Congress, NASA

Vitter puts hold on Energy Dept. nominee, citing NASA issues

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced late Monday that he had placed a hold on the nomination of Beth Robinson to become undersecretary at the Department of Energy, citing issues he has with her tenure as NASA’s chief financial officer, in particular work at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

“Under the Obama administration, NASA has been stalling on a job creating project at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for no apparent reason,” Vitter said in the statement. “Ms. Robinson needs to answer questions about why they’ve delayed the project, and other questions about NASA’s operations before she leaves her job overseeing their finances.”

Vitter’s specific concern is that NASA is withholding $125 million in funds for SLS work to cover contract termination liability costs. “How do you explain that withholding these funds appears to be using of termination liability as a tool to slow progress of SLS?” Vitter asked in his letter to Robinson, included in the release.

Vitter is also concerned that NASA is delaying work on the SLS and Orion programs (both of which make some use of Michoud, although much of their development takes place elsewhere) and disproportionately cutting funding for those programs as it allocates budget cuts required under sequestration. “Are you intentionally trying to kill SLS and Orion? Why are you implementing sequestration in this biased manner?” he asks, requesting various operating plans submitted by NASA to Congress for fiscal year 2013. In the final operating plan approved by Congress in August, SLS and Orion got a combined $2.88 billion, down less than four percent from the $2.98 billion requested for them in the administration’s original FY13 budget request and 5.5 percent from the pre-sequester and pre-rescission amount of $3.05 billion in the final appropriations bill.

Vitter also asked Robinson a series of questions about whether she or NASA officials used non-government email, citing the use of personal email accounts by EPA officials to discuss official business. The letter offers no evidence of similar practices by NASA officials beyond a statement by Vitter that “employees at NASA have expressed concern to me that some of its senior leadership have also carried multiple communications devices and used personal emails to conduct government business.”

50 comments to Vitter puts hold on Energy Dept. nominee, citing NASA issues

  • amightywind

    Good to see Obama’s henchmen at NASA being called to account for their slow walk of SLS.

  • Egad

    While Mr. Vitter’s overall letter seems a bit looney, one bit, assuming it has some connection with reality, seems potentially interesting:

    1. The schedule for approval of the SLS that was laid out at the beginning of this process required you to approve the contract this past June 2013. However, it has yet to be approved and has sat on your desk for almost two years. As I understand the situation, the contract applicants have had hundreds of meetings in the past year with NASA to answer endless questions about the rocket. What is the current expected timeline for approval of the SLS contract… ?

    Does anybody here know what, specifically, he’s talking about and what contracts are in question? Could this have anything to do with the upcoming KDP-C which, as I understand it, will result in authorization to proceed with procurement of the EM-1 SLS and, perhaps relevant to the NASA CFO aspect, require that an SLS program budget be produced?

  • Ted Knight

    Are you kidding? She is no Obama henchman – she kept her career status and has done what she could to keep these programs on track (and Charlie and Gerst from doing even more damage to the agency). Her fiancé is a long time senior Republican strategist and if you spend any time talking to her about finance, she is a true conservative. Vitter is a tool of his staff and the pawn of big aerospace companies that miss the good old days at NASA of sole source cost plus contracts that were ruining the space program. NASA’s loss will be DoE’s gain.

    • amightywind

      Her fiancé is a long time senior Republican strategist

      An Establishment Republican. Hmm…

      and if you spend any time talking to her about finance, she is a true conservative.

      How is it the democrat party is so filled with ‘fiscal conservatives’ and we have a $17 trillion debt? It doesn’t seem to mean much among her profligate peers.

  • Andrew French

    This is a new low even for Vitter (and we all know how low he has gone in his own personal life). How is it that the women (CFO and former Deputy) seem to make all the key decisions? Do the men they work for bare any responsibility? NASA was damn lucky to have the service of these two professional women working to develop a space program worthy of the U.S. in the 21st century. No surprise that they have both choosen to leave after being disrespected and maligned by these “leaders” for 4 years. None of the accusations and charges against them have amounted to anything. Both have been under subpoena by Vitter and others for years and no one ever found a thing they did wrong. What was that over? Oh yes- over somehow “slow-rolling” SLS in 2010… a program their Administration did not even request. Charlie Bolden just said yesterday that SLS was not created by Congress – admitting that he was undermining the President by developing it behind his back. Lots if us suspected that – but now we know for sure. No wonder the President’s positive agenda for space innovation hasn’t moved forward as fast as it should have – the guy responsible for moving that agenda forward was working against it. So with the 2 strongest proponents gone – it is back to sole-source, cost plus, business as usual. That is the pork program Vitter and the contractors who put him up to this have wanted. Congress’ low approval rating is deserved when guys like Vitter keep getting elected.

  • Andrew French

    How is it the Republican Party is so filled with ‘fiscal conservatives’ who cling to a socialist space program that is about nothing but pork for their districts and support for their lobbiest buddies? The way out of debt that both political parties got us into is to out innovate our competitors. We would actually be doing that at NASA if this handful of Senators (like Vitter) actually cared about the space program rather than their own personal anti-American agendas.

  • It is not a surprise that work on these projects has slowed. Anyone who has built spacecraft knows it takes a lot of expensive material. If the amount requested is not the amount given for production then yes, it will take time to re-budget and use the money actually at hand in a conservative manner. Engineering is not easy, it takes time, especially when changes have to be made after the fact.

  • In January 2011, NASA warned that SLS/Orion couldn’t fly in the time frame mandated by Congress because Congress didn’t appropriate enough money.

    Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) responded by telling Bolden to “follow the law, which requires a new rocket by 2016. And, NASA has to do it within the budget the law requires.”

    They simply chose to ignore reality.

    NASA was vindicated by an August 2011 independent analysis, but Congress ignored that too.

    SLS is no more than pork, and this is just the latest oink by Senator Vitter.

    • Egad

      In January 2011, NASA warned that SLS/Orion couldn’t fly in the time frame mandated by Congress because Congress didn’t appropriate enough money.

      Yes, that report is the last time, AFAIK, that NASA dared to tell the truth about such things. It’s worth remembering, as they soon thereafter realized the downside of truth-telling and have not repeated the mistake:

      NASA recognizes it has a responsibility to be clear with the Congress and the American taxpayers about our true estimated costs and schedules for developing the SLS and MPCV, and we intend to do so, to the best of our ability in this preliminary report, as well as in the follow-on report. To this end, NASA commits to obtaining independent (outside of the Agency) assessments of cost and schedule for SLS and MPCV design options as part of its decision process this Spring or Summer, and further to make these assessments public.

      Currently, our SLS studies have shown that while cost is not a major discriminator among the design options studied, none of the design options studied thus far appeared to be affordable in our present fiscal conditions, based upon existing cost models, historical data, and traditional acquisition approaches. Operational costs will have to be scrutinized and reductions from current projections will be needed in order to ensure affordable operations and so that funds are available for other necessary Exploration developments such as long-duration habitats and landers.

      • Matt McClanahan

        Operational costs will have to be scrutinized and reductions from current projections will be needed in order to ensure affordable operations and so that funds are available for other necessary Exploration developments such as long-duration habitats and landers.

        This right here sums up the destiny of the SLS program nicely. Operational costs for the SLS are expected to be so great that there won’t be anything left to build mission hardware with. Or, put more simply: even if they can afford to fly the SLS, they can’t afford to put anything useful on top of it.

        • Neil Shipley

          Agreed.

          ‘Scrutiny of operational costs, etc’ isn’t going to help make SLS more cost effective. Elon Musk summed it up nicely when he said that legacy systems equate to legacy costs. SLS is being designed and constructed using legacy systems as per direction from Congress. They can’t escape the resultant legacy cost nightmare that follows as naturally as night follows day.

          That’s the same for Orion as well. If you don’t believe check out the difference between the legacy Avcoat heatshield (Orion) and Pica-X (Dragon).

          • Neil Shipley wrote:

            Elon Musk summed it up nicely when he said that legacy systems equate to legacy costs. SLS is being designed and constructed using legacy systems as per direction from Congress. They can’t escape the resultant legacy cost nightmare that follows as naturally as night follows day.

            I took a tour the other day of the SpaceX facilities at Cape Canaveral’s LC-40. A member of the group asked the SpaceX rep about their plans for KSC’s LC-39A. Did they intend to use the VAB, a mobile launch platform, a crawler, etc.?

            No.

            “We’re a horizontal integration company, not a vertical integration company.”

            They intend to convert 39A into a super-sized version of LC-40, with all new facilities around 39A. They will walk away from that “legacy cost nightmare” as you put it.

            Which may explain why it is that so far NASA has found no takers for 39B and everything that goes with it.

  • DCSCA

    And so it goes…. no where, fast.

    ‘Free drift’ until HRC is inaugurated.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      ‘Free drift’ until HRC is inaugurated.

      Hillary Clinton may decide to push for something more for NASA to do than they are doing today, but it’s hardly a given.

      Obama pushed for more realistic space-related stuff than Bush43 (Constellation was unimpressive and unaffordable), yet Obama was limited by overall declining federal budgets, entrenched interests, and Republican’s that hate what Democrat President’s do no matter how good it may be. All of that will still be there for any Democrat President if elected in 2016, including Clinton.

      It’s good you’re finally joining the 21st Century, but you will soon find out that sans the Cold War, we still don’t have a compelling reason to spend gobs and gobs of money on “government projects of scale” such as going back to the Moon. We have to think smarter, which is usually where you run into trouble… ;-)

      • DCSCA

        “… we still don’t have a compelling reason to spend gobs and gobs of money on “government projects of scale” such as going back to the Moon. We have to think smarter, which is usually where you run into trouble…” muses Ron.

        =yawn= Time to re-educate you, Ron.

        HSF is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that fuels it.

        HSF in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The economic and political propaganda bounties– the prestige== from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why Siviet Russia did it; that’s why the United States followed suit and that’s why the PRC is doing it today. That’s why governments do it, Ron.

        It is ‘space projects of scale’ that matter, Ron. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not.

        HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power and nurturing a perception of global leadership. And in politics, perception is a reality. Which makes a drive to establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century.

        Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s). But commercial will never lead the way in establishing such a facility on their own- particulary profit-driven enterprises. The largess of the capital requirements involved coupled w/t low to no ROI prevents it; the very parameters of the market it is trying to create and service. That’s why governments do it, Ron.

        Last week the PRC suggested the time has come to consider ‘de-Americanizing’ the world. Accordingly, the rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by Presdient Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in 1961: “We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.” ‘It’s still the same old story– a fight for love and glory… on that you can rely. The fundamental things apply… as time goes by’ Welcome to the 21st century, Ron.

        • “HSF is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that fuels it.”

          Again…to whom? Russia and China may not interpret as you do. Our most worrisome adversaries don’t care. (Islamic extremists will be no more impressed by a new big rocket, than the Viet Cong were by Saturn V). This isn’t about HSF in general, but the specific form of it.

          “And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The economic and political propaganda bounties– the prestige== from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why Siviet Russia did it; that’s why the United States followed suit and that’s why the PRC is doing it today. That’s why governments do it, Ron.”

          So, getting (back) to the moon or elsewhere by some means other than an HLV won’t be as…impressive? Again, specific form.

          “Last week the PRC suggested the time has come to consider ‘de-Americanizing’ the world.”

          The same people who acknowledge they couldn’t beat a certain new commercial launch company’s prices? How interesting.

  • Vladislaw

    Didn’t NASA and contractors blow the close out money during the constellation program? didn’t griffin have to go hat in hand to congressional committee meetings explaining why NASA needed additional billions for close out costs because nasa allowed those funds to be spent instead of saved for a potentional close out?

  • Coastal Ron

    While Vitter is whining about not enough NASA work in his state, Mississippi is spending $500,000 in taxpayer money to accommodate SpaceX testing of their upcoming Raptor methane engine.

    Not only that, but this statement in the article is good news for SpaceX/NewSpace and bad news for OldSpace:

    U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss, said in a statement that officials have been trying to recruit SpaceX for years.

    I think it’s time that the old notions of “NewSpace” were put to rest – you don’t have to be “OldSpace” to be able to build and launch rockets and spacecraft. And with “conservative” states like Texas and Mississippi wooing NewSpace companies like XCOR and SpaceX with tax breaks and infrastructure investments, really the only difference between “NewSpace” and “OldSpace” is their inclination to take risks.

    • Neil Shipley

      Hear, hear!

    • Coastal Ron wrote:

      I think it’s time that the old notions of “NewSpace” were put to rest – you don’t have to be “OldSpace” to be able to build and launch rockets and spacecraft. And with “conservative” states like Texas and Mississippi wooing NewSpace companies like XCOR and SpaceX with tax breaks and infrastructure investments, really the only difference between “NewSpace” and “OldSpace” is their inclination to take risks.

      I respectfully disagree with Ron on this one.

      OldSpace companies are those who rely on government business, through cost-plus contracts that guarantee a profit. These would include the SLS contractors, and the ULA partners launching government payloads.

      NewSpace companies are those with “skin in the game,” to use Michael Griffin’s October 2006 phrase. With COTS — now completed — and CCiCap, the NewSpace companies get some seed money but much of it is their own investment. Once their certification process is completed, they’re on their own. All of them plan one day to take cargo or crew to the Bigelow habitats, and perhaps other uses. Some such as SpaceX have other projects such as Falcon Heavy that are being developed with 100% private funding.

      Some NewSpace companies have no government contracts at all, or receive no government awards for achieving milestones. XCOR, Virgin Galactic, Stratolaunch, Golden Spike, Masten, etc. They may have the government as a customer one day, but their R&D is 100% private capital.

      That’s the difference. OldSpace won’t risk its capital. NewSpace will.

      • Coastal Ron

        Stephen C. Smith said:

        That’s the difference. OldSpace won’t risk its capital. NewSpace will.

        And I had said:

        …really the only difference between “NewSpace” and “OldSpace” is their inclination to take risks.

        I think we’re saying the same thing.

        I would like to point out that there are risks in normal business, even government contracting. If you bid on a government contract, and something goes “wrong”, then you can lose money on a government contract, regardless if it’s small or big. Happens all the time. Large government contractors though can sometimes rally their political connections to reduce their risk, either through political pressure or changes to contracts (i.e. Congress extends funding for a program to cover overruns), so sometimes there are ways to mitigate the losses.

        One other distinction between “NewSpace” and “OldSpace” that should be considered is who initiates the activity? If it’s something new and unproven, “OldSpace” usually won’t take the risk on it’s own, and will wait for the government to foot the bill. “NewSpace” doesn’t wait for the government, which SpaceX, XCOR, Stratolaunch, and Virgin Galactic seem to typify.

        But what about perceived “NewSpace” companies like Sierra Nevada (CCDev/CCiCap) and Orbital Sciences (COTS)? They may not have started the activity on their own, but they are willing to share risk on the development (i.e. public/private partnerships). And let’s not forget that one of NASA’s top “OldSpace” contractors – Boeing – is also risking capital on the CCDev/CCiCap programs. So is Boeing “NewSpace” because of it? No, but they should be applauded for that small part of them that is trying to be “NewSpace”.

        Another couple of years and I think the “NewSpace” moniker will fall to the wayside and be forgotten, because NASA won’t be doing much on it’s own anyways (i.e. lack of money), and most of the activity will be from what we call “NewSpace” today.

        • DCSCA

          One other distinction between “NewSpace” and “OldSpace” that should be considered is who initiates the activity? muses Ron.

          Pffft. False equivalenvy to even use the two terms in the same sentence. NASA is ‘station keeping’ through the Obama years while NewSpacer Musk blew a million bucks on a movie prop from an old 007 film. He has an Ironman prop at Space X HQ as well. Thus should tell you a great deal about this particular NewSpacer Ron— that its chiefly a fantasy world where make believe is hyped for a reality that simply does not exist.

          • “Pffft. False equivalenvy to even use the two terms in the same sentence. NASA is ‘station keeping’ through the Obama years while NewSpacer Musk blew a million bucks on a movie prop from an old 007 film. He has an Ironman prop at Space X HQ as well. Thus should tell you a great deal about this particular NewSpacer Ron—…

            And how many movies credit NASA or specific NASA employees as having some advisory or supportive role? (I have never watched the movie, but according to, and much to the dismay of, science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, there was such a credit in the film Capricorn One, about a faked Mars landing…)

            “…that its chiefly a fantasy world where make believe is hyped for a reality that simply does not exist.”

            And yet Falcons fly and fulfill contracts. They pass the ‘put up or shut up’ test. That is what matters, not the souvenirs that seems to worry you so.

            • DCSCA

              And how many movies credit NASA or specific NASA employees as having some advisory or supportive role?

              Gee Frank, don’t think you’ll find any active personnel from NASA ‘starring’ in any flicks from the 60s— certainly before they actually made a few lunar landings– some technical advisory was done throguh NASA PAO but certainly not creditd as ‘starring’– and having worked in Hollywood and did some research on that area years ago its holds up– mostly NASA personnel did media – commericals and such– after leaving the agency– and film credits are minimal most notably Jerry Griffin, Pete Conrad while Aldrin did a few TV apperarences.

              “And yet Falcons fly and fulfill contracts. They pass the ‘put up or shut up’ test.” says Frankk. Except they don’t. Falcons have flown nobody. False equivalency isn’t the path to parody. Spaceflgiht is. Fly somebosy. And yes, put somebody up– or shut up.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA whined incorrectly:

                Except they don’t.

                That will be a surprise to SpaceX, who has received payments from their customers for each of their successful flights. So Frank is correct, not you.

                Falcons have flown nobody.

                As has been pointed out to you many times, you are the only one stuck on this metric – no one else cares about it but you.

                Will SpaceX fly someone eventually? Yep. Should they have done it by now? Nope.

                Get out of the basement and get a life Bub.

              • Hiram

                “And yet Falcons fly and fulfill contracts. They pass the ‘put up or shut up’ test.” says Frankk. Except they don’t. Falcons have flown nobody.”

                I wasn’t aware SpaceX had any contracts to fly people. Falcon have flown nobody? Yep. Exactly as planned. Falcons don’t fulfill contracts? Nope. Let’s hope you aren’t doing contract monitoring for anyone. You don’t seem to understand even the simplest ones. When Lockheed doesn’t fly pineapples in their Orions, I guess that will be a contract fault in your book.

        • Coastal Ron wrote:

          I would like to point out that there are risks in normal business, even government contracting. If you bid on a government contract, and something goes “wrong”, then you can lose money on a government contract, regardless if it’s small or big.

          I really have no idea, but I suspect that Boeing and Lockheed Martin didn’t start developing Delta IV and Atlas V until they were assured they had a government customer waiting to use those vehicles, the military in particular.

          SpaceX started rocket research with the Falcon 1 before it had the COTS contract or any other government funding, so far as I know. Even with COTS and commercial crew, SpaceX is investing a significant part of the R&D.

          I’m pretty sure Boeing and LockMart knew the military would keep the cash coming no matter how many setbacks they might have. Sure, theoretically they could get cancelled, but we’ve seen plenty of military contractors survive with boondoggles due to their lobbyists throwing around campaign contributions on the Hill.

          SpaceX is starting to play the lobbying game, but they’re millions of dollars per year behind the big boys.

          • Coastal Ron

            Stephen C. Smith said:

            I really have no idea, but I suspect that Boeing and Lockheed Martin didn’t start developing Delta IV and Atlas V until they were assured they had a government customer waiting to use those vehicles, the military in particular.

            No doubt they THOUGHT there would be lots of orders, but that turned out not to be true. It turns out the government is not any better at forecasting future launch markets than anyone else is. As it turned out, the EELV program was not the success that Boeing and Lockheed Martin hoped it would be.

            Ironically, the EELV program did require Boeing and Lockheed Martin to take some risk, and they ended up with the short end of the stick. I think they are making up for lost profit by gouging the government today and in the near future, but that strategy will eventually lead to other competitors taking part of their market.

            But since both Boeing and Lockheed Martin are so big, with so many government contracts, they can afford to lose on some contracts and not go out of business. Not so with smaller companies.

            SpaceX is starting to play the lobbying game, but they’re millions of dollars per year behind the big boys.

            Yes, I’m not sure they will be able to compete in lobbying, but you have to have some sort of presence just in case. SpaceX will have to rely on good old competition, which they seem to be doing pretty well at.

            • Vladislaw

              Ron wrote:

              “No doubt they THOUGHT there would be lots of orders, but that turned out not to be true. It turns out the government is not any better at forecasting future launch markets than anyone else is. As it turned out, the EELV program was not the success that Boeing and Lockheed Martin hoped it would be.”

              I doubt that they would have ever had the success they hoped for, their pricing was already out of the competitions price envelope when they started?

          • DCSCA

            “SpaceX is starting to play the lobbying game…” says Stephen.

            They do everything but the one thing that would count: fly someone. And they don’t because they can’t. And if they tried, the crew would die. And kill the company as well. So the solution is to lobby, issue press releases and buy movie prope from 007 films to get ink.

            • Hiram

              ” And they don’t because they can’t. And if they tried, the crew would die.”

              I’m curious. What do you base this pronouncement on? You’re pretty sure about this. Is there some life support engineering strategy they’re using that you think would be faulty? SpaceX isn’t sending gallons of champagne into orbit either. Probably not because they couldn’t.

              I hope you have a case based on engineering insight and rationale better than that the ECLSS doesn’t have a NASA sticker on it.

            • Neil Shipley

              Not long to go now DCSCA.

    • DCSCA

      I think it’s time that the old notions of “NewSpace” were put to rest – you don’t have to be “OldSpace” to be able to build and launch rockets…” asserts Ron.

      Hmmmm… the ghosts from the German rocket societies of the early 20th century are howling at that piece of false equivalency.

  • Alan Ladwig

    I have known and worked with all NASA’s CFOs since 1975. Dr. Robinson has served with distinction and is among the best who have held this position. Her prior service with OMB and her understanding of the budget process proved to be a great asset for NASA. Beth’s depth of knowledge of the Agency’s programs was remarkable and afforded her the ability to ask the tough questions of Center Directors and program managers. While she is a political appointee and holds one of the four positions at NASA that require Senate confirmation, she made decisions based on budgetary and management considerations, not politics.

    Sen. Vitter’s hold on her confirmation for the position at the Department of Energy is pure politics and reinforces the notion that many members of Congress are more focused on job programs than agency success. His objections have nothing to do with Beth or the responsibilities she will assume at DOE. He needs to remove the hold.

    I totally agree with Ted Knight’s observation: NASA’s loss will be DOE’s gain.

  • DCSCA

    Once upon a time there was this massive government program. It had years to get ready for launch. And when it finally did, and the whole world was watching, it experienced critical computer problems that threatened its success and nearly ‘crashed’ the whole thing.

    The Affordable Care Act?

    No.

    Apollo 11?

    Yes.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      The Affordable Care Act? … Apollo 11?

      Besides being OT, they aren’t even related or similar – unless you’re an Apollo cargo-cultist that thinks everything is related to Apollo… ;-)

      • DCSCA

        Not related as big govt programs w/critical computer problems with the whole world watching mused Ron?

        Exceptr they are.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA moaned:

          Not related as big govt programs w/critical computer problems with the whole world watching…?

          A consumer facing website that doesn’t provide the actual service that is at the heart of the ACA debate is not related in any way to a machinery control system. DUH!

          And regardless, how in any way is ACA or Apollo relevant to a Louisiana Senator putting a hold on a nominated Energy candidate because she was the NASA CFO? As usual, you lack the ability to “connect the dots”. Was this an attempt at humor?

        • Neil Shipley

          No CR’s right, you’re completely off topic. Post something relevant or otherwise it’s just trolling.

    • Hiram

      I guess the important lesson here is that a “massive government program” that “experienced critical computer problems that threatened its success and nearly ‘crashed’ the whole thing”, can end up being hugely successful, making the nation proud. The computer problems aren’t indicative of the quality of the program itself, but just with its implementation. There are several good examples of space policy where good ideas are obscured and distracted from by implementation errors.

      • Neil Shipley

        That might well be interesting but it’s got little or nothing to do with the topic at hand. DCSCA likes living in the past. What we have here is just another example of a Congressman screwing around with things which he shouldn’t be concerned with and just delaying decisions again given all the other major issues facing Congress. Just pointless delay and failure to understand their role in the process of good government for the taxpayers, ie. their employer!

        • Hiram

          Very true, but the subtopic at hand was DCSCA’s post.

          As to Vitter, what you say is exactly right, except for his “failure to understand their role in the process of good government”. To Vitter’s constituents (his “employers”), his role is to keep the cash flowing into his district. Of course, he does this in the name of SLS, which is presumed to be a national priority. No, his delay isn’t “pointless”. It’s supremely “pointed”. Vitter needs a witch hunt, and Robinson is a handy target. If there is pork to be had, Vitter wants it in his gumbo.

          Vitter has a long history of legislative hypocrisy in dealing with DoE, and this rant just serves notice to what will be its new director. Of course, in the wake of Solyndra, and his scolding of Obama for awarding subsidies to green-energy projects, Vitter begged DoE repeatedly for funding to support his local private green-energy projects. What makes his projects so worthwhile? Well, they’re in Louisiana, not California!

      • DCSCA

        “I guess the important lesson here is that a “massive government program” that “experienced critical computer problems that threatened its success and nearly ‘crashed’ the whole thing”, can end up being hugely successful, making the nation proud.”

        Yep. The compression of the 24/7 news cycle today isn’t a help, either.

    • “Once upon a time there was this massive government program. It had years to get ready for launch. And when it finally did, and the whole world was watching,”

      At least for the first two missions or so. The third one would have been ‘just another flight to the Moon” were in not fort ‘the problem,’ which is not the kind of drama (if any) that you want.

      And that’s okay. We get used to anything, and you need to understand that. (Yeah, a computer on my desktop with more power than anything in the 60′s or 70′s. So what? Just keep giving me more of it.) Crowds don’t gather because a plane made a non-stop flight from NYC to Paris anymore. What’s important now is that it does happen every day. Continued shock and awe at a ‘massive government program’ is not a justification. Continued useful and desirable (even if now ‘boring’) results, are.

      • Coastal Ron

        Frank Glover said:

        Crowds don’t gather because a plane made a non-stop flight from NYC to Paris anymore. What’s important now is that it does happen every day. Continued shock and awe at a ‘massive government program’ is not a justification. Continued useful and desirable (even if now ‘boring’) results, are.

        Yep. And I think that’s what a lot of people fail to grasp. Entities like DCSCA think of the “glory” of picking rocks on an airless body in space, but that is just what is commonly called down here on Earth as “work”. My neighbor works at 100m below the surface of the ocean, and most people could care less. The same is becoming true of our astronauts, and that’s a good thing, since it means we have lots of lots of people that are getting into space.

        We can’t sustain a space program that relies on drama and suspense like some network TV show, it has to have a purpose. So far, despite what “some” think, there is no political need these days for doing big things in space – we’re not propping up any former super powers anymore. And no 3rd world country is going to care what we do in space, and will buy our iPhones and John Deere tractors regardless.

        So the real question is, do we spend what little we do spend on NASA to do NASA unique things, or do we use the American Taxpayers money to do things that create an expanding industry for the whole nation?

        Vitter appears to be just another politicians that is looking out for his constituents, but not for the nation. It’s too bad he can’t rise above that.

      • DCSCA

        Crowds don’t gather because a plane made a non-stop flight from NYC to Paris anymore. mused Frankl.

        Depends on the plane, Frank.

        Wasin London to greet the first Pan Am 747 landing in ’70 at Heathrow coming in at 7 AM from NYC. There was a huge crowd– press toured the plane… and let me tell you– a 747 lumbering in for a landing over London made the news and stopped traffic… especially in skies more familiar with the smaller 707s.

        and, of course, Concorde drew a lot of crowds and got a lot of ink.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA moaned:

          Wasin London to greet the first Pan Am 747 landing in ’70 at Heathrow coming in at 7 AM from NYC.

          You are talking about an event that was 43 years ago! And no doubt you were there as part of the press, or if not, then just a aircraft enthusiast. Regardless, the crowds were far less than what Lindbergh experienced on his historic landing in Paris, which is what Frank’s point was – every trans-Atlantic flight is just a repeat of what’s come before, regardless the size of the aircraft.

          Notice how all of your retorts are anchored in the previous century? You really don’t understand the modern world, do you?

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