Category Archives: Space & Campaign 2004

The Moral Equivalent Of A Space Program

On the day before the election, my analysis of the two candidates’ space policies can be seen at TechCentralStation.

[Update a few minutes later]

For what it’s worth, the Washington Times largely agrees with me.

[Update at 9:40 AM EST]

I should add that there are some more space policy and election pieces over at The Space Review this morning. Mark Whittington vigorously fisks one of them, in which Greg Zsidisin says that it’s basically immoral to vote for Bush, despite his better space policy.

And Jeff Foust has written the article on Hubble Servicing that I’ve been intending to write, but haven’t yet gotten around to. But he probably did a better job than I would have. Bottom line, with which I fully agree:

While a replacement spacecraft has the highest expected value in this study, it doesn

Still Asking the Wrong Questions

Keith Cowing has gotten his hands on a draft space policy document that’s apparently been floating around inside the Beltway. He thinks that it may provide some insight into potential Kerry space policy. If so, it sounds like business as usual (in terms of the continuing notion that NASA must remain in the lead of developing new human transportation systems).

As Keith writes:

I am struck by the rather superficial nature of the analysis being done. The paper either skims over important details or simply regurgitates technical descriptions gleaned from news reports and NASA documents. No obvious attempt is made to systematically compare and contrast various technical risks and then prioritize them in a fashion that offers a chance for larger conclusions to be derived. This document is just a laundry list. The only clear recommendations made by the authors have to do with their views on national space policy – something which would seem to be beyond the scope of what they were tasked to do in the first place.

There is also the issue as to the level of expertise in place at GWU to fully understand the technical operations of the shuttle and ISS. Looking at the project staff listed on GWU’s website no one seems to have any experience working with human spaceflight operations or systems or risk and safety analysis associated with human spaceflight. Of course, I have not seen the proposal they submitted – one which might list additional personnel with that expertise who are assisting in this project. None the less, this apparent lack of expertise in the area of human spaceflight and risk analysis is evident in many places in this paper.

Yes. John Logsdon is a great historian of the space program, but his policy prescriptions are often wrongheaded, because he fundamentally doesn’t understand the technology issues.

What I found most disturbing was this section:

The paper leaves a clear impression that the authors think that the shuttle system is very risky – perhaps too risky to continue flying. The paper goes on to make a broad observation that the shuttle should be flown much less often than NASA plans to fly it:

“Some individuals, although a small number of those interviewed by the GW team on a confidential basis, have gone so far as to assert that the Shuttle program should be permanently halted, the Orbiters permanently grounded, and the ISS limited in scope with certain elements not completed because of the risks presented by the ambitious launch schedule required to complete the ISS. These individuals with major safety concerns have also said that

Space Flip Flops

No, that’s not the footwear inside a space hotel–it’s more vacillation and issue straddling from the Kerry campaign, this time in the person of Lori Garver, his space advisor. Keith Cowing (a Kerry supporter) has the story. And as Jeff Foust points out, this just demonstrates how unimportant space is as a political issue, even to strong space supporters like Keith–despite the fact that a Kerry presidency would probably be disastrous on the issue, he remains a Kerry supporter, due to other issues that he thinks more critical.

Space Policy Presidential Debate

With no presidential candidates, ‘natch. It was Lori Garver representing the Kerry campaign vs Frank Sietzen representing the Bush campaign, and specifically Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration.

Jeff Foust has a brief summary, but there are lots of comments. Keith Cowing has a report as well.

I’ll have some thoughts of my own, and maybe even a column or two, after I get my computer and bandwidth problems sorted out, later this week.

Still Wishful Thinking

Here’s the web site of a group that claims to want to influence Senator Kerry’s space policy. I don’t really know what they have to say, though, since they make one fill out a form to even look at their site. It turned me off, and I suspect I’m not alone.


Keith Cowing has further thoughts on their apparent ignorance of (or indifference to) campaign finance laws. Of course, to be fair, many Democrats seem to think that such things only apply to the other side. You know, free speech for me, but not for thee.

Fair And Balanced

Keith Cowing has dug up some old pics of the president’s father in a bunny suit, too, from way back in 1981 when he was VP.

See, I run a non-partisan website here.

Kerry’s are still funnier, though.

[Update a few minutes later]

Keith says in comments that he cast a broad net, but that this was the only fish that turned up.

Note to Karl Rove: I think that it might be very effective for the president (in the interest of “changing the tone” and compassionate conservatism) to go down to the cape and have some bunnysuit shots taken of himself (though without the giant hose suppository shot). He could then make a speech honoring all the technicians and others who have to wear those outfits every day, but don’t normally get praised, and to use it (unlike Kerry) as an occasion to actually talk about space policy. It would look classy and be hard for the press to make fun of, while making Kerry’s response to this look even worse.

[Update a minute or so later]


A commenter beat me to the thought (I saw Keith’s comment in email, not by reading the comments).

Once again, it’s nice to have readers smarter than me.