Saturday, July 31, 2004
Friday, July 30, 2004
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Space exploration will need both humans and robots. There is a better way to pose your question: Where will the human explorers reside in the exploration process? One can imagine the human involvement being from Earth, from Earth orbit, from a libration point, from an orbit around the planet to be explored, or on the planet's surface. Arguments can be made for each option or, more compellingly, some combination of these in sequence.
From: "Lori Garver" <>
Date: Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:17 am
Subject: RE: [kerryspace] Come Celebrate Kerry's Great VP Choice, Edwards!
Please don't write-off the Kerry-Edwards camp on space. The Bush initiative is simply hot-air and has made it impossible in an election year for Kerry to say much on space. What he has said -- will support increased funding for NASA R&D, will support Prizes, a more genuinely international effort, etc... is already more than most Presidential Candidates. It took Bush 3.5 years and a tragic Shuttle accident to come up with a policy. Democrats will be able to pull-off a better record -- if not rhetoric! Totally agree on futility of ISS as pharmacy source and need to retire Shuttle -- Kerry can be convinced of this, but perhaps not in the campaign. The Moon-Mars Blitz was a good way for Congress to see citizens supporting space -- always a good thing.
This is, putting it very politely, partisan dreck. The Bush Initiative is certainly not "hot air." One does not issue a veto threat on a bill that includes veterans and housing funding to support "hot air." The second statement, that the Bush Initiative has made it "impossible" for Kerry to say much about space does not pass the laugh test. In fact, if any thing, the initiative is a challenge for Kerry to say more.
Then the defense of the Kerry position, so far, as being "more than most Presidental candidates" (except of course the other major party candidate), is silly. The jibe about Bush taking "3.5 years and a tragic shuttle accident" is a little rich coming from a Clintonista NASA bureucrat. What were the Clinton space initiatives in eight years? Cutting NASA's budget. The disasterous (though politically astute) Russian space station partnership. X 33. Not very much evidence that "Democrats will be able to pull-off a better record." And while Lori may agree that ISS doesn't make a good drug factory and that the shuttle needs retiring, Kerry seems to disagree with both suppositions and, despite what Lori says, there is no evidence so far that he will flip flop on those.
The snide praise of the Moon-Mars Blitz, considering that Lori thinks is hot air, is an insult.
In my opinion, Lori Garver's involvement with the Kerry campaign is not about the advancement of space exploration or anything else but the advancement of Lori Garver.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Of course, the Kerry policy being worked on seems to preclude Americans going beyond Low Earth Orbit any time this century.
The whole story is in an upcoming book, Unfit for Command.
Addendum: The book also seems to suggest that Kerry lied about many of his supposed Vietnam exploits. If true, it pretty much destroys his rational for being President, as he is running on his 4 and a half months in Vietnam and not his twenty year Senate career.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Not that this will matter to the Kerry folks. I predict dire vengence if Kerry gets elected.
Monday, July 26, 2004
The Senate's action on NASA funding is yet to come. Former O'Keefe mentor Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is widely expected to make sure the full Bush request for space plan funding will be contained in the Senate's mark-up of the legislation. If so, it would set up yet another chance for NASA to prevail, because the House-Senate conference would have to reconcile both versions of space spending.
Van Allen is apparently basing his argument on the space shuttle and space station, claiming that they prove that human space flight is inherently too expensive and too difficult. The problem is that both are merely examples of bad management and bad policy choices and do not prove Van Allen's assertions.
It used to be a canard that President GW Bush cared nothing about space. That lie has been put to rest, I think, except for the most hate crazed Bush bashing partisan. But now I think we see who really finds the whole idea of space exploration a bit boring.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
The questions are OK as far as they go, but somewhat incomplete. Allow me to add one more.
Senator Kerry, will you support measures to encourage private space travel, including tax incentives, regulatory relief, and NASA and DOD contracts? If not, why not?
Friday, July 23, 2004
When one looks at Bush, and then at the hatred nurtured for him, it is very hard to grasp the connection. Why? Why do they hate him so?
There is something so innocent, direct, fresh-faced, open, Tom Sawyerish in George Bush's manner — something so western, Christian, decent, even kind. And there is such candor in his eyes and behavior that the ferocity of the hatred aimed at him seems completely out of proportion. The hatred is a suit that ill fits him.
Nevertheless, George W. Bush has been re-conceived and re-wrought into everything that the sophisticated Leftist absolutely hates about Americana: Its innocence. Its boyishness. Its Christianity. Its unpretentiousness. Its heedlessness of all the shibboleths the Left most highly values.
And, in addition, the president exercises unsuspected political skills. The man has actually won most of the political fights he's taken on. And he has turned the country in a far more Reaganite direction than anyone ever imagined under that anodyne term, "compassionate conservatism."
Personalizing Social Security? Cutting the teachers' unions out of total control of the schools? Supplanting the governmental plantation with private charitable initiatives, which actually show better success rates than the welfare state? The handwriting is on the wall, piercing through the dreams of the big-government Left, foretelling the end of the social-democratic illusion.
How did this hick have the nerve to be so radical in government — he who so barely won the election of 2000? (Stole it, the most bitter partisans still say, despite all the studies disproving it.) How did he have the nerve?
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Of course, there are other means besides invasion to knock over the Mad Mullahs. The vast majority of the Iranian people hate their clerical masters and, given a little help and encouragement, will surely overthrow them. That kind of aid will be far easier with a base in Iraq, just next door.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Weldon voted for the budget bill, but that he hoped more funding could be found later. "This bill takes care of most of our needs at Kennedy Space Center, so I'm hard pressed not to support my chairman when he's taking care of Florida," Weldon told the Sentinel.
He's also a bad politician. Does he know what will happen when the shuttle goes away in 2010, taking all those jobs with it, and there is no Moon, Mars, and Beyond program to take it's place?
Despite these concessions, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) called the cuts "unacceptable" and suggested that he would stop the bill from being passed if it remains in its current state. "Yes, we are at war, just as we were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And yes, the budget is constricted," said DeLay in a statement. "But for four decades, America's mission in space has been one of the surest economic investments the federal government has made.
"The president's space vision is my mission, and I am fully prepared to fight for it," he said.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
This must not stand.
This Apollo Day has a keener significance than most of the previous ones. A challenge has been issued, by another young President, full of vigor and vision. Shall we explore the universe, and then move outward to make other worlds our own abode? Shall we do it in a different way, one that plays to the strengths of entrepeneurial capitalism? Shall we take advantage of all the opportunities in science, technology, and commerce?
Or shall we, once again, for all the old, tiresome reasons, shrink from the challenge, to wither, and fade, and to eventually become one with Nineveh and Tyre? All because we were too afraid or too weak or maybe just too distracted.
The choice is ours.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Earlier this year, the president unveiled a plan to return humans to the moon and eventually launch a mission to Mars. He has asked for an increase in the NASA budget of $866 million.
Measured against other critical needs, "I don't see how I can do that," Walsh said.
Actually, he could do just that, if he had the will, which it looks like he doesn't.
Of course it likely doesn't matter. House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R) Texas assures us that the final bill will be written in conference.,
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Thursday, July 15, 2004
The Cold War era ideology spawned not only space travel, but also dozens of instances of technological overreaching here on Earth. In 1960, R. Buckminster Fuller was hailed as a visionary, in part because of his plan to build a 2.5 mile-wide air-conditioned geodesic dome over midtown Manhattan.
Toxic DDT was welcomed as a safe way of eliminating undesirable insects, even on crowded beaches. Meanwhile, the government seriously considered building the "Panatomic Canal" -- a new body of water across Panama whose excavation would have been accomplished by detonating up to 250 nuclear bombs.
I wonder if Roth knows how many people in the Third World have died from maleria and other ailments because we don't use DDT. Anyway, I get the impression that he doesn't like technology too much. However, he later suggests:
That money could be spent on math and science teachers, a sane alternative to educational development based on interplanetary Buck Rogers bravado.
But won't science and math teachers just encourage people to dream up all that technology Roth loaths?
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Monday, July 12, 2004
Sunday, July 11, 2004
WHAT are you going to be doing in 2021? If the Bush administra-tion has its way, 15 years and billions of dollars later a small number of Americans, who are probably now in middle school, will return to the moon.
That's part of the truth. Partly because of the private sector enablement part of the plan, there will likely also be scores, perhaps hundreds of people visiting low Earth orbit for various reasons. Only a small number of them will be government employees.
It will have taken 50 years to revisit a past national glory.
I would phrase it differently. It will have taken at least forty three years to put right a huge public policy mistake, which was to stop going to the Moon in 1972
The argument for going to the moon goes something like: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration needs a goal in space.
That's not exactly the reason for going back to the Moon and on to Mars. The reason is to transform NASA into a space faring Corps of Discovery, to therefore open up the high frontier of space much in the same way Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery did the American Frontier.
Post Apollo, it has had at least two. The first was to make human spaceflight operational and affordable with the space shuttle. The second was to build the International Space Station. It is hard to view them as successes. Worse, it is hard to see that they have value anywhere near the dollars and talent invested in them.
That is certainly true, but later on we'll find a contradiction or two in this article.
Any future goal will have a similar fate. It will take longer, cost more and accomplish less than promised.
This is what I call the space version of the Vietnam Syndrome. Back in the seventies and early eighties any attempt to exert American military power was opposed by a certain class of people, for fear that such an undertaking would result in a replay of the Vietnam quagmire. Thus, the authors of this piece oppose a return to the Moon, for fear of replicating space shuttle and space station,which were failure, even though previously they condemned it as replicating Apollo, which was a great success. There is no notion that the lessons of the space shuttle and space station have been learned and will be applied, just as the lessons of Vietnam were learned and applied in the Gulf War and the War on Terror.
Human spaceflight in the past 30 years has suffered from one basic defect. It has no tangible connection to our economy or society.
Human spaceflight is a government-run cafeteria. No matter the quality of the product or how well used the service, as long as the government supports the operation it stays open. Contrast this with a restaurant being opened with private money, talent and a unique idea. Success is not guaranteed, but if it comes, then a new world of opportunities awaits.
This is certainly true, though one might argue that Burt Rutan and Mike Melvile have started the great change to that state of affairs.
Southwest Airlines started with three old planes and novel ideas. Any future space policy must put the space station into a structure where the innovation of the private sector can be stimulated.
Here is the first contradiction. The space station is both a failure and the sole hope of stimulating the private sector. It's gets better.
Success will spur competiton. JetBlue, Air Tran and others are not an accident of history; they are a response to Southwest’s success. That cycle renews every industry. Innovation is copied and adapted. Such a cycle can start in human spaceflight.
Burt Rutan’s successful suborbital flight with SpaceShipOne is novel. With private money, Rutan assembled a capable team that used old NASA technology to create a product that has potential past the accomplishment of a goal. Some group is likely to take the product Rutan built and make money providing a service to people.
Rutan is not alone. Elon Musk is on the verge of testing a rocket that will launch the same payload into orbit for about one-fourth the cost of current products. With $100 million of his own money, Musk is imitating Herb Kelleher three decades ago — challenging the basic premise of how rocket science is done. That may be the American way, but it has not been the road traveled by human spaceflight in this country.
This is all true, but we still don't have any public policy proposals that would help these gentlemen.
What stillborns federal policies is NASA’s political protectors— such as House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.
Normally a foe of big government projects, DeLay has become a cheerleader for the next big government project in human spaceflight. He argues that NASA projects should be supported because of their spinoffs. He cites cell phones, magnetic resonance imaging and even the Global Positioning System as spinoffs from the past. NASA had nothing to do with any of these.
People who use the word "stillborn" as a verb must be watched very carefully. The slam against Delay is interesting, since the authors equate support for NASA as opposition to private space. In the past this may even have been true. No longer, to my observation.
It is time to formulate federal policies that integrate human spaceflight into American industry.
If NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Council on Aeronautics (NACA), had not tamed much of the technology in aviation, in half a century airplanes would not have gone from hops on a beach to spanning oceans. If the Federal Aviation Agency (now Administration) did not strike the proper mix of infrastructure maintenance and regulation, our airline industry would have never started and today would collapse. If there had never been the air mail contract, there would not be commercial aviation, as it is known today.
This all sounds like what the Bush Administration is doing. The FAA have been quite expeditious in giving Rutan and his competitors the necessary approvals to fly their space craft. And it looks like the effort to return to the Moon and go to Mars will be the air mail writ large. For example, NASA is partnering with Bigelow Aerospace to develop inflatable modules. This will provide NASA with the technology to build future space stations and lunar bases and Bigelow the technology to build space hotels and other private facilities. And that's just one example.
That stage can be set in human spaceflight. The space station is the first step. The station’s completion and expansion should be used to stimulate private enterprise and a new method of doing business in human spaceflight. That requires a new mind-set focused on the station not as an engineering or science project, but as an economic one.
How? Again, the authors do not mention the answer to that question.
That means change. NASA should be sent back to its NACA roots. Instead of technology for a lunar trip for a few, the talents at NASA need to be put to work developing the technology that allows America as a nation to go into space.
Funny. I think Rutan and company are doing that already. Turning our backs on the Moon will not advance their efforts by a day. Proceeding to the Moon and using that as part of a core market (i.e. the air mail) just might be of enormous help. Wouldn't it be ironic if the first explorers to return to the Moon took the first leg of their trip via private charter?
A structure needs to be put in place for the space station, which allows industry to use that technology to build new products that create private infrastructure in human spaceflight one, but not the only model. Government efforts should nurture that infrastructure.
Again, how? One could suppose that the authors are implying that the space station should be turned into a micro gravity research center, subsidized by the government. But one cannot be certain.
Absent that refocusing, human spaceflight is doomed to whatever dollars that the political process can coerce out of the taxpayers. For all the billions spent, the great frontier will never be conquered. Industries that help reverse the flow of high-tech jobs overseas, or bring products that change America will never be created.
And instead will be created in China and India, both of which have humans to the Moon ambitions.
What would change look like? NASA’s aircraft that simulates microgravity, The Vomit Comet, could today be mothballed in favor of private enterprise. A company that provides the service on a comparable type aircraft under federal certification could do what politicians such as DeLay are always in the abstract clamoring for: privatize federal services.
This is, of course, a tiny thing, though privitizing the Vomit Comet is certainly a good idea.
Change would be hard. If the Comet is grounded and its services provided by a private company, there will be a new reality. Jobs would change, but the ones created would no longer be one federal budget from vanishing. Instead of flights a few times a week, a private company would on its off days do what it is doing now — fly private citizens. Because the government is paying part of the fixed cost, those flights might be cheaper and attract more people. That means they would come to Houston and rent hotel rooms and cars and do what most travelers do — spend money that creates jobs.
I'm a little puzzled by this notion of the government "paying part of the fixed cost." Sounds like a subsidy to me.
This is the reason politicians in Houston chase a National Football League team and all the other attractions that make our city what it is. It is time to make our national human spaceflight effort a tool that — instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars as far as the eye can see — enables the industries that will grow our economy, enrich our city and nation, and open space to American enterprise and the American people.
Space flight as Houston Texans football? The mind reels from such an image.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Friday, July 09, 2004
Whoopi Goldberg delivered an X-rated rant full of sexual innuendoes against President Bush last night at a Radio City gala that raised $7.5 million for the newly minted Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.
Waving a bottle of wine, she fired off a stream of vulgar sexual wordplays on Bush's name in a riff about female genitalia, and boasted that she'd refused to let Team Kerry clear her material.
The candidates' reaction? Outrage? Disgust? Not exactly.
Kerry could be seen laughing uproariously during part of Goldberg's tirade - and neither he nor Edwards voiced a single objection to its tone when they spoke to the crowd.
They hailed the fund-raiser as a great event.
Edwards said it was "a great honor" to be there and insisted, "This campaign will be a celebration of real American values."
Thursday, July 08, 2004
John Kerry’s ability to work with others in the political arena has led to him being instrumental in a whopping eight pieces of legislation. Of those eight, five were ceremonial in nature, two related to the fishing industry and one had to do with federal grants for female owned small businesses. For someone who has been in the Senate as long as Kerry this record proves one of two things, he is either completely ineffective as a legislator or his agenda is so far from the mainstream that even his Democratic colleagues can’t in all honesty vote for the bills he proposes. Either way, his past political productivity is such that it would be hard to imagine him getting any “tight vote” legislation passed on Capitol Hill. In contrast we have seen President Bush do this on several occasions…successfully.