Campaign '12

Space is one of 39

Last night the Obama campaign posted (and emailed to its vast distribution list) a list of 39 accomplishments (“Just a couple”, the campaign noted at the beginning of the list) that the president had made in his first term. There’s a lot of predictable big-ticket issues listed, but tucked in at number 34, between entries for naturalizing servicemembers and promoting tourism, space gets a cameo:

34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida’s Space Coast.

Of course, that “new vehicle for exploration of distant space”—a reference, presumably to the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System launch vehicle—hasn’t been built yet, and that choice of words—“distant space”—sounds off, as if someone in Chicago perhaps confused it with the more commonly used “deep space.” And those on the Space Coast might be wishing the president had done more, and/or different things, to help their economy. But it’s interesting space even made the list at all.

41 comments to Space is one of 39

  • Mary

    Distant space with an overgrown Apollo capsule currently riding a paper rocket. His campaign is about to become a distant memory.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Both campaigns are about to become entertaining memories…I suspect Obama however is going to get a second term…you can tell the leadership at Red State thinks this they are already trying to disarm the beloved RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida’s Space Coast. ”

    Well …Lincoln has finally freed the slaves. Obama should have been mentioning this at every occasion and tying Romney to that ridiculous policy Bush 43 left behind…

    BTW I like “distant space” RGO

    • Mary

      Unfortunately Obama supported what Bush intended in keeping the monopolies in place. He may have canceled CxP, which was DOA anyway but continued to support the SLS monopoly. Commercial space ( pitched as private ) became the scapegoat to delay the development of crew and cargo for the likes of ATK. Do we have crew or cargo? No. Is this about politics or the love of a guy who has done absolutely nothing for four years? No. Its about satisfying shareholders on both sides of the isle.

    • Mary

      No, Obama does not have a plan to survive in space for the long term. Just off the cuff remarks.

  • Commercial Crew development is only a tiny part of NASA’s already small manned spaceflight related budget. So if the President had embraced the SLS right from the start without terminating NASA’s return to the Moon while also continuing the Shuttle program until private spacecraft are ready, he probably would have gotten strong bipartisan support in Congress for at least a one billion dollar increase in the NASA budget.

    Such a strong bipartisan space policy would have been good for the Florida economy. And President Obama would probably be leading in the poles in the State of Florida right now– instead of trailing.

    But the poles in Florida are still tight. So his people must think he still has a chance to win in Florida. That’s why space policy is suddenly being mentioned by the Obama administration!

    Marcel F. Williams

    • Robert G. Oler

      I am surprised FL is as tight as it is RGO

    • Lars

      “So if the President had embraced the SLS right from the start without terminating NASA’s return to the Moon while also continuing the Shuttle program until private spacecraft are ready, he probably would have gotten strong bipartisan support in Congress for at least a one billion dollar increase in the NASA budget.”

      At least a billion more? LOL. What fantasy land are you writing from?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Of course Orion was started under Bush 43 and Obama tried to cancel it. Just saying.

    • Robert G. Oler

      But it was kept because the GOP (and a few Dem senators) Love pork and Orion and SLS are pork and technowelfare.

      and you support those RGO

    • Neil Shipley

      Yes well since Congress is apparently underfunding MCPV and SLS and both are slipping to the right, we can expect the inevitable cancellation as per Cx irrespective of who occupies the Oval Office.
      Of course, SpaceX is on track to eliminate them both. Notice I deliberately didn’t use the term ‘need’ since this has never been demonstrated. Just saying.

    • Vladislaw

      Thank you Mark for pointing out where that pork train to nowhere originated. We certainly don’t want the blame to fall on President Obama.

  • DCSCA

    #34- translation: this is not a priority item for my administration and most of you have no interest in space anyway,m which is why this in number 39, and can’t tell the difference between space exploitation and space exploration anyway. Besides, Hillary has an interest in space. You’ve waited four decades to get going again- what’s another 4 years.

  • It’s a shame that the Obama administration has not embraced the truly historic achievement of his first term.

    This administration has created an entirely new economy based on research, development and eventually production in microgravity. It’s an economy that is unique to the United States, and by the end of the decade will bring the global launch business back to this country.

    I wrote about this last September; click here to read.

    This shift is so tectonic that Roscosmos General Director Vladimir Popovkin said in September they fear SpaceX could put them out of the international launching business within three years. On October 3, Parabolic Arc ran an article that ESA now questions if they can compete with SpaceX.

    The global market for commercial satellite launches went overseas because of the ULA monopoly, but those launches are coming back here thanks to SpaceX.

    Although the roots of commercial cargo and crew trace back to the Bush administration, the Obama administration embraced it and primed the pump.

    Seven nations have signed up to use the Bigelow inflatable habitats, which will begin launching in 2015 on the SpaceX Falcon 9. SpaceX and Boeing will deliver customers to those habitats. ISS is demonstrating the potential for biotech discoveries in microgravity; Bigelow will be where the economy moves from research to production.

    NASA folks often compare this to when the federal government started paying barnstorming pilots to deliver air mail, which gave birth to the commercial airline industry. That is the significance of what the Obama administration has given us.

    But all that doesn’t fit into a catchy campaign slogan, so it’s generally ignored.

    Unfortunately, many people define “the space program” by how fat their guaranteed government job is. NASA is not about jobs. It’s about aerospace research and development. That was its purpose when created in 1958, and that’s still its purpose in federal law.

    The Obama administration has taken NASA back to its original intent — which will give us an entirely new economy by the end of the decade.

    • William Mellberg

      Stephen C. Smith wrote:

      “NASA folks often compare this to when the federal government started paying barnstorming pilots to deliver air mail, which gave birth to the commercial airline industry.”

      Which is a false comparison. There was a pre-existing mass market for express mail. It was simply a matter of siphoning it away from Railway Express to Air Mail. Ditto for the passenger flights that followed. The biggest challenge the early airlines faced was to prove that they could fly the mail (and people) both economically and safely. But they did not need to artificially create a market because there was already a commercial market for carrying mail (and people) between Point A and Point B. No such mass market exists for so-called “commercial” space. The ISS is not a “commercial” destination. There is no real comparison between the early days of commercial aviation in the United States (which was a decade behind Europe at the time) and “commercial” space. In the current case, taxpayers are being asked to flip the bill for a premature “industry.” If there is really a market for “commercial” space, let them fund it privately — not with tax dollars. Ditto for electric cars. Government should not be picking winners and losers in the private sector. “Commercial” space is just another form of government contracting. I discussed all of this at length with David Livingston on The Space Show earlier this year. http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1702-BWB-2012-01-31.mp3

      • Vladislaw

        I thought the government was doing the mail not private enterprise? I thought the government started around 1911 with tests and by 1918 it was the airforce and government planes. Wasn’t it the airmail scandal that led congress to investigate in 1930 that led to the kelly air act and commercial taking over mail services?

        • William Mellberg

          Vladislaw, if you have some time to spare, you might want to listen to my interview with Dr. Livingston on The Space Show. I talked about the early airlines in some detail. But in a nutshell, you are correct that the U.S. Post Office launched Air Mail service with their own aircraft and pilots. They started in 1918 with a route between Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Two years later, they started flying from New York to Chicago to San Francisco. The mail sacks were carried by plane during the day and by train at night (82 hours, coast-to-coast). When the Post Office decided to expand its Air Mail service in 1925, the Kelly Act awarded feeder routes to private carriers. Charles Lindbergh, for example, was flying the mail between St. Louis and Chicago for Robertson Aircraft Corporation before he flew the Atlantic in 1927. Many other fledgling airlines were flying Air Mail across the country, including some that would evolve into legacy carriers such as American and United. Several of them started flying passengers, as well — operating Fokker tri-motors, Ford tri-motors and Boeing tri-motors. (European airlines, such as KLM, had been carrying both freight and people since 1918.)

          By 1933, when Franklin Roosevelt became President of the United States, the Boeing 247 was in service, reducing the coast-to-coast travel time to 19.5 hours. It was the first modern airliner (all-metal, low-wing, retractable undercarriage). That same year, Senator Hugo Black launched an investigation of alleged (emphasis on “alleged”) collusion in the awarding of air mail contracts during the Hoover Administration. The following year (1934), the Roosevelt Administration cancelled all Air Mail contracts and ordered the Army to carry the mail. That decision proved to be catastrophic, resulting in an epidemic of crashes and deaths. The airlines were soon carrying the Air Mail once again (and are still hauling the mail today).

          Lindbergh locked horns with the Roosevelt Administration over its interference in the airline industry, resulting in a bitter White House smear campaign against the national hero.

          I highly recommend James P. Duffy’s “Lindbergh vs. Roosevelt” (Regnery Publishing, 2010) which details this history. And if you can find a copy on eBay, “High Horizons” (sub-titled “Daredevil Flying Postmen to Modern Magic Carpet”) by Frank J. Taylor offers a wonderful look at the development of the early air carriers — focusing on the rise of United Airlines.
          A more recent publication is “The Age of Flight” by William Garvey and David Fisher (Pace Communications, 2002). It is the official history of United Airlines, published for their 75th anniversary. (I was the fact checker for this beautiful coffee table book, and I’m quoted inside the front cover.) Chapter One, The Early Years, covers the Air Mail story.

          All interesting reading. And quite a different story from today’s “commercial” space.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi WM –

            Anything about the political maneuvering of Howard Hughes in any of them?

            Hve you read “The Winged Gospel”? It seems to me that aviation utopianism and space utopianism bear close comparison.

      • Robert G. Oler

        William Mellberg

        the historically challenged…LOL

        you act like the GOP does now, they grew up in an economic and military superpower and think that its always been that way…

        There is not a single industry that exist as a “major” player in our economic system which did not start with federal subsidies and does not exist with Federal subsidies. The same people who make your argument ” In the current case, taxpayers are being asked to flip the bill for a premature “industry.” If there is really a market for “commercial” space, let them fund it privately — not with tax dollars. Ditto for electric cars. Government should not be picking winners and losers in the private sector. “Z

        are the same people who say “if we cut subsidies for Exxon or dont give them more then wow they will stop drilling” and when that absurdity is pointed out then they say “well ok maybe not Exxon but the small players in the oil industry the wildcatters and we have to keep them going” all while the US is using record amounts of petroleum products.

        And I wont even start on the military industrial complex whose argument always somehow gets to “wow this will cut jobs” and then argues against the Obama stim bill because it was ‘make work”

        What losers and your argument is a loser as well.

        The airmail but really the airlines would not be where they are without massive federal subsidies designed to support them because at the time the main logic behind doing so was that people thought the US should lead in aviation technology. (the same argument was made about 75 years earlier …on the airmail subsidy…for the “rAilway mail act”…

        In the end the “there is no real market for human spaceflight” is the goofiest argument made, especially when it is made by people who then turn around and support NASA government spending period.

        THERE IS NO REAL MISSION for NASA HSF or HSF in general to warrant tax dollars unless it is to stakehold a place to grow a human spaceflight industry. You can say it is to go plant flags on Planets or stop the Godless chinese or whatever goofy argument youw ant but in the end those all collapse.

        What the mission is today is to provide a stake for the development of a national human spaceflight industry that is affordable in hopes that at somepoint something useful might on its own might be found and a vehicle might emerge (think the DC-3) that revolutionizes the future.

        The rise of the US as an economic and military “superpower” and now “Major power” is directly traceable to the rise of a powerful federal government….a government that choses industries which are in the national interest and supports them.

        YOU nor Whittington nor Wind nor anyone else can show me a major world pwoer that does not have a strong central government…that as a part of its existence does such things.

        Robert G. Oler

        • William Mellberg

          Robert G. Oler wrote:

          “What the mission is today is to provide a stake for the development of a national human spaceflight industry that is affordable in hopes that at somepoint something useful might on its own might be found and a vehicle might emerge (think the DC-3) that revolutionizes the future.”

          Mr. Oler, the Douglas DC-1/DC-2 and DC-3 were developed with private funds and bought with private funds. I suggest you find a copy of my own book, “Famous Airliners: From Biplane to Jetliner, The Story of Travel by Air” (Plymouth Press, 1999), and read pages 4-47. You might learn something.

          Hoping that “at some point something useful on its own might be found” is not a good reason for the federal government to be funneling tax dollars into start-up companies — whether those companies are selling solar panels, electric cars or spaceships. Moreover, what does the word “affordable” mean to you? You might have been able to afford a seat on a DC-3 in 1936. But unless you’re one of those evil “millionaires and billionaires” that President Obama keeps talking about, you won’t be buying a ticket into space in your lifetime.

          • Robert G. Oler

            William Mellberg
            November 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm · Reply

            “Mr. Oler, the Douglas DC-1/DC-2 and DC-3 were developed with private funds and bought with private funds”

            The technology to build them was not. NACA developed the wing, did the heavy lifting on making the engines “work” and developed along with the FAA developed almost all of the “systems” that made he cockpits what today we call “IFR” capable. The FAA developed and maintained the airways system including that for “blind flying”.

            The DC-1-3 are a direct result of the airmail bill…because the airmail bill was slanted toward the development of larger airplanes even though smaller ones would have been more then adequate.

            No historical parallel is 100 percent complete, history does not repeat, it echos…but the Federal government has been on hand in a substantive way in aviation going from a bunch of brothers pushing a product to well today with NextGen airspace.

            The very first people that the Wrights went to sale their planes to was the US Army …and those planes literally had then no mission.

            The money that the federal government spends to encourage things that develop into new technologies is trivial today and yesterday compared to what it spends on maintaining current technologies.

            here is a hint…imagine the automakers without the interstate highway system.

            This argument is even more pesuasive when the traditional method of how the government operates has failed. Compare the Army flying the mail to well SLS.

            RGO

          • Robert G. Oler

            William Mellberg
            November 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm · Reply
            ” You might have been able to afford a seat on a DC-3 in 1936. But unless you’re one of those evil “millionaires and billionaires” that President Obama keeps talking about, you won’t be buying a ticket into space in your lifetime.”

            Let me start with the “evil”. I challenge you to find a quote and place where the President has called millionares or even Romneyaires “evil”. Saying that they should pay their fair share of taxes having made out like bandits over the last 12 years is not saying that they are evil.

            On the other hand you can find quotes where I have called them evil. Any group that argues for zero regulation and then when their sorry business decisions catch up to them run to the federal government and say “save us”…is evil. I personally would have either thrown them off of buildings are put them in wet cement.

            As you allude to space travel for humans is not the same as airplane travel…I’ve been shooting down that notion since the old CSERVE space policy days…so you are not making any points with me.

            The issue is can the price of human access to orbit come down low enough to allow a wide enough group to go into orbit to do things which have some value to cost and that will then cause the cost of access to go down.

            I dont for awhile see large numbers of people traveling in space for any real reason. Not many people live on the ocean for long periods of time. They do however work there.

            Go look for that Obama quote or stop using that phrase. RGO

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi WM –

            The analogy with 1930′s aviation is not valid for the same reason that analogies with ships in the 1400-1500′s is not valid.

            The amount of resources needed to design and build a true launcher far exceed the amount of resources needed for a late medieval ship or an early aircraft. The first could be built by a village, the second by an individual or small
            shop.

            Lockheed pioneered monocoque in a small shop.

            The resources to build the Boeing 247 came from defense contracts, which developed metal monoque.

            Competing airlines then financed the DC1/2/3. They received government support through airmail contracts.

        • Googaw

          THERE IS NO REAL MISSION for NASA HSF or HSF in general to warrant tax dollars unless it is to stakehold a place to grow a human spaceflight industry.

          In short, there is no real mission for HSF. Only economic fantasy.

    • CharlesHouston

      Those of us that have worked the Shuttle and other space programs know to be a lot more careful before believing press releases. I like the SpaceX guys I work with but they sure have a lot of orders and plans for a company with so little flight experience. And yes they can hire people like Ken Bowersox but that experience does not make up for new engine designs, new capsule designs, etc. When SpaceX experiences its first serious launch failure, we will see how they recover.
      We have learned to be people who are enthusiastic but want to see flight experience, test data, etc. It is nice to have cheerleaders but they do not substitute for hard lessons learned.
      And I sure want America to be well represented in space but we are just not the center of gravity anymore. ISS depends on our European and Japanese (and Russian!) participants. Even space tourism – how many space tourists so far have been American citizens??
      And microgravity production – what happened to that? How much production is happening in microgravity today??? Since we have just (this week) really regained the ability to get even tiny samples back from ISS – not much is happening.
      It is great to have cheerleaders on the sidelines but the coaches and players need to train and plan and operate for the worst case situation, and not go forward assuming that the game is going to be easy.
      Ok, so how does that relate to the title and intent of this discussion? We need to realize that #34 is a campaign slogan and not reality. We need some sort of realistic plan and budget – and all we get from both campaigns is electioneering.
      Sigh. We deserve better.

      • Robert G. Oler

        “. When SpaceX experiences its first serious launch failure, we will see how they recover.”

        In the ever sliding goal post of “when SpaceX succeeds” this has become the last firewall (for now) of the NASA crowd…I heard it at the Halloween parties until finally I asked the guy who just wore me out (well I had just heard it so much) “So how did NASA do after Challenger and Columbia”

        The reply was “well we got the vehicles flying again” and mine was “and then went back to the same old practices and killed more people”

        NASA corporate has not learned a single lesson from either Challenger or Columbia and you can see it in the SLS/Orion BS…you have people saying “SpaceX has to prove themselves before they carry people” and in the next breath say “lets send the second flight of SLS/Orion to orbit the moon”

        Goofy

        SpaceX right now is showing enormous professionalism in dealing with their launch event…I dont see why you are worried.

        I agree “sigh we deserve better” RGO

      • “When SpaceX experiences its first serious launch failure, we will see how they recover.”

        We’ve seen recovery. Where were you when they blew the first three Falcon-1 launches…?

  • E.P. Grondine

    I read Jim Oberg’s analysis of what went wrong with the Russian space industry, and I disagree with his analysis.

    The Soviet space industry was spread through several countries,
    and relations with Ukraine and Kazahkstan were not good.

    NPO Energia wasted precious resources and time trying to keep the Energia core flying.

    Sats were peculiarly Russian, and not in conformance with international standards.

    Russia could have built the fly-back Zenith internally without the need for Ukrainian technology.

    They preferred Chelomei because of the revenue generated by the Proton, but the Angara development effort did not use lessons learned.

    That’s the way I think China will go next, with fly-back using Energomash technology based engines, and not with a heavy booster based on Ariane engine technology.

    The European response is unclear to me now.

    I do not want to single thread our own space sector through SpaceX, and that’s why I want to see ULA working on a re-usable fly-back first stage.

  • E.P. Grondine

    I suppose someday when the records are released we will find out what happened, as with Griffin et al., but my current guess is that if the Congress had of gone with DIRECT at the start, Obama would have supported that fully.

    My other guess is that ATK killed DIRECT.

  • pathfinder_01

    “ Even space tourism – how many space tourists so far have been American citizens??”

    Well, NASA has bought all Soyuz seats till 2016. Basically the tourist have been locked out no matter what nationality.

    “And microgravity production – what happened to that? How much production is happening in microgravity today??? Since we have just (this week) really regained the ability to get even tiny samples back from ISS – not much is happening.”

    ISS is not a factory. It is a laboratory. Laboratories either collect and analyze samples or collect samples and send them out to other labortories to be analized.

    In the first cast all one would care about is the data(the sample could be thrown out afterwards). In the second then you need ability to bring samples home. Research does not stop because you can’t bring the sample back but it does change/limit what you can do with such research. An experiment on plant growth for instance could take pictures of the plants growing at regular intervals. In which case the data is pictures which today can be sent down via radio. Doing a detailed chemical analaysis of the plants would probably require a trip back to earth(depending on just what you are trying to do) or storage until such a trip is possible.

    Also all you need for lab work is small amounts of something. The bigger issues would be keeping something stored under proper conditions till it could get to the lab which Dragon helps there(i.e. It can carry something frozen).

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg
    November 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm · Reply

    Hoping that “at some point something useful on its own might be found” is not a good reason for the federal government to be funneling tax dollars into start-up companies >>

    I suggest that you go read Ronald Wilson Reagan’s remarks about why the nation was going to spend he thought 8 billion dollars building a space station…..

    the argument you are advancing is both historically and logically baseless. The federal government spends billions in spaceflight; now this is a country which values free enterprise and has never had a national airline.

    BUT you would then say “dont spend very modest amounts of federal dollars” (SpaceX has gotten and will get less then 1 year of SLS spending on development money) to empower private enterprise?

    The Romney campaign is taking that argument to I believe its grave next Tuesday. RGO

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi RGO -

    “THERE IS NO REAL MISSION for NASA HSF or HSF in general to warrant tax dollars unless it is to stakehold a place to grow a human spaceflight industry.”

    I’ll differ with you there – there is a national security reason, specifically planetary defense via the Comet and Asteroid Protection System, also known as CAPS.

  • William Mellberg

    E.P. Grondine asked:

    “Hi WM – Anything about the political maneuvering of Howard Hughes in any of them?”

    Not in “High Horizons” or “The Age of Flight.” But I included Howard Hughes in my book, “Famous Airliners.” He is mentioned in several chapters — in particular, Chapter 20, which describes the Avro Canada C102 Jetliner (the first jet transport to be built and flown in North America). Page 86 has what I’ve been told is the only known color photograph of Mr. Hughes. It was taken by my late friend, Don Rogers, who was Avro Canada’s chief test pilot, and who sat in the right-hand seat as Hughes flew the Jetliner. Don described Howard as “a natural-born pilot.” And my dear friend, Jim Floyd (98 years old), chief designer of the Jetliner and the legendary Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, described Hughes as a “very talented engineer.” Howard desperately wanted to acquire the Jetliner for TWA, but the Canadian government prevented him from doing so by halting production of the aircraft. C.D. Howe (sometimes referred to as “Minister of Everything” by his critics) wanted Avro Canada to focus all of its resources on building the CF-100 Canuck. Howe had played a key role in building Canada’s aircraft industry during World War II, and in recruiting American executives to help create Trans-Canada Air Lines (today’s Air Canada) following the Roosevelt Administration’s attack on the U.S. airline industry in 1934. The Jetliner could have been in service as early as 1954. (It first flew in 1949, just two weeks after the de Havilland Comet.) National Airlines had actually ordered the type, and the USAF wanted to buy Jetliners, as well. Hughes tried to get a licensing agreement that would have seen Convair producing the Jetliner in San Diego. But Canadian politicians killed the Jetliner, just as they shot down the Arrow a few years later. The good news was that two dozen of Avro Canada’s top engineers came to NASA in 1959, including Jim Chamberlin (designer of the Gemini spacecraft), John Hodge (one of Chris Kraft’s original flight directors) and Owen Maynard (who played a key role in the design of the Lunar Module, and who laid out the Apollo flight schedule). Other ‘Avroites’ wound up at Boeing, Douglas, Lockheed and McDonnell (to name a few). Jim Floyd returned to his native England where he led Hawker Siddeley’s Advanced Projects Group and helped design Concorde.

    Which brings me back to Howard Hughes …

    Jim Floyd spent long hours meeting with Hughes to pore over the details of the Jetliner design. Hanging over the desk in Jim’s home office is a photo of the Jetliner at Hughes’ airfield in Culver City, California. It is inscribed: “To Jim Floyd — with commendation for this very good design. Howard Hughes.” It was the Jetliner that ‘Hughes’ (Leonardo DiCaprio) was referring to over and over at the end of “The Aviator” … “the way of the future, the way of the future.” Even though the Jetliner did not go into production, it did point “the way to the future” … and created quite a sensation during a series of demonstration flights across the United States in the early 1950s.

    Hughes also asked Jim Floyd to design a supersonic transport for TWA in the mid-1950s, as well as a medium-range jet transport — which Convair later built as the 880. The 880 turned out to be a financial disaster for Convair, as did the follow-on 990. But Howard’s influence could be found inside every 880 that was built … gold trim in the cabin appointments. Hughes originally wanted the 880s to have gold anodized exteriors. The type was to have been known as the “Golden Arrow.” The gold finish proved to be impractical; but the gold trim stayed.

    Of course, Hughes also influenced the design of the Lockheed Constellation, which he acquired for TWA. And, as you probably know, he fought Congress tooth and nail — in particular, Senator Owen Brewster who championed Pan Am’s monopoly on international air routes.

    If you can find a copy, I highly recommend “Howard Hughes and TWA” by Robert W. Rummel (Smithsonian, 1991). Bob Rummel was head of engineering at TWA for many years and worked directly with Hughes. He was also one of Jim Floyd’s good friends. Rummel claimed that aviation “was Howard’s one and only true love.” Rummel’s book offers a definitive look at the influence Hughes had at TWA during the quarter century that he owned the airline.

    While the media focused on Howard’s eccentricities and mental illness during his later years, I was pleased that Martin Scorsese chose to focus on his passion for aviation in “The Aviator.” For aviation is where Hughes made his greatest contributions. He was, as Jim Floyd says, “a genuine visionary.”

    Incidentally, my Father worked as a consultant to Hughes Aircraft Company for many years after he had led the design and development of the camera systems for the Surveyor spacecraft (built by Hughes). He, too, has nothing but respect and admiration for Mr. Hughes, who was a pioneer in missiles and communication satellites, as well as airplanes.

    Finally, I would also recommend “Howard Hughes: Aviator” by George J. Marrett (Naval Institute Press, 2004). It provides an excellent look at the role Hughes played in the development of aviation.

  • Dave Hall

    William Mellberg wrote: Which brings me back to Howard Hughes …

    I’d pay to download all your published books onto my Amazon Kindle if you found a way to make them available as Kindle editions … and I’ll also pay to read your comparison of Howard Hughes and Elon Musk and the effect the two individuals had/are having on their respective eras. FWIW I recently paid $0.99 to download am ancient David Brin short story that took 15-minutes to read.

    • William Mellberg

      Dave Hall wrote:

      “I’d pay to download all your published books onto my Amazon Kindle if you found a way to make them available as Kindle editions … and I’ll also pay to read your comparison of Howard Hughes and Elon Musk and the effect the two individuals had/are having on their respective eras.”

      I wish my books were available as Kindle editions. And I’d also love to see the hundreds of magazine articles that I’ve written for Air Enthusiast, Air International, Airliners, Airways, Sky & Telescope and similar publications available online or for Kindle. Here’s one of my articles that you can read online. I wrote it for Harrison Schmitt’s website and have posted the link here previously:

      http://www.americasuncommonsense.com/blog/wp-content/pdfFiles/Mellberg_Apollo17LaunchArticle.pdf

      As for your comment about Howard Hughes and Elon Musk …

      You won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve thought about that comparison myself. Two very different personalities. Both unique. And both having/had an effect on their respective eras.

      Of course, there are some similarities. Elon Musk, like Howard Hughes, is a wealthy man and is using that wealth to pursue his dreams/vision. Musk made his fortune on his own. Hughes inherited his wealth. But he multiplied it, and used it to pursue his dreams/vision.

      Hughes made an effort to develop steam cars (unsuccessfully). Musk is developing electric cars (with better results).

      Both men were somewhat controversial (Hughes more so). Both men shook up the status quo. But Musk has been better at building support for his efforts.

      The comparisons go on and on, and someone probably will write a book (or at least an article) about them some day.

      I would also compare Elon Musk to Bill Lear. Lear got his start inventing the car radio … Motorola. Then he got into avionics. Of course, his greatest success came with the Lear Jet. Many people questioned his concept for a small, business jet — all the more so since it was loosely based on the design of a fizzled Swiss fighter jet. But the Lear Jet quickly became a best seller. Lear also came up with the idea for a ‘wide body’ business jet called the LearStar 600. He sold the concept to Canadair in Montreal. That firm developed the design and produced the aircraft as the popular Challenger series. Which, in turn, evolved into the highly successful Canadair Regional Jet. (Canadair was bought by Bombardier, which also owns LearJet.)

      Elon Musk’s personal life also resembles Bill Lear’s to some degree. Let’s put it this way. Musk is more like Lear than like Hughes.

      Incidentally, some people believe Howard Hughes suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome. It would tend to explain some of his behavior as a young man. He later slipped into drug dependency as a result of the pain killers he took following his near fatal crash in the Hughes XF-11. Needless to say, Musk does not display the sort of eccentric behavior for which Hughes was known.

      In the end, Elon Musk is a unique individual. What he shares with other entrepreneurs and inventors of the past is vision … plus the passion to turn his dreams into reality. Given his age (41), there are probably many more interesting chapters to be written in the Musk story.

  • pathfinder_01

    “The analogy with 1930′s aviation is not valid for the same reason that analogies with ships in the 1400-1500′s is not valid.

    The amount of resources needed to design and build a true launcher far exceed the amount of resources needed for a late medieval ship or an early aircraft. The first could be built by a village, the second by an individual or small shop.”

    Actually the ships of Columbus were privately owned. The crown simply took possession of them. The voyage itself was financed by private investment, Columbus and the crown. The King and Queen of Spain did not build the ships they simply took possession of ships that were previously used for fishing and cargo from their owners. In short it was a public/private partnership all be it a forced one for some of the parties. Also the time period was not medieval but was early renaissance. Also in the case of launchers Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Space X and Orbital designed and built their launchers mostly y on their own dime(the government gave some cash but didn’t tell Space X which engines to use or where to launch act…….)

    The Voyages of the Vikings and the Chinese have more in common with Apollo and the current space program and are medieval. In the case of the Vikings medieval technology that cause them to need about as much crew as Columbus for their ships yet be much smaller than his. This greatly limiting how long they could stay at sea,what routes they could take and how much they could carry(both non salors and cargo). In addition the gun had not been invented yet so the vikings were at extreme disadvantage to natives compared to later settlers.

    China’s exploration used many ships all government backed and cost a fortune. There was nothing they could find that was worth as much as they sent out.Certianly nothing that would cause you to voyage back and forth repeatedly. If humanity is going to move out into space, we are going to have to need to be able to do it with fewer people on the ground. Congress by attemting to keep SLS up impares that natural evolution.

  • Dave Hall

    William Mellberg: Here’s one of my articles that you can read online. I wrote it for Harrison Schmitt’s website and have posted the link here previously

    I think your personal Apollo launch account was definitely worth at least a $1 micro-payment .. your excitement comes across well in your writing. I downloaded the PDF file onto my Kindle but the text is just too small to read in that format, so I read it on my PC and watched the referenced youtube video to better get what you experienced.

    Here’s a link to a guide on publishing Kindle editions yourself.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A17W8UM0MMSQX6

    Thanks for your Hughes, Lear and Musk comparison.

    • William Mellberg

      Mr. Hall, I am very pleased that you enjoyed my account of the Apollo 17 launch. Thank you for your kind words. It was a night to remember, that’s for sure. You might want to check out another YouTube video of the launch taken by Dan Beaumont. Dan was a 16-year old Canadian lad at the time. He had a pass to the press site which was directly adjacent to where my Father and I were standing. So his view is basically the same view that we had, and I was delighted that he posted his 40-year old film online. (Incidentally, the zoom lens for Dan’s camera — a Bell & Howell Super 8mm — was also designed by my Father.) Dan’s video captures the sound of the launch better than anything I’ve heard before (starting at the 2:30 mark in the video). Note how long it took the sound to reach us three miles away after ignition. There was a chorus of voices shouting “Oh, my God!” coming from the crowd as the Saturn V slowly lifted off, turning night into day. Be sure to watch through the staging at 5:23. That was a very memorable sight. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yIvOYFOm6c&feature=related

  • Dave Hall

    William Mellberg: Note how long it took the sound to reach us three miles away after ignition. There was a chorus of voices shouting “Oh, my God!” coming from the crowd as the Saturn V slowly lifted off, turning night into day.

    Wow, that was a very impressive machine! I’m glad Dan Beaumont’s POV is stored on YouTube. Perhaps we will all get the opportunity to witness something like it if SpaceX find a way to build their “MCT” super-heavy lifter in this coming decade. I visited Cape Canaveral in 1994 whilst on a business trip, never witnessed a launch but did all the things a tourist can do there … I’d definitely make another trip to witness the launch of a Mars or Moon mission.

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