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« RASTE Update | Main | Space And Mass Media »

Preparing The Battlefield?

Is Mike Griffin just asking for help in getting humans to Mars (and note that he's asking for help from foreign governments, not the American private sector) or is he laying the groundwork for abandoning ISS?

NASA chief Michael Griffin appealed on Wednesday to the leaders of the world's leading space agencies to join NASA in its bid to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars.

Unless they do, he said, there will be little point in completing the International Space Station. The ISS will make a perfect staging post for such missions, he believes.

Well, I guess. For certain values of the word "perfect" (e.g., horrible)...

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 22, 2006 03:05 PM
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Comments

Rand,

My read between-the-linesometer reads this as: "Join us so we can compel you to allow us to move it to a useful orbit."

Sounds like the opening gambit in a push to use a tether to relocate it to a 28 degree inclination.

Posted by Mike Puckett at July 22, 2006 03:43 PM

I seriously doubt that's what he has in mind.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 22, 2006 03:58 PM

That ISS makes a "perfect staging post" for other missions appears to be a mistaken conclusion drawn by the author of the article rather than a direct quote from Griffin. What Griffin is quoted as saying is that lessons learned on ISS are applicable to deep space, long endurance missions and the conclusion he draws is that if we do not intend on conducting such missions then ISS is meaningless.

There is a huge difference in using ISS as a training facility for deep space missions and using ISS as a spaceport from which to launch such missions. I have never heard Griffin advocate the latter and I donít think he is doing so now.

Posted by Cecil Trotter at July 22, 2006 04:57 PM

I'll have to go back and reread the piece when I have time, but you may be right, Cecil.

Posted by Rand Simberg at July 22, 2006 05:07 PM

I suspect based on past remarks, Griffin knows quite well it is not an ideal or even useful staging post as long as it remains in a high inclination orbit.

Posted by Mike Puckett at July 22, 2006 07:17 PM

"That ISS makes a "perfect staging post" for other missions appears to be a mistaken conclusion drawn by the author of the article rather than a direct quote from Griffin."

I read it the same way. None of the quotes--and there are a lot of them--supports the interpretation that Griffin was saying "staging post" in terms of launching vehicles to Mars. He was referring to it as a basis for international cooperation that could lead to future international cooperation for Moon and Mars missions.

Griffin has talked about this on numerous occasions, few of which have been reported in the popular press. He has said that although he was not a fan of the ISS, he recognizes that if the United States abandons it, NASA will lose their international partners on _every_ other project they do, such as all the robotic missions. And they will never get them to sign up for the lunar program. He has said that America's promise has to mean something when it comes to space cooperation.

Posted by Mike Scully at July 22, 2006 08:02 PM

Mike Scully

Griffin has talked about this on numerous occasions, few of which have been reported in the popular press. He has said that although he was not a fan of the ISS, he recognizes that if the United States abandons it, NASA will lose their international partners on _every_ other project they do, such as all the robotic missions. And they will never get them to sign up for the lunar program. He has said that America's promise has to mean something when it comes to space cooperation.

OK, I hear what he's saying, but does that mean we have to keep supporting this white elephant even though it's pointless?

Posted by rickl at July 22, 2006 08:32 PM

What Griffin is quoted as saying is that lessons learned on ISS are applicable to deep space, long endurance missions

I hope those lessons were that the distribution of labour on political grounds is a very bad thing, and not to base your transportation system on overpriced monolithic boosters.

Posted by Chris Mann at July 22, 2006 09:19 PM

It occurs to me that much as the distribution of shuttle pork across many states helped ensure its survival, distribution of ISS pork over many countries has served to ensured the survival of the ISS. I wonder if there was some pork related pressure from above to continue this winning formula on future projects. Reducing international competition in the process - in the Lockheed X-33 fashion.

A bit cynical?

Posted by Pete Lynn at July 22, 2006 09:39 PM


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