Media Casualties Mount
Administration Split On Europe Invasion
Administration In Crisis Over Burgeoning Quagmire
Congress Concerned About Diversion From War On Japan
Pot, Kettle On Line Two...
Allies Seize Paris
Gore Book Sales Tank, Supporters Claim Unfair Tactics
Satan Files Lack Of Defamation Suit
Why This Blog Bores People With Space Stuff
A New Beginning
My Hit Parade
Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)
James Lileks Bleats
Winds Of Change (Joe Katzman)
Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson)
Eject Eject Eject (Bill Whittle)
Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Space Flight
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
Nanobot (Howard Lovy)
Lagniappe (Derek Lowe)
Geek Press (Paul Hsieh)
Redwood Dragon (Dave Trowbridge)
Turned Up To Eleven (Paul Orwin)
Cowlix (Wes Cowley)
Quark Soup (Dave Appell)
Assymetrical Information (Jane Galt and Mindles H. Dreck)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen et al)
Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil)
Knowledge Problem (Lynne Kiesling)
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
The Funny Pages
Cox & Forkum
Day By Day
Happy Fun Pundit
Amish Tech Support (Lawrence Simon)
Scrapple Face (Scott Ott)
Quasipundit (Adragna & Vehrs)
England's Sword (Iain Murray)
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick)
Daimnation! (Damian Penny)
Z+ Blog (Andrew Zolli)
The Kolkata Libertarian
Midwest Conservative Journal
Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein et al)
Dean's World (Dean Esmay)
Yippee-Ki-Yay (Kevin McGehee)
Spleenville (Andrea Harris)
Random Jottings (John Weidner)
On the Third Hand (Kathy Kinsley, Bellicose Woman)
Inappropriate Response (Moira Breen)
Inadvertent Comic Relief
Warblogger Watcher (Cowardly Anonymous Idiotarians)
Other Worthy Weblogs
Ain't No Bad Dude (Brian Linse)
A libertarian reads the papers
Anna Franco Review
Ben Kepple's Daily Rant
Dropscan (Shiloh Bucher)
End the War on Freedom
Insolvent Republic of Blogistan
James Reuben Haney
Mind over what matters
Page Fault Interrupt
Sand In The Gears(Anthony Woodlief)
The Blogs of War
The Fly Bottle
The Illuminated Donkey
What she really thinks
Where HipHop & Libertarianism Meet
Zem : blog
Space Policy Links
The Space Review
The Space Show
Space Frontier Foundation
Space Policy Digest BBS
USS Clueless (Steven Den Beste)
Unremitting Verse (Will Warren)
World View (Brink Lindsay)
The Last Page
More Than Zero (Andrew Hofer)
Pathetic Earthlings (Andrew Lloyd)
Spaceship Summer (Derek Lyons)
The New Space Age (Rob Wilson)
Rocketman (Mark Oakley)
Site designed by
They Get It Right
I went to read the NYT editorial that Sam pointed out, in which they advocate cancelling Shuttle and ISS. I assumed that if it was the right recommendation, it was probably for the wrong reasons, given their history, but I actually could find very little with which to disagree. Really, the only reason to keep Space Station Albatross going has been the diplomatic one. Unfortunately, that's probably been enough, given that the administration has been loathe to give its enemies one more club with which to bash them over our relations with our "allies." But as the Times points out, even they would probably be relieved to get out from under this white elephant themselves (though they'd know doubt spout crocodile tears about this latest unforgiveable breach in international relations).
Some are complaining in Sam's post that the only reason that the Times is doing this is because they hate "the manned space program." Well, if they do, it's partly because there's a lot to hate there, and little to love at this point. But they also have to reconcile this charge with the Times' argument that killing off these deadweight programs could accelerate outward human exploration. In fact, usually the argument from NASA manned spaceflight enthusiasts whenever it's suggested that we end the Shuttle (and/or ISS) program is that it will toll the end of manned spaceflight in the US, and that a bird in the hand is better than two in the...errrr...Bush.
That argument may have had some resonance prior to January 14th, 2004, when the only human-in-space policy was Shuttle and ISS, but it doesn't any longer. Yes, some new president could come in and cancel the exploration initiative in 2008, and if that happens, it would be impossible to resurrect the Shuttle and station if they're ended now. But barring some major political earthquake, I find that scenario unlikely. For better or worse, the public does seem to have some intrinsic desire to see human spaceflight at NASA continue, and I don't think that it's in the cards politically to end it. In fact, with the new program having been bought into by both the administration and Congress, I'd think that NASA manned space program proponents would be eager to shed these deadweight programs so they can get on to the more exciting activities of returning to the Moon and going on to Mars. Unless, of course, they're getting their paychecks from the status quo...
And of course, this all ignores the vast potential for much more interesting private human spaceflight activities, which I'm quite confident will make almost everything that NASA is doing in this area irrelevant by the end of the decade.
Anyway, as I said, I could find little in the editorial with which to disagree. I'll toss in my concurrence as well, though from a long-term policy standpoint, I don't really think that it makes much difference to our future in space whether we end these dinosaurs now or later. Either way, humanity's expansion into the cosmos will have little to do with anything happening at JSC, Marshall and the Cape now. They did some noble and needed pioneering things there forty years ago, but I'm afraid that when it comes to the future, they continue to represent the past.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 14, 2005 09:17 AM
"But they also have to reconcile this charge with the Times' argument that killing off these deadweight programs could accelerate outward human exploration."
Based on past statements Rand, I thint they are using this statement of support for future goalsas nothing more than a stalking horse to kill those programs. They have attacked VSE in the past and I have no doubt based on past experience they would revert to form if shuttle and ISS were killed off.
If they were sincere in their statement, then my response would be different. I simply cannot believe they are sincere and I think you know them well enough Rand to doubt their sincerety.Posted by Mike Puckett at August 14, 2005 09:29 AM
To add: It's like if Hitler suddenly supported the creation of Israel, one has to wonder if he just wants all the jews in one concentrated area for some nefarious purpose. It may be a good idea but one must consider the motives of the source.Posted by Mike Puckett at August 14, 2005 09:31 AM
Their sincerity isn't really relevant, since their arguments are all valid.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 14, 2005 09:33 AM
It's like if Hitler suddenly supported the creation of Israel,
I call Godwin. Man, you need to seriously reexamine your prejudices here.Posted by Paul Dietz at August 14, 2005 10:18 AM
"you need to seriously reexamine your prejudices here."
Do you understand the difference between postjudice and prejudice?
I have no predjuice here and I defy you to prove otherwise.Posted by Mike Puckett at August 14, 2005 11:33 AM
I do understand the difference. I disagree that you have interpreted the NY Times' past actions correctly.
And I think making an analogy between a newspaper and an insane mega-murdering dictator is far, far beyond the bounds of acceptable rhetoric.Posted by Paul Dietz at August 14, 2005 12:18 PM
"And I think making an analogy between a newspaper and an insane mega-murdering dictator is far, far beyond the bounds of acceptable rhetoric."
Why? I wasn't accusing the NYT of mass murder or plotting it, simply trying to make an analogue easy for you to understand.
"I disagree that you have interpreted the NY Times' past actions correctly."
Despite their numerous editorials since the 60's calling for an end to manned space exploration?
If you want to defend the indefensible, by all means, be my guest.Posted by Mike Puckett at August 14, 2005 12:54 PM
So, there's NO VALUE to having the station up there, even as a waypoint or safe harbor for future on-orbit operations? Allowing that it wasn't designed for those purposes, it would seem an awful waste to just abandon that much good orbital mass.
I can't argue too much with the sentiment regarding the shuttle, but I think it's a mistake to lump the station in with the shuttle's woes, regardless of how NASA ties the two together.Posted by Dave G at August 14, 2005 01:19 PM
I think manned vs. unmanned is an easy battle to fight that manned is winning by a lot looking at the dollars going to manned. I project manned will continue to do so with or without shuttle and ISS.
As for NYT's motives, yes they are probably going for cancellation so we can have more butter. Anyone interested in rationalizing space will likely have to ally with those seeking its demise in order to get the Congressional votes.
This will be a nearly impossible battle to win decisively prior to 2010 due to the strange metric of "more government jobs in my state is good". On that metric, there ought to be a way for the good government forces to provide more jobs with a better policy without preserving the old program.Posted by Sam Dinkin at August 14, 2005 01:20 PM
So, there's NO VALUE to having the station up there, even as a waypoint or safe harbor for future on-orbit operations?
No, there's some value. Just not enough to justify the costs that it will require to complete it and continue to maintain it.Posted by Rand Simberg at August 14, 2005 01:24 PM
"Allowing that it wasn't designed for those purposes, it would seem an awful waste to just abandon that much good orbital mass."
Its on pretty inconvenient orbit for any really useful real-world application.
One might suggest that if NASA were to immedately cancel the shuttle and station, thus accelerating the return to the Moon, it might also rent some space on the facility Bigelow is working on. Of course, that supposes that Bigelow succeeds.Posted by Mark R. Whittington at August 14, 2005 02:45 PM
I would really like to believe that all of these private enterprize spaceflight startups will come out of the wilderness and knock NASA's socks off- which is the common prediction here. Honestly, I hope they do. I also hope that somehow our adventures in the Mideast will put an end to Islamic extremist terrorism once and for all. Sadly, I feel there is a very, very slim chance for either happening.
I'm sure Rand keeps this info at his fingertips- I can only guess that right now there are about 20 high-profile startups out there, and at least as many that are lesser known. To date, only one has actually flown- two little suborbital hops. Don't get me wrong- I thought Rutan was a genius long before he tackled the space biz, and I think he will continue to succeed technologically so long as his funding troika holds. I think Musk will (eventually) launch a (unmannned) Falcon. I could really go out on a limb and say one day Bigelow will get at least one of his modules lofted.... but at this stage, it's all wishful thinking.
I've worked for NASA here at the Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and the ISS Programs for 25 years, and I have to (more or less) agree with the NYT. I'm not particularly concerned about the risks of flying Shuttles, since that's part of doing business in the space realm, but they're just way too costly. In addition, they're far too unreliable -a minor thing like a few rain showers in the vicinity of the Cape can (and frequently does) scrub a launch or a landing. If it was up to me, I'd ship all three Orbiters off to the museums today, and accelerate the development of the CEV with the money saved, or better yet, use the money to "prime the pumps" of some of the commercial space vehicle efforts currently underway.
In the meantime, I wouldn't completely shut down the ISS, but I would stop assembly now, and focus on doing what science we can with the existing facilities and resources. I'm convinced there's a lot of good science we could do from ISS right now, e.g., mounting a very rigorous Earth observations program, perhaps interacting with ground-based facilities to do things like observe hurricanes, monitor volcanoes, etc. I'd also aggressively pursue commercial involvement in the ISS - tourists, advertising, etc.
All-in-all, I think the NYT pretty much got it right.Posted by Mike at August 15, 2005 05:35 AM
I mostly agree with your comment, up to the point where you agree with the NYT.
I disagree with your response regarding my earlier post about "no value". You don't have to complete the station for it to have value. Value is a relative thing, not entirely made up of dollars. Because so many people make the "shuttle-station" link an assumption in any argument, it's difficult to evaluate the station on it's own merits.
I for one find great value in being able to point up at it, and talk about the activities and details with the youth I guide (my own children included). It's so bright, it seems close enough that young minds can grasp some of the concepts of how small our planet really is, and how strong we are as a nation to have been able to build this orbiting outpost.
My opinion, which I hope is shared by many of my fellow taxpayers, is that if we chose to let the station deorbit, it would further depress what is already a weakening emphasis on space sciences in our schools. Too often, we overlook the value of vision and adventure as a driving force for our future leaders.Posted by Dave G at August 15, 2005 07:09 AM
To add: It's like if Hitler suddenly supported the creation of Israel, one has to wonder if he just wants all the jews in one concentrated area for some nefarious purpose. It may be a good idea but one must consider the motives of the source.
Looks like Hitler did throughout the 1930's. Apparently emigration of Jews (especially to an out of the way location where they couldn't incite other military powers) was considered a great thing from the Nazi point of view.
Sunday New York Times lead editorial:
"Is the Space Station Necessary?"
Editorial directly below that:
"Meanwhile, People Starve."
So, here's the solution (according to the New York Times): cancel space station and space shuttle and spend that money to feed starving people.Posted by William Berger at August 15, 2005 08:15 AM
Disregarding any political arrangements with the Russians about orbital inclination, how much would it actually cost to shift the space station's orbit to one that WOULD be more useful?Posted by J Gerrish at August 15, 2005 09:24 AM
I hope you are as mistaken about Islamicists as you appear to be about private space firms.
There are no doubt some snake oil salesmen out there. But consider t/space, for example... which has already drop-tested a testbed mockup of it's CXV capsule; tested a critical component of it's air-launch system with another 1/4 scale testbed; and is moving ahead to first launches of an unmanned vehicle to LEO in 2007.
This firm hardly seems to be in the same league as US Submarines.
t/space has announced they intend to launch their first manned mission by 2009. I rather suspect they'll succeed.
(Personal disclosure: I don't own a dime of t/space. But I can collate open source news reports... *smiles*)Posted by De Doc at August 15, 2005 09:50 AM
I hope so, Doc- and remember, twice in my little spiel I said I really WANT to see them succeed.... I just don't think they have the momentum (and funding) to replace NASA by the end of the decade as Rand suggested. End of NEXT decade? We can hope!
Post a comment