What Is A “Bail Out”?

Can anyone explain to me what Bolden means when he says that he might have to “bail out” commercial space? Does it mean that he’ll have to keep pouring money into them until they deliver the needed product/service? What else could it mean? And if so, are the current cost-plus Ares/Orion contracts “bail outs”? At least with commercial, we have a chance of getting out of that mode. With the POR, “bail outs” (and very expensive ones — fifty billion for both Ares and Orion, though still not as big as GM/Chrysler) are the default.

The Astronaut Show

The Senate hearings have begun. The first and last man on the moon will be testifying. While they’re certainly admirable men, I’m not sure what they have to contribute to this discussion. They know nothing about affordable or sustainable programs. They are in fact experts on those with the opposite characteristics. Here’s the webcast, and Alan Boyle is tweeting it.

[Update mid afternoon]


Cernan says it “might take as much as a full decade and would take 2-3 times as much” money as budgeted to launch new commercial spaceships.

When did Gene Cernan become a cost estimating expert? And this, from Cowing’s feed:

Cernan: had telecon last week; Bolden said comm space may need bailout like GM/Chrysler – may be largest bailout in history.

Bigger than TARP? Bigger than GM/Chrysler? Bigger than the thirty-five billion dollars that Ares I was projected to cost, if all went well? When SpaceX has spent less than a billion to date, and they’re most of the way there?

Words fail.

And of course, who can gainsay them? They walked on the moon.

[Update a couple minutes later]

I don’t know whether to be angry, or sad about this. Gene Cernan is up there spouting utter nonsense to senators. Did someone else give him these bizarre talking points, or is he just making it up? Either way, it tarnishes him badly.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Is someone going to ask Bolden to confirm this, or is he no longer a witness?

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s another gem of innumeracy from Captain Cernan:

Cernan: Let’s put a box on the 1040 for taxpayers to give an extra penny to NASA. I bet we’d get enough $ to do all we wanted.

Let’s be generous and assume that there are a hundred and fifty million US taxpayers. By my accounting, that would give us a whopping $1.5M a year.

It’s like he’s just talking without thinking, and making this stuff up on the fly.

[Update a few minutes later]

I have more thoughts on “bail outs” here.

[Update late afternoon]

Clark has some brief thoughts, and links:

From Sen. Hutchison capturing cosmic rays for energy production to Sen. Rockefeller transporting Sir Isaac Newton to 1880s Baltimore, it was a typical Congressional hearing on a technical topic.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

[Update a few minutes later]

It was nice to see Senator Brownback saying sensible things. I just got an email from the Commercial Spaceflight Federation with a quote:

I am a strong supporter of NASA, as I mentioned, and of the commercial space industry … With the impending retirement of the Shuttle, NASA is now assuming a much different role than in our past space effort, and I think there is great opportunity to have a space program that leads the world but will be a space program that is firmly embedded in opportunity for all. By opening up commercial space, it ensures a strong future for the US and the competitive aerospace industry.

I think it helped that Pete Worden was on his staff for a while a few years ago.

[Evening update]

Alan Boyle has a story on the hearings today, and Clark Lindsey has expanded on his initial thoughts.

That’s No Lady

…it’s my Supreme Court nominee. Of all the things for the left to get its panties in a new wad about.

Though this does remind me of a pet peeve of my own, and a much more egregious one (I just heard it again yesterday morning on the local news). The female anchor (not to pick on her, men do it, too) was describing some sort of brutal crime, after which she said that the police were still looking for the “gentleman” who perpetrated it.

Apparently, many people are no longer familiar with the meaning of the words “lady” and “gentleman” (it just occurs to me that people in show business compliment their audiences by addressing them as “ladies and gentlemen” — do they say that at WWE events? Wishing to see such an exhibition doesn’t seem very ladylike…). They are not synonyms for (respectively) “woman” and “man.” They are describing a particular sort of woman or man. As far as I know, and from all I’ve heard about her public conduct (and ignoring rumors about her private life, about which I’m indifferent), Elena Kagan is a lady. And the guy the news reporter was describing was no gentleman.

The New British Coalition

Now this is what I call compromise:

There were some objections to the deal from the Sheriff’s assistant, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, who was reportedly unhappy with the idea of getting into bed with men in tights. However, he was quickly rebuffed by the Sheriff: ‘We have moved on from our old ‘nasty’ image of yore,’ he said, ‘people need to understand that the Sheriff’s Men are now a modern, progressive movement dedicated to promoting a caring, liberal and inclusive reign of terror.’

Many of Mr Hood’s supporters were hoping for a so-called ‘Rainbow Alliance’ of Friar Tuck, Maid Marian and Little John. However, negotiations quickly fell apart because everyone thought that Little John was a tedious, self-opinionated twat.

Yes. Well, he was.

A Congressional Space Earthquake

As I’ve been predicting for a few days, long-time space appropriations committee chair (and ranking member when his party was out of power) and corrupt representative Alan Mollohan is out.

So there is no doubt that there will be a new chair of that subcommittee next year. The only question now is, who? And what will it mean for space policy?

[Wednesday morning update]

Link is fixed now, sorry.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!