23 thoughts on “Bridenstine”

  1. Good. Now do Commercial Lunar Crew.

    More reflectors for laser ranging is interesting. Is there a good case for mixing in free flyers a la LAGEOS, at say EML4 or L5?

    1. It seems that some of the systems that will be used to deliver rovers and other projects to the lunar surface will also be able to deliver humans, or will be able to grow into it.

  2. “NASA has kicked off its efforts to return to the Moon by asking the commercial space industry to help the agency land scientific payloads on the surface of the Moon. By using commercial services, NASA hopes to lower the cost of studying the Moon and getting astronauts back to the lunar surface by the mid-2020s.”

    Who needs NASA to study the moon?

    Who needs NASA to get astronauts back onto the lunar surface?

    Why wouldn’t private organizations cut the cost of NASA returning to the moon to zero and just do it themselves?

    1. Why wouldn’t private organizations cut the cost of NASA returning to the moon to zero and just do it themselves?

      They are proposing public private partnerships where NASA is just a customer and the partners retain control over their products to market how they choose. This is great but how many will be able to find customers other than NASA? Very excited to see how this plays out.

  3. Looks like Bridenstein is setting up a two tier program at NASA. The front tier is the SLS/Orion where the work is the objective and the destination is irrelevant. The back tier (aka the “Shadow Tier” or “Deep State-Space”) are the partnerships with private industry to get crew to the moon. To prevent political schadenfreude these public/private partnerships will appear to be sub-projects partially (or majority) funded by NASA and operated by the private partners. In conjunction with that, make works will be applied to appear to make SLS useful (i.e. DSG, JWST, Europa?, etc.) some of which *may* be co-ordinate with the public/private ventures but may not. It doesn’t really matter…

  4. Well well well. A goal of speeding up the pace of exploration is an excellent sign from NASA.

    Is this the end of the time wasting silliness of moseying to Mars while ISS spins forever? Is this the end of the ‘kicking the can down the road’ non-policy of the prior administration?

    I await two key decisions, to judge how serious the new NASA is. The first is a negative choice: will the new administrator have the wisdom and fortitude to pull the plug on SLS, sooner rather than later? The second choice is a positive step: months long life science variable gravity experiments, up to human participation.

    1. I’m sure that Bridenstine would pull the plug on SLS if he could, but Dick Shelby is head of the full Senate appropriations committee now.

      1. Clearly the SLS Emperor is wearing no clothes. I hope it is only a matter of time before those in power admit it too. The question is how much time?

        However if the SLS (and the ISS for that matter) truly is unkillable, that really does mean the end of NASA manned space exploration, doesn’t it? At best they will never get farther than the Moon in the next fifty years.

        Maybe that would be a good thing if only private space expands beyond the Moon. But I hate to see such bottomless waste of taxpayer dollars. I want NASA to succeed.

        1. You have to accept the fact that NASA will not “succeed,” in terms of human spaceflight. But in order to do that, you have to understand what “success” entails.

    2. The second choice is a positive step: months long life science variable gravity experiments, up to human participation.

      This is really what any ISS replacement should be doing. Living in micro-gravity or even lunar gravity hasn’t been reported as an entirely pleasant experience. It could be that people will do tours on the lunar surface and then head to an artificial gravity station to recuperate, then back to the moon.

      The proposed lunar COTS like missions are encouraging but they don’t look speedy. Maybe they are in comparison to the alternatives but not relative to other types of human endeavors.

      1. The obvious problems with zero gee is why I can’t take the current NASA Mars mission architecture seriously. I mean really now, a solar-electric-propulsion Mars transfer vehicle with no artificial gravity? That might be fine for a cargo delivery tug, but not for manned flight. That’s a year or more a crew would have to endure in zero gee before arrival into orbit around Mars!

        It’s clear to me the biggest open question we have today about flight beyond the moon, is the long term effects of lower gravity on human health. Until we know more and have adequate solutions, it is impossible to design an efficient manned Mars mission. What little we already know is that the human body can not cope with long term zero gee conditions.

        I’m hoping that as little as 1/6 or 1/3 normal gravity will be enough to avoid the problems of zero gee conditions. But we need to find out as quickly as possible. That might mean a spinning space station in LEO, or maybe a Moon surface base.

  5. It just smacks of the faded film star who used to be wildly popular in younger days…everyone fawned on the star, waited on the star, expected the star to do great things…….

    but the star went away for a while and then tried to make a comeback. The star thinks that all the people who served the star and wanted the star in their movies in the past will do so again.

    But the star power is lost. The public and studios have moved on.

    1. * 3 minutes of fluff : Lewis & Clark -> Transcontinental Railroad in 66 years; Apollo -> Now 49 years.
      * Time for our own railroad. “Like then, we need to enable public funds to support private equity and private bonds to deliver more commerce and more economic growth to solidify American leadership in space, science and discovery.
      * Praised Griffin, Bolden, & Lightfoot for envisioning and advancing “commercialization of Low Earth Orbit, significantly lowering the cost and increasing the access to space.”
      * “Their model can be extend to and around the Moon, and deeper into space, including Mars.”
      * Yea InSight: InSight will help to understand the history of Mars, so we can better understand our planet.”
      * Some of you young folks online might not remember that Mars used to have a vast ocean, covering two-thirds of its surface.
      * InSight will help better understand risks to humans “should humans, when humans, get to Mars.”
      * Don’t be concerned that our focus in the coming years is the moon. “… our exploration campaign will establish American leadership in the human exploration of Mars. We are doing both the Moon and Mars, in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other.”
      * “Our return to the surface of the Moon will allow us to improve and advance technologies which will feed forward to Mars: Precision landing systems, Methane engines, Orbital habitation, Surface habitation, Surface mobility, Long duration life support, Operations, and much more that will enable us to land the first Americans on the Red Planet.”
      * Yea Mars 2020: Moxie, the ISRU demo (O2 from CO2). Sample return support.
      * “We need a thriving LEO economy to can expand deeper into space, and we need a government backbone to explore where an economy doesn’t yet exist.”
      * “We need the Space Launch System, and we need the Orion crew vehicle.”
      * “We need a thriving industrial base and a worldwide coalition focused on this goal and sustaining it by inspiring the next generation.”
      * Inspiring children.
      * Back to Thomas Jefferson.

      1. Thanks for the summary.

        Some of it looks good but there are a lot of unknowns there as well.

      2. * “We need the Space Launch System, and we need the Orion crew vehicle.”

        I believe you. But I watched that myself and for the world I can’t remember him saying that! Don’t know how I missed it.

        Just ugh. More rather than less billions down the NASA rathole.

        I guess the best we can hope for is the chicken feed NASA tosses to private space doing all the work, while the big shiny expensive NASA stuff goes nowhere. What a shame. I want NASA to succeed.

        1. It’s at 7:15, only takes four seconds to say, and he doesn’t linger on it, though it does build from his preceding “… and we need a government backbone to explore where an economy doesn’t yet exist.”

          When Mr. Bridenstine was sworn in, Rand wrote “I think he’ll be one of the best administrators NASA has had.”

          Greatness requires both character and opportunity, and I don’t know that the opportunity is there now or will be there by 2020. If he gets an additional four years on the job, then he might be presented with a chance to challenge SLS & Orion, but for now, emphasizing a commercial, competitive role for lunar operations while giving lip service to SLS might be the best that can be reasonably hoped for.

        2. “I want NASA to succeed.”

          I do too. But I want them to succeed at a task that is vastly different form the one they seem to be focused on.

          I want NASA to go back to the NACA days where they did a lot of R&D and vetted technologies and maybe even flew some test articles to vet the tech.

          For example, NASA was running the X-15 show. That was fine because they were testing and vetting tech…finding out what worked and what didn’t work.

  6. “… and we need a government backbone to explore where an economy doesn’t yet exist.”

    Governments do not create economies.

    NASA is the Norma Desmond of Space…

    “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille”

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