12 thoughts on “Rewriting Space History”

  1. Yet it is President Nixon’s name on the plates that are on the lunar modules on the Moon. Also President Trump could have scrapped the Commercial Crew Program for running behind scheduled and succeeded given the lock Old Space contractors have on Congressional funding. By contrast there was little that President Nixon to do to stop Project Apollo other than cut funding for later missions as Apollo 9, 10, and 11 were already paid for and authorized under the last budget by the Johnson Administration.

  2. It’s a bad (and inaccurate) essay, no question. He does raise a worthwhile question at the end, however, in regards to the Mars Sample Return mission. Of all of the planetary science mission on the agenda, it is probably the most vulnerable: it’s a) looking to be very expensive (and getting more so), b) not part of any Decadal science program, and c) not funded yet. A Biden Administration looking for places to trim will find MSR an enticing target.

    There was a lot to like (grrrr) about the Obama Administration’s space legacy, but one of the downsides was the hacking they did to planetary science in the early 2010’s, starting with the cancellation of the Mars MAX-C rover – another expensive joint Martian venture with the ESA.

  3. I don’t agree that Trump did nothing in relation to Commercial Crew. As Guest notes above; lots of people within NASA, legacy space contractors, and Congress would have shutdown Commercial Crew if they thought possible. I argued with a few during the government shutdown that swore shutting down the government would stop aerospace development. Yet here we are with SpaceX delivering Commercial Crew earlier than anticipated… by NASA. I think credit goes to selecting NASA leadership that gave Commercial Crew as much chance as possible. Remember that not too far down that leadership chain; there were still those that put a heavy thumb on Boeing to beat SpaceX. Supposedly they left of their free will due to embarrassment, but tell me if you think that is what really happened?

    Still, I agree that mostly apathy by both President Obama and Trump have provided the room for new space to develop. Here’s to hoping that apathy continues and becomes a model for other government agencies.

    1. Bridenstine (and Pence and Pace) certainly sustained and supported Commercial Crew. But probably of even more value on their credit column of the ledger are the other *new* commercial-oriented programs they initiated: the CLPS program, the HLS program, Gateway logistics, the various space tech research seed awards to things like depots and in-space fuel transfer, etc.

      And let us not forget the Artemis Accords, which will help shape a more commercial-oriented human future in space.

        1. I think most of it will, but mainly because Bridenstine did something Mike Griffin did not: He got lots of international buy-in. A Biden Administration zealous to “repair our international relations from the damage done by Donald Trump” would have to think long and hard about undoing a lot of these efforts.

          CLPS and the initial Gateway are also already funded, and pretty modest in cost anyway. I think the greatest danger is to the HLS program, which might end up radically restructured, if not cancelled.

          1. But the international buy-in seems principally for the gateway, not for landing. The gateway is an ideal goal from space agencies’ point of view: it gives them something to do and doesn’t require laughably huge budgets. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s much more than a self-licking ice-cream cone.

            HLS is basically dead already: even the current Republican-controlled Senate proposes funding only about a third of NASA’s request for it. And once Biden takes office, Republicans will really start screaming about the need to cut the budget.

            Pols from both major parties will likely continue to talk about a 2028 landing, but even that would require annual plus-ups in the neighborhood of $4 billion (NASA’s estimate of $28 billion divided by 7 years — not allowing for the inevitable cost growth from the stretch out and the usual military-industrial price inflation).

  4. Yeah, lots wrong with the article. One big miss is losing Jim Bridenstine with the election of Biden. And no mention of the list of awful candidates Biden is proposing for roles at NASA. ACLU people, climate schills, “outreach” people. Not space people; rent-seekers.

    1. The list you seem to have in mind is the transition team, which, I admit, is a mixed bag to say the least.

      But of the names supposedly on the short list for NASA Administrator, I think I could live with Wanda Austin or Pam Melroy.

      I’m not sure either would be as politically effective as Bridenstine, but both seem commercial friendly (that’s where Wanda has been working), competent, and not too obviously Woke.

  5. I can’t find the article anymore, but a recent one stated that under Biden, NASA will be directed to de-emphasize space exploration, and concentrate on climate change.

    After working with and for Pam Melroy for several years, I would rate her as an ideal pick for Administrator – but I wouldn’t want to inflict it on her if NASA had no space remit.

  6. Maybe the best thing was Trump (and other branches of gov) being distracted and allowing space policy to just tick over in the background.
    Once politicians get involved they cause a reset and/or change of direction which causes delays and increase in costs.

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