I couldn’t make it to the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight this year (for the second year in a row), but Alan Boyle did, and he has a report on yesterday’s talks, including two disparate views from Augustine panel members Lester Lyles and Jeff Greason. Regular readers will know that I’m with the latter. The panel results will be revealed in less than three hours, in a press conference to be broadcast on NASA TV. I’m encouraged that the airmail analogy has become a prevailing NASA meme. But unsurprisingly, Senator Shelby has already launched a monumentally ignorant pre-emptive strike against it.
Something that I’ve noticed in the debate is that, while opponents make cogent arguments against Constellation, and shoot down the arguments of proponents, the latter simply ignore the opponents arguments, and simply continue to repeat the same nonsense. For example, I never hear anyone defending Constellation address the operational affordability issue that Jeff and Sally Ride made last summer, in which they stated that the program would have to be cancelled for lack of budget even it if was delivered, developed, for free. And the press, even most of the space press, seems too clueless to parse or sort the arguments, instead turning it into a Battle of the Astronaut Stars (as though astronauts are experts in launch economics).
[Update a few minutes later]
Jeff apparently also demolished the nonsense (and Shelby’s primary “argument”) that Ares is safer than other approaches. I would also add the (politically incorrect) point that in fact safety should not be the highest priority. Anyone who says that it is is unserious about opening up space. In one sense, the Ares proponents are right about it being the safest vehicle. If a system is so expensive you can afford to fly it rarely, or not at all, you’re unlikely to lose many people on it.