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Senators Lecture George Bush

...about space policy

The three say they don't know for certain why the White House has failed to provide the appropriate guidance and funding needed to implement the Vision, "though we suspect it can be explained by Bush not knowing all the facts about what the real impact of NASA's annual budgets has been since the loss of the Columbia in 2003."

I think the problem is less in the funding, and more in the lack of guidance. Once Griffin was hired, the White House apparently decided that it was mission accomplished, and refocused to much more pressing issues, despite the fact that NASA's implementation seems to fly in the face of the original vision and the recommendations of the Aldridge Commission.

And Clark Lindsey gives them a lecture of their own:

These Senators don't seem to know that NASA could have chosen to pursue an innovative low cost approach to space development and lunar exploration rather than choosing a very long and very expensive path to two new vehicles, both of which will be very costly to operate. These Senators apparently don't even know about COTS, the one modest effort taken by the agency towards lower costs for space hardware development and operations.

Well, what most Senators don't know, particularly about space, could fill a small library. Maybe even a large one.

 
 

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16 Comments

Bill White wrote:

Keith Cowing's NASA Watch post about Shawcross is spot on. IMHO.

The sad thing about all of this these days is that OMB's Paul Shawcross has more say as to what happens at NASA than NASA's Administrator does. You can yell at Mike Griffin until you are blue in the face but it is Shawcross and the OMB who calls the shots.
Jim Harris wrote:

Once Griffin was hired, the White House apparently decided that it was mission accomplished, and refocused to much more pressing issues

Right. For example, today Bush attended the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. He has been to six out of seven of them. That's way more important than the VSE.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Are you equating attending a breakfast once a year with formulating and managing policy, Jim?

I can imagine you would. I just can't imagine anyone intelligent taking you seriously about it.

Rand Simberg wrote:

OMB doesn't call the shots, Bill, other than in providing the funding for the shots. Do you think that Paul Shawcross told Mike Griffin to cobble together two new launch vehicles that didn't fit the funding profile? Who called that shot?

Jim Harris wrote:

Are you equating attending a breakfast once a year with formulating and managing policy, Jim?

Bush certainly is managing a policy with that breakfast: Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. It has a dedicated office at the White House (OFBCI), which Bush founded in his first month in office. Bush and his wife have both put a lot of time into it. Its budget is rather smaller than that of NASA, according to Wikipedia, but hey, it's a crushing emergency compared to the VSE.

Bill White wrote:

ESAS is 100% Griffin's baby, no argument there. (Well, perhaps Scott Horowitz has some skin in that game.)

As for budgets? I have done that NSS lobbying thing several times now and numerous Republican staffers have told the team I was assigned to that their Congressman agreed that NASA needed more money but they couldn't or wouldn't go against their President;s recommendations.

This last February one Republican staffer was especially blunt. She said:

"My boss believes that the President's proposed budget for NASA is too low but he won't break ranks with his party over this."

A refusal to fund delivery of the Alpha Mass Spectrometer? That falls 100% on the Administration. IMHO.

Bill White wrote:

PS -- I recall one young Republican Senate staffer who also was blunt with us. This past February.

"Save your breath. Whatever the President says NASA needs that is what the Senator will vote for."

He then said. "I'm sure you all came here with plenty of good arguments but look that just is the political reality of it."

Karl Hallowell wrote:

Dennis Wingo's comment on the Space Politics story is worth repeating:

I donít think that there is any great mystery here. OSTP head Marburger stated at the Goddard dinner in 2006 that if NASA did not show more relevance to advancing the nationís economic interest that they would not get more funding.

The ESAS architecture, from an economic development of space perspective, is the worst possible architecture.

Bill White wrote:

The ESAS architecture, from an economic development of space perspective, is the worst possible architecture.

Griffin picked ESAS but then again Bush picked Griffin.

Dennis Ray Wingo wrote:

Thanks Karl you saved me a few keystrokes!

It is interesting that I now think that something I believe that Rand said will come to pass, which is that Griffin's greatest legacy will be COTS and the completion of ISS.


Jim Muncy wrote:

Dennis wrote:

It is interesting that I now think that something I believe that Rand said will come to pass, which is that Griffin's greatest legacy will be COTS and the completion of ISS.

That has got to really pain Mike. Really.

Dennis Wingo wrote:

Jim

Yep, I bet you are right, at least in the near term. However, I truly think that ISS will become the spark for the golden age of spaceflight and that in 20 or 30 years he will claim credit for it!

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Bill White wrote:
"I have done that NSS lobbying thing several times now and numerous Republican staffers have told the team I was assigned to that their Congressman agreed that NASA needed more money but they couldn't or wouldn't go against their President;s recommendations."

That's called a cop out (and I'm not criticizing them for it).

Robert wrote:

>I truly think that ISS will become the spark for the golden age of spaceflight

Dennis, that's interesting. Can you elaboate?

Dennis Wingo wrote:

Robert

Soyuz
Progress
Proton (modules)
ATV
HTV
COTS-1
COTS-2
STS
EELV-Orion

All of these vehicles can carry humans or cargo to a destination in space. History was just made with a paying customer basically paying for a Soyuz outside of the normal rotation of vehicles to the station. This sets an amazing precedent for commercial human access to space. More will follow, whether on Soyuz or possibly with Elon Musk's vehicle.

In the 1980's the microgravity community, including companies like 3M and Schering Plough did not balk at the price, they balked at the long turn around and the non reliable access to a place where they could do their experiments. This is no longer the case and if it were played right, and it is possible that Tom Pickens and Spacehab will play it right, a new customer base for microgravity will emerge.

With the demise of ESAS that is just one year if not months away NASA will be desperate to pick up the pieces from that debacle. The fastest way to get to the Moon is through ISS and the fastest way for humans to Mars is through support from ISS and a commercial lunar industrial base.

The pieces are slowly moving into position to make this happen. It will accelerate next year and in 2010 with the completion of the station.


Dennis Wingo wrote:

Addendum

Its all about markets and access to that market. With the vehicle previously mentioned we now have access at a price point that people are demonstrably willing to pay. As more people access this market, the price for access will begin to come down as more players enter. The new markets will foster other markets such as my orbital assembly system.

If some of the space advocacy groups would extracate themselves from their obsession with Cheap Access to Space and realize that markets is what makes the world tick, we would make faster progress. With all of our collective might we should be focusing on getting the Zero G Zero tax legislation passed. That is the key to the explosion of commerce in space.


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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 26, 2008 11:18 AM.

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