NASA, Other

Astronomers’ bold visions clash with limited budgets

This week, thousands of astronomers will gather outside Washington, DC, for the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). During the meeting, astronomers will share the latest results on everything from exoplanets to cosmology. However, there will also be plenty of discussion about future ground- and space-based observatories, as plans for ambitious future missions run into conflicts with budgets that struggle to maintain even existing facilities.

Last month, NASA released a document titled “Enduring Quests, Daring Visions: NASA Astrophysics in the Next Three Decades.” The document serves as a roadmap of the astrophysics research scientists believe will be priorities through the 2030s, and the notional spacecraft missions to accomplish them. Those scientific priorities boil down to three questions: “Are we alone?” (the search for biosignatures on exoplanets), “How did we get here?” (the formation of the universe), and “How does the universe work?” (the fundamental physics of the universe.) “Seeking answers to these age-old questions are Enduring Quests of humankind,” the document states (capitalization in original.)

The document includes a list of missions both under development (James Webb Space Telescope) or active study (the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, or WFIRST) as well as “Formative” and “Visionary” concepts for the 2020s and 2030s, respectively. And some of those long-range missions concepts are indeed visionary: the “ExoEarth Mapper”, for example, “will combine signals from an armada of large optical telescopes orbiting hundreds of kilometers apart, producing the first resolved images of earthlike planets around other stars.” A “Cosmic Dawn Mapper” would emplace an array of radio telescopes on the far side of the Moon, shielded from the Earth’s radio din, to study the structure of the universe’s earliest eras.

The missions included in the report are notional concepts only, with no effort to try and determine just how much those missions would cost. But these concepts almost certainly clash with the tight budgets NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are facing for their astrophysics programs. At around the same time NASA released its long-term vision for astrophysics, the NSF released a “Dear Colleague” letter updating their efforts to divest a number of existing observatories. That lettre was an update of efforts reported at last January’s AAS meeting to either close or hand over to other organizations a number of observatories currently supported, partially or entirely, by the NSF.

The letter showed that divestment effort is going slowly. The Department of Energy (DOE) is interested in using the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the letter states, for a proposed dark energy study, but the timing of DOE funding is uncertain. The future of several other optical and radio astronomy observatories included in the letter remains uncertain because of ongoing discussions with several potential parters. For example, the letter says “substantial” discussions are underway with unnamed universities to take over future operations of the Green Bank Telescope radio observatory in West Virginia.

If there is good news in the near term, it’s that, for NASA at least, budgets won’t be as cut as sharply as feared. In November, Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, warned sequestration could cut the division’s budget from $617 million in 2013 to perhaps $592 million in 2014, cuts that could jeopardize operations of ongoing missions in the upcoming senior review of those missions.

With a budget deal in place that avoids an across-the-board sequester, though, that worst-case scenario now looks unlikely. In a presentation Saturday at a meeting of the Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group, or ExoPAG, held in advance of the main AAS meeting, NASA’s Doug Hudgins said that while a final fiscal year 2014 budget isn’t done yet, “our expectation is that the astrophysics budget in ’14 is going to be somewhere between the president’s request of $642 million and the FY13 post-sequestration number” of $617 million. “We expect to be somewhere in there, but obviously that depends on the deliberations that are going on on the Hill.”

32 comments to Astronomers’ bold visions clash with limited budgets

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Two-thirds of one lousy year of MPCV/SLS spending would pay for the entire Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission, the top ranked priority in the astrophysics decadal survey. This is a spacecraft that would attack both the dark energy and exoplanet questions. Does the U.S. want to lead the world in pushing back the frontiers of science and understanding the universe’s most fundamental forces and most complex creations?

    Or do we want our civil space legacy to be a super-big, super-expensive, super-duplicative rocket with no purpose other than launching a grossly overweight crew capsule that can’t even get back through the atmosphere safely?

    Slip or terminate MPCV/SLS and let’s get some actual space exploration done.

    • Coastal Ron

      Dark Blue Nine said:

      Two-thirds of one lousy year of MPCV/SLS spending would pay for the entire Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission, the top ranked priority in the astrophysics decadal survey.

      Politicians love to talk about “choice” when they want it, but hate to allow choice when their pork could be endangered.

      This gets back to a lack of an overall plan for what we’re doing in space. The VSE was a nice attempt, but it certainly wasn’t comprehensive enough, nor did anyone enforce the provisions it did have that would have promoted innovation and kept costs low.

      What is needed is a non-political group that pulls together the choices for the President and Congress. Having Congress design space hardware is ridiculous.

  • Robert G Oler

    keep building SLS the vehicle to nowhere RGO

  • amightywind

    Seems to me progress in NASA astrophysics has been strong, and a flattening of budgets is acceptable. When we have SLS we will have the capability to launch large missions.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      When we have SLS we will have the capability to launch large missions.

      We already have the ability to launch the largest missions that are currently envisioned using the private sector. And with the Falcon Heavy coming online later this year for the low low price of $135M (21.2mt to GTO), even if NASA were to get funding for some massively larger science payload, the private sector can take of NASA’s needs without the government having to pay ANY development money.

      And since the Republican’s in Congress have refused to fund any uses for the SLS, the science community won’t risk developing something that can only be lifted by the SLS – they learned their lesson well after the Challenger accident. Using government launchers is too risky.

    • Vladislaw

      For the gazillionth time .. where does the funding come from for large missions.

  • Vladislaw

    “the “ExoEarth Mapper”, for example, “will combine signals from an armada of large optical telescopes orbiting hundreds of kilometers apart, producing the first resolved images of earthlike planets around other stars.” “

    It sure makes you wonder, would this be the very first mapper in the milkyway galaxy that looks at planets to see if there is a bio signature for life? Or are these mapping telescopes a dime a dozen and can be bought at any galatic walmart …. smiles

  • Hiram

    Let’s not lose track of what this “roadmap” is. It’s a wish list. There is no constraining budget, nor prioritization. As accepted by the APS in December, it’s a 30-Christmas letter to Santa Claus. The range of “notional” missions featured in this “roadmap” are completely unfundable, on the time scale considered, with the budget now available. Now, that being said, such a wish list isn’t an unreasonable document to have around. The “Great Observatories” wishlist of several decades ago led to a profoundly productive program of space astronomy. It’s always useful to have a wishlist that calls out dreams. It’s good to dream. Now, these characteristics of this document pretty much follow its charter. It’s what NASA wanted. Of course, if my street roadmaps were as speculative as this document, I’d be scared to set out on the road. The truth in-advertising would have called this a “notional roadmap”.

    Astrophysics is somewhat handicapped by the fact that the best instrumentation is usually the biggest instrumentation. Big as in large collecting areas to see faint sources. Bigness is never cheap, both in facility design, construction and launch providers. In that context, though, I find it unfortunate that this discourse didn’t try to break out of that box. Kepler is a magnificent, and very fresh counterexample. Kepler is a relatively inexpensive and modest-sized Explorer, whose results are seen by the taxpayer as being profound. Congress is excited about the Kepler results, as is the media. One would have hoped that this roadmap committee might have been thoughtful enough to try to highlight such possible profound opportunities that didn’t require billion dollar budgets. But it’s a lot easier to paint a stirring picture built on multi $B missions, which is what they did.

    NASA astrophysics is, however, up a creek. JSWT is eating space astrophysics alive, and no flagship new starts will be made until JWST is off the ground, whether operational or not. That’s 2019. The 2010 Astrophysics Decadal recommendations for space astronomy were pretty much run over by the JWST truck. Explorer opportunities are also far less frequent than had been hoped. Assuming that the JWST budget line is returned to the Astrophysics Division in 2019 (and there are rumors that it might not be, in favor of commercial spaceflight), the Division will be looking at what would hopefully be a wildly successful 5-year mission (that gets us to 2024), followed by many years of relative paucity. While the document is an excellent collection of missions to dream about, what makes it unbelievable is the 30-year time frame it’s talking about.

    Another notable absence in this roadmap is any connections with human space flight. The roadmap blathers on about humankind, the human brain, human speculations, human history and human endeavors, but really doesn’t touch on human spaceflight, which is of paramount human-importance to the agency. Kind of funny that the charter didn’t challenge them to do that. The role of human spaceflight in the success of the most important scientific instrument ever built (HST) should give one pause in this regard. This committee, not bound by dollar numbers, should have honestly addressed the possible linkages between future space astrophysics and human space flight. It may well have concluded that there were no such evident linkages. That would have been just as useful a conclusion. The (unfortunately implicit) conclusion of the committee is thus that we don’t need human spaceflight to do great things in astrophysics.

    • James

      Regarding the 30 year time frame for the Astrophysics Pipe Dream, er Road Map; I suggest it is worse than that.

      1. If there is a flag ship after JWST, it will be the WFIRST AFTA mission; Dr. Hertz has said on many occasions that this is the plan, as long as Congress & OMB agree to a mission that is over $1B (I think it’s coming in at $1.6B ish?) right on the heels of the debacle that is JWST.

      2. If OMB and Congress agree to fund WFIRST AFTA, Dr. Hertz has said it will start formulation in 2017, with a launch date in the 2024 time frame.

      3. To fund this, Dr. Hertz will be using the wedge opened up by JWST. We know there is nothing Dr. Hertz can fly with the non JWST funds he has available, other than Explorers, so his shop spends whats left with R&A, existing mission ops, and collaborations with others (ESA, JAXA, etc.)

      What isn’t clear, as you note, is if the JWST wedge will be available. Some of that money was taken from Helio, and others? I”m sure they’ll want their share of it back. The best case scenario is Dr. Hertz gets enough of the wedge to support one large Observatory start a decade.

      4. Assuming a 2024 launch of WFIRST, then the WFIRST wedge will go to what next flag ship? My guess would be the 2020 decadal winner; which most Astrophysicists believe will be an ExoPlanet mission – and there are some cool missions there to consider

      5. Assuming ExoPlanets gets the ‘flagship’ line from Dr. Hertz funds, beginning in say 2022, Expect it to launch about 17 years later, which would be near 2040. That is the average length of time for these Astro flag ships to go from Decadal Winner to launch.

      Again, what is left is Explorers, and other small misc contributions to ESA and JAXA.

      6. If you are an astrophysicist who studies other Astro phenomena, like X Rays, or IR, or Gravity Waves, etc. you’ll have to wait to 2030 decade competition to get your next Observatory. I take that back, ESA is flying Athena in 2028 and a GW Lisa mission in 2035, so NASA would not want to spend any Observatory flag ship money on those science areas till , oh , the 2040′s. (Because we know those launch dates will slip)

      7. So, in 2040, these other Astro science areas will compete for a flagship. And given the average time to launch, they can expect their data around 2057.

      That’s over 40 years from now.

      8. If you are a young graduate Astrophysics student, I would not select anything other than ExoPlanets to specialize in, as the rest of Astrophysics is doomed till the 2050′s to collect any new Observatory class breakthrough data.

      One has to wonder then, with such a long time frame to consider, if its even worth doing Astrophsyics anymore that isn’t ExoPlanets? Will these other non EXo Planet communities survive ? Thrive? Achieve Breakthroughs?

      Is anyone looking at these kinds of issues?

      • Hiram

        “Is anyone looking at these kinds of issues?”

        “Astrophysics Pipe Dream, er Road Map” — well put.

        It really would have been a constructive challenge for this roadmap team to try to come up with strategies for making the most science out of limited funding. They didn’t even try to do that. Some thoughtfulness about that would have been appropriate along with pipe dreaming. I guess the paranoid presumption is that if you look too enthusiastic about opportunities with reduced funding, you’ll invite such funding reductions.

        I’s not just a matter of whether non-ExoPlanet communities can survive, much less thrive. It’s a matter of technology investment survival. If you want to do high sensitivity detector research, at long or short wavelengths, the mission drivers for those just aren’t going to exist.

        The Decadal had strong words about the importance of small and medium sized missions to preserve science communities. But those opportunities are looking to be really scarce. In fact, it is well understood that those small and medium sized missions also provide training grounds for science, technology, engineering, and management leadership that we will need for the larger missions, if we can ever afford them.

        I have to say that the notional prospect of a launch of WFIRST in 2024 has to involve some unbridled optimism. I’m betting that with further delays of JWST almost inevitable, the top recommendation of the next Decadal Survey may again be WFIRST.

  • Hiram

    P.S. Of course, Kepler is a Discovery program mission, not an Explorer.

  • Vladislaw

    Hiram wrote:

    The “Great Observatories” wishlist

    When Constellation was first approved, ( I was against it) and the plans were shown for the Ares V and it’s 14 meter faring that was my first thought, a new round of great observatories launched on the Ares V but the idea didn’t last long when the reality of what a 12 meter optical scope like hubble would cost, especially after what the james webb cost.

    • Coastal Ron

      Vladislaw said:

      …but the idea didn’t last long when the reality of what a 12 meter optical scope like hubble would cost, especially after what the james webb cost.

      I think that’s an important point.

      NASA’s budget is likely to be around $16B this upcoming year, and that doesn’t allow many JWST-like programs that cost $8B and take 22 years from program start to launch. JWST weighs just 6.2mt and fits inside of a 4.6 m diameter fairing, so imagine what the cost would be for something that is significantly larger.

      And if you did build something bigger that requires the SLS, the program cost really goes up. The science community needs to figure out how to do more with low cost launchers like the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

      • Vladislaw

        I agree, I believe once we can have 3D printing in orbit we can just do a lot more material launches and do some of the basic infrastructure in space. One feature of the James Webb I liked was the folding lens. If could build the infracture on the cheap to house the lens, new possabilities open up.

        • Hiram

          “I believe once we can have 3D printing in orbit we can just do a lot more material launches and do some of the basic infrastructure in space.”

          That’s overkill. If you can do 3D printing in orbit with material you send up, and then assemble a large science instrument there using those printed pieces, then why not just send up all the parts already manufactured on the ground in multiple (non HLV!) launches and assemble it up there. Sending parts up isn’t hard. Sending a large & massive fully assembled instrument up is hard. In situ assembly is kinda hard too, whether by astronauts or telerobots, but can be effectively traded against HLVs.

          The right way to develop a large space telescope is in large pieces, each of which fits on an economical launcher. Design it so it can be easily snapped together in orbit. Of course, free-flying interferometer array concepts work exactly that way, except the “snapping together” would be done optically with precise stationkeeping.

          There was some talk about retrofitting a ring of mirrors around the core JWST mirror array, basically turning it into a bigger telescope. Of course, by the time you did that, the focal plane instrumentation would be obsolete.

          Now, in principle, you could pack a larger telescope than JWST into an Ariane fairing, but the price would be a huge number of hinges, actuators, and position sensors that you’d need to fold it together. The cost would rise proportionally.

          • Vladislaw

            Granted, but then you have the pork premium. Hard to add that to a basic materials launch. The ground peices would still have the premium but the stuff build by robotics should beable to escape it.

            • Hiram

              Unlikely. Any on-orbit factory and robotic assembly (construction and operation) is going to be grounded in pork-based industries on the ground. So it’s easy to add that expense to a launch of just materials. It’s naive to believe that the cost of major science projects is hands-on machining. Robotic assembly, if autonomous, involves a huge amount of programming. If telerobotic, it needs on-Earth assemblers driving the system. No free lunch.

  • Fred Willett

    All this debate assumes no change in the launch background.
    In fact big changes are just around the corner.
    SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage on their next launch (CRS-3) in February and the word flying around the industry is that SpaceX came very close to getting their first F9 v1.1 flight back. Gwynne Shotwell showed a photo of the fully intact F9 just meters above the surface of the ocean. Only an engine failure (fuel starvation due to spin) prevented the stage soft landing on the water. SpaceXis confident that’s fixable.
    No recovery attempts were made with SES-8 and Thaicom-6 due to contractual commitments, but Shotwell said that from now on they will attempt to recover – and expect to recover – every 1st stage.
    SpaceX are already offering to provide launches with reused 2nd stages for $40M. (down from $56.4M) and is touting F9 launch prices as low as $5-7M once they get reusability fully working.
    So how will this effect NASA astrophysics research?
    Lower launch costs means there are less eggs in each basket. (baskets are cheaper.)
    You can launch smaller, cheaper and more frequently.
    And a few years from now when commercial crew becomes a reality the option of flying an astronomer along to service or shepherd an instrument becomes possible.
    What actually constitutes an astronomical mission may change radically.
    I would go easy on the gloom and doom for a while and watch the SpaceX CRS-3 launch (due NET Feb 22) very closely indeed.

    • Hiram

      At least for flagship missions, launch costs are small fractions of the total budget. But that’s true, for Explorer-class missions, the SpaceX and Orbital launchers will free up some budget. Certainly, with the unavailability of Delta IIs, such lower cost commercial launchers are already being planned for use. TESS, for example, is baselined for a Taurus.

      The idea of an “astronomer” flying along to service or shepherd an instrument makes little sense, though. “Astronomers” don’t service ground based telescopes. Why should they service those in space? They didn’t send Grunsfeld to service HST because he was an astronomer. In fact, his astronomical background had little bearing on his tasks there, which were mostly threading and connecting cables and turning many many screws.

      But that brings up another important disappointment about this astrophysics “roadmap”. I believe that no consideration was given to the prospect of lower launch costs and significantly more small mission opportunities. None at all. In fact, the word “commercial” doesn’t appear in the document. What novel scientific options might present themselves in the future if lift was cheap? That would have been a very constructive line of thinking.

      So I suspect astronomical missions are not going to change that radically, though they may get less expensive.

      • James

        “In fact, his astronomical background had little bearing on his tasks there, which were mostly threading and connecting cables and turning many many screws.”

        And by turning a few screws, learning the in’s and out’s of being an astronaut, and never having managed a budget larger than , what $20M?, this screw turning in 0 G qualifies Grunsfeld to run the Space Science Institute, and then of course NASA SMD, with it’s near $5B budget.

        No one but an an astronaut – Grunsfeld -, or an astronomer )with equally poor leadership and management experience of larger organizations) – Weiler -could land the job of SMD AA.

        And one wonders why JWST, and MSL and [fill in blank] wind up eating NASA’s lunch.

      • Fred Willett

        Hiram said
        So I suspect astronomical missions are not going to change that radically, though they may get less expensive.
        You may be right, but it all depends on the degree to which prices fall. One of the things about main frame computers was that they had specialist attendants to do everything for you. You, a mere scientist weren’t allowed to even enter the sacred presence. You handed the data to the attendant and waited cap in hand for the high priest of the computer to give you the results.
        Nowadays even my grand-daughter drives her own computer.
        If prices fall enough you won’t need the high priests of space- the astronauts – to turn your screws for you. You’ll jolly well get out there and turn your own.

        • Hiram

          “If prices fall enough you won’t need the high priests of space- the astronauts – to turn your screws for you.”

          Please understand. We don’t rely on the high priests of space to turn screws because they’re so good at turning screws. We have them turn screws because they’re high priests, and human spaceflight desperately need high priests. So it’ll be a while before we send Jack-the-plumber up to fix a cooling pump.

  • guest

    James-I think you have hit on something that some of us have been seeing for many years. The NASA management now in place, and this includes not only astronauts like Grunsfeld (who at least has a PhD in an applicable field from a respectable university with a little bit of pertinent experience) but several others like the NASA Administrator, and several other AA’s and many others in the top ranks of NASA management with no advanced degree, no training or education pertinent to their responsibilities; they seem to not have the appropriate background or training for their positions; they seem to be politically naive, disconnected from the idea of NASA developing or supporting a space exploration program, a plan or a strategy. NASA is failing and perhaps we are observing the reasons. I thought one thing that was quite notable was Grunsfeld saying that his science organization was not supportive of others’ (exploration and HSF) goals. You would think that at the least the NASA management might get together and establish a position? They ought to be leading the development of a position industry-wide and across the supporters but instead they are not even establishing a position amongst themselves.

    • Hiram

      “I thought one thing that was quite notable was Grunsfeld saying that his science organization was not supportive of others’ (exploration and HSF) goals.”

      Do you have a reference for that statement? I can’t believe he would say such a thing. It is a fact that SMD has no formal responsibility to fulfill goals of other directorates, but Charlie didn’t chose Grunsfeld to lead an organization to be unsupportive of human spaceflight. Grunsfeld was put there not to spend SMD money on human spaceflight, but to look openly for cooperative opportunities that would benefit both directorates. He has respect from both communities. Ed Weiler, while in reverence to human spaceflight for the HST fixes, was simply unwilling to look openly for those same opportunities, and had little respect from the human spaceflight community.

      Grunsfeld is a smart guy and, unlike much of NASA top management, has some real insight into the popular appeal of science and NASA, and is a very media-capable spokesperson. NASA needs leaders like that. That being said, I have to suspect that his effort to look for cooperative opportunities of value won’t be that successful. What he may be successful at is managing SMD as an organization that will at least listen to the entreaties from the human spaceflight community, which desperately needs a rationale for existence, and which sees science as a powerful rationale that it would love to attach itself to.

      • James

        “What he- Grunsfeld – may be successful at is managing SMD as an organization that will at least listen to the entreaties from the human spaceflight community, which desperately needs a rationale for existence, and which sees science as a powerful rationale that it would love to attach itself to.”

        Because someone is willing to listen this qualifies him to run a $5B Organization?
        I’m willing to listen? Can I apply?

        Look, I know that most of these guys are picked not because they know anything about leadership, management, organizational development, stuff like that, but because of who they know and who they support (including what ideas they support); and if they are well know to legislators. I get it.

        So, with that criteria, one can see why Grunsfeld is a good fit. And like Weiler, he’s an astronomer.

        So while he’s listening to the entreaties from human space flight, SMD has some serious organizational problems, like: sustaining its core capabilities (See planetary, astrophysics – other than IR, thank you JWST, helio-physics in a few years?, or keeping up with decadal recommendations – see Earth Science) as budgets sink like the Titanic and mission costs continue to increase at a rate that is far outpacing inflation; he has some serious problems understanding the dysfunctional phenomena between HQ and the Field Centers that continually spawn overruns on large missions (JWST, MSL, ICESat-2, take your pick), which destroys the other science communities (who don’t want to rock the boat lest they get attacked when its their turn), as budget overruns result in the stretching out of decadal implementation plans; like how to pay for the federal and contract employees and CMO at the field centers – or how to reduce the burden of the Centers on SMD.

        Is anything happening to address all that? Anyone?

        So while the Titanic sinks, he’s listening to the Human Space Flight crowd who are attempting to sell the capacity of SLS. Too bad Dr. Grunsfeld doesn’t have any money to do anything about it – it should be a very short conversation.

        • Hiram

          “Because someone is willing to listen this qualifies him to run a $5B Organization?
          I’m willing to listen? Can I apply?”

          Well, your qualifications as a skilled human space flight hero with deep scientific credentials would be up for review. It’s not the ear that’s qualified for listening. It’s the background and purview of the brain behind it.

          “So while he’s listening … … …”

          At least he knows how to use periods, and how to write focused sentences.

          Certainly, Grunsfeld has some big SMD problems, and it’s not clear that listening to HEOMD is going to help him with any of those problems. But that’s exactly what Charlie hired him to do. Yes, it is likely to be a short conversation, but it’s probably a conversation that needs to be had. The real question is whether Grunsfeld can muster his courage, and admit that HSF really doesn’t offer science a whole lot of value.

    • James

      The Criteria for being a senior leader, well, manager at least, at NASA HQ is partly how much you are willing to give up your life, free time, to be at the beck and call of those around/higher up than you.
      That’s not a talent oriented criteria. Another criteria is, can you get results using the methods (which are outdated and aren’t serving NASA anymore)that those above you used to acquire their perch. If you play the game like that,if you act like them, you can move along. And senior managers tend to be optimists too. That helps when Congress comes a budget chopp’in! And like I said in a post below, it’s who you know, and what you support; and do you know legistlators…

      • Hiram

        “it’s who you know, and what you support; and do you know legistlators…”

        Well, Grunsfeld knows a whole lot of people, and he supports what Charlie wants to support. He works for Charlie. As to knowing legislators, you should know that doesn’t make a whit of difference. If the SMD AA goes on a lobbying expedition to the Hill, or even initiating contact with the Hill, he’ll have Legaff, and probably the General Counsel on his tail.

  • guest

    He was referring to ARM in a meeting at NASA HQ.

    • Hiram

      Thank you. I know that Grunsfeld stated simply at the recent H2M meeting at GWU that ARM was *not* a science-driven mission. That’s different than saying that SMD isn’t supportive of human space flight. He also is on record as believing that the target identification part of ARM has value for planetary defense. At the Asteroid Initiative Industry and Partner Day at HQ this last summer, Grunsfeld expressed scientific enthusiasm about asteroids, but I believe was uncommittal about at least the HSF part of ARM. That sure wouldn’t have been the venue to express lack of support HSF goals.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>