Campaign '12

Turing the Dragon flight into a campaign issue

So far, the campaign of expected Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been quiet on space policy, and President Obama’s reelection campaign—or, at least, one person in that campaign—is trying to take advantage of that silence. “This week, Mitt Romney’s Republican allies in Congress finally dropped their effort to eliminate the competition among the private space industry after the successful launch of SpaceX’s Dragon,” said Obama for America Florida press secretary Eric Jotkoff in a statement released by the campaign on Thursday. He was referring to comments by several members of Congress approving a deal between key House appropriator Frank Wolf (R-VA) and NASA on the future of the agency’s commercial crew program. “While this is a step in the right direction, Floridians still deserve to know where Mitt Romney stands on space issues.”

Jotkoff went on to note in the statement that both during after after the Dragon test flight to the ISS, “Romney’s campaign refused to say if he supported President Obama’s efforts to support and grow America’s commercial space industry.” And, for good measure, he threw in comments a couple weeks ago by former NASA administrator Mike Griffin, who is one of several advisors to the Romney campaign on space, endorsing a human return to the Moon—supposedly anathema to Romney, based on a line by Romney in a Florida primary debate in January.

“So, as Floridians see Romney refusing to answer questions on some of the most basic issues surrounding space policy, it has become clear that Mitt Romney has no clear vision for NASA,” Jotkoff concluded in the statement. How many Floridians have actually noticed that lack of comment by Romney on space, and make that a factor in their decision on which candidate to support, is unclear, though.

168 comments to Turing the Dragon flight into a campaign issue

  • GeeSpace

    Jotkoff, like any campaign drone, picks at issues which appear to be weak spots for the opposing candidate, Romney probably would support a manned mission to fly around Mars in the mid-2030’s. It would be a great opportunity for ex-President Obama and ex-President Romney to get together to have a few drinks and to talk about the good old times of 2012.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Romney has a couple of options to respond to this kind of taunting;
    (1) Ignore it, on the theory that he’s taking Florida anyway, partly on the unpopularity of Obama’s space policy.
    (2) Roll out a space policy that actually encourages commercial space, with private investment and private markets, as well as a revival of space exploration.

    My preference would be for him to do (2).

  • Vladislaw

    What could Governor Romney “Roll out” that “actually” encourages commercial space?

    Cut taxes and? He raised his hand during the republican debates that NASA shouldn’t get any more. So after he fires Hansen what next?

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is a good issue in many ways for the Obama campaign to engage in, it is a “signature” issue which can define differences for folks on a marketable scale…and it of course has a high profile success behind it.

    there are several axis of engagement.

    1. Contrast SLS/Orion with Dragon and the commercial resupply/crew program. One program is a government gift to contractors; it is a program going no where and it is a program that is the essence of waste.

    SLS/Orion is a mostly GOP Program (there are some dems but few) and it is a child of the GOP fetish with the industrial complexes…it is no where near to launch; it has no mission; it is just a gift to the stakeholders…

    Dragon is a program/effort that involves private enterprise, it has a preponderance of private capital over government investment and it has “legs” …meaning it supports future private industry involvement in space.

    2. Contrast Musk and Romney. Willard is a greedy born to wealth person who has made his money off of literally breaking companies apart…and in the process of doing that has ruined more “normal” Lives then he has hleped. Musk is an immigrant who came with nothing; made money the old fashion way, he earned it…and then finally with a ton of cash invested it not in “equity” markets (which even Limbaugh says the role of is not to create jobs but to make more money)…but in making a NEW PRODUCT and employing more people. People in good jobs with good salaries and good health care. All things that GOP corporate leaders do not as a rule give to their “help”.

    3. Make Griffin Willard’s defacto space advisor. Force Willard to either own or disown him. and point out that Griffin wasted nearly 20 billion dollars on Cx with really nothing to show for it.

    4. Use Whittington’s words. Willard right now is being “told” what his space policy is by a bunch of corporate song singers. That idiot Scott Pace and Griffin…again link them to Willard like stink on a pig.

    This is a great issue for Obama. It is one that illustrates his plans (such as they are) for the economy vrs Willards “more gifts for the GOP corporate flunkies”..as SpaceX gets a higher valuation and order list. A youthful Obama walking among the Dragons is not a bad photo op.

    RGO

  • MrEarl

    Even in Florida, space will not affect the election to a degree that matters.
    Romney needs to adopt a strategy similar to the ’92 Clinton campaign; “It’s the economy stupid!”. The White House knows that. The president just held a press conference trying to blame the bad economy on Spain, Greece and the EU.

  • John Mankins

    small glitch: “Turing” vs. “Turning”, I think….

  • Shuffles from Chicago inherited a plan for growing commercial crew and cargo. He has no plan to grow the private space industry.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    (2) Roll out a space policy that actually encourages commercial space, with private investment and private markets, as well as a revival of space exploration.

    Number two is Obama’s plan – haven’t you kept up with the battles Obama has had with Congress on Commercial Crew? So Romney will have a hard time making a distinction that somehow he is different or better.

    That may also be why he hasn’t stated a plan, since it would be hard to advocate something better without also advocating for an increase in NASA’s budget – and increasing spending is not part of the Republican platform.

  • common sense

    I think as Robert said that “A youthful Obama walking among the Dragons is not a bad photo op.” would be plenty enough. I would add some Falcon on pad as well.

    The audience is limited and the President will not go for the retiring and retired baby boomers of Florida anyway… Except to say that the GOP does not want to pay for Social Security and Medicare and the likes. Not Space issues. “Would you rather send a couple of SLS to nowhere and live with no healthcare in a dump or watch reruns of Apollo 13 in a comfort of you retirement home your health taken care of by the government?”.

    Maybe another photo op with people the youth can identify with, Musk, Zuckerberg, Cook, Page, etc… People that represent the present and the future of this nation. Not the past.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Presley Cannady wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Shuffles from Chicago inherited a plan for growing commercial crew and cargo. He has no plan to grow the private space industry.””

    In the US we do not have “Plans” to grow private enterprise. WE as a nation build infrastructure that then private enterprise can, on the basis of the market and entrepreneurship grow the industry.

    One should think of the commercial crew and cargo, particularly efforts that create dual use infrastructure as the role of building infrastructure…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Even in Florida, space will not affect the election to a degree that matters.>>

    the only thing that space could play in the election is as a photo op illustrating a larger issue or function. And it could both in Florida and the rest of the nation.

    Obama needs to do three things badly to beat Willard .

    the first is he needs to tie Willard to the GOP House..the second is that he needs to define what he would do differently in the next term…and three he needs to define why his first term has been less.

    The SLS/Orion debate is illustrative of all those; in my view RGO

  • JohnHunt

    My concern is that Romney will feel as though his apparent lack of space policy will leave an unnecessary vulnerability open and so that he will lock himself into a position which may not be the best way forward. Romney needs to stake out a position where cis-lunar space and lunar resources are incorporated into our economic sphere. That would be a very Republican position. But I just don’t see many people talking about a Lunar COTS & Lunar CCDev approach although I think that commercial companies would be up to it.

    I see Griffin as being particularly problematic. Although he started COTS, he doesn’t seem to support it much. His emphasis was on Constellation of which the budget-busting SLS is the successor.

  • MrEarl

    Space policy does not influence elections. Most people don’t know the difference between SLS and LSU.
    That being said….
    There is a perception right now that America is losing its edge, losing its status as the superpower. Our economy is depressed for many Americans and it seems America doesn’t wield the same influence that we once did. The economy has tanked and when it shows the slightest sign of recovery, tanks again and the administration seems most times at a loss for any plans to right the ship. The Afghan war has gone on for over 10 years and seems to be getting worse. Again we have no control over our oil supplies and the president blocks an oil pipeline from our friendly neighbors to the north that many see as a way to get some back some control over our energy supplies. Add to the background the fact that when Obama came into office we had what was perceived as a thriving space program with the Shuttle now and plan to return to the moon by 2020. Now NASA, once a source of pride, is perceived as languishing. Never mind that Constellation was way over budget and way behind schedule, perception is reality in politics and always will be. All these things combine to make people believe we’re on the wrong track and things have to change.
    We went through a similar time late ‘70’s when inflation had ravished our economy and the oil crises and another Iranian crises, that time with hostages, made American question our values and purpose as a nation. Ten years before our nation had put a man on the moon, an historic moment for the world, but by the late ‘70’s is seems like we had no say in our own fate and government was seen as the problem. Many Americans see us at that point again. If Romney were to just focus on the economy, he would have a close win in November. If Romney can somehow channel the spirit of the “Great Communicator”, fat chance of that, it would be the worst loss by a sitting president since Jimmy Carter.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mr. Earl…BTW the analysis you gave is agreed with by HOward Dean who had a pretty good run down on the election last night RGO

  • A M Swallow

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 10:28 am
    “What could Governor Romney “Roll out” that “actually” encourages commercial space?”

    The Outer Space Treaty (OST) 1967 requires governments to authorise commercial activity in space – article VI.
    http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/SpaceLaw/gares/html/gares_21_2222.html

    Granting permits to a commercial firm to say mine an area of the Moon or build roads would provide that authorisation. Allowing companies to include the permit as an asset in their accounts will encourage commercial space activity.

    Governor Romney could pass a law allowing NASA or the FAA to issue such permits.

    With a bit of thought such permits can be written in a way that forms the basis of property rights in space. A competition giving $1,000,000 to the law practice that writes the best specimen permit is a cheap way of publicising space mining.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    “Space policy does not influence elections. Most people don’t know the difference between SLS and LSU.
    That being said….”

    Indeed.

    “There is a perception right now that America is losing its edge, losing its status as the superpower.”

    It is a perception unfortunately based on well this time reality. We are actually losing our edge.

    “Our economy is depressed for many Americans and it seems America doesn’t wield the same influence that we once did.”

    Many Americans have no clue as to what influence the US has and I assume worldwide from your post. “Same” has no basis since the world keeps changing. For whatever reason only we seem to be attracted by echos from the past. Well the past was not so glorious. Maybe Americans ought to put the success of Apollo in the context of the 60s and 70s. America was crippled with domestic and foreign problems in the middle of a major Cold War. I think we are slightly better off today.

    “The economy has tanked and when it shows the slightest sign of recovery, tanks again and the administration seems most times at a loss for any plans to right the ship.”

    It i because the forces of the market are international an multinational. The US cannot do much on its own. We are not responsible for the policies implemented in Greece or elsewhere, even though come to think of it. We have a responsibility but it is a shared responsibility. Do you actually think that the EU or China or anyone (save for our foes) has any interest in our unstable economy? Even our foes, the lucid ones, probably realize for their own sake it is better that our economy holds. How many North Korean families can you feed with nukes?

    “The Afghan war has gone on for over 10 years and seems to be getting worse.”

    And what did people expect? That the US was so much better than the forme Soviet Union at waging war in Afghanistan??? Only short minded idiots think like this.

    “Again we have no control over our oil supplies and the president blocks an oil pipeline from our friendly neighbors to the north that many see as a way to get some back some control over our energy supplies.”

    We need to come off the oil economy and supreme irony China is at least trying. But what can we do with friends in the oil producing industry making money like crazy? Abusing the market like crazy?

    “Add to the background the fact that when Obama came into office we had what was perceived as a thriving space program with the Shuttle now and plan to return to the moon by 2020.”

    Perceived by whom? People did not even know anything about it?

    “Now NASA, once a source of pride, is perceived as languishing. ”

    By whom again? Do you have any supporting evidence?

    “Never mind that Constellation was way over budget and way behind schedule, perception is reality in politics and always will be.”

    Oh but people mind. Unlike what you say. In times of trouble people actually do mind of wasteful government spending. You know? The GOP line…

    “All these things combine to make people believe we’re on the wrong track and things have to change.”

    We are on the wrong track yet things are changing albeit slowly.

    “We went through a similar time late ‘70’s …”

    Well NO we did not go through “similar” times. You are only deluding yourself if this is what you believe.

    “Many Americans see us at that point again.”

    Like whom? Who are those “many Americans”? This is just a GOP line to excite their base. An unfortunately uneducated base. How can you say that 2012 USA is any similar with 1970 or even 1980 USA???? Based on what? Symptoms may be similar but the disease is different! Come on.

    “If Romney were to just focus on the economy, he would have a close win in November.”

    And how can he focus on the economy? What is he going to propose we do? Can he show us the recipe or just idiotic 1-liner for the pundits and the morons?

    “If Romney can somehow channel the spirit of the “Great Communicator”, fat chance of that, it would be the worst loss by a sitting president since Jimmy Carter.”

    Sometime you leave me speechless. All competency put aside, how can Romney turn into the “Great Communicator”??? Their lives do not come even close to compare. You live in the past my friend. What would the GOP claim of fame be today without their 1980s hero??? WHAT?

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    If Romney can somehow channel the spirit of the “Great Communicator”, fat chance of that, it would be the worst loss by a sitting president since Jimmy Carter.

    Not in the least. Bush 41 was coming off a 90% approval rating from the successful defeat of Iraq, and he had an economy that was in much better shape than ours was when Obama took over. His loss was a shock.

    In contrast voters tend to vote out sitting presidents when times are not good, no matter how much to blame they are for things being bad – the situation Obama is in. It’s Romney’s election to lose.

    Regarding space, we’ll see whether the perception’s that Obama and Romney are trying to implant in undecided voters includes who is leading America towards a stronger space program. That’s a narrow issue, but it does play into some broad themes such as private enterprise, letting our entrepreneurs get us back to work, and less government.

    That Obama has control over this message because of his visible support for SpaceX makes it hard for Romney to be “bolder” or “better”. All he can do is match Obama, which maybe is all he needs to do. We’ll see.

  • common sense

    @ A M Swallow wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    And that would encourage commercial space? Do you really think any commercial firm needs any given permit prior to any activity on the Moon?

    Here is how this will unfold if ever. If and ONLY IF there is money to be made on the Moon. Some day a company will send a detail to the Moon. They will try and do some prospective ISRU. THEN the US government will issue permit for the Moon if they actually can go it alone since it is most likely to be an international issue. The treaty you refer to dates back to 1967 when people had no idea of what is on the moon. Said treaty will be challenged.

    Carriage before the horse of another kind.

    We need low cost access to space first and foremost.

  • MrEarl

    Wow, CS….
    My last post was only to show that space policy is only a small background issue compared to this election’s great issues and that is the economy and a general frustration in the electorate on our position in the world.

    Those were some strange tangents you took.

    Have a nice restfull weekend and come back Monday with a new perspective.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
    For whatever reason only we seem to be attracted by echos from the past. Well the past was not so glorious”

    the past is always glorious when it is rewritten to be that way…and the right wing of the GOP is busily doing just that.

    Apollo is an excellent example of it. In the end it is hard to think of a bigger waste of federal dollars (OK well Afland and Iraq come to mind…but moving on)…

    a lot of billion in today’s dollars spent to put exactly what 12 people on the Moon ok it was going to be 14…and even had the Apollo program continued it was never going to do more then put small numbers of people on teh Moon for short times at enormous and ever growing cost.

    But the glorious past is why SLS viewgraphs are now painted up in Saturn V colors. It is a program from that era that “worked” in a narrow defined sense; even though it is everything that the far right says it does not like…and then went away so it can be mourned.

    Apollo harkens back to the days of the evil Commies who we knew how to defeat…today right wing neo’s are frustrated by American power being ground to a halt by guys in caves and regimes that they have no understanding of Iran and North Korea for instance because to understand them is to “think” and instead it is just easy to put them in the “wow these people are Hitler”. This is why some on this forum talk of “winning” in Iraq when all we really did was “get out” with a government slightly more stable then South Vietnam was.

    It is hard to see the future in things like human spaceflight when one is so concentrated on the past…but it is most likely far more “glorious” just different. RGO

  • BTW the analysis you gave is agreed with by HOward Dean who had a pretty good run down on the election last night

    Oh, man. My sides are splitting with laughter. Did he scream it?

  • Googaw

    Carriage before the horse of another kind.

    Well said. We need real property rights for real space commerce (e.g. the kind going on in GEO). Not Monopoly cards for fantasy markets-of-the-future.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Oh, man. My sides are splitting with laughter. Did he scream it?>

    No but if your sides are really splitting with laughter then I would start screaming to see that…post a link?

    Nice gig with Zubrin…you should do well there.

    RGO

  • Googaw

    The best approach for Romney is to stay consistent with his earlier attacks on grandiose space fantasies. He can blame Obama and the pre-2011 Democratic Congress for SLS and call for its cancellation. He could also blame Obama and the Democratic Congress for the James Webb telescope going over budget, and call for it to be canceled too. Attacking gold-plated space projects was, is, and remains one of the chief ways Romney can position himself as being a responsible steward of the taxpayers’ money. If he tries to flip-flop on this by proposing some new extravaganza of his own, his reputation as a budget cutter will be undermined.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    “My last post was only to show that space policy is only a small background issue compared to this election’s great issues and that is the economy and a general frustration in the electorate on our position in the world.”

    That is not the way I read it.

    “Those were some strange tangents you took.”

    Would you rather I let you down? ;)

    “Have a nice restfull weekend and come back Monday with a new perspective.”

    You too.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    “Not in the least. Bush 41 was coming off a 90% approval rating from the successful defeat of Iraq, and he had an economy that was in much better shape than ours was when Obama took over. His loss was a shock.

    In contrast voters tend to vote out sitting presidents when times are not good, no matter how much to blame they are for things being bad – the situation Obama is in. It’s Romney’s election to lose.”

    If I might two points the first from a personal perspective.

    I have had the opportunity to spend sometime with Bush41…and have some modestly candid talks. He is a fine gentleman, a pretty good pilot and well he would agree with the statement you make.

    Second…as Howard Dean noted last night If Romney were Clinton Obama would be in trouble. Romney is neither Clinton nor Ronaldus the Great…and in large measure the GOP today is not the Democratic party of 92 or the GOP of 80.

    It is interesting to watch Ronaldus the Great after he takes office and his relationship with human spaceflight. I dont think Reagan had any real intrinsic interest in spaceflight (or human spaceflight for that matter) but he saw it in the terms that I thought “Mr. Earl” lays out quite nicely…and when Challenger went bang he (Reagan) simply lost interest in it.

    Romney’s issues are that his economic plan is “Bush updated” (not my words but the Chairman of the RNC) and if Obama is clever he will link those to Willard…and that will cause him to lose. Likewise I think he (Obama) can do that with his space policy and do it as a show example…because as you note Dragon is flying…

    and I suspect before long the KBH and Pete Olsons and maybe Mike Griffins are going to talk willard into a space policy that is SLS centered. Obama should be able to ram that down their throats. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Apollo had a purpose, unlike Constellation.

    If Constellation had been geared toward the future (which was most likely under O’Keefe/Steidle approach) instead of garnering support from past heroes… Well we would not have this conversation.

    It’s like Houston demanding an orbiter just because they worked on it.

    Is that not narcissism?

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I am not so sure that there is any purpose that Cx could have served which made it viable…even had it been competently maanged.

    as for Apollo having apurpose…it was a darned expensive demonstration of American power and it set the notion of the use of space by humans back oh say 50 years. RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Just to clarify. Commercial crew under Obama is not, strictly speaking, a program designed to encourage a commercial launch industry. It is a public/private partnership to build a privately operated space craft to service the ISS. There is nothing in the program (aside from paying for a “commercial” spacecraft) that encouraging private markets or private investment for privately run spacecraft. I would expect a key part of a Romney space policy to address this lack.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    “I am not so sure that there is any purpose that Cx could have served which made it viable…even had it been competently maanged.”

    Originally, under O’Keefe, there was to be a spiral approach for the mission to the Moon. In that spiral approach contractors were going to use technology as it came online. One major attribute was the plan to use the existing EELVs. It was nothing like Constellation. It might have brought space to our economic sphere just like Marburger was saying and just like what this WH is trying to do. Commercial space was fledgling at best then. And I think the whole thing might have been geared toward commercial use.

    I don’t have a link for the spiral approach. Someone here must have it. But read this http://www.space.com/778-spiral-stairway-moon.html

    “The market demand of these space-based CEVs — they need crew, cargo and propellant delivered from Earth to low Earth orbit — can invigorate a truly competitive commercial launch industry,

    “as for Apollo having apurpose…it was a darned expensive demonstration of American power and it set the notion of the use of space by humans back oh say 50 years.”

    You may discuss the purpose or its validity but there was an intended goal and associated missions. Not the building of a rocket to nowhere. Of course after “mission accomplished”…

  • common sense

    “There is nothing in the program (aside from paying for a “commercial” spacecraft) that encouraging private markets or private investment for privately run spacecraft.”

    Except for using a commercial spacecraft, there is nothing commercial. Sure.

    Take the government out of my Medicare, right?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Just to clarify. Commercial crew under Obama is not, strictly speaking, a program designed to encourage a commercial launch industry. It is a public/private partnership to build a privately operated space craft to service the ISS. There is nothing in the program (aside from paying for a “commercial” spacecraft) that encouraging private markets or private investment for privately run spacecraft>>

    that is absurd…in fact it is about as goofy as the post on your website about the Thunderbirds…

    First off you make the goofy mistake of confusing “launchers” with “spacecraft”. You are an amateur easily swayed by low information so its understandable but it is a critical error.

    SpaceX’s Falcon9 and even OSC’s launcher are the first “dual use” launchers that human spaceflight has seen since Titan2 thundered off the pad on Gemini 12. Every other vehicle that NASA has flown since has been “single string”…when government stopped using it; the vehicle stopped flying.

    SLS is yet another “single string” vehicle even more unique then say SaturnV…it has no mission period; other then to stock money to the “stakeholders”. and you constantly give full throated support to that.

    I dont know if OSC’s rockets will be either cost effective or find a home outside of their very narrow cargo contract…but the SpaceX Falcon9 has already done JUST THAT…

    Indeed Musk’s backlog of orders for the 9 puts the falsehood to your statement immediately.

    What Musk’s participation with the “9” in the cargo (and I suspect ultimately the crew) delivery system is that it not only gives the “9” the “Gold cup roll” meaning instant credibility…but it also for the government makes sure that their cost as a customer are not borne completely by the government. AND in terms of spacecraft it gives Musk (and OSC) a product to market independently of NASA.

    They may or may not be able to do that, but Musk has invested substantial capital in the Dragon and has plans for it past just going to the station (Dragon lab comes to mind) ….plus the ability to have private both lift and a vehicle available for “something else” is in large measure a key to any completely non NASA space effort.

    I guess I would be curious to see how you think Willard’s policy does better then that? You agreed in The Weekly Standard piece on the same method of development that Dragon and OSC (and whoever gets the crew function) have undergone.

    This is particularly so since it is absurd that NASA (or the federal government) is going to simply say “we will buy X lift for Y amount and have zero involvement in the process to the US (OK international) space station”….it was absurd in 1999 when you joined the piece and it is absurd now.

    And that is what NASA did; they did not however dictate the design of the vehicle nor drive the technology; free enterprise did that.

    Pay attention. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Not quite what I was looking for but may be instructive if you did not know.

    “Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report”

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11020

    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11020&page=43

  • I dont think Reagan had any real intrinsic interest in spaceflight (or human spaceflight for that matter)

    That must be why he enabled commercial space by creating the Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Department of Transportation.

  • Commercial crew under Obama is not, strictly speaking, a program designed to encourage a commercial launch industry.

    That may not be its design, but it’s having that effect.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Just to clarify. Commercial crew under Obama is not, strictly speaking, a program designed to encourage a commercial launch industry. It is a public/private partnership to build a privately operated space craft to service the ISS.

    …and allow private companies to use the same capabilities as NASA to test out new business ideas in LEO.

    If that’s not encouragement I’m not sure what is. I certainly find it encouraging.

    What you’re implying is like saying a newly paved road does not encourage the use of the road. In real life it does, especially if using the road is faster, better, or cheaper than previous alternatives.

    Weird.

  • Googaw

    If Constellation had been geared toward the future

    What is that supposed to mean?

    Do we have a prophet on this forum who can actually tell us what the future is?

  • Googaw

    SpaceX’s Falcon9 and even OSC’s launcher are the first “dual use” launchers that human spaceflight has seen since Titan2 thundered off the pad on Gemini 12.

    The Shuttle was also supposed to be dual use — launch satellites as well as astronauts.

    The impact of that experiment on real space commerce was devastating.

  • Doug Lassiter

    MrEarl wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 1:35 pm
    “Add to the background the fact that when Obama came into office we had what was perceived as a thriving space program with the Shuttle now and plan to return to the moon by 2020.”

    When Obama came into office we had a human space program with at least a schedule that was fiscally unexecutable, with mostly imaginary hardware, and old promises to return to the Moon by 2020 that had become pretty much ficticious. The Shuttle may have been thriving, but it had already been cancelled, and was thriving it’s way into the history books.

    “Now NASA, once a source of pride, is perceived as languishing.”

    I don’t think it’s any less a source of pride than it was several decades ago. It’s scientific accomplishments continue to be stunning, and leadership in space engineering (even in the private sector) is unarguable. Yes, we can’t launch people right now, though we can buy them rides on archaic vehicles. We could have kept our own archaic vehicle, but wisely decided not to.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I don’t have a link for the spiral approach. Someone here must have it. But read this http://www.space.com/778-spiral-stairway-moon.html

    OK, now you’ve done it. You and DBN. Now I REALLY don’t like what Griffin did by instituting “his” plan. I think I’m gonna cry…. :-{

    We could have been so much further along, and not have wasted so much money.

  • Jeff Foust quoted and wrote:

    “So, as Floridians see Romney refusing to answer questions on some of the most basic issues surrounding space policy, it has become clear that Mitt Romney has no clear vision for NASA,” Jotkoff concluded in the statement. How many Floridians have actually noticed that lack of comment by Romney on space, and make that a factor in their decision on which candidate to support, is unclear, though.

    I was just having a conversation yesterday with a couple of informed observers. The sentiment is pretty much that, outside of north Brevard County, no one in Florida cares much about the space program and north Brevard County is Tea Party Central so this really won’t make a difference at all to anyone.

    I can see where pro-government-space talk might help Bill Nelson in the area, but not Obama. The Tea Partiers around here are still convinced that “Obama cancelled the space program” after promising them he’d employ each and every one of them on Constellation for life.

  • A M Swallow

    Googaw wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
    “Well said. We need real property rights for real space commerce (e.g. the kind going on in GEO). Not Monopoly cards for fantasy markets-of-the-future.”

    To be real any property rights on the Moon and asteroids have to be binding on the Russian, French and Chinese governments. No US law is binding on them unless it is derived from a treaty. Until then the OST + a permit can provide sufficient property rights.

    What is missing from the OST is human rights. They need adding later.

  • Vladislaw

    Mark R. Whittington:

    “Commercial crew under Obama is not, strictly speaking, a program designed to encourage a commercial launch industry. It is a public/private partnership to build a privately operated space craft to service the ISS. There is nothing in the program (aside from paying for a “commercial” spacecraft) that encouraging private markets or private investment for privately run spacecraft.”

    Are you insane? Bigelow Aerospace has stated they will start launching human tended space facilities for commercial operations and with signed MOU’s in hand, as soon as there is redundant, domestic crew service to LEO.

    Under the CCDEV the United States will have dual use, domestic, redundant crew service to LEO.

    Really Mark, you look insane when you type such absolute nonsense. The facts are right in front of your face.. and you just blow by them as if they are non existant.

    I would expect a key part of a Romney space policy to address this lack.

  • Vladislaw

    apologies. missed the last line.

    “I would expect a key part of a Romney space policy to address this lack.”

    I remember how you howled like a dog with his tail in the door when President Obama appointed Augustine to for a panel. Well all Governor Romney said he would do is form a panel. What evidence is there Romney will do anything other than cut. He raised his hand in the debate. NASA is a low hanging fruit in his mind.

  • Vladislaw

    People rag endlessly about the delay with SpaceX. This is from the link that Common Sense posted:

    ” “We’re locked and loaded, yes…but to get the right things on contract so we can define what we want to spend,” said John Karas, Vice President for Space Exploration at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Denver, Colorado.

    Karas said that Congress is sensitive to cost overruns and delays as seen on past large space projects. “So as we move forward, we need to have some discreet victories on cost and schedule…like the 2008 CEV demo,” he said.”

    Ya ole’ Lockheed is locked and loaded alright .. how many BILLIONS have they spent and where is this 2008 demo? Gosh only four years late and still no working capsule. But there is a consulation, they only need 1 BILLION a year for a few more years and we will finally see a test flight.

    SpaceX received 396 million and the taxpayers have already seen three test flights. Only 132 million per flight.

    Lockheed has recieved HOW MANY BILLIONS so far? Wow .. that first test flight will have cost billions, if we ever see a test flight.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    “The Shuttle was also supposed to be dual use — launch satellites as well as astronauts.

    The impact of that experiment on real space commerce was devastating.”

    Yes…and the fact that it failed should be something that we all think about.

    carefully.

    One reason that we should all at least ponder the words Marcel says about the space station (in terms of its value) is that although annoying in repeating it over and over (and heck perhaps I am annoying as well!) he could be annoyingly correct.

    I sometimes ponder IF under any circumstances the entire shuttle “notion” could have worked.

    In 1984 for Commercial Space I wrote a pretty good paper (it got noticed by the then Sec of Defense) that discussed the pitfalls and some solutions of reversing the notions of how things operate in a free enterprise system. My thoughts on the matter were that eventually the system was dependent on 1) could the technology function at some reasonable level…and 2) could the management structure keep the system efficient enough to compete with other then government systems such as Ariane.

    There are examples of the US government operating systems “like” (at least in terms of structure) the shuttle. Medicare/Medicaid have and have had for sometime (despite the rantings of the right wing) one of the lowest overhead cost in the field of medicine…(overhead is not the reason Medicare/caid cost are going up but it is the reason that private health care systems are climbing out of sight)…there was at the time a solid history (and still is) of the US Navy having an excellent relationship with government assets operated by private industry…

    and in my view that was the key to keeping the shuttle functional…ie they needed to transfer its operation to some sort of private company. This was going to be difficult because of the relationship of the astronaut corps to the shuttle and human spaceflight in general; someething then I recognized as dysfunctional.

    The key was that the shuttle would quickly spiral out of control in terms of cost if the then current structure kept going

    Two things were in play and both eventually lead to the systems non functional status, its cost and the accidents…first the technology proved unmanageable by the folks who were running it…and second the management structure breed incompetency.

    How they deal with bad management in Arianespace (adn in Russia) is they eventually remove it….they have a more government intrusive system in both countries and eventually failure has a price in terms of careers. NASA could never make that leap here…how they deal with inept management (when I wrote the piece) in the US is that they fire it.

    One hopes that as things evolve (assuming there is the technology for SpaceX priced access) a management structure at SpaceX and the other companies evolves that is far more 1980’s then 2010ish in the US…my hope here is companies like SWA…although Herb is long gone his management legacy continues and incompetence eventually gets benched.

    I am afraid Marcel might be more right then wrong at least in terms of how ISS is operated. Everything I see in it now is just a repeat of the shuttle system in the 80’s, as I noted then “sliding into the sea of confusion”.

    RGO

  • vulture4

    I was there when the 2008 demo was launched. It was good to finally have an unmanned rocket get off the ground on KSC. But it served no useful purpose and this one suborbital launch cost about as much as the entire F9 development program.

    To make progress we have to work together. If local GOP politicos will get Congress to pass the $850M appropriation requested by the Obama Administration for commercial crew and cargo program (C3P) (run by the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office, C3PO?) I will say a sincere “Well done!”

    Converesely, if they continue to say “there isn’t enough money” while pouring taxpayer billions into you-know-what then they will neither deserve nor get a scintilla of the credit for its success.

  • common sense

    You know I am not a big fan of large DoD programs but if I were to engage in a similar activity at least I would try to listen to those who did it before me.

    There is a world, no, a universe of difference between academia – understanding the engineering and the physics – and managing a large integration program at the national if not international level.

    FWIW.

  • Do we have a prophet on this forum who can actually tell us what the future is?

    The future is whatever we make it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    “Originally, under O’Keefe, there was to be a spiral approach for the mission to the Moon. In that spiral approach contractors were going to use technology as it came online. One major attribute was the plan to use the existing EELVs. It was nothing like Constellation. It might have brought space to our economic sphere just like Marburger was saying and just like what this WH is trying to do. Commercial space was fledgling at best then. And I think the whole thing might have been geared toward commercial use.”

    I thought that for a bit as well, and the spiral approach was far better then Goofy Mike’s “cathedrals in the sky”…but sadly …Ed Wright who use to violently disagree with my notions in agreement with the spiral approach on another board was/is probably more correct then I was in my advocacy (sigh).

    (to be fair I think Mark Ruckman…where is Mark…? does anyone know what Mark Ruckman is doing these days? I see Ed on the web occassionally…also was pointing out some flaws in the development structure.

    The big problem with “spiral” development without a goal is that definable definate goal almost no government effort can succeed.

    What is unique about Musk efforts so far is that the goal for him is to take the market…and make money…and that drives the design.

    Right now really there is no goal in human exploration of space that in my view either can succeed or has political support…we need to develop a thriving market in human spaceflight doing “something” that is then adaptable to exploration.

    RGO

  • Googaw

    Are you insane? Bigelow Aerospace has stated…

    I believe they call this “projection”.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    “This is a great issue for Obama.”

    Except it’s not.

    Saving the auto industry is. Tagging OBL is. Comparing Romney to Hoover is. Reminiding Americans Romney’s putting an elevator in one of his many homes for his cars is. Reminding Americans their space shuttles, symbols of national pride, are bering flown and barged to museums- on television no less- is not.

    Nobody will care Bush-the-Decider decided to retire shuttle as part of the VSE (if anybody even remembers it)– only that Obama followed through w/Dubya’s decision and then scuttled VSE’s Constellation, too– and national heroes like Cernan, Arnstrong, Lovell, Kraft, Glenn, etc., will remind Americans that Obama essentially dropped the flag. Glenn was visably bitter during the Discovery hand over ceremonies to the Smithsonian– particularly when he was asked to sigh as a witness the hand over documents; and if you caught the MoF ceremony last week, the body language between Glenn and Obama was telling, as was the presdiential chortling during the presentation. Space is not a winning issue for Obama, and carries little weight w/the general electorate today.

    1. The program was initiated out of the VSE by Bush, as Romney will rightly claim; 2. Romney can then instantly pivot and point to the Solendyra bankruptcy and the Obama era investments lost in the electric car industry (as reported in a CBS network news package last week) to reinforce his free market vs. gov’t selection pitch.

    This is not a smart issue for Obama to use. The wisest thing he can do is get his messaging duck in a row- as he’s quite sloppy at it of late.

    @Mark R. Whittington wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    He will do your #1.

    The Romney ‘space policy’ for the campaign– or at least his attitude, was well broadcast during the debates anf his nebulous. ‘let’s form a committee to study it’ utterances cover it as well for this time frame. And as the world knows, Romney can change position as fast as Florida weather– and fair skies may return to the Cape after all.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I dont think Reagan had any real intrinsic interest in spaceflight (or human spaceflight for that matter)

    you replied:

    “That must be why he enabled commercial space by creating the Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Department of Transportation.”

    People like you discussing Ronaldus the Great is like the interchange between Donald Southerland (Oddball) and Don Rickhols (Crapgame) in Kelly’s Heros. As Southerland said so well “to you a hero is sandwich”.

    “Intrinsic interest” means ” If something has intrinsic value or intrinsic interest, it is valuable or interesting because of its basic nature or character, and not because of its connection with other things.

    (http://www.diclib.com/intrinsic/show/en/collinscobuild/18393)

    To “conservatives” today whose sole notion of policy consist of mindless rhetoric and pledges… the Reagan years where he increased government spending, grew the federal government to grow his way out of a recession and then raised a taxes when the recession was over, stayed out of foreign wars……must seem like some place on Mars…

    But I chose my words carefully, apparently to carefully for the right wingers here.

    Ronaldus the Great did little for “intrinsic value” ie just for doing them his notion was of how things would affect the future of The Republic. when something did not advance the cause of The Republic, like keeping troops in Lebanon, he left them in the dust (imagine todays neo nuts doing that).

    1984 was a watershed year for space commercialization hopes…there was talk of a fifth orbiter operated by SpaceTrans, the space station was suppose to be not just some great project; but a project where private enterprise went into space…and that is not “intrinsic interest” or “value”.

    –as full disclousure my company has contracts with OCST and other branches of the FAA…I am a DPE and DER with the FAA–

    RGO

  • vulture4

    If John Glenn wanted the Shuttle to keep flying he should have complained to George W. Bush in 2004 when the die was cast. Human spaceflight can be quite valuable, but its value is finite; we cannot ignore the curves of supply and demand. Right now they cross at $60M/seat and no commercial sales. At $20M/seat we could sell 3 or 4 per year. At $1M/seat we could sell about 100 seats/yr, both for science and tourism, enough to create a viable market. But we cannot shift the demand curve, and we need new RLV technology to shift the supply curve. Aircraft faced a similar problem in 1915, when NACA was created.

    The problem with Constellation was not simply the obsolete technology, but the fact that was (and, as SLS/Orion, still is) much too expensive for any potential users, even government programs. America cannot afford billion dollar joyrides. Although I support Mr. Obama in this election, I also agree with Mr. Romney on the inadvisability of building a moon base with current technology.

  • Googaw

    The future is whatever we make it.

    That is so profound, O Prophet of All Our Futures. Let’s make a starship and head to Alpha Centauri, after we drill a hole to send plutonauts to the center of the earth, turn all the world’s slums into National Parks, and buy flying cars for every orphan.

  • amightywind

    No reason for Romney to say anything about space policy. NASA is a weakness for Obama and it will stay that way without Romney proposing anything. Romney should focus on his ‘python strategy’. Stick to the economy and let the economic numbers apply constriction. We already know that Romney is advised by NASA traditionalists. Put two and two together.

  • josh

    the us has been on a downward trajectory for a while now thanks to gwb’s policies that practically bankrupted the country. obama might be able to bring you down to a soft landing while romney will crash you straight into the ground but the overall trajectory is clear.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    “as for Apollo having apurpose…it was a darned expensive demonstration of American power and it set the notion of the use of space by humans back oh say 50 years. RGO”

    Nonsense.

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ June 8th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    “That must be why he [Reagan] enabled commercial space by creating the Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Department of Transportation.”

    This poison was only a function of his privatrization droids and it gave us Challenger. Reagan had little interest in space and used SDI to bankrupt the ‘Evil empire.’ Peruse his writing and diaries and you’ll learn he had little interest in it at all– ‘Wasn’t that the one with the school teacher on it?” in the hours post-Challenger. He didn’t even bother to watch the launch.

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 9th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I am a DPE and DER with the FAA–

    You are Everett Dasher Breed.

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 9th, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    If John Glenn wanted the Shuttle to keep flying he should have complained to George W. Bush in 2004 when the die was cast. Human spaceflight can be quite valuable, but its value is finite; we cannot ignore the curves of supply and demand. Right now they cross at $60M/seat and no commercial sales. At $20M/seat we could sell 3 or 4 per year. ”

    it is going to be more then 20 million a year, just as the cost to keep someone on the ISS is more then the cost to take them up and bring them back….

    If all one wants to do is go up in a Dragon spend some time on orbit (not much) and then come home 20 mil will probably cut it…but go to ISS go to a Bigelow station go to anywhere there is going to be more money…

    RGO

  • Malmesbury

    People are forgetting that process can be revolutionary.

    Henry Kaiser was building extremely conventional merchant ships. In a way that eventually revolutionised the ship building industry. You could either use his methods to put even more workers on the job and build the ship insanely fast, or cut the work force to a fraction and still build the ship faster than the conventional method. The latter is how it is done today.

    Willian White re-organised the Royal Navy’s dockyards into the most efficient in the world. The ships they built were pretty much the same. But they cost a lot less and were built vastly quicker.

    What COTS is demonstrating is that there is another way to do things than giant programs that lay out, decades in advance, the performance of the systems to be built. Think B2, think JWST, F22 etc.

    Note the evolution of the Merlin engine – from 73Klb to 147Klb in the latest version, while dropping weight and manufacturing cost. They started with a modest, easy to achieve goal. Then they spiralled in towards greater and greater capability.

    Constellation was a giant slap in the face for NASA. Not the cancellation. But the initial idea – “You are rubbish at building anything new. So play Lego with what you have” – was to say that NASA couldn’t be trusted to develop a new launch system from scratch. X33 etc.

    Constellation was the last gasp – the NASA/Congressional/Presidential/Industrial structure has got as bad or worse than the equivalent military one.

    COTS has demonstrated that another managerial/contracting paradigm is possible. One that doesn’t involve offshoring all the jobs to Elbonia either. All the talk of “redoing Gemini” etc misses the essential point.

    If COTS had been a “conventional” contract for 2 system to supply the ISS, we would be seeing the same comedy as with JWST. Or ARES I. Or the recon satr. Or…. well, fill in what you wish

    Instead we have had one system pass qualification and the second system due for it’s qualification mission later this year.

    If we can introduce a model of contracting that gets jobs done at a price that is 4-10x less than the “conventional” route…. Think of US government spending. Think on that.

    That is the politics of COTS.

  • Martijn Meijering

    But we cannot shift the demand curve, and we need new RLV technology to shift the supply curve.

    Yes, and in time the steady march of technological progress will do that for us. If we don’t want to wait for that, we can accelerate the process with government funding. Whether that would be justified is another question, but at least it would be possible. Where we differ is on how to distribute that funding. You advocate government research programs, I advocate an exploration program (possibly unmanned) to generate enormous demand for fairly, competitively and redundantly procured launch services. I think history (STS, NASP, SLI) shows the first approach is unlikely to work.

  • Martijn Meijering

    That is so profound, O Prophet of All Our Futures.

    Do you have anything useful to contibute? If not, why not remain silent?

  • Doug Lassiter

    With regard to the political importance of Dragon, and the purpose of Apollo and Constellation, there is another way to look at it. Apollo was largely about projecting strength. Constellation was largely about colonization, settlement, and harvesting of the cosmos. Curiously, those goals were never explicit in funding legislation. But I think the political statement that Dragon and it’s ilk makes is the power of capitalism. To those not wholly wedded to those goals of Constellation, and the romanticism of space, it’s about American entrepreneurship. It’s about imagining and accomplishing very hard things that could otherwise only be trusted to large federal agencies. That’s a ball that a politician could run with. It’s a highly patriotic one. It’s an American exceptionalism one. There is narrative there, there is “vision”, and there are even heroes. Just another way of looking at it. Dragon may not be fundamentally about space if you take a few steps back and take a long view.

    The future is whatever we make it. But the thing to consider is who “we” represents. Is it “we” the taxpayer? Is it “we” the species? Is it “we” the American entrepreneurial (and perhaps adventure and exploration) spirit?” Or perhaps “we” the American economy? The roadmaps to those futures don’t all look quite the same.

  • Coastal Ron

    vulture4 wrote @ June 9th, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Right now they cross at $60M/seat and no commercial sales. At $20M/seat we could sell 3 or 4 per year.

    Where the supply and demand lines cross is where sales are happening, regardless if you call them “commercial sales” or whatever. And right now that means NASA is buying seats on Soyuz from 2014-16 for $62.75M$/seat.

    The bigger question is whether there is price elasticity of demand (PED), which is a measure used in economics to show the responsiveness, or elasticity, of the quantity demanded of a good or service to a change in its price.

    Would SpaceX offering a lower price affect the amount of demand NASA has? We know NASA wants to up the number of ISS crew from six to seven (what the ISS was designed to support), but the capacity limitations of Soyuz and the limit on the number of Soyuz docking ports has kept that from happening.

    With the current demand of rotating three crew per flight (with two being NASA’s responsibility), that could go up to four crew per flight on a Commercial Crew vehicle (temporary visitors are not counted in this example). SpaceX has stated that they would like to sell a Falcon 9 + Dragon Crew for $140M/flight ($20M/seat for full capsule per Musk), so that would average $46.7M/seat for three passengers and $35M/seat for four.

    Beyond the maximum crew complement of seven the ISS is demand insensitive, in that it has a limited amount of demand it can accommodate on a full time basis. But what can influence the demand is the temporary visitor aspect. If NASA buys a flight instead of just buying seats, then they can use the extra capacity to send up temporary visitors. That would be bonus capability without adding to the cost of the flight.

    The flip side of the supply & demand curve is also active here, since we will be adding supply (the Commercial Crew service providers) and they will be competing for the inelastic demand of the ISS.

    Bigelow adds more demand to the mix, which could lead to even lower prices. But we’ll have to wait and see what their demand is before we’ll know how that will affect the supply & demand curve.

  • Vladislaw

    “and we need new RLV technology to shift the supply curve”

    Actually all it takes to shift the supply curve is to increase supply. If manufacturers suddenly self financed a bunch of rockets on speculation they will sell them later or, as in the case of SpaceX, a new entrant into the market that adds additional supply. So, with the two new launch vehicles the supply curve is shifting.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 5:45 am

    one of the more useful comments this thread.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 5:45 am

    People are forgetting that process can be revolutionary.>>

    as I noted nice post…I would add this.

    Processes are defined (at least in my view) by the goal in mind. The process of getting Apollo on the Moon was defined by the goal of going to the moon and the time span given for the goal.

    All the other examples you mention (Kaiser in particular) were defined by an overriding goal.

    NASA today has no firm goals that can metric the process hence the process just more or less sloths.

    SpaceX process is revolutionary because they need that process to make money…if their process (particularly in engines) does not work; they are out of business.

    The US is in some trouble in large measure because it is no longer important what is done; just that the process of doing it be followed. RGO

  • –as full disclousure my company has contracts with OCST and other branches of the FAA…I am a DPE and DER with the FAA–

    OCST was not a branch of the FAA, and it has not existed for almost two decades.

    [rest of ignorance about space regulation and Reagan snipped]

  • Googaw

    I advocate an exploration program (possibly unmanned) to generate enormous demand

    Spending money for your brand-new program that is “already spent”, I’m sure. And for the expressed purpose of distorting the market.

    why not remain silent?

    I suppose my posts are indeed not very “useful” to the crackpot goals of heavenly pilgrimage. If this forum is just a hangout for a bizarre cult, and not really about (inter)national space politics, I suppose you would feel justified in censoring my heretical critiques.

    That presumably not being the case, I will continue criticizing your anti-market and anti-commercial economic fantasies lobbied for in the name of “commerce”, and introducing a modicum of economic reality into these silly efforts to “privatize” NASA and sci-fi inspred economic fantasies. I will continue to expose the yawning gaps between hype and reality in the NewSpace bubble as well as the wasteful bureaucracy of OldSpace. I’m sorry that economic reality makes you uncomfortable, but that is what I will continue to fight for.

  • Googaw

    Constellation was largely about colonization, settlement, and harvesting of the cosmos. Curiously, those goals were never explicit in funding legislation.

    It puzzles you that crackpot economic fantasies, like the idea that a couple RVs on the moon will lead to space colonization, are not used to justify such large doses of Federal funding?

  • Malmesbury

    SpaceX process is revolutionary because they need that process to make money…if their process (particularly in engines) does not work; they are out of business.

    Apparently they are now working 3 shifts at Hawthorn….

    Both cases I mentioned involved meeting a need – Kaiser was trying to build merchant ships faster than Nazis could sink them. William White was trying to reduce costs during the middle Victorian period, so that he could sell naval expansion.

    In both cases the actual revolution was an incidental by product. Kaiser’s process from ship building was used for low cost, fast, high quality production line building of ships after the war. Not what it was planned for.

    White’s efficient dockyards built dreadnoughts at a pace that staggered the world. Yet building speed wasn’t what he’d sought.

    SpaceX are creating their process to make money in the sat launch business. But what then?

    The goals are cost constrained. If getting to Mars cost a dollar it’d be full. There has been concentration on the cost of a seat. But at what point does the cost of missions really start to fall?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Spending money for your brand-new program that is “already spent”, I’m sure.

    Yes, redirecting existing spending, probably while reducing the NASA budget, not adding more spending. For decades NASA has spent ~$7B a year on manned spaceflight. Let’s take the existing NASA HSF budget and cut it in half (or further). Then spend it on unmanned missions that create a large and fiercely competitive propellant launch market. Or close down NASA altogether for all I care. What exactly is your problem with this? Should NASA never again be allowed to initiate new projects or to change plans for existing projects? Should they perhaps run existing (exceedingly wasteful) projects to completion and then call it quits? Why not call it quits straight away then?

    And for the expressed purpose of distorting the market.

    No, for the express purpose of permanently driving down launch prices (for the benefit of spaceflight consumers) to the point where manned spaceflight becomes commercially viable even if government demand subsequently disappears. I’m sure you appreciate the difference. Compare this to farm subsidies and tariffs, where the goal is to drive up prices, for the benefit of producers, not to drive them down for the benefit of consumers, both (wealthy) private citizens and private organisations.

    I suppose my posts are indeed not very “useful” to the crackpot goals of heavenly pilgrimage.

    Well, if this is a crackpot goal, then your goal of colonisation (albeit only in the long run) is even more crackpot. But when pressed you’ve often admitted that you believe it will happen and that you even want it to happen, but don’t believe you will live to see it. If you disagree with the methods, then don’t criticise the goals. So yeah, mostly useless.

    What you could do is to make proposals for what would help (I don’t know, Lagrange point staging, thorium, whatever), in which case you had better point out why this isn’t still spending on a crackpot goal.

    I will continue criticizing your anti-market and anti-commercial economic fantasies lobbied for in the name of “commerce”

    It can hardly be anti-market when I’m advocating more competition and less government spending. And as I’ve said many times, as far as I’m concerned it could be *zero* government spending. If you want to be useful, as opposed to just cranking to crank, so could help by pointing out exactly (or even just roughly) why what I’m proposing won’t work or why we shouldn’t focus on reducing launch prices.

  • Googaw

    P.S. the political reality of Constellation was that it was a temporary alliance betwen believers in the voodoo connection from astronauts in a space capsule to space colonization, on the one hand, and those trying to recreate the glory days of Apollo, on the other, but all those only as source of “grass roots” lobbying for what was really a government employee and contractor make-work program. Neither the whacko connection to dreams of future space colonization nor the obsolete dreams of recreating Apollo were going to be very popular, much less an open admission of it being a welfare program. Unable to be honest without looking crazy or greedy, the actually stated goals of the project came out as mealy-mouthed nonsense. Future NASA-funded extravaganzas will generally have the same problem.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I’m sorry that economic reality makes you uncomfortable, but that is what I will continue to fight for.

    You don’t seem to know enough about what you rave about to make you a factor in any of the discussions – I can’t remember any time where you have backed up your claims with facts. To me facts = reality, so your lack of facts is a lack of reality.

    What you provide is probably closer to topical opinion. And since everyone has an opinion, you fail to make yours distinctive. For instance you seem to be against lots of stuff, but I have no idea what you are for.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 9th, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    “If John Glenn wanted the Shuttle to keep flying he should have complained to George W. Bush in 2004 when the die was cast.”

    Bear in mind, shuttle was retired based on the contents of the CAIB report w/t intent of a VSE to revitalize NASA and Constellation following along. And Obama’s campaign rhetoric avoided mentioning any intent to scuttle it. An ex-Democrat Senator just a few years post-his own shuttle flight wasn’t going to carry any weight w/Dubya. A President of his own party would have and should have lent a more informative ear given his own penchant for red-flagging many of Dubya’s decisions based on the will of the electorate. Obama simply read the recomendations from his people (the Garver/Griffin feud simmering still) at KSC in 4/10 and put space in the out box and moved on to more pressing and immediate economic problems. Review Glenn’s position on spaceflight since the ’60s and he has consisgtently stated that elements of ‘basie, fundamental research’ are at it’s core. He has never waviered from that position.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Googaw wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 3:25 pm
    “It puzzles you that crackpot economic fantasies, like the idea that a couple RVs on the moon will lead to space colonization, are not used to justify such large doses of Federal funding?”

    Well, this is Congress. Need I say more? Crackpot fantasies is their game.

    So instead of explicit crackpot economic and social fantasies, the large doses of federal funding are explicitly justified by those poorly defined things they call “exploration”, and “pride and inspiration”? They point at possible recovery of space resources as an objective, though the linkage of that with human space flight is not well articulated.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve been a DPE and DER for more then two decades! intrinsic value Rand…be careful with terms RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    P.S. the political reality of Constellation was that it was a temporary alliance betwen believers in the voodoo connection from astronauts in a space capsule to space colonization, on the one hand, and those trying to recreate the glory days of Apollo, on the other, but all those only as source of “grass roots” lobbying for what was really a government employee and contractor make-work program.>>

    some of us never bought into the alliance…Actually I thought that the “space colonization” theories were just rhetorical…they were simply impossible with the current hardware or what was being developed. RGO

  • vulture4

    DCSCA: “Bear in mind, shuttle was retired based on the contents of the CAIB report w/t intent of a VSE to revitalize NASA and Constellation following along.”

    I’m curious where you heard this claim, because it is quoted by so many Constellation supporters even though it is demonstrably false. The CAIB report is available on the internet at http://caib.nasa.gov/news/report/default.html
    What it really says is that the Shuttle can continue to fly safely until a replacement system is operational. There is no mention of grounding it at Assembly Complete or relying on Soyuz. And it says the replacement system should be designed solely for safe access to LEO, because any attempt at a more ambitious goal will fail given the available resources. The CAIB were just people like us, they were not always right. But on this point they hit the nail on the head.

    The CAIB favored continuing the Orbital Space Plane program, which focussed on building two simple spacecraft for ISS access not unlike the Commercial Crew proposals supported by the Obama Administration.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Malmesbury wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    “Apparently they are now working 3 shifts at Hawthorn….

    …..

    SpaceX are creating their process to make money in the sat launch business. But what then? ”

    they are ramping up at McGregor.

    the neat thing about mechanical processes is that once mastered (and they will need to master them for the engines) then they are applicable to other things with other processes.

    So for instance what was done with the Liberty and Victory ships was to some extent pushed into cruisers …and certainly into airplanes…and my guess is that if Musk is successful here he will be able to export that process in some form or fashion to some other aspect of spaceflight.

    There is no doubt things can be done more effectively and efficiently in space flight including human spaceflight…and there is a cross over curve where one measures (in particular for uncrewed platforms) the launch/payload cost.

    An example is ground sensors…They now have ground sensors that are solar powered even which are at least the size of “rocks” and are dispersed by drones from the air. A certain amount fail but the cost is so low that multiple devices can be dispersed.

    Musk might move launch cost down to the point where something like (insert description) “pebbles” is doable in uncrewed platforms for instance.

    Process is everything RGO

  • thomas m hancock III

    CxP (Constellation) was designed to replace the shuttle. Once commercial cargo to ISS was working that part of mission was to be transferred from NASA. Do any of you know CxP had a Orion cargo variant until 2007? When COTS came on that version was dropped. Once commercial cargo was flying the next step was commercial crew. Once that was proven all support for ISS would be by commercial providers. NASA would concentrate on exploration missions. That was Mike Griffins plan. A good one (and better than the one today). Ares I was designed to fly a few mission to ISS (2 a year until commercial crew came along). The production rate was 2 ship sets a year (with the option to ramp up to 6 with 18 months notice). The primary reason for CxP was exploration. Ares I was done in house to teach NASA engineers and manager how to build a launch vehicle. All that experience had migrated out to industry. Mike Griffin’s plan for COTS remains in effect with little change. He supports commercial cargo/crew. He started it. What we gave up was exploration, and 20,000+ highly skilled aerospace jobs. Mike Griffin was right, SpaceX proves it.

  • thomas m hancock III

    Also If is was advising Romney I would recommend he say “I support Mike Griffin’s original plan, all of it (SpaceX proves he was right). To bad Obama did not.

  • Googaw

    Of course I’ve proposed many positive things, but since they don’t trigger the strong dopamine releases an astronaut flying into heaven on a chariot of fire seems to trigger, folks don’t seem to remember. Among them:

    * Support and encourage the growth of real space commerce, i.e. the industries that actually produce services people are willing to voluntarily pay for, made possible by using unmanned machines, and real space security, again 100% unmanned –endeavours that contribute to our wealth and security here on earth and tie us to a self-sustaining space development industry. One good way to encourage real space commerce is to encourage real property rights in GEO rather than Monopoly card trading games for some collectively hallucinated market-of-the-future.

    * Keep supporting another real commercial endeavour: the mining industry under the ground and seas as it develops ever tougher and more efficient technologies that we will need when our children or theirs start “mining the sky”. These folks, too, need real property rights and relief from regulations. This has far stronger connection to the efforts of our grandchildren further develop space, and of their granchildren to colonize space (give or take a couple generations), than launching heavenly pilgrims in capsules.

    * All the above could benefit from hands-off research of the kind NACA used to do and DARPA still sometimes does.

    * Encourage strong materials processing and chemical industries, again (since this is space politics) through better legal and economic environments. Mining is only one necessary step in developing a space-based economy: processing those materials into a wide variety of products will be even more important. Fortunately, low natural gas prices are currently encouraging the earthside industry to progress even though most of us are not.

    * Support real applied and breakthrough science — affordable discovery and invention that makes major breakthroughs in our technological and economic capabilities. This means among other things real space exploration — astronomy and affordable space probes — not extravagant and ephemeral pilgrimages to the great heavenly holy places of sci-fi dogma.

    These solve the real problems that our grandchildren will benefit from us solving, making it easier for them (or their grandchildren) to colonize space (or indeed almost surely before then, colonize some of the millions of habitable cubic kilometers of earth underneath our feet, a less far-fetched but far less dopamine-releasing goal).

    Of course, if expanding real and permanent human capabilities above or below us is not your goal, feel free to disregard all this, but in any case quit leaching off the taxpayer to get your astronautical dopamine rush and weaving twisted economic fantasies to justify it.

  • I’ve been a DPE and DER for more then two decades! intrinsic value

    I don’t put much weight into fallacious arguments from authority when the “authority” is ungrammatical, unreadable, and demonstrably has no clue as to where OCST (or Ronald Reagan) is in the government or its history. It’s very sad that too many (though fortunately, not many) here think that you have a clue as to what you are talking about on any subject.

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Suggest you re-read both the report and how DCSCA carefully worded the post. The CAIB made clear a need for a rationale for HSF and a need for some ‘VSE,’ citing the lack there of and repeated stalls by several administrations of same, beyond considerations for re-cert for flight of shuttle through 2020. Bush’s people took the report and opted to craft a “VSE Redux” (just like Pappy did) from the report’s conclusions and recommendations- and made a presentation of same which included the decision to finish the ISS, retire shuttle and initiation of Constellation– w/minimal ‘gap’ between programs. To be sure we tend to condense the X-to-Y-to-Z timeline from a decade ago, but essentially w/o the CAIB the VSE mist likle would not have materialized and if Columbia had landed safely, shuttle would still most likely be flying with some new TBD rationale and some kind of recert for flight. We may disagree on the rationale for Constellation, but probably agree on the Ares- which was a lousy rocket design to build a 30 year program around– and the fault for that costly, expensive mistake and the collapse of Constellation lay squarely w/Mike Griffin, who fancied himself another Von Braun. Except he’s not. Still, DCSCA has re-read the CAIB report several times and agrees completely w/its analysis of NASA, NASA’s flawed safety-culture and accompanying management from the shuttle era. It’s a good report. So was the Challenger report as well, both having similar conclusions in mid-long term planning analyses. But w/respect to post-shuttle times, clearing out that deadwood from NASA is essential before pressing on w/any BEO HSF project of scale.

  • @thomas m hancock III
    “Do any of you know CxP had a Orion cargo variant until 2007? When COTS came on that version was dropped. Once commercial cargo was flying the next step was commercial crew. Once that was proven all support for ISS would be by commercial providers.”
    A cargo version of Orion could only have been developed and executed by taking money away from COTS, which would mean COTS would have come even later and thereby also moving back Commercial Crew. That is really screwball.

    “Mike Griffin was right, SpaceX proves it.”
    Weird and delusional as most of the proGriffin stuff posted here is.

  • vulture4

    The CAIB report notes clearly that NSA has not lacked for goals, but rather for resources: They made the point that Bush Sr. had proposed such a goal and provided no funding.

    “NASA has usually failed to receive budgetary support consistent with its ambitions. The result, as noted throughout Part Two of the report, is an organization straining to do too much with too little.”

    As a result they advocated a continuatioon of the Orbital Space Plane program as a shuttle replacement, while continuing to fly the

    “With the amount of risk inherent in the Space Shuttle, the first step should be to reach an agreement that the overriding mission of the replacement system is to move humans safely and reliably into and out of Earth orbit. To demand more would be to fall into the same trap as all previous, unsuccessful, efforts. ”

    This text is accompanied by illustrations of the Boeing OSP proposals, both capsule (similar to CST-100) and winged (X-37C).

    The CAIB said in the strongest terms that NASA ambitions for BEO human flight would fail without adequate funding. When the Constellation program was introduced by the Bush Administration in 2004 the total cost, as noted with some alarm by Senate committee chair John McCain, the total cost was not even discussed and the budget request (from the Bush Administration, presented by Sean O’Keefe) was obviously unrealistic. McCain estimated the cost at between $260B and $600B and stated clearly that the budget was already in deficit and the nation could not afford it. He was ignored.

    G.W. Bush did not request any significant increase in NASA funding even in the long term, nor did he propose maintaining capabilities for access to LEO. Rather he proposed terminating ISS support entirely in 2015 as a way to attempt to fund Constellation without increasing taxes.

    President Bush proposed a program of enormous scope without discussing the total cost or proposing to provide sufficient funding. This is exactly the error the CAIB report identifies as having been made repeatedly in the past and having led to the problematic situation of the Shuttle. Neither Mr. Obama nor mr. Romney has proposed funding Constellation/SLS/Orion to the level actually needed for lunar or Mars exploration, nor have its congressional supporters. Consequently it will fail after many more billions are spent, exactly as the CAIB anticipated.

  • MrEarl

    DCSCA is spot-on about the time line and process for the Bush 43 administrations development of the Vision for Space Exploration. (Also see; New Moon Rising, by Keith Cowling and Frank Sietzsen.)

    The one thing that I think almost everyone on the site will agree on is that it was Mike Griffin who so disastrously ran the VSE/Constellation program off the track. Thanks Mike for bringing unity in such a fractured space community.

  • amightywind

    I don’t know if Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!) will be a political issue. But the upcoming Chinese flight will be. Obama and his toadies at NASA have no competitive response.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    “Ungrammatical” all this from someone who didnt have a clue what intrinsic value or interest meant. grimmer discussions Rand are along with spelling the last throes of a failing “internets” argument.

    The right wing of which you and Whittington are a part of is constantly rewriting the history of the Reagan administration or ignoring selective facts to pursue their rhetorical level of politics. Reagan did cut taxes but he spent his way out of a recession and then when it was over; he started raising taxes. That you participate in this or dont know history past what you hear watching the Fox News babes do the leg turn (do you still have that video on your web site?) is your problem.

    When the second draft of history is written Reagan probably goes down as the last President of the Superpower era that started under FDR…its probably a 1932 to 88 (maybe it creeps into Bush the first term…but if it does it ends with the Iraq effort).

    And that includes Reagans space policy….and that is a guide to the issue at hand–a campaign issue.

    Reagan was more or less stuck with the space shuttle…the last real time to transition to a new policy was the last two or so years of the Carter administration…Columbia was “on the way” by the time Reagan took the oath of office…

    That has not been so with Obama…there was a reasonable amount of heavy lifting to get the commercial cargo folks to orbit policy wise. A few budgets and maintaining the policy in the face of a major “commission” review.

    All in the face of sustained GOP (mostly) and prior administration officials (Griffin) opposition to the policy. At this point the GOP claiming as a party that it is for commercial space is about like saying it is for civil rights because Lincoln was a Republican.

    Obama should take this and hammer Willard. It has all the things Obama desperately needs. He can blame the GOP for the “stay behind” programs (Cx morphing into SLS), he can illustrate his commitment to a future different from a failed GOP past, and in that illustrate how the US becomes a “major power” in an economic dominated world that is going to be very different from the World Ronaldus the Great put to bed.

    We should all be happy the superpower era is over. It was dominated by the threat of MAD (which kept the piece) and things being done that were done for “intrinsic value”…and no matter what you say Reagan did not support those. That is why unlike the right wing war hawks of today…he left Lebanon.

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    * Support and encourage the growth of real space commerce

    Please provide specific examples. Name of previous or current efforts, who you think is doing this best, etc.

    * Keep supporting another real commercial endeavour: the mining industry under the ground and seas…

    Yes, and support the soft drink companies too I’m sure. Way too off-topic.

    This is the “Space Politics” blog, not the “Terrestrial Mining” blog. If you think there is a direct connection between the two, then make it. However, beyond digging all the processes we use here on Earth will have different analogs off-planet. I’m sure Paul Spudis would love to talk lunar mining with you over at Once And Future Moon over at Air & Space.

    * All the above could benefit from hands-off research of the kind NACA used to do and DARPA still sometimes does.

    I think that NASA should be more NACA like, but Congress doesn’t. At last an area of agreement.

    * Support real applied and breakthrough science — affordable discovery and invention that makes major breakthroughs in our technological and economic capabilities.

    Affordable discovery and invention? Gee, how silly of us to think it always had to be unaffordable… ;-)

    Contrary to popular belief, you can’t plan inspiration and invention. You can fund it and give it a nurturing environment, but even then you have to be patient to see what happens. Sometimes great things happen. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes nothing. Science is an investment that can pay off, but doesn’t always.

    Again, if you have specific examples, great. But otherwise this is too generic. Kind of like saying “I like dogs, but only when they are good dogs”.

    These solve the real problems that our grandchildren will benefit from us solving…

    More pablum. Look around and you’ll see we’re already doing that, so you need to articulate more specific metrics. What do we need next, and why? Connect the dots to the future you want, then have the patience to explain it to others.

  • common sense

    “Do we have a prophet on this forum who can actually tell us what the future is?”

    Not sure who pretends to be a prophet around here…

    Whatever.

  • common sense

    “CxP (Constellation) was designed to replace the shuttle.”

    Just this sentence suffice to show you know nothing about CEV, Constellation, VSE, CxP.

    Nothing.

    Sadly.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 2:29 am
    ” if Columbia had landed safely, shuttle would still most likely be flying with some new TBD rationale and some kind of recert for flight.”

    Alternate histories are fun things…Yamaguchi commands the IJFleet at Midway instead of Nagumo…Lee leaves GEttysburg the first day,

    but the reality is that while those alternate events would doubtless change a few things they probably do not change long term trends which actually determined the future.

    Yamaguchi commanding at Midway cannot reverse either the deficiencies in the Japanese pilot training program which had required that the instructor corps be taken in hand to crew the planes for Midway…and the fact that the Japanese produced at best two more fleet carriers while in 42 alone the US had 11 building…and Lee doesnt have the logistics either ….

    and if they had dodged the Bullet with Columbia, they would have lost one shortly anyway. I am amazed that they got the program done without a tank splitting open RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    “Alternate histories are fun things…”

    Fair enough. But some here live in alternate realities. Not sure if it can be cured though.

    FWIW. Shuttles were going to be lost. Not a matter of if but of when. Several close calls were reported over the years and well… not reported.

    Rhetorical question: Do you have to report a close-call if nobody understands what it was outside of a few?

  • Doug Lassiter

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 11:00 am
    “With regard to the political importance of Dragon, and the purpose of Apollo and Constellation, there is another way to look at it.”

    Let me continue, in an attempt to keep this thread on-topic …

    This is how space could enter the contemporary political discourse. As an arena for displaying capitalistic and entrepreneureal prowess. Let freedom ring. Elon is handing that argument to Romney and Obama on a silver platter. Now, neither Romney nor Obama care a whit about going to space, per se. I’m guessing that they’re properly skeptical about the “exploration” narrative, with its metric about which rocks you can put boots on, and the contemporary relevance of doing that to goals of power and wealth. Let me also suggest that neither Obama or Romney cares squat about colonization of space, and they have no concern about helium-3 or palladium as well. But as a show of strength for the American private sector … oh my. In the context of Dragon as a capmaign issue, we’re talking about “soft power” of American enterprise.

    You know, space is a foreign place. Newt Gingrich got plastered by that when he tried to make lunar development a national priority. The idea wasn’t just expensive, it was plain weird. Just yesterday, David Axelrod referred to Mitt Romney as “living on a different planet” (headlined in Huff Post with a marvelous photo montage of Mitt hovering over cosmic wonders). That wasn’t intended to be a compliment, as in, “living in Tahiti”. Such places in space aren’t just far away, in the political vernacular, but are places where cultural and societal norms, like the value of firefighters and teachers, presumably don’t apply.

    But much as the North and South poles were for early explorers, reaching for distant worlds with humans is about showing us more what we’re made of rather than what that world is made of. Right now, this generation is not particularly proud of what government does. That was Apollo, when it was. What we as a country are now proud to be made of is private enterprise and entrepreneurealism. The heroes of today are Gates, Jobs, Brin, and Musk.

    The Obama for America Florida statement said nothing about exploration, inspiration, colonization, development of celestial resources, or even national defense. Was anyone really reading their statement? They were criticizing Romney on competition in the private space industry. That was their key space policy issue. That’s what space is about to modern political sensibilities. Hello, Elon!

  • pathfinder_01

    “The primary reason for CxP was exploration. Ares I was done in house to teach NASA engineers and manager how to build a launch vehicle. All that experience had migrated out to industry.”

    A lesson they did not need to learn IMHO. What was needed were spacecraft. Rocket development should have been left to industry.

  • The right wing of which you and Whittington are a part of

    Stop being a “right wing” deranged loon.

    Oh. Wait. You can’t.

    is constantly rewriting the history of the Reagan administration or ignoring selective facts to pursue their rhetorical level of politics.

    It is not “rewriting the history of the Reagan administration” to point out the reality that he pushed for and got passed the Commercial Space Launch Act that enabled the commercial space industry, and that it created the Office of Commercial Space Transportation which, despite your ignorant fantasies, was never part of the FAA.

    That you participate in this or dont know history past what you hear watching the Fox News babes do the leg turn (do you still have that video on your web site?) is your problem.

    What is this latest derangement? It’s truly idiotic to think that I get my space policy information from Fox News. But then we’ll consider the source, given that you seem to be as deranged on the subject of Fox News as you are on the “right wing.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    of MAD (which kept the piece)…

    No doubt Simberg will jump on this…or the “peace”…sorry a combination of autofill and being interrupted in the post multiple times by phone calls. works is annoying ..RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 10:21 am

    “I don’t know if Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!) will be a political issue. But the upcoming Chinese flight will be.”

    I found this comment worthy of some response.

    Why do you think that the “upcoming Chinese flight will be” (a political issue)?

    Other then pushing some right wing panic buttons and giving the babes on Fox News some moments to “view with alarm”…there is nothing really impressive about the effort. Nor does it seem to be indicative of any real “Chinese push”.

    Oh well Whittington can write (or right…grin) some alarm piece on his blog where once again he can get the lessons of the battle of Midway wrong; and you can wave your arms in fear…

    But I would be surprised if more then the usual right wing nuts in this country have a clue that the Chinese have actually launched people.

    As one keen mind of the right wing here in 22 told me the other day “The reds are building a laser battle station in orbit”. Of course they are. RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Ares I was done in house to teach NASA engineers and manager how to build a launch vehicle.

    This proves NASA engineers are the wrong people to design a new launch vehicle. Coupled with the fact that we don’t need new launchers at all, this illustrates how wrong Griffin was and how wrong you are. To go to the moon, we need a lander. We already have launch vehicles.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 10:15 am

    “The one thing that I think almost everyone on the site will agree on is that it was Mike Griffin who so disastrously ran the VSE/Constellation program off the track. Thanks Mike for bringing unity in such a fractured space community.”

    Mike really did a number on the effort…but sadly it would have gone off the rails anyway. Even had they bypassed the launcher issue by using “something flying”…Orion and the J2 program (not to mention the still borne lander what was it “Altair”) illustrate the inability of NASA to do much more then kill any sort of plan by sloth and incompetence.

    When it was shut down; what was the projected cost for the lander development? 20 billion or something? RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    Support and encourage the growth of real space commerce
    encourage real property rights in GEO

    A good idea, which will not cost anything. I don’t think it will lead to a breakthrough, but every little bit helps.

    Keep supporting another real commercial endeavour: the mining industry under the ground and seas

    Why should this be paid for from the NASA budget or indeed at all? If you accept the goal of government funding for future manned spaceflight (and if so you have some explaining to do), or even more ambitiously mining and construction, then there are other things that would be much more beneficial.

    All the above could benefit from hands-off research of the kind NACA used to do and DARPA still sometimes does.

    Far too early for that, and the efficiency of such spending greatly depends on who decides what gets done. If it is NASA R&D centers paying contractors to do what NASA tells them to do as happens today we can expect very little. If NASA hires contractors and makes them available at subsidised prices at least industry will be steering and we can expect more results. Even so, I think it is still grossly inefficient.

    Encourage strong materials processing and chemical industries, again (since this is space politics) through better legal and economic environments.

    Again, far too far removed from practical results. If you want to enable colonisation, this is not the way to do it.

    Support real applied and breakthrough science […] real space exploration — astronomy and affordable space probes —.

    The probes can be justified by themselves, to a degree at least, independently of their effect on colonisation. If we seek synergy, they could do much more. This is what I’ve been proposing and what you have been childishly ridiculing. Again, you have some explaining to do.

    These solve the real problems that our grandchildren will benefit from us solving, making it easier for them (or their grandchildren) to colonize space (or indeed almost surely before then, colonize some of the millions of habitable cubic kilometers of earth underneath our feet, a less far-fetched but far less dopamine-releasing goal).

    The only serious obstacle standing in our way, and it is a very serious one, is that fact that we currently have very high launch prices. Until we solve that problem, none of the things you mentioned will have much of an effect. In other words they are utterly wasteful things to try now if the goal is to colonise space.

    Instead of hurling vacuous and childish insults aimed at goals you apparently do share, you could perhaps explain how your proposed methods are better than what others are proposing.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I don’t know if Dragon … will be a political issue. But the upcoming Chinese flight will be. Obama and his toadies at NASA have no competitive response.

    Yes, if only we had our own space station – but bigger, WAY BIGGER. And one that would not only hold more people, but support lots of science experiments to help us understand what it will take for us to live and work in space.

    Golly, if only we had our own bigger, better space station… ;-)

    Honestly, do you even THINK about what you are saying when you write this stuff?

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 11:18 am

    “Fair enough. But some here live in alternate realities. Not sure if it can be cured though.”

    There are alternate realities but for the most part politically at least the issue is framing the current events in the reality of the past, not the trends into the future.

    The politics (in and out of space policy) have since oh say 1990 somewhere around there…have been stuck in the realities of

    This is the “chinese are going to the Moon” discussion. All this discussion by its advocates does is try and project past behavior by “large powers” onto a power that is emerging today. This is the same notion that Bush used to crank up VSE/Cx and went into iraq/Afland etc…and which today people argue about Iran getting the gadget.

    The rhetoric in all of these is out of the past (President “Tom” in Iran is “Hitler”, Saddam was Hitler…I’ve never understood why the metaphors dont call one of them Tojo?) The Chinese are going to the Moon to take it over; to dominate “the high ground”…etc etc.

    Politicians and Flag officers mostly seem to set up to fight the last war (or the last campaign or the last whatever) because well they grew up in that era, they learned there and have figured out the mistakes.

    When Ray Spruance found out that he was going to take over Halsey’s spot at Midway…one of the things he did was get hold of Aubrey Fitch (who had done very well at the Sea)…and spoke with him and the former CO of Lexington (she had sunk)…

    the suggestion both had was that “prewar doctrine” is to quote Fitch “almost useless; all it does is slow you down, this is (emphasis mine) A DIFFERENT WAR AT A DIFFERENT PACE”. And Spruance more or less took that to heart and just completely disregarded carrier tactics and doctrine at Midway. Nagumo in particular is wedded to pre war Japanese carrier doctrine and he ignores clear evidence that some key parts of their plan are inoperative.

    The unique thing about SpaceX and why it should be a campaign showpiece is that Musk more or less completely disregarded the “truths” of the old space age…and wrote his own. Cx/SLS etc are all parts of teh past. They are like the Battleship in WW2 irrelevant to the future. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 11:53 am

    It’s truly idiotic to think that I get my space policy information from Fox News”

    dont believe I said that. Read. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I would say those are pretty good comments and it suggest in my view that you havea solid grasp of the changes that are taking place in the American Republic as it goes from a superpower to well a new word or phrase is still “in work”. Nice job RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    thomas m hancock III wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Ares I was done in house to teach NASA engineers and manager how to build a launch vehicle.

    I doubt it, but why would you think this is a good idea?

    NASA building their own launch vehicle – without putting the requirements out for competition to the private sector – goes against space policy that was articulated by Reagan and reaffirmed by Bush 43.

    If the military doesn’t feel a need to operate their own launch vehicles, then NASA certainly doesn’t have any special claim of “national security”.

    And don’t even try to trot out the old “current rockets are not big enough” canard, since we just got done building a 990,000 lb space station in LEO. Ares V and the SLS can’t lift a 450mt space station, and no one in their right mind would risk so much on one launch.

    You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion, but I don’t see that there is any validity to your analysis of the past (or even the present w/r to Romney & Griffin).

  • vulture4

    Ares (and the Orion FTA) were actually build by contractors. The final assembly was done at NASA facilities but NASA was in a management role. The situation was similar during Shuttle. There are a few NASA personnel that do know how to do mechanical and electronic design and fabrication, some very well, but they are rare birds and it is hard to see why it makes any difference.

    As to China, they have absolutely no intention of engaging in a new moon race. If they lost, they would look incompetent. If they won, they would irritate their biggest customer. Their primary goals are political stability and economic growth. Their human flight program is intended to engender national pride for their domestic audience and showcase their commercial aerospace capabilities for potential customers. Obviously they aren’t in a race as they have only three manned flights in ten years. They would like to join the ISS program because it would demonstrate that they have “joined the club” of world leaders.

  • common sense

    @ vulture4 wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I believe you are absolutely right about China.

    Further I would assert that they are building their effective super power in a very conventional way and will seek stability in Asia first and foremost. There are brewing conflicts that I am sure are a lot more important to them than a space race.

    I will add that possibly one of their secondary goals to run a space program is to learn how to develop fairly advanced technology and processes that will benefit the country a lot more than securing territory or He3 on the Moon.

    And finally if it is of any national security concerns to us w don’t need NASA to take care of it. We have after all the best, most well funded military and intelligence in the world including space military and intelligence.

    As we recently saw cyber warfare may be a lot more effective than big rockets to nowhere. But it requires some here to leap into the present if not the future.

    Oh well…

  • amightywind

    Why do you think that the “upcoming Chinese flight will be” (a political issue)?

    While America treads water in space the Chinese are catching up fast. America doesn’t like being challenged in space, so space will be a political issue for those who are wise enough to exploit it. The policy you have supported has invited this. You should not be surprised.

    Politicians and Flag officers mostly seem to set up to fight the last war

    How has that reset with Russia been working for ya?

  • Robert G. Oler

    thomas m hancock III wrote @ June 10th, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    “Ares I was done in house to teach NASA engineers and manager how to build a launch vehicle.”

    mike Griffin has said that on a number of occasions. Expensive lessons indeed 15 billion and nothing but a lousy suborbital shot that cost about 3/4 of a billion.

    are the people there that stupid? RGO

  • I doubt it, but why would you think this is a good idea?

    It wasn’t a good idea, but it’s true. Griffin saw Ares I as a “training rocket” to prepare them for Ares V, because NASA hadn’t developed a launch system in over thirty years, and didn’t have anyone left who knew how to do it. As they proved in a very expensive manner.

  • Vladislaw

    A mighty wind from a galaxy far far away wrote:

    “While America treads water in space”

    You must have mean’t that America does a treadmill in space, in our space station where American’s have been camping out in space for the last decade while china has launched humans three times in that same decade. First 1 human in the first flight, 2 on the second flight and three on the third for a total of 6 people in space, in ten years.

    So they have what … nine or ten man days in space, we have multiple American’s in space getting 180 days in space each. Yup .. America 10,000 man days in space .. China 10 days …. gosh you are right.. it isn’t even a contest… time for America to pack up their legos and go home.

    Oh Americans do their treadmill on the COLBERT:

    “NASA is serious about its space station crew members exercising in orbit, but that doesn’t mean the agency can’t have a little fun along the way.

    That’s why a treadmill engineers had called simply T-2 for more than two years is suddenly famous as the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT. NASA selected the treadmill’s name after comedian and host Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” took interest during the Node 3 naming census and urged his followers to post the name “Colbert,” which received the most entries.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/colberttreadmill.html

    When you are huddled, in the dark, over your keyboard, in your mother’s basement, do you ponder to yourself “what is the dumbest thing I can say to really grind their gears”

  • DCSCA

    @vulture4 wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    “The CAIB report notes clearly that N[A]SA has not lacked for goals, but rather for resources: They made the point that Bush Sr. had proposed such a goal and provided no funding… President Bush proposed a program of enormous scope without discussing the total cost or proposing to provide sufficient funding.”

    Like father, like son.

    We’ve kinda drifted far from the original point regarding Glenn and his unwavering position that HSF is ‘basic fundamental research’– a POV he has reiterated since the ’60s. Funding for same has obviously waxed and waned over the decades. However, the lack of any ‘vision’ or ‘rationale’ for a U.S. HSF program was notably cited in the CAIB report, benchmarked by several ‘start-stop’ proposals through several administrations, not just Dubya’a and Pappy’s. The report notes the policy trend back into the Nixon days- now four decades past. The pitch that NASA had/has ambitious goals but insufficent resources is a standard line. Logsdon has labeled those goals ‘grandiose’ given the budgets of the times– particularly in the heady days post-Apollo. Revisit Von Braun’s pitch to Congress, post Apollo 11, in August, ’69 and in retrospect, it’s ambitious but fiscally unrealistic for the era givewn competing problems at hand. The point continmues to be made that NASA failed to scale goals to resources at hand- this has gone on for decades. Whether that’s a correct mind set is often debated, too, as it flies in the face of what we expect or want NASA to do- set grand goals and try for them. The late Tom Paine said you pick a goal and find a budget to meet it, not assemble a budget and see what goals you can meet within its constraints. The Augustine report ket coming back to this as well. Always grand goals w/insufficent resources– and in comparison to oter government expenditures -(like war)- the resources in dispute are relatively small. That debate remains and striking the correct balance will eventually move American efforts forward through the Age of Austerity. But until that harmony of cost, benefit and purpose strikes a chord w/t American people, we’re stuck w/what we have- heading no place fast, in LEO, going in circles.

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    You’re off again in the weeds, Breed. Midway… =eyeroll=

    @amightywind wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 10:21 am

    “I don’t know if Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!) will be a political issue.”

    They’re called ‘black boxes’ when they’re orange, Windy. =eyeroll= They used the term ‘Capsule Communcatior’ (Capcom), originated in Mercury days through three decades of winged shuttle flights….=eyeroll= ‘Dragon’ is just the name selected by Musk of a product produced for profiteering services offered by his ‘private firm.’ Whether it’s a sinister name is in the mind’s eye of the beholder but it may simply be insight into the mind of Musk. What would you have Musk call it- Leo? (which actually makes sense)… Cheesebox? Or Gumdrop?–(it looks like one but, oops, that’s been used in Apollo.) The ‘Edsel’ was a product named and produced for profit by a private firm, Ford, in honor of Edsel Ford, too. It just turned out to be a bust in the marketplace. Why call the firm ‘Space X’ and not ‘E-FAST’ (Elon Freight & Space Travel)– It’s Musk’s space vehicle and he can call it what he wants because ‘Dragon’ is not an ‘American’ o/o spacecraft. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab– all ‘officially’ were named by government bureaucrats BTW, th callsigns cleared as well. The history of orbiter naming is easy to trace. Jerry Ford bowed to Trekkies and Constitution was changed to Enterprise, We know school kids had input to naming Chalenger’s replacement as well. “Dragon” is a product available for leasing by the U.S. government; a vehicle to deliver goods/services, like renting a car name Edsel from Hertz back in the day. Or buying passage on a bird named ‘Soyuz.’ Who’d name a spacecraft ‘Soyuz’ when “Gagarin’ or ‘Nikita’ was available?? =eyeroll= As if any of this matters, Windy.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    “Griffin saw Ares I as a “training rocket” to prepare them for Ares V, because NASA hadn’t developed a launch system in over thirty years, and didn’t have anyone left who knew how to do it. As they proved in a very expensive manner.”

    The choice of an Apollo shaped capsule was – beyond the ill-placed national prestige thing – also driven by similar considerations…

    Someone outside NASA figured how to collect the disseminated talents to make the program happen for a lot less: SpaceX ended up being what Constellation was supposed to be. Interesting twist of irony. One of those underdog stories that the public is so fond of. Watch for the movie coming to a theater near you after they orbit the Moon. Crystalballing so to speak.

    Oh well.

  • Frank Glover

    “I don’t know if Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!)…”

    You have a problem with the symbol of a powerful animal from European mythology (look at the logo again please,,that’s *not* an Asian concept of a ‘Dragon’), but decades of Greco-Roman-Norse characters, and assorted real animals (like Falcons) for spaceships, launchers and space projects is okay…?

    You amaze me, Windy.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
    “I would say those are pretty good comments and it suggest in my view that you havea solid grasp of the changes that are taking place in the American Republic as it goes from a superpower to well a new word or phrase is still “in work”. ”

    Most comments about space as a campaign issue miss the boat entirely. The illusion is that space politics is really about space these days. It isn’t.

  • Frank Glover

    “But I would be surprised if more then the usual right wing nuts in this country have a clue that the Chinese have actually launched people.”

    To be fair, China’s manned launch rate is so low (and thereby not getting much economy of scale benefit either), some people could almost be forgiven for not knowing, or even forgetting…

  • Someone outside NASA figured how to collect the disseminated talents to make the program happen for a lot less

    There’s huge trick to it. It’s all about incentives. NASA’s are to spend as much as possible in as many districts and states as possible. Others’ are to spend as little as possible to get a good product to market.

  • Vladislaw

    Griffin is going to be the new CEO of Rocketdyne? Wonder which path he will take, cost plus FAR contracts or embrace the dark side and jump on the commercial space bandwagon.

  • A couple of general observations …

    First, the Ares I was being built to go to a place that would no longer exist by the time it was operational. The Ares I was being built to deliver people to the ISS starting in 2017, but Constellation would be financed by defunding ISS in 2016. Therefore, the Ares I had no place to go.

    This allow exposes the fantasy of the early days of commercial cargo. Under the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA would start growing a commercial cargo delivery program to the ISS, with no real focus for a start date. But since the ISS would be defunded starting in 2016, commercial cargo had nowhere to go either.

    The Obama administration rescued the ISS by proposing the cancellation of Constellation, with which Congress agreed. Rescuing ISS gave meaning and purpose to commercial cargo, and to commercial crew.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Most comments about space as a campaign issue miss the boat entirely. The illusion is that space politics is really about space these days. It isn’t.

    It never has been…in human spaceflight at least. The Soviets pushing all those resources into Sputnik and then Gagarin had nothing to do with spaceflight; but all to do about proving a country where most people did not have indoor plumbing was a superpower.

    The lunar effort…it was all about Earth based politics…showing that a country where most people had indoor plumbing was a superpower. RGO

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    “There’s huge trick to it. It’s all about incentives. NASA’s are to spend as much as possible in as many districts and states as possible. Others’ are to spend as little as possible to get a good product to market.”

    Very true. Yet one of the goals of at least the VSE if not Constellation was to make “space” more “affordable”.

    Constellation could still have done what it was supposed to do, i.e. explore the Moon, Mars and Beyond if the decision had not been linked to recycling SRBs. In the end NASA, then, chose to save MSFC and to some extent JSC but they were not successful.

    The actual trick would have been to follow (again) the spiral approach and recycle the workforce so they could do something useful. For example they could have brought the industry to the necessary (required?) level of technology – you know with SAAs… But instead of doing this for only one or two companies they could have done it for several more. All the while starting the required and difficult work to actually do the exploration like giving us more Nautilus-X. Now of course they are trying this incredibly novel approach… Whatever.

    But in the end what they wanted was to build a rocket or two. And that’s it.

    O’Keefe/Steidle had it right. Easy to say in hindsight but hanging an entire multi year, multi WH, multi Congress program on a 90 day study should have risen a few questions.

    Too bad.

  • thomas m hancock III

    Guys, Griffin will own Rocketdyne. He said in 2010 and 2011 the US needs to keep its rocket engine development base. He’s doing that on his own. What have any of you Griffin haters done for spaceflight today?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    “While America treads water in space the Chinese are catching up fast. ”

    Zounds what has it been between 9 and 7? three or four years…? Zounds catching up fast…wow having a hard time debugging that Soviet era hardware….be still my heart.

    FOX NEWS ALERT…REDS TAKING OVER SPACE OBAMA SAYS “ITS OK GO AHEAD” WHATS NEXT? AL QUEDA MAKES A DEAL TO FLY IN SPACE WITH CHINESE…BUT FIRST FOX BLONDE NEWS BABE CROSSES HER LEGS< GET THE TIVO READY"…

    what a goofball you are. me to, I expected a serious answer. OK back to planting my wifes apple trees…Have to make Al Gore smile RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Griffin is going to be the new CEO of Rocketdyne?

    Considering how badly Griffin managed Constellation and JWST, I don’t have high hopes for them. Luckily I don’t have any money with Chase Bank.

    Regardless who the new CEO is, they are in a pickle market-wise. ULA, if they haven’t started already, will be beating them up on lowering their prices for the RS-68 engine that powers the Delta IV. The RS-27A is only used on Delta II, and that doesn’t have that many launches. And the J-2X is likely to be cancelled when Congress finally kills the bloated SLS program.

    Now maybe the new owners are willing to invest in new technologies, but who would buy them? Not SpaceX. Likely not Orbital Sciences either. ULA? Good luck with that, since it seems that Boeing and Lockheed Martin don’t want to invest in the future of the company. Outside of the U.S. you’re dealing with country-supported industries… it’s a tough market for anyone.

  • Coastal Ron

    thomas m hancock III wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Guys, Griffin will own Rocketdyne. He said in 2010 and 2011 the US needs to keep its rocket engine development base. He’s doing that on his own.

    Uh, no. If Chase Bank is bankrolling the deal (or whoever), then Griffin (or whoever) will be brought in to run the company. That deal may include Griffin getting stock options, and maybe even some direct stock awards, but everything else will be based on the performance of the company.

    And in these types of arrangement, there are clear management goals that are laid out so everyone knows what the metrics are. We’re talking real money here, so Griffin (or whoever) will have pitched a plan that has some plausibility, but otherwise needs to be executed and proved out.

    What have any of you Griffin haters done for spaceflight today?

    Well I didn’t run a $100B program into the ground (Constellation), and almost run an $8B program into the ground (JWST).

    Griffin may be a nice guy to have a beer with, but what lasting legacy has he left? People long for the days before him (spiral development) and are glad for the days after him (Commercial Crew). Maybe Constellation was under-funded by Congress, but you have to get as much done as you can with the budget you have. And once the SLS is finally cancelled, there will be nothing left to remember him by except for an empty Ares launch tower.

  • Rankine Joblesse

    Er … my understanding was that Rocketdyne makes the RS-68. Please do try to keep up. Certainly Allen will eventually be forced to go with hydrogen on his new spaceplane, maybe pumping in from the outboard pylons. Er … pontoons. Or whatever they are called. Also hydrogen will be critical for the moon and he can always use the DOD (Delta IV) and NASA (SLS) as gravy.

    Griffin certainly won’t get involved in much of the engineering here, considering his previous job performance. This is the arsenal crowd.

  • Rankine Joblesse

    Sorry, I misread your post. I also just notice a type in the title of this post.

    What have any of you Griffin haters done for spaceflight today?

    Most of my stuff is freely available in print, some of it from NASA. But what I feel as my most important accomplishment in all of this mess is voting Mr. Griffin out of his job as administrator at NASA. I wish him all the best of luck at his new position in the private sector, and if he reads that stuff carefully he will discover a entire zoo of viable launch vehicles and landers that are technically possible using Rocketdyne products.

    Can I ask the same of you or would that be impolite and impolitic?

  • vulture4

    @ Stephen C. Smith
    Good points all. Except that Obama has failed (so far) to actually cancel Constellation. It is the program that will not die.

  • vulture4

    ” Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!)”

    Compared to MPCV and CST-100??

  • FOX NEWS ALERT…REDS TAKING OVER SPACE OBAMA SAYS “ITS OK GO AHEAD” WHATS NEXT? AL QUEDA MAKES A DEAL TO FLY IN SPACE WITH CHINESE…BUT FIRST FOX BLONDE NEWS BABE CROSSES HER LEGS< GET THE TIVO READY"…

    More “Fox News” derangement from the “right wing” deranged.

  • “Guys, Griffin will own Rocketdyne. He said in 2010 and 2011 the US needs to keep its rocket engine development base. He’s doing that on his own. What have any of you Griffin haters done for spaceflight today?”
    Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!
    No! It’s Griffin riding bareback on a Rocketdyne engine at full thrust!
    :)

  • Robert G. Oler

    vulture4 wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    ” Dragon (what a horrible name for an American spacecraft!)”

    Compared to MPCV and CST-100??>>

    as a fan of Game of Thrones…to me Dragon works pretty well…RGO

  • amightywind

    No! It’s Griffin riding…

    Infantile and crude humor, even for you. I’m a little puzzled that you weren’t censored. Oh, I know why. It is because you are a pinko liberal, so you have an excuse. Rocketdyne is a national treasure. I am glad a patriot like Mike Griffin will run it.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rankine Joblesse wrote @ June 11th, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Certainly Allen will eventually be forced to go with hydrogen on his new spaceplane, maybe pumping in from the outboard pylons. Er … pontoons. Or whatever they are called.

    Why would he by “forced”?

    Also hydrogen will be critical for the moon and he can always use the DOD (Delta IV) and NASA (SLS) as gravy.

    The term “gravy” means that you make far more money selling the product than you do in making it, which would assume that Rocketdyne make lots of money from selling the RS-68. I don’t think it’s clear that they do.

    If Rocketdyne was such a profitable business based on it’s current product offering and current customer base, then Pratt & Whitney wouldn’t be selling them. P&W clearly didn’t see a clear path to strong revenue, so they are looking for someone that has more synergy in that marketspace than they do.

    In order for the new owners of Rocketdyne to succeed, they will need to find new customers or produce new products – or both. We’ll see.

    Regarding “hydrogen will be critical for the moon”, all l can say is that the market for rocket engines is here on Earth right now, and if Griffin (or whoever) can’t make Rocketdyne and their owners a good profit doing that here on Earth, he won’t be around long enough to sell engines to customers on the Moon.

  • MrEarl

    “as a fan of Game of Thrones…to me Dragon works pretty well…RGO”

    OK…… we stick a fork in this topic because I think we’re done here.

    Jeff, next contestant please!

  • Vladislaw

    Coastal Ron wrote:

    “Uh, no. If Chase Bank is bankrolling the deal (or whoever), then Griffin (or whoever) will be brought in to run the company.”

    I heard it might be Paul Allen that is behind the purchase, if so why would they need it if SpaceX is providing the launch vehicle for the strato launcher? Any thoughts?

  • @Mr Earl
    Got to agree with you here. We have gotten a bit far afield from the issue of turning the Dragon into a campaign issue.

    @ablastofhotair
    “Infantile and crude humor, even for you. I’m a little puzzled that you weren’t censored. Oh, I know why. It is because you are a pinko liberal, so you have an excuse.”
    “Infantile and crude” – perhaps I did indeed sink to your level in this instance, in which case I apologize to fellow commenters here. Pinko liberal? A) – you don’t know my political affiliation (if any) and B) to you anybody is a pinko liberal as long as they disagree with you on any issue. You’re the one who promotes a central government designed and developed huge HLV. I would say I’m to the right of you at least on that point, if not many others.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 11:49 am

    “I heard it might be Paul Allen that is behind the purchase, if so why would they need it if SpaceX is providing the launch vehicle for the strato launcher? Any thoughts?”

    Hmm very interesting.

    What is it that Rocketdyne has that SpaceX does not? Something more expedient to “purchase” rather than develop?… Anything to do with hydrogen?

    Also it is politically astute to make Griffin the CEO. A CEO does not work in a vacuum. There is a board they report to. Further you know “everyone has a price” and “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. And Griffin may have just realized that ATK is done and Huntsville is not that great place after all… ;)

  • Dave Hall

    @Vladislaw wrote:
    “I heard it might be Paul Allen that is behind the purchase, if so why would they need it if SpaceX is providing the launch vehicle for the strato launcher? Any thoughts?”

    Notable by it’s absence is anything from Elon Musk and SpaceX on the topic of Stratolaunch. To his credit Musk does what he says, albeit taking longer than hoped for. Which would indicate that there is no actual agreement in place. Maybe Allen wants to pull together the pieces necessary to be as vertically integrated as SpaceX, the most complicated part being the engine manufacture. He can afford to make big plays.

  • Rankine Joblesse

    Why would he by “forced”?

    To get to orbit without any additional staging.

    which would assume that Rocketdyne make lots of money from selling the RS-68. I don’t think it’s clear that they do.

    I was referring to the NASA SLS and DoD RL-10 upper stage engines as well.

    In order for the new owners of Rocketdyne to succeed, they will need to find new customers or produce new products – or both. We’ll see.

    I can think of lots of existing products that will become quite valuable in the future new world of relatively easy full reusability implementation.

    Hypergolics via Super Dracos obviates most of this. I’m not surprised that you haven’t come to this realization yet.

    Regarding “hydrogen will be critical for the moon”, all l can say is that the market for rocket engines is here on Earth right now,

    Full reusability is going to change that real soon now. Apparently that is yet another realization that has escaped you.

  • Vladislaw

    Rankine Joblesse wrote:

    “Full reusability is going to change that real soon now.”

    What year do you realistically see full reusability for cargo?

    For crew?

  • Vladislaw

    “I was referring to the NASA SLS and DoD RL-10 upper stage engines as well.”

    U.S. Air Force Ponders New Rocket Engine

    “The U.S. Air Force is beginning to weigh options for developing a more capable and affordable upper-stage engine for the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets the service uses to launch most national security payloads.

    The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles is giving industry until Nov. 9 to submit ideas for building a next-generation upper-stage engine to replace by 2017 the two versions of the RL-10 engine Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne builds for the Atlas 5 and Delta 4.”

    Did anything ever become of this? P&W would have tried for a contract. If none was awarded to them, maybe one of the reasons for dumping it? The article was about 18 months old.

  • Robert G. Oler

    @Vladislaw wrote:
    “I heard it might be Paul Allen that is behind the purchase, if so why would they need it if SpaceX is providing the launch vehicle for the strato launcher? Any thoughts?”>>

    I do think this is something else “good” from the new era of commercial space and applaud it…but is SpaceX really a part of this?

    I’ve heard that but Musk has never been at the “gatherings” as they say and for the life of me I cannot figure out why he would want to tag up here…there is no real technical or otherwise plus for him RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Whatever Mike Griffin is associated with is doomed to failure. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Rankine Joblesse wrote:

    “Full reusability is going to change that real soon now.”

    You replied:
    What year do you realistically see full reusability for cargo?

    For crew?

    ….10 years maybe for both. Dragons fastest RGO

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    http://www.stratolaunch.com/team.html
    http://www.stratolaunch.com/leadership.html
    http://www.stratolaunch.com/board.html

    Any time launch for DoD for example.

  • Vulture4 wrote:

    Good points all. Except that Obama has failed (so far) to actually cancel Constellation. It is the program that will not die.

    No President has the unilateral authority to cancel or start any program. Bush proposed the cancellation of the Shuttle but he needed Congress’ agreement. Obama had to accept SLS in exchange for extending the ISS and priming the commercial pump.

    If the President had a line-item veto, it would be a different story. But the Constitution grants no such power. The Constitution allows Congress to lump the federal budget into one or two bills and the President has no choice but to sign or veto the whole thing.

    Personally, I wish Obama had vetoed a few bills along the way to show Congress he has no problem telling them to shove it. He’s tried to show he’s a centrist and willing to compromise to get business done. I’m glad that he’s tried, but Congress is filled with extremists right now who won’t understand anything but a slap across the face.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Any time launch for DoD for example.”

    that assumes (and it is a big assumption) that the DoD has an “anytime” satellite.

    I really dont see the “thing” behind the stratolauncher and it has lead me to believe that there is more “there” that is not being made public.

    If SpaceX can make its numbers the DoD could essentially “buy” a few Falcon9’s and Heavy’s and put them in some sort of hanger and role them out whenever they are needed. OK the stratoplane carrier can “fly” to places but thats not as much as it seems…they have to fly from “somewhere” where all the ground support equipment is and then launch from a place where at least some of the parts can “drop” and fall (it seems).

    Plus while the Pacific is big the Chinese are on the verge of their own missile warning satellites (although they are not working on it all that fast) so its unlikely something like that would go “unseen”.

    Is this the modern incarnation of “Black Horse?

    If anything I see the strato people as a competitor to Musk…and good for that RGO

  • Martijn Meijering

    He’s tried to show he’s a centrist

    Eh? Maybe in the sense that he thinks the world is centered around him. ;-)

  • He’s tried to show he’s a centrist and willing to compromise to get business done.

    Really? What color was the sky on the planet where that occurred?

  • Coastal Ron

    Rankine Joblesse wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    To get to orbit without any additional staging.

    Why does it matter if they use a two-stage rocket versus a single stage one? You’re assuming that there is some sort of penalty for using a lower cost SpaceX Falcon rocket versus a much higher cost ULA Delta IV type modified for single staging. Stratolaunch was happy enough with the performance of SpaceX rockets to include them as team members, so what do they know that you don’t?

    I was referring to the NASA SLS and DoD RL-10 upper stage engines as well.

    Other than the SLS (a very small market over the next 10 years), everything else they sell is competing with SpaceX or international alternatives. Where are they making lots of money on their products?

    I can think of lots of existing products that will become quite valuable in the future new world of relatively easy full reusability implementation.

    Hypergolics via Super Dracos obviates most of this. I’m not surprised that you haven’t come to this realization yet.

    The topic is Rocketdyne and possible new products, not their competitors. All you’ve done is point out what everyone knows – SpaceX is not a potential market for Rocketdyne products. I’m not surprised that you haven’t come to this realization yet. ;-)

    Full reusability is going to change that real soon now. Apparently that is yet another realization that has escaped you.

    Again you’re pointing to the efforts of companies other than Rocketdyne – the discussion is still Rocketdyne and your assertions of a bright future under the leadership of Michael Griffin.

    Rocketdyne has to convince rocket manufacturers to include Rocketdyne engines in their rockets. ULA is already working with XCOR to replace the RL-10, so there is already pressure on Rocketdyne to lower costs and raise product performance. It’s unknown if they will be able to compete on an open market, and the more results XCOR is able to show in their test program will make them hard to compete against in the government market too.

    You still have failed to show what markets Rocketdyne could pursue with new products, and who the potential customers would be.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dave Hall wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Notable by it’s absence is anything from Elon Musk and SpaceX on the topic of Stratolaunch.

    SpaceX is still listed as a team member, so why would they have anything to announce? Isn’t validating their Falcon rocket with launches good enough for now?

    Maybe Allen wants to pull together the pieces necessary to be as vertically integrated as SpaceX, the most complicated part being the engine manufacture.

    The Paul Allen rumor regarding Rocketdyne is an old one, and may be related to Griffin being involved and someone assuming that meant Statolaunch was involved too. Time will tell.

    Besides, if you look at how the Stratolaunch business is set up they are using existing systems to lower cost and speed up development and deployment. For them to use a Rocketdyne engine that would mean they would have to jettison SpaceX as their full-up rocket provider and find someone else to build and validate their rockets. That is pretty expensive.

    SpaceX has a great backlog to spread costs, will soon have a good operational tempo, and they have the lowest cost rockets on the planet for their size. What business or technical reasons would there be to change?

  • Coastal Ron

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    If anything I see the strato people as a competitor to Musk

    Hard to be a competitor to yourself – remember Musk/SpaceX are part of the Stratolaunch team.

    I’m sure Musk weighed the trade-offs of winning orders in the various segments of the marketplace, and figures that it’s better to get 100% of Stratolaunch business than none of it. And, of course, it’s standard business practice to starve your competitors of as much business as possible, even if you’re not making a big profit on it.

  • Rankine Joblesse

    Again you’re pointing to the efforts of companies other than Rocketdyne – the discussion is still Rocketdyne and your assertions of a bright future under the leadership of Michael Griffin.

    You need to take a critical thinking class. And I’m being generous. I predict a bright future for them based upon their products and legacy, you nitwit. Michael Griffin would be the kiss of death on Rocketdyne.

    Paul Allen is not Elon Musk and Elon Musk does not yet have a monopoly in the highly competitive emerging commercial space flight industry. You seem to think there is the one true way of doing things. In this market now, there is a true way, It’s called not throwing away your valuable and irreplaceable hardware. Everything else is fair game, so show us your plan.

    Otherwise you are merely another curmudgeon. People are investing now.

    Clear enough? I’ve got better things to do than engage forum arm wavers.

    That’s is pretty expensive.

    Indeed it is, yet people, individuals now, and groups of investors, continue to attempt to do it, independent of your arm waving. If you’ve got an idea, let’s see it. Otherwise I can’t take your continual commenting seriously.

    It’s absolutely old school obsolete nonsense in the post expendable era.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Personally, I wish Obama had vetoed a few bills along the way to show Congress he has no problem telling them to shove it. He’s tried to show he’s a centrist and willing to compromise to get business done. I’m glad that he’s tried, but Congress is filled with extremists right now who won’t understand anything but a slap across the face”

    Rand simberg’s idiotic and ill informed comment aside…Obama’s policy on human spaceflight proves that…and that the GOP are simply extremist.

    If the goal were to actually “have” a human spaceflight program that did something other then funnel money to the favored corporations THEN the GOP House would have embraced the Commercial programs…instead of one Republican after another “standing in the door blocking the way” or “pounding their shoe on the table”.

    Go ask Kay Bailey or Pete Olson (I have and have responses on the record…both knew I was recording the answer and both know I have op eds published in the Chronicle) and it is vitally important that SLS keep the “industrial stakeholders” as a “partner” to allow ” our industrial base which has served us so well since the earliest days of human space flight” (thats Pete) to “continue into the future”.

    Other ideas; like even using EELV’s or of course Falcon9s and Heavies are shunned because “we might need heavy lift to secure the high ground against the Chinese” (thats Olson).

    But all it is is pork…and both have had choice “John Edwards moments” (ie complete babble) trying to explain how they support commercial programs elsewhere but not in human spaceflight (“We need NASA to keep our astronauts, our heroes safe”)

    Obama in my view point has hung on to the center far to long….he has let the GOP drift rightward into Simberg and Whittington land with no real effort at pointing out how badly the GOP has driven right to the rest of the American people. The other day I watched an idiot explain how Reagan had to withdrawl the troops from Lebanon because “the Congress made him”…the Fox news idiot just shoke her blonde hair…

    Obama needs to pounce on this. There is one more Dragon flight before the election…that needs to be a photo op.

    BTW very nice comments RGO

  • Explorer08

    Don’t you space advocates realize that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, gives a damn about space exploration (except a handful of space advocates). This is a total non-issue. You all have spent a lot of time typing responses to an issue that does not exist. The American public could not care less about space than it does right now. I was born in the 1940s and care deeply about space exploration – – I was raised on the books of Willy Ley. But I’ve come to realize that it is a lost cause in this country. I’ve come to grips with that.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rankine Joblesse wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Michael Griffin would be the kiss of death on Rocketdyne.

    Wow, a point of agreement.

    Paul Allen is not Elon Musk and Elon Musk does not yet have a monopoly in the highly competitive emerging commercial space flight industry.

    Let’s keep in mind what the market is that Rocketdyne competes in – pretty much just U.S. Government demand, right? Oh sure, the odd ULA commercial contract, but otherwise it’s ULA and NASA.

    Is that market emerging? No. Is that market highly competitive? No.

    And though SpaceX is not yet launching DoD & NASA satellite payloads, it’s just a matter of time. Will the Commercial Crew program replace that loss of demand? I don’t think so. The only way ULA can compete is by lowering prices, and that means Rocketdyne will be under pressure to lower prices.

    In this market now, there is a true way, It’s called not throwing away your valuable and irreplaceable hardware.

    Ah, you sound like someone that used to post here a while back. New name?

    Well Rankine, RLV’s will be nice, but we’re not there yet. I doubt you’d find anyone against the idea (OK, no sane person), but it will take a long time for the launch providers to perfect the technology, retool, rebuild, and then perfect their new services – all while not losing money.

    SpaceX is the likely leader, and it will take them a few years to prove it out. Imagine how long it will take ULA, ESA, ILS and Roscosmos to convert over?

    People are investing now.

    Not sure what you mean by this. Investing in RLV’s? Sure Allen, Bezos and Musk. They want to become market disrupters, and they are attacking the market from the low end. However it will still take a while. Again, I don’t know who you think is arguing against RLV’s, and Rocketdyne is not even part of the discussion with these three investors.

    It’s absolutely old school obsolete nonsense in the post expendable era.

    Unless you’re from the future, we’re not there yet. And you still haven’t shown how Rocketdyne is part of that future.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 8:19 pm
    “Hard to be a competitor to yourself – remember Musk/SpaceX are part of the Stratolaunch team.”

    Yeah I see them on the web site; I never hear Musk talk “publically” about it…ie stuff that he says that goes into print…that means nothing really.

    I just cannot see why Musk would do this…There might be some “thing” to it…I just cannot figure out why he works on this and a reusable…when clearly the reusable is the way to go…and to launch from the “twin 747″ he is going to kind of have to rework the rocket; particularly with its carry points…that is a non trivial exercise.

    Who knows surely he has a plan and he has made far more money then I have (grin) with his plans so I’ll just sit back and watch. I still think that there is something more to this then just a space launch system…

    but ideas are good. and we certainly have had a lack of them. I still muse over the notion of an updated black horse…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Explorer08 wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    But I’ve come to realize that it [space exploration] is a lost cause in this country. I’ve come to grips with that.

    I tend to agree with those that say the Apollo program was an aberration, or even an impediment to an affordable and steady space exploration program. The Apollo model was too expensive and too limited to sustain, and even the Shuttle program went on for far too long at too high of a cost.

    Money has also been the main reason we haven’t returned to the Moon, and the experiences of the Constellation program, though mismanaged by Michael Griffin, showed that we don’t know how to significantly lower the costs for human exploration.

    Because cost is so important, I see the latest efforts to lower the cost to access space as the first step towards restarting our exploration efforts. We’ll be lucky if NASA doesn’t lose more of it’s budget, and it’s highly unlikely it will ever get more money. So the only alternative is to find ways to lower costs.

    So when I see commercial spacecraft reaching the ISS, and more coming, I see the start of a strong foundation that will let us restart our space exploration efforts – through public/private partnerships, or even private efforts on their own. I’m excited about the future.

  • DCSCA

    @Explorer08 wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    ‘I was born in the 1940s and care deeply about space exploration – – I was raised on the books of Willy Ley. But I’ve come to realize that it is a lost cause in this country. I’ve come to grips with that.’

    Perhaps. Nobody said space exploration was exclusive to the United States and, of course, the Soviets led the way. Bear in mind, Ley died a month before Apollo 11 and missed it and the rest of the Apollo landings and explorations. You didn’t. Nor did you miss the Voyager flybys, the two Viking and subsequent Martian landings as well as several other deep space exploration probes, the wonders revealed by the HST and generations of crewed space stations. You’ve been pretty lucky. Most of the basic parts of our solar system are today, actual recognized ‘places’ now, not mere points of light with imagined realities. And that’s a good thing, just 42 years after Ley passed on.

    In Willy Ley’s day, similar attutudes to your current fret prevailed and only a handful of dedicated advocates pushed to make space exploration a reality through some disintested and decidely lean times, beyond the leather-bound voyages of Wells and pulp comic strip sci-fi adventures later seen as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials in Saturday matinees for a nickel. Some savvy marketing by Ley, von Braun and the likes of Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, etc., w/t help of TVs Walt Disney, movies George Pal, the Collier’s series primed interest ignited by some opportune Cold War timing as Sputnik and Gagarin came racing across the skies. Goddard’s line to Wells back in 1932 about generations discovering “the thrill of just beginning’ aiming at the stars remains valid. See how ‘Curiosity’ ‘thrills’ in August if survives and arrives on Mars. And consider yourself lucky, you were alive to experience ‘the thrill of just beginning’– Ley and hundreds of other were denied, like Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Tsiolkovsky, not to mention Goddard himself. They only dreamed of many of the realities you experienced- but believed they were inevitable realities all the same. Someone will go. Somebody will press onward and outward. Whether it’s American led remains to be seen.

  • Rand simberg’s idiotic and ill informed comment aside.

    [splitting sides with laughter at the idiocy]

    Pot, there’s a very black kettle on line two.

    Oh, wait. Was that racist?

    C’est la vie.

  • Vladislaw

    “Don’t you space advocates realize that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, gives a damn about space exploration (except a handful of space advocates). This is a total non-issue. You all have spent a lot of time typing responses to an issue that does not exist. The American public could not care less about space than it does right now.”

    Support for NASA/space is a mile wide and an inch deep.

    That said, Americans like to see a lot of firsts in space. During the heady days of the space race, firsts were generated at a pretty fast clip and people liked the headlines. As far as the day to day .. kinda like sausage, you don’t want to watch it getting made.

    You just saw an example of it in the NASA – SpaceX partnership. There was a series of firsts and SpaceX has milked it for a lot of free press.

    So it might be that Americans don’t want to dig into the nuts and bolts of it they do like know we are advancing, making those first downs and strings of firsts means just that.

  • DCSCA

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 12th, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    “Obama needs to pounce on this. There is one more Dragon flight before the election…that needs to be a photo op”

    Except he won’t.

    And based on recent events, Seth Meyers needs to pounc on it as fodder for a SNL skit, instead:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9288212/SpaceX-boss-mistook-Barack-Obama-for-cold-caller.html

    “SpaceX boss mistook Barack Obama for cold caller

    Elon Musk has revealed how he almost hung up when Barack Obama telephoned to congratulate him on the successful launch of his company SpaceX’s first craft into orbit, because he mistook the President for a cold-calling salesman.”

    The program was initiated out of the Bush VSE, as Romney will rightly claim and then instantly pivot and point to the Solendrya bankruptcy and the Obama era investments lost in the electric car industry (as reported in a CBS network news package ten days ago) to reinforce his free market vs. gov’t selection pitch. Sober up, Breed.

  • Jeff Foust

    This discussion has long since run its course and is now closed.