Category Archives: Space History

The Future Of Space

There was an interesting discussion this afternoon at Council of Foreign Affairs with Lori Garver, John Logsdon, and Charles Miller. The Youtube is now available. Note that they touch on many of the themes in my upcoming paper, on how we have to stop trying to do Apollo again, that SLS is a jobs program, that propellant transfer is a game changer, the need for a competitive private sector, etc. Lori was quite harshly critical of NASA (and Congress).

Hollywood And Mars

An interesting history.

[Monday-afternoon update]

Even the film-makers had doubts:

“If you had told me two years ago when we were walking into Fox to pitch the approach and what this movie would be, if you told me I’d be on the phone talking about how this is a big spectacle movie, I would have been delighted,” he tells Esquire. “At the time, we knew it was going to be expensive, but we thought it would be more niche than Ridley made it.” Nope.

What made The Martian unique also made it a difficult sell. It was not an action movie. The film’s star would spend his time farming potatoes harvested from his co-astronaut’s feces. The Rock would not show up to blow away aliens halfway through the second act. Mind would prevail over muscle. And that’s not easy to write for the masses.

I hope it will break some of the stereotypes, and make it easier to make these kinds of films.


NASA’s Bureaucracy

This comment over at NASA Watch is a pretty good description of the problem, on the 57th anniversary of the agency transforming from the NACA (which it needs to return to) to NASA:

In another current post on NW, Wayne Hale laments that the lengthy list of specifications is going to kill the commercial crew effort. Why this lengthy list of specs? Maybe because the NASA people who wrote the program requirements had no actual experience in developing any space hardware, and they did not know which specs to select, so they just included them all?

I should also note that it is not because more experienced and more qualified people were not available in these instances of program management, vehicle design, or spec writing. There were people with experience in Shuttle, Spacehab (commercial), Mir systems development, and with DOD programs, but the NASA management went with people they “knew” despite their lack of experience. You can look all the way to the top of the program, the AA for manned spaceflight, and he has little more experience, and so how can he provide the guidance for others to “learn the trade”. In fact he appears to have been responsible for naming a large number of his contemporaries, all from his old organization, payload operations, to leading positions. I don’t think they’ve worked out too well.

The mission ops directorate has the right idea-they require people to be certified and as they get certified their careers progress and they move from document writer to flight controller to flight director. The other technical/engineering disciplines do not have this and so we wound up in a situation where virtually anyone with a degree can be selected for almost any position.

Now, especially after 3 decades of ISS, you have the big bureaucracy in which the main experience base is in meeting attendance. And the people without the experience in the top positions are fearful of the people who actually have any education and experience. This is a corrupt bureaucracy.

That Wayne Hale post, from five years ago, is sadly prophetic.