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As mentioned in a previous diary, I was going to mention some of the people who are supporting Obama's re-alignment at NASA.  Here I want you to hear it from the scientists mouth, about why this is the right course for NASA

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director for the Franklin Institute.  

(his resume is quite interesting - worth a quick look, IMHO)

And as long as we are looking at astronomers, lets go to that well known astronomer, the Bad Astronomer himself, Phil Plait (sorry, no pretty video for this one)

This is not the end of NASA. This is not the end of NASA’s manned space program, which is what a lot of people have been saying on the web and elsewhere. I see this as a shake-up that is actually pretty important and may very well be needed desperately by NASA right now.

[The Commercial spaceflight companies] have to rebuild some of it, reconfigure it a little bit, to convert it to cargo to be able to put humans onto it. But when all is said and done, they’re predicting that by 2014, they’ll be putting people into space, into orbit, and be able to put crews onto the space station. I think that’s fantastic.

You can listen to the entire innterview, or even listen to the entire interview, by clicking here

Dr. Plait wrote an earlier piece, also defending the President's budget, which you can read here.

Finally, he was recently interviewed by Skepticality, and he talks about Obama's NASA budget at time 18:50, and he talks for 20+ minutes about space (At time 28:25, he talks about the Ares rockets, and talks about the sham that was Ares I-X launch).  Anyway, check it out

Normally there is always an argument about science, and human spaceflight.  The great thing is, if we get a spacefaring society, and the cultural change at NASA we need, we can get to do A LOT more science, because the cost to do science will come down, and we'll be able to visit more places, both manned and unmanned.  Various science proposed missions would benefit from the advanced technology work, because you could fly more instruments much cheaper.  And more humans, even if they are there simply to enjoy the view, can provide opportunities for science (although I fully agree, science will never be the main reason to do human spaceflight).  

Originally posted to FerrisValyn on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 01:47 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I know that this has been (9+ / 0-)

      of great concern to you for quite some time, Ferris, so, if it appears to be a better way for us to accomplish more, then I'm all for it.

      It makes sense and seems a smarter approach too.

      Language is wine upon the lips. -Virginia Woolf

      by valadon on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 01:59:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure privatize space. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir

      Why the hell not.  It'll go with all of the privatized wars, highways, jails, and schools.  

      They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

      by dkmich on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:13:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of things are privatized (11+ / 0-)

        grocery stores, auto companies (most of the time), flower stores, law firms, furniture manufacturers, airplane makers (most of em), boat makers (most of em)

        When the government dispatches an official, to go from DC to North Dakota, does s/he fly on a government airplane, most of the time?  

        Also, realize this - right now, much of our space spending is to contractors, in the form of cost-plus contracts (Boeing built ISS, Rockwell built Space Shuttle, part of the Saturn V was built by Chrysler).  This has allowed for endless cost-overruns, and we still have to pay a profit to companies.

        What this does, is it forces companies to absorb the cost overruns within their own budgets, not the taxpayers.  

        And it gets a new industry, that will have private users, off of the ground (like investing in companies that make green energy)

        How is this not a good thing?

        •  I don't know. Maybe you are right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FerrisValyn, palantir

          But I find it hard to believe that the taxpayers aren't going to foot the bill for all of the R&D, and then companies will own it and charge us to use it.  Sort of like how they get free oil and gas out of US land. Never underestimate the greed of the private sector.  Ask Goldman Sachs.

          They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20. ~~ Dennis Kucinich

          by dkmich on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:52:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What I predict is that the human spaceflight (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dkmich, buddabelly, palantir, Vladislaw

            component of NASA's budget will (long term) be reduced from ~$8 billion per year to maybe $4 or $5 billion per year and the difference added to science programs, Earth observation, robotic exploration and education.

            The difference will need to be picked up by tourists and corporate sponsors.

            Governing well shall be the best revenge

            by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:55:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The fundemental issue is this (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dkmich, Bill White, palantir, Vladislaw

            Does the market for human spaceflight expand beyond the government, to include private individuals & organizations/companies, or is it mostly or entirely governmental?  

            If its the former, then this is the equivalent of what was done with the Internet.  If its not, then, yea, it could end up being like the situation in Iraq.  

            That said, I think there is substantial evidence that the market IS there, for human spaceflight, beyond the government.  

            And, the honest fact is

            But I find it hard to believe that the taxpayers aren't going to foot the bill for all of the R&D, and then companies will own it and charge us to use it

            Thats how we are running NASA right now, and how we've run it since the early days (case in point - NASA doesn't own the IP property for the Space Shuttle!!).  But if we can get the private sector to invest their own money into the development process (either a majority stake, or all of it), this is a good thing

            •  Indeed, Ferris, you have stated the core issue (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dkmich, palantir

              Does the market for human spaceflight expand beyond the government, to include private individuals & organizations/companies, or is it mostly or entirely governmental?

              However, are you reading Thomas Matula's comments at Rand Simberg's site? For example:

              I am sorry, but I see nothing good about luring the New Space firms into becoming the next generation of NASA contractors. It will just set back the expansion of the human econsphere another generation, as the focus on NASA funded RLVs in the 1990’s with the chill is created on developing RLV vehicles.

              His comment in full:

              Thomas Matula Says:
              February 13th, 2010 at 9:23 am

              This is a good example of arguing for a policy based on philosophical beliefs versus a solid understanding of organization culture and the economics of industrial development.

              Note this statement:

              The internal culture within the agency was actively hostile to commercial enterprise. A belief had grown from the days when the Apollo program landed humans on the moon that only NASA could do space well and therefore only NASA projects and programs were worthy.

              This assumes that Administrator Bolden will be able to magically overturn a culture that has been 50 years in the making. It won’t happen. The work and file will just endure as they did under other Administrators who attempted to change NASA into something its not. The resentment building against President’s Obama’s policy and its rollout will just reinforce NASA culture values while it drives them underground, for a while.

              Seeing this statement in the recent press conference with Deputy Administrator Graver is a good indication of this.

              Dryden to take lead on airworthiness evals of subobital vehicles with NASA payloads or personnel.

              It’s a statement that should send chills through the sub-orbital community, especially as its now finally focusing on the sub-orbital science market. It implies if a vehicle like Space Ship 2 is contracted for by NASA it will have to go through a separate (and costly) evaluation and licensing process (or whatever you want to label it) besides the one it already went through for the FAA. If you want a taste of what it may be like ask the zero-G researchers about the process of getting an experiment flown to the ISS. It should be noted the military doesn’t require a separate airworthiness evaluation for the aircraft used when they charter airlines to transport troops or cargo... They accept the one the FAA did if it’s a commercial airliner.

              Also note this statement of philosophical belief

              Reliance on commercial launch services will provide many other benefits. It will open the doors to more people having the opportunity to go to space. It has the potential of creating thousands of new jobs, largely the kind of high-tech work to which our nation should aspire. In the same way the railroads opened the American West, commercial access can open vast new opportunities in space.

              I recall similar philosophical statements being made regarding the Shuttle and X-33 programs, but they turned out false. First, spacecraft designed for NASA crew will have little if any impact on serving the market for commercial human spaceflight. They will be just too expensive for tourists even if NASA allows its providers to sell excess capacity for that purpose. (NASA: Sorry, but we need ALL the up mass provided to make effective use of the ISS...)

              Also there is no evidence the overall space workforce will expand with commercial crew, more likely it won’t.

              Finally, the economic development model being used for commercial crew is completely different then for western Railroads so it is one of the common false analogies. The major economic markets for the Transcontinental Railroad already existed. What was needed was merely a secure, fast, alternative to the 6 month plus journey to link those markets to the East Coast and Europe. There are NO commercial markets in space generating a similar demand pull for launch transportation for humans. That is the challenge for space development, creating those commercial markets. A government market is not a substitute for commercial markets.

              I am sorry, but I see nothing good about luring the New Space firms into becoming the next generation of NASA contractors. It will just set back the expansion of the human econsphere another generation, as the focus on NASA funded RLVs in the 1990’s with the chill is created on developing RLV vehicles.

              Governing well shall be the best revenge

              by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:46:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It comes down to (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                palantir, Vladislaw

                changing NASA's culture, I agree.  That is vital.  I am optimistic that it can happen.  Mr. Matula is not.  Neither side can prove it, until we try it.  

                Bill, you often talk about the single point failures inherent in commercial spaceflight.  The problem is NASA spaceflight is full of single point failures.  And the culture of NASA is another one.  

                •  Therefore go around NASA, not through NASA (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  palantir, Vladislaw

                  Don't bother trying to change NASA - it cannot be done - go around NASA.

                  Governing well shall be the best revenge

                  by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:03:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And we've had that discussion before (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    palantir

                    Which results in me pointing out how the Augustine report argued that without NASA, it won't happen.  

                    •  I deny that the Augustine report says what you (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      palantir

                      just now asserted.

                      Governing well shall be the best revenge

                      by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:07:48 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Class, please open your copy of (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        palantir

                        the Augustine Report to page 70

                        The Committee engaged in a two-step process for assessing the potential financial benefit of commercial services for crew transport. This involved both estimating the cost to develop and operate the system, and then determining what fraction of this cost NASA would likely have to provide as an incentive to industry to enter into this venture.

                        During its fact-finding process, the Committee received proprietary information from five different companies interested in the provision of commercial crew transportation services to low-Earth orbit. These included large and small companies, some of which have previously developed crew systems for NASA. The Committee also received input from prospective customers stating that there is a market for commercial crew transportation to low-Earth orbit for non-NASA purposes if the price is low enough and safety robust enough, and from prospective providers stating that it is technically possible to provide a commercially viable price on a marginal cost basis, given a developed system. None of the input suggested that at the price obtainable for a capsule-plus-expendable-launch vehicle system, the market was sufficient to provide a return on the investment of the initial capsule development. In other words, if a capsule is developed that meets commercial needs, there will be customers to share operating costs with NASA, but unless NASA creates significant incentives for the development of the capsule, the service is unlikely to be developed on a purely commercial basis.

                        Emphasis mine

                        •  That bolded statement is factually refuted (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          palantir, Vladislaw

                          by the episode in which Mike Griffin called LM and screamed bloody murder when he heard they were going to do a deal with Bigelow without NASA involvement.

                          I assert the bolded language is there precisely to keep NASA fingers involved in every U.S. to LEO effort. In other words, to make sure NASA is not circumvented.

                          MirCorp offers another precedent.

                          Governing well shall be the best revenge

                          by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:20:49 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Mircorp happened (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            palantir

                            precisely because its was a combination government/private situation.  Not in spite of it.  

                            And I disagree that the Griffin/LM situation refutes it

                          •  Yes, but not the United States (0+ / 0-)

                            I want Charlie Bolden to say in public that Dan Goldin was wrong in how he handled MirCorp.

                            Governing well shall be the best revenge

                            by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 06:06:38 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree to a point (0+ / 0-)

                            Earth to Leo will always be a national security issue for certain groups within the government and they will always want to get a finger into it one way or another.

                            That said, it seemed pretty clear when I had read this the first time that other customers besides NASA would take advantage of these services.

                            "Committee received proprietary information from five different companies interested in the provision of commercial crew transportation services to low-Earth orbit. These included large and small companies, some of which have previously developed crew systems for NASA. The Committee also received input from prospective customers stating that there is a market for commercial crew transportation to low-Earth orbit for non-NASA purposes if the price is low enough and safety robust enough"

                          •  The question is whether it is necessary for (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Vladislaw

                            NASA to "pave the way" first by buying commercial crew and cargo BEFORE non-NASA destinations go up.

                            If later this month Bolden & Garver declare that official NASA policy is to get multiple destinations up in LEO - very soon - in order to stimulate demand for SpaceX and Dreamchaser development, further lowering the cost of ISS logistics, I will become more supportive of this new path.

                            Governing well shall be the best revenge

                            by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 06:35:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Second answer (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      palantir, Vladislaw

                      I have been thinking about this issue for almost ten years -- how might people go around NASA rather than through NASA -- and my best answer to that shall be my novel I will be releasing within a few weeks.

                      Also, my L2 Cup idea goes around NASA.

                      Sponsor a race from LEO to EML-2 and return.

                      Soyuz versus Shenzou versus SpaceX Dragon. No NASA involvement (unless they wish to offer deep space tracking radar support for example).

                      Governing well shall be the best revenge

                      by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:12:41 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  railroads (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kalmoth, Bill White, FerrisValyn, palantir

                "The major economic markets for the Transcontinental Railroad already existed. What was needed was merely a secure, fast, alternative to the 6 month plus journey to link those markets to the East Coast and Europe. There are NO commercial markets in space generating a similar demand pull for launch transportation for humans."

                Actually, transportation systems ALREADY existed BEFORE the market was created.

                People were already going to california by railroads till they reached the "jumping off point" where they could then take a wagon train. You could also ride a horse or take a ship to california.

                The driver for the transcontinental railroad was CHEAPER ACCESS. Two merchants, who were serving the miners, wanted the ability to bring goods to their stores faster.

                So that is not a correct anology. There already exists a market, the ISS, which, under the commercial space act, is supposed to use more commerical. There are also new markets forming, Bigelow's space facility.

                So.. now that we have that straight, we have two markets, terrestrial and in LEO and they are currently being serviced. The question is can we build a cheaper access to connect those two markets.

          •  Not the plan (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FerrisValyn

            check out:

            www.spacex.com

            for an example of how this works

            "90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

            by Explorer8939 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:12:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  footing the bill (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            buddabelly, FerrisValyn

            The taxpayers foot the bill for everything that the government does.

            The real question you should ask is, does the spending actually create wealth, or are you eating your seed corn.

            NASA's very mission, as one of their cost controls, has always been, do the initial heavy lifting on the research and development, then push that technology into the commercial sector so that NASA can then turn around and buy that same item as a turn key 'off the shelf' product.

            NASA can never achieve economy of scale. No matter how they were funded. You could double their budget for human space flight and it would not make a dent in the shear economics of space flight.

            NASA is spending about 75 billion a seat on the shuttle and no civilians can buy a ticket, no matter how big your check book.

            That is just wrong on so many levels.

            It is the creation of wealth that allows for independant innovation after that initial development funds. It is the extra normal profits that a new company earns that allows them to build more factories, hire more people and start getting economies of scale that pushes prices down.

            Virgin Galatic will be the classic example. they will be charging $200,000 a flight to begin with and only the rich can ride.

            And just like the telephone Micheal Douglas is holding in the movie Wallstreet, "the brick" cost 5000 dollars and 6000 a month to operate was only seen as another toy for the rich, it was extra normal profits they earned that made the 20 dollar disposable cell phone a reality.

            Extra normal profits, the creation of wealth. that is the key. You have to understand that capital ALWAYS flows to extra normal profits. Anytime a firm has them, capitial floods in, over production takes place, prices fall and soon everyone enjoys the technology.

            It will be the same in commercial space flight. The first company that makes more then a standard industry return capital will start flooding in. Investors will be clamoring for ANY stock that has space in the name and in a couple decades, more people will be doing work in space than ever before.

          •  I'm still mad TANG was privatized (0+ / 0-)

            Could have been the first public freeze-dried orange drink.

            "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

            by greendem on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:36:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

          That is a list of commercial projects.

          "Privatized" means that private companies take over government assets and charge the government for their use.

          "90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

          by Explorer8939 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:09:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  everything the government (0+ / 0-)

          privatizes becomes a disaster. as an example California had public utilities and plenty of power for 80 years. within two years of privatization we were having rolling blackouts and the state was bankrupt from which it never recovered.

          •  Two things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Vladislaw

            as Explorer 8939 pointed out, its really more commercialization.  

            Second, there are multiple examples I can cite, where we did commercialization, and it allowed our country to grow, quite well.  A great example is the Kelly AirMail act, which helped to create the US Aviation industry.  

            When there is no chance of a real private user/market, where a customer can walk away, it should be the government running it (military, police, health care, so on).  Space isn't like that.  

      •  Not "privatization", "commercialization" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moonpal

        big difference

        "90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

        by Explorer8939 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:08:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Smart Move. (9+ / 0-)

    Keep NASA alive, but more of a looking forward goal.

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 01:55:54 PM PST

  •  Sane (11+ / 0-)

    Actual science and facts, instead of an insane race to the Moon, underfunded and headed for big-time failure.

    Great move for NASA.

  •  More robots in space! (6+ / 0-)

    More planetary exploration, more space telescopes, more study of planet earth's fragile environment, more R&D on new methods of propulsion.

    I'm with this program. As much as I'd love to see someone set foot on the Moon again, or on Mars during my lifetime, we need solid science goals and a reasonable spot in the budget priorities.

    And for my space jollies, I've never been happier with my morning coffee routine, exploring the latest images from across solar system:

    Astronomy Picture of the Day
    Daily Space Weather
    Mercury - Messenger orbiter
    Mars - HiRise camera in orbit
    Dawn - mission to asteroid Ceres
    Saturn - Cassini orbiter
    Pluto - New Horizons

    "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're... hobbies." -- Jon Stewart, Jan. 22, 2009

    by pat208 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:49:48 PM PST

    •  Spot on! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat208, Vladislaw

      I'm with this program. As much as I'd love to see someone set foot on the Moon again, or on Mars during my lifetime, we need solid science goals and a reasonable spot in the budget priorities.

      That said, we should bring in private money (Google for example) and international partners and go back to the Moon through a private consortium that might not even include NASA.

      Governing well shall be the best revenge

      by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:53:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I carry a long term frustration with (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat208, Bill White, FerrisValyn, Vladislaw

      the entire space program.  I stood on a road in Florida when the first rockets were shot into the upper atmosphere.  I hung with bated breath as the moon landing was televised.  I kept believing that we would get to Mars in MY lifetime.

      I forgot the budgets, and agencies, and congressional crap heads who wanted Star wars, not star exploration.

      Way too slow, way too much wasted money, and way to many disappointed old women...

      "One cannot speak glibly of 'policy differences' and 'looking forward' and 'distraction' when corpses are involved." John Sifton

      by Granny Doc on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:54:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would you cheer or boo if people returned to the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FerrisValyn, Vladislaw

        Moon with the bills paid by corporate sponsors and with logos on the space suits?

        Governing well shall be the best revenge

        by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:57:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was a schoolboy when I watched Mercury. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Granny Doc

        And I've followed it all along. And I, too, wish we had made more progress along the way.

        But I've come to realize that we're in the golden age of space exploration, and because of our ability to dispatch probes and orbiters to all corners of our solar system, and because of our new abilities to used ground and space telescopes to discover and -- increasingly -- measure and image -- planets in other solar systems. We are now using powerful telescopes to look back in time, as it were, to the near beginning of the universe.

        Yeah, I wish there were people traveling through space, but every day I can visit places that we hardly knew existed in my youth. And the ride is very comfortable, and it comes with great coffee!

        "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're... hobbies." -- Jon Stewart, Jan. 22, 2009

        by pat208 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:58:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wish I could forget them (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Granny Doc, Vladislaw

        unfortnuately, when we forget them, we lose the ability to do the exploration

      •  Remember All Those Rockets Were Weapons (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Granny Doc

        Till the Saturn moon rockets and the Shuttle.

        The main reasons we had the space program is we couldn't let the Soviets develop an unchallenged platform there, and also we were debugging our nuclear deterrent missiles which you probably recall were blowing up almost all the time at first.

        If a Dem had proposed the program purely as a science and exploration demonstration the military would've fought the spending tooth and nail.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:30:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  But space isn't just about science (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vladislaw

      although I am all for science, and pushing it.  The thing to remember is that NASA is a space agency (with aeronautics added), and space does not equal science.  

      That said, we have to make the decision to utilize space in a manor that actually benefits society, and isn't about a feel good measure (like its been for a while now).  

      I believe getting the commercial spaceflight sector going is a great way to move forward with that.  

      •  Unfortunately, Ferris (0+ / 0-)

        none of that space development stuff is in the budget yet. You are merely hoping that it shall be, in the future.

        Governing well shall be the best revenge

        by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:09:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some of it is (0+ / 0-)

          continued COTS funding, extending ISS, CCDev money, and the beginnings of Commercial crew - those are part of it

          •  Those things are valuable steps but are far (0+ / 0-)

            from sufficient to achieve the objectives aimed at.

            And if NewSpace embraces the February 1st budget without reservation, how and when will the other necessary stuff get added?

            Governing well shall be the best revenge

            by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:38:37 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You have to take (0+ / 0-)

              the first step, before you take the next step.  

              •  Don't sign on the dotted line until (0+ / 0-)

                you read the fine print.

                A much reduced NASA human spaceflight budget (just enough to fly crew to ISS with NOTHING for depots or landers or exotic propulsion) very easily could be what comes out of this.

                Also, a crew taxi loaded with NASA required bells and whistles making it too expensive for Bigelow customers.

                Together with lots of angry Congress-critters and laid off NASA workers furious with NewSpace.

                Governing well shall be the best revenge

                by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:50:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                  A much reduced NASA human spaceflight budget (just enough to fly crew to ISS with NOTHING for depots or landers or exotic propulsion) very easily could be what comes out of this.

                  Thats all we were getting, regardless whether we stuck with Constellation, tried to reformulate it using something like DIRECT, or go fully commercial.  

                  Also, a crew taxi loaded with NASA required bells and whistles making it too expensive for Bigelow customers.

                  Bill, you are gonna half to proof that this is what we are gonna get.  I know you are convinced that OldSpace will rig the contracts, so that no one else can get it.  I think that there will be enough stuff put in play that ensures we don't end up with the situation you describe.  

              •  Step #2 that could be taken TODAY (0+ / 0-)

                Issue a challenge for a spaceship race from LEO to EML-2 and return to LEO.

                http://www.lpi.usra.edu/...

                Maybe ask Buzz Aldrin to donate a perpetual trophy to the winner of the first L2 Cup.

                Have Charlie Bolden announce that

                (a) The "new" NASA welcomes human spaceflight to places other than ISS

                (b) The "new" NASA encourages LEO hotels ASAP

                (c) The "new" NASA believes that it is 100% appropriate for private companies to sell tourist rides and corporate sponsorships and it shall facilitate such efforts in non-financial ways.

                These items would make it far easier for me to support the new direction.

                Governing well shall be the best revenge

                by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:00:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Suppose he announces that (0+ / 0-)

                  and then doesn't support it.  Would it have really been step #2?  

                  I am not interested in grand pronouncement - I want to see action.  Merely making speeches isn't enough.  And if we get the action, and no speech - I have no problem.  

                  Look at the VSE speech, and how great that turned out

                  •  As Charlie Bolden said, it MUST be international (0+ / 0-)

                    to be sustainable. And there also needs to be profit.

                    In the short term, corporate sponsorships and tourism is the fastest road to profit.

                    But to minimize political risk, ask Buzz Aldrin to issue the L2 Cup challenge rather than NASA or anyone in the White House. Shenzou versus Soyuz versus Dragon.

                    Winner of the first L2 Cup wins the media and marketing rights to the second L2 Cup and so forth. That creates a recursive economic bootstrap effect not dependent on tax dollars.

                    Larry Ellison of Oracle is spending $200 million right now trying to win the America's Cup. He spent $200 million a few years ago failing to win the America's Cup.

                    A capsule to EML-2 would cost less than $500 million if done privately and would take the crew further into space than any human has gone, ever.

                    Governing well shall be the best revenge

                    by Bill White on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:17:47 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  The part that isn't science could be business. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FerrisValyn

        And that part I'd be delighted to see run by the private sector.

        We need to carefully target our public dollars, across all ventures, and I hope we can keep space exploration in the picture, even during what will no doubt be very tight public budgets over the next couple of decades.

        "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're... hobbies." -- Jon Stewart, Jan. 22, 2009

        by pat208 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:10:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Better to fight the robots out there (0+ / 0-)

      than right here in the homeland.

      "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

      by greendem on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:37:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was talking to a repub/conservative at an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, FerrisValyn, Vladislaw

    event in CA recently. He was really sarcastic about how Obama is "defunding" NASA -- so I guess some rethugs have been supportive of space exploration funding, maybe because it has weapons innovation involved? Or just because they can't say "yes" to anything he does. But this sounds like a great idea.

    Now if we could figure out what to do with defense spending that is out of control.

    •  Republicans for Central Planning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FerrisValyn

      Obviously, this so-called Republican is in favor of Big Government Programs run by Bureaucrats instead of having the private sector provide the goods and services.

      "90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

      by Explorer8939 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:14:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Its a weird combination of (0+ / 0-)

      protecting personal state pork and hating Obama's NASA to hate Obama (see Burt Rutan for a great example of this).

    •  Can't Reduce Spending, But Re-Target the M-I-C (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FerrisValyn

      Put them onto climate change and alternative energy.

      They're far too powerful to allow their budget growth to be stopped much less have budgets cut. It's no longer possible.

      What they might permit is retasking to the threats we face which unlike the vanished USSR they're fighting for a billion dollars a day, really ARE existential threats to the nation.

      We can't downsize that sector but we need a big fraction of what they're eating to get off the mayhem onto to making the world better.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:33:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For a real eye-opener, read this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FerrisValyn

    "90% of life is just showing up" - Woody Allen

    by Explorer8939 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 03:15:28 PM PST

  •  Look Up SpaceX (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FerrisValyn

    Check out the website of a company called Spacex and you will see what is going to happen. They have a tested liquid fuel rocket at the cape now that will be able to deliver cargo to the ISS very soon.

    The have taken the risk to develop their vehicle without government money. They do have a contract to deliver stuff to the space station just like they used to do when the post office paid the airlines to carry airmail. There vehicle is also configurable to carry humans.

    It is a better solution than paying to have private companies develop Ares with the Government taking the risk for design flaws and cost over runs. Shoot SpaceX has a menu and fixed prices for delivering stuff to low Earth orbit and Geosynchronous transfer orbit. http://www.spacex.com/

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