Donald Robertson has a crazy idea: Find something useful for people working SLS/Orion to do:
Presidents answer to the nation, not to local job concerns. Two presidents in a row — Bush and Obama — have tried in varying degrees to redirect NASA away from the Apollo model, only to be blocked by institutions and senators who are answerable to local NASA employees. This time, we cannot repeat Mr. Obama’s mistake of canceling the SLS without finding a future for the people who work on it.
The new “constellation” work needs to be planned and distributed in a way that will keep the traditional NASA workforce, and those who represent them, on board. Where is it written that engineers in Alabama cannot be employed building space-based tugs and modules for a lunar base? To have any chance of killing the SLS and replacing it with a useful space program, opponents need to come up with something that fulfills SLS’s political and economic purpose at least as well, while endeavoring to achieve something useful in space at the same time. That is beginning to occur, as NewSpace companies like SpaceX slowly expand beyond California and the Seattle area and increasingly employ people in Texas, Florida, and other traditional NASA states.
Encouraging this change will take a great deal of political capital and skill —the Bush administration did not deploy the former, and the Obama administration failed at the latter. So far, the Trump administration has shown little aptitude for any kind of positive relationship with Congress.
If someone does not come forward to invest the political and financial capital needed to end this conflict and move on to a more constructive vision, the United States will continue to drift in space. Resources will remain split between an increasingly successful but underfunded NewSpace industry unable to fulfill its potential, and the SLS and Orion, which the nation cannot afford to actually use. Our future in space will increasingly rely on largely self-funded efforts by people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
He says that like it’s a bad thing.
Meanwhile, NASA has incorporated its next planned boondoggle into human exploration plans.