Lobbying

Space lobbying today in Washington and Tallahassee

Two organizations will be meeting with national and state legislators today in separate events to convince them of the importance of key space issues. In Washington, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will be holding its annual Congressional Visits Day, as members meet with congressional staff members and others to raise “awareness of the long-term value that science, engineering, and technology bring to America.”

AIAA has issued its list of key issues for this year’s event, which include several items related to space policy. AIAA calls for “ensuring a robust U.S. human spaceflight program” that includes “stable long-term funding” for the Space Launch System, Orion, and other systems needed for human missions, with the long-term goal of a human mission to Mars in the early 2030s. AIAA also calls on Congress and the White House to “state clear priorities for linking NASA Human Spaceflight activity to national goals related to foreign relations, economic growth, education, and technological achievement.” AIAA also seeks to raise awareness about the threat posed by orbital debris, including methods to track and catalog items as small as 1 centimeter (current systems cannot reliably track objects smaller than 10 centimeters) and to work on the technical and legal issues of removing space debris.

While AIAA members are working on Capitol Hill, representatives of Florida’s space industry will be meeting with state legislators in Tallahassee for “Florida Space Day.” Their agenda includes support for a $10-million budget for state space agency Space Florida and $1.5 million for space industry tourism marketing, as well as more general support for a commercial launch site proposed north of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and commercialization of excess KSC assets, including the Shuttle Landing Facility there, which Space Florida seeks to operate. The event will have a little space star power: former astronaut and KSC director Robert Crippen “will be making scheduled appearances throughout the event,” according to a press release.

15 comments to Space lobbying today in Washington and Tallahassee

  • I wish we (the world space community) could control our Mars fetish. While Mars may be the most interesting destination relevent to human scientists on site, it is too big a step to be the next major project. For the foreseeable future, a Mars mission is useless for commercialization, while it is not too hard to see commercial opportunities in addition to science in a second generation Space Station in cis-lunar space, a lunar base, or asteroid missions. This concentration on Mars only makes us ignore the logical and achievable next steps that might actually someday lead us to Mars, affordably and usefully.

    – Donald

    • common sense

      There simply is no “destination mission” that is feasible at this time. Not Mars, not the Moon, not the asteroid. None. Be they in 2030, or even 2050. The technology simply does not exist for a safe mission to Mars. The hardware does not exist for a mission to the Moon and the cost is prohibitive for anything but a stunt to the Moon – we could not even land on the Moon! So all of this is background noise that may or not disrupt our ability to detect dark matter.

      Now if we go commercial that would be a very different story. At least for the Moon. But then what are we going to do with our SLS/MPCV commercial crew backup?

  • Common Sense: There simply is no “destination mission” that is feasible at this time. Not Mars, not the Moon, not the asteroid.

    While you are probably correct regarding Mars (and its moons) and a human flight to an asteroid (as opposed to the ARM proposal), I disagree regarding Earth’s moon. All we need to do is:

    1). Cancel SLS.

    2). Use the money to develop small landers and habatats and tugs.

    3). Launch actual hardware on frequent Falcon-9 Heaviy launches or more expensive and thus somewhat less frequent Delta-IV Heavy launches.

    4). Assemble actual spacecraft at the ISS or in free orbit.

    5). Use Dragons and/or Delta-IV-launched Orions (to be demonstrated later this year) to send crews.

    There, you have it: a complete lunar transportation infrastructure, available within less than a decade, and almost certainly costing little more than we are spending now.

    Unfortunately, it’s entirely accademic. Since the Republicans in the South will go to any lengths to preserve a socialist space program developing rockets that will not be needed for decades if at all, it will never happen. So, in the end, I guess I agree with you.

    – Donald

    • Jim Nobles

      I wish you people with a moon fetish would seek help. If you want to go to the moon start pooling your resources to make that possible instead of complaining that Uncle Sugar won’t pay your way for you.

      With the new advances in rockets and habitats (SpaceX and Bigelow, mainly) it is entirely possible that a majority of the pieces of equipment needed for infrastructure will be ready by the time all the Moonies can get the money together to pay for their Moondreams.

      It is not NASA’s job to build that infrastructure. They can’t do it anyway. They will never have the money. Give up on these ridiculous Socialist Space dreams, they were never going to work anyway.

      NASA showed that we could traverse cislunar space and even land on the moon. They showed one way to do it and they showed it repeatedly. Their job is done and so they have moved on to more distant targets. This is how it should be.

      Quit complaining that the government won’t reach into other people’s pockets and pull money out to pay for your lunar fantasies. If you want something done on the moon then start figuring out ways to pay for it that don’t include larceny.

      • Mader Levap

        “Their job is done and so they have moved on to more distant targets.”
        You claim that NASA do not have any business on Moon at all is pure BS.

        I am not even talking about any observatory on dark side or something grandiose like that. It would nice to have, say, SECOND ever actual geologist on surface of the Moon. Doing science and exploration. You know, things that NASA is supposed to do.

        It warrants repeat: saying NASA have nothing to do on Moon is pure CRAP. Lie for “Mars first” agenda. Made up thing to accompany other ridiculous “been there done that” non-argument.

        Forgive me, if I am not sufficiently clear what I think about this. :>

        • Hiram

          “It would nice to have, say, SECOND ever actual geologist on surface of the Moon. Doing science and exploration. You know, things that NASA is supposed to do.”

          No, you’re not sufficiently clear.

          NASA is doing science and exploration all over the solar system, just like it is supposed to be doing. These days, it’s even doing it on the Moon with GRAIL, LRO, LCROSS and LADEE. What you’re saying is that we need to have field geologists tramping over the Moon caressing pebbles. Yes, that would be “nice”, but the questions that need to be answered right now aren’t pushing science in that direction. Getting samples from the South Pole Aiken Basin is a high priority, but not one that requires human hands on site. The Moon is a short distance from us, such that telerobotic surrogates, providing vision, mobility, and manipulative dexterity will give field geologists on Earth a near real-time visit to the Moon, for months at a time. Those glued to the aged Apollo model of exploration will argue, but those aware of telerobotic capabilities we never even dreamed about in the Apollo era will achieve much greater clarity in their vision. With all due respect to Harrison Schmidt, a cutting edge telerobot controlled by virtual astronauts on Earth will now be able to do everything that he did, and probably a lot more. Orange rocks? Natch. Those controllers will probably find purple, mauve, and gamboge ones as well.

          Saying that NASA desperately needs to put humans back on the Moon is pure CRAP, though there is a lot of great science that needs to be done there. Maybe it does need to put humans back there to show geopolitical muscle, and maybe to pave the way for some colonization wet dream, but not to do science. It would be “nice”, but not necessary.

          • Mader Levap

            “cutting edge telerobot”
            Even with current technology we are not able to get same amount and quality of moon rock samples with robots as with humans.

            “Saying that NASA desperately needs to put humans back on the Moon”
            Desperately is your word, not mine. Do not put words in my mouth.

            I think Moon will have human presence long before Mars. Even if it will be thanks to purely commercial space ventures*, inevitably some of these people will be NASA employees. There goes your telerobot argument.

            * Mars Firsters moved goalposts and claim that man on Moon by commercial somehow does not count as Moon First. Hah.

            • Hiram

              “Even with current technology we are not able to get same amount and quality of moon rock samples with robots as with humans.”

              If we spent as much on a telerobotic sampling mission as we would sending humans to pick up rocks and carry them back, we could bring tons of rocks back. What you’ve said here is laughably wrong. Do you know how much we spent in the Apollo era to bring back those samples?

              Current technology is more than adequate to the task. Be aware that, for the purposes of quality sampling, telerobots will have much more manual dexterity than a gloved human. That’s already well established. Certainly they would be able to do sampling over a much longer period of time. Telerobot controllers on Earth will have high resolution, polychromatic vision, probably with telescopic and microscopic capabilities. How does that compare to a human eye peering through a visor? As to not being able to do it, well darn it, we’re not even trying to do it. That must be why it looks like we aren’t able to do it.

              But you have to understand that any return to the Moon by humans is not going to be based on the number of kilograms of samples they return with. It’ll be about footprints left, rather than samples collected.

              “Even if it will be thanks to purely commercial space ventures*, inevitably some of these people will be NASA employees. There goes your telerobot argument.”

              Duh, what? You mean it will take NASA employees to be dumb enough to go do in person what a telerobot could do? You don’t think much of them, do you. I agree the Moon will have human presence before Mars. Now we just have to figure out why we need that human presence to be there.

              “Desperately is your word, not mine. Do not put words in my mouth”

              Let’s just say that NASA desperately needing to put humans back on the Moon is pure c**p, whether or not you talked about desperation. I never said that you did say that. Do not bite on words that I never fed you.

              • Mader Levap

                “If we spent as much on a telerobotic sampling mission as we would sending humans to pick up rocks and carry them back, we could bring tons of rocks back.”
                Capabilities of humans in area of getting Moon samples are proven – it actually happened. Your made up powerpoint capabilities of non-existent telerobotics do not interest me.

                “I agree the Moon will have human presence before Mars.”
                Then we have nothing to argue about. Moon first.

                Now if only you and the likes of you dropped that retarded “been there, done that” non-argument, all would be fine and dandy.

        • Hiram

          Well, my reply to you is “in moderation”, Maybe because I repeated your C**P word back at your argument? But then again, maybe it’s because I straightforwardly explained to you why your argument was not sufficiently clear.

    • common sense

      Donald, I am correct. Just read what you wrote. None of those systems actually exists in any shape or form.

      >>> 1). Cancel SLS.

      Does not exist but I agree we should cancel this junk.

      >>> 2). Use the money to develop small landers and habatats and tugs.

      Okay then they do not exist.

      >>> 3). Launch actual hardware on frequent Falcon-9 Heaviy launches or more expensive and thus somewhat less frequent Delta-IV Heavy launches.

      There is no program associated with that at NASA except for CRS.

      >>> 4). Assemble actual spacecraft at the ISS or in free orbit.

      There is nothing to assemble, there is no hardware not even in development.

      >>> 5). Use Dragons and/or Delta-IV-launched Orions (to be demonstrated later this year) to send crews.

      Dragon exists and will fly but Orion??? Dragon is not yet certified for crew. Probably will but not yet.

      >>> There, you have it: a complete lunar transportation infrastructure, available within less than a decade, and almost certainly >>> costing little more than we are spending now.

      Sorry but (almost) none of those things exist.

      >>> Unfortunately, it’s entirely accademic. Since the Republicans in the South will go to any lengths to preserve a socialist
      >>> space program developing rockets that will not be needed for decades if at all, it will never happen. So, in the end, I guess
      >>> I agree with you.

      Of course you do. It’s common sense ;)

    • Vladislaw

      Donald F. Robertson wrote:

      1). Cancel SLS.

      From my understanding the labor bill is somewhere between 160-210 million a month. So if you cancel SLS, hardware, you are really are not saving much. .. are you also going to suggest to congressional Porkonauts that you are plannning on canceling their district’s NASA workforce they have been protecting since Apollo?

      2). Use the money to develop small landers and habatats and tugs.

      Who is going to develop these small landers et cetera? The 200 million a month workforce that is costing 2.4 billion a year? Do not look for small, fast, inexpensive .. none of that flies with congressional members. They want BIG .. MONSTER .. COST PLUS .. NO BID .. endless development and if and when it ever flies, it is designed to need a standing army to operate.

  • Jim: Quit complaining that the government won’t reach into other people’s pockets and pull money out to pay for your lunar fantasies. If you want something done on the moon then start figuring out ways to pay for it that don’t include larceny.

    Hmm, I believe there is a long and time honored tradition of “socialist” investment in transportation. Does this mean you’re ready to give up cheap airline travel utilizing the “socialist” airport and air traffic control networks, neither of which come close to paying for themselves without “larcenny?” I don’t drive, yet I am forced to help pay for the “fantisy” of moving tons of steel many miles every time some suburbanite wants to pick up a cabbage at the grocery store. There is nothing in the world more socialist or wasteful than the United States’ highway and freeway networks, yet self described free marketers and libertarians somehow seem able to quash their objections to the “larceny” involved in both their construction and maintenance, and use these systems.

    I agree that it is preferable and most likely that SpaceX and Bigelow, et al, lead any effort to return to Earth’s moon, but I have no objection to the government helping them — as COTS and CCiCAP have subsidized the development of the existing commercial rockets.

  • Coastal Ron

    Instead of the AIAA calling for “ensuring a robust U.S. human spaceflight program”, what they really should be advocating for is an AFFORDABLE U.S. human spaceflight program.

    Because it isn’t for lack of possible destinations that we haven’t been leaving LEO, but a lack of money. Building the SLS and the Orion ignores that fact, and even exacerbates it.

    Until we stop making plans that exceed our budgets, we’re never going to be able to leave LEO.

  • seamus

    Meanwhile, back in reality, NASA is quietly building out the necessary capabilities to eventually allow us to reach Mars, for example laser communications technology, although Congress has provided significantly less funding than requested by the White House. It’s also worth noting that the first demonstration of this essential piece of deep space technology was carried out from Lunar orbit… because the Earth-Moon sphere is naturally where all of the Mars tech demos will happen.

    Orbital transfer service modules with refueling depots, surface and orbiting habitats, life support and radiation shielding in deep space, telerobotics, landers, etc. All of these things– without any doubt– will happen in the Earth-Moon sphere before embarking to Mars on a 500+ day mission without the possibility of early return or re-supply.

    There is no “affordable” way to get to Mars. It’s a big, expensive proposition and none of the required elements can be cut. It’s not going to happen any time soon with NASA (and thus commercial space) so sadly underfunded.

    The upshot is that just by visiting Mars, we’ll have actually started to colonize the solar system.

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