Campaign '12, NASA

Gingrich ends his campaign, but not his interest in space

On Wednesday, a little over three months after he briefly, if somewhat bizarrely, catapulted space policy to the front lines of the Republican presidential campaign, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich formally suspended his campaign for the White House. In a speech lasting over 20 minutes in a Washington, DC-area hotel, Gingrich suggested he is still interested, and may in some way still be involved, in shaping the space policy debate.

“I am cheerfully going to take back up the issue of space,” he said about 15 minutes into the speech, a line that appeared to generate a few laughs in the room. “My wife has pointed out to me approximately 219 times, give or take three, that ‘moon colony’ was probably not my most clever comment in this campaign. I thought, frankly, in my role as providing material for Saturday Night Live that it was helpful, but the underlying key point is real. The fact is, if we’re going to be the leading country in the world, we have to be the leading country in space. The fact is, our bureaucratic red-tape-ridden system doesn’t work.”

“What I called for is beginning to happen,” he argued. He cited last week’s announcement of Planetary Resources, the company that seeks to mine asteroids, as well as Space Adventures’ circumlunar mission project and Virgin Galactic (which he called a “low Earth orbit project”; it’s actually, for now, suborbital), as well as the upcoming SpaceX cargo demonstration mission to the ISS. “Next week, NASA, building on something George W. Bush started and Obama has expanded on, NASA will actually be launching a private-sector rocket that Elon Musk has invested a great deal in.”

“This is not a trivial area,” he said, saying it was a fundamental question of whether America can still do big things that can inspire the nation’s youth. “I’m going to argue for a romantic American future of doing things that matter.”

“I think, in the Reagan tradition, there’s a shining future ahead,” he said near the close of the speech, one that includes those now-infamous lunar colonies, particularly for his two grandchildren who joined him on the stage. “I am not totally certain that I will get to the Moon colony. I am certain Maggie and Robert will have that opportunity if they want to take it.”

93 comments to Gingrich ends his campaign, but not his interest in space

  • ArtieT

    Newt: “The fact is, our bureaucratic red-tape-ridden system doesn’t work.”

    Democrats, Republicans. They both need each other to maintain their dysfunctional ways. Into their grist mill is what passes for an American Space Program – commercial or government empowered – hobbled by a system that doesn’t work.

  • amightywind

    Well, a lot of people are interested in space, but when they fall from national prominence they no longer make news in space politics. Of much more interest is the pitched battle being fought between congress and NASA over CCDev2 down select. NASA is still bent on handing out money for vehicles that will never fly.

  • GeeSpace

    Newt Gingrich has been a space development supporter since at least the L-5 Society days if not before so I don’t see him changing his opinion on space just because he is no longer an active Presidential candidate.

    For those folks who do not know what the L-5 Society was. The L-5 Society was an activist pro-space development organization that, unfortunately, merged with the National Space Institute to form the National Space Society. And, advocacy was never the same again.

  • amightywind

    Democrats, Republicans. They both need each other to maintain their dysfunctional ways.

    We are too quick to forgive the democrats for disrupting the Constellation program and too hasty to lump the GOP in with them. The democrats have given us our current ‘progressive’ space program. We have the space program of the people we elected. We proceed according to their plan. We should hold them accountable on election day.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “NASA is still bent on handing out money for vehicles that will never fly.”

    Yes, with no exploration payload, slightly declining funding, and big cuts to the federal discretionary budget coming, it is hard to see how MPCV/SLS will survive the one to three different Administrations and five different Congresses that will determine whether it will ever get a chance to launch its first crew as scheduled a decade or more later.

    [And since in your next post you're going to whine about the current Administration and/or NASA leadership for "dragging their feet" on MPCV/SLS, I'll remind you that in just the prior thread, you wrote approvingly of how the program "just keep rollin' along".]

    “The democrats have given us our current ‘progressive’ space program.”

    Yes, Democrats like Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) whose Republican staff wrote the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

    Yes, House Democrats who somehow managed to vote, by a large margin, the Senate’s draft of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act into law despite being in the minority.

    Yes, the plan written and voted into law by those Democr… er, Republicans.

    “We have the space program of the people we elected. We proceed according to their plan. We should hold them accountable on election day.”

    Can’t argue with that.

  • yg1968

    Even if Romney wins, we are not going back to Constellation. The 2010 NASA Authorization bill had bipartisan support and nobody is in the mood for another Augustine commission. Besides you (i.e. amightywind) are supporting a program that only traditional Republicans are now supporting. Traditional Republicans are a dying breed. Traditional Republicans like to spend just as much as Democrats but on different things (NASA, DOD, agriculture, etc.). But the 2010 election changed all of that and the new fiscally conservative Republicans (which includes many Tea Party supporters) are not supportive of big government program such as SLS and Constellation. These new Republicans are often pro-commercial crew (e.g. Marc Rubio).

  • yg1968

    Sorry, I meat Marco Rubio (not Marc Rubio) in the post above.

  • If amightywind had his/her way we would still be pouring billions into the development of a sole-source Ares-1 that would not fly until 2017 at the earliest. Commercial Crew, even with a down-select to three companies, is still a bargain by comparison.

  • amightywind

    a program that only traditional Republicans are now supporting. Traditional Republicans are a dying breed.

    You abdicate a serious argument over the future of the space program with such pablum, especially in this roller coaster political environment. I can recall Lori Garver uttering such moronic things. Real convincing. You should read.

    http://www.redstate.com/moe_lane/2012/04/30/redstate-review-the-tyranny-of-cliches/

    Last years ‘dying breed’ is this year’s ‘conservative values’ candidate.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Sadly Newt’s role in history will be a footnote “He was a blocking movement in the 12 campaign bought and paid for by corporate interest who needed Willard to be POTUS and used him to stop Santorum”…ok they will word it better then that, but any other contribution will move into the fog of history…

    Newt is a parody of the Modern GOP. He says a lot of things that on their face have some value; but when gifted with power could not summon the courage to implement what he speaks about…and while running for power simply cannot excersize any personal or doctrine control.

    A read of the Book “Dead Right” (David Frum) illustrates this. Newt had a chance as Speaker of the House to have “some” input on the makings of the space station…The program was on its last legs as the Clinton folks tried to figure out how to salvage 8 years of badly run Republican efforts to build it…

    Newt has all these great words…and I hate to paraphrase Frum since the book is packed up for our move to 4th street…but essentially Newt puts none of his political capital on line to make any significant changes in how the space station is organized or built.

    Republicans including Newt are fond of babbling on about health care cost “spiraling out of control” ignoring the real reasons such things happen (the nation is getting older and under the socialized medicine of Medicaid senior health care is improving by leaps and bounds)…while turning a blind eye to the glass of programs like the station and F-35 which are literally going through the roof.

    You can see that in Wind’s comments above “We are too quick to forgive the democrats for disrupting the Constellation program ” IN Winds and Newts world we are still pouring billions into that failed program.

    The point is that the GOP right has like almost every other aspect of our political world been captured by the corporate class…and Newt worst of all.

    His sole (really) financial background funding in the 12 campaign was primarily an attempt to keep Santorum from gaining any real traction. The corporate world of the GOP usually gets its candidate…and Willard is it…embrace the horror. RGO

  • ArtieT

    Windy: “We are too quick to forgive the democrats for disrupting the Constellation program and too hasty to lump the GOP in
    with them.”

    I’m not forgiving anyone. Both sides are contributing to the morass that is our present state of government dysfunction. And from that mess flows an American Space Program.

    If our Government were a business, they’d be out of business for intolerably horrible quarterlies, no markets, customer apathy, and foreign sniggering.

    Getting lost in the details of the ‘content’; Cx, vs COTS vs. CCDev, etc. is missing the point. It’s all not effective, workable, or difference making because of what is sourcing it all. Gov’ment

  • Maybe Romney will Newt take as VP to placate the evangelicals and secure the south and then let him play spaceman with NASA budget. Romney is not as tight fiscally as some conservatives would like.

  • Robert G. Oler

    ArtieT wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 11:44 am

    If our Government were a business, they’d be out of business for intolerably horrible quarterlies, no markets, customer apathy, and foreign sniggering. ”

    In my view it would be out of business for not being able to manage large technical programs…and then insisting on doing more and more of them.

    I have been working on a paper for a management presentation that looks at the development of weapon systems over the last 100 years…(I cheat a bit and start in the 1920′s with the Corrigedor tunnel system and development of the CV…ie Lex and Sara) It looks at weapon systems developed in the 1920′s the “war”, cold war and then today. I could have done it just on CV’s alone but I tried to look at both “new” and development systems.

    Keeping everything in 11 dollars (it was easier then working in 12 dollars) it is an interesting to watch that while development cost rose as various projects incremented in “new” technologies…the rise in the cost were more or less constant over the years…ie it would cost 1 billion today to build an short deck Essex class carrier BUT if we built it today we would simply not replicate the Essex of WW2 we would add somethings Essex did not have so one tries to figure out what increase in the cost woudld be attributed to that change…)

    Even with all that programs starting in the mid 90′s just simply spiral out of control…first it was cost took off but delivery and operations still stayed sort of constant…now cost are taking off but there are no functional systems. The F-35 now is scheduled to deploy “at some date to be determined”.

    Newt’s comment is “. The fact is, our bureaucratic red-tape-ridden system doesn’t work.”

    Problem is that I dont think that the explanation lies there. That is a GOP talking point…but the procurement system has changed some…its not completely accountable.

    What seems to be the constant is that corporations have been adept at developing a core congressional constituency for a “program”…and those people see able to ramrod the program through a Congress (of both Houses) that seems indifferent to actual program performance.

    One can see this in micro playing out on the SLS/Orion. And it has cost the country a ton of money spread across the board. RGO

  • Curtis

    Regardless of whomever wins in November, SLS/MPCV is dead. If the GOP wins, Romney has stated that he would cut NASA 20-30%. This will Kill SLS/MPCV outright.

    If the Democrats win in November, they will cut NASA to transfer funding to social programs. This will kill SLS/MPCV.

    Neither Congress, nor the white house supports SLS/MPCV. It is only a handful of pork-controlled legislators who are either retireing, likely to be voted out of office, or will lose their leading status on space-related committees that support SLS/MPCV. They will not be able to pull the rest of Congress to support many tens of billions for SLS/MPCV over more than a decade to get American back up into space on American rockets when SpaceX is doing it ten years ahead of SLS/MPCV for less than 1/10th the cost. Eventually the economics of the truth will winout over the politics of pork.

    SLS/MPCV is not a space program, it is a jobs program. As such it does not ever need to fly. In fact for those who are pushing it, it is better if it never flies. All that matters is that countless tens of billions continues to be spent on the snake-oil dream of flying it someday.

    If SpaceX is successful this year in getting a routine system working to get cargo to the ISS and back, I predict in one year SLS/MPCV will be either cancelled outright or severly cut back.

  • amightywind

    The program was on its last legs as the Clinton folks tried to figure out how to salvage 8 years of badly run Republican efforts to build it

    Actually it was Clinton and Goldin who morphed the Space Station Freedom from a national project to a love in with the Russian autopcrats, to the international tar baby that ISS has become. I shudder to think of the $ billions this it cost the treasury over the decades and the opportunity cost of the loss of manned exploration projects. The US does not keep the ISS flying because it serves out national interest. We fly it for fear of offending out ‘partners’ who are content in the shade of Superman’s cape.

  • Actually it was Clinton and Goldin who morphed the Space Station Freedom from a national project to a love in with the Russian autopcrats, to the international tar baby that ISS has become.

    The space station was always an international project.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Actually it was Clinton and Goldin who morphed the Space Station Freedom from a national project to a love in with the Russian autopcrats, to the international tar baby that ISS has become.>>

    “Well with all Due Respect Mr. President General Ripper has negated that point for you”

    De ignore for a moment.

    It was Clinton and Goldin who morphed the station station from something that was a tar baby consuming money and time and not moving a day closer to deployment, into the current form…which like it or not they got flying.

    Unlike you under my real name I opposed the station in many forms long before Clinton was more then a asterisk as Gov of a small state…but he and Goldin did something Ronaldus the Great and Bush the old were unable to do…get pieces in orbit.

    you making the statement proves all you give a darn about is programs which are run by the GOP and not if they are actually doing anything or even moving toward some actual use. That makes you a partisan troglodyte.

    RGO

  • DCSCA

    “Gingrich ends his campaign, but not his interest in space…”

    And last Saturday evenings’s SNL re-broadcast [April 28] of the opening skit, ‘Newt Gingrich – Moon President’ will always be available as a reminder of same and the damage his kind of ‘interest’ does to space advocacy.

    “I thought, frankly, in my role as providing material for Saturday Night Live that it was helpful,..”

    No, Newt. It wasn’t. It most decidely was not. In fact, it was frankly foolish.

    “What I called for is beginning to happen,” he argued.

    Except it’s not, Newt.

    “Next week, NASA, building on something George W. Bush started and Obama has expanded on, NASA will actually be launching a private-sector rocket that Elon Musk has invested a great deal in.”

    Except it’s not, Newt. Space X is trying to launch it. Not NASA. And they keep failing to meet schedule: “NEXT MONDAY’S SPACEX FALCON 9 LAUNCH DATE IN DOUBT”

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120501delay/

    And, Newt, Master Musk, a multi-billionaire, has only invested $100 million of his own money into it. The rest is tax breaks and subsidies anf government contracts, including tax dollars to refurbish the launch pad which his own company could easily have paid for, Newt. That’s not free market, for profit ‘private enterprise’ in the ‘Reagan tradition,’ Newt.

    ““I think, in the Reagan tradition, there’s a shining future ahead,”
    he said …”

    Except it’s not, Newt– certainly not at an expense ‘in the Reagan tradition– a tradition of movieland make believe with smoke and mirrors financing. The only thing that reached to the moon ‘in the Reagan tradition’ – aka Reaganomics- are deficits, Newt. And Americans have rejected trickle-down economics, Newt. More like ‘Grand Theft Busho.’

    ““I am not totally certain that I will get to the Moon colony….””– Except you are there already, Newt, thanks to Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers and the out-of-this-world team at NBC’s Saturday Night Live. You will always be there thanks to them. And remember, Newt- “May divorce be with you.’

    “In a speech lasting over 20 minutes in a Washington, DC-area hotel, Gingrich…” Closer to 26, and as Fox News’ fellow traveller Shepard Smith quipped at the conclusion, “That was painful to watch for me and you, ‘too’– the ‘two’ of you who stayed with us to the end, that is.”

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 11:20 am

    “Thankfully, Newt’s role in history will be a footnote.” There, fixed that for ‘ya. There’s nothing ‘sad’ at all about the body-politik rejecting a bad organ, transplanted from another century.

  • Jim Muncy

    Robert,

    Newt deserves a lot better than your anti-Wall Street-Republican screed. He was not their candidate, any more than Romney was crafting space policy when he attacked Newt’s space proposals.

    What you and others here should be upset about is the complete silence of the space community in backing Gingrich’s space proposals. Here we had a Presidential candidate saying the sorts of things we always wanted politicians to say, and we couldn’t bother to defend THE IDEAS.

    So much for people caring more about space than about partisanship and personalities.

    – Jim

  • What you and others here should be upset about is the complete silence of the space community in backing Gingrich’s space proposals.

    Well, it wasn’t complete silence. I did what I could.

  • DCSCA

    Jim Muncy wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    What you and others here should be upset about is the complete silence of the space community in backing Gingrich’s space proposals.

    What are you talking about. ‘Space officials’ have been advocating some of the grandiose ‘lunacies’ in what Newt was espousing since the Apollo days- and have been slapped down wevery time when a price tag is factored in, the grandiosity of it all brought it back down to earth. American public support for space remains a broad and shallow pool and policies associated with it historically reactive, not proactive. It may just be that ‘Americans’ are not destined to lead the way out into space, for ‘Americans’ have shown little interest in paying for doing it since the Apollo days. But they’re pretty good at waging war– and even those have been ‘on the cuff’ of late.

  • Bennett

    @ Rand

    Well, it wasn’t complete silence. I did what I could.

    You did great. A voice of sanity among the babbling hoards. You may not have gotten him elected (although you did your best), you probably changed a few minds about space policy along the way.

    Well played.

  • Googaw

    “Here we had a Presidential candidate saying the sorts of things we always wanted politicians to say, and we couldn’t bother to defend THE IDEAS. ”

    It’s rather hard to defend the indefensible. They tried defending Newt’s fantasies, on this forum, and they were quite easily debunked. Trouble is, the “we” here is a fringe cult of sci-fi fans who try to best each each other with who can cook up the more preposterous economic fantasy. Gingrich by running with this grandiose silliness made himself an easy target for somebody who does have economic literacy and business sense, namely Mitt Romney (with Rick Santorum then quickly catching on).

  • ArtieT

    RGO: “What seems to be the constant is that corporations have been adept at developing a core congressional constituency for a “program”…and those people see able to ramrod the program through a Congress (of both Houses) that seems indifferent to actual program performance.”

    This is a shining example of how our government isn’t working. This is the impact of operating from ‘survival’ vs. ‘making a difference’. Occupy Wall Street , and others of it’s ilk is making this point.

    A new model that transcends present Government led program performance is called for. Too bad no one in leadership sees this.

  • Jim Muncy wrote:

    So much for people caring more about space than about partisanship and personalities.

    Jim, with all due respect, I have to call foul on this one.

    I wrote about Newt’s campaign speech on SpaceKSC.com. Twice.

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2012/01/gingrich-plans-space-policy-address.html

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2012/01/gingirch-delivers-space-policy-speech.html

    The videos of his speech and roundtable are still on the blog.

    Where did Newt go wrong?

    As many have said, the problem with Newt is Newt. He is a D.C. insider with a train wreck of a personal and political life.

    Partisanship aside, I pointed out inconsistencies in Newt’s proposal, namely that he constantly criticizes NASA’s bureaucracy yet he calls for big bloated government programs such as a moon colony. He would use an X Prize approach to pay for it, and that’s fine to propose such a thing, but the $10 billion still comes from the federal government.

    I’ve also written on this blog that I think space is one of the few things Newt is sincere about. I would have been more impressed with his Cocoa speech if he’d given Obama credit for juicing commercial space. That would have shown he’s capable of rising above partisanship. He did in 2010 when he co-authored the Washington Times speech supporting Obama’s commercial space proposal. Doing the same in 2012 would have shown real leadership, an ability to rise above partisanship. But he didn’t.

    I am firmly of the belief that Newt is essentially right in saying that commercial space is the future. It has to be to save us from Congressional porkery. But to my knowledge Newt has never attacked the porking, just its victim, namely NASA’s bureaucracy. Again, a failure of leadership because he was in the middle of all that Congressional porking for many years.

    If Newt were to retire now from partisan politics and dedicate himself to speaking on behalf of commercial space exploration, I think it would be a wonderful act, not just for the nation but also for himself.

    The main problem with evangelists like Neil deGrasse Tyson is they lack the political expertise to translate their words into political action. Newt knows all about that. His mission should be to help the politically inept scientific community to form a national movement that fights for science, even if it means honking off the lunatic wing of the GOP that denies evolution and climate change.

    Some people are more effective out of office. Newt has the potential to be one of those people. I hope you will pass along the suggestion to him.

  • A quick aside, with Jeff’s indulgence …

    Another mainstream media program, the PBS Newshour, had a segment tonight on SpaceX and the Dragon launch. You can watch online at:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/jan-june12/spacex_05-03.html

  • Fred Willett

    DCSCA wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 3:25 pm
    And, Newt, Master Musk, a multi-billionaire, has only invested $100 million of his own money into it. The rest is tax breaks and subsidies…
    You keep saying that and various people keep pointing out the errors. Lest anybody here take you seriously the errors need to be exposed once again.
    Costs (audited by NASA) of developing
    Falcon 1 = $70M
    Falcon 9 = $400M
    Dragon = $400M
    Total development costs (audited by NASA) = $870M
    Total COTS funding $398M
    The rest of the funding has been found by
    1/ Investment by Musk $100M
    2/ Other investors $100M
    3/ Prepayment against 40 future launches. The standard way of doing business at this level.
    4/ Earnings from flown payloads.
    …anf(sic) government contracts,…
    SpaceX has a contract for 12 flights to ISS @ $133M a flight. Total value is $1.6B. A fixed price contract. Compare this to the bulk buy ULA is trying to negotiate at the moment where the projected launch cost per flight in north of $300M a launch NOT including the payload. Can you seriously say this is not incredibly good value? A rocket AND a payload (Dragon) for about a third of the price of a ULA rocket alone?
    What have you got against NASA saving money?
    including tax dollars to refurbish the launch pad which his own company could easily have paid for…
    All governments State, Federal and all around the world use public funds to “encourage” companies to set up in their area. They consider it a good investment. In the case of Florida it stopped Musk from going to MARS (MARS Wallops. Musk still wants to go to Mars Mars) If Florida found it in it’s best interest to pay to refurbish the pad could you name a sane business that would say “No thanks.”
    I don’t think so.
    Apart from this sort of local business incentive which all businesses are offered Musk has pretty much built SpaceX on his own dime.
    He has found investors who believe in his vision and support him.
    He has built and is flying his own hardware at a fraction of the development cost of anybody else in the space business.
    He is not receiving special treatment from any particular administration or any particular party.
    I don’t expect you, or anybody else to support SpaceX just because I say so, or because of what he’s trying to achieve, but it would be good if your criticism was based on facts and not fantasy.

  • Coastal Ron

    Jim Muncy wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    What you and others here should be upset about is the complete silence of the space community in backing Gingrich’s space proposals. Here we had a Presidential candidate saying the sorts of things we always wanted politicians to say, and we couldn’t bother to defend THE IDEAS.

    For myself, what I heard from Gingrich was a vision, or goal. Visions and goals are nice, and they can serve to show what someone will support and what they might do, but otherwise it was an unfunded vision from a Presidential candidate. And I don’t vote for Presidential candidates based on what they want to do off-Earth.

    I think it was a waste of time for Gingrich to spend so much effort on a subject that was not front and center with Republicans. Lunar colonies? In the middle of a recession? And we’re looking for ways to cut back government spending, not increase it?

    Some of the stuff Gingrich is for regarding space, I’m for. But the lunar colony idea was clearly not the right time to bring it up, and clearly not a time to be promoting it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Muncy wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Robert,

    Newt deserves a lot better than your anti-Wall Street-Republican screed.”

    Hello Jim

    Did I mention Wall Street? I said that Willard was the choice of the corporate GOP…do you disagree with that?

    Anyway I will confine my remarks to what you actually wrote.

    First space policy.

    Newt had a chance; which I said ample times here (and other places) to be the big issue candidate. One of the issues he could have used to have that big issue campaign was human spaceflight and his belief in its impact on our country and its future.

    How? He could have talked about a new kind of relationship between the federal government and industry in terms of how it does business in technical projects. Florida was a great place to illustrate the commercial cargo versus say Cx or SLS or Orion…He could have argued how the cozy relationship between government and contractors has brought one debacle after another…and that a new relationship, with commercial crew and cargo leading the way will define a new industry which could do things today thought of as simply impossible. Newt is an historian so he could have reached into the age of aviation; medicine; or well lots of things…

    When presented with the ATlas 5 guys do the “huh” when asked how long it would take to human rate the thing…he could have used that as a pivot point. He could have done it kindly “Why dont you know how long it would take? Conflicting requirements? No requirements? etc” or he could have said “how much more reliable does a vehicle need to be before it is with an LAS crew rated”? But of course he never did.

    The Newt of rhetoric would have done that…but the Newt who had his hat handed to him after talking truth about Paul Ryans’ budget or the Newt who sat and said a lot but did nothing about the space station debacle…or the Newt who was trying to appeal to various GOP interest groups; including space workers on the government dole…instead just talked about a lunar base going to a colony going to a state…

    which should have left anyone who had a brain scratching their head.

    NOW YOU MIGHT GOTTEN THE SECRET SIGNAL that said “When I am President and Jim is NASA then wow things will be different in terms of how NASA does contracts…” but of course Newt never says “I would cancel SLS or Orion or my lunar base would be done differently” (and how he would pay for it is never ever talked about.)

    and that is why it so easily became a laughing stock.

    Pardon me Jim but there is not a single solitary event where Gingrich while Speaker shut down a malfunctioning NASA or DoD program. He wouldnt even say he would do so now. At one point in a non space related moment, he (Newt) praises the F-35…

    No one here on a theoretical basis carried water for Newt and his “theories” more then I did..I think that there is even a post where I note that if Newt got the Presidency and did really want to reform government he was one of the few people who could actually find people to do it (and probably even named you).

    But there is nothing you can speak of where Newt has done more then given lip service to reforming the various non entitlement “contractor industrial complexes” and in the campaign there are even fewer of those.

    That brings us to the politics of it.

    Newt’s only chance to beat the anointed Willard was to summon some sort of constituency that was interested in more then Roves “wedge politics”. My guess (which I said here and other places) is that he (Newt) wanted to do that…but in the end the craziness which is the GOP base just isnt interested.

    How else do you explain the about face, the lies Newt told after his first appearance on MTP? Particularly about the Ryan budget?

    Newt never was able to solidify a constituency in the GOP that was larger then the really nut cases that are in South CArolina and of course the favorite son effort in GA. So why did he stay in the race? Particularly after Alabama and MISS which were effectively the statement to everyone (but I guess Newt) that he wasnt going to get a large constituency?

    That question must be answered in terms of where 99 percent of newts money came from–a single person who has now started tossing money at Willard.

    You are a good enough politician where you can recognize the “Thompson” Maneuver when you see it. All Newt was doing particularly after ALabama dn Miss was stopping a two person race between Rick and Willard. Rick is to me a nut but that doesnt change the facts of the campaign.

    I constantly laugh at the Obama beloved who support things that Obama is doing; when they bitched at the very same things when Bush did them.

    My ideologies are not so mailable that just because Newt gets up and starts talking about space and human spaceflight; I am not going to ask “and how is it different then when you were in power”. Sorry

    RGO

  • JohnHunt

    I too did my little part. I posted on several blogs explaining that Newt’s basic idea was feasible even if his details needed some fleshing out. Perhaps one of my posts which got the most attention by the editor was this one:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/01/28/why-newt-gingrichs-moon-colony-is-a-good-idea-and-why-its-still-not-possible/?utm_source=alertscalledoutcomment&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120409

  • Doug Lassiter

    Just pathetic. Not that leadership in space isn’t necessarily important, but just that in his mind such leadership self-defines as important. C’mon Newt. Tell us why it’s important! Oh, in order to make a “romantic American future”? How quaint. In order to inspire America’s youth? Inspire them to do what, exactly? How does colonization of the Moon inspire anyone to do anything? Has colonization ever inspired anyone to do anything? To ensure a “shining future”? You got a bridge you want to sell us, Mr. Gingrich? His argument that it’s important goes something like “because everyone should know that it is!” Drum roll …

    Sure, commercial space is great and may represent the future of our efforts in space, but let’s not layer that credible argument with this kind of blather.

    I dread hearing any more from Mr. Gingrich about space if this is what it’s going to sound like. He may have political smarts to get things done, but unless he comes up with defensible and credible arguments for doing these things, the only thing he’s going to accomplish is to turn space efforts into a running joke. That’s something that he’s already largely succeeded in doing.

    If you’re unhappy that the space community didn’t rise to defend his ideas, then consider that this dream wasn’t really backed up by any credible ideas. The space community was wise to smell what was a profoundly rotten argument, if perhaps on a topic that, if explained with any skill, might have at least gotten people thinking.

  • DCSCA

    @Fred Willett wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    =yawn= Nice try. $1.9 billion, and that’s just to Space X. In fact, it is Space X nobody takes seriously. They can’t even meet a simple schedule.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120501delay/

    And, of course, Space X has rec’d government subisidies: “In October 2009 NASA provided a pre-solicitation notice regarding an effort to be funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The commercial crew enabling work would include a “base task” of refurbishing and reactivating SLC-40 power transfer switches, performing maintenance on the lower Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) substation and motor control centers, installing bollards around piping, replacing the door frame and threshold for the Falcon Support Building mechanical room and repairing fencing around the complex perimeter. Several optional tasks would include work installing conductive flooring in the Hangar Hypergol area, performing corrosion control inspection and maintenance of the lightning protection tower’s structural steel, upgrading and refurbishing other facility equipment and performing corrosion control on rail cars and pad lighting poles, painting several buildings, repairing and improving roads, and hydro-seeding the complex.”

    Any attempt to label SpaceX as a true ‘private enterprise’ space venture is misleading. And the entire venture is redundant to Soyuz and Progress as well, as both have been operational for decades. . Do the math- $1.9 billion finances 25 astronaut round trips on Soyuz to the ISS and at 4 rides a year, 2 every six months, that’s over half a decade of crewing a doomed space platform and you can stretch it if you cout an annual crewing to 3. Pumping billions into LEO commercial to service a space platform doomed to a Pacific splash is a massive waste of dwindling resources. It’s a ‘faux market’ ginned up by desperate commercialists inside and outside NASA which has failed to return anything close to justify its $100 plus billion expense over the past 11 years.

    “SpaceX has a contract for 12 flights to ISS @ $133M a flight.” They have $1.9 billion deal plus the launch facilities were refurtbushed w/tax dollars which Space X could easily have paid for.

    The only thing lreliable about Space X is their unreliablility.

    They remain non-operational and repeatedly fail to meet schedule to deliver goods and services. It smacks of bad management. It’s time for Congress to call this sloppy firm and the coddler commercialists inside NASA on to the carpet, hold hearings and investihate why this little firm keeps failing to meet schedules and failing to deliver the goods and services while running a lame, ‘open-ended’ test program on the taxpayer dime. NASA could save money simply by terminating the contracts, firing them and buying seats on soyuz and get crews flying and leave the grocery delivberies to Progress. They at least are operational.

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Give it a rest, Smitty. Apparently you haven’t heard- thry’re slipping the launch date again. They don’t need any more hype- they need to meet a schedule.

    It’s time for Congress to hold hearings and investigate Space X’s failure to deliver goods and services as contracted. The U.S. taxpayers contracted for goods and services, not to finance an ‘open-ended’ test program. “I’ve also written on this blog that I think space is one of the few things Newt is sincere about.” Newt is sincere about nothing, Smitty. Ask his wives. Or just watch SNL. He and his cronies have one goal- slash all things government. You’ve also written on this blog that Space X is gonig to ‘make history on May 7 when in fact, they can’t even make a schedule.

    “I am firmly of the belief that Newt is essentially right in saying that commercial space is the future.” Except he’s not. Space exploitation is not space exploration. The simple fact that Space X repeatedly fails to meet schedules, while Russian Progress spacecraft have been delivering groceries routinely for 34 YEARS speaks vooumes. Space X has been given every break possible by the government, too. And they contimue to choke. That’s no way to run a railroad that delivers goods and services– or a cargo delivery service a top a rocket.

  • DCSCA

    [Musk] is not receiving special treatment from any particular administration or any particular party.

    Except he has, in scheduling and in subsidies, which matter most– and why he lobbys Congress… its a matter of public record. =eyeroll=

  • amightywind

    Another mainstream media program, the PBS Newshour, had a segment tonight on SpaceX and the Dragon launch.

    One government supported entity scratching the back of another, to the benefit of both, pimping themselves to slack-jawed democrats drooling in front of their big screen TVs. Capitalism in the age of Obama!

    I other news Lockmart will launch yet another large payload today on a complex mission profile to geosync. Why aren’t they funded to deliver cargo to ISS? They could have accomplished the mission easily. The increased launch rate would drive down the costs of an Atlas V.

  • Robert G. Oler

    ArtieT wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    This is a shining example of how our government isn’t working. This is the impact of operating from ‘survival’ vs. ‘making a difference’. Occupy Wall Street , and others of it’s ilk is making this point”

    and the examples are everywhere. The F-35 is low hanging fruit. It is so badly managed so poorly designed, so incompetent in what it is suppose to do that it seems “obvious’ for cancellation.

    Yet “this is needed for a strong America” is not the refrain sung loudly by Congresspeople who if you do some checking usually come from districts where major parts of the plane are built ….and it gets picked up by those who find it useful as part of their constituency appeal.

    Tony Perkins of the family research center, who spends most of his time bashing gays and babbling on about “traditional family” has on behest of the Congressional delegation from Fort Worth…picked it up.

    SLS has worked almost exactly the same way (although Perkins has yet to find it part of God’s will). Various defense systems now all have the moniker of a few solid Congressional supporters who then whip that into the usual (mostly GOP) rhetoric of ‘we have to have this to be a great nation’

    Muncy is in a far better position to comment on this then I am…but in my view part of the reason that Newt balked on engaging on the SLS or Orion was that the GOP as a corporate group now finds it impossible to engage in a discussion on any defense system except to quote my 2 year old daughter “we need it”.

    It is not only the bulk of workers employed (for a political party which dislikes federal jobs) but it is mostly the campaign cash. Corporations are after all just another “person” excersizing their first amendment rights. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Why aren’t they [Lockheed Martin] funded to deliver cargo to ISS?

    Because Bush/Griffin didn’t think their proposal was worth funding. Duh.

    All they proposed was an Atlas V with either an ATV or HTV, which would have raised the prices overall from the current ATV and HTV. How in any way is that an improvement? And neither of those spacecraft provide any down-mass capabilities.

    The increased launch rate would drive down the costs of an Atlas V.

    Doubtful. Two or three extra launches per year is supposed to make their rockets $100M less expensive? I don’t think you understand how monopolies work.

    And of course, you do realize that ULA gets a $1B/year subsidy? I guess subsidies aren’t so bad when they go to the right companies, right?

    ULA’s parents (Boeing and Lockheed Martin) look like they have given ULA orders to reap as much money as possible from U.S. Taxpayers before they inevitably lose marketshare to SpaceX. What else could explain why their rockets cost so much? If they haven’t learned how to reduce costs in their serial production runs by now, then the only explanation is that they don’t want to.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I other news Lockmart will launch yet another large payload today on a complex mission profile to geosync. Why aren’t they funded to deliver cargo to ISS? >>

    because in a free enterprise system one needs to compete for “work”…but at least our resident troll is starting to acknowledge that it can be done better then NASA is doing it…small steps RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Lockheed Martin teamed up with ATK for COTS and you wonder why they didn’t win? LOL

    Are you still dreaming about the Liberty rocket?

  • amightywind

    Are you still dreaming about the Liberty rocket?

    No. Just puzzled why we couldn’t put a simple payload canister and rendezvous propulsion system on top of an Atlas Centaur and accomplished the ISS resupply mission 8 years ago at minimal cost. You monkeys are about to stand up cheering for SpaceX’s hobby launch while the commercial pros already launch ~12 times a year.

  • You monkeys are about to stand up cheering for SpaceX’s hobby launch while the commercial pros already launch ~12 times a year.

    Right. A company with almost 2000 employees, many of them experienced industry professionals, is doing a “hobby launch.”

    This kind of idiocy is why no one takes you seriously.

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I wonder if you really are listening or reading anything.

    Under O’Keefe the plan you suggest might just have happened years ago. Of course there would have been a competed contract. Unless you sole-source it as you seem to favor. Capitalism? Hello? Free market? Hello?

    But Griffin wanted to use your dear SRBs and it killed everything.

    Is this on purpose? Can’t you actually read/learn anything? Talk about being thick.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    No. Just puzzled why we couldn’t put a simple payload canister and rendezvous propulsion system on top of an Atlas Centaur and accomplished the ISS resupply mission 8 years ago at minimal cost.

    Two reasons:

    1. Lockheed Martin was just going to buy either an ESA ATV or JAXA HTV and launch it on ULA’s Atlas V. No innovation there, and no improvement over what ESA and JAXA already do.

    2. ULA was expensive then, and it’s pricing has risen 200% or more since the COTS competition. Why reward bad behavior?

    Instead, the entire COTS program is costing far less than what U.S. Taxpayers pay ULA for one year of their subsidies, and NASA will spend far less on the CRS program than what U.S. Taxpayers pay ULA for subsidies during the CRS program run.

    Atlas V is a nice rocket, but ULA is pricing themselves out of the launch market. Why support a company that can’t make it as a monopoly?

  • Daddy

    I think Windy’s got it goin on there Mr. Simberg. You just added to his point — 2000 hobby-launchers working to duplicate Gemini-era technology. Seems like an Atlas could have been contracted to support ISS many years ago utilizing the NASA Launch Services Program. But NOOOO, we had to cultivate further commercial capability.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And of course, you do realize that ULA gets a $1B/year subsidy?

    Repeat after me: the EELV Launch Capability contract is not a subsidy. It is the fair price the DoD pays for a vital service it needs: assured access to space. No US launch vehicle has payload capability in the EELV Heavy range and no US launch vehicle has the reliability record of the EELVs. No US firm is capable of offering the assured access that the DoD needs. SpaceX isn’t even close. In as little as five years from now that may be completely different, but right now that’s how thigns stand.

    Yes, it’s a lot of money and it’s only logical that SpaceX will go after it and only logical that ULA will try to stop that, by fair means or foul. Let’s hope they are successful and let’s hope in future there will be no need for an ELC to keep an assured launch capability alive because there is enough demand to keep several reliable suppliers afloat.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    2000 hobby-launchers working to duplicate Gemini-era technology.

    Oh, I get it. The old “Ford isn’t doing anything today that they didn’t do 100 years ago, so why buy their cars” argument. I love it when people try and trot that one out. It makes you look so smart. ;-)

    But of course Gemini couldn’t operate autonomously, couldn’t carry cargo (besides two close colleagues and their sandwiches), couldn’t dock and transfer anything between vehicles in a shirtsleeve environment, took a country to fund and build it… should I go on?

    Next you’ll be wondering why airlines are buying 787′s instead of refurbishing DC-4′s…

    But NOOOO, we had to cultivate further commercial capability.

    You have President Reagan, President G. W. Bush, and former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin to thank.

    Just out of curiosity, considering how much ULA has been raising prices recently despite having a virtual monopoly on government launches, why would you want to reward them by giving them more business?

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The only thing lreliable about Space X is their unreliablility.

    thry’re slipping the launch date again. They don’t need any more hype- they need to meet a schedule…

    they can’t even make a schedule…

    fail to meet schedule to deliver goods and services… It’s time for Congress to call this sloppy firm and the coddler commercialists inside NASA on to the carpet, hold hearings and investihate why this little firm keeps failing to meet schedules and failing to deliver the goods and services while running a lame, ‘open-ended’ test program on the taxpayer dime.”

    Don’t be a flaming idiot, fella. The schedule slippage is due to NASA, not SpaceX. NASA technicians needs more time to review the mission software:

    “The launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been set for May 7, but SpaceX said liftoff would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/03/11525131-spacex-chief-wants-to-be-spaceflier?lite

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “[SpaceX] fail [sic] to meet schedule to deliver goods and services… It’s time for Congress to call this sloppy firm and the coddler commercialists inside NASA on to the carpet, hold hearings and investihate [sic] why this little firm keeps failing to meet schedules”

    Because NASA technicians needs more time to understand the mission software:

    “The launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been set for May 7, but SpaceX said liftoff would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/03/11525131-spacex-chief-wants-to-be-spaceflier?lite

    Don’t be such a flaming idiot, fella. The schedule slippage is due to NASA, not SpaceX.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Repeat after me: the EELV Launch Capability contract is not a subsidy. It is the fair price the DoD pays for a vital service it needs: assured access to space.

    Martijn, usually we are on the same page on most issues, so I’m hoping that this statement was made in jest to point out the inequities ULA has with their monopoly.

    However, for those that think the $1B/year ULA subsidy is a good thing, then do you think it should also be provided to other launch providers when they get certified by the U.S. Government?

    As an example, should SpaceX be paid $1B/year to launch DoD/NRO payloads, regardless how many launches they make?

    If not, then should ULA have their subsidy removed as soon as a second launch provider is certified?

    Please provide your reasoning.

  • amightywind

    A company with almost 2000 employees

    Oh, so they have to be legit. Solyndra had 1000′s of qualified employees too. Doesn’t speak to the fact that $100′s of millions were malinvested. You aren’t thinking clearly. No big surprise there.

    SpaceX and Lockmart, the difference between talking the talk, and walking the walk.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I think Windy’s got it goin on there Mr. Simberg. You just added to his point — 2000 hobby-launchers working to duplicate Gemini-era technology. >>

    by that statement it is pretty clear that the word “technology” is something you need to do a bit of work on.

    The Dragon (which I guess you are referring to) is no more Gemini technology then a B737 is a B707…even though the Boeings share a fuselage

    Technology is not just various parts (incidentally the Dragon shares no parts with Gemini) but is a combination of the parts to achieve a device which accomplishes some task…

    The only “real” obsolete technology development right now in spaceflight is say SLS…it is more a creature of the shuttle then it is any modern device.

    But thanks for playing…you have cleared up the knowledge level you have.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    No. Just puzzled why we couldn’t put a simple payload canister and rendezvous propulsion system on top of an Atlas Centaur and accomplished the ISS resupply mission 8 years ago at minimal cost. >>

    That is easy…NASA HSF.

    There is no way that NASA HSF and the politicans (mostly good Republicans) who support it were going to let a autonomous resupply happen while the shuttle was still flying because then someone might ask “why do we need the shuttle to assemble the parts, why not just design them for an EELV launch?”

    are you so limited in history? RGO

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote:

    “Oh, so they have to be legit. Solyndra had 1000′s of qualified employees too. Doesn’t speak to the fact that $100′s of millions were malinvested.”

    Lets keep things in perspective.

    “Solyndra’s technology, it’s use of unconventional materials, and its tubular design stood out in a sea of flat, solar panels made with silicon. Solyndra’s was an innovator, for sure. Instead of flat panels, Solyndra sold round tubes with a rolled solar cell that were spaced out to capture more sunlight.

    Unfortunately, the company’s novel technology only made sense when costs of materials were high. And they didn’t stay that way for long. Costs dropped precipitously after China’s state-run banks handed out billions of dollars in loans to homegrown solar companies including Suntech and Trina Solar. This chart, put together by Ryan Cunningham using compiled news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg, illustrates the inequity between Chinese and U.S. government support.”

    Look at the chart on this page:

    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/intelligent-energy/why-solyndra-failed-and-the-doe-loan-program-is-next/8396

    America puts 500 million in solar panel technology with Solyndra and the chinese dump over 30 billion in subsidies to their solar panel companies and we are suprised our company went bankrupt?

    Gosh .. go figure.

  • pathfinder_01

    “However, for those that think the $1B/year ULA subsidy is a good thing, then do you think it should also be provided to other launch providers when they get certified by the U.S. Government?”

    I think that if a second launcher is available then it is reasonable to pay such a subsidy (a smaller one to both parties). I view it more like keeping a lawyer or an accountant on retainer. The DOD needs the capacity and the company needs the money to keep up operations in slow periods. Plus I hear the DOD gets a discount with every non DOD flight ULA sells(NASA, commercial).

    ULA prices stem from many reason: monopoly, lack of economies of scale, two similar products(Delta and Atlas) and outsourcing of keyparts that might be cheaper if done inhouse(engines).

  • Oh, so they have to be legit

    As usual, you miss the point, which is not about their “legitimacy,” but whether or not they are (as you stupidly characterize them) “hobbyists.”

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “Just puzzled why we couldn’t put a simple payload canister and rendezvous propulsion system on top of an Atlas Centaur and accomplished the ISS resupply mission 8 years ago at minimal cost.”

    Because your idol Mike Griffin didn’t want EELV or anyone else competing with Ares I. He tried to cripple commercial cargo by halving its budget and explicitely ruling existing launch vehicles out of the commercial cargo competitions. Because of Griffin’s hamfisted attempts to constrain competition for his pet rocket, you have him to thank for Antares and, to a lesser extent, Falcon 9.

    Only after Griffin’s departure have we seen Atlas V employed by commercial providers in the commercial crew competitions.

    “the commercial pros already launch ~12 times a year… SpaceX and Lockmart, the difference between talking the talk, and walking the walk.”

    Don’t be a flaming idiot. It’s the difference between a couple maiden flights and a decade of operations with the same vehicle.

  • vulture4

    “ULA prices stem from many reason: monopoly, lack of economies of scale, two similar products(Delta and Atlas) and outsourcing of keyparts that might be cheaper if done inhouse(engines).”

    There are few economies of scale in ELV production; some individual tasks are automated but the overall assembly process involves a lot of highly skilled hand labor. But the main reason ULA is not as efficient as it might be is that it does not want to be. When Boeing and Lockheed were competing for commercial and government payloads there was pressure to keep costs down, but as soon as they merged they had a monopoly with one customer: the US government, which refused to launch on foreign carriers. Their incentive was to raise prices even though doing so drove virtually all US commercial customers to foreign launch services.

    The people who worked on the Delta II were particularly proud of running an efficient operation. But the company found it logical to add cost to the Delta II until they could justify shutting it down, forcing customers to switch to the more profitable Delta IV and Atlas V.

    One cannot argue with wanting to make a profit, but until SpaceX came along there was nobody in the US to fight for any share of the commercial market. Competition will hopefully change ULAs perspective and give them an incentive to bring costs down, not up.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “2000 hobby-launchers working to duplicate Gemini-era technology.”

    Seven crew, TPS capable of supporting reentry from Mars trajectories, and integral LAS are not Gemini-era capabilities or technologies. Neither is 50t-plus heavy lift, vertical landings on land, or reusable boosters.

    “Seems like an Atlas could have been contracted to support ISS many years ago utilizing the NASA Launch Services Program.”

    Griffin decided against that. See my immediate prior post.

  • Coastal Ron

    pathfinder_01 wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I think that if a second launcher is available then it is reasonable to pay such a subsidy (a smaller one to both parties). I view it more like keeping a lawyer or an accountant on retainer.

    Ah, now you’ve taken us to the next level of discussion – should the U.S. Government need to pay such a “retainer”, and what does the U.S. Government get in return? And, of course, should all launch providers be treated the same?

    Does anyone know if Orbital Sciences get a subsidy for their launch operations?

    The DOD needs the capacity and the company needs the money to keep up operations in slow periods.

    I don’t see these two as connected. If a company needs the money to keep up operations, then they should do that by adjusting their prices and adding other customers. Purchasing professionals will tell you that it’s not a good idea to be too reliant on one customer or one supplier, and that’s what has happened with ULA.

    Plus I hear the DOD gets a discount with every non DOD flight ULA sells(NASA, commercial).

    The government is still paying the same amount.

    ULA prices stem from many reason: monopoly, lack of economies of scale, two similar products(Delta and Atlas) and outsourcing of keyparts that might be cheaper if done inhouse(engines).

    Having worked for major DoD contractors, my opinion is that ULA has not had the need to worry about reducing costs until recently, and now they are being squeezed by the threat of competition (SpaceX) on the selling price side, and rising costs from their supplier base (end of Shuttle, Russian charging more, etc.).

    So far I think they have responded in the traditional way – they are using their lobbying power to shutdown the competition instead of pouring their money and energy into lowering their operating costs.

    Need evidence? ULA is telling NASA that the cost of an Atlas V is rising as much as 15% per year. Per YEAR!

    If ULA can’t make a business out of launching one rocket a month, then I think they should go out of business and let someone else show them how. I hope that doesn’t happen, and I hope they can dramatically lower their prices. But I won’t cry very long if it does happen.

  • Googaw

    So Newt says the astronaut cult is a substitute for “meth and cocaine”. Makes sense. All three addictictive habits that cause people to waste their lives pursuing hallucinations.

    But this cult will teach the next generation of scientists and engineers? Not so much. You’ll get far more and better science and engineering experience by making a meth lab in your kitchen than you will by worshipping astronauts from afar.

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Rest easy, Windy. The only thing reliable about Space X is their unreliability.

  • Googaw

    I wouldn’t be so worried about the characterization of Space-X employees as “hobbyists.” I’d reclaim it as a term of honor. Even without using their new broad definition of “hobbyist”, Robert Goddard, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Leondardo da Vinci, and many other benefactors of humanity would qualify. Indeed, what they are accusing Space-X employees of being is essentially what inventors generally are — professional hobbyists. Paid tinkerers. People who actually try out stuff rather than try out Powerpoint presentations about the Next Big Rocket of The Future on gullible astronaut worshippers and sci-fi fans. People who have more hands-on experience with rocket fuel than with fueling themselves through interminable meetings with Starbucks.

    Not that Space-X doesn’t have their own share of silly sci-fi marcomm in pursuit of fat NASA contracts and naive young engineers — but that is not what they are being accused of by the OldSpace posters here. If that was their point, they’d have a point, since where Space-X is actually adding value to the humanity is in real space commerce, i.e. launching satellites, which bores the heavens out of both old space activists raised on Apollo and young engineers raised on intestellar opera.

    If we are going to spend government money on “the future”, whatever that is, we could do far worse, and indeed do in fact do far worse, than spend that money on hobbyists. A clever tinkerer in his garage on his worst days produces far more value for humanity than a typical NASA rocket bureaucrat, even when that PowerPoint master calls himself an “engineer.”

  • pathfinder_01

    Yes, use of some form of commercial cargo early in the ISS program, would have freed about 12 flights of the Shuttle to the ISS which carried the MPLM and would have allowed for a 3 person crew after the Columbia disaster. It probably would have also been cheaper. However use of the EELV would have reduced the need for the shuttle….can’t have that.

  • pathfinder_01

    “There is no way that NASA HSF and the politicans (mostly good Republicans) who support it were going to let a autonomous resupply happen while the shuttle was still flying because then someone might ask “why do we need the shuttle to assemble the parts, why not just design them for an EELV launch?””

    I agree with the principle, but most ISS modules would have needed a Titan IV to launch, and while the Titans were cheap, Titian IV was not. At the time the ISS was being designed/built the EELV program was either just beginning or not yet thought of. The cost difference between a Titan IV and the shuttle isn’t as great as the cost difference between Delta IV and the Shuttle.

    I think the dumb part was requiring about 25 flights of a vehicle that could only do 4-6 flights a year. That dragged assembly far longer than it need be. A much smarter use of funds and time would have seen some parts at least launched on another system esp. the resupply. However getting a space station up and complete was secondary to the jobs it was to create/support.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martijn, usually we are on the same page on most issues, so I’m hoping that this statement was made in jest to point out the inequities ULA has with their monopoly.

    No, I’m serious, although I regard the need for the ELC as unfortunate. It would be great if we could move beyond it. A propellant launch market would be one great way to do it, but alas that seems unlikely. The CRS block buy, the availability of commercial crew and Bigelow’s intended use of it may unlock enough non-military demand to make the ELC unnecessary, especially if EELVs and Falcon manage to take away market share from Ariane.

    However, for those that think the $1B/year ULA subsidy is a good thing, then do you think it should also be provided to other launch providers when they get certified by the U.S. Government?

    I think it should be recompeted then. And before that an assessment should be made whether then existing launchers are reliable and commercially viable enough not to need the ELC anymore.

    Another consideration is whether the EELV Heavy payload capability is really worth the $1B/year (I thought it was less?) DoD spends on it. Investing some money in development of satellites that are either refueled in orbit (using storable propellant obviously) or just use EOR with a transfer stage for orbit raising could be worth it.

    As an example, should SpaceX be paid $1B/year to launch DoD/NRO payloads, regardless how many launches they make?

    Not unless and until the existing ELC expires, a new one is still necessary and they win a new competitively awarded contract. And such a contract could turn out to be cheaper than $1B/year. In fact, a competition might reveal that an ELC is no longer needed.

    If not, then should ULA have their subsidy removed as soon as a second launch provider is certified?

    Depends on whether the heavy payload capability is still required and on whether the ELC can be terminated early.

    It’s ironic that two of the most prominent lies told to justify an SDLV are actually true of EELVs: there is a national security need for both assured access to space and “heavy” lift. And, appropriately, this is being paid for from the DoD budget.

  • Malmesbury

    “Seems like an Atlas could have been contracted to support ISS many years ago utilizing the NASA Launch Services Program.”

    In fact Griffin was physically aggressive on on at least one occasion to those who suggested using EELV for crew. Shouting in peoples faces was reported.

    And there was the infamous report where “ARES I G loading” was better than a lower value of “Other peoples G loading”.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t see these two as connected. If a company needs the money to keep up operations, then they should do that by adjusting their prices and adding other customers.

    What if it can’t? If it were just another company, then it should be allowed to fold. But if it serves a legitimate national security need (as ULA does and no one else currently can), then the DoD is just going to have to pay for it.

    “Plus I hear the DOD gets a discount with every non DOD flight ULA sells(NASA, commercial).”

    The government is still paying the same amount.

    Not if it’s a commercial payload.

    If ULA can’t make a business out of launching one rocket a month, then I think they should go out of business and let someone else show them how.

    Sure, but in the mean time the DoD still needs assured access to space and currently no one else is in a position to offer it.

  • Martijn Meijering

    should the U.S. Government need to pay such a “retainer”, and what does the U.S. Government get in return?

    Yes, and assured access to space in the right payload mass category respectively.

    And, of course, should all launch providers be treated the same?

    Yes, and they were when the ELC was first awarded. No one but ULA was in a position to deliver. Not ULA’s fault.

    Does anyone know if Orbital Sciences get a subsidy for their launch operations?

    Not that I’m aware of, and rightly so, since they don’t sell a service that the DoD needs and no one else can sell.

  • Daddy

    @ Coastal, et al,
    ULA is but one of several commercial entities that participate in the NASA Launch Services Program. There’s a fairly healthy competition for launch services on that contract by today’s standards of commercial space competition.

    And my Gemini analogy simply refers to orbital transportation and rendezvous capability. And both a 707 and a 737 can get you from one airport to another. We’ve made SO MUCH progress there as well… We’re still sanding in lines, squeezing into seats, and travelling at subsonic speeds.

  • professional hobbyists…

    …is an oxymoron.

  • Coastal Ron

    Daddy wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    There’s a fairly healthy competition for launch services on that contract by today’s standards of commercial space competition.

    Which is a pretty low standard considering that ULA has a monopoly on payloads requiring Atlas V or bigger type payloads.

    To understand whether there is true competition you have to look at the fungibility of the transportation mode. How many alternatives does NASA have for launching Discovery-class missions? Those have been launched domestically on Delta II, and there are no alternatives until Falcon 9 or Antares get certified.

    Is competition coming? It looks like it, but we’re not there yet. And ULA keeps raising prices… see a connection?

    And my Gemini analogy simply refers to orbital transportation and rendezvous capability.

    Maybe that’s what you were thinking, but that’s not what you wrote. Try connecting the two better next time.

    In any case, your analogy fails on every level – cost, capability, affordability, etc.

    And both a 707 and a 737 can get you from one airport to another.

    If only you were able to understand why airlines have stopped using 707′s and changed over to more modern aircraft, and why airline passengers would much rather fly on a 737 than a 707.

    Once you understand those reasons, then you’ll understand why what Orbital Sciences and SpaceX are doing for cargo delivery is so significant.

  • Vladislaw

    “wouldn’t be so worried about the characterization of Space-X employees as “hobbyists.” I’d reclaim it as a term of honor. Even without using their new broad definition of “hobbyist”, Robert Goddard, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Leondardo da Vinci, “

    If Elon Musk was acting alone, sitting out in some plowed field, launching $100.00 estes rockets .. then I would grant you he is a hobbiest.

    When someone is pouring 100 MILLION dollars into an enterprise, is buying manufacturing facilities and hiring 1000 plus people, has various business lic. et cetera. They are no longer a freakin’ hobbiest in any way shape or form.

    SpaceX is a business, the moronic nameless posters who think otherwise need therapy.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    professional hobbyists… “…is an oxymoron.”

    Well said. But (to the extent this thread is no longer conspicuously about Gingrich — RIP) that really brings up the question of exactly what a hobbyist, which is used here as a decidedly derogatory term, actually is. Wilbur and Orville Wright were hobbyists in that building airplanes wasn’t how they made their money, but then again, no one else was building airplanes. So they knew how to build airplanes vastly better than anyone else did. The same could be said, with respect to rockets, about Robert Goddard.

    SpaceX is building rockets to make money, so it’s hardly a hobby for them. An accusation that they can’t be any good at building rockets because they’ve just started doing it may well be valid, but not obviously so. As pointed out, they hire people who build rockets, so the accusation would have to be leveled at management, rather than technical capabilities. What in particular about their management makes their capabilities suspect, aside from the fact that they aren’t, for example, Lockheed or Boeing? I would hate to believe that what makes ULA so good is that NASA and DOD tells them precisely what to do.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Daddy wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    . And both a 707 and a 737 can get you from one airport to another. >>

    More proof that you simply do not understand the issue. It is a single word “cost”

    The 737 is still flying (and will for a bit more) and the 707 is not because of that single word…”cost” to everyone but the federal government means something. It even use to mean something to the federal government. But as the corporate welfare folks have found a home in the Grand Old Part (and certain members of the Democratic party, but less) the cost essentially means nothing.

    Having said that an airline that operated B-707′s would today simply be out of business, the cost factor to simply get the plane ready to fly would drive them out, not to mention the cost to fly it.

    you wrote ““And my Gemini analogy simply refers to orbital transportation and rendezvous capability.” more goofiness…almost every space vehicle does that.

    Its ok “Dad” the truth is that you no more understand the problems with space policy or politics then the Newt “devoted” As long as space transportation is operated as a government supported no private industry financial involvement; it is like the F-35…cost will always go up and the only thing that saves the effort is the rhetoric associated with the program.

    These two statements of yours class you as worse then a “hobbyist”…you dont know what you are talking about. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 4th, 2012 at 5:22 pm A

    it is worse then that. The US is paying Israel’s defense budget and they are buying solar panels from China for their Negev 3 gigawatt program. RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    “Wilbur and Orville Wright were hobbyists in that building airplanes wasn’t how they made their money, but then again, no one else was building airplanes.” That’s inaccurate. Others were- or were certainly trying.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aviation

    “So they knew how to build airplanes vastly better than anyone else did. The same could be said, with respect to rockets, about Robert Goddard.” Not really- see above. And your comparison to Space X hobbyists, w/Goddard is false equivalency; Goddard was not trying to replicate an existing operational system. Russian Progress spacecraft has been flying for over 34 years; Soyuz longer, servicing LEO space platforms. Space X is a redundancy to an existing, operational system. Neither was von Braun/Oberth et al in Goddard’s era nor Korelev’s young hobbyists as well- there’s no comparison to SPace X.

    “SpaceX is building rockets to make money, so it’s hardly a hobby for them.” So you think hobbyists don’t pursue a passion to make money- then you’ve never known any numismatists, philatelists or finr art dealers. Even Alan Bean’s ‘hobby’- a passion for painting moonscapes- is a moneymaking enterprise.

    ==========

    Gingrich’s grandiose errors about Space X, NASA, private enterprised space operations, Reagan and all things gov’t are well documented and the damage done by him and fellow traveller Bob Walker on the public discourse of spaceflight will be with us for years. But this latest failure by Space X to meet schedule is more than troublesome. It’s symptomatic of poor management and Space X shills trying to spin blame back on NASA rather than accepting their own failure to perform as advertised is disturbing- but common with commercialists. It’s time for Congress to hold hearings and investigate the commercialist coddlers inside and outside NASA and target Space X’s habitual failure to deliver goods and services in a timely fashion. The U.S. taxpayers contracted for goods and services from this firm, not to finance an ‘open-ended’ test program for tinkering hobbyists- and they’ve been cut repeated breaks in scheduling and financing. This has ceased to be about spaceflight and has become a simple matter of the failure of a supplier to meet its contractual obligations. The Space X shills brag that Space X is going to ‘make history’ when in fact, they can’t even make a simple schedule, a basic premise of good business operations. (The Mars chatter is all the more Barnumesque.) Space X has been given every break possible by the government, too, both in scheduling modifications and through subsidies to get flying. And they continue to fail– while Progress routinely soars, servicing the ISS with cargo. It’s time for Congress to step in, hold hearings, ask the tough questions and hold this firm accountable for their failures to meet it obligations. The objective is to service the grown-up, real world, space program’s ISS- such as it is- with cargos and crews- not finance an ‘open-ened test program’ for ‘tinkering’ profiteers playing at rocketeers.

  • pathfinder_01

    “And my Gemini analogy simply refers to orbital transportation and rendezvous capability. And both a 707 and a 737 can get you from one airport to another. We’ve made SO MUCH progress there as well… We’re still sanding in lines, squeezing into seats, and travelling at subsonic speeds.”

    And do so much cheaper than we did when the 707 flew. This allows more people to fly and people to fly more often than they did in the 60ies. Sometime you don’t need to be faster to be better (the cheetah for instance is going extinct and would be going extinct even without man).
    Same idea behind commercial cargo and crew. Both are cheaper than the shuttle.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Having watched EER engineers destroy their company with one Conestoga launch…. when they launched off nominal before a crowd after 3 previous cancellations…

    I’m pretty sure that Musk will launch no rocket until its time.

    It is rocket science after all, and rocket science pretty much uses the heuristic method: if SpaceX gets bit in the but by some unseen bitch this time, then they’ll just pick up the pieces, figure out what went wrong, fix it, and try again. Just like any other well financed rocket company.

    Any kind of major claims (spin) put on either a launch failure or a launch success will simply be BS, IMO.

    I do sometimes pause to reflect on the failure of the CONTOUR probe to Comet Schwassmann Wachmann 3 due to the failure of ATK’s Star 30 motor, though. Another piece of “fine engineering”, guys.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “But this latest failure by Space X to meet schedule is more than troublesome. It’s symptomatic of poor management and Space X shills trying to spin blame back on NASA”

    For the second time in this thread (among others)… the ongoing delays are due to NASA technicians needing more time to understand the flight hardware, not SpaceX:

    “The launch of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been set for May 7, but SpaceX said liftoff would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/03/11525131-spacex-chief-wants-to-be-spaceflier?lite

    Don’t be a flaming idiot, fella.

  • Malmesbury

    “But this latest failure by Space X to meet schedule is more than troublesome. It’s symptomatic of poor management and Space X shills trying to spin blame back on NASA”

    So they are late. Unlike Shuttle (4 years), HTV (8 years late), Ariane 5 (5 years)… no, wait….

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    It’s time for Congress to hold hearings and investigate the commercialist coddlers inside and outside NASA and target Space X’s habitual failure to deliver goods and services in a timely fashion.>>

    LOL we could have those along with the hearings on why Cx consumed 15 billion and flew nothing…or SLS is ……tick tock. just wait the future is coming.

    BTW today is the anniversary of the WPA starting…one of the first projects was to build cruisers. RGO

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Space X is a redundancy to an existing, operational system.

    And the very LAST thing our Nation needs is redundant tranportation systems. I believe you’re on to something here. If a single string transportion system is great for space we should be implimenting your idea across the board.

    One suppler of one model of car, plane, ship, train … hell even just one breed of horse. Just one single supplier of just one type across all transporation systems.

    Just think how effiecent that would be across America…

    DCSCA .. you are a freakin’ genius!

  • Robert G. Oler

    So referencing Newt…what could he have said that would have at least been a point of discussion instead of a laughing point? I put some of it in my reply to Muncy (who I have the greatest respect for) but its worth bullet pointing some of it.

    1. End programs that have no real purpose other then to sustain the space industrial complex. Newt could have sat down and listened to Ike’s speech (although the GOP of today has long left the GOP of Ike’s day in extremist dust)…about the military industrial complex.

    SLS and Orion spending are not going to balance the federal budget…but they do consume talent and industrial capability AND MONEY that could be used in other directions. The programs have technical and problematic and cost flaws, but the largest flaw in them is time. NASA programs freeze the field for decades…no other group, other then the federal government is talking about programs that span half a century…and thats SLS/Orion.

    2. recognize that there is no human space future without humans exploiting the values of space. That is a tough sale because for so long NASA has pushed Tang, power tools, cell phones, you name they push it as deriving from the space program and justifying the dollars spent on it. WE NEED a product base in space or something done in space that humans give value to.

    I know that in 50 years we have not discovered one, but that is because we have never really tried…our goals have been focused on maintaining the space industrial complex not actually letting it bloom into an economic system.

    3. Recognize that the nation needs a new economic system and tht this system will not bloom with federal dollars attempting to prop up the old one. Newt could have used the line he was quoted for in this thread:

    ““What I called for is beginning to happen,” he argued. He cited last week’s announcement of Planetary Resources, the company that seeks to mine asteroids, as well as Space Adventures’ circumlunar mission project and Virgin Galactic (which he called a “low Earth orbit project”; it’s actually, for now, suborbital), as well as the upcoming SpaceX cargo demonstration mission to the ISS. “Next week, NASA, building on something George W. Bush started and Obama has expanded on, NASA will actually be launching a private-sector rocket that Elon Musk has invested a great deal in.”

    even with the mistakes those are good words and the notion of a dynamic economic system developing is exactly what NEwt use to talk about.

    Finally he could key this dynamic economic and thought process to our national defense and economy. In defense we are stuck in ideas of almost a century ago…most of which came to “maturity” in WW2 and have since formed the basis for an ever aging defense/offense.

    Newt could have talked about these ideas and summed them up into the notion that these are the same basis which settled the west and might one day enable a break out into the solar system by humans…(if he had to …this is a little far afield)

    Instead he gave a really bad speech that was simply half baked and badly defended. I attribute this more to trying to morph to the goofy realities of teh GOP (they love SLS for instance even though it does nothing of value..it maintains the space industrial complex) then bad political suggestions.

    RGO

  • Googaw

    ” would be held up while NASA was double-checking changes in the flight software.”

    This is what happens when NASA HSF is your customer.

    Meet the NewSpace.

    Same as the OldSpace.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Wilbur and Orville Wright were hobbyists in that building airplanes wasn’t how they made their money, but then again, no one else was building airplanes.”

    DCSCA wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 7:10 pm
    “That’s inaccurate. Others were- or were certainly trying.”

    Fair point. No one else was building airplanes THAT WORKED.

    “Goddard was not trying to replicate an existing operational system.”

    Neither is SpaceX (thank goodness!) They’re trying to replicate an existing operational capability. Big difference.

    Here’s a thought. Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Hundai, GM, VW, etc. etc., have spent years trying to replicate an existing operational capability. They’ve done that exceedingly well. They have NOT been trying to replicate an existing operational system. In doing this replication, they were trying to achieve value to the consumer, in different ways. That’s what SpaceX is doing.

    “So you think hobbyists don’t pursue a passion to make money- then you’ve never known any numismatists, philatelists or finr art dealers.”

    Oh, I know many. And few of them do these activities to support themselves. “Making money” is one thing. Supporting ones self is another. I can get on Craigslist and “make money”. SpaceX is doing what they do to support themselves and their workers. True, Musk himself need not do this to support himself, but he’s got a boatload of people working for him that do.

    I just find “hobbyist” to be a curious term to apply to SpaceX. It connotes an effort that is not primary to those doing it. That would come as a surprise to the thousand or so employees of the company. I would have thought that “amateur” would be slightly more appropriate. It’s equally derogatory, though of course SpaceX is composed of professional staff whose experience can hardly be credibly described in that way.

    We could call them pioneers, in that they are trying to go where commercialism hasn’t yet gone, but I suppose that isn’t a derogatory enough term.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    the entire meme of “hobbyest” which is a term that some folks here have picked up from the ATK lobby effort is an attempt to do what some political forces do, which is to engage on a term that is derogatory to the particular effort and turns the entire debate toward that term…not to what is actually being done.

    One of Karl Rove’s clients…is ATK RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “So referencing Newt…what could he have said that would have at least been a point of discussion instead of a laughing point? I put some of it in my reply to Muncy (who I have the greatest respect for) but its worth bullet pointing some of it.”

    And if I may add a couple to yours:

    A) Numbers

    B) more numbers

    C) even more numbers

    I thought a big fail was not providing anything even resembling a baseline of costs.

    If he would have illustrated how much the federal government would actually be funding in space prizes, direct contracts and SAA’s relative to how much past baselines have been.

    Could have used the 500 billion SEI or FLO etc. If what he was proposing was going to be a lot less expensive it could have at least been forced as the start of the conversation. The actual numbers.

  • DCSCA

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    “Here’s a thought. Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Hundai, GM, VW, etc. etc., have spent years trying to replicate an existing operational capability.” Except those manufacturers produce products to meet a demand with a worldwide market base, Doug, – benefiting the many over and over, not a select few. And ‘new’ models denied a market disappear or are quickly terminated from production. And, of course, GM was subsidized/saved by the U.S. government less for the products it produced but the jobs it saved. And Chrysler, ironically a player in early rocket and DoD hardware development, is now tied to Fiat. Revisit any mass market publication from the early 20th century and you’ll discover a huge number of automobile manufacturer start-ups now long gone, or absorbed by the post-war manufacturers, which ironically benefited from big War Dept contracting as well- benefiting the many in a global war effort, not a select few. (Ironically, you’ll discover that there were more electric trucks in NYC in the early 20th century than horse drawn delivery wagons. It’s future neutered by the ICE and cheap fuel.) Early AW&ST, Flying & Popular Science are peppered w/similar advertisements. Spaceflight is not a ‘product’ subject to mass marketing hardware. There won’t be a Jetson’s style space car in your garage any time soon. It can offer services– and investments in same which benefit the many have done well- weather observations, communications and such, and governments have made such investments for various geopolitcal reasons. Some private firms as well for land management (as noted in anothrt thread.) HSF is a different matter and private enterprised, commercial investment benefits a select few, not the many, particularly if they seek government subsidies denied by the private capital markets. There’s simply no ‘demand’ for it- aside from the ‘entertainment’ element Branson is pursuing, and his sub-rbitla jaunts may turn out to be the right path forward. The market will decide. Back in the day, one in four jobs in the United States was directly or indirectly associated w/t automotive industry. “What’s good for GM is good for America’ was the famed slogan. Spaceflight, not so much. Civil space manufacturing- Apollo comes to mind- did not come any place close to contributing that kind of productivity to the national economy- at peak, roughly 400K-500K were employed. DoD-related space operations is an opague, kettle of fish, but if you’re advocating Space X bid and secure DoD contracts for satellite launches, fine, great, and as they perform to DoD standards and earn the confidence of same, all the better. But they’ve failed to demonstrate that to the public and the commercial investror class in meeting their obligations w/NASA.

    “No one else was building airplanes THAT WORKED…” Again, revisit

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_aviation

    You’ll discover ‘aeroplanes’ that ‘worked’ were being tinkered with as early as 1874. W&O are credited w/controlled powered flight- and bear in mind, their wing warping and ‘push’ designs were moved on from just a few years later and by the WW1-era more practical aeroplanes surfaced in Europe, for governments waging war. Change came fast.

    “I just find “hobbyist” to be a curious term to apply to SpaceX.” Agreed. ‘Amateurs’ is a more appropriate term. But the implied reference is a ‘polite’ framing- a euphemism Musk himself only reinforced in his own interview w/Scott Pelley. He’d do better to stop meeting w/t press and start meeting launch schedules. In line with that, Bob Truax was an ‘amateur’ as well. So, too, were the rocketeer clubs associated w/Oberth, Von Braun and Korelev. A fair term for the Musketeers is ‘entrepreneurial.’ So the question becomes, does the U.S. want to subsidize tinkering ‘entrepreneurs’ in the Age of Austerity to develop a redundant service to a doomed LEO international platform, a Cold War relic, ‘operational’ for 11 years already, housing just six people at optimum times, under the guise of a ‘faux market’ already costing $100 billion-plus to taxpayers- when there’s a practical, proven, reliable, operational servicing system already – Progress for supplies and Soyuz for crews. No. It’s a ‘faux’ market for commercialists. It’s a waste. And space exploitation is not space exploration.

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    “… the ongoing delays are due to NASA technicians needing more time to understand the flight hardware, not SpaceX.”

    Now Space X shills are blaming NASA for their own failure to perform — a space agency that’s cut them plenty of breaks no less: “Space X successfully lobbied NASA to combine a second and third into a single mission that would include the first Dragon berthing with the station. Launch originally was targeted for early February, but the flight has been repeatedly pushed back to give Space X additional time to validate its trajectory analysis and command software… Sources said the latest slip came in the wake of recent software modifications by SpaceX that required additional verification.” – Bill Harwood, CBS News. It was Space X which asked for the delays. Not NASA. Golly gee, maybe they could ask the Russian for help- their ‘software’ has been guiding their ‘hardware’ aka Progress supply spacecraft- to LEO space platforms for over 34 YEARS. It is just desperation by Space X shills to spin otherwise– they’ve been cut every break, as Harwood notes; even granted permission to modify existing contracts and consolidate test flights. They’ve had facilities renovated at taxpayer expense as well. Space X is simply failing to perform as advertised which is habitually more the rule than the exception. It’s disturbing. And its indicative of poor management. This has ceased to be about the challenging complexities of orbital spaceflight- something mastered by Russian Progress supply spacecraft for decades– and has become a simple matter of the failure of a supplier to meet its obligations. It’s time for Congress to hold hearings and investigste why Space X continues to slip schedules and fail to meet its contractual obligations w/t government w/o lobbying for modifications, etc., and apply the appropriate penalties.

    @Malmesbury wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    “So they [Space X] are late.” So that’s no excuse, particularly from a profit motivated, business enterprise that wants more business in the future on the taxpayer’s dime. So they’re in business and contracted to provide goods and services on time- a redundancy no less to a highly successful and operational system in place for decades- the Russian Progress. So they’re not being financed to run an ‘open-ended test program.’ So repeated schedule slippages and excuse-driven management are poor characteristics of a commercial firm vying for more business. So terminate the contracts. So other competitors know when they’re contracted to perform, performance, not procrastination, is expected.

    @Vladislaw wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    “And the very LAST thing our Nation needs is redundant transportation systems.”

    The ISS is not exclusively American. It’s an international platform doomed to a Pacific splash. No, ‘we’ don’t need a redundant system, particularly when you do any cost-benefit analysis. That’s why shuttles are headed to museums– you’re talking about wasting billions to supplement an existing, reliable system that services a platform housing just six people at optimum periods who spend vast amounts of time performing simple maintenance, not ‘research’…, and after 11 years on orbit, has yet to return anything close to justifying the $100 plus billion expense. The ISS is less a piece of space hardware, integral to an expanding government space exploration program now shelved, and more a one-off policy decision from Cold War policy planning– an era long over. It has more in common w/Minuteman missile silos and the Berlin Wall than space exploration. View it for what it is- a Cold War relic- a WPA project for aerospace contractors- as Deke Slayton rightly labeled it. Far from being a ‘national asset’ it is, in fact, an ‘international liability’ which limits space operations to LEO, a ticket to no placwe, and diverts dwindling assets from BEO planning and development.

  • Bennett

    What Doug Lassiter wrote at 1:33 pm…

    We could call them pioneers, in that they are trying to go where commercialism hasn’t yet gone, but I suppose that isn’t a derogatory enough term.

    Excellent. If DCSCA was human, his head would have exploded after that paragraph.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    “What Doug Lassiter wrote at 1:33 pm…We could call them pioneers, in that they are trying to go where commercialism hasn’t yet gone, but I suppose that isn’t a derogatory enough term. Excellent. If DCSCA was human, his head would have exploded after that paragraph.”

    Hmmm. Speak for yourself. Try and follow along: ““I just find “hobbyist” to be a curious term to apply to SpaceX.” [DCSCA->] Agreed. ‘Amateurs’ is a more appropriate term. But the implied reference is a ‘polite’ framing- a euphemism Musk himself only reinforced in his own interview w/Scott Pelley. He’d do better to stop meeting w/t press and start meeting launch schedules. In line with that, Bob Truax was an ‘amateur’ as well. So, too, were the rocketeer clubs associated w/Oberth, Von Braun and Korelev. A fair term for the Musketeers is ‘entrepreneurial.’” Certainly not ‘pioneers.’

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ May 6th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I would not have argued for a cost number…If someone asked I would have argued for “we can do it for what we are spending on HSF now”.

    The reality is that the 20 foot giant that the GOP is unwilling to talk about is that it is not that the federal government spends to much money; it is that most of what it spends on non social safety net issues…is spent very very badly.

    First little of it actually affects the economy. SLS is a wealth transfer program.

    ALl it does is take taxpayer dollars and filter it out to government employees and a few employers who filter it down to their employees and then its done. NOTHING at SLS multiplies in the economy.

    Build HWY 646 in Santa Fe and the dollar multipliers are endless. But as soon as the SLS dollars dispurse through normal spending there is no product that continues to get used or increase community worth.

    This is true of almost all the good old GOP projects. Defense spending is horrific at multipliers…it gets far worse when the money has to start for actual “fighting”. Whatever we spent in Iraq is simply gone wasted as if we had burned it.

    2. Contractors love this spending. There really is NOT a date by which SLS has to even pretend to get ready to fly. Every year as the schedule slip the old tired arguments come out “Wow if we cancel now all the money is wasted” and “If we dont keep spending it we are in decline as a superpower”. So the bucks keep flowing because the Congress people (mostly GOP) Like that kind of pork. Pete Olsen beats up on planned parenthood all he can as “wasteful” but he was for several times a year more then that spending for 10 years on the F-35 second engine…remember “STrong America”.

    3. The GOP loves this spending. Most of them dont have a clue about defense policy, tactics, or theory; much less the notions of how these things are evolving…coupled of course with being clueless on the currents of history…but this spending “shows we are ready for the bad guys”.

    Newt needed to come out against “spending without purpose” but the problem is that the “low information voters” Of the GOP base…of course think an F-35 that is so far behind schedule that it might not be operational “this decade” is a poster plane for strength.

    Newt needed to run Romney into a “spend box” but sadly Newt is (or was) in that same box. Muncy can weigh in on this if he wants but I dont think Newt has ever argued for the cancellation of a single over 1 billion dollar a year defense program in his entire public office career.

    He (Newt) is a fraud…as is most of the GOP folks in the arena this year. RGO

  • DCSCA

    @Ellegood wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 10:47 am

    “Commercial Crew, even with a down-select to three companies, is still a bargain by comparison.”

    Except it’s not, unless you believe pouring billions more into LEO operations is a steal. In fact, it is stealing the future away from BEO operations and condemning more generations of engineers and scietists to going in circles. Clarke wisely noted some time ago that LEO operations best be left to the private sector for ‘exploitation’ to devlop on their own dime w/government space exploration efforts focused on BEO operations. Every dollar diverted to LEO is pouring good money after bad, particularly toward ISS operations, as it’s a doomed space platform. Stop looking at the ISS as piece of space hardware and consider it for what it actually is- a fixture of Cold War policy planning- a quarter century long WPA aerospace works project from an era long over which has more in common w/Minuteman missile silos and the Berlin Wall than any space exploration plans- plans now shelved. W/o the ISS being ginned up by commercialists inside and outside NASA as a ‘faux market,’ CCplans for LEO operations would be DOA, unlerss manufacturers could pitch a viable private enterprised driven market to private capital investors. There’s simply no ROI worth the investment- so they go into oil exploration instead.

    @E.P. Grondine wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    “Having watched EER engineers destroy their company with one Conestoga launch…. when they launched off nominal before a crowd after 3 previous cancellations…I’m pretty sure that Musk will launch no rocket until its time.”

    This is less about ‘launching a rocket’ and more about the business of a firm habitually failing to meet its contractual obligations to deliver goods and services… and they’ve been cut plenty of breaks. There’s a mature system in place to service LEO space platforms- Progress. “I’m pretty sure that Musk will launch no rocket until its time.” Except viewers of ’60 Minutes’ are positive that he has. Per his own words, the first three Falcon 1 launches failed and as he told CBS’s Scott Pelley, ‘If that fourth launch hadn’t worked, that would have been it. We wouldn’t have had the resources to go on.” Not a confidence builder. One more failure would have folded his tent. Such is the nature of test flights and the gamblers instinct of the entrapreneur. But Space X has been contracted to deliver goods and services to the ISS, not have an ‘open-ended test program’ financed. “I wish it wasn’t so hard,” he says. Except it is. But apparently, not for Russia’s Progress, supplying LEO space platforms for over 34 years.

    @Dark Blue Nine wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    LOL So Space X’s CEO says its NASA’s fault so it ‘has’ to be true- LOL Rubbish. Space X initiated the delays, not NASA. And NASA.s commercial cult has cut Space X plenty of breaks. Space X says a lot of things nobody believes, like launch dates and musings about retiring on Mars, or, as himself said on the PBS News Hour, sending tens of thousands -millions of people to Mars. Absurd- and disturbing as his immediate focus as ‘CEO and ‘Chief Designer’ should be to meet schedule, fulfill contractual obligations and get hauling cargo to the ISS. And, of course, last year he stated he would not ride his own rocket because he ‘has a family.’ while Branson has repeated stated he’s taking his family along on VG’s inaugural flight. Musk has an avoidance habit of retreating to the fictional fantasies and musing about what he’s ‘going to do’ when the harsh realities of the here and now close in, shining a light on what he’s failing to do- in this case, to simply meet a launch date. Space X which delayed. Not NASA. So stop being a flaming shillidiot, fella: “I wish it wasn’t so hard,” says Musk. Apparently not so hard for Progress since 1978. Srill, everybody want them to get cracking. So rest assured this writer will applaud their successful parody of what Progress has been doing for over 34 years, redundant as it will be. And it would be in Musk’s interest to stop with the pressers and start with meeting a schedule. And do a little less reading of Heinlein and a little more of Clarke, who had a prescient take on the pragmatics involved in developing LEO commercial exploitation on their own dime leaving government to pursue BEO exploration programs.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120501delay/

    @Vladislaw wrote @ May 5th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    “If Elon Musk was acting alone, sitting out in some plowed field, launching $100.00 estes rockets .. then I would grant you he is a hobbiest.”

    It’s relative. He’s a multi-billionaire and S100 million isn’t that much in those circles- it’s about what Mitt Romney set up as a trust for each of his kids. Besides, the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

  • BeanCounterfromDownunder

    Googaw wrote @ May 3rd, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    It’s interesting how people downplay the importance of the sci-fi authors. In fact, when you look at the inventions that have come along, many of them have their initial ideas based solidly on those utilised in sci-fi books and short stories.
    Recently there was a discussion around whether or not Star Trek had made space seem too easy. So clearly in some minds at least, sci-fi has relevance to today’s space industry. Oh tablets appear in Star-Trek well before any thoughts about them in industry. BTW, Steve Jobs was an avid Trekkie.
    And there’s also a program currently showing on one of our free to air stations entitled ‘Prophets of Science Fiction’ which details the lives of well-known sci-fi authors e.g. Arthur C. Clarke, Issac Asimov, etc. and how they detailed scientific inventions in their books and short stories well before science could actually develop or had thought of them. LOL.

  • Jeff Foust

    Time to wrap up this discussion, folks.