Campaign '12

Ryan: “we need a mission for NASA”

Coinciding with the release of a space policy white paper by the Mitt Romney campaign, his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), mentioned space in a campaign appearance in Orlando:

A transcript:

The space program strengthens the entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness. It launches new industries and new technologies. President Obama campaigned quite a bit around Florida on the Space Coast in 2008 and made lots of promises. This is one of those other broken promises. We have presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years. He has put the space program on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space. Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take them there. [boos] China may someday be looking down on us from the Moon. That’s unacceptable. Mitt Romney and I believe that America must lead in space. [applause] Mitt Romney and I believe we need a mission for NASA, a mission for space program, and we also believe that this is an integral part of our national security.

Since it came up both in Ryan’s speech and the white paper, it’s worth remembering that the reliance on the Russians for access to the ISS is something that predates the Obama Administration: under the Bush Administration’s Vision for Space Exploration and NASA’s implementation of it, there was always a planned gap of several years between the retirement of the shuttle (in 2010) and the introduction of a replacement transportation system (by 2014 in the original VSE documents, a date that was slipping to the right as NASA worked on Orion and Ares 1.)

Also, as in the white paper, Ryan doesn’t indicate what the “mission for NASA” should be, other than that it should be a different one than under the current administration.

102 comments to Ryan: “we need a mission for NASA”

  • A M Swallow

    What can NASA do in:
    a. 3 years (1 presidential term)?
    b. 7 years (2 presidential terms)?
    c. 11 years (3 presidential terms)?

    Possible items include:
    1. Getting regular commercial manned spacecraft flights to the ISS.
    2. Putting a test space elevator on the Moon (we can build one on the Moon but not the Earth).
    3. Building a prototype space habitat in LEO. Reuse as a spacestation.
    4. Building production space habitats at EML-1/2, Moon Base, Mars Base and Mars or Phobos orbit.
    5. Adding a big rocket to a space habitat to produce a manned Mars Transfer Vehicle.
    6. Completing Project Morpheus and using it to put probes on the Moon and possible Mars.
    7. Upgrading the Morpheus lander to land people on the Moon and return them to the EML-1 spacestation.
    8. Building supply rockets and spacecraft for the spacestations.

  • vulture4

    I don’t see any evidence that Ryan understands why we are buying rides from the Russians, or that he is willing to taise taxes even a dollar to pay for a new moon race. Nor does he understand that Obama did have a coherent plan but has been stimied by Congress.

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is coupled with a statement on Mittens facebook page with an endorsement by Pete Pork Olson TX-22. Pressed on “his” facebook page Olson nor one of his flunkies (whoever runs is facebook page) could not identify a reason other then Willadr will “provide leadership”

    Having received a poor reception (booed) at the AARP, an organization that is composed of one of the few voting blocks that R2 can count on…all Ryan is doing is spouting talking points with no clear idea as to why they are like they are or the decisions behind them (all decisions made by Republican administration officials).

    This is typical R2 boilerplate “trust us we will do better”.

    Obama wins this 52-48…320 in the EC. Mittens campaign is imploding. As of Sunday he leads in no major polls, is only tied in the tracking polls and behidn is almost every national poll…the state numbers are worse.

    RGO

  • Vladislaw

    Ryan understands. He voted for all this. He was the on budget committee. He earned the name “lyin’ ryan” for his convention speech. Nothing new here.

  • mike shupp

    I know what! Let’s build a moon base! That’d be different from anything Obama wants. And when we get enough people up there, we can make them a state! Somebody said something like this during the Republican primaries, I recall, so you know it’s a good, voter-tested idea.

    Let’s seize every opportunity to thank Romney and Ryan for their contributions to the manned space debate and invite them to expand upon their plans for the media.

  • adastramike

    We should build a Moon base. In preparations for a future Mars base. To learn how to live in and operate such a base on another celestial body. And look, we’ve been granted one right in Earth orbit…4 days away.

    A Moon base at any cost? No, of course not. Is there only one way to get back to the Moon? No, not that either. There’s got to be a more affordable way to get humans into a lunar base that was previously planned. Then push forward on to Mars. Hopefully a lunar base and Mars base using international cooperation.

    A Moon base to become a state? No. That’s not for the gov’t to fund. Perhaps a private firm could do that — but obviously not without significant gov’t infrastructure. Besides, the public isn’t ready for Moon colonies applying to become a state. A future Moon colony of thousands would probably want some type of independence. In any case, the public is barely ready to visit space themselves. We’ll have to wait until it grows on them. But as for me, I’d like to see those lights shining from Armstrong base at the Moon’s south pole. How long will we have to wait?

  • Robert G. Oler

    mike shupp wrote @ September 22nd, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    with the Pete Olson endorsement Willard put out a thread on his facebook page on space…its one loon bin after another commenting…the Chinese are going to take over the Moon and then sell us He3…RGO

  • Mary

    Politics aside, both Congress and NASA decided to bank everything on an experimental risk ( monopoly ) instead of building a reliable launch vehicle for crew & cargo with proven hardware to reach the ISS and LEO.

  • DCSCA

    “Mitt Romney and [Lyin'Ryan] believe that America must lead in space. [applause] Mitt Romney and I believe we need a mission for NASA, a mission for space program, and we also believe that this is an integral part of our national security.”

    Except they don’t.

    And we got a good look at Mr. Romney’s attitude on it both in the primaries with his dismissive responses to Newt and with his nebulous specches along the Space Coast. To borrow a familiar refrain from Oler- they’re “Goofy.”

    “The space program strengthens the entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness.”

    He doesn’t know squat about it. Lyin’ Ryan’s already discredited himself in. Even the AARP booed him. . For God’s sake he was still in diapers during Apollo.

  • DCSCA

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 22nd, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    “Obama wins this 52-48″

    Yep. Agreed. Maybe even by a wider margin- my bet is 8 percentage points, Possibly an EC landslide- barring Obama is outted as a living, breathing Vulcan- the Trek kind, not the Bushy kind. Certainly his space policy, regardless of your position on commerical vs. government ops, is a more viable suite of options than what romney has to offer- which 44 days out is zip.

  • In the video, Ryan told the audience they were “here in the Space Coast.” Actually, they were 50 miles away in central Florida. So much for that.

  • The Orlando Sentinel has a story this morning that NASA has submitted to the White House a plan to start building a human outpost at L-2 starting in 2019.

    Documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show that NASA wants to build a small outpost — likely with parts left over from the $100 billion International Space Station — at what’s known as the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a spot about 38,000 miles from the moon and 277,000 miles from Earth.

    At that location, the combined gravities of the Earth and moon reach equilibrium, making it possible to “stick” an outpost there with minimal power required to keep it in place.

    To get there, NASA would use the massive rocket and space capsule that it is developing as a successor to the retired space shuttle. A first flight of that rocket is planned for 2017, and construction of the outpost would begin two years later, according to NASA planning documents.

  • A M Swallow

    mike shupp wrote @ September 22nd, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I know what! Let’s build a moon base! …

    Just do not call it a moon base. Try ‘experimental lunar habitation centre’.

  • Martijn Meijering

    instead of building a reliable launch vehicle for crew & cargo with proven hardware to reach the ISS and LEO.

    No new launch vehicles were needed, the existing EELVs were already reliable enough for crew and cargo.

  • Egad

    A first flight of that rocket is planned for 2017, and construction of the outpost would begin two years later, according to NASA planning documents.

    Although an EML2 station strikes me as the best bet for HSF at present, I think we should be a bit cautious about the Orlando Sentinel report and wait to see if there’s any follow-up. For one thing, the “two years later” part may indicate the NASA document(s) it’s based on are a bit dated. If they’re talking about leaving EM1 at EML2, the possibility of a 2019 date seems to have fallen victim to the budget:

    NASA ADVISORY COUNCIL
    Human Exploration and Operations Committee
    July 23-24, 2012
    Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD
    MEETING MINUTES

    Mr. Hill noted that EFT-1 is baselined; EM-1 and EM-2 are not yet baselined, primarily because of the budget. The 2017 flight is driven by the core stage; the 2021 flight is driven by the full-up Orion. The Program was not able to pull the schedule back because of the flat-line budget.

  • Paul Gottlieb

    Lemme see if I can remember a few dates…

    Bush announced the decommission of shuttle in late 2004. NASA responded with a plan to launch cargo and then crew on an EELV system. They Bush appointed Mike Griffin at the beginning of 2005 who immediately cancelled the EELV option in favor of the ill-fated Ares program that NASA itself had internally rejected in 2003.

    At what point does this become Obama’s problem…?

    The human spaceflight program is effectively over… as it should be. It was kept on life support by the Florida, Alabama and Texas delegations with the backing of pork-loving contractors. NASA’s leadership under Griffin refused to acknowledge the simple reality that human spaceflight is too costly (in dollars and lives) to be of much interest to a nation straddled with a $16T debt, high unemployment, and severe competition from abroad.

    Paul Ryan’s feeble attempts to stir a crowd add up to just another stupid gaff by a team of blue blood bozos. Any talk of moon bases and Mars expeditions is so patently ridiculous as to brand the utterer a loon.

    This is the age of robots – plain and simple. LEO space is the domain of commercial systems, as it should be. When humans venture beyond LEO again it will be decades in the future using new and affordable technologies. Space whiners should stop lamenting the loss of things like Shuttle and use their energy back at the drawing boards. And when a politician like Ryan attempts to score points through lies he should be told to ‘stuff it’.

  • James

    @ Stephen Smith, re Orlando Sentinel article:

    If someone came to Romney and said “I want to build a gateway outpost at the Earth Moon L2 point”, he’d fire ‘em

    If approved, look for funding to never show up in the amount the sand chart says is required. Typical business as usual.

    Obama is not going to want to make any commitments, other than vague hand waving pronouncements, during his 2nd term, regarding his ‘Mars Vision’. Keep it way out in the future….

  • josh

    “the 2021 flight is driven by the full-up Orion.”

    so let me get this straight. by the time this apollo replica is operational it will have been in development for 16 years?

    16. years. seriously?

  • amightywind

    Good for congressman Ryan. He is plugging into a powerful issue in Florida, the NASA malaise. Ryan is wise to point out that collaboration with the Russians is as absurd. Obama has done nothing to curb it. No wonder the world’s depots favor the re-election Obama. Go Mitt!

  • Mary

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ September 23rd,

    “The Orlando Sentinel has a story this morning that NASA has submitted to the White House a plan to start building a human outpost at L-2 starting in 2019….”

    “It ( would..? ) gives purpose to the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System rocket,…” LOL.

    Instead of using leftovers for a hodgepodge, how about building a habitat station to study the effects of artificial gravity and radiation shielding. You would need to scrap the SLS for an affordable delivery system.

  • “Ryan is wise to point out that collaboration with the Russians is as absurd.”

    Okay here, but…

    “Obama has done nothing to curb it.”

    Let me introduce you to two words you may have missed in the last few years, involving reducing reliance on Russia (say it with me): Commercial…Crew.

    Oh, that’s right, your idea of eliminating that problem is, instead of having cheaper, domestic access to LEO, to splash ISS, leaving us with nowhere to go, AND no way to get there for over a decade…which is the minimum time necessary to get anyone on (not simply orbiting) the Moon via SLS (on the highly unlikely assumption that ISS operations money will simply be re-allocated to lander development…or that SLS will ever be finished), and with little more on-surface capability than Apollo, if it happened.

  • Martijn Meijering

    An L1/L2 gateway station is a good idea, but it’s too soon for it. It would consume a lot of money, but would not provide a lot of extra demand for launch services. Consequently it would not accelerate the development of radically cheaper space launch. And since that is the #1 capability we lack for meaningful manned spaceflight, all our efforts should be directed towards it. That means spending as much money as possible on commercially procured launches, and as little as possible on expensive space hardware like a gateway station. Propellant in support of exploration is the most plausible payload, since it’s cheap and we’d need lots of it. Even an unmanned program could make use of it, and that may be our best bet given the budget situation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 6:32 am

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 22nd, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    “Obama wins this 52-48″

    Yep. Agreed. Maybe even by a wider margin->>

    Yeah there are some poll models out there by “names” (Charlie Cook even Luntz) that have some trends that could do just that. I am reluctant to start even “thinking that” until I see the first debate. Thats the last round in the magazine for Willard if he has a good one that could as Noonan notes get him on a spiral upward but for now all he is doing is flat spinning in.

    If he cannot etcho sketch his way there then the trends could start really rolling downhill for him.

    We are moving into a moment in American history that is not “unique’ but it is to use the title of the book ” a game changer”…American history is full of times when there was “another fork in the road” then the one taken and it usually comes down to a moment or so that is as it is being done not well executed (ie it seems clumsy in real time) but that matters not…

    150 years ago yesterday Lincoln used executive power to undo Dred Scott and it essentially had no result BUT what it did was crystalize the moement after a major battle to shift the course of the civil war.

    This election is one of those events. You can read or watch Paul Ryans speech in either Orlando (where space is mentioned) or go to his real roof raiser at the AARP and you sense that the moments of times with empty or false rhetoric are coming to an end.

    Ryans space speech is just a lot of “rah rah” trying to substitute for policy statements which at least on the part of the GOP team are very very unpopular given even half a hearing

    ” He has put the space program on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space. Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take them there. [boos] China may someday be looking down on us from the Moon. That’s unacceptable”

    it is setting up a false premise (maybe someday China might be looking down on us from the Moon….a goofy statement in itself) and then arguing against it.

    Obama has many faults and I am quick to point those out…but in the main he does not do just that. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Egad wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 10:04 am

    yes there is zero chance that in a NASA and federal budget that are under enormous pressure this “concept” is more then well viewgraphs…although I think it is a neat idea…I would rather do Nautilus. RGO

  • A M Swallow

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Propellant in support of exploration is the most plausible payload, since it’s cheap and we’d need lots of it. Even an unmanned program could make use of it, and that may be our best bet given the budget situation.

    The propellant depot needs some spaceships and missions to burn the fuel.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    We should build a Moon base. In preparations for a future Mars base. To learn how to live in and operate such a base on another celestial body.

    But why? This idea needs a reason, and you don’t hear many reasons.
    In their defense, the Romney space policy doesn’t endorse this strategy, of going because it’s there. A good space policy will be founded on reasons, and not on destinations. The embarrassment of space cheerleaders is that they spend all their time spouting about the latter, instead of seriously considering the former.

    One reason could be species security. Is that it? Congress has never told us that’s a need. Until they admit that, it’s daft to pretend that it’s a national priority. Resource development? That’s a joke. The value of off-world resources (e.g. water) is precisely determined by the need for it off-world. So it’s a circular argument. National pride and inspiration? I dunno. Having Americans twiddling their thumbs on the Moon as they try to survive there isn’t going to impress or inspire many people.

    What space needs is a narrative. A picture to aspire to. Not a technical, engineering, or scientific narrative, but a national value narrative. The President is the person who creates such a narrative (OK, call it a “vision”) and is the flag carrier for it.

    Romney’s attempt at narrative, expressed in his space policy white paper, is founded on leadership and security. Those are his reasons, which may or may not be justifiable. You’ll note that destinations aren’t a part of Romney’s plan. That’s smart. Security? The white paper singles out “space-based information capabilities” as pretty much the only justification for those reasons. I’m not even sure what he means by that.

    This white paper serves the need of a placeholder for well thought out ideas. But there are no well thought out ideas or space narrative in this white paper. It’s more a white paper (which characters printed on it) than policy with reasons. Now, FWIW, there’s nothing better coming out of the Obama administration, though his one-time commitment to landing humans on a NEO is hardly a narrative.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    FWIW, the EML spacelab is pretty much independent of SLS, if NASA wishes. The proposal, as I understand it, is to build it from components in LEO, probably actually docked to the ISS, using EELV-class launchers. Once complete, it would be sent out to the EML-2 point using a one-off chemical propulsion system.

    SLS’s role will be to use essentially the EM-2 archetecture, which is sufficient to send a crewed Orion to EML-2 with sufficient fuel to carry out an autonomous return. The plan therefore works well as it requires the only version of SLS that is definately on track to appear (the Orion test flight version with modified Delta-IV upper stage) and needs no new launch hardware for its assembly phase.

    Whilst there is no doubt that this program would be quicker and easier if SLS were operational, it doesn’t strictly require it, even for its crewed phase. The Falcon Heavy and also the EELV Phase-1 upgrades would be able to launch a Dragon or Cygnus to the EML-2 point for cargo delivery and, if a BEO version of the Dragon’s crewed variant were developed, could even launch crew rotation missions. Even the possible eventual deployment of a reusable hypergolic lander could be done using multiple phases, orbital rendezvous and propellent transfer. Yes, SLS Block-1B could punt a fuelled lander out there with one launch but, once again, it isn’t strictly critical, just something that makes it much easier to carry out the mission.

    Really, IMO at least, the EML-2 represents a ‘safe first step’ for post-Shuttle NASA HSF. It’s a BEO goal that is not really LV-critical and indeed could possibly survive using only commercial launchers of types either currently available, shortly to be deployed or relatively easy to develop and deploy. It thus should be able to survive anything but a total HSF shut-down. It would even provide useful information about the human body’s ability to function beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere and has the advantage over the lunar surface in that you don’t need a lander and rendezvous manoeuvre for crew return in the event of an emergency.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The propellant depot needs some spaceships and missions to burn the fuel.

    The spacecraft can be its own depot, so we don’t need a dedicated depot. But yes, we need a spacecraft and missions. A spacecraft that just sits there (gateway station) isn’t very useful for generating demand for launch services. A spacecraft that goes to the moon, NEOs, Mars or beyond would be. It need not be manned.

  • Coastal Ron

    The Augustine Commission was really tasked with assessing where we were with the Constellation program, so using it to base a forward looking exploration program was not the best idea. A starting point, sure. But not the last word.

    To establish an exploration goal and plan, relying on politicians to come up with worthwhile plans is kind of backwards. Here we have a huge space community made up of science, academia and industry, but they are not being consulted BEFORE a plan is determined.

    I don’t know if this is been done before, but what I would really like to see is a “competition” put in place that focuses on developing well thought out plans. Ideally I would not want industry-led teams, as I would want them to be “resources” – identifying and quantifying capabilities they can offer. In fact I’d really like to see the industry as a whole updating a catalog of services they could offer to every team, both in fungible categories (10mt-to-LEO, 20mt-to-LEO, crew-to-LEO, etc.) and unique (Russia offers the FGB, JAXA HTV, etc.). Yes, this should be an international effort for any that want to contribute, but certainly starts out as an American effort to determine our space goals.

    A blue-ribbon panel of experts should pick a range of winners, but ultimately it’s up to the politicians to determine which one they want to support and fund. But at least they will have well thought out plans to choose from (with pre-announced price ranges), not wishful thinking choices.

    I think a process like that – open and visible to the public, and hopefully with lots of public involvement – would produce an exploration plan that is more likely to survive long-term with lots of broad support. And ultimately it will get us farther out into space than probably any current plan by any current politician.

    My $0.02

  • DCSCA

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 8:16 am

    “In the video, Ryan told the audience they were “here in the Space Coast.”

    Actually, they were 50 miles away in central Florida. So much for that.”

    LOLOLOLOL Details, details… Lyin’ Ryan strikes again. Good get, Smitty. Maybe he needs GPS– and could then try to pitch it as the ‘space spin-off’.. which would tick off the DoD, of course. ;-)

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Well, we’ve got a pretty good picture of his skill sets for debates in unscripted moments- stilted and flailing based on video from when Teddy’s beat him through the primaries this year. Think about it-given the number of candidates on stage and the 80 minutes of Q&A, he wasn’t asked too many questions -just stood there and smiled. And when asked anything, he responded vaguely with a slap down to Perry– or most memorably, with respect to space, Newt- with that’ I’d fire any manager who came into my office talking of moon bases” etc. With that mind set in place already he’s not gonig to warm to fresh space ops initiatives. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. For the purposes of our space interess, Obama’s the way forward for the next half decade or so- for better or worse.

    @amightywind wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 11:18 am

    “Good for congressman Ryan.” In fact, Windy, nothing has been ‘good’ for Lyin’ Ryan– particularly this week- since he foolishly accept the Veep spot. His credibility is in tatters and even the AARP booed him. Now his musings on space are as vaporous as boil off from a creeky ol’ Saturn. 60 days from now he’ll be a 42 year old footnote to history.

  • Das Boese

    adastramike wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 12:21 am

    We should build a Moon base. In preparations for a future Mars base. To learn how to live in and operate such a base on another celestial body. And look, we’ve been granted one right in Earth orbit…4 days away.

    This rationale for a moon base has been discussed here before, and unfortunately it’s nonsense. The reality is that a moon base is little to no help in preparing for a trip to Mars because the only thing that the two bodies have in common is that they’re somewhat large and made of rock. They’re very different environments with very different challenges. For example the biggest problem currently facing prospective Mars explorers is surviving the trip, a moon base is no help there at all.

  • Das Boese

    I was half expecting Ryan to be a young Earth creationist, which would add delicious hypocrisy to his speech, but it seems he indeed follows the catholic church’s official stance. Oh well. It’s not like he has a shortage of other deplorable views and qualities.

  • Coastal Ron

    Even Gingrinch isn’t impressed with the Romney/Ryan plan:

    The Romney plan for space starts to move in the right direction but could be much more robust,” the former House speaker told NBC News a day after the Republican presidential nominee unveiled his “Securing U.S. Leadership in Space” plan. “We could move into space much, much faster than we are. Romney is better than [President] Obama on space but could be bolder and more visionary.

    Yet another indication that a “bold” space plan is not a prerequisite in this election year.

  • Vladislaw

    Paul Gottlieb wrote:

    “Lemme see if I can remember a few dates…
    Bush announced the decommission of shuttle in late 2004. “

    Actually President Bush gave the Vision for Space Exploration speech, where he outlined in broad strokes that the STS would finish building the the ISS and then be retired, in Jan. 2004. It was followed by the Policy Document The Vision for Space Exploration, Feb. 2004.

    The Space Shuttle was scheduled for a Sept. 2010 retirement, at which point funding for commercial crew, was supposed to start under COTS part IV Capability – D.

  • mike shupp

    Das Boese wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “This rationale for a moon base has been discussed here before, and unfortunately it’s nonsense”

    I beg to disagree. If we learn how to protect residents of a moon base from cosmic rays and other radiation, we can probably do that for humans resident anywhere else in the solar system. If we can get a reliable and resiliant food production system (hydroponics, gardens, etc.) working on the moon, using local resources, then we probably can do that elsewhere in the solar system. If we can bake or tear down lunar rocks to extract oxygen and water and building materials, then we’ll have a decent idea of how to do that elsewhere in the solar system. If we can extract chemicals for fueling rockets and metals for building rockets and computer circuit boards and household furnishings from lunar materials then we’ll be able to do that elsewhere. If we can keep people healthy and happy for long periods of time in a lunar setting we can hope to do that elsewhere. If we can raise children who develop as normal human adults in a lunar colony we can hope to do that elsewhere. Etc.

    We want to reproduce human societies on other worlds. This is going to require some effort, some time, and some cost. The moon is close and convenient and it’s an excellent testing grounds.

    We should build a moon base. We should build a settlement. We should build a colony. And yes, we should build an independent lunar nation.

  • I was half expecting Ryan to be a young Earth creationist

    That would be an ignorant expectation. I’m always amused by Europeans who imagine they understand American politics.

  • Gary Warburton

    Ironic isn`t it. The very people that Ryan and co-optatives have accused Obama of making a mess of space policy are the very people that have done everything they can to obstruct his space policy and the chance to develop cheaper space vehicles to bring down the cost of space travel. They are the same people who have forced the1970`s SLS on the U.S. at great expense to the American people. Oh please no, Mr. Heinrich Munroe another narrative is the last thing we need. Please no more superlatives and grandiose platitudes. What we need is cheap space travel.
    To RGO you`re right. Building Nautilus X would be be a much more productive enterprise than wasting billions on a 1970`s era SLS at least you`d have something useful when you were finished.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Das Boese wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I was half expecting Ryan to be a young Earth creationist, which would add delicious hypocrisy to his speech, but it seems he indeed follows the catholic church’s official stance. Oh well. It’s not like he has a shortage of other deplorable views and qualities.>>

    No he is just appealing to a lot of people who are “young Earth creationist” folks. The most delicious thing in this years election if you love ironies is that the “religious right” is voting for a guy who is part of a religion that is simply “non Christian” while claiming the incumbent, who worships in the Christian faith, does not.

    It is an amazing self deception RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    mike shupp wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    If we learn how to protect residents of a moon base from cosmic rays and other radiation, we can probably do that for humans resident anywhere else in the solar system…

    While the general goals may be the same, the solutions are likely too specific to each specific planetary body to be worth being an exact analog. In other words, what works on the Moon may not work on Mars, so if the goal is Mars, the Moon may not be a good testing ground.

    We should build a moon base. We should build a settlement. We should build a colony.

    Congress might consider funding that…

    And yes, we should build an independent lunar nation.

    … but there is no chance in hell that Congress will fund any of that if our investment won’t be under our control. Isn’t that obvious? I mean really, are you that naive?

  • DCSCA

    Das Boese wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    “This rationale for a moon base has been discussed here before, and unfortunately it’s nonsense”

    Except it’s not.

    @mike shupp wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    “We should build a moon base. We should build a settlement. We should build a colony. And yes, we should build an independent lunar nation.”

    Somebody will. Someday. Most likely it will eventually follow the Antarctica model for eastablishing a foothold for international research outposts. .

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    It’s desperate- and the inevitable de-evolution of this 30 years spiral down. Like the last Edsel off the line. They’ve jumped the shark with these two. Obama’s space policy is our best way forward, for better or worse.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    I beg to disagree. If we learn how to protect residents of a moon base from cosmic rays and other radiation, we can probably do that for humans resident anywhere else in the solar system. … If we can raise children who develop as normal human adults in a lunar colony we can hope to do that elsewhere. Etc.

    But why? See above.

    Ah, it’s all in the “Etc.”, right? Really, you just aren’t presenting any kind of real rationale. It isn’t fair to splutter “B.. bu… but, it’s OBVIOUS!” Welcome to the space policy cheerleaders club and their rationale-deprived world.

    You can come up with a fantastic implementation plan, as you’ve reached out for here. But you haven’t said why. Is it humankind’s destiny to move out into space? Destiny ain’t rationale. Not even close.

  • pathfinder_01

    “was half expecting Ryan to be a young Earth creationist, which would add delicious hypocrisy to his speech, but it seems he indeed follows the catholic church’s official stance. Oh well. It’s not like he has a shortage of other deplorable views and qualities.”

    In the US, the republican party got in bed with thoose loons. Regan may have courted the religious right for votes but he did little of the things they wanted. Over time part of the Republican Party’s base has embraced the RR but the RR does not have enough votes to win you a Presidential election and getting too far in bed with them can turn off independents as well as energize the liberal parts of the Democratic Party. Basically the right fears that the Democrats will turn us into a liberal, Godless, Gun less, socialist, European nation and so long as you play to thoose fears you can win a nomination. However playing to thoose fears can be costly in other ways.

  • mike shupp

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 7:50 pm,,,,

    I don’t think I’m especially naive. I do think the various restrictions on claiming lunar and planetary resources embedded in the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty are not going to go away, no matter how much libertarians want them to. IOW, the rest of the world is not going to look on approvingly if the US decides to make a piece of the Moon a 51st state, a piece of Mars a 52nd state, etc. Just as we’d likely object if China started openly absorbing parts of the heavens as provinces. Ultimately, it strikes me, if they’re successful, outer space settlements are going to be independent. We should face that from the start — we should proclaim that from the start and organize our efforts in that direction.

    Look at it this way: The USA got its independence from England a couple of centuries back, India got independence about two thirds of a century, and from a suitably 18th century perspective, colonies like Australia and Canada have become independent from Mother Britian. And who here would argue now that this has all been A Bad Thing?

  • mike shupp

    DCSCA wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 7:55 pm …

    I don’t see Antarctica as a promising model for settling the heavens. As a start, perhaps — I can imagine a moon or Mars with a dozen or so little bases with crews of scientists and the like. But that’s got limits — no one is raising kids at McMurdo Sound or settling into their Golden Years at a Ross Shelf Retirement Community. Morover, no one is selling Macdonalds’ franchises at Little America or buying mining rights next to the South Pole — owning Antarctic resources is verboten. Antarctica isn’t a nation, in other words, it isn’t even a bad copy of a nation.

    If self-sufficient colonies ever are established in space, they’re going to have to have control of their basic resources. The alternative is that they be no more than company towns, effectively run by earth-based governments or corporations, and the historical record suggests that colonies run as company towns don’t turn out well. Consider Tasmania or Santa Dominga or Zimbawa or South Africa.

    The other big reason for independent colonies is that by their existence they would make the “Common Heritage of Mankind” notion of the Moon Treaty and Outer Space Treaty obsolete — and I think this would be excellent.

  • mike shupp

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 8:19 pm …

    Y’know what? I think it’d be a really good thing if human beings colonized the planets and larger moons of the solar system, and even went on to colonize the planets and moons of other solar systems. I can sort of justify this by pointing to contemporary American politics and social mores and saying “This is not what I want the human race to be doing for the next hundred million years.” But I don’t really have to. I’ve got a preference. It doesn’t harm children or frighten horses, so I don’t need any other excuse. You don’t like it? Tough.

    You want to know something else? I like opera better than a lot of rock music. I don’t know who all the New & Important movie stars are. I haven’t read all the collected works of David Foster Wallace. I’m an agnostic rather than a good Christian. I think climate warming is something to worry about, and economic stagnation, and I rather think I could support a single-payer healthcare system in the US. I prefer brunettes to blondes, Porsches to Chevrolets, apple pie to cherry, chocolate ice cream to strawberry, and mountainsides to plains. And besides spaceflight, I’d like to see more federal support for oceanography and particle physics.

    And guess what? I don’t HAVE to justify any of those things.

  • DCSCA

    @Das Boese wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    You want to understand him, read Rand. Author Ayn Rand, that is..

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ September 23rd, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    “I’m always amused by Europeans who imagine they understand American politics.”

    In fact, they do pretty well, particularly as many American political consultants have been hired by European pols over the years to advise their campaigns. Common knowledge in political circles.

  • DCSCA

    @mike shupp wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 3:01 am

    “I don’t see Antarctica as a promising model for settling the heavens.”

    “The heavens”- not necessarily. The moon, most likely– at least in the time frames of a few human life spans. Antarctica, the ISS, etc, those platforms and support operations are pretty much how it will go someday, aside from a ‘flags and footprint’ run by the PRC in the here and now of this time to hallmark this century as theirs. A dozen ‘little bases’ provides a multiple of 12 for failures. Keep it centralized and simplified. One modest-sized base should do it for a start. The real area to then concentrate on is developing ops for the servicing syatems, hardware, etc., to maintain it– public and private. That and experience in off-planet habitation techniques can be transferred to eventually press on outward. If you’re looking for ‘self-sufficency’ it won’t be coming anytime soon- a century or two off, easy. In the immediate time frame, the tie to Mother Earth will remain strong– but the crawl away from the cradle will have begun.

  • Vladislaw

    “Ultimately, it strikes me, if they’re successful, outer space settlements are going to be independent.”

    With their own standing armies to enforce their independence? To be 100% independant of earth .. I believe would take a couple centuries?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    It doesn’t harm children or frighten horses, so I don’t need any other excuse.

    My goodness. This is your rationale? Wow. That’s Musk’s rationale for his money, and I buy it. That’s Branson’s rationale for his money, and I buy it. This is your rationale for my money? Sorry …

    And guess what? I don’t HAVE to justify any of those things.

    Guess what yourself. If you ask the taxpayer to do them, you had certainly better justify those things to him/her. I completely respect your opinions about what you would do with our money, but I just don’t think those opinions count for much without rationale for how they serve my needs.

    I’m actually surprised you couldn’t respond more cogently to my challenge.

  • Justin Kugler

    Ron,
    The NRC is already assembling an interdisciplinary panel to review human space flight programs, plans, and priorities, as the 2010 Authorization Act called for. Though the period for initial public comment is over, I’ve been hearing very good things about the people being interviewed for the committee and they are the sort that are very much interested in the notion of public engagement and of creating and managing value.

  • Value Challenge

    ’m actually surprised you couldn’t respond more cogently to my challenge.

    So you agree it’s private enterprise’s responsibility to locate and track potentially hazardous asteroids with new dedicated instrument arrays located in earth and solar orbit? NASA can’t even get a hitchhiker instrument added on to a commercial geosynchronous satellite in any reasonable timeframe.

  • Coastal Ron

    mike shupp wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 2:36 am

    I do think the various restrictions on claiming lunar and planetary resources embedded in the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty are not going to go away, no matter how much libertarians want them to.

    Not just Libertarians – any body that wants to settle or mine the Moon and beyond.

    Look at it this way: The USA got its independence from England a couple of centuries back, India got independence about two thirds of a century, … And who here would argue now that this has all been A Bad Thing?

    Ask England about that right after the U.S. declared independence.

    You look at the situation from the new country standpoint, about how great it is to start off with all this stuff paid for by the previous owners, but the previous owners (i.e. Congress in this case) aren’t going to be anxious to spend the money on the Moon if they can’t control the result. That was my point.

    And, as others have pointed out, other than “it would be nice”, there is no compelling reason for the U.S. to fund such an endeavor. There is not even a compelling reason to go back to the Moon, and there hasn’t been one for 40 years beyond “because it’s there”.

  • Coastal Ron

    Justin Kugler wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 9:03 am

    The NRC is already assembling an interdisciplinary panel to review human space flight programs, plans, and priorities, as the 2010 Authorization Act called for.

    Which is OK, but it’s not a competition of the scale I was suggesting, and it won’t draw in our best & brightest to come up with competing ideas for how best to explore space.

    For instance, for the open competition I’m thinking of, it would become readily apparent what transportation systems were the most applicable and valuable by how looking at how many of the teams & plans utilized them. It would also become readily apparent which ones had little to no demand, which is great feedback for the transportation industry (which at this point includes NASA too with the SLS).

    I see a competition as helping us to spend our exploration money as efficiently as possible, and I think it will generate more interest in space overall because it has involved more people in the initial planning. Panels don’t do that as well, but competitions don’t normally happen without an initial commitment to spending money – and there is little money to commit at this point anyways. Oh well…

  • Justin Kugler

    Ron,
    I think the NRC panel is a good start for a community that has traditionally relied on Presidential leadership and Congressional goodwill to function. The competition you describe is much more feasible after NASA actually has clear missions of demonstrable value to the nation. We’ve got to take this back to first principles before we consider architectures.

    Of course, I also think that such competition will arise organically as we shift from having a national “space program” towards more of a “space ecosystem” where people are working to bring the resources of the Solar System within our economic sphere. Exploration will eventually be the proverbial tip-of-the-spear, but not the bulk of US activity in space.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “If we can bake or tear down lunar rocks to extract oxygen and water and building materials, then we’ll have a decent idea of how to do that elsewhere in the solar system. If we can extract chemicals for fueling rockets… then we’ll be able to do that elsewhere.”

    This is not true. For example…

    The easiest way to get water and oxygen on Mars is to melt it out of the permafrost and polar ice. Cracking rocks on the Moon isn’t going to give us a “decent idea” of how to do this.

    The easiest way to get propellant on Mars is to extract it from the atmosphere. Again, cracking rocks on the Moon isn’t going to help us “to do that”.

    “If we can keep people healthy and happy for long periods of time in a lunar setting we can hope to do that elsewhere.”

    Unless they live practically their entire lives deep underground, homo sapiens isn’t going to live for decades on the Moon, Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system. After just a couple years of exposure, the cosmic radiation induces higher rates of cancer that are considered unacceptable on Earth and would shorten many lifespans by tens of years. We’re going to have to modify the human body (genetically or cybernetically) or engage in terraforming (or its Island One equivalents) to live entire lives off Earth. Massive, Earth-based research is need to pull off those kinds of achievements, not putting astronauts on the Moon.

    “If we can raise children who develop as normal human adults in a lunar colony we can hope to do that elsewhere. Etc. … We want to reproduce human societies on other worlds.”

    It’s a nice dream, but the reality of conceiving, bringing fetuses to term, and raising children in these radiation-bathed, alternate-gravity environments is nil at best and nightmarish at worst.

    “The moon is close and convenient and it’s an excellent testing grounds.”

    It’s really not. Just comparing the Moon and Mars, the gravitational gradients are very different, the solar fluxes are very different, the temperature regimes are very different, one world has an atmosphere and the other doesn’t, the the communications time lags from Earth are different by two orders of magnitude, etc. — even the most worrying toxins are radically different on each world. You really can’t take descent, structure, power, thermal, life support, or even comm systems — or operational procedures for that matter — for the Moon and apply them to Mars (or vice-versa).

    “We should build a moon base. We should build a settlement. We should build a colony. And yes, we should build an independent lunar nation.”

    There may be reasons to establish a lunar base. But building systems and experience for other destinations is not one of them. And unless we’re going to consign generations to a subterranean existence, settlement/colonization is not one of them, either.

  • Coastal Ron

    Justin Kugler wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    The competition you describe is much more feasible after NASA actually has clear missions of demonstrable value to the nation. We’ve got to take this back to first principles before we consider architectures.

    Maybe. I just keep thinking though that one of the reasons we have had little expansion out into space is because we’ve used the wrong models.

    For instance, most of the time it’s been a proposal to do something, and an estimate is given to kind of quantify it. Most of the time those numbers are backed into, or are just semi-educated guesses, so money is not really the first consideration.

    What if a funding commitment was given up front, contingent on a worthy winning proposal. That is where a competition works best. Let’s say a $10B exploration program was put out for competition, with the general goal to be to A) Do Something New, and B) Helps Us Get To Mars. For the semi-final round of winners, you could even extend the competition to show what that proposal could do for $20B, which gives everyone an idea of what the next step would be and how long it would take with each approach.

    I think we have come far enough with our capabilities so that this would be possible. The lack of an SLS hasn’t kept us from exploring space, it’s been the cost. So we need to adopt ways to do space exploration that are more efficient, even though we’re still trying to figure out the technologies and techniques to survive away from Earth.

    Our current model certainly isn’t that good, so I don’t see the downside to experimenting using methods known to work in other situations. Competitions, when used with the proper controls and motivations, can be very good at creating innovative solutions.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    So you agree it’s private enterprise’s responsibility to locate and track potentially hazardous asteroids with new dedicated instrument arrays located in earth and solar orbit?

    I never said anything of the kind, so please don’t make stuff up. That comment has nothing to do with the issue of human space flight, and learning how to live in and operate on another celestial body, which is what the discussion was about. Sheesh. Not going to ask you to locate or track anything.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    it won’t draw in our best & brightest to come up with competing ideas for how best to explore space.

    Re the upcoming NRC study on human space flight, I think that committee could well draw in our best & brightest to come up with ideas about why humans should go into space to explore it. Those ideas needn’t be scientific or technical, but must be ideas that appeal to the values of the taxpayer. In fact, I’m very much hoping that this won’t be a committee of scientist and engineering graybeards. Of course, to the extent that it isn’t, the NRC will be very much out of its mileu. The NRC doesn’t know how to run committees of people who are experts in what can be termed the popular consciousness.

    This comes back to my point about rationale. It’s more than where we want to go or development of transportation systems. It’s why we want to go, and how such visits by human bodies serve real national needs.

  • Value Challenge

    That comment has nothing to do with the issue of human space flight, and learning how to live in and operate on another celestial body, which is what the discussion was about.

    This thread is about NASA’s mission, not necessarily the human space flight mission, and the subject was value. Many believe that value should include necessity and priority along with cost and return and have simply gone about doing what NASA demonstrably cannot or will not do, particularly in regards to human space flight, but also in the area of urgent national scientific priorities. I don’t see why we should cut NASA any slack considering their performance in these areas, and I don’t see why we can’t legitimately question the dogma of human space flight in any argument.

  • mike shupp

    DCSCA wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 6:03 am …

    “If you’re looking for ‘self-sufficency’ it won’t be coming anytime soon- a century or two off, easy,”

    That’s fine. We’ve a long time before The Heat Death of the Universe makes the time period critical. The US spent close to two centuries being bossed around by England after all. What’s important is that progress be made … and be seen as made.

  • mike shupp

    Vladislaw wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 8:06 am …

    “With their own standing armies to enforce their independence? ”

    Beats me. Consider that San Marino, Andorra, Luxemburg, Lichtenstein, Singapore, the Vatican, and various other places claim to be independent states, and most of us take this seriously — despite their small armed forces.

    I’m not arguing that the Moon needs to be a military titan, IOW. I’m arguing that people around the world who might be troubled by having the Moon as a US colony might agree that an independent state, which just happened to be set up primarily by the US, might be acceptible, or even A Good Thing.

  • mike shupp

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 8:46 am …

    The point is, your “challenge” can’t be responded to. I think the human race would be happier and richer in the long run — over centuries — if we expand into space. But how can I PROVE it? How can you disprove it?

    You want to argue that the taxpayers won’t buy the notion, I gather. So what? I can recall a time when most taxpayers thought blacks and whites shouldn’t eat at the same lunch counter. I can recall a time when most people were convinced the US military would fall to pieces if openly gay persons became servicemen. Times change, opinions change.

    Other hand … if you really want to be insistant, Why do people still watch Star Trek reruns, or go to movies like Avatar, or post pictures of scenes of other planets on their websites, if they’re all being as practical as you would like to think? Have we really eliminated human interest in Outer Space from modern consciousness? Do we actually want to?

  • mike shupp

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 10:31 am

    “There is not even a compelling reason to go back to the Moon, and there hasn’t been one for 40 years beyond “because it’s there”.

    Yes, and we all gather here at Space Politics and NASA Watch and Space America and similar websites every day, so we can all tell each other how happy we are about this.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    “A good space policy will be founded on reasons, and not on destinations.”

    Try large circular holes in the ground.

    Just to be upfront about my thinking and biases, since 1997, when I realized NASA’s impact hazard estimates were way too low, I have thought that dealing with the impact hazard via Moon based detection systems was the only project that would keep manned space flight going through tight economic times, and I still think that is the case.

    Several skilled space engineers came to the same conclusion later – CAPS, the Comet and Asteroid Protection System. It is now my thinking that that 2000 CE study has influenced China’s space planners.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi pathfinder –

    “In the US, the republican party got in bed with those loons. Reagan may have courted the religious right for votes but he did little of the things they wanted. Over time part of the Republican Party’s base has embraced the RR but the RR does not have enough votes to win you a Presidential election and getting too far in bed with them can turn off independents as well as energize the liberal parts of the Democratic Party. Basically the right fears that the Democrats will turn us into a liberal, Godless, Gun less, socialist, European nation and so long as you play to thoose fears you can win a nomination. However playing to thoose fears can be costly in other ways.”

    Personally, I blame the mess on Richard Nixon, who went after the George Wallace vote. If you look at the state votes, its the Confederacy plus mountain states – it looks like 1860.

    When the Democrats are the Party of fiscal responsibility, you know you’re living in strange times.

    You have to remember that whoever gains office, they’ll have to deal with the impact hazard, and the community of impact researchers will have to deal with them. That extends not only across political party lines, but across the lines of political systems.

  • Googaw

    A good space policy will be founded on reasons, and not on destinations. The embarrassment of space cheerleaders is that they spend all their time spouting about the latter

    It’s the faith-based space program, where the only reality is that of sympathetic magic: launch astronauts today and it obviously follows that we will launch more astronauts tomorrow. Voodoo doll space development. The destinations are the stations of the Pilgrim’s Progress from low places to high: the Next Logical Steps of the heavenly theology. For true believers these holy reasons are self-evident. No profane reasons of material reality are needed except to dupe the taxpayers. And even then only economic fantasies of grandiose cosmic “infrastructure” and “laboratories” are deemed necessary.

    One reason could be species security. Is that it?… The white paper singles out “space-based information capabilities” as pretty much the only justification for those reasons. I’m not even sure what he means by that.

    By “security” Romney clearly has in mind national security — the crucial role space-based assets play in our national security, and the need to protect other space-based assets. And it’s obvious what the “space-based information capabilities” are — the assets that NRO, NSA, and the military used to gather intelligence, communicate with our forces, and navigate. Secondarily commercial satellites, and tertiarily a variety of environmental (e.g. weather and climate) satellites. Protecting all this from a variety of weapons that a variety of powers have deployed or could deploy is indeed a very huge concern of the DoD.

    Romney might simply be hinting that he’ll propose a budget that moves funds from NASA to USAF efforts to protect said assets. Such a transfer of funding from economic fantasy to practical space development would be a powerful move in furtherance of his stated goals. Such a transfer would also be consistent with the Ryan Plan to drastically reduce non-defense discretionary spending over the upcoming decades.

    There’s actually one very interesting astronaut project that might be consistent with Romney’s goals, depending on what NSA and NRO think of it. That is the “White Fleet” project I have proposed before — sending astronauts to do a first-hand survey of all the satellites in GEO. Blacking out our own classified military and intelligence birds, of course, but publicizing those of our military and economic rivals. As with any other astronaut mission this would be largely symbolic — NRO or USAF almost surely already have good close-up pictures of every satellite up there, and as with any other affordable job in space unmanned machines can do it far more efficiently. But a White Fleet would far more than any other plausibly fundable HSF mission demonstrate the leadership leg of Romney’s goals. With a few EVAs our heavenly but very American heroes could in front of a global audience paste U.S. flags and “We Own the Heavens” decals on several of our the more dramatic spacecraft that our nation has up there. Secondarily, they’d also scrape surface samples of paint, thermal blankets, etc. for scientific and engineering analysis.

    Far more than any other plausibly fundable HSF destination, there’d be plenty of novelty for engineers, security analysts, space historians, and taxpayers to discover and see — far more practically important and visually interesting than boring rocks, and infinitely more so than vacuum. It would be far more exciting than any other plausibly fundable HSF mission.

    Of course, such a mission partakes much too much of the actually reality of space development to attract the various sects of the astronaut cult. EMLs being innocent of any actual space development are still holy sites. With GEO by contrast a great host of demons have paradoxically escaped into the heavens. All those pictures of actually productive unmanned satellites would be unmitigated heresy.

    And of course we are supposed to forget that national security is actually the predominant practical use the U.S. makes of space, pretending that we “come in peace for all mankind”, and in such a view returning astronauts to their military origins would also be a damnable heresy. U.S. Presidents have gotten away with assassinating foreigners using robot drones — but could they get away with publicizing the security aspects of space? White Fleet or otherwise, by invoking national security alongside NASA when discussing space policy Romney has surely opened a big can of worms.

    And naturally a White Fleet would partake of the foreign policy differences between Romney and Obama. Despite knocking off Osama and deploying those killer robots, it’s hard to imagine Obama promoting such an assertive foreign policy move in space except as a reaction to some perceived or actual foreign policy blunder that he politically must atone for.

  • Googaw

    That comment has nothing to do with the issue of human space flight, and learning how to live in and operate on another celestial body, which is what the discussion was about.

    It’s hilarious how the cult deems off topic any discussion of any space activity of actual practical use to people on earth. Or as the fanatics of yore used to call such ideas that contradict received dogma: heresy. In this case, it is heresy to suggest that the topic of the original post, “a mission for NASA”, could be anything but a preposterously expensive astronaut extravaganza that is of no use except for learning how to do further preposterously expensive and useless astronaut extravaganzas.

  • When the Democrats are the Party of fiscal responsibility, you know you’re living in strange times.

    On what planet did that happen?

  • Coastal Ron

    mike shupp wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    Yes, and we all gather here at Space Politics and NASA Watch and Space America and similar websites every day, so we can all tell each other how happy we are about this [i.e. a lack of a compelling reason to go back to the Moon].

    For this website, we are dedicated to talking about the politics of space, and destinations and other such things are but side issues.

    However I guess I could have qualified my statement by adding “for $100B”, which seems to be the starting price for getting back to the Moon. No one knows of a compelling reason to spend $100B for a couple of short trips to the Moon. The last time we went it was for political reasons, not to settle the Moon, learn how to do ISRU, or other such space-geeky pursuits.

    The space telecommunications industry is able to be mostly operated as a purely commercial market (Ariane 5 is government subsidized), but everything else we’re doing in space is taxpayer funded. NASA’s portion of that is about $18B/year, and everything we’re going to do in space exploration-wise – building the MPCV & SLS, operating the ISS, building and operating the proposed EML-2 research station, and even lunar-specific hardware if someone does designate the Moon as a NASA destination again – all of that has to fit within that $18B/year budget.

    That’s not much. Recalibrate your expectations accordingly.

  • mike shupp

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 25th, 2012 at 1:19 am ….

    “all of that has to fit within that $18B/year budget…..”

    Hmmm, yes, but you might reflect that the tazpayers have been happily shelling out roughly 50 billion bucks per year for various DoD and NSA satellite programs, most recently highlighted by the X-37B orbital vehicle. So for strict honesty you might say that the taxpayers spend 65-70 billion per year on space programs without much objection.

    Let me suggest that it’s quite plausibe that 4 years from now we might find ourselves here at Space Politics with you explaining to me that NASA is only a ten billion dollar pere year program, and I must be realistic. And I might respond by saying that lumping together civilian and defense programs, the taxpayers are shelling out over a 100 billion dollars a year for space. This is not really unimaginable, is it?

    What I’m trying to suggest is that that 18 billion per year figure is quite a fungible one. God didn’t write it down on a stone tablet for Moses; the Founding Fathers neglected to specify it in the Constitutuion, and it wasn’t imposed upon us by Earl Warren’s Supreme Court. The number can change, possibly quite drastically, and people can come to accept it. You might reflect that in 2009, as part of the government’s fiscal stimulus program, Congress boosted Department of Energy funding from just over 26 billion to about 45 billion for the next two fiscal years. Taxpayers conspicuously failed to revolt. Hmmm?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Try large circular holes in the ground.

    I have no problem with that. NEO impact mitigation is an extraordinarily good reason for space efforts. But the relevance of circular holes in the ground to human space flight continues to elude me. The question with Mr. Shupp was about justifying human space flight.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Why do people still watch Star Trek reruns, or go to movies like Avatar, or post pictures of scenes of other planets on their websites, if they’re all being as practical as you would like to think? Have we really eliminated human interest in Outer Space from modern consciousness? Do we actually want to?

    They do it for entertainment. And going to the movies is really pretty cheap (if you don’t buy snacks!) We’re talking value, as in national return per dollar.

    Unless a real case is made for human space flight … one that touches upon national needs more than just making jobs, yes, human interest in Outer Space from modern consciousness will self-eliminate. I think species preservation is a wonderful case, but one that Congress doesn’t seem to want to touch with a 10-foot pole. Is it about “inspiration”? Geez, it isn’t hard to inspire people when you fling tens of billions of dollars around.

    The challenge is the narrative. The storyline. The picture you create in peoples minds. The picture of a kid gazing out through a space helmet over a lunar horizon is really not one that makes me want to empty my pockets. It’s pretty cool, but the value is questionable. The picture of a grizzled lunar miner with a pickaxe over his shoulder, fondling a nugget of unobtainium in his glove is also pretty cool, but not one that is a strong argument for federal investment.

  • common sense

    What a hodge-podge of nonsense.

    Likening social advances to HSF and interstellar travel and entertainment? Really?

    NASA and DoD budgets mixed together? Any understanding that with the DoD excuse we can sell anything to the public or try to (.e.g Chinese invading the Moon)? That it has nothing to do with NASA, HSF or Avatar and cannot and should not be mixed with NASA or civilian space.

    Wonder why the public at large does not take the space advocacy community seriously?

    Thanks for making our work even more difficult. But at some point I hope (I know hope springs eternal) that said community will grow up…

    Then again Romney will double NASA’s budget if elected right?

    Oh well.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    Its the size and active nature of the required detection instruments.
    See the CAPS report. I believe all of the technical restraints still hold.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Googae

    “It’s hilarious how the cult deems off topic any discussion of any space activity of actual practical use to people on earth. Or as the fanatics of yore used to call such ideas that contradict received dogma: heresy”

    Yes. As a long time “heretic”, googaw, I can tell you that the fantasists still don’t get it: We already are in space, passengers on spaceship Earth.

    While it is hilarious, it hasn’t been that much fun. I am looking forward to the day when NASA steps up to dealing with the impact hazard, so that I can have some fun thinking about manned Mars systems.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Rand –

    That’s right here on planet Earth.

    Further, Rand, if you look at the sources of federal revenue, and where that money was spent over the last 50 years, you’ll see that the federal government has been transferring wealth from the old industrial base to the “New South”.

    In my opinion, that goose is dead, and the leadership of the southern States are going to have to face up to its responsibilities to their constituents, and stop looking for Federal handouts. Its long past time for them to be looking for handouts to repair the damage from the Civil War.

  • Coastal Ron

    mike shupp wrote @ September 25th, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hmmm, yes, but you might reflect that the tazpayers have been happily shelling out roughly 50 billion bucks per year for various DoD and NSA satellite programs, most recently highlighted by the X-37B orbital vehicle.

    If you don’t know the difference between the defense of our country and space exploration, then we have nothing to talk about.

    What I’m trying to suggest is that that 18 billion per year figure is quite a fungible one.

    And as you mentioned, it could indeed go down. Other than our desire/wish to explore and understand what is beyond Earth, there is no immediate need to do anything exploration in space. We could, as Googaw prattles about, push it off to our distant descendants, and it would not affect the outcome of our lives.

    My point is that there is a finite amount of funding that Congress is willing to give NASA, and absent some sort of National Imperative, we seem to have reached it. In fact if you look at NASA’s funding levels over time, NASA’s budget has been in decline for decades. The desire of Moon & Mars groupies hasn’t changed that over the decades, so what makes you think Congress would change it now? Especially in these tight financial times?

    If space exploration planners don’t recalibrate their grand plans & budgets, then be prepared for more mediocrity.

  • Robert G. Oler

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ September 24th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    When the Democrats are the Party of fiscal responsibility, you know you’re living in strange times.”

    that has only happened because the GOP notions on fiscal responsibility have become with this election demonstrably insane.

    From Space policy to afland to the economy Obama is winning because Romney is 1) self destructing and 2) is peddling things that are simply no longer selling to anyone but people whose grip on reality is simply tenuous.

    This is why in interpreting Romney’s space policy the “beloved” have invented a lunar return for him. RGO

  • Ken Murphy

    Coastal Ron:
    “The desire of Moon [...] groupies hasn’t changed that over the decades, so what makes you think Congress would change it now?”

    This Moon groupie is pretty indifferent to politics, regarding it as 99% mental masturbation and 1% real (though not necessarily good) results. This Moon groupie regards any project that requires funding from NASA for its implementation as suspect, akin to the “secret ingredient” Step 2 in the famous South Park Underpants Gnomes business plan:

    1) Brilliant Moon idea
    2) ??? [NASA Funding]
    3) Glorious Moon Future for All World Peoples!

    This Moon groupie does not buy into the “Please Mr. Politician, make me a space promise, and I promise I’ll try real, real hard to believe it!” mindset. This Moon groupie also does not but into “Cults of Personality”.

    There are some very interesting changes on the horizon which may allow for more capital to be directed into the space industry. This Moon groupie believes that the United States has an -absolute- commercial competitive advantage in the space industry, but also believes that a mindset that the government will make everything space happen for us is holding us back. Because we will be forever waiting for the government to make everything space happen for us as Congress plays with its money basket.

    This Moon groupie believes that it is the enterprise and the initiative of the citizenry that makes the United States great, not its government. This Moon groupie is working to unleash that, so that the nation may work towards a more prosperous and abundant future for the generations of children yet to come.

    Is that the Moon groupies you were talking about?

  • Coastal Ron

    Ken Murphy wrote @ September 25th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    This Moon groupie believes that the United States has an -absolute- commercial competitive advantage in the space industry, but also believes that a mindset that the government will make everything space happen for us is holding us back.

    I don’t know about the “absolute” part, but I agree that as a whole we have no peers.

    But I kind of see those two points as two separate things – not really related. For instance, the commercial goals of U.S. companies are not related or oriented toward going to the Moon or even doing the type of basic space research that the ISS does.

    Because we will be forever waiting for the government to make everything space happen for us as Congress plays with its money basket.

    Again, not to quibble, but I don’t agree with “forever”. I think the work the ISS is doing is the right direction for the U.S., and improving upon our logistics ability (cargo & crew) is a win-win too. There is a place for government in doing basic R&D and building infrastructure in order to pave the way for commercial exploitation. The SLS doesn’t help that, but that just shows how inefficient our political system is – and that has been that way for over 200 years.

    This Moon groupie believes that it is the enterprise and the initiative of the citizenry that makes the United States great, not its government.

    Yes, I’m a card-carrying capitalist too. Tamp down the rah-rah.

    Is that the Moon groupies you were talking about?

    It’s not the unbridled desire to go the Moon, it’s the lack of any sane plan that I wanted to point out. Here we are 40 years after Apollo, and the following quote still applies:

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

    Apollo was a political plan to demonstrate America’s superiority over the Soviet Union, not really a desire to explore the Moon. Trying to recreate the program without the accompanying political need of some kind just doesn’t work.

    If we’re going to get back to the Moon, it’s going to be because it’s become affordable within our existing capabilities – that all we need to develop is the “last mile” hardware. Until we focus on the affordability issue, Moon groupies will continue to be disappointed.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Its the size and active nature of the required detection instruments.

    That’s what circular holes in the ground have to do with human space flight? Is that what you’re saying? Haw haw.

    For your information, CAPS asteroid mitigation was a plan that *could* make use of human space flight. As in, if human space flight planners were in desperate need of something for astronauts to do, CAPS could find some things for them to do. In no way, shape or form was human space flight an integral or required component of CAPS. A human attended lunar base was considered to be potentially “synergistic” infrastructure. But that’s about it. Please go ahead an dig through your decades-old CAPS documents and show me where human space flight is identified as offering value to CAPS.

    Let’s see. So big space efforts need humans on site? That, I guess is why JWST has a human being strapped on the side. Active nature requires humans on site? Whoa, put on the brakes, Curiosity! Or maybe the fast-slewing DOD surveillance satellites? Yeah, there must be a stool for an astronaut to sit on up there and grab the steering wheel.

    Size and active nature of detection instruments requires human space flight? That’s rich.

  • Googaw

    Unless a real case is made for human space flight …

    But discussions of making people or things in space useful to people on earth are the last things the cult wants to enter into seriously. Actual space development is the farthest thing from what they actually want to think of. Why such paradoxical mentality, you might wonder? Don’t they want to make our diapered heroes useful?

    The problem is, once we get down to nuts and bolts and financial books of actually doing useful things in space, unmanned machines can do most such tasks far more efficiently, and we can’t come anywhere close to affording the rest. Scientific exploration, weather and climate observation, monitoring of land and sea, communications, intelligence, navigation — name the financially rational task useful to humans on earth and the unmanned machines are what get the job done.

    Besides the our-missiles-are-bigger-than-yours mania which was the main motivation of the Cold War space race, the main case that has been made for astronauts in the past was that rocket rides and houses for our precious Buzz Lightyears were “infrastructure”. This kind of “thinking” gave us the Shuttle and those monstrous white elephants called space stations. These proved to be what practical people all along said they were: economic fantasies that disrupted the efforts of real space commerce, security, and science.

    Today’s euphemism for useless diapered extravaganzas is “exploration”, but real exploration — scientific discovery — is another of those things that unmanned machines in space do with far greater effectiveness at orders of magnitude less cost than on-site people. The planetary science budget is already far too small to support extravagant doll houses, and it is shrinking.

    The only politically sensible reasons for HSF that even approach today’s political budgets would be some Apollo-like need to demonstrate the leadership of the U.S., or of the U.S. among a group of invited allies, but done on a SpaceX-style shoestring budget. A foreign policy effort to show off our strength, a la Apollo and (the original Teddy Roosevelt) White Fleet:

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

    The only example of such a possibility that has ever been presented that comes anywhere close to plausible rationale for an HSF mission in this half century is the GEO White Fleet proposal described above. The great strength of the United States in space is our sophisticated system of unmanned spacecraft, most easily shown off by taking a tour of what we have in GEO. In this new White Fleet astronauts would do what they’re best at, being showmen to show off our actually useful machines, and those of allies who follow our lead.

    But even though astronauts would be an important part of this mission the new White Fleet would deal far too much in the actual reality of space development for the cult to handle. So expect continued avoidance of reality and the resultant favoring of grandiose retro-futuristic doll houses in orbits and on bodies innocent of any actual space development. Albeit, one thing is to be said in favor of such fantasies — at least unlike Shuttle they don’t even try to interfere with reality. I dread the damage the cult could do to real space commerce and security in GEO by twisting the White Fleet idea into one of their centrally planned infrastructural fantasies. But since that would involve far too much contact with reality for their comfort, I’m not much going to worry about it.

  • common sense

    “But discussions of making people or things in space useful to people on earth are the last things the cult wants to enter into seriously. Actual space development is the farthest thing from what they actually want to think of.”

    This is a totally ludicrous and preposterous statement. NASA’s direction is to precisely do that.

    Whatever.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Googaw –

    “So expect continued avoidance of reality ”

    I have come to expect a vigorous avoidance of reality by most space enthusiasts. People believe what they want to believe, and will do the best they can not to have those beliefs upset.

    The problem with the space science budget is the cost overrun on Weiler’s telescope.

    As I stated before, there are some vital tasks that currently require men instead of machines.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi mike –

    “We want to reproduce human societies on other worlds”

    Who is “we”, mike?

    Whoever “we” is, it does not include me. The construction and maintenance of impactor detection instruments should require minimum human presence.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi micheal –

    “For your information, CAPS asteroid mitigation was a plan that *could* make use of human space flight. As in, if human space flight planners were in desperate need of something for astronauts to do, CAPS could find some things for them to do. In no way, shape or form was human space flight an integral or required component of CAPS.”

    Factually incorrect, michael. The engineering task was to come up with the best impactor detection and protection system.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Sorry, Heinrich.

  • E.P. Grondine

    PS –

    The JWST is not operational yet, Heinrich. About the only rich thing here is Weiler’s JWST cost overruns.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Today’s euphemism for useless diapered extravaganzas is “exploration”

    Astutely put.

    That “exploration” word is a dangerous one. No one really understands what “space exploration” means, except it somehow involves putting boots on rocks. Robotic science? No way, people would say! That’s “discovery”. Exploration to them is about risk, danger, hardship, and proving oneself in meeting new places. That being the case, I’m just hard up to understand why the taxpayer ought to be paying for it.

    there are some vital tasks that currently require men instead of machines

    For space? Name one. Oh, exploration …

  • Vladislaw

    Would the white fleet be space based?

    If space based how would refueling be handled, through a commercial fuel station, or direct refueling?

    What kind of propulsion would you propose?

    How long would you propose a tour would last? A couple months? A year?

    How large of crew per ship? Would they be various classes? Spiral design from the “destroyer” to the “Battleship”?

    The white fleet had 16 battleships, how many spacecraft the same 16?

    The fleet made port of calls in various countries, would the fleet dock at various space stations? (ISS – Bigelow)

    I actually proposed something like this in a blog post, had an arguement with Rob Coppinger over it. I said .. let’s go were the property rights are already established and where hundreds of billions of our assets are located.

  • DCSCA

    @Googaw wrote @ September 25th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    “But discussions of making people or things in space useful to people on earth are the last things the cult wants to enter into seriously.”

    And it’s backwards. The ultimate objective is not to draw space into the sphere of 10 mile deep gases we live in but to adapt to and expand out into the larger unversal vaccum and its variet of alternative worlds it presents. Fish swiming in their tanks aren’t trying to to get the ‘universe’ they view through the glass into the water with them.. Just the food. ;-) .

  • mike shupp

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ September 25th, 2012 at 8:42 pm …

    Whatever turns you on, dude.

  • Googaw

    Would the white fleet be space based?

    It’s a mission, not a base or a station. The whole budget should not exceed $15 billion, and much less than that would be even better. No more than half of that should be spent on launching and housing the astronauts, and ideally less than a third. The rest on unmanned spacecraft which would do more than two-thirds of the work. The astronaut part is just one SLS/Orion launch, including a return stage, although if you can figure out how to do it with a less expensive rocket and Dragon all the better. The unmanned spacecraft in the flotilla can be launched much like any other satellite to GEO.

    Such a mission only needs to be flown when foreign policy would particularly benefit from such a show of capabilities, or when we need to reward a few allies by putting them in the elite club of partners for this mission, or some combination of both. It gives us some other foreign policy levers one example of which I describe below. It would also be a great STEM deal, showing off a wide variety of interesting and practically useful spacecraft that have been operating in GEO over the decades.

    What kind of propulsion would you propose?

    Chemical propulsion to get into a near-GEO orbit (slightly above or below and thus slowly drifting along GEO). Then some storable propellant for up-close maneuvers and perhaps some SEP, ion or Hall thrusters, for small orbital changes (e.g. to temporarily enter GEO itself to get up-close with or even non-cooperatively dock with a satellite). And propulsion for the return trip.

    How long would you propose a tour would last?

    As long as is feasible given the radiation dose with minimal shielding, and what supplies fit in an Orion or Dragon capsule for a crew of three, along with some on-board equipment. (The vast majority of the useful equipment would be in the accompanying unmanned flotilla). Visit as many satellites as possible until the lifetime radiation dose is approached or they run out of water, whichever comes first. The unmanned machines in the fleet can stay up far longer.

    How large of crew per ship?

    No more than three.

    The white fleet had 16 battleships, how many spacecraft the same 16?

    Only one manned capsule. The rest of the fleet would be unmanned spacecraft “armed” with good lenses and cameras, and perhaps some remote-control smallsats to non-cooperatively dock, do laser-sputtering spectrography of spacecraft surfaces (like Curiosity does with rocks on Mars), and x-ray spectrography, seismography, or other characterization of the internals of some satellites. Ask our satellite engineers what they want to learn about how their birds have faired over long-term exposure to the GEO environment, our intelligence analysts what they want to learn about what countries’ spacecraft, and our foreign policy folks what embarassing secrets about our foes they want to reveal, and put the corresponding instruments up there. There’s also a bit of pure science to be done. Some surfaces provide information on solar and cosmic radiation in GEO. Some might also hold retrievable samples of interstellar, cometary, asteroidal, lunar, or other interesting kinds of dust — a crude and unintended version of the Stardust mission.

    The “White Fleet” label could refer either to this temporary flotilla or to our existing fleet of large unmanned security and commercial spacecraft in GEO some of which we’d be showing off on this mission. The main purpose of the label is a loose foreign policy analogy to Teddy’s White Fleet of yore, not to the technical design of our mission.

    Optionally these remote-control spacecraft, or the astronauts themselves on EVA, or both, can take samples of exposed satellite surfaces to return to earth. These samples will contain a variety of information about the behavior of materials in the GEO environment of interest to engineers and scientists. The capsule requires some ability to take in small sample modules. However if this drives up the costs above the aforesaid budget forego this option.

    The White Fleet would develop skills we’d need for much later (second half of 21s century) manned missions to asteroids, Phobos/Deimos, or similar. The White Fleet would be a prototype for a slightly saner exploration architecture in which unmanned portions do most of the work, and astronauts serve as the faces of the mission along with doing a few tasks as long as they are there. Instead of just schlepping Buzz Lightyear doll houses around the solar system and calling that “exploration”. Not that developing capabilities for future exploration should be a multi-billion-dollar consideration when spending taxpayer dollars — the White Fleet has to be justified primarily by its foreign policy benefits — but said pale constellation should please the cult in this regard, if they can get over the idea of having to work with all those unmanned spacecraft.

    The fleet made port of calls in various countries, would the fleet dock at various space stations?

    Um, no. There are no space stations in GEO. There are several spectacular football-field sized radio dishes, some big solar power arrays, gold-covered thermal blankets, a wide variety of rocket engines, and a bunch of other interesting things. We could nose up to any spacecraft of any agreeable country. Or more controversial of any non-agreeable country we happen to particularly dislike at the time, asserting our unique right to inspect anything and everything up there. For cooperative countries we respect any wishes they might have to maintain secrecy. For uncooperative countries, up the photos go on WikiLeaks. Another foreign policy lever.

    For that matter, a much cheaper project, LeakSat, might be accomplished by some daring smaller country to take photos of the most interesting sats in GEO and publish them on the aforementioned web site.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    About the only rich thing here is Weiler’s JWST cost overruns.

    Your dislike of Ed Weiler has been noted, and is certainly curious. Now retired, he still seems to haunt you. If you knew the man, you might think differently. As Science AA, and as Astrophysics Director, Weiler oversaw successes in a huge range of NASA science programs, and is perceived as very much a hero in the science community for his defense of high priority projects that were at risk. The cost issues in JWST sure aren’t pretty, but they sure aren’t uniquely his fault.

    The Casani Report, which reviewed the JWST cost problems, reporting to the Agency and to Congress, concluded that needed changes to the project to diminish future cost risk included “Assign management and execution responsibility for the JWST Project to the GSFC Director, with accountability to the Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator at HQ.” Well, Ed Weiler held both of these positions at different times during the early stages of the project. The report was recommending that Weiler have MORE control over the mission. Not less.

    Yes, I know that Ed was never a big supporter of impact mitigation as a NASA science activity, and that probably sticks in your single-issue craw. But you know, impact mitigation ain’t science. It ought to be done, but it wasn’t his job.

    In this context, and to get back on topic, it is interesting that with this string of astonishing science successes, Paul Ryan seems to feel that our space agency has been “dismantled”, and that our global leadership has been compromised. Did Ryan make any note about Curiosity? Although he’s said very little about NASA and space, his perspective on it seems pretty one-dimensional.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Hieinrich –

    Your attempts to limit dicussion to some topic of you own are noted and ignored.

    It appears that you do not understand this yet, but impactor detection is a national security necessity, and one that has become fairly immediate at that. I held nothing against Weiler, as for a long time I did not understand this myself. You do need to understand that oberving cosmologists hold simple NEO observors in contempt.

    The way that Weiler planned to spend other federal agencies money without consulting them was what really irritated me:

    http://bob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/ccc/ce091702.html

    You may view this as a good thing, I don’t.
    I also really wish you would leave James Webb out of the Next Gen.
    Call it what it is, the EWST, the Ed Weiler Space Telescope.

  • E.P, Grondine

    PS Heinrich -

    While I did not report on it at the time, for reasons which were and are sufficient for me, I attended one of the very first Next Gen engineering conferences at GSFC, long before Griffin, the Ares1, the Ares5 and the SLS.

    No $5 billion cost overruns were anticipated.

  • Vladislaw

    “Um, no. There are no space stations in GEO.”

    I mean’t on the way back towards earth. You are saying this is a one time shot, stand alone mission with a disposable capsule?

    If so it would be like the great white fleet, a lot of the battleships were already obsolute as soon as they were launched.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    You do need to understand that oberving cosmologists hold simple NEO observors in contempt.

    Get help (and a dictionary).

  • Googaw

    You are saying this is a one time shot, stand alone mission with a disposable capsule?

    Sorry to dissapoint you with a taste of reality.

    Any personal sojourn in earth orbit or beyond in this century, including ISS, does or will fit this description, whether you or the designers intend it to be that way or not.

    Of course, you are holding out for your voodoo “infrastructure” out of the pages of pulp ficiton, Collier’s, and Popular Mechanics: astronomically lowballed construction of doll-houses that magically spawn even more astronauts and doll-houses and fantasy markets-of-the-future, all while keeping their diapered touches innocent of any embarassing contact with actual space development. Such attempts at “infrastructure” will join all previous such attempts in splashing into the Pacific or spawning space junk at enormous taxpayer expense.

    If so it would be like the great white fleet, a lot of the battleships were already obsolute as soon as they were launched.

    A quite good description of the long sorry history of orbital HSF you’ve come up with here. Only the cult never gets around to recognizing that astronauts are obsolete. They keep lobbying for their Clydesdale wagons and coal-fired battleships regardless of the actual trajectory of real-world technology and economics.

  • E.P, Grondine

    Hi Heinich –

    What’s the problem? That made it through my spell check, and its factually correct as well.

  • mike shupp

    oberving cosmologists hold simple NEO observors in contempt.

    No biggy. My keyboard is always trying to sabotage me as well.

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