4 thoughts on ““Necessary, But Not Sufficient””

  1. It’s simple math. It takes the government about 10
    (if you are lucky) years to accomplish anything significant in space flight. No administration gets more than 8 years. That means every administration’s space plans get deep sixed by the next administration. So yeah, the Apollo way won’t work again, and didn’t really work (the way we thought it would) the first time.

    At this point, I’d settle for a policy of benign neglect. Let those interested in going into space do their thing and just leave them alone. The days of government funded grand and glorious plans to conquer the cosmos are over.

    1. I tend to think days government funded grand and glorious plans to conquer the cosmos is going to begin, in few years.
      L-5 stuff was grand and glorious plans, but I didn’t think it was a government plan. And early hype about the space shuttle was so much as plan as a hope.
      Really all Starship is, is well planned and designed Space Shuttle, though with purpose to go to Mars.
      NASA could never done a Starship, but NASA show why the Space Shuttle wouldn’t work, and allow the question what could work,
      Only stuff I saw, in terms of grand was having lunar base designed to have a lot crew to live there {pointless}- and still seem like a NASA plan.

    2. With respect to the ability to carry out 10-year plans, wasn’t the F1 1.5 million pound thrust engine development at least initiated before there was even a Moon mission let along an “architecture” let alone a launch vehicle on getting there.

      You could say the spark was in October 1957 with Sputnik I, or maybe the 1955 first Soviet staged fission-fusion-fission bomb (“H-bomb”) or the 1949 Soviet fission bomb test?

      By the time Ted Sorenson wrote his speech in 1962 promising to do things “because they are hard”, there must have been a lot of ground work established before this commitment to “land a man on the Moon and return him safely” by the end of the 1960’s?

      By Nixon’s election, Mr. Nixon viewed the pointlessness of Project Apollo along with it having the stamp of his predecessors, but he let the first and subsequent Moon landings play out before putting a stop to it.

      We Reached the Moon and On to Mars, or so I thought as a child at the time. Again there wasn’t even an “architecture” let alone a launch vehicle to get there. Just like with the high-thrust F1 and the high-specific impulse J2, there was this whole Project NERVA nuclear-thermal rocket development that had gotten a lot farther along then generally appreciated by the public.

      But President Nixon had an entirely different strategy to the Cold War, one not only of Détente and Strategic Arms Limitations but also of playing the Soviets and the Chinese Communists against each other. If the Saturn V and Apollo was pointless, NERVA was even more pointless, so here we are.

    3. “No administration gets more than 8 years. That means every administration’s space plans get deep sixed by the next administration.”

      Taking small measured risks is a good strategy. Small measured risks have an advantage that they can usually be completed with shorter timelines. So far, this strategy has survived three Presidents. While none of the Presidents explicitly created the strategy* and perhaps didn’t even know they were doing it, it has been rather effective.

      The commercial cargo program was a small measured risk, then came crew and now, there are the lunar prospecting and demonstration missions. Will they survive the Biden administration? It looks like it. When SH/SS are flying and then their competitors, it will open up the opportunity for taking many more small measured risks that will build off each other.

      * The Trump administration is the one that came closest to this being an explicit strategy but the plans they had wouldn’t have been possible without the two previous administrations and those administrations might not have been able to take the same sort of small measured risks because of the launch bottleneck.

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