nasa, politics, reinventing government

Space Policy Under an Obama Administration

(please post comments over at the new SpaceDemocrats.org thread instead of posting them here) Many space constituents are publicly critical of the Obama campaign for campaign rhetoric that is less overtly supportive of the status quo of the US space program than that of the Clinton or McCain campaigns. However, to this constituent of space, Obama’s ambivalence makes him THE MOST ATTRACTIVE Presidential candidate in this campaign.Why?Because I believe that the WORST CASE scenario for the US space program under a new Administration is the status quo, and that we’re quite unlikely– even under an Obama administration– to experience major cutbacks in public space spending, due to the political capital that the status quo of space policy enjoys in key large States.Thus, I believe the real issue of concern for space constituents in this Presidential campaign is how much IMPROVEMENT there can be on current space policy under a new Administration. In that context, I believe that an Administration LESS beholden to the status quo– an Obama Administration– is MORE likely to conduct a thorough and objective analysis of opportunities for improvement. Thus, while paying less lip service to the current space program at this juncture of the campaign, I believe that Obama is more likely than any other candidate to institute the sorts of reforms that many of us progressives who work in the space community wish to see, such as:-Appointing dynamic and technically competent leaders to the top posts at NASA who have the charisma and gravitas required to reform the culture of the Agency and turn it into the vibrant “startup” organization that it was decades ago as NACA, thus enabling it to better:-Pursue an aggressive human exploration program beyond LEO that pushes the envelope of technological innovation without significant budget increases, and presents inspiring opportunities for multi-national collaboration in the peaceful uses of outer space, and-Accelerate of the handover of LEO activities to ‘NewSpace’ private commercial enterprises, with the US and other governments as a customer, and with an emphasis on competition, entrepreneurship and innovation rather than large guaranteed “cost plus” contracts, and-Fully leverage NASA’s potential as an ‘Earth Systems Engineering’ Agency as a key component of a comprehensive Federal climate change mitigation program.I believe that an Obama Administration is far more likely to call for and to have the courage to see through these sorts of policy reforms than that of any other candidate that is today more overtly laudatory of the status quo of the US space program.Does anyone really want the status quo of the US space program to endure? (please post comments over at the new SpaceDemocrats.org instead of posting them here)

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52 thoughts on “Space Policy Under an Obama Administration

  1. Those might be nice things but none of Obama’s current or past space related statements suggest he would support any of those concepts. And significant research into management techniques and organizational dynamics suggest that your first point (“dynamic leadership creating a new startup atmosphere”) is impossible to do (google for “Innovator’s Dilemma”).

    What I’ve seen of Obama’s stated plans is that he would drop human exploration, focus solely on robots, and cut NASA’s budget to pay for other items. You may think that you could convince him of your suggestions but there’s no evidence that he would go that direction.

    You’re doing the same thing some of us on the other side of the spectrum did by thinking that Bush’s VSE would involve the commercial sector to a very high degree. When the politician is intentionally vague its easy for us to fit what we want into that vagueness. That’s why they make it vague. Right now Obama’s space policy is a blank slate that everyone else is writing their wishes on. The likelihood of us getting what you talk about above is about as likely as Obama giving me a pony for Christmas.

  2. Very interesting points Andrew, I will be more comfortable when I hear his plans. I agree that NASA needs change, it needs direction, but it also it needs stability for a series of years to accomplish those goals.

  3. Jack Burton says:

    Well that is about a bizarre a take on this I have heard yet.

    Goodbye return to moon under Obama, and probably quite a bit more.
    Sorry. There is no way that guy is good for NASA.
    His previous statements on the matter are chilling.
    Entertaining thoughts of FIVE YEAR delays and raiding NASA funding sickens me.

  4. Mark R. Whittington says:

    Considering that Obama has on a number of occassions cast doubt on the utility of humans in space, I cannot see why this post has any basis in objective reality. Obama has also promised to slash NASA spending to pay for an education scheme and is silent on commercial space, except to promise to raise taxes on all commercial enterprises generally.

  5. Pingback: Space » Blog Archive » Election 2008 Update

  6. jb says:

    Guys, having been involved in the space program for a long time, I can tell you that the very *last* thing we need is yet another large scale change in direction. The Vision for Space Exploration is a good plan, it’s exactly what has been missing and has been needed for decades. It should be plainly obvious that if we keep changing the Vision, the “mission statement” every four years or when people lose focus, then we’ll get absolutely nowhere.

    The situation is just *not* going to move as fast as everyone would like it to, now are the goals going to make everyone happy, but if we stick to this and nurture commercial enterprises along, take our first steps back to the moon and see what works long-term and what doesn’t, that is the best hope we have of *eventually* getting everyone what they want.

    We must have patience and focus.

    Unfortunately, I think Obama would slow things down even further, because he appears to be ignorant of the largeer scale importance of the aerospace industry in general, and the potential of the human spaceflight programs in particular. Personally, I prefer McCain, but for the space program, Clinton would be preferable to Obama.

  7. jb says:

    Having been involved in the aerospace industry for a long time, I can tell you that the very *last* thing we need is yet another large scale change in direction. The Vision for Space Exploration is a good plan, it’s exactly what has been missing and has been needed for decades. It should be plainly obvious that if we keep changing the Vision – the “mission statement” – every four years or when people lose focus, then we’ll get absolutely nowhere.

    The situation is just *not* going to move as fast as everyone would like it to, nor are the goals going to make everyone happy, but if we stick to this and nurture commercial enterprises along, take our first steps back to the moon and see what works long-term and what doesn’t, that is the best hope we have of *eventually* getting everyone what they want.

    We must have patience and focus.

    Unfortunately, I think Obama would slow things down even further (or end them entirely), because he appears to be ignorant of the larger scale importance of the aerospace industry in general, and the potential of the human spaceflight programs in particular. Personally, I prefer McCain, but for the space program, Clinton would be preferable to Obama.

  8. The People says:

    Pursue an aggressive human exploration program beyond LEO that pushes the envelope of technological innovation without significant budget increases, and presents inspiring opportunities for multi-national collaboration in the peaceful uses of outer space

    This is precisely the major flaw with the current approach. Blindly pouring billions of dollars into manned spaceflight endeavors, without any firm scientific, commercial or national security-based rationale, is wasteful. I hope that an Obama Administration could review the value of manned spaceflight within this context and not just accept the simple-minded rhetoric of NASA Center constituents, Apollo wannabees and erstwhile trekkies.

  9. JCM says:

    Although I agree with the author’s sentiment about a desire for change in space policy in a positive and dynamic direction, I do not feel that the writer is fully aware of Mr. Obama’s public statements regarding “human” spaceflight. Mr. Obama has repeatedly quesetioned the value of human spaceflight, the space shuttle program in its entirety, exploration outisde of LEO, and “putting bodies into space.”

    Unfortunately, many voters feel that Mr. Obama will bring the “change” they desire, but have not fully explored the issues that matter to them the most.

    The bottom line is that this is an election year, and we usually never hear anything negative about spaceflight from a frontrunner in the political arena. To hear the repeated negative and durrogatory comments about human spaceflight from Mr. Obama during a campaign is extremely frightening.

  10. jb says:

    Responding to “The People”, why do you think that China, India, Europe, Japan, etc. are all aggressively pursuing a robust space program and if they do not already have a human space program, have expressed an interest to have one? Think about it. I won’t sit still while we allow other countries to move forward while we sit on our hands because some people don’t realize how important a thriving *and*advancing* aerospace industry is to us. I don’t want to see us become a has-been. The relatively small amount we spend on space activities has paid far greater dividends to our economy and world standing in many respects. We need to be much more careful of our budget, but it needs to come out of wasteful expenditures (earmarks, and poorly managed entitlement programs).

  11. Anon says:

    Actually you hit on the thing that is the entire key to Barack Obama’s success. He does make statements which are basically blank, “I will change things”, without detailing in which direction. He could well kill spaceflight and the New Space industry.

    Suppose instead of opening space for the New Space firms he shuts it by signing the Moon Treaty? Note his proposal that the U.S. contribute a set percentage of its GDP to the UN to help poor countries. The Moon Treaty would fit right in with such a help the poor countries attitude. Or regulating/taxing space tourism so the super rich don’tpollute space and share the wealth they are spending on their joy rides?

    Or follows through his statement with on cutting back on human space flight (After revewing its value) to fund schools and strengthen our international cooperation with other nations like Russian by using the Soyuz for U.S. mission.

    Better the Devil you Know, then one you don’t know. You may well be wishing for the “status Quo” after he is elected. Looked at all the hopes people pinned on having an engineer, Dr. Griffin, as head of NASA instead of a bureaucrat. Study Obama PAST record first and then see if he is really likely to be a supporter of space. At least Clinton and McCain have a record of doing just that.

  12. VSE – Vision for Space Exploration is a horrible plan, and ESAS is the most corrupt and idiotic implementation of a fundamentally flawed space plan if there ever was one.

    The Stick. The Money. The Goals. The Time.

    One giant step backwards for Americans.

    Just what we expected from Mr. Bush.

    You all have one year to get your Plan B’s ready for the commercial guys, because after another year of VSE and ESAS, you can kiss your manned space program goodbye.

  13. Artful Dodger says:

    Commercial guys to the rescue of NASA’s funding shortfall- isn’t that the current plan? New commercially developed systems have yet to even reach orbit, who knows what their final cost structure will be – what they promise now may be just as unsustainable as the original Globalstar and Iridium business models. And I thought Huckabee was the faith based candidate…

    As for Obama being the one to revitalize the space program – I’d argue quite the opposite. While strong constituency support will likely prevent wholescale cutbacks (remember Reagan wanted to axe the Education Dept. and he couldn’t get that done), Obama will likely follow the example of the first Clinton Administration – small cuts & trims to the program and no real new money just re-arrange the deck chairs towards more climate change research. In short, his dislike of the status quo combined with the countervailing pressures on the Hill will lead to another period of treading water…

  14. Human Spaceflight Advocate says:

    You know, I saw this link off of nasawatch.com and came here to read it hoping to find a reason why I should change my mind that Barrack Obama is Human spaceflight poison. What did I find instead? A bunch of anti-VSE alt.space tribals throwing out platitudes like “no more status quo” faster than even Obama himself can dole out.

    Obama’s core philosophical base is that he believes you are your brother’s keeper and therefore we all need to take care of each other. Do you really expect that someone with such a base would really invoke an economic policy that is diametrically oppossed to that? Obama is for more government spending. I think you should think twice and maybe three times before declaring him to be the most “anti-status quo”. The guy just says that openly because he knows that is what people want to hear. He is walking contradiction, sometimes he even does it in the same sentence!

  15. jsc guy says:

    wake up!!!!, Obama has clearly said he will cut NASA to the bone, that’s why I am swicthing my vote to Hillary along with most of the other folks at JSC where I work!

  16. Chuck Brown says:

    I have never voted for a Democrat in my life, but if Obama promised to cancel the VSE, and restore funding for the first ‘A’ in NASA to the levels at which it belongs, I might just do it. I think those who fear that he will drastically reduce the emphasis on human space flight in favor of robotic flight are right. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.

  17. Just because we’re anti VSE and ESAS certainly doesn’t mean we are anti human space flight, on the contrary most of us are the biggest advocates of human space flight around, many of us are space advocates with decades of experience.

    Unless you have that experience, you will never understand how bad the Vision for Space Exploration is, and how seriously flawed Michael Griffin’s implementation of it is.

    Seriously, if you are a supporter of VSE and ESAS in its present form, you simply haven’t looked at the numbers.

    You do know about numbers, right, like money and physics?

  18. Every commenter here, and I in my original post, are expressing our personal opinions– this isn’t a pro- or anti- VSE forum, but rather a discussion thread about my post the hypothesized that Obama is the most attractive candidate for space policy reform. I appreciate all the thoughtful comments here today and am preparing another blog post in response.

  19. I thought I’d include an excerpt from my post on Space Politics yesterday in response to Andrew’s post there:

    “I like the vision of NASA that Andrew lays out, but I’m not convinced that Obama is likely at all to go that direction. If he is, why doesn’t he say so? I’d listen, and I’ll bet a lot of other folks would, too. The Obama plan at Spaceref does cover the space/environment connection, which I think is good (if not unexpected) but it doesn’t mention NASA and entrepreneurial space at all. Some statements he’s made also seem to counter the “humans beyond LEO” goal (although personally I don’t care as much about destinations as what is done there and how it’s done, so that doesn’t bother me). The detailed Obama education section at Spaceref also misses an opportunity to use space to help education, and vice versa, through prize competitions, space-related scholarships, increasing university space work, Teachers in space, giving students and teachers access to suborbital space, and so on.

    Let’s see if Obama takes the opportunity, which is still out there.”

    I’ll add to that comment by supporting Michael Mealing’s statement that “Obama’s space policy is a blank slate that everyone else is writing their wishes on”. Simply calling for “change” or a “review” isn’t specific enough. If Obama doesn’t present a goal or rationale or general approach to NASA policy, I feel obligated to assume the worst. However, one of Obama’s representatives recently said something to the effect that a more specific space policy would be coming soon, and I’m perfectly willing to read it and adjust my opinions accordingly.

    For the record, the type of space policy I’d like to see would have at least some of the following ingredients:

    – Emphasis on addressing national problems on Earth. A problem-solving emphasis is healthy because it provides focus to the effort, and helps taxpayers see the connection and support the effort. Problems to help solve might include environment monitoring, energy, security, economics, education, disaster warning and response, and so on.

    – Emphasis on commercial space, whether large or NewSpace. The point here is to spin off traditional NASA tasks so NASA has the strength to meet new challenges. It should be done in such a way that the commercial space systems that take over are used not just for the NASA job, but also for other business, whether other government work (a classic example would be EELVs) or commercial. This way new space businesses and economic health grows, and new useful commercial space services are created or existing ones become cheaper or better. COTS, Centennial Challenges, and the Zero-G business are examples, but this type of approach should become much more widespread.

    – Emphasis on returning results early. NASA’s main ESAS lunar plan defers all results until ~2020, including science results from, and commercial participation in, the main lunar effort. The exception to that has been the LRO lunar probe until recently, when several new robotic lunar missions were put on the NASA books – a great improvement on the science side. I don’t think it goes far enough on the science side, though, and the commercial side is still left completely out.

    Whether Obama’s plan involves the Moon like the VSE, Mars, asteroids, L-points, or LEO only, I’d like to see a plan that follows these principles: address national problems, emphasize commercial space, and return some significant results early. Obama’s support of space environmental monitoring seems likely to address the first and third of these principles, but I don’t get the sense that this is anything more than a shift of 1% or 2% of NASA’s budget from one account to another. What about reforms to NASA’s human spaceflight program?

  20. Hi. I’m a progressive activist, an acquaintance of Mr. Hoppin’s, and not familiar with the details of either the VSE or with Obama’s proposed space policy. I am a supporter of Sen. Obama’s, but not an uncritical one; I am disappointed to see the lack of such a policy on his site and hopefully that will be fixed soon.

    If you’re pro-exploration, there is a general case to be made for supporting Obama irrespective of the currently stated specifics of his policy, however. To start with, Andrew I have to take issue with one of your assumptions, which is that you don’t see funding for NASA in jeopardy.

    I wish I shared your optimism. Our economy is not generally in good shape right now and hasn’t been since the 80s; the fundamentals are very shaky and it is not clear how all of this is going to shake out.

    I have been researching this extensively and have come to the conclusion that neoconservative economic theories (and in many cases “theory” is too kind of a term – “assumptions” is probably more accurate, “wild-ass made-up crocks of #*$&” even more so) are a big part of the problem.

    Deregulation and useless supply-side tax cuts are uniquely poorly suited to the changes happening our economy. We don’t need huge government or massive tax increases, just a little more balance in our decisionmaking, and a government with sufficient resources to invest in deep research and infrastructure for solving big, systemic problems like oil dependency and global warming – and space exploration.

    Instead, we’re starving our public infrastructure just as we’re arriving at a number of critical inflection points. My feeling is that none of the candidates are doing enough to challenge this thinking.

    The next question, however, is who is doing the most to move us off the dime, who has the best shot. That’s easy. It’s Barack.

    I’d like to see the candidates take a line more like this:

    http://www.dmiblog.com/archives/2007/10/post_14.html

    This doesn’t mention space specifically, but it definitely falls under the category of investing in the future. This is an interesting topic and I’m glad to see the political ramifications of the choices we’re making this year being discussed so vigorously.

  21. Brian says:

    Obama is on record saying he’ll cut back the manned space program. Clinton, on the other hand, is an enthusiastic supporter. Overall, Clinton’s policies are more progressive and science-friendly than Obama’s. Although either candidate would be a huge improvement over Bush, Clinton is the clear standout when it comes to space policy (and health, and the environment, etc.).

  22. Sean says:

    One thing I would like to point out that has only been alluded to by the person from JSC and others. Cutbacks to NASA’s budget means lost jobs. And these are jobs in technical fields. I work for one of the contractor’s at Glenn Research Center in Cleveland on the Orion project, and if the schedule is delayed and the budget cut there will be several hundred people out of work at this center alone. We went through this a couple of years ago before the roles were handed out to the different centers. I almost lost my job then, and I know many people who did. I only survived by taking a sub-contract in Seattle for eight months. I agree Constellation is not the most efficiently run program, and needs some over-haul from the top down, but chopping money won’t solve that problem.

  23. First off, Andrew, excellent post! I couldn’t agree more with you. Looking forward to your next 🙂

    In response to many of the comments before me, I think its interesting how we so easily overlook the positive outcomes of an Obama administration and immediately focus in on our fear of change and how his administration would be a negative for NASA. That’s definitely the wrong attitude to have. I agree with Andrew that the current space program could really see an improvement with the new administration. This is an opportunity! It doesn’t have to mean a change in direction, or even a cut in budget – IF NASA is relevant to the America public and is clearly communicating that relevance! Whoever leads the next administration will have some tough problems to address immediately upon entering office. If NASA makes sense in terms of the next administrations priorities for government, it’s a no-brainer that they would continue to support it. If it doesn’t, and I was in office, I’d probably side with Obama and take a good hard look at it too! Obama is a logical and realistic public official who truly wants to do the right thing for our country. It’s very inspiring and I don’t think NASA is that far off from being a kind of government his administration would like to see the rest of the government become – in fact, I think NASA could be held up as an example for other agencies in terms of our innovation, technology development, and exploration mission. But, I do agree that it is an act now, do or die situation. NASA has a very deep and ingrained culture and if we have any hope at all, we need to listen to people like Andrew and start acting now. So that gives us 9 months max to become the agency the next president would like us to be. It doesn’t give us much time to argue about his voting record, potential job cuts, or even the specifics of what his space policy would include. Doing that is to completely miss the point. 9 months gives us just enough time to get a jump start on creating a transparent and connected democracy. Thank you Barack for giving us a heads up! 🙂

    So how do we do this? It’s simple. Barack Obama has already spelled it out for us! If you look at Obama’s website, under issues>technology and then scroll down to “Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy” (among other things) you will see that what he’s looking for is nothing different than what we’ve been saying over at http://www.opennasa.com and with the Gen Y presentation. If we were to take advantage of the fact that we have 9 months to communicate our relevancy to the American public and provide them more opportunities to participate in space exploration, develop new communication strategies to share our compelling story, and take the next steps to spur innovation within industry that will lead to space access, revolutionary transportation systems, and a new sustainability strategy for our nation, we’d be in great shape. We don’t necessarily need him to spell out exactly what he has in mind for space or the future of the VSE, because he’s shared enough of that vision with us already for us to get started.

    I encourage everyone to focus their energy on becoming the agency we want to be anyway. I personally believe that NASA has a lot to offer the next administration, but the rest of NASA has to believe that too.

  24. Anon says:

    Dan,

    Funding for NASA survived other economic downturns because the administration in office believe in the value of spaceflight. Does Obama? He referred in a speech in Houston to astronauts as “bodies”. How could someone with such low respect for them be a supporter of space? He talks about delaying the Shuttle’s replacement to get more money for schools even though the current federal spending on schools is several multiples of what NASA gets. And what good is it to school and get a Ph.D. in Astronomy if there are no jobs because NASA has been gutted for social programs?

    You don’t build a better future by gutting programs like manned spaceflight. You just destroy the nation’s pride and the motive for its kids to learn. Why do you think China is putting men in space? And India is planning to? The aerospace workforce has declined by half in the U.S. while expanding else in the world. Is this good for America? If not, why would Obama want to erode it and America’s future even more.

    Go rent October Sky and learn just how powerful a motive space is for kids to lift themselves out of proverty and become successful. And it was not an isolated example. I recall a speaker once saying half of the engineers in the U,S. were inspired to go into engineering because of Apollo. The problem with education is not a lack of money, its kids not seeing any value to it when the only jobs available are at McDonalds, not NASA. You don’t need an engineering degree to flip burgers. You do to build rocketships.

  25. Human Spaceflight Advocate says:

    JSC guy is right. I work at JSC also and the center is livid at Obama. Texas is very much up for grabs and everyone in the Houston-Bay Area is going over to the Hillary side because of Obama’s “bodies in space” comment that he made to The Houston Chronicle. The guy then had the AUDACITY to start off his rally in Houston later the SAME DAY by telling the crowd, “Houston! We have Liftoff!”.

    I really don’t understand the commerical space arguement. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of the commerical space business. I just don’t understand why it is always mentioned in discussions concerning national space policy and more specifically, the NASA budget. Commerical space needs to be done completely independently, at its own pace using its own market drivers. Doesn’t everyone realize that NASA funding of commerical space contracts is just an extension of government funding and hence making it non-commerical after all?

    I have yet to hear anyone give a thorough analysis encompassing all the aspects of the engineering, political and budgetary reasons as to why the VSE is a bad idea. People love to take potshots at it by picking only one of the above aspects, such as, “The stick is dumb,” or, “We could have used EELVs cheaper”, or worse yet, “It’s just like Apollo”. Ha! As if engineering should be judged as if it were a Hollywood movie remake. Such isolated analysis of the engineering systems would be fine and dandy if you didn’t have to worry about the other two slices of the pie that I mentioned above. Griffin has given an excellent recount of the ESAS decision making process recently. It can be found at the following link:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=26756

  26. Edward Wright says:

    > The Vision for Space Exploration is a good plan, it’s exactly what has been missing and has been needed for decades.

    I’m not sure how you “missed it, JB, but sending a tiny handful of government supermen to the Moon and Mars is the same “vision of space exploration” NASA’s had for decades. It’s the same vision Wernher von Braun had 50 years ago. About the only difference is that women and minorities are now allowed to apply.

    > It should be plainly obvious that if we keep changing the Vision – the “mission statement” – every four years
    > or when people lose focus, then we’ll get absolutely nowhere.

    It should also be obvious that if what you’re trying to do hasn’t worked for 50 years, it might be time to think about trying something else.

    Mercury and Apollo set us back 40 years. Promising programs like the X-15 and DynaSoar were cancelled in favor of the circus stunt of shooting men into space on guided missiles. Now, private enterprise is starting to do the things we could have done, and should have done, 40 years ago, but Mike Griffin says we should keep using capsules and missiles for another 40 years.

    Why is that a good thing? How many decades do you think we should wait before we try to make any progress beyond the capsule era?

    > The situation is just *not* going to move as fast as everyone would like it to, nor are the goals going to make
    > everyone happy, but if we stick to this and nurture commercial enterprises along, take our first steps back to
    > the moon and see what works long-term and what doesn’t, that is the best hope we have of *eventually* getting
    > everyone what they want.

    Eventually we’re all dead, JB. Some of us won’t live another 40 years.

    You say you want to “nurture commercial enterprises along”? That’s reasonable — NASA’s charter requires it to “seek and encourage, to the fullest extent possible, the commercial use of space” — but do you know what percent of NASA’s budget is used for that purpose? NASA complains that they “only” get 1% of the Federal budget. So, what does it say when less than 1% of 1% is used on anything that might help the rest of us get into space? Surely that isn’t “the fullest extent possible.”

    > Unfortunately, I think Obama would slow things down even further (or end them entirely), because he
    > appears to be ignorant of the larger scale importance of the aerospace industry in general, and the
    > potential of the human spaceflight programs in particular.

    Perhaps, but ignoring human spaceflight might not be worse than what we have now. Benign neglect is sometimes better than well-intentioned meddling. If the government cared less about human spaceflight, we might not have to worry about a NASA Administrator telling investors NASA has proven that it’s impossible to reduce the cost of space access for the next 40 years.

    On the other hand, if the government cared more human spaceflight, NASA would not be planning to replace the very expensive Space Shuttle with an even more expensive launch system that will cost more per flight and carry even fewer people into space.

    Either would be an improvement, in my opinion. What we have now — a President and an Administrator who care about human spaceflight at a token level but are unwilling to try anything new or innovative — is the worst possible world.

    I don’t know if Obama (or McCain or Hillary) would effect such changes, but at least with a new President we have a chance for change. Let’s not blow that chance just because we’re afraid of the unknown.

  27. M Moreau says:

    Mr Obama’s public statements that human space exploration might not provide the best “return on our investment” are concerning to me because it demonstrates a lack of understanding of why the US government spends money on human spaceflight in the first place. And I had to laugh when I read his quote that the space shuttle program has not inspired the imagination of the public – he would only need to spend about 10 minutes with my 5 year-old daughter to realize the fallacy of that statement. Not to mention the first space shuttle launches are one of the events that inspired me to study engineering and work at NASA – a long way away from the tiny farm I grew up on in rural Vermont.

    As someone who works on the Constellation Program, I will be the first person to agree that the Constellation Architecture is not perfect, and is facing even more challenges because it has been underfunded compared to the budget that was outlined in 2005, but I really cannot imagine how you could come up with a significantly different solution given the technical, budget, and political constraints present.

    I agree 100% that our investments in human spaceflight since Apollo have not paid the sort of dividends they should have, but that is why so many within NASA are passionate about trying to make this initiative successful. For the first time in decades NASA has in place a long-term vision for human spaceflight, and the investments we make in human spaceflight are slowly getting us closer to realizing some truly ambitious exploration goals. People at literally every NASA center are contributing to this program, and are passionate about building a capability to take us beyond LEO. I see this passion every day in my colleagues, many of which have literally worked hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime on this program over the past two years, spend weeks away from their families supporting the compressed formulation phase of this program. The only explanation I can find for what inspires these people is the belief that the US should be a leader in the human exploration of space, that in this work we can be an inspiration for young children in our country.

    I think you find a number of other examples where NASA has started to make adjustments to the normal way of doing business, for example with the millions of dollars being put into COTS, and centennial challenges to name two examples. Still NASA has such a long way to go to become truly relevant to “Generation Y”.
    I agree that we want our leaders in the White House and Congress to push back against the status quo, break through some of the political and institutional barriers that unnecessarily constrain the already pretty significant technical challenges of space flight. But I find it hard to understand how a US Senator, who should have the full spectrum of government spending (and waste) within his field of view, would choose to narrow in on NASA’s human space-flight initiatives as an area of glaring excess or inefficiency, and I don’t see getting out of the human spaceflight business as doing anything but hurting our country.

    Obama’s campaign has generated excitement and inspired young people in particular in ways we have not seen in a very long time, but I am struggling to be anything but fearful that his new space policy, which he has promised to begin action on within weeks of taking office, will derail our considerable efforts and progress of the past few years and eventually take us out of the human spaceflight business.

  28. There is no doubt in my mind that an Obama administration would be the death of American human spaceflight for the foreseeable future. Yes, I said death of human spaceflight. Obama could care less about space exploration, and that’s my personal opinion, and he even said as much in his science policy speeches. There is a very limited market for domestic commercial launch services, and if Obama cuts the defense budget, which I have no doubt he will do, we won’t even have the government launch business keeping the EELV program afloat. In the commercial arena, the launch services market is saturated, and so few launches there aren’t enough to go around. ITAR regulations (started under Clinton’s administration and carried over by Bush) have actually helped countries develop their own launch vehicles, leaving American aerospace companies with 40% of the international market instead of the 65% it once enjoyed. The entire U.S. space program (civilian, DOD and commercial) is about to tank under the next administration, whether a democrat or the republican gets the White House. It is not a question of if it gets worse, but how bad it is going to get. And there is no doubt in my mind, under Obama we will fall in a deep, deep well the United States may never be able to climb out of.

  29. Suppose instead of opening space for the New Space firms he shuts it by signing the Moon Treaty?

    Carter already signed the Moon Treaty. It would be pointless for Obama to do so again. It has never been ratified by the Senate, and likely never will be, regardless of how many foolish presidents sign it.

  30. Anon: “And what good is it to school and get a Ph.D. in Astronomy if there are no jobs because NASA has been gutted for social programs? ”

    Well, I’ve already described my skepticism of Obama’s plan for space policy above, and there’s a lot more I could have said along those lines. In this case, though, I will say Obama hasn’t mentioned cutting back on NASA’s robotic astronomy missions, or robotics in general. Not only that, but he’s mentioned doubling generic science Federal spending, which suppose could include things like NSF astronomy. He’s also proposed scholarship programs that should make it easier to get that Astronomy PhD, or at least the undergraduate part of it. So … I don’t see any worry for the astronomy side, or for that matter Earth science, planetary science, or heliophysics. That suits me fine, since I like how (most of) these parts of NASA are performing, especially if some of the recent moves like the suborbital commercial services RFI, the new lunar and Earth science robotic missions, and Stern’s increased emphasis on suborbital work continue.

    NASA human spaceflight, though, might be in trouble under an Obama administration. I’m not thrilled with the way the new lunar human program is currently being implemented because it’s being done in such a way that it doesn’t address those points I mentioned in my earlier post, even though it was supposed to according to the VSE and Aldgridge Commission documents. As a result, I’m a bit ambivalent about Obama’s criticism of NASA human spaceflight. However, I do think supporters of human spaceflight need to be very skeptical about Obama producing the kind of human spaceflight program Andrew describes, unless Obama gives more reason to expect that.

  31. Human Spaceflight Advocate: “I really don’t understand the commerical space arguement. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of the commerical space business. I just don’t understand why it is always mentioned in discussions concerning national space policy and more specifically, the NASA budget. Commerical space needs to be done completely independently, at its own pace using its own market drivers. Doesn’t everyone realize that NASA funding of commerical space contracts is just an extension of government funding and hence making it non-commerical after all?”

    There are 2 things going on here. One is that NASA supporters see NASA continuing to design and run operational functions like space transportation systems that it’s been doing for decades. Clearly NASA space transportation in particular, and some other functions as well, are expensive, and leave hardly anything left over to accomplish new goals. The thought is that after all these decades these functions could be done more efficiently in a competitive commercial environment where the services can be marketed not just to NASA, but also to anyone else, leaving NASA witih the wherewithall to do something new that currently doesn’t have commercial prospects, but in the long run could have commercial or other benefits. People hope NASA increases use of commercial space for NASA’s sake!

    On the other hand, commercial space is a tough business, especially in some of the areas under dispute like space access and human missions. NASA encouragement to develop space business capabilities, through efforts like COTS or Centennial Challenges, can make a big difference in whether or not a space business gets started. NASA commercial purchases in the sense of its use of Zero-G Corporation services, or use of EELVs, could be a big part of the market for such services, and possibly critical to the success of the business, or in the case of EELVs whether or not fixed costs can be spread enough to make the service commercially applicable at all. Of course the same goes for other government agency purchase of commercial space services.

    We already have lots of NASA big aerospace cost-plus contracts. What we need is more encouragement of commercial space through COTS and Centennial Challenges or similar approaches when potential commerciali businesses don’t yet exist, and when they do exist fixed-price purchases of commercial services that the vendor can also offer to the DoD, NOAA, space tourists, comsat vendors, and so on.

  32. To “Human Spaceflight Advocate”: Could it be that Obama is simply reflecting NASA’s terrible track record with regard to explaining what it does and why it does it?

    Perhaps no one has given him a cogent, compelling reason – so far – as to why NASA’s human space flight programs should continue on the path they are on.

    Can you tell me why it is important to have humans in space? And do so in 100 words or less? No Powerpoint or pretty pictures please.

  33. Finnius says:

    Obama: “I’ve got a strong belief in NASA and the process of space exploration. I do think that our program has been stuck for a while – that the space shuttle mission did not inspire the imagination of the public – that much of the experimentation that was done could have been conducted not necessarily with manned flights. I think that broadening our horizons – and looking at a combination of both unmanned satellites of the sort that we saw with the Jupiter launch – but also looking at where we can start planning for potential manned flights. I think that is something that I’m excited about and could be part of a broader strategy for science and technology investment … The only thing I want to say is that I want to do a thorough review because some of these programs may not be moving in the right direction and I want to make sure that NASA spending is a little more coherent than it has been over the last several years.”

    What in this quote leads anybody to believe that Obama would do anything positive for the US Manned Space Program? This statement basically says the entire space program has been a waste of time, money and effort. He dismisses the shuttle program as uninspiring and useless (guess I wasted my time getting 2 aerospace degrees to work for the shuttle program, it clearly didn’t inspire me) and the last part of the quote clearly dismisses VSE and the manned programs of the future.

    Personally, I think Obama preaches how he is different and how he is going to change things, but he is just another typical politician. The only difference is, he claims to be better, more noble and more committed then every politician who ever lived. The only thing he actually does better then other politicians is delude people with his vague promises and lack of any real substance.

    About the only places he has hinted at what his policies would be are in regards to NASA and his open door policy for dictators. Either of those are enough for me to vote Republilcan for the first time if Obama wins the nomination.

    The thing people seem to be overlooking is how critical this juncture of the US Space Policy is, and why it should be on the forefront of all candidates minds. Yes, I think given where we stand in time, one person could destroy the space program. The shuttle program *is* ending and needs to end, if nothing is there to take its place, then the manned space program will not survive. We need strong commitment to NASA from the President now more then ever. If two candidates tell me they support NASA and exploration and one repeatedly dismisses both as a waste of time and effort and money – guess what, I am going to take my chances with one of the two who at least say they support it and have a proven record of supporting it in Congress. The one who dismisses it? I consider him to be a waste of time, effort and money. I wish he would take his “hope” and “change” and go somewhere else.

    Anybody who works for the shuttle program, the Constellation Program or the ISS program who votes for Obama is essentially signing their own layoff papers.

  34. I have yet to hear anyone give a thorough analysis encompassing all the aspects of the engineering, political and budgetary reasons as to why the VSE is a bad idea.

    Well, for starters, we have this :

    http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

    I could stop right there, I have destroyed VSE and ESAS in one fell swoop. However, I’ll continue, as it gets worse :

    The upper stage of Ares I is EXPENDED after it reaches roughly 99 percent of the way to orbit.

    I have killed the Stick in one fell swoop, and I haven’t even addressed the basic vibration problems, the resonance problem and the buzzingand chugging problems.

    It’s already over, even though he’s already over three years into this fiasco, but I’ll continue, as it gets much worse.

    Mars and Ares V. Ain’t happening for a long long time. Mars is a huge planet very very far away sitting inside of a huge gravity well. We can barely climb out of our own gravity well with all of the resources of 500 years of civilization at our disposal. We have much better information on the planets, moons of planets, and planetoids and asteroids that are out there. If you want to see human footprints on another planet in your lifetime, I offer you the amazing fifth planet Ceres.

    If you want to see handprints on the moon in your lifetime, I offer you Phobos and Deimos. None necessitate the Ares V.

  35. ken says:

    At this point in time it’s impossible to say how an Obama presidency would impact space exploration. By the same token, I have seen nothing in the history books that indicates that John F. Kennedy was enthusiastic about the Mercury program in March of 1960. Kennedy did not care about managing the space program, he focused on leading the nation. When the challenge became clear, he had the courage to accept the challenge. I can hope that Obama has the same clear sense of vision.

    Every election cycle the Republicans try to claim that a Democratic president will destroy the space program. This isn’t true. Without the leadership of Bill Clinton, who was not a human spaceflight enthusiast, we would not have any space station at all. By changing the focus of space station Freedom from an orbital star wars platform to an international laboratory with European, Japanese and most of all Russian participation, the project gained enough strength to weather the setbacks that came from shuttle disasters. Without Soyuz and Progress, our space station would have come crashing to earth after the demise of Columbia. Without international involvement, including treaty obligations, NASA and congress would have pulled the plug on the space station just like the X-33 and many other shuttle replacement/improvement programs.

    I disagree with much of what George Bush has done as president, but the decision to finish ISS, retire the shuttle and develop a new larger capsule-style spacecraft is the right thing to do. But with the retirement of the shuttle there will be a multi-year gap before NASA launches any manned space missions. To keep the manned space program viable during the hiatus we need keep our astronauts busy doing science on the ISS and that means closer cooperation with Russia. The sort of president NASA needs in order to make it through the rocky period that will come when the shuttle is retired, (and I hope we send three good orbiters to museums) is a visionary, a diplomat and a believer in international cooperation.

  36. Edward Wright says:

    > Commerical space needs to be done completely independently, at its own pace using its own market drivers.

    You’re entitled to your own opinion, HSA, but the law disagrees with you. Congress said that NASA was to “seek and encourage, to the fullest extent possible, the commercial use of outer space.”

    If you don’t like that, you should work to change the law, not just ignore it as NASA is doing at present.

    But be careful what you ask for. If the law is changed and the scope of NASA’s mission is reduced, shouldn’t funding also be reduced?

    > Doesn’t everyone realize that NASA funding of commerical space contracts is just an extension of government funding
    > and hence making it non-commerical after all?”

    That’s a valid point, HSA. Do you believe air mail was non-commercial because of the Federal Air Mail contracts? The US Postal Service still pays Federal Express to carry mail today. Do you consider that non-commercial?

    Even if it is, would you say that the aviation industry that developed as a result is a bad outcome? Would it have been preferable for “human air flight” to be a government monopoly enjoyed by no one but a few government “aeronauts”?

    Even if your answer is yes, there are many NASA could do to help American industry and the military (remember them?) that do not involve funding commercial contracts. What about the sort of basic research the NACA did in the 1920’s and 30’s? Isn’t that an appropriate role for NASA today? What about prizes like Centennial Challenges?

    There are other things the US government could do to promote commercial space development that don’t even involve NASA. Tax incentives, for example.

    Then there’s the military. The Chinese government is developing a military spaceplane. Maybe we should develop an equivalent capability?

    The Bush Administration never even considered those options when it was developing its “vision of space exploration,” and their VSE is so expensive that now there’s no money to consider anything else. The policy was developed by the NASA Old Guard, and no one else was invited to the table.

    With a new President (regardless of who that President is), there’s at least a chance that we could change that. There will undoubtedly be another policy review, and this time we must insist that all voices be heard.

    > I have yet to hear anyone give a thorough analysis encompassing all the aspects of the engineering, political
    > and budgetary reasons as to why the VSE is a bad idea.

    Whether it’s a bad idea depends on what your goals are. Do you want to see the United States spend hundreds of billions of dollars to replace the Shuttle with something that costs more and sends fewer people into space? Just so it can land a few astronauts on the Moon, collect a few rocks, plant a few instruments and plaques?

    Or should we try something new? You call yourself a “human spaceflight advocate.” Do we have human spaceflight, on any meaningful scale, today? Is there anything in the Bush Vision of Space Exploration that will give us human spaceflight on any meaningful scale?

    During the first decade of the Air Age, something like 16,000 people flew in airplanes (rounded to the nearest thousand). We’re entering the sixth decade of the Space Age, and how many people have flown in space? Rounded to the nearest thousand, the answer is zero.

    How many people will the Bush Vision of Space Exploration fly in the next 40 years? Rounded to the nearest thousand, the answer is still zero.

    Is that really the future you want to leave your children? A future in which NASA’s going to be laying off astronauts just so the few who are left can get cooler rides? What message does that send to all the children who were told to study math and science so they could go into space?

    Wouldn’t it be better to reduce the cost of spaceflight so NASA and industry and the military can send *lots* of people into space, not just to the Moon and Mars but to lots of destinations?

    Are we so afraid of trying anything new that we no longer believe in progress?

  37. Patchouli says:

    Well the way it looks we should kill the ares program now as with ares it’s all or nothing.
    Ares I by it’s self is pretty useless and a massive waste of tax dollars and does nothing the shuttle,EELVs,and Falcon 9 already can do with out wasting 10B and R&D.
    Ares V really is the big justification for building Ares I since it’s the test bed for Ares V.
    With out Ares V there is no reason to build Ares I and you might as well use just EELVs for the manned space program.
    The best move right now would be to switch to direct launcher and the Jupiter 120 as the CLV now.
    The Jupiter 120 has so much in common with the Jupiter 232 the cargo vehicle becomes a lot harder to kill in congress also the Jupiter 120 with it’s 50 ton plus payload is powerful enough to go to NEOs and the moon if it’s all we get.
    Second best move would be to kill all of VSE as we know it now and fund a COTS type competition for alternatives.

  38. Anon says:

    Rand,

    Read your history. Carter never signed it. Only two nations have signed it , but not ratified it, Guatemala, and Romania.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty

    Also don’t be to sure that some like Obama couldn’t talk them into as part of an “international” approach to exploring the Moon.

    In any case, stoping its ratification is not a battle we should have to fight again.

  39. Jim Hillhouse says:

    I have been involved in the aerospace business in one way or another since 1988 when I worked as an all-around grunt for NSS. So please, take this criticism in a constructive way.

    Your logic is at fault if you believe that having yet one more review of NASA’s path will be beneficial to our nation. If you have ever managed a project, you would know that constant re-adjustments to a project only increase cost and move back the date of completion. Can you remember the Clinton Administration’s review of Freedom? That little gem ended up giving us ISS along with the tie-in with the Russians that I think few then-proponents are happy with today.

    You seem to be of the opinion that NASA’s present course is ruinous to the future of space exploration. VSE is going as well as can be expected for a program that is underfunded. Since there is zero, zip reason to believe that Obama will increase, but a much more likely possibility that he will cut, VSE funding, how do you conclude that Obama is good for our space program? He is only going to cut space funding.

    Thus, you must believe that private enterprise is going to step in, that between Rutan, Elon Musk and Bigelow, our nation’s effort to return to the Moon will be saved. The problem here is that you don’t understand the differences, just as an example, between a re-entry at 6,000 mph cannon shot that was Spaceship One and 17,000 mph of LEO, much less 26,000 mph for the Moon. It took NASA a decade, some of our nation’s most brilliant peopl, and billions of dollars to get all of that down to a science. Why do you believe that these folks will be better than NASA was in the 1950’s and 1960’s? No, the above-mentioned three musketeers are not going to save the American manned space program.

    You have let your over zealousness for Obama cloud your judgement. Try to look at all of the candidate’s space positions dispassionately and you will see that voting for Obama today would have been like voting for Mondale in 1984 and Dukakis in 1988–a disaster for the manned program.

  40. kevin parkin says:

    hey andrew, was concerned at earlier comments but encouraged by yours. will think about what you say – I think people agree on the endpoints, but the hard part is how to get there. It’s up to Obama the advisors he chooses, but in my mind that is key.
    Kev

  41. PLEASE POST TO THE NEW COMMENT THREAD AT SPACEDEMOCRATS.ORG INSTEAD OF HERE. If you have previously posted a comment here, please feel free to repost it over there.

    Why? Because this is a fantastic discussion– I’ve learned a lot and also have a lot more to say to back up my viewpoint about Obama (coming up soon). However, it occurred to that this kind of vibrant discussion shouldn’t be happening on my personal blog as much as in a neutral space that everyone can contribute to as Democrats who care about space… So I created SpaceDemocrats.org today; I’ve reposted my original post over there, and invite you to continue the comment thread THERE instead of here.

    Please feel free to use SpaceDemocrats.org for your own advocacy of other space policy issues and other Democratic candidates as well.

    Thanks!

  42. Edward Wright says:

    > Your logic is at fault if you believe that having yet one more review of NASA’s path will be beneficial to our nation.

    Please don’t tell me what I “believe,” Jim.

    I do not assume anything about whether another review will be beneficial or not. I simply believe that there’s a chance it will. Any time there’s a change, there’s opportunity.

    If you’re afraid of change, well, you can for a Constitutional amendment that will allow the reelection of George W. Bush. I don’t think you’ll be successful.

    > If you have ever managed a project, you would know that constant re-adjustments to a project only increase cost
    > and move back the date of completion.

    I have managed projects, Jim, and worked on projects with some excellent managers.

    The best managers are constantly adjusting plans in response to new data and unexpected events. They don’t just mindlessly follow a plan laid down by someone like Von Braun fifty years ago. Constant change — “Thriving on Chaos” –is the key to success in modern business.

    Even NASA is embracing change, at the better-run centers like Ames.

    > You seem to be of the opinion that NASA’s present course is ruinous to the future of space exploration. VSE is going
    > as well as can be expected for a program that is underfunded.

    Every agency believes it is underfunded, Jim. That’s no excess for not spending the money you have in the efficient manner.

    If VSE can’t succeed with the amount of money NASA has, that’s not an argument for continuing with the current plan. It’s an argument for finding a plan that can be executed with the amount of money available.

    For example, Pete Worden once proposed that NASA should offer a ten-billion dollar prize for the first private company to put a base on the Moon.

    That is the kind of outside-the-box thinking NASA needs. It’s too bad Worden’s budget keeps getting cut because of VSE.

    If that’s too radical, NASA could simply cancel Ares and downsize Constellation slightly to fit on an Atlas or Delta. That would solve all of the budget problems without any major dislocations.

    > The problem here is that you don’t understand the differences, just as an example, between a re-entry at 6,000
    > mph cannon shot that was Spaceship One and 17,000 mph of LEO, much less 26,000 mph for the Moon.

    I understand the difference just fine, Jim. That sort of ad hominem attack is a sign that you can’t support your position with logical arguments.

    Just because there’s a difference doesn’t mean it is insurmountable, or that we should give up on any hope of doing anything significant or useful in space.

    DynaSoar would have flown at 17,000 mph, and that was 40 years ago. The prototype was about half finished when the project was cancelled. Technology has not regressed. If we could have done it then, we could certainly do it today.

    When McDonnell Douglas was working on DC-X. NASA said it would cost over a billion dollars. McDAC and SDIO did it for $60 million. Around the same time, NASA said it was impossible to do a planetary science mission for less than half a billion dollars, until the Celementine team did it for under $50 million. Later, Mike Griffin got over $100 million from NASA to build a suborbital vehicle (X-34) and failed. Burt Rutan got just $25 million from Paul Allen and succeeded.

    Those are examples of what can be done with outside-the-box thinking. It may scary thinking outside the box, but the box is not your friend.

    Since you invoke the name of NSS, I remember the first time SpaceShip One flew into space. The National Space Society was there handing out membership forms to everyone at the gate, and the NASA Administrator flew in just to give a speech as if NASA had something to do with it. I also believe the executive director of NSS works part time for Virgin Galactic, which is financing Rutan’s SpaceShip Two.

    So, I don’t understand why NSS members are still slagging off on SpaceShip One.

    > You have let your over zealousness for Obama cloud your judgement.

    I have no zealousness for Obama, Jim, let alone overzealousness. I am simply trying to look at things objectively.

  43. Edward Wright says:

    Sorry, Andrew, I didn’t realize this discussion was only for Democrats. I’ve tried to keep my comments nonpartisan. My apologies if I’ve committed a faux pas.

  44. No faux pas at all Edward– your comments are welcome and appreciated. I’m simply trying to move the discussion over to SpaceDemocrats.org because I do have an intention to have a didactic debate among people that are voting in Democratic Primaries. But everyone is welcome here and there, just as we’ll all be welcome to vote for whichever Party’s candidate we wish to when we go into the voting booth in November.

  45. Human Spaceflight Advocate says:

    Keith,

    If I understand your surly mentioning of powerpoint and pictures then I believe I understand your point. All too often spaceflight advocates promote emotion and empathy (inspiration, etc…) as the reasons for spaceflight. Wrong, you can’t sustain a space program on emotion and you certainly can’t justify spending $10B’s on it. 100 Words or less?

    It’s the same reasons that anyone has extended the reach of human civilization in history. In order to revitalize our stagnating philosophy by founding a new settlement built upon a foundation of our best ideals.

    And now that I’ve held up my end of the bargain, Keith will you answer a question for me? Why is a guy that runs a NASA news weblog seeking external advice on justification for the existance of human spaceflight? I’m being completely serious here, you run a fantastic site, always the first to press on NASA related news, but your consistently pessimistic tones have always puzzled me. Why subject yourself to something on a daily basis that you feel so negatively about? Or is just the simple altruistic inversion: bad news is fun?

  46. Hmmm– this blog post doesn’t tell me anything about Obama’s policies; it’s all about the author’s ideas for space policy. The mention of Obama, I presume, is so he can get attention. Because without mentioning Obama, nobody would care.

  47. Anon says:

    Geoffrey,

    The reason you don’t see much on Obama’s space policy here or anywhere is that in space, as in many other areas, he has no policy or track record, other then snipets from speech here and there on NASA wasting money.

    And since Obama has missed 1 in 5 votes in the Senate (one of worst records), and votes the party line 97% of the tine he does bother to vote, and since he has never been a co-sponsor on any space bill, unlike McCain and Clinton…. Well, I guess that says it all about what he thinks about space and its importance.

  48. Read your history. Carter never signed it.

    Well, Wikipedia doesn’t claim that Carter didn’t sign it, (and it’s not always the most accurate source). I had always thought that he had–it’s long been a mainstay of L-5 Society mythology.

    But in doing a search, I can’t find any evidence that he did, but abundant evidence that he would have if he could have gotten the Senate to ratify–the Carter administration was clearly in favor of it, and negotiated very hard to attempt to ameliorate the apparent implied proscription against private enterprise.

    In any event, I can’t imagine Obama persuading the Senate to ratify it under any circumstances. That really is one of the least of our concerns.

  49. VSE is going as well as can be expected for a program that is underfunded.

    Can I have some of whatever you are doing?

    That is a singularly uninformed statement.

    VSE and ESAS are unparalleled and unmitigated disasters.

  50. Jack Burton says:

    McCain is the best choice for NASA.
    That is pretty clear now.

    Hillary second, but kiss the moon goodbye.

    Obama? Kiss NASA goodbye.

  51. Pingback: Obama’s Space Policy Platform « GlobeHoppin

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