Campaign '12

Briefly: Sentinel endorses Nelson; the Science Guy stumps for Obama in Florida

The Orlando Sentinel endorsed Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) for reelection on Sunday over his Republican challenger, Connie Mack IV. The editorial cited Nelson’s role as “a champion for NASA and Florida’s role in the U.S. space program” in its decision. “A law he co-authored in 2010 wisely extended the life of the International Space Station and supported the development of commercial spacecraft, both positive developments for Florida and the space program as a whole,” the endorsement stated, a reference to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.

Bill Nye, aka “The Science Guy,” will be supporting the Obama reelection campaign Monday night on Florida’s Space Coast. Nye is slated to appear at a watch party in Cocoa, Florida, for the third and final presidential debate. Nye, the CEO of The Planetary Society, is also scheduled to appear Tuesday morning at a roundtable about STEM education at Florida Tech. The roundtable is not an official Obama campaign event, according to a release by the campaign’s Florida staff, but “it is part of Mr. Nye’s trip in support of the campaign.”

95 comments to Briefly: Sentinel endorses Nelson; the Science Guy stumps for Obama in Florida

  • amightywind

    How can one be a champion of NASA and be a party to eviscerating it? Ideology trumps logic at the Orlando Sentinel.

  • Robert G. Oler

    On space policy (and in my view the rest of it) there is no alternative but to support Obama. Romney just lies…there is not a single position this year he fills like he cannot modify and then say “well I never held that position”…what a liar. RGO

  • Dark Blue Nine

    It’s notable that the Sentinel highlights ISS and commercial cargo/crew, rather than SLS/MPCV, from the 2010 NASA Authorization Act in its endorsement of Nelson.

  • amightywind

    there is no alternative but to support Obama.

    You are in excellent company: Chavez, Putin, the Mullahs, all support Obama. Maybe you should ask, why?

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 9:37 am

    “You are in excellent company: Chavez, Putin, the Mullahs, all support Obama. Maybe you should ask, why?”

    Not really. When one foreign leader endorses another it is usually in the hopes of pinging people like you…although in Vlad’s case (who is amazingly rational) in large measure I suspect it is because he must view Romney as any sane person does; a person who has no real clue as to the issues of the day…and Putin is really trying to negotiate a path to stabilize Russian/American relations…and stabilize Russia.

    The return question is why would you support Romney? An idiot who says he would spend 2 trillion more dollars on the US military without any real reason as to why he can articulate other then the slack jawed comment “it keeps us strong’

    Goofy RGO

  • amightywind

    It’s notable that the Sentinel highlights ISS and commercial cargo/crew

    A classic example of the frog boiling in the pot. The Orlando Sentinel has already accepted defeat in the Constellation Great Game, and looks now to protect more trivial parochial concerns over crony space.

    An idiot who says he would spend 2 trillion more dollars on the US military without any real reason as to why he can articulate other then the slack jawed comment “it keeps us strong’

    The cataclysms in the Arab world, Russia’s aggression along its periphery, and, China’s aggression in Tibet, East Turkestan and the South China Sea are the direct result of the withdrawal of US power. No, Mitt is no idiot. But perhaps one who believes he can substitute the lever of US military might with the power his personality is.

    (who is amazingly rational)

    I just read that our hyper-rational partner in space just shipped those hooligan punk rockers off to the gulag archipelago.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Bill Nye, who inveighed against Obama cuts in planetary science and yet supports the man, is kind of like a battered wife, always going back to the abusive spouse.

  • mike shupp

    C’mon Mark, get serious. Obama probably doesn’t look all that wonderful to people interested in planetary space programs, but Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are clearly much less attractive. There isn’t anyone IN THE WORLD making the argument that R&R want an improved planetary science program, or even any sort of planetary science program — not even Romney and Ryan themselves.

    You want to make a funny analogy, you ought to go the whole route with it. Bill Nye’s like an abused wife and Obama’s the abuser. And what’s Romney? A self-proclaimed ax murderer.

  • William Mellberg

    Mark Whittington wrote:

    “Bill Nye, who inveighed against Obama cuts in planetary science and yet supports the man, is kind of like a battered wife, always going back to the abusive spouse.”

    Yes. It seems Bill Nye, the Obama Guy, suffers from the space version of Stockholm Syndrome. He also seems to suffer from the mistaken notion that only Democrats support space exploration. Consequently, The Planetary Society writes off potential support (and membership dues) from Republicans who support space exploration. Given the demographics of the country, Republicans could account for up to half of The Planetary Society’s members. But I know more than a few people who have kissed Bill Nye “goodbye” because of his blatant political bias. I dropped my own membership after growing weary of reading articles in the society’s magazine which contained far too much political content. I was interested in planetary research — not Leftist propaganda. How much influence does Bill Nye think The Planetary Society will have in the Romney Administration after he (Nye) campaigned (again) for Barack Obama? Ditto for Elon Musk who has been effusive in his praise for President Obama and outspoken in his criticism of Governor Romney. Elections have consequences.

  • Vladislaw

    Actually, Mark supporting people that are never EVER going to give him what he wants, in space funding, is a better example of the battered wife syndrome. Mark got beat up by Griffin and now he wants to get beat up by Romney, in the hopes he will reappoint Griffin to whip mark some more…. a regular political masocist.

  • DCSCA

    @Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    =yawn= The Romney position is clear given his muddled rhetoric along the space coast and dissisive response to Gingrich during the primaries: a dead space program. Re-upping Obama is a holding patter ’til the two-term Clinto presidency beginning in ’16– or initiatives from another power ( go, PRC, GO!) launch out toward Luna.

  • amightywind

    but Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are clearly much less attractive.

    I think that the public will find Romney and Ryan to be far more moderate than leftist propaganda would have us believe. That said, Mitt is a manager. I hope he sees an agency in need of reform, rather than the political sop it has become.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Bill Nye, who inveighed against Obama cuts in planetary science and yet supports the man

    Those cuts were largely self-inflicted by the planetary science community, whose top Decadal priorities were considered by the Administration to be pretty much unaffordable. I think Bill’s Planetary Society, in inveighing against those cuts, has to understand that. That is, it’s one thing to jump up and down and complain about cuts. It’s another thing to argue with the rationale for those cuts. They haven’t done the latter.

    Obama has specifically expressed excitement about and interest in planetary astronomy. Why, he was accused in this very forum of taking undeserved responsibility for Curiosity! Have Romney or Ryan ever said such words of support? Don’t think so.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    How much influence does Bill Nye think The Planetary Society will have in the Romney Administration after he (Nye) campaigned (again) for Barack Obama?

    That doesn’t seem to affect the U.S. Chamber of commerce, which is a pretty right-wing organization at the top. Some organizations seem to attract people that lean more one way than another. How unusual. Once you start decrying too much right-leaning influence, then I’ll take your concerns seriously.

    Ditto for Elon Musk who has been effusive in his praise for President Obama and outspoken in his criticism of Governor Romney.

    When I Google “Elon Musk and Mitt Romney”, what comes up first is Mitt Romney slamming Elon Musk’s Tesla car company. Sounds like Romney was picking a fight, but I didn’t see any beyond normal response from Musk. Where are you seeing the supposed criticism?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Bill Nye, who inveighed against Obama cuts in planetary science and yet supports the man, is kind of like a battered wife, always going back to the abusive spouse.>>

    the battered “wife” syndrome is you…you and all the right wing people got hosed by Bush43 and yet you continue to push the rhetoric of that era. You wont admit you got it wrong about Iraq, Cx and all the other failures of the administration; you and others (including Romney) insist that Obama screwed up things that were terminal DURING the Bush administration.

    Along the way you have pickedup the habit of misstating things…you were even telling Kolker how an embassy works and for heavens sake…HE IS AT ONE.

    RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 11:32 am

    The cataclysms in the Arab world, Russia’s aggression along its periphery, and, China’s aggression in Tibet, East Turkestan and the South China Sea are the direct result of the withdrawal of US power.>>

    actually NO they are not.

    US power cannot anymore stop local tides and changes then British power could frustrate American will in 1776 or Indian will in 1947 or ….

    The Chinese have as much right to a Monroe doctrine in their region of the world as the US does in ours. What happens in the Spratlys concerning the Spratelys is not a US problem anymore then what happens in Haiti is a Chinese problem.

    As for the Arab world. Welcome to true “regime change”. The Arab world suffered under the bipolar alignment of the US and USSR which kept in place long passed its time the colonial aspects of the region. We supported “strong men” (as did the USSR) solely on buying their love…the local population be “darned”.

    Now for good and bad the locals are reshaping the map there to suit local desires and IT IS IN THE SPIRIT OF WHAT happened in 1776.

    “withdrawal of US Power”…20 carrier battle groups would not change the situation in the places you mentioned…all they would do is keep the MIC going.

    It is a new world with new realities. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2012/10/coordinated-fac.html#comments

    It is hard to do any better then what Keith does…

    Scott Pace and E. Anderson wrote in Space News

    “”Unfortunately, American leadership is in jeopardy. Today we have a space program befitting a president who rejects American exceptionalism, apologizes for America and believes we should be just another nation with a flag. President Barack Obama has put us on a path that cedes our global position as the unequivocal leader in space. For the first time since the dawn of the Space Age, America has chosen to forgo its own capabilities for putting astronauts into space and instead relies on the Russians. The space shuttle’s planned retirement was known on the day President Obama took office, yet the earliest that Americans will again ride American rockets into space is 2016.”"

    this is what kC wrote:

    “What a pair of memory-challenged hypocrites.

    Its rather odd that Space Adventures CEO Anderson would be party to such comments. in April 2010, when he was Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Anderson is quoted as saying the following about the Obama Administration’s space policy: “This visionary plan is a master stroke. It’s exactly what NASA needs in order to continue to lead the world in space exploration in the 21st century.” In May 2012, on the occasion of the first launch of the SpaceX Dragon, CSF Chairman Anderson is again quoted, saying “This is a testament to the viability of the commercial spaceflight industry … Congratulations to SpaceX for successfully completing the first steps of this demonstration flight. Elon and his team’s success today is an important milestone in achieving a sustainable space program.”

    My comments

    the people in the Romney campaign are like Romney: liars RGO

  • joe

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 1:14 pm
    “Yes. It seems Bill Nye, the Obama Guy, suffers from the space version of Stockholm Syndrome. He also seems to suffer from the mistaken notion that only Democrats support space exploration. “

    William,

    I believe in the past you have alluded to an historical knowledge of space activities (including budgeting) dating back quite a while.

    So I have two questions for you. My own after the fact impression of the history of the whole humans vs. robots debate is that the robots only types have been promised (repeatedly by a number of politicians) that if they just support reductions in HSF funding that the money “saved” would be transferred to the robotics accounts. But that never seems to happen. In fact when HSF funding is cut back the total budget goes down and the robotics program gets hurt as well.

    - Am I correct in this?
    - If I am correct, how many times have the robots only types played “Charlie Brown” to some politicians “Lucy with the football”?

  • William Mellberg

    Joe asked:

    “If I am correct, how many times have the robots only types played ‘Charlie Brown’ to some politicians ‘Lucy with the football’?”

    I cannot give you a specific (numeric) answer. But I tend to agree with your premise.

    Personally, I have always been a strong supporter of both robotic and human spaceflight; and I do not think one should suffer at the expense of the other. But I also think robotic missions have always gotten the short end of the budget stick.

    Human spaceflight seems to generate the most public excitement and support. But robotic spacecraft have yielded treasure troves of scientific information. When I look at my Astronomy 101 textbook (published in 1969), it is amazing how little was known about our Solar System at the time. Since then, robotic explorers such as Mariner and Voyager and Viking and their successors have added whole chapters where only paragraphs had been written. Moreover, I remember when my Father first became involved with the Surveyor project 50 years ago. At that time, no one could say for sure what the surface of the Moon was like (which, of course, was Surveyor’s mission). When you add the Hubble Space Telescope and the other space observatories to the list, the discoveries become even more impressive. NASA’s robot explorers have done some amazing things!

    In any case, I agree with your point. I cannot recall robotics accounts being increased by any reductions in HSF funding. When NASA budgets go down, robotics get hit as much as (if not more than) human spaceflight.

    This is why I still support Harrison Schmitt’s proposal of last year calling for the dismantlement of NASA and the creation of a new National Space Exploration Administration:

    http://americasuncommonsense.com/blog/category/science-engineering/space-policy/4-new-proposal-for-nasa/

    Note these lines in Dr. Schmitt’s proposal:

    “The new Agency’s responsibilities should include robotic exploration necessary to support its primary mission. As did the Apollo Program, NSEA should include lunar and planetary science and resource identification as a major component of its human space exploration and development initiatives.”

    Given the high cost of human exploration, I believe robotic exploration can and should play an even bigger role in our national space program.

  • William Mellberg

    @Joe:

    Joe, I might add that Dr. Schmitt’s proposal for a new National Space Exploration Administration was used as the Prologue for his more extensive book about Space Policy. It can be downloaded from his website:

    http://www.americasuncommonsense.com/blog/wp-content/pdfFiles/Schmitt_SpacePolicyAndTheConstitution.pdf

  • Heinrich Monroe

    My own after the fact impression of the history of the whole humans vs. robots debate is that the robots only types have been promised (repeatedly by a number of politicians) that if they just support reductions in HSF funding that the money “saved” would be transferred to the robotics accounts.

    I can say for a fact that this promise is at best very old and certainly no longer applicable. In fact, the science community is repeatedly and VERY STRONGLY warned by its professional organizations against advocating against human space flight as a way to boost their funding. No politically aware scientists do that. What’s important is a fiscally strong NASA, and positive advocacy.

    In fact, not only is this promise old, it’s demonstrably false. Money taken from NASA accounts just goes away. It largely doesn’t get transferred to other accounts.

    That’s not to say that the science community doesn’t have healthy skepticism about the scientific return of human space flight, but it’s not about dollars.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 5:29 pm
    . Money taken from NASA accounts just goes away. It largely doesn’t get transferred to other accounts. >>

    there is no data to support that statement RGO

  • joe

    William Mellberg wrote @ October 22nd, 2012 at 5:05 pm
    William,

    Thanks for the response and in particular for the link. I had not seen the document before.

    I particularly like it’s succinct “mission statement”:

    “The simple charter of the National Space Exploration Administration should be as follows:
    Provide the People of the United States of America, as national security and economic interests demand, with the necessary infrastructure, entrepreneurial partnerships, and human and robotic operational capability to settle the Moon, utilize lunar resources, scientifically explore and settle Mars and other deep space destinations, and, if necessary, divert significant Earth-impacting objects.”

    This is really close to the original goal of the Vision for Space Exploration set out by Dr. Marburger. Unfortunately we know how that (due to various political mechanizations) turned out.

    Guess we can only hope for better luck next time.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    there is no data to support that statement RGO

    In the long expertise of I and my colleagues, we can’t recall anytime that has happened. Now, Mike Griffin did try to get away from that with his reneging on the “not one thin dime” pledge to the science community. He was going to pull dimes left and right and move them to Constellation. but Congress didn’t let it happen.

    Certainly within directorates, money is shifted here and there in Congressionally allowable ways. But not across directorates.

    If you have exaples where it has happened, I’d like to hear them.

  • Neil Shipley

    IMHO I don’t think space policy is going to be the game-changer in this election. Polls indicate it’s pretty much neck and neck and many commentators appear to be linking success to this last debate on foreign policy. That’s one for the books. Previously IIRC, domestic policy set the tone for the winner, not foreign policy.
    Anyway, I for one, will be disappointed if Romney is elected. Appears to lack conviction as well as honesty and severely class-oriented. A backward step methinks.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    “Those cuts were largely self-inflicted by the planetary science community, whose top Decadal priorities were considered by the Administration to be pretty much unaffordable. I think Bill’s Planetary Society, in inveighing against those cuts, has to understand that. That is, it’s one thing to jump up and down and complain about cuts. It’s another thing to argue with the rationale for those cuts. They haven’t done the latter.”

    While my science goals are a little more immediate and pressing than yours, I agree with you. The Ed Weiler Space Telescope pretty much has eaten all of NASA’s science budget, and none of NASA’s space science clients wants to face that or talk about it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO –

    When I was starting to work the impact hazard, I gave Goldin a pass on his performance, as he was facing so many pressing politically caused problems.

    While OSTP was supposed to report in September, given what Bolden and Obama have faced, I’ll do the same again.

    However much I may despise Romney’s tax evasion and business practices, SW3 is still in the inner solar system and headed our way.

    And due to Griffin’s ineptness we have lost a whole lot of money and time.

    If Romney wins, I expect to see more money spent on ATK products – both launchers and “defense” goods. I don’t see how ATK could then impede Musk, but the whole thing reminds me of the Age of the Robber Barons.

    In as much as impact is an international problem, I need to observe that most major nation states are facing the same types of political questions: form of ownership of larger industries; those large industries and unions; personal versus social rights and duties; regional versus national needs; energy, water, food restraints, infrastructure and sustainability; keeping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from becoming a WMD war; and a few other problems they face in common. In regards to dealing with the impact hazard, the US is not the only nation occupying planet Earth, and the impact research community is international.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Neil –

    “IMHO I don’t think space policy is going to be the game-changer in this election.”

    In relation to US policy towards Israel, its like a gnat’s fart in a hurricane.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    The Ed Weiler Space Telescope pretty much has eaten all of NASA’s science budget, and none of NASA’s space science clients wants to face that or talk about it.

    You just feel so threatened by Ed. Why? Really kind of sad.

    The HST, which Ed led the charge on programmatically, has been BY FAR the greatest NASA scientific success, and perhaps the greatest scientific success in the world. Ed is very much the hero of that astonishing mission.

    Do you read the budget? HST now consumes about $95M/yr, less than many other SMD projects. So you must be talking about old money that it ate a long time ago. HST isn’t eating anyone’s money right now. Look at your calendar. That’s a “20″ at the beginning of the year.

  • LOL! I love it! Lets stop sullying the name of James Webb. Lets rename the telescope to the Ed Weiler Space Telescope. EWST.

    VR
    RE327

  • Fred Willett

    joe wrote
    But that never seems to happen. In fact when HSF funding is cut back the total budget goes down and the robotics program gets hurt as well.

    - Am I correct in this?
    No.
    over the last 20 years, 20 or so NASA programs of various types (some HSF some science and some other stuff) have failed or been cancelled. But if you look at the level of NASA funding it has remained fairly constant (albiet slowly decreasing)
    The reverse is also true. Starting a new program doesn’t mean a budget increases either.
    The budget pretty much steams along at the same level reguardless of what’s happening inside NASA.
    The only exceptions is when there has been a government wide belt tightening (like the coming financial crunch) when NASA’s budget has decreased for all or most government programs.
    It’s worth noting the exception (Apollo) where NASA’s budget went through the roof. But apart from that NASA is expected to acomplish what ever it is supposed to accomplish on a flat budget.

  • Robert G. Oler

    RocketScientist327 wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 12:28 am

    LOL! I love it! Lets stop sullying the name of James Webb. Lets rename the telescope to the Ed Weiler Space Telescope. EWST.>>

    This reminds me of the story of SGT York the DIVAD system…it was a complete turkey. Georgia Tech Engineering Experimental station (now GTRI) tried to fix the fire control system but well a radar and antenna system that is good for an airplane is not optimal for a ground system and nothing really worked well.

    One day in a demo the vehicle did the “Fletch” move and instead of trying to follow the helicopter with the target enhancers on it, it aimed at the reviewing stand (which had an Al roof)…as one person said after wards “Tell me again why we named this after Alvin York?” RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Fred Willett wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 1:53 am

    But apart from that NASA is expected to acomplish what ever it is supposed to accomplish on a flat budget.

    Absent some sort of recognized “National Imperative” like aliens showing up or an asteroid on a collision course to hit us, I’m OK with that.

    For instance, even the supposed threat of China setting foot on the Moon in 30ish years is not reason enough to boost NASA’s budget, nor the promise of being able to live of the land on the Moon after just a few visits.

    Keeping NASA’s budget pretty much the same helps to focus everyone on prioritizing what we should really be spending money on. For instance, is it worthwhile to spend $30B and 12 years building something before it becomes usable? Or would it be better to “spread the love” around to far more programs that will have faster payoff?

    A constrained budget is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Neil Shipley

    Hi E.P.G. Love it.

  • common sense

    It’s really nice to see that not only Romney has a plan to come up with a plan for NASA and space but he also has a plan for Iran, China, healthcare, debt reduction, etc.

    What is the plan you might ask? Well simple. When he has one it’s pretty much the same as Obama’s with more strength, more chest thumping and more money for the DoD. Yep. Increasing the budget of our DoD will solve pretty much each and every problem we have in this country.

    Otherwise he does not have a plan but he’ll get a committee to tell him what the plan is.

    How cool.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Lets rename the telescope to the Ed Weiler Space Telescope. EWST.

    Can’t argue with that one. Except when EWST is fabulously successful, and the most important science project in history, there will probably be a call for new name.

    Actually, to the extent that JWST turns out to be an awesome success, at huge cost that will probably never again be affordable for a future effort, naming it for James Webb would be hugely appropriate. Sean O’Keefe never really understood, when he came up with that name, why the name JWST was so appropriate! Webb’s Apollo program was an awesome success, but at a cost that is, in this modern day, wholly unaffordable.

    So the JWST name should be very good, but the fallacy was in naming it before it was successful, and even before it was in development. That was an unusual decision by O’Keefe.

  • JimNobles

    I watched Obama and Romney in the debate last night. I can certainly understand why someone wouldn’t want Obama to be President again but I cannot understand why someone would believe that Romney would be a suitable replacement.

    I suspect the best the space community could hope for in a Romney administration is that he’d ignore NASA and space and just let things go on as they are.

  • Yep. Increasing the budget of our DoD will solve pretty much each and every problem we have in this country.

    That and lowering taxes to the top 1% than Bush II’s cuts and flat budgeting everything else too.

    Yup, that’s the ticket!

  • common sense

    @ dad2059 wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    “That and lowering taxes to the top 1% than Bush II’s cuts and flat budgeting everything else too.”

    Thanks for that I was not quite out of my epiphany just yet when I posted.

    Note that he has a point right? Increasing the budget of our DoD will make us stronger! Maybe be even strongerer than ever.

    But I don’t think he said we should increase the budget of our Intelligence services. For some reason Intelligence does not seem to resonate.

    Oh well.

  • amightywind

    I watched Obama and Romney in the debate last night. I can certainly understand why someone wouldn’t want Obama to be President again but I cannot understand why someone would believe that Romney would be a suitable replacement.

    As an Obama supporter you were not the target of Romney’s argument. You decided on Obama, as I did for Romney. Romney is going for that last percent or two in the mushy middle. Judging from the result of focus panels I saw Romney may have been successful.

  • common sense

    Forgot to mention:

    Horses and bayonets!!!!

    Now that was real cool and also when Romney lost the presidency. Ah!

    Bayonets. ;) Well done.

    Cool Hand Luke was back if I may.

  • Coastal Ron

    Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I don’t think “space” or “NASA” was mentioned in the debates.

    For good or bad, we already know what Obama has done on those topics, but all we really know about Romney’s plans is that he plans to come up with a plan after he has some meetings to make plans.

    Which pretty much means status quo for the NASA budget for the next year. Now that’s not bad for commercial space, since they can get along pretty good on existing government business and their various commercial endeavors, but that doesn’t bode too well for NASA programs that require more money. For instance, if the SLS program is officially slipping schedule, then that is going to start attracting some unwanted attention, regardless who is President.

    Interesting times ahead, and we’ll have a little more clarity in two weeks.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    “all we really know about Romney’s plans is that he plans to come up with a plan after he has some meetings to make plans.”

    Well unfortunately, or fortunately (?), it’s all we really know about anything from Romney. That and that we need a strong America. Just in case America was weak.

    And if people were to cast their vote solely on space policy then we as a nation are not out of the woods just yet.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 pm
    “Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I don’t think “space” or “NASA” was mentioned in the debates.”

    consider yourtself wrong and corrected. ‘Space’ was indeed mentioned once by President Obama when he was commenting on military capabilities during the third debate.

  • DCSCA

    @common sense wrote @ October 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Shhhhh! Project Bayonet, Project Pinto and Project Mustang. Big budget DoD stuff– and very hush-hush; hide in plain sight,. ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_10_22_2012_p34-507657.xml&p=1

    it is a good story by Frank…but its just busy work…amazing how little people have to do RGO

  • @ almightywind:

    “That said, Mitt is a manager. I hope he sees an agency in need of reform, rather than the political sop it has become.

    ‘Reform’ is in the eye of the beholder.

    1. What is your idea of NASA reform? (as if we didn’t know)

    2. What might Romney’s idea of NASA reform be? ‘Manage’ to what probable end?

    3. Are they the same, or even close? (though we know what he thinks of Moon bases…and you seem to want a massive, SLS-supported human presence there, the very extravagant approach he might well ‘fire.’)

    You may not be on the same page as him, after all. Be careful what you wish for, unless merely not being Obama is sufficient for you.

  • Googaw

    Horses and bayonets

    Horses, bayonets, and astronauts.

  • amightywind

    1. What is your idea of NASA reform? (as if we didn’t know)

    If posted on this many times. When I use the word reform, it is a euphemism for reduction in force, and the cancellation of non-core programs.

    You may not be on the same page as him, after all.

    Perhaps. But mine is also the majority view in congress, so the new administration will be under pressure to implement the correct policy.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Horses, bayonets, and astronauts.

    Very compactly stated. But really, are we facing a world where astronauts are increasingly obsolete? That is, for doing things of value remotely, the argument for astronauts is decreasing. Not increasing. Unless you’re doing colonization and settlement, the value of which has not been firmly established.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    “Very compactly stated.”

    Well the comparison with horses and bayonets is not appropriate since it is about technical advances. BUT…

    “But really, are we facing a world where astronauts are increasingly obsolete? That is, for doing things of value remotely, the argument for astronauts is decreasing. Not increasing.”

    Yes. And the driving reason right now is budget. However unless a breakthrough occurs in physics interstellar travel may be out of reach for ever. Some sort of distant exploration may still be done with robots and advanced sensors, not astronauts. Travel inside our Solar System may have very limited interest and may still be detrimental to astronauts for a long time to come.

    “Unless you’re doing colonization and settlement, the value of which has not been firmly established.”

    Agreed. And what would be the motivating factor – save for some impending catastrophe on Earth? Consider this. Is it easier/cheaper to fix our known problems here on Earth such as climate change or to settle on the Moon or Mars in a sustainable way? And how many people would be sent there? I will offer with no supporting data that fixing our problems here on Earth can be done far more effectively – barring also some possible destructive wars otherwise astronauts will be the least of our worries.

    Terraforming Mars?… Well maybe. Some day. That might be key to our survival as a species but I suspect the time frame won’t work. Overpopulation and its associated consequences (depletion of resources) here on Earth will need to be taken care of well first here on Earth. And sooner rather than later. There are simple ways. One of which might be to help developing nations reach a certain level of modernity and advancement then people will not need as many children. Trying to share resources in a mutually beneficial way. But all that will clearly not happen without a few hiccups if at all. We tend to do things after a catastrophe happens, not before. So… Welcome to Soylent Green?…

    So in the end I suspect that astronauts will be decreasing in numbers initially. If some sort of exploitable resources are found nearby then it may increase again. That remains to be seen. Most exploration will be done with robots and sensors in the near/mid term future. There will be some tourism in LEO, limited tourism or exploration possibly on the Moon or even Mars but it is far from a done deal. HSF will essentially become a private sector activity.

    BTW, all regardless whether I like it or not.

  • Paul

    But really, are we facing a world where astronauts are increasingly obsolete?

    Roger Launius’ blog (launiusr.wordpress.com) has a recent entry on the advocacy for manned military spaceflight. He points out that the advocates are facing new headwinds because even manned atmospheric flight is being replaced, in the military, with robots. Human pilots, he argues, may be a 20th century phenomenon.

  • common sense

    @ Paul wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Sorry but this is total nonsense. Military in space? On the Moon? Expending the frontier? Really?

    Not sure what he’s trying to achieve though.

    So here from the blog:

    “In 2012 some senior military officials remain committed to the possibilities of human military missions into space, although this is most assuredly a minority view in the DoD.”

    There is a reason why we are going to use UAVs. To minimize cost and to minimize loss of crews are obvious ones. There is no coming back. A pilot has become years after years a weapon system manager. Not a pilot.

    “Reassigning that mission, or a portion of it, to the DoD might become a possibility should the space agency suffer another disaster on the order of the Challenger and Columbia shuttle accidents, or if enemies pursued a human presence in space although this represents a long shot in terms of policy options.”

    Challenger and Columbia? This is borderline ridiculous. After Challenger the military withdrew from this kind of space flight. And now they will come back? They currently have the X-37 that might be able to carry crew. But what for???? Enemies in space??? The USSR and the USA tried it and it did not work. And what kind of military presence in space would require humans in space??? To do what?

    “More likely is a scenario in which military astronauts will enter space in a manner similar to what soldiers excelled at throughout the first century-and-a-half of the republic: exploring, extending, and protecting the frontier. ”

    Absolute utter nonsense.

    And this:

    “If it is the latter the prospects for military human space missions expand exponentially as a means of keeping order in this new regime.”

    Ever heard of private security???? Even the military is going private these days, right or wrong. And we will send military types to space? At what cost? To do what that cannot be done with some automated systems?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    Was Ed Weiler responsible for the null instrument error on HST?

    Is it nor true that we could have launched replacements/copies of HST for the cost of the servicing flights? While valuable experience was gained, would 2 or 3 HST class telescopes not have been better?

    I don’t hate or fear Ed Weiler, and I am not fixated on him. I just have a low tolerance for incompetence, and that extends to my own performance as well. As it sits, I can only do what I can, and forgive myself for not doing better.

    What I expect, based on past experience, is that there will likely be a need for a manned flight to fix the EWST as well.

    Hi CR –

    “For good or bad, we already know what Obama has done on those topics,”

    The President can not act alone, but instead needs to convince both Houses of the Congress. We all know the mess he walked into. When evaluating Obama’s performance, we have to remember that Obama’s first choice for NASA Administrator was blocked at the start, and we all know the toxic propaganda environment that he has had to take action in.

    Many here decry the SLS. In my view we’ll know by 2017 if the SLS is necessary for impact defense in 2022.

    I don’t like to see our launch industry single threaded, whether through Musk or ATK. I would like to see ULA begin working on fly back re-usable
    first stage.

    OSTP was supossed to report on impact contingency plans in September. I now hope that that report will arrive by the first part of next year.

    Also, our nation needs is a director of impact studies reporting directly to the SMD AA, in my view.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi once again, Heinrich –

    The part I love with your analysis is how low you place dealing with the impact hazard.

    It is clear to me that you have done no study in that area at all, or you would not make such stupid statements.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    As to the motivating factor for colonization and settlement, sure, preservation of the species is a pretty good one. But our nation has NEVER formally (through Congressional legislation, or even through agency budget proposals) referred to such a strategy.

    the advocates are facing new headwinds because even manned atmospheric flight is being replaced, in the military, with robots

    Let’s be very clear here. In drones, human pilots are NOT being replaced. There are still humans piloting the drones. The humans just aren’t in the drones. That’s an extremely important point that highlights the fallacy of the word “robot” to describe that we’re talking about.

  • Vladislaw

    astronaut means space sailor. Technically that means they are the equivalent of ship personal involved with operating the ship. If astronauts are going the way of sailors, I don’t see it. Just because a government monopoly has controled access you can not use that as a baseline. The jury is still out on this until commercial firms are fully in charge of space transportation, just like they are in charge of every other form of transportation, from horses and bicycles to airplanes, cars, boats and trains. I have no problem predicting the numbers of people space sailing will only increase with commercial holding the reins.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    “As to the motivating factor for colonization and settlement, sure, preservation of the species is a pretty good one. But our nation has NEVER formally (through Congressional legislation, or even through agency budget proposals) referred to such a strategy.”

    Agreed. Yet it is the only strategy that makes any sense. But maybe someday our government will come out of the Cold War. Hopefully before other nations do…

    “Let’s be very clear here. In drones, human pilots are NOT being replaced. There are still humans piloting the drones. The humans just aren’t in the drones. That’s an extremely important point that highlights the fallacy of the word “robot” to describe that we’re talking about.”

    You are absolutely wrong here and I would encourage you to do more research. Human pilots are being replaced with robots.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/usaf/docs/afdd/afdd2-1-1.pdf

    Emphasis mine:

    “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). UAVs may be used in counter-air operations to provide surveillance, reconnaissance, deception, jamming, decoy, or harassment of enemy forces and air defense systems. Although UAVs are primarily used in an enhancement role, UAVs will soon be used in all functional areas. These vehicles may be preprogrammed or remotely piloted. They provide valuable intelligence to friendly forces while providing confusing and erroneous information to the enemy. UAVs reduce the risk to friendly forces by making the enemy use valuable weapons and resources to evaluate and attack these vehicles.”

  • Heinrich Monroe

    The part I love with your analysis is how low you place dealing with the impact hazard

    Sigh. So many trolls, so little time.

    I’m really not sure what “analysis” you’re referring to. But I’m glad you love it. I think impact mitigation is an important topic, and our nation is expending a lot of effort developing strategies to assess the risk properly.

    It is clear to me that you have done no study in that area at all, or you would not make such stupid statements

    Again, I’m not really sure what “statements” you’re referring to. If you want to argue about a statement, then do so. You haven’t done so here, and it really isn’t clear that you can.

    While valuable experience was gained, would 2 or 3 HST class telescopes not have been better?

    THAT’S your gripe with Ed? Two or three HST class telescopes would not have been better because they wouldn’t have happened. Ed knew that. Human spaceflight needed a target and a mission, and HST provided that target and mission. Not completely clear that we could have launched replacement telescopes for the cost of the servicing missions. Congress does not fund multiple copies of space science missions. Take it up with John Grunsfeld, who now heads the Science Mission Directorate.

    I don’t hate or fear Ed Weiler, and I am not fixated on him.

    Fooled me. You don’t miss an opportunity to diss him. I would love to see you in a face-off with Ed. He’d take you apart intellectually.

    What I expect, based on past experience, is that there will likely be a need for a manned flight to fix the EWST as well.

    Your “experience” isn’t clearly relevant. JWST has no serviceable parts. If it ends up just needing a kick, that kick will be done telerobotically, not by a human foot.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    These vehicles may be preprogrammed or remotely piloted.

    For recon, sure. How many USAF pilots do we have these days doing recon? The days of Francis Gary Powers are over. The drones we’re talking about, and the pilots they’re replacing, are doing engagement. Engagement requires real time decision making. To kill or not to kill. The idea that such engagement could someday be autonomous is a dream. It’s nice to have dreams, but …

    The function of enemy engagement that used to be the responsibility of pilots on the attack vehicle are increasingly the responsibility of pilots at GCS’s around the country.

    You’re welcome to point to a reference where real enemy engagement by drones is done autonomously, but I don’t think there are any.

  • Coastal Ron

    Vladislaw wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    astronaut means space sailor.

    This gets back to why we do anything in space.

    If our only goal is to learn about space so we understand it’s make-up, the history of how the Earth came to be, and what dangers there might be, then we can probably do all of that with non-human systems.

    But if some part of our goal is to expand human presence off of planet Earth and into space, then you can only do that with people.

    Those are not necessarily mutually exclusive activities, but there isn’t 100% overlap either. I advocate for doing both, but that means neither will have the full use of NASA’s meager budget. But without a recognized “National Imperative”, I can live with $18B/year for doing some of both.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    “The idea that such engagement could someday be autonomous is a dream.”

    As I said you need to do a little more research before making any comments such as you made. It happened before my friend with the VSE/Constellation if I am not mistaken. Get your facts straight, you’ll be a lot more effective.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_Grumman_X-47B

  • vulture4

    I believe we can sail in space, but not at a cost of a billion per launch. It has to be affordable for the scientist working on a grant of the tourist using personal funds. And there’s really no physical reason it can’t be; all the fuel, the energy that put the Shuttle in orbit cost about half a million dollars. Whether science is more easily done with robotics or humans depends on the cost for humans to get there.

    As to autonomous air combat vehicles, although the decision parameters are different, the decision to attack a target is no more complex than a car that drives itself. Even now attack decisions are seldom made in real time, and there continue to be cases where manned aircraft attack ground targets in error with civilian casualties.

  • common sense

    @Coastal Ron wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    “But if some part of our goal is to expand human presence off of planet Earth and into space, then you can only do that with people.”

    Of course. But there is nowhere to be seen such a goal signed into law for our government to do.

    “I advocate for doing both, but that means neither will have the full use of NASA’s meager budget.”

    So do I but we have to be realistic. SLS/MPCV is dooming any HSF now and in the future. It is failing as expected and I don’t know for how much longer we can expect to have NASA “fail” (it is not NASA alone but for now…). NASA was saved by Shuttle and it is now on life support with ISS. But there will be a point in time when ISS will be gone. And then?

    “But without a recognized “National Imperative”, I can live with $18B/year for doing some of both.”

    Yes. And I think the $10B HSF budget should be revisited when you see SpaceX doing what Constellation should have been with only $1B so far. That leaves $9B to do quite a bit but not the SLS/MPCV nonsense!!!!! Someday somewhere someone will wake up. Maybe.

  • vulture4

    Regarding the endorsement, Nelson supports few issues important ti the Democratic base and should win easily with space as a minor issue. It’s frustrating that Nelson so consistently supports the Bush-era SLS/Orion while simultaneously taking credit for commercial crew and cargo.

  • Coastal Ron

    common sense wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    But there is nowhere to be seen such a goal signed into law for our government to do.

    Exactly, and I think this has been part of the problem for NASA going back decades – if not to it’s creation. Apollo was a political venture, not for science or human expansion into space – politics.

    Yet since Apollo there has been this assumption that we should be sending people out into space for some reason. I have a reason, you have a reason, politician X has a reason – but there hasn’t been any explicit and agreed upon goal for sending humans out into space.

    I would love for the President to declare that one of our goals is to be a space faring nation, as that would provide some clarity. I can’t see a President declaring the U.S. is going to make humans multi-planetary – that could be seen as too big a goal if they don’t couch it properly (i.e. “we are laying the foundations for future generations to be multi-planetary”).

    SLS/MPCV is dooming any HSF now and in the future.

    Word.

    And I think the $10B HSF budget should be revisited when you see SpaceX doing what Constellation should have been with only $1B so far. That leaves $9B to do quite a bit but not the SLS/MPCV nonsense!

    On point again.

    Someday somewhere someone will wake up. Maybe.

    Let’s hope. That’s what sustains me while advocating on space forums.

  • common sense

    ” I can’t see a President declaring the U.S. is going to make humans multi-planetary – that could be seen as too big a goal if they don’t couch it properly (i.e. “we are laying the foundations for future generations to be multi-planetary”).”

    Well I think this President exactly tried that with FY-11. But politics had the best of it. Without public involvement you will have no support whatsoever.

    “Let’s hope.”

    Few things are going in that direction though. The success of COTS and its descendants and of its poster child SpaceX. Right or wrong a lot rests with SpaceX. When SpaceX is declared successful – and more and more people are coming to this realization – all the while SLS/MPCV not achieving any one of its goals on time and on budget, then things might happen quicker. Because once you have a Dragon flying back and forth to LEO. Once you have a crewed Dragon doing so and once Elon does his stunt and sends Dragon around the Moon THEN how are we going to justify SLS/MPCV? And believe me, or not, as soon as Elon can he will send a Dragon around the Moon with or without a crew. NASA HSF is becoming weaker by the months and soon by the weeks. Once NASA HSF has no more political relevance then SpaceX will be able to make bold moves that will be perceived even more as helping NASA and not competing with NASA. Just watch.

  • common sense

    “‘Space’ was indeed mentioned once by President Obama when he was commenting on military capabilities during the third debate.”

    Absolutely true and this poster ;) remains totally flabbergasted.

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/space-finally-gets-a-mention-in-presidential-debate

  • Heinrich Monroe

    As I said you need to do a little more research before making any comments such as you made. It happened before my friend with the VSE/Constellation if I am not mistaken. Get your facts straight, you’ll be a lot more effective.

    I’m well aware of the X-47B, and if you read the materials on it, you would too. It is a “semi-autonomous” UCAV. No doubt it can fly autonomously from one place to another (that’s not “engagement”) but once you get there and you want to do stuff, things need more real-time supervision. Carrier landings also may require some real-time supervision as well.

    Now to the extent “engagement” means assessing a target and judging the need to hit it, you need people involved, at least now. To the extent it means putting a bomb or a missle onto a certain latitude and longitude, it doesn’t. Neither do strategic ballistic missles. Never ever needed a pilot for those.

    See http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/26/business/la-fi-auto-drone-20120126

    “There is no plan by the U.S. military — at least in the near term — to turn over the killing of enemy combatants to the X-47B or any other autonomous flying machine. But the Air Force said in the “Flight Plan” that it’s only a matter of time before drones have the capability to make life-or-death decisions as they circle the battlefield.”

    Please don’t preach to me about effectiveness.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    You know I am not sure sometimes what you are talking about.

    “Now to the extent “engagement” means assessing a target and judging the need to hit it, you need people involved, at least now. ”

    And does that mean these people have to be pilots????

    You said:

    “The function of enemy engagement that used to be the responsibility of pilots on the attack vehicle are increasingly the responsibility of pilots at GCS’s around the country.”

    And now you say:

    “But the Air Force said in the “Flight Plan” that it’s only a matter of time before drones have the capability to make life-or-death decisions as they circle the battlefield.”

    So what is it? Pilots? No pilots?

    And BTW on that ” Carrier landings also may require some real-time supervision as well.” You have no idea. These are all classified.

    “Please don’t preach to me about effectiveness.”

    Oh but I will however often I feel like.

    So pilots? No pilots? What is it?

  • Heinrich Monroe

    And does that mean these people have to be pilots????

    I call the person with his or her hands on the stick a pilot! We could argue semantics, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    What the LA Times was saying was that the X-47B was a vehicle that IN PRINCIPLE didn’t need people with their hand on the stick, but the USAF wasn’t going to use it that way in making decisions involving attack. So the USAF WILL be involving people in the X-47B real time conops.

    C’mon, lighten up. You’re usually a fairly articulate, sensible, and informed person, but when you get all whiny like this it just doesn’t come across very well. I’d like to have an intelligent discussion, and I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong. But when people start preaching about “effectiveness” (effective in being a discussion forum poster maybe?) it just goes downhill fast.

    As I said above, there are plenty of trolls around here. You, fortunately, are not one. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then, geez, just ask.

  • Googaw

    “‘Space’ was indeed mentioned once by President Obama when he was commenting on military capabilities during the third debate.”

    It’s no coincidence that Romney’s policy statement featured national security as the main goal of a space program, and that Obama’s only mention of it in the debate was in regard to security. Our military space assets dwarf every other space politics issue in importance. Given the secrecy of the whole thing though, it’s not very amenable to public discussion.

  • Googaw

    “we are laying the foundations for future generations to be multi-planetary”)

    Those of us who advocate space colonization — and I quite ardently count myself among this small minority — need to sit back and seriously think about it as multi-generation goal, seriously informed by study of the economic history of prior frontiers.

    And it’s time to seriously question some cherished notions — such as the idea that launching a handful of astronauts today at a cost of several billion dollars per year has anything to do with economical space settlement by our grandchildren or theirs. You have to decide whether you really want you grandchildren, or their grandchildren, to colonize space, or you want the gratification of watching our astronomically costly pilgrimages today. These are two completely different and mutually irrelevant goals.

    What every frontier has needed above everything else is a self-sustaining businesses: these included trade, gold, furs, etc. High-value and low-mass products. Military needs have often played large roles. Much further down the list is exploration purely for the purposes of discovery or science. The practical benefits must outweigh the practical costs at almost every step, regardless of the long-term goals.

    The costs are already low enough to justify substantial space industry, especially communications, and space has also taken on a very substantial military role. Information is the ultimate high-value low-mass product (or service). All of these practical applications are purely unmanned. But the industries are still far too small and the costs far too large for space settlement or any astronauts at all to make economic sense. We are many orders of magnitude away from cost-effective, and thus self-sustaining, space settlement. Colonizing the oceans and the bowels of the earth is far closer to economic reality.

    So what do we need to achieve orders of magnitude of cost reduction and industry growth in space by our grandchildren’s time?

    (1) Much lower cost space launch. The best way to achieve this, besides basic research in various launch methods, is a competitive private launch industry whose customers are also largely private and competitive. Since all such private space industry is and always has been unmanned — as are all the practical security applications — that means making less expensive unmanned launchers. By far the worst way to achieve this is with the bells, whistles, and safety dances requires for HSF — as we saw with the Shuttle and we are seeing again with SLS.

    (2) Developing self-funding industries in space. Given the high expense and uselessness of astronauts, again by far the best way to do this is by promoting unmanned industry, and by far the worst way is by promoting astronaut projects.

    (3) Developing ISRU. Space settlement, especially for “lifeboat” purposes, makes little to no sense if it is heavily dependent on launches from earth for its survival. Nor indeed can we achieve the great potential for growth in space industry until we harness the vast amounts of mass and energy available in space. However until space industry has undergone such radical growth, the actual markets for ISRU are orders of magnitude too small to justify either the cost of the physical scale required to launch and support astronauts. Economical ISRU will start and spend its first decades at a far smaller and quite necessarily unmanned scale, but along with low launch costs will enable the orders of magnitude growth in space industry that we will need.

    (4) Grow the economy and advance technology here on earth, so that we can do far more with far less in space in the future. Call it “reverse spin-off” — which has always been far more important than the supposed spin-offs from space research to the earthside economy anyway. Again, this means advances in automation and miniaturization not in the Luddite goal of increasing the amount of onsite human labor needed to accomplish a task.

    So in all important respects, the best paths to space colonization are all unmanned, and the worst path, indeed the pathological path, is by insisting on launching astronauts in our generation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    A few points if I might in this discussion.

    There is no weapon (other then mines) in the US arsenal that is a “robo gun” in terms of “weapons free”. I suspect that the US military will never have such a device. No person who carries a weapon other then in last ditch self defense can go “weapons free” without some order from the chain of command and some person is always responsible for that order or in the case I mention that action. Even in a weapons free environment get careless with that weapon and you will be called on it by someone.

    I suspect that for “quite sometime” there is always going to be a “person” who gets the weapons free clearance and then “does something” (Pushes button, touches touchscreen whatever) to enable a machine to kill. Drones are not the only “robo” device around. The US military is working very hard on “auto sentries” ie robot devices with “auto guns” patrolling fixed positions however all are fully under the control of “some breathing person”…this is also the situation with counter battery howitzers which right now are the closest thing we have to “autoguns”…the radars detect incoming “ordnance” and the counter battery is automatic but someone says “OK”…

    This is how it is for a plethora of reasons (rules of engagement mostly but some friendly fire etc) it is not just the technology…

    Drones that come on and off “the boat” will do so in an autotakeoff/autoland effort. There is nothing special here. The F-18 routinely catapults with the autopilot doing it “all” and autoland is not the preferred method, aviators being aviators but the F-18 is fully autoland capable. Like all autolands it is extremely precise. Attempts to come on the boat (particularly in bad weather) are “lot less” and recoveries are faster (ie the “dog” is shorter). The boat is far less vulnerable under autoland recovery situations. Eventually the “boat” pitching etc will even feed back into the equation.

    What does this have to do with spaceflight?

    Drones are in the process of replacing (or at least heavily helping crewed assets) in large measure because 1) their development time is far shorter, 2) they are cheaper and 3) the boat (or other deployment mechs) can carry more of them. They are also smaller far more stealthy and as one points out “dont have funerals”.

    Another reason is that the US military industrial complex is far to small now to produce sufficient crewed vehicles to make up for even “Vietnam” style losses. If we had lost in Iraq even 1/10th of the number of air assets we lost in any real year in Vietnam well we would quickly be screwed. and that wont change anytime soon. As an example the Marines recently lost due to ground action in Afland a significant number of their Harriers.

    Romney makes a big deal of the “2 war scenario” but in reality the US MIC has been unable to support such an effort since the mid 70′s a point made by then DoD secretary Don Rumsfeld as he changed it to a 1 and 1/2 war…

    But war is not spaceflight in total. For mechanical task “drones” are going to be far better…and this goes along with NASA/DoD experience…what people in space are good for is real time science and well fixing things that break. Eventually if we find some reason to do resources on the Moon I suspect the “fix things that break” reason will be the reason people are there.

    What people are doing well on ISS is keeping it running…they are working an EVA plan now to try and fix the coolant situation…and probably for quite sometime only people can do things like that. The question is…does ISS do enough cutting edge science to justify the 6 people on it, where 5 are keeping it running?

    That calculus is going to cloud any future human spaceflight effort. It is hard to see something a crewed DoD space vehicle does now.

    RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Wow, I had to double check that you had written this, since there was no mention of zombies or voodoo… ;-)

    Those of us who advocate space colonization — and I quite ardently count myself among this small minority…

    Just an observation, but I couldn’t tell this from most of your normal blog posts. Glad to hear it, but didn’t couldn’t tell previously.

    Colonizing the oceans and the bowels of the earth is far closer to economic reality.

    We’re more likely to colonize space than we are to colonize the Mariana Trench, or really the vast amount of ocean below 100m. Living, working and trying to expand our presence underwater is very, very hard – ever try to process metal underwater?

    (1) Much lower cost space launch. The best way to achieve this… Since all such private space industry is and always has been unmanned… that means making less expensive unmanned launchers. By far the worst way to achieve this is with the bells, whistles, and safety dances requires for HSF — as we saw with the Shuttle and we are seeing again with SLS.

    Elon Musk would disagree with you, and so far you have failed to show how much of a premium it supposedly costs between a “human-rated” rocket and one that isn’t. According to SpaceX, their Falcon 9 is already “human-rated”, and it’s the same one they plan to use for future crew flights.

    As to your two examples, the Shuttle was not a pure human transport vehicle, it was also a large-capactiy cargo hauler and mini-space station. The lesson learned was that future crew transportation systems should be far more simple, which is what the CCiCaps program is encouraging – just the basics, and no more. As to the SLS, it is a mega-sized cargo rocket that is supposed to use Shuttle legacy technology, and be safe enough to mix dangerous cargo with crew. Again, it’s trying to do too much, and not an indictment of using the same rocket for crew transportation and cargo, but on separate flights.

    Developing self-funding industries in space [without humans].

    No one is proposing sending humans along to set up satellites in GEO. This is a strawman argument.

    Developing ISRU. Space settlement, especially for “lifeboat” purposes, makes little to no sense if it is heavily dependent on launches from earth for its survival.

    How do you make a rubber gasket in space? Or a plastic panel? Or a screw? Or a lathe tool to make the screw? Or the lathe?

    ISRU is a long-term goal, but self-sufficiency is an even longer-term goal. Here’s a test – go out into the desert and survive on your own for a year or two without any outside help. See how well you do and get back to us.

    (4) Grow the economy and advance technology here on earth, so that we can do far more with far less in space in the future.

    Now you’re arguing against your own point #3. Make up your mind.

    However this has always been the general idea, so I’m glad you’re finally “discovering” it.

  • common sense

    @ Heinrich Monroe wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    “I call the person with his or her hands on the stick a pilot! We could argue semantics, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

    No Heinrich *you* are arguing semantics. As a pilot I know very well what a pilot is. The guy who pushes a button to manage a weapons system is *not* a pilot. Not even close. Pilot go to flight school. It costs us millions to train and keep current pilots. They possibly die in combat. Not true for a button pusher. At least not as much. When the systems become such that the decision to engage/fire whatever amounts to pushing a button you do not have a pilot. You have something closer to a Weapons System Officer.

    “What the LA Times was saying was that the X-47B was a vehicle that IN PRINCIPLE didn’t need people with their hand on the stick, but the USAF wasn’t going to use it that way in making decisions involving attack. So the USAF WILL be involving people in the X-47B real time conops.”

    Maybe so BUT they are not pilots. FURTHER you said it was a dream and it would not happen that pilots were going away. Pilots are going away as we argue here. The trend is to replace them with automated systems. For combat, there are even studies where a crew would board an aircraft and fly side by side with attacking drones. The crew would stay at a “safe” distance and the drones would go to combat. Not the pilots. Not the human beings. For space, Shuttle was kept with a minimum pilot activity to satisfy the Astronaut Corps they were still designated Pilots. There was no good reason for it. Buran was fully automated. Most airliners are fully automated. The next generation of reentry vehicles do not require a pilot. Original plans for the CEV did not require a pilot. They were given a “stick” for political reasons. I will admit I do not know the status of this issue. But CEV had a stick since about half the Astronaut Corps was made of pilots, the customers for the CEV.

    “C’mon, lighten up. You’re usually a fairly articulate, sensible, and informed person, but when you get all whiny like this it just doesn’t come across very well. I’d like to have an intelligent discussion, and I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong. But when people start preaching about “effectiveness” (effective in being a discussion forum poster maybe?) it just goes downhill fast.”

    Nice to be lectured. Thank you. I don’t know what your expertise is and I cannot judge BUT in light of your comments I still say that you would be more effective indeed if you got all your facts straight. Not every one reading here is a groupie of HSF.

    “As I said above, there are plenty of trolls around here. You, fortunately, are not one. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then, geez, just ask.”

    It is not about asking. We do not have a real time session. You are in this forum as I am with all kinds of people from uninformed to more informed. Make your argument stand so that the informed people understand what you say.

  • common sense

    @ Coastal Ron wrote @ October 25th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    @ Googaw wrote @ October 24th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    “Wow, I had to double check that you had written this, since there was no mention of zombies or voodoo… ”

    Darn yes! I had to read it twice actually myself. Let’s hope Googaw finally decided to be constructive! There was also the answer to Robert in another thread that was very well written.

    Dare I say welcome Googaw or am I too optimistic yet, too early?

    ;)

  • Vladislaw

    I had to check if it was April 1st after reading that, kept waiting for the punchline.

    “What every frontier has needed above everything else is a self-sustaining businesses: these included trade, gold, furs, etc. High-value and low-mass products. Military needs have often played large roles.”

    No, actually what every really successful frontier has needed was clear lines of property rights. Lewis and Clark were not exploring unowned territory and people could move in as soon as the information was released. The more rights that are established the more orderly the frontier is transitioned into the daily economic sphere of activity.

    We want to bring the frontier to us, and we can do that by policies that ecourages capital flows into the desired sectors of the overall space economy. There are not many sunset industries in the space sector yet but there is higher and lower growth in the various sectors.

    Which sectors do we want to ecourage?

    One of the quickest, and cheapest for the taxpayer, methods that could be put in place relatively fast is Zero G – Zero Tax.

  • Googaw

    ISRU is a long-term goal, but self-sufficiency is an even longer-term goal.

    ISRU is an astronomically easier goal than self-sufficiency. For example we have “ISRU” in the bowels of the earth (mines) and at the bottom of the oceans (oil wells), but we’re nowhere remotely close to having self-sufficient economies down or out there.

    Without a self-sufficient economy, there is no such thing as a “lifeboat” space colony, which is the motive most space colony advocates have (“back up the earth”).

  • Googaw

    No, actually what every really successful frontier has needed was clear lines of property rights

    Of course an economy benefits from good property law and suffers from bad. But if the practical benefit to customers is less than the costs, there will be no self-funding business and thus no useful property, no matter how good the property law is.

  • Googaw

    BTW

    (1) I’ve stated here many times before that space development leading, in the time of our grandchildren or their grandchildren, to space colonization, is my main motive for posting here. I promote unmanned space development because it’s the only viable form of space development we have: all viable paths to space colonization go through unmanned industries. Spending billions of dollars a year on astronauts is a dead end, regardless of whether you think you are spending on another Apollo or “investing” in “infrastructure.” It’s too bad some folks are so caught up in the voodoo doll theory of space colonization (oops there you go) and using space colonization as a concocted justification for their cult fetish that this contradictory opinion is soon blotted out of their memory. The voodoo doll theory being, to refresh these memories, where our heavenly diapered dolls are believed to magically breed more astronauts and even more astronauts and then space colonies, all in an economy of fantasy astronaut-centric markets-of-the-future that bear no resemblance to the markets and industries that we actually have in space.

    (2) Every post I’ve made has been constructive, whether you like it or not.

    (3) Your NewSpace heroes are chasing NASA contracts. There is a long and sordid tradition of spinning absurd sci-fi stories in order to win NASA contracts: NewSpace is very old in this regard. You need to work out the spreadsheets for yourself.

    Sorry I couldn’t work “zombies” in but there you go. :-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ October 25th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Without a self-sufficient economy, there is no such thing as a “lifeboat” space colony, which is the motive most space colony advocates have (“back up the earth”).

    Well I don’t disagree with that, but until someone identifies a date for the end of the Earth, being interconnected logistically is OK for our populations in space. That is certainly what we’ve been doing with our Antarctic bases (and all military bases), and if you think about it, most cities in the world are not able to sustain themselves without a massive amount of imports.

    So until something changes, it will be assumed that any human settlements in space will need to stay connected logistically to Mother Earth. BUT, I think the general assumption is that Mother Earth will receive some sort of value from said human settlements, whether it’s raw or processed material, or some form of valuable product or service. That is really the gating item (i.e. money) that will determine how fast we expand in space.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ISRU is an astronomically easier goal than self-sufficiency. For example we have “ISRU” in the bowels of the earth (mines) and at the bottom of the oceans (oil wells), but we’re nowhere remotely close to having self-sufficient economies down or out there.”

    Iron ore for instance isn’t very useful until it is turned into something (like a steel girder). Diging holes in the ground wither on earth or on the moon isn’t isru. Producing something that you intend to use is.

    Even on earth no such thing as a self-sufficient economy, some are more dependent on trade than others (i.e. places like Japan), but even the US imports things like natural rubber, oil, fruits and vegetables. It is just that at the moment there are no people on the moon with which to trade with. Even if the trade from the moon to the earth were lunar rocks because people think they look pretty there would be economic activity on the moon.

    “Without a self-sufficient economy, there is no such thing as a “lifeboat” space colony, which is the motive most space colony advocates have (“back up the earth”).”

    Ah nope not this one at least. I view it more as bringing the universe into the economic sphere of humanity. Making luna and the rest a place where people want to go, would have reason to go and where people hopefully will set up lives there. A lifeboat is just one reason, but imho not the most convincing of reasons.

    The moon, mars and other places have things that can be used to make life there more sustainable. Sure, you will be importing say microchips but humans on the moon would in theory have lunar ices and metal ores in the soil and use of those materials onsite could be cheaper than importing(depending on the item). Imho find a reason to send someone to the moon that goes beyond flag waving and flag planting. Find a way to involve commercial spaceflight as much as possible so that costs are contained and controlled and so that you don’t need to go to Congress for every investment and send people who are not astronauts employed by the government and the moon will become developed. Might take some decades but it can.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ October 25th, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I promote unmanned space development because it’s the only viable form of space development we have: all viable paths to space colonization go through unmanned industries.

    Maybe in your head, but you’re going to need to provide some details since this doesn’t make much sense.

    In our history here on Earth, colonization usually happens because of commerce and industry. If that is done by robotic system only, then there is no need for a 7-Eleven (or it’s equivalent) staffed with people, and all the people it takes to give the 7-Eleven staff somewhere to go and something to do after work.

    Robotic systems may end up doing the heavy work for us in space, but there will be a need for humans, because we are the ultimate (and smartest) multi-purpose machine.

    Besides, what you sort of describe sounds like a sci-fi book I read decades ago, where robots build our cities and then we just show up and occupy them – that is too far in the future to be something we should be planning on.

    We’ll just expand out into space the old fashion way – one additional person at a time. And the more people that go, the less expensive per person it will get.

  • Vladislaw

    “Of course an economy benefits from good property law and suffers from bad. But if the practical benefit to customers is less than the costs, there will be no self-funding business and thus no useful property, no matter how good the property law is.”

    Actually it does because people will not want to risk capital without that clear title. Without the title, you can not put the asset on the books.

    Many people have said that utilizing something like the sea treaty on the moon would be best. I disagree, you can not put the ocean on the books as a asset. Property does not have to have to be “useful”, in the usual sense, to have great value to the asset side of the ledger, the only thing that matters is market value versus aquistion costs. Frontiers are almost always defined by lots of new resources that are gained for minor fractions of what it is worth.

    Something that goes along with any frontier is the speculation phase and the buying and selling of those rights to resources on the new frontier. This is what makes it possible to go out and try and strike it rich in the new frontier. Water rights, timber rights, sand and gravel rights, all the PMG’s, et cetera, et cetera. This always happens with every frontier. From grants from the king to grants from the state, land is claimed, ownership established, grants made of resources, enterpreneurs try to turn the free to cheap resources into a marketable product.

    I know I routinely drag out this dead horse, but until Earth tackles the issue we will not see real capital flows. It is also why I no longer advocate landing on moon or mars for right now but just develop the transportation systems infrastructure.

    The more human traffic doing overflights of that 9 billion acre unclaimed asset called Luna the sooner the issue will get settled.

  • Googaw

    I wrote:
    I promote unmanned space development because it’s the only viable form of space development we have

    I can understand why this would not make sense to an astronaut cultist. But why would this straightforward observation of reality not make sense to a normal person?

  • Googaw

    Robotic systems may end up doing the heavy work for us in space

    Typical astronaut cult “dialog”: completely ignore reality and instead use as the supposedly normal point of comparison a retro “vision” of “the future” that became obsolete long before the end of the last century. The reality here in the world we actually live in is that unmanned systems already do all of the practical heavy lifting in space. In fact, unmanned systems have always done all the cost-effective commercial, military, and scientific work in space. Astronauts are many orders of magnitude too expensive to do any cost-effective and practical work. That is not a gap that tweaking NASA contracting practices and chanting “commerce! Musk! commerce! Bigelow!” can come anywhere close to closing, no matter how obsessive your chanting or elaborate your designs for doll house “infrastructure”. Unmanned systems have been more cost-effective than astronauts ever since the first satellite was launched over five decades ago. The gap between the two has grown orders of magnitude greater since, and continues to grow.

    But trying to introduce reality into a discussion with an astronaut cultist is like beating one’s head against a brick wall. When your interlocuter is obsessed with cosmic pilgrimages out of the pages of decades-old pulp fiction and pop “science” mags, reality matters to them only insofar as they can twist it until it seemingly justifies their glorious cosmic pilgrims.

    These cultists aren’t the slightest bit interested in actually exploring the planets , “backing up earth” , developing actual space industry, improving national security, or any other laudable goal they proclaim as a justification for their fetish. They are interested only in one thing and will always, regardless of reality, quickly and relentlessly return to it like a dog to its vomit: in yet again stiffing the taxpayers to build yet more billion-dollar doll houses and “man-rated” rockets for their useless diapered Buzz Lightyears. When they invoke any of the afforementioned laudable goals they do so purely as rationalizations that reveal themselves as astronomically preposterous to any normal and intelligent person who bothers to escape from cult “visions”, observe reality, and use it to drill down into this kind of “thinking”.

    We’ll just expand out into space the old fashion way – one additional person at a time.

    The voodoo doll theory of space colonization in a nutshell: launch an astronaut today and by cosmic magic another will follow in their footsteps. No reality required. Just relentless mindless efforts year after year to lobby to stick the taxpayers and their children with more billions of dollars for yet another of these useless diapered fetishes.

  • Coastal Ron

    Googaw wrote @ October 26th, 2012 at 1:13 am

    The reality here in the world we actually live in is that unmanned systems already do all of the practical heavy lifting in space.

    You apparently think that telecommunication satellites are going to spread humanity throughout the universe. Not quite.

    “Here in the world we actually live” it is predominately humans that do the majority of the work, and robotic systems are only used for repetitive, dangerous or high-volume applications.

    Out in space, the one place where humans do live there are not a lot of robotic systems, and the ones that are there are not very capable for doing physical things.

    You continue to want to drive your car forward by looking in the rearview mirror to see where you came from.

    The voodoo doll theory of space colonization … yet another of these useless diapered fetishes.

    I guess the old Googaw has taken control of the keyboard again. And I was so looking forward to finally getting a lucid conversation…

  • Vladislaw

    Googaw wrote:

    “I can understand why this would not make sense to an astronaut cultist”

    “Typical astronaut cult “dialog”: ”

    “The voodoo doll theory of space colonization”

    “(2) Every post I’ve made has been constructive, whether you like it or not. “

    Well I am glad to see the old googoo back, the one that only posts “constructive” posts.

  • common sense

    @ Vladislaw wrote @ October 26th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    “Well I am glad to see the old googoo back, the one that only posts “constructive” posts.”

    Must be a problem with the meds on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off…

    and on and off and on and off and on…

    Darn what did I do with *my* meds????

  • E.P. Grondine

    “THAT’S your gripe with Ed? ”

    No, my gripe with Ed is that he was incapable of understanding the severity of a threat to this nation’s well being because he was so addicted to his brain juice thrill from cosmology.

    Further, he and Griffin committed an act of open contempt of Congress.

    I don’t hate or fear Ed Weiler, and I am not fixated on him.

    “Fooled me. You don’t miss an opportunity to diss him. I would love to see you in a face-off with Ed. He’d take you apart intellectually.”

    Now you know why. As far as the face off went –
    http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/ccc/ce091702.html

    I was a reporter, and interviewed Weiler and reported “objectively” until I could not take any more crap.

    For that matter, I’ve tried politely many times to explain my thinking to both you and Googaw. The facts do not appear to sink in – but then most of this is material form before my stroke, and the typing is good exercise for my fingers.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    “Sigh. So many trolls, so little time.”

    I’ve repeatedly tried to explain my thinking very clearly to both you and Googaw, only to have both of you misstate it, along with the facts that underpin it.

    There is a bell curve to this, and you two are 2 people out of some 300 million people living in this nation. Since neither of you vote on the NASA budget nor have executive say, you’re really not all that important in the grand scheme of things.

    What’s going to end this nonsense is three large holes in the ground.
    I can only hope that that work is completed in time.

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