, which is learning how to live and work in space.

    What do you see are our equal or better alternatives for that kind of science & experience? The Spam-in-a-can Orion/MPCV? The ignorance-is-bliss approach? What?

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I think what everyone is missing here is something I’ve seen a lot of lately. In general, from anecdotal evidence from my own experiences, it seems the public feels that the US is in decline as a superpower”

    I found this a very INTERESTING and thought provoking post…you do I think account for the thinking of a lot of people..I dont agree with that thinking but it is a perception of people…

    “decline as a superpower” has in fact been a mantra of mostly the GOP and its supporters and politicans for a very long time

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/195/1

    an article by Anthony Young.

    “Casper Weinberger was deputy director of the OMB at the time. He argued that canceling the last two Apollo flights and refusing to fund the shuttle was tantamount to admitting “that our best years are behind us, that we are turning inward… and voluntarily starting to give up our superpower status…”

    it is a little confusing here and you need to read the entire article…but the quotes inside my quote…are from Weinberger when he was at OMB. I have the highest respect for Secretary Weinberger…he was a superb public servant and selflish in his devotion to The Republic.

    But he makes the same point 40 some odd years ago …you seem to say is being made today; particularly with the shuttle’s end.

    The end of American superpower status has been heralded by many for quite a long time…it is illustrated in publications by those who both support and oppose a particular item. In GOP politics it is mostly used as a stand in for either frustration with how things in a particular endeavor have turned out or some alarm over transitions that are occurring.

    Today the GOP is rocking along with some variations on the theme…ie “American exceptionalism” which really is a charade to say “we can do all the bad things we want to do in the world and be justified doing them because we are after all special”.

    Like the end of the aircraft carrier (the full deck version) the end of US superpower status has been heralded with no cause other then a political one for sometime…and while I think that the cryers of doom are doing the “sky is falling act” for yet another political season…things are changing

    We certainly have internal issues; most I would argue (but it is for another post) brought on by the very same people and thought process who continually argue that our status is slipping away. These people have routinely engaged the US in “doing things” that are meant solely to make us look tough. I dont care what you think of Saddam Hussain and Iraq…Saddam was not Hitler and his Iraq was not Nazi Germany. Iran barely has the industrial output of the state of Mississippi which is the poorest state in The Republic and poorer then almost any European nation (take out federal dollars and Mississippi is pretty grim)…

    Yet we RIGHT NOW have four aircraft carriers and their battle group wrapped up in hanging around Iran…

    Cx was all about “national super power demonstrations”…and we spent 15 Billion dollars to get zero flying hardware. In the 60′s the era you exalt we got the Gemini program, the entire program for 1/3 that. Why did Cx cost so much? It really didnt matter when or how much Cx cost to do what it did…it just mattered that we continued work for the “stakeholders”.

    “The history of World Powers is that they start to slip away when demonstrating to the world that they are a world power becomes more important then actually being one.” (that is a pretty close quote from General of the Armies John Pershing).

    This may be accelerated by the reality that the era of the “superpower” might be ending; just as the era of colonial powers went away.

    The superpower era is really a relic of the cold war…it is where the military “output” of a country (or its perceived one) was more important then anything else. The world seems to be moving past that…where the economics of a country are more important then anything else. There IS A MILITARY part to this…but it is very different then in the cold war.

    Space, particular human spaceflight has likewise evolved. “Space spectaculars” use to (as you note) garner a lot of attention; they barely get a passing notice today.

    I know this is a long post; but I was intrigued by the one you wrote. Transitions are always hard; particularly when people do not like the way things are moving. The NASA industrial workforce is seeing the end of “we are doing the project just to do it”…they are seeing the start of “this has to make some economic sense”…

    thats a hard transition…its more then just big flags hanging in the assembly line…but in the end we will be quite a lot stronger…when we make the transition.

    The days of “The Elephant being alone in the jungle” are about over. RGO

  • Explorer08

    Read in Reuters today that Romney has, in his budget plan of record, a proposed 20% cut for NASA. And, of course, Obama is no NASA fan. So, that’s it, apparently. I’ll switch my attention to James Cameron and the deep ocean trenches.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “I am surpised to hear that Golden doubled the size of the NGST on a whim. Quite frankly, I am highly sceptical that that is what occured.”

    During the early conceptual phases of NGST, almost twenty years ago, when it was baselined as a 4m telescope, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin specifically challenged the astronomy community to push for something more ambitious. He suggested 8m, which an astonished community was delighted to accept an an, er, golden proposition, Later cost estimates led to a descope to 6m, which is where it is now.

    You can read all about it at the JWST website — http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/overview/history/1996.

    That was not a change made “on a whim”. It was just a suggestion that the community try to be more ambitious. Challenges like that are admirable, and in no way led to the costing “debacles” that have haunted the program long after Goldin’s departure.

  • DCSCA

    @BRC wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    “…what Reagan espoused… probably because even he himself knew there was merit, even beyond political retoric.”

    Except, of course, Reaganomics was a failure; trickle-down conomics thoroughly discredited and the Reaganite push for ‘privatization’ of all things government, was part of the managerial problem that poisoned NASA and a contributing factor to the loss of Challenger. Like operating an R&D organization was going to be liek running the postal service. And the end of using shuttle to haul commercial satellites up to orbit was a Reagan decision, post Challenger. And, ff course, Reagan’s embrace of the space station with little to no follow along in funding and planning resulted in endless redesigns, added costs and a quarter century later has left us with the Cold War dinosaur we have today. The Reagan Administration’s damage to all things space (including the billions divered to the boondoggle SDI) is a matter of record.

  • DCSCA

    “[T]here’s a clear contrast between the way Romney and President Obama plan to support NASA. Romney’s budget proposal would require huge cuts to non-defense spending. In fact, if cuts were made across the board, this would mean slashing funding for NASA by 25 percent in 2016—a whopping $4.5 billion.” source, http://www.keepinggophonest.com/nasa-and-americas-leading-role-in-space-exploration-the-choice/

  • Explorer08 wrote:

    And, of course, Obama is no NASA fan.

    In what alternate reality is that?

    Obama’s first three NASA budgets tried to increase the budget. Congress cut them.

    Obama tried to close the gap created by Bush by accelerating the commercial cargo program and jump-starting commercial crew. Congress whacked commercial crew last year by more than 50% from what Obama proposed and is poised to whack Obama’s proposal this year by about a third.

    Obama has already visited KSC twice in his first term. Bush II never bothered. The last sitting President to visit KSC twice was Lyndon Johnson.

  • vulture4

    V4: Logically the next generation of reusables should have been developed while the Shuttle workforce was still available as a resource.

    Martijn Meijering: “To the degree it was a resource it is still available. The fact that so few workers have found new jobs under the new program illustrates they weren’t an asset but a liability. Harsh but true.”

    V4: More than one person has suggested that the processing workforce was responsible for the high cost of operations. That confuses cause and effect. The processing workforce was needed because of the number and complexity of tasks that had to be done. In the case of the orbiter, these tasks were primarily maintenance. Almost everyone who worked on the orbiter could provide numerous examples of elements of the orbiter design that caused unanticipated and often extraordinary increases in maintenance man-hours. One very common difficulty was the placment of items requiring maintenance, such as filters, under several layers of lines, wiring and other components that had to be laboriously removed and carefully replaced to perform a brief filter change. Tile maintenance was seen as inevitable, yet after Columbia was lost the changes in the ET foam dramatically reduced this damage. Obviously had it been foreseen during design an alternative approach might have been chosen. However almost everyone who physically put their hands on the orbiter can easily proved several strategies to design a new RLV in which maintenance hours can be vastly reduced.

    In the case of the SRBs and ET, which were essentially built new for every flight (although many SRB components were recycled, they were completely disassembled between flights), the situation was different. LV fabrication is a fairly mature industry and cannot be made much more efficient, and over the course of the program they became a larger portion of the total cost. Dissassembly of the solid fuel booster and rebuilding of all the compnents was an unavoidable cost. The only answer is the same as it was in 1974; one has to shift to liquid fuel and reuse the booster stage. The DOD currently has a major program to accomplish this.

    To summarize, The Shuttle was expensive because of the very high number of maintenance and fabrication hours per mission. The work hours were high because of unanticipated problems caused by specific decisions made early in the design process. In some cases it was possible to modify the Shuttle to significantly reduce maintenance hours, and this improvement continued throughout the program, but in other cases the problem could only have been avoided in a new design. Ironically it is the expendable portions of the shuttle that were a large part of the cost and presented few opportunities for significant cost reduction.

    This information was not effectively collected even though most of the techs and engineers were more than happy to talk about it.

    Those who do not remember the mistakes of the past are almost certain to repeat them.

  • Monte Davis

    RGO: …Ike years are a fascinating study… 8 years when we really transformed into a super power…and did so wth very little concentration on military spending

    Umm, no. Ike’s famous farewell warning about the military-industrial complex was prompted in large part by a decade of unprecedentedly high peacetime military spending. E.g., in early 1950 the target had been ~$13B; the sweeping NSC-68 review that spring proposed $50B, and when the Korean War began we were off to the races. As I like to remind people here, in 1953-1961 we spent roughly 2.5 Apollo budgets (constant $) on ballistic missile and spysat technologies, development and deployment. When people point to the fast pace of the 1960s as testimony to how much the US “wanted space” in those days, they tend to forget the extent to which that pace piggybacked on the earlier surge of military spending.

  • amightywind

    Nine days to go, and the next generation of American space flight begins.

    Or not. I find the repeated slips so close to launch day to be amateurish.

  • Monte Davis

    “Decline as a superpower” = “Europe and Asia should have remained as war-wrecked as they were in 1945-1955. And we didn’t really mean it when we installed democracy in Germany and Japan, or told the Chinese that they’d be more prosperous if they moved away from Lenin/Maoism, or told the Indians that they’d do better with less license-Raj socialism. Now look what the damned ingrates are up to.”

    Generally, I’m aligned with Coastal Ron @April 23rd, 2012 at 11:14 am. “Space declinism” seems to be a combination of (1) belated recognition that it’s not July 20, 1969 any more, and (2) finding a handy stick to beat a president/party they don’t like.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I find the repeated slips so close to launch day to be amateurish.

    Yes, that would never have happened with the mature Shuttle program… ;-)

    I hope your supervisor is reading your posts, so they’ll know you’ll never ask for more time to double-check your work. Of course when you do ask for more time to get things right, you get paid. Any schedule slips for the upcoming COTS 2/3 flight are on SpaceX dime. Do you understand the incentives here?

  • BRC

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 10:26 am

    “Yes, that would never have happened with the mature Shuttle program… ”

    Dang it, Ron, you stole my response… so I can only add:
    …. or with the zero-slip, launch-on-time reputation of Ares-1/Orion

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DL –

    In regards to Golden and the NGST, what was the payload fairing size for the NLS?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Or not. I find the repeated slips so close to launch day to be amateurish.>>

    and you thought that about the space shuttle system when it first flew, when it was slipping in 1985 when it was delayed as its last flight went off?

    all the above statement shows is how little you know about engineering and engineering programs

    I see also that you have never answered the question about which program Ronaldus the Great would have preferred…fail RGO

  • MrEarl

    You all are still missing the point.
    As a nation, the US once took great risk to do great things. The founding of the nation, “conquering” the West, the transcontinental railroad, WWII, breaking the sound barrier, the first explorations of space, are all indicative of a great nation willing to take great risks for great rewards.
    Our citizens don’t see that now. Talk to most people and they see America as afraid. Afraid for our jobs and safety, afraid to take any risk no matter what the reward.
    Context is everything so let’s put our current situation into context.
    America is slowly coming out of the worse economic times since the Great Depression. True unemployment is at least 9% and under-employment is close to 25%.
    Since 9/11, more and more of our freedoms and privacy are being taken away in the name of security.
    As a people, we are way more risk adverse then we ever were.
    The retirement of the shuttle, a vehicle that has been ingrained in the American mind as the height of space technology and riding to “our” space station on Russian rockets, is just one more indication to many that America has lost its will to be a great nation.
    In the last century, during these times of self-doubt, there have been leaders that have made America great by sheer force of will. TR in the early part of the century, FDR through the Great Depression and WWII, Kennedy after the Sputnik and “Missile Gap scares and Ronald Reagan after the Watergate Scandal and recession of the ‘70’s. Republicans learned the wrong lessons from the Reagan Administration. It’s not about tax cuts and less government as much as it was about making Americans believe in themselves and their nation again.
    There’s always been the prophets of doom and the American people will listen to them if there is no one to offer a counter-point. I don’t see anyone offering that counterpoint.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Monte Davis wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 9:13 am

    close anyway

    http://econ4.org/media-library/u-s-defense-department-budget-since-ww2

    these are constant 12 dollars

    I agree with you that the early 50′s particularly with 68 saw a massive “surge” in military spending; the chart makes that obvious

    But the IKE years 52-60 are an impressive level off from the spike…and then get pretty constant.

    The spending control on defense is even more impressive when you look at it in reference to the rest of the federal budget…and GDP…

    there are spikes of course but in terms of constant spending the numbers stay “somewhat constant”…until of course Bush 43 comes in and we start our war on “people in caves”…which now sees us ramping up to near WW2 levels of spending.

    There of course we were fighting two major industrial powers, supplying the world with arms and …..here we are fighting Iranians in speedboats.

    Ike did a pretty good job of keeping the GOP Nuts at bay. He could do that…his five stars were kind of overwhelming

    RGO

  • @MrEarl
    “As a nation, the US once took great risk to do great things.”
    Drastically changing the way we access space (instead of doing things the same old way we always have up until now) is the kind of gutsy audacious and bold move that we need. Going all out on SLS would not be taking a risk that would give us the benefit of significant advancement in space. Instead it would just be foolishly throwing money away into a system that is not sustainable in the long run, when we could otherwise get more space exploration/exploitation from same amount of money.

    I and others want to take major risks in space and do so as soon as possible. The problem we have is that SLS is such a lousy excuse of a way to do it.

    The reason why Ares I was cancelled was not because it was taking a risk, but because it was at best a suboptimal solution to the problem it was supposed to address and using up much more budgetary resources than better alternatives. The same can be said for SLS. It will ultimately be cancelled for the same reason. And that reason will NOT be risk aversion. I am truly sorry to say this since I actually think you believe what you say, but you’re just fooling yourself.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    There’s always been the prophets of doom and the American people will listen to them if there is no one to offer a counter-point. I don’t see anyone offering that counterpoint.>>

    if this is your point then I think that 1) it is a good one and 2) I would agree with it…and while I also agree with the notion that the GOP learned the wrong lessons from “The Ronaldus the Great” revolution…it is not about feeling good about their country….it is that most Americans feel that they have lost control of their country.

    and hence…events.

    The western expansion of the 1800′s (and it was almost all of the 1800′s) is probably a one time singular century in the life of this country. It is about people taking great risk; but mostly it was about people who had not much to lose taking enormous risk. The people who went westward since the first colonies were established were the people who took the risk…not the nation. And they took those risk in large measure because they were simply out of any other reasonable alternative. That doesnt minimize the risk, a great many of them perished in the process..but it is not like people happily in New York city in the 1870′s struck out for Winslow Arizona…(or what would become Winslow)…(this is in large measure what makes TR such a bold figure…he did leave the east for the west).

    The 1960′s were a time of change. YOu noted in one post that the space program was one thing that held us together. My impression is that it was a thing but not the largest thing. What held America together in the 60′s is that more and more people came to see that the “change” in the 60′s was good…If you were the “keen minds of the south” (the folks who are the parents of the modern GOP) then the 60′s were a time of seeing your culture vanish…but to everyone else those times were good times…

    What has happened today is that the vast majority of the American people no longer think that their government works for them. It works as in Cx and SLS not for the people who pay the bills but for the people WHO LIVE OFF THOSE BILLS.l…what I call “the corporate industrial complexes”.

    Cx and SLS have no chance of doing Apollo again…of sending humans into space for “Mythic voyages of exploration’…they dont…but it is that they claim this for their very survival…that is part of the feeling that many Americans have of losing control.

    We have these periods in this countries history and they usually come when we are cursed with subpar leadership. Bush 43 and Obama the current are almost two peas in a pod in terms of their ability to push the country in a good way. For different reasons of course. Bush 43 was simply reliving the cold war…Obama could not lead flies to warm human excrement.

    The odd thing of course is that one of Obama’s steller examples of leadership is human spaceflight. He has sought to put a dagger in the bloodsuckers that are killing it…he has encouraged people like Musk to take GREAT RISK as you call it…to do great things.

    Look on this forum who is oppossing this. They are the statist, the people for whom going back to the past is the ticket to the future. Fortunately they will lose. RGO

  • amightywind

    and you thought that about the space shuttle system when it first flew

    I remember STS-1 in 1981. There was one countdown abort due to a GPC time skew. It was quickly and expertly diagnosed. What followed 2 days later was the ballsiest demonstration of the right stuff by John Young and Robert Crippen since Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. I wish our young folks could have seen it. I pity them that they live in a world so barren of inspiration.

    SpaceX has come with in a week of launching now on several occasions, repeatedly folding in a game of schedule chicken. That is why I call them amateurish.

    and we start our war on “people in caves”

    The problem was that these troglodytes managed to kill nearly 4000 civilians at work. We have laid waste to entire nations for less. I do believe that we have only been shooting at terror proxies. The heart of darkness is in Saudi Arabia.

    It’s not about tax cuts and less government as much as it was about making Americans believe in themselves and their nation again.

    It seems that you did not learn the lesson of “morning in America” that Clinton took to heart. “Its the economy, stupid!” It is easy to believe in yourself in a fast growing economy. Not so easy if you are concerned that your government check will bounce.

  • @MrEarl
    “Since 9/11, more and more of our freedoms and privacy are being taken away in the name of security.
    You’re definitely not fooling yourself as far as this issue is concerned. It bothers the hell out of me too! But it has nothing to do with risk taking in space.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 11:30 am

    As a nation, the US once took great risk to do great things. The founding of the nation, “conquering” the West, the transcontinental railroad, WWII, breaking the sound barrier, the first explorations of space, are all indicative of a great nation willing to take great risks for great rewards.

    As I look at your short list, a number of your examples are little things done by a small number of people, such as breaking the sound barrier, or even “conquering” the West (which didn’t have any Grand Plan). We see those in context decades later as memorable events, but at the time they were just part of the everyday “new” stuff.

    “New” stuff happens today too – you just have to recognize it. Maybe in your business and social worlds you don’t see all the equivalent new stuff that is happening today. In my business and social worlds I do, and these are exciting times.

    For instance, one group I hang out with has a lot of internet startups, and it’s never been easier to test out a business on the internet. Whereas a decade ago you’d have to hire an IT guy and buy your own servers and switches, that is all available from various Cloud Computing companies where you only pay for the services you consume. There is an explosion of innovation going on in this sector because of that.

    Even in the aerospace world we are seeing a wide variety of innovation going on, from low-tech startups like XCOR all the way up to this years announcements of Stratolaunch and Planetary Resources. Reusable air-launched rockets and asteroid mining doesn’t meet your definition of taking “great risk”?

    But let’s examine your Shuttle example, where you say:

    The retirement of the shuttle, a vehicle that has been ingrained in the American mind as the height of space technology and riding to “our” space station on Russian rockets, is just one more indication to many that America has lost its will to be a great nation.

    You apparently are not aware that since the beginning of the ISS program, we have always depended on the Russians for keeping our astronauts at the ISS. And we (the U.S.) felt so comfortable with this that Bush cancelled the domestic vehicle we were building to do that on our own – the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV). This is not a new situation, so why is it a surprise to you?

    And regarding the Shuttle, I think you also forget that by the time Bush decided to end the program we had lost 40% of the fleet to simple errors. From a safety and financial standpoint, Bush made the right call, regardless how much you equated an expensive collection of parts with the psychological well-being of 313,422,263 people.

    Pretty much it seems that you are a glass half-emtpy person right now, and I’m a glass half-full. Maybe you need to get out more – visit the industrial areas of your city and see how much activity is going on. There is a lot.

  • Vladislaw

    Rick Boozer wrote:

    :Going all out on SLS would not be taking a risk”

    On the contrary, it was a HUGE risk to do SLS …. considering it’s odds of being canceled before it’s first crewed flight in 2021. smiles

    Just think . in only nine more years and 40 billion dollars we can maybe see it launch. LOL

  • MrEarl

    I was talking about the mindset of the American people today, as I see it, compared to other times in our history. This is not about SLS/Orion, commercial space, Ares or specific programs.

    It’s the vision thing, or more accurately, the lack there of.

    Each one of those presidents I mentioned had a vision of America as a great nation. It’s a vision that cuts across party and ideology. The paths/projects they used were different and specific to the times but each required this nation to believe in itself and work together for the common good.
    The goals have to be large and inspiring. Kennedy put it best when he said, “…that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,” . So for someone like me a manned expedition to Mars would do, for others it could be energy independence by 2025.
    I’m not talking about doing Apollo again, just like I’m not talking about building the Panama Canal again. To borrow for JFK again, “…it’s time to take longer strides.”

  • kayawanee

    BRC wrote @ April 23rd, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    As I didn’t read any sort of response from either member – from the time of your posting, all the way until now, here’s the answer (or at least AN answer… and abeit a day late) directly from the horse’s… or should I say, Gipper’s mouth:
    ” I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 3942, the Commercial Space Launch Act. One of the important objectives of my administration has been, and will continue to be, the encouragement of the private sector in commercial space endeavors. Fragmentation and shared authority had unnecessarily complicated the process of approving activities in space. Enactment of this legislation is a milestone in our efforts to address the need of private companies interested in launching payloads to have ready access to space.
    “ This administration views facilitation of the commercial development of expendable launch vehicles as an important component of America’s space transportation program. We expect that a healthy ELV industry, as a complement to the Government’s space transportation system, will produce a stronger, more efficient launch capability for the United States that will contribute to continued American leadership in space.“ —– Ronald Reagan: “Statement on Signing the Commercial Space Launch Act ,” October 30, 1984

    I’ll file this under, “you learn something new every day.” Based on information I’ve picked up at many different space websites, I had erroneously believed that the revival of the ELV’s (EELV) began in the ashes of the Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. However, if the date of this statement is correct, the signing of this law occurred well over a year BEFORE that tragedy. It may have lit a match under the feet of aerospace industrial complex, but the foundation for the latest EELV program was created before Challenger’s demise, not after it. I find that very interesting. Perhaps a few years operating the STS was enough of a lesson for Reagan to pursue a different course, or at least provide an alternative one.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I was talking about the mindset of the American people today, as I see it, compared to other times in our history.

    So was I, and we both see different worlds.

    But let’s put things in perspective here. While the Apollo program was getting ready to go to the Moon, the American public didn’t really know what was going on. There was no internet, and the papers you had delivered to your doorstep didn’t have too many articles about space in them. There were long periods of time where nothing public happened in space, and the public still wasn’t sure if going to the Moon was a good idea financially or otherwise.

    And let’s also remember that by the time Apollo 13 had it’s mishap, going to the Moon was yesterday’s news, and when the program was ended at Apollo 17, no public outcry rose up to save it. Apollo was a political stunt, not enduring infrastructure like a bridge you rely upon every day.

    It’s the vision thing, or more accurately, the lack there of.

    You really seem hung up on needing politicians to “inspire” you, huh? Or maybe your definition of the “vision thing” is different than mine and others.

    OK, please list for us ten “vision” statements that have influenced you the most, and make sure you list the name of the person articulating the “vision”. Since you seem to think that good leaders produce a steady stream of them, this should be easy.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “As a nation, the US once took great risk to do great things. The founding of the nation, “conquering” the West, the transcontinental railroad, WWII, breaking the sound barrier, the first explorations of space, are all indicative of a great nation willing to take great risks for great rewards.

    Our citizens don’t see that now… As a people, we are way more risk adverse then we ever were.”

    It depends on which citizens you’re talking about.

    These citizens are risking wealth and careers to mine asteroids:

    http://www.planetaryresources.com/2012/04/the-space-economy-a-modern-day-gold-rush-2/

    This citizen has risked his wealth to found a company with the goal of settling Mars:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/04/11/elon_musk_s_mars_colony_plan_excites_jon_stewart_video_.html

    This (British) citizen has invested hundreds of millions of dollars so that hundreds to thousands of people can become astronauts:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/innovation/120228/virgin-galactic-launch-test-flight-the-end-the-year

    “The retirement of the shuttle, a vehicle that has been ingrained in the American mind as the height of space technology and riding to ‘our’ space station on Russian rockets, is just one more indication to many that America has lost its will to be a great nation.”

    If you limit your search to the government and its past achievements as the only way for a people can start or do great things, you’re bound to be disappointed. The political circumstances surrounding the creation and sustainment of programs like Apollo and Shuttle are unique to their time and era. They’re not the only or even the best model for today.

    “There’s always been the prophets of doom and the American people will listen to them if there is no one to offer a counter-point. I don’t see anyone offering that counterpoint.”

    You’re not looking very hard.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    It’s the vision thing, or more accurately, the lack there of.

    On a slightly different tack in trying to understand you, are you aware that business leaders have “vision”? People like Steve Jobs of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are two of the most notable today, but business people across this country, and of all sizes, articulate their “vision thing”.

    Maybe because my background is manufacturing I see this more close up than you, but it’s one of the reasons why I have always seen America as a fount of inspiration and innovation – certainly no lack of vision.

    But at the political level it’s always been hit or miss. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration to accolades from those thirsting for ramped up government spending in space. Increased spending didn’t happen, and he fumbled the implementation by putting Griffin in charge. Apollo could have ended the same without good leadership making sound decisions.

    Bottom line, two things:

    1. It doesn’t matter what the “vision” is, if you can’t implement it then it probably wasn’t very inspiring. The VSE, which was really just repeating lots of previous “vision”, is in that category.

    2. Most of the “vision” takes place at the local and business level, pushing innovation in small incremental ways. When it comes together into something visible or public, you’re probably mistaking it for something that was formulated as some “Grand Plan”.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 21st, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    “Nine more days until the birth of NewSpace and the demise of PorkSpace”

    SpaceX announces mission launch delay – UPI.comwww.upi.com/…/SpaceX…launch-delay/UPI-83381335297551/

    Oops. =yawn= The most reliable thing about Space X is how utterly unreliable they are. A very poor reputation and business practice for a ‘private enterprised firm,’ indeed. Once again, with months and months and months and month and months of prep time and a moth of PR rolled out w/typical Musketeer pinache, Space X slips schedule again and fails to live up to its own hype. They never fail– to disappoint, that is. Tick-tock, tick-tock…

  • SpaceX just sent out an announcement that they, NASA and CCAFS have agreed to set a new launch date/time of 9:38 AM EDT on Monday May 7.

  • Doug Lassiter

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 11:24 am
    “In regards to Golden and the NGST, what was the payload fairing size for the NLS?”

    It’s Goldin, with an “i”. Just take it from Boldin, Griffen, or O’Keife.

    The fairing size doesn’t matter. The 4m version of NGST would presumably have fit cleanly and unfolded with shielding in a 5m diameter (ELV-H) fairing. Larger versions would have been folded. Probably still in a 5m fairing. Bigger telescope, more folds, more actuators, more hinges, lots more $$.

    Re the topic, Goldin didn’t make many mistakes. His faster, cheaper, better wasn’t a mistake, just a mantra that wasn’t carried out that well. It too was a noble challenge that the agency couldn’t handle. Sensebrenner’s comments about NASA’s “crown jewel” are hilarious, given his distaste for NASA projects that went over budget.

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    “SpaceX just sent out an announcement that they, NASA and CCAFS have agreed to set a new launch date/time of 9:38 AM EDT on Monday May 7.”

    Don’t bet the ranch on it. The most reliable thing about the content of Space X press releases is their unreliablity, particularly when it comes to prognostications about schedules.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “I find the repeated slips so close to launch day to be amateurish.”

    Yeah, because real rocket men ignore what their contractors and technical experts are telling them, or fail to test in the first place, consequences be damned!

    http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/table-of-contents.html

    http://caib.nasa.gov/

    Why avert potential disaster with days to spare when you can blow years of schedule, multi-billion dollar assets, and over a dozen human lives?

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    In addition, it’s a test flight in case some of you have forgotten that fact. There’s nothing hard and fast about test programs. Slow and steady wins the day, everytime.

  • DCSCA

    Dark Blue Nine wrote @ April 24th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    These citizens are risking wealth and careers to mine asteroids:

    LOL you don’t know much about James Cameron.

  • Fred Willett

    Up to now SpaceX has been in the development phase of it’s business where every flight is testing something new. This makes slips inevitable.
    The only flight they’ve had to date where everything was unchanged was the Falcon 1 flight 4 where the total difference beween flight 3 and 4 was a difference of 2 seconds in the timing of stage sep to 2nd stage engine fire.
    It’s worth noting that in this case the time between launches was just 8 weeks.
    So if SpaceX can do regular launches (or not) is not going to be known until the COTS 2 (and COTS 3 if needed) missions are flown. Once they are flown we will see if SpaceX can start to work through its CRS and commercial launches in a timely, smooth and mostly slip free manner.
    Till then Tick, tock, tick, tock comments by some posters here are just noise from empty vessels.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “LOL you don’t know much about James Cameron.”

    I wasn’t talking about Cameron.

    Try to keep up.

  • Coastal Ron

    Hey MrEarl, what do you think of the excitement generated by Planetary Resources, Inc.?

    John Stewart on the Daily Show was pretty jazzed by the announcement, and used his entire lead segment last night to talk about it – ahead of talking about Willard Mitt Romney sweeping five states (admittedly not too surprising). Elon Musk was on his show last week.

    Even DCSCA’s current 21st Century heartthrob (Neil deGrasse Tyson) popped in on John Stewart to say that Planetary Resources asteroid mining plan was “No Bullsh*t”.

    Sounds like America is excited about stuff going on with commercial space. Does that ease your anxiety any?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi DL –

    I seem to remember that the first rule of reporting is to spell the names right, and clearly I’m no longer capable of doing that reliably.

    My guess is that Goldin proposed 8 meters based on the NLS fairing.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>