Campaign '12

Campaign tidbits: seeking more details

After Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a speech in Orlando where he briefly discussed space, a local television station, WKMG, sought more details from him about what a Romney Administration might do in space, but didn’t learn much. “We want to engage with NASA, commercial technology, the private sector, and our national security to come up with a space program mission,” Ryan said when asked about what the campaign’s policy meant for programs like Orion, SLS, and commercial servicing of the ISS. When pressed further about whether SLS and ISS servicing in particular could be cut, Ryan answered, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

The journal Nature, meanwhile, has taken a lengthy look at science policy during the Obama Administration, including, briefly, space policy. “Human space flight and many other elements of NASA’s mission were never priorities of the Obama administration,” the article concludes, citing cuts in astrophysics and planetary sciences programs (compared to increases in earth sciences). One passage in particular, about the administration’s 2010 effort to cancel Constellation and make other changes to NASA, may be of interest:

“This was a major policy pronouncement but it was revealed in a budget release,” says Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington DC. Normally, an administration prepares Congress for such a change — but Obama’s sudden move led to what Pace calls a “bruising, year-long fight” with lawmakers in both parties. Eventually, several parts of the Constellation programme were reinstated. But by then, NASA had become an agency adrift, left to the mercy of parochial interests in Congress.

The content of that paragraph isn’t particularly controversial, given the wide acknowledgement that the timing of the administration’s space policy changes was less than optimal; few would disagree that a “bruising” fight on the changes ensued in Congress thereafter. However, the article doesn’t note that Scott Pace, besides heading the Space Policy Institute at GWU, is also chairman of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group, as noted in this statement last week tied to the release of the Romney campaign’s space policy white paper.

The Orlando Sentinel, though, is disappointed with both campaigns’ space policies. In an editorial today, it calls on both campaigns to provide more details about what they would do on the issue if elected. “Voters who consider space a national priority should demand details from both campaigns,” it concludes. However, not many voters, even in Florida, likely consider space “a national priority.”

27 comments to Campaign tidbits: seeking more details

  • Anonymous

    The notion that the cancellation of Constellation was a surprise is a bit disingenous. The fact that they had the Augustine panel review was a good clue that the program was in trouble and something was afoot. Maybe people are just surprised that the White House actually pulled the trigger?

  • amightywind

    Eventually, several parts of the Constellation programme were reinstated. But by then, NASA had become an agency adrift, left to the mercy of parochial interests in Congress.

    At least this sad history has been accurately recorded for posterity. One cannot accuse Nature of being right wing fanatics. Like other aspects of Obama domestic policy, the shift in NASA policy was hyper partisan and ham handed.

    it concludes. However, not many voters, even in Florida, likely consider space “a national priority.”

    Space will not be a priority until economic growth returns to historical norms and the fiscal situation is improved. “Making the rich pay their fair share” will do neither.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “At least this sad history has been accurately recorded for posterity. One cannot accuse Nature of being right wing fanatics.”

    But Nature’s source, Scott Pace, heads Romney’s advisory group on space. Moreover, he led NASA’s independent program assessment office under Griffin. As such, he bears some responsibility for Constellation’s failure. Pace has a lot of political and personal baggage when it comes to this program, so he naturally wants its “history” to be read in a certain way.

    “Like other aspects of Obama domestic policy, the shift in NASA policy was hyper partisan”

    No, the reaction to the termination of the Constellation Program was hyper-parochial. If the Administration’s proposal had been “hyper partisan [sic]“, then only Republicans would have opposed the Administration’s termination of the Constellation Program. Instead, both Republicans _and_ Democrats (like Nelson) representing NASA field centers and contractors fought the termination.

    “and ham handed.”

    Compared to the “plan” that came out of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, the Administration’s proposal was elegant. A grossly underfunded HLV and an oversized, duplicative crew capsule that keep thousands of civil servants and contractors employed but have no capability to visit the Moon, a NEO, or any other actual exploration destination — that’s ham-handed.

  • There’s no way the White House could have gently persuaded Congress to give up its favorite pork. The aerospace lobbyists would have started spreading around $$$ to ensure that cancelling Constellation would have been blocked.

    The best strategy was to blind-side them. And it worked.

    We’re stuck with the SLS pork, but that’s in exchange for extending ISS to 2020 and juicing commercial space. That was far preferable to the previous administration, which would have defunded ISS in 2016 to pay for a rocket to fly to the ISS in 2017. Insanity.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ September 27th, 2012 at 8:11 am

    One cannot accuse Nature of being right wing fanatics.

    OK. But they didn’t write the part you like, that is, like our host pointed out, a quote from Scott Pace, who could be termed a “right wing fanatic” because of his involvement with the Romney campaign.

    How daft can you be?

    Space will not be a priority until economic growth returns to historical norms and the fiscal situation is improved. “Making the rich pay their fair share” will do neither.

    The NASA budget has been in decline for decades, regardless our economic condition. Apparently the only time it’s budget goes up is when it serves a political purpose.

    On this point Romney is echoing what many of us have been saying – NASA doesn’t need more money, it just needs to spend it’s space exploration budget more wisely. Kill the SLS NOW!

  • Joe Russo

    I have always felt that the Augustine Commission was just the excuse the Administration needed to downplay NASA even more. Mr. Nixon would have endorsed Mr. Obama’s space policy.

  • Kate Morgan

    I agree with Dark Blue Nine that the characterization of the Obama Administration as blindsiding the Hill by cancelling Constellation ignores the facts. The Augustine Committee had well articulated their recommendation in the Fall of ’09 that the program was not executable. Many Members of Congress agreed with this characterization, but once the parochial contractors with their lobbyists and PACs got to them – the games began. Now, thanks to these parochial interests, we have a “compromised” program that will likely lead to very little success. Scott Pace and others were responsible for this unexecutable program, so they are now trying to re-write history. Their argument that the reason that Constellation was unexecutable was because they didn’t get their budget requests is also not true. NASA received more funding than it had initially estimated Constellation would cost, but those costs just kept growing – under the watchful eye of Mike Griffin, Scott Pace, Chris Shank and others.

  • @Joe Russo
    I suggest you carefully read Kate Morgan’s excellent and extremely cogent comment. Then think about the implications of the facts she stated.

  • JimNobles

    I think the reason that many people (in Congress and in the general public) were blindsided with the cancellation of Constellation was because they simply had not been paying attention to what was going on with the program. It became a dog. Huge costs and schedule slippage to the right made this thing D.O.A. by the time the new President took over. The project simply wasn’t working. It was an actual and true Boondoggle. It deserved to be cancelled. I and others applauded when it finally was cancelled.

    Some people feel that the cancellation was a partisan issue but I’d like to think that any competent President would have cancelled it.

    And, as I’ve said before, I don’t credit Obama will killing Constellation. I credit Griffin and Congress with killing the program through mis-management and non-attention. But Obama did sign the Death Certificate and that hurt a lot of people’s feelings. Real bad. Some are still crying about it.

  • amightywind

    On this point Romney is echoing what many of us have been saying – NASA doesn’t need more money, it just needs to spend it’s space exploration budget more wisely. Kill the SLS NOW!

    Your reasoning was clear until the last 4 words, in which you arrived at the anti-deduction.

    The Augustine Committee had well articulated their recommendation in the Fall of ’09 that the program was not executable

    The leftists had a super-majority from 2008-2010. The radical makeup of the Augustine Committee was merely emblematic of it. The problem was that the dems did not keep a super-majority long enough finish the NASA hatchet job. NASA traditionalists in congress recovered, but only enough to play defense. So here we are, with NASA a frozen conflict. As Colin Powell once said, “You break it, you bought it.”

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Given that both campaigns pledge U.S. “space leadership”, it deserves some thought about what constitutes such leadership. (This can be taken as an extension of the conversation about “leadership” and Newt Gingrich.)

    Certainly the U.S. continues a leadership role on ISS, although we hire Russian taxis to take our astronauts there. Does leadership stem from who drives the taxis? I don’t think the Yellow Cab drivers in Manhattan would tell that to their banker and Wall Street passengers. While the Chinese are allegedly aiming for footprints on the Moon, does leadership stem from who was there first, or from who is there at any one time? Assuming we’ll continue to develop SLS, does having the largest launcher constitute leadership, or does having the lowest cost per pound to LEO, which our nation will enjoy without SLS, do it as well? Does leadership stem from who has the farthest people, or who has the farthest human senses (robots)?

    It would be fascinating to hear from the candidates what they think constitutes space leadership, whether or not they think they can achieve it. Their presidency can then be judged not by conflicting independent assessments of leadership, but by their own definition of it.

    I should note that the recently released Romney space policy white paper refers to space leadership a number of times, but in a very general way. The goals listed there — innovation, economic strength, national security, and international standing can all be achieved without “leadership”. Part of leadership, we’re told, is “engaging and working with our allies and the international community”. That’s about as specific as it gets. But the other references to leadership are just that it’s something that Romney/Ryan would bring, and Obama/Biden haven’t.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “The radical makeup of the Augustine Committee was merely emblematic of it.”

    This idiocy again…

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

    Wanda Austin has had a long career in the milspace and space intelligence communities. She’s won the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service, the Air Force Scroll of Achievement, and the National Reconnaissance Office Gold Medal. She’s run Aerospace Corp.’s National Systems Group and Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) Division. Only a dummy would think that the kinds of jobs that Austin has undertaken and the kinds of awards she has won attract liberals.

    Bo Bejmuk chaired NASA’s standing review board for Constellation. At Boeing, he was the Space Shuttle Orbiter Program Director and previously the Program Manager for Shuttle System Engineering and Integration. Only a dummy would think that someone with Bejmuk’s positions didn’t want to see Shuttle elements continue via Constellation.

    Leroy Chiao’s parents fled to Taiwan to escape the Chinese communist revolution, and then made their way to the United States. Only a dummy would think that someone with Chiao’s family background harbors socialist sympathies.

    Ed Crawley designs oil exploration systems for British Petroleum. Only a dummy would think that he doesn’t harbor some conservative viewpoints.

    Over a 40-odd year military career, Les Lyles earned the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Only a dummy would question whether someone with Lyles’ record of service is a pinko.

    Etc., etc.

    There was nothing “radical” about the composition of the Augustine Committee. It was led by and largely comprised of very traditional national security and NASA aerospace types.

  • Robert G. Oler

    When pressed further about whether SLS and ISS servicing in particular could be cut, Ryan answered, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

    and with that Ryan’s comments on space policy should be dismissed as 1) rantings 2) rhetorical and 3) without a clue.

    Willard/Paul HAD a chance at winning this campaign and it was to define a world that was different then the one Obama (and external forces such as the GOP congress) have taken us to…and then defining how we would get there.

    This is illustrated by space policy.

    In the pure Obama world; there is no SLS and probably no Orion or Orion is very different in terms of what it does and how it does it.

    But without a doubt Obama’s policy has been pertubated by a mostly GOP (but some Dem) Congressional input that has centered almost completely on “pork”. Now we have people trying to gen up a “mission” for SLS/Orion by either the L station or some coupling with a Mars sample return…as if those are reasons.

    So it is reasonable for Obama to campaign on “this is what I have done, just watch the somewhere in October launch of SpaceX to the station..and the one before”. and to add “SLS etc was force on me by a GOP congress”

    Willard/Paul cannot 1) ennunciate how their program would be different or 2) even comment on the programs that are “in place”.

    So having lost that oppurtunity what Willard and Paul are left with is “platitudes”>

    “We have to find a mission for NASA”? heck maybe there is no mission…”Make America stronger”…platitudes.

    Other then the self inflicted wounds Romney and Ryan are losing this race because like Kerry in 04 their campaign has come down to the line “I am not the incumbent”…and while thats ok for the low information troglodytes…it wont break 44 to 45 percent.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    JimNobles wrote @ September 27th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I think the reason that many people (in Congress and in the general public) were blindsided with the cancellation of Constellation was because they simply had not been paying attention to what was going on with the program. ”

    they were not blindsided…they knew it was in trouble, the GOP fools most of all…they just dont care. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Coastal Ron wrote @ September 26th, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I think Bolden is doing a great job of “leadership”, definitely from getting NASA’s house in order on managing their funded programs. JWST owes it’s continued existence on his ability to get it back in shape and convince Congress it IS on a predictable track to be completed within the budget Congress will allow.

    That is leadership.”

    some but its mostly management.

    First off I doubt Webb will come in anywhere near on budget…or on schedule…

    But “fixing” Webb is at best 10 parts leadership and 90 parts simply managing. Charting a course for NASA that results in us doing something different in space 10 years from now then we do now…is leadership or at least 90 parts leadership and 10 parts management RGO

  • josh

    let’s hope obama cancels sls once reelected. shouldn’t be too hard, given that sls will no doubt encounter ever escalating delays and budget overruns. there really is no other way this could play out given that nasa centers like msfc and underperforming contractors like atk are in charge.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    There was nothing “radical” about the composition of the Augustine Committee. It was led by and largely comprised of very traditional national security and NASA aerospace types.

    To be fair, Norm is comfortable with human-induced climate change. Bo is obviously a sly Ukranian at heart (since Barack Hussein is a muslim, why not?), Leroy is desperate to partner with those evil Chinese, Ed is (gasp!) an academic, and Wanda has, well, some tonal similarities to the President. So geez, these folks are just obviously liberal socialist policy clones of Obama. What a set-up. Any dummy can see that. (But you noted that …) These committee members need to be flogged with tea bags!

  • E.P, Grondine

    AW –

    Bottom line on Griffin’s plan: Sustained .7 G oscillations.

    To sum up this round with ATK, we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch vehicles for the money wasted on Ares 1.

    To sum up US losses in space markets for the last 40 years, we could have had pressure fed liquid boosters for the Shuttle, the lowest cost expendable launch system, and been well on our way to re-usable first stages, but for ATL and Richard Nixon.

    Then there’s the time before that when ATK tried to kill the Saturn 5.

    How bad does it have to get before the BS stops?

  • NeilShipley

    josh wrote @ September 27th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
    No, it’ll be ‘hard’ to cancel SLS because of the jobs tied to it and the pressure to fill it with some other big jobs program.
    I predict that SLS will go the slow road like Cx. Perhaps not for so long. If Elon successfully flies FH, then it’s definitely curtains for the rocket with no mission.
    Back on the topic of the campaigns or lack thereof, is pretty much due to the fact that there’s virtually no votes in it and it’s not worth fighting over. The real fights happen in Congress. We’ll see what the makeup is like after the elections. That and sequestration of course.

  • Vladislaw

    Windy tries to pen a new urban myth:

    “The leftists had a super-majority from 2008-2010.”

    Because of the dispute over the MN Senate seat with Coleman, Senator Franken was not sworn in until july 7th of 2009 which put that senate at 58 democrats.

    Help me with the some math here windy, How could it be 2 years if Franken didn’t come in until 7 months after President Obama was sworn in?

    The grand total of time the Democrats had a 60 seat majority (which has to include the two independants) was 67 legislative days according to the Senate records.

  • DCSCA

    Ryan answered, “I don’t know the answer to that.”

    ‘Nuff said.

    And in 40 days, no one will care if he bothered to attempt to come up with one. A footnote to history just like Goldwater’s running mate.

  • josh

    “No, it’ll be ‘hard’ to cancel SLS because of the jobs tied to it and the pressure to fill it with some other big jobs program.”

    but look at how many were already cut due to the end of the shuttle program (a good thing ofc). it’s not impossible to imagine a future where there will be only as many people working in the space industry as are needed to get the job done instead of corporate welfare for atk and the like.
    close down msfc and jsc, too.

  • Vladislaw

    It was my understanding, from reports from Kelly at the sentinal that NASA has not fired/laid off/retied that many actual NASA employees, it was contractors. It was 200 million a month … that just about what the SLS.orion is eating through a year.

  • Paul

    A footnote to history just like Goldwater’s running mate.

    William E. Miller.

    I admit, I had to look that up.

  • DCSCA

    Paul wrote @ September 28th, 2012 at 4:09 pm
    His ‘Do you know me’ AmEx card commerical is a classic in media circles.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ September 28th, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Paul wrote @ September 28th, 2012 at 4:09 pm
    His ‘Do you know me’ AmEx card commerical is a classic in media

    absolutely. Miller had far more on the go then Ryan does…Ryan is a cheap suit RGO

  • vulture4

    Odd that the people complaining about shifts in NASA policy with changes in the administration had no complaints whatsoever in 2004 when Bush threw out everything that had been done in space in the previous twenty years to pay for “Apollo on Steroids”. From my perspective progress was slow during the Shuttle and ISS programs, but as late as the OSP project (which was what the CAIB assumed would replace Shuttle) HSF was still directed toward a reasonable goal, affordable human access to LEO based on international cooperation. Bush tossed it all in the trash, created a plan that is much too expensive to be even possible and has no practical value, and then promptly forgot about it.

    The reason we are seeing a “sudden change” now (over 4+ years, due to Congressional roadblocks) is simple. We were off course, and we are making a midcourse correction.

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