Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Eve of Announcement

So Obama will be giving a speech tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center, and it appears that a small amount of back peddling is underway as politicians scrap and fight to do what they can to "save" space...more like save their jobs from pissed voters.

I think it would be more prudent to base all decisions regarding human space exploration not on what makes Florida happy, ergo Florida voters, but what's in the best interest of the longevity of human space exploration and the advanced technology it develops, our passion and desire to learn and do complex things, and our ability to pass that spark to future generations who will, without question, be the ones who implement and drive the bus.

So let me see if I get this right:

1. Orion is back in a light form to act as the ferryboat for the ISS. Didn't we have CRV (X-38) on the table for this? And CRV was canceled in 2002

2. The new system does nothing beyond LEO. How nice...more laps around the same track.

3. It looks like Lockheed makes out rather well in all this. I wonder how much their lobbyists got paid for pulling this one off?

4. NASA is going to put serious focus on R&D for beyond LEO operations. Okay, as long as there is a good amount of 'D' being done and not just a bunch of 'R'.

5. And just how do we get our own people up there to use this lifeboat (if necessary) in the first place? Build the lifeboat, then the crew launcher? Or, what's missing in the data, are we relying completely on SpaceX ET AL for that bit? Which is fine by me, but just not stated.

What we have here is a supreme failure to announce a mission, a mission with substance, drive, passion and goals. I am getting very sick and tired of lawyers and bankers determining my fate, my future, the future of humanity and the future of space exploration.

I am getting sick and tired of people who don't have a clue about anything regarding space to be the ones who dictate how space is funded, what we do there, and hold the strings of who's put in charge.

I am getting sick and tired of risk averse pansies who don't have the courage to step up and announce that space is difficult...duh...but vastly rewarding, and every astronaut or person who wants to go into space is well aware and fully accepting of the challenges. BRING IT ON!

But oh, someone might get hurt. PEOPLE DIE BY THE THOUSANDS ANNUALLY IN CAR ACCIDENTS, YOU IDIOTS!!! Do you see Congress regulating that sector as they do space? In fact, I'm sure you can come up with many other things that are far more dangerous and deadly than what we've experienced in space exploration.

When is enough enough? When do we step up and demand better? When do we elect better (not that we really have a choice with who we're presented with, do we)? Will we EVER be educated enough to understand how damn important things like this are, and how completely incompetent the people are that we put in charge? All the while we struggle to survive daily, our world view so narrowly focused on just making it through the week.

THIS is why we are in need of a system change. We're being herded, blinded and led by jackasses whose personal political and financial interests trump common sense, reason and logic...oh yeah, and OUR interests and survival without stress or dominance from controllable forces.

Vision, focus and clarity would be nice right about now, something that inspires...not just placates.


Anonymous said...

When do we elect better? When we realize that a donkey and an elephant ARE NOT representative of the American People at large.

yeah, it may seem like a throw-away vote.. but in my opinion, a vote for anyone other than a democrat or republican is a vote of no confidence to the political parties in power.

I will not be voting democrat or republican over the next few years. If there is a candiate, any candidate that isn't in one of these two parties, I'll vote for them.

This 'third-party' candidate may not be someone I agree with or really believe in, but I know enough to know I don't have any faith in the democrats or the republicans.

They've devolved into the party that exists to oppose the other. That's the jist of their parties entire platform.

Americans just keep flip-flopping between them. We were unimpressed with the Republican handling of things, so we voted Democrat. We're no happier with the Democrats this time around than we were the last time they were in control, so we'll be voting republican come November.

Its a pattern that serves only to stagnate our nation as each side rises to power, wastes time and money undoing the previous regime's work, all so we can flip-flop to the other party in two-to-four years.

If people want to send a real message to Washington, they'll vote against the two-party-system by voting anything but democrat or republican.

I think it would be a big wakeup call for everyone. It might suck for a few years if we ended up with nut-jobs from fringe third-parties, but once those terms end, we should hopefully see some viable candidates we can get behind because of what they stand for, not because they belong to the other party not currently in control of the country.

Douglas Mallette said...

Oh I think we need to go even further than that, but I want to keep this article focused on space as much as possible. :)

You can read several Feb. & March articles that shows my thinking on a real and workable future, and it is NOTHING like the nonsense we're employing today.

Jim_LAX said...

I don't always agree with your ideas, but I think you hit this one 100% on the head.
I see a pattern here in Obama's approach to space: Without any deep understanding of the importance of space to the country or of the consequences of his space-related decisions he just runs something up the flag pole (anything will do here). When it gets shot full of holes he re-designes the flag and tries again. This does not bode well for such an important element in our nation. Without understanding there can be no clear vision: Sounds like a "Flexible Path" to me!

rack88 said...

Douglas, just want to clarify, it sounds like the plan is to human-rate existing vehicles (Atlas, Delta, Falcon 9) and launch the Orion capsule using those.

Douglas Mallette said...

rack88 - Right, the EELV man rate approach. Still no real mission though.

Tim Erney said...

Come on Doug, don't hold back now. LOL. Totally agree. Thanks for chiming in at my new digs, btw. Got my mojo back from being inspired by folks like you.


windbourne said...

Sorry doug, but I think that you have this wrong. I truely understand your frustration, but I really believe that you missed the nail.

First, I want to say that neither Obama nor Bolden have laid out exactly what would happen or the new goals. All that was said was that CONSTELLATION WAS dead. In addition, the big dead point on this, was Ares, not orion. In fact, I had the sense that Orion was up for grabs all along.

1) The question should be asked not why was CRV discontinued, but why is Orion being restored?
The simple answer is that NASA will help fund PART of the private space human rated systems. They did it for COTS with SpaceX and OSC. Now, they are wanting to do it for L-Mart, Boeing, and ULA. Ideally, NASA wants 3-4 human rated launch vehicles and multiple human rated capsules, space planes that can be used in various configurations.
The lifeboat is not about getting a CRV replacement, but about getting L-Mart started on a human rated systems.

2) see (1)

3) see (1). Also, is it a good thing for L-mart? Obviously. But we will also shortly hear that Boeing/ULA are going to get help with their systems.
All that is required is for them to ALSO kick in money.

4) I think that is what they want. Up front, they want more R on things like Engines. OTH, they want more D on things like tug/fuel depot, though several others pointed out that R is needed for the fuel depot.

5)Actually, with the Russian seats, we could put more ppl on the space station, and leave them there longer assuming that we have an escape vehicle there. So, I would not be surprised to see us bump up the ppl on the ISS once we have an escape vehicle there on our port.

I DO agree about the lack of mission. We NEED to have a goal set. Personally, I think that regardless of what NASA does, that private space will go to the moon. If NASA helps private space get established quickly, then private space will get there that much quicker.

I also agree about the lack of taking risks. That is a big mistake for the west. It is with risks that we have set backs, but also move forward.

But, the question is, how do we deal with it?
So far, the SHORTEST down time in NASA was 9 months for Apollo one at the height of the cold war. With Challenger and Columbia, we were down for several years. So, how do we avoid this problem?
By having multiple vehicles for carrying humans and the same for cargo. Basically, there will ALWAYS be accidents. There is ZERO chance of avoiding these 100%. HOWEVER, if we have multiple different systems, then we can avoid the downtime that we suffer from loads of congressional reports.

Finally, what is missing is what I HOPE Obama will speak about. I HOPE that Obama will speak about Bigelow and Ad Astra. The more important one is Bigelow. We need to get all of the launch systems to not depend on the gov for their money. Once we have multiple BA space stations up there with multiple customers (i.e. nations and businesses), THEN we will see launch prices drop.

RJSNAP123 said...

Face it man, offshore banks and wall street run our country and their man is the president now.

As for standing up, I'm with you 100%. If we were truly serious and put major effort in our space program we could honestly drop the unemployment rate a good 5 percent or mabye even more. It would make a ripple effect to non-space business and jobs would be created across the board.

Unfortunately there are too many sheeple, yuppies, or whatever term you call the brain dead idiots that make up the majority of our dying republic that only care about if their sports team won or who got kicked of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

That combined with a ruling class that only cares about if it benefits them or not and that isn't a real good recipe for advancing the space program.

Do a web search for "neo-feudalism" and it will give you a idea where we are headed unless we do stand up.

One side note: Love your blog, keep up the good work

Douglas Mallette said...

Windbourne - Boeing has already ponied up 18 million for their system. I know, I work with Boeing people and they're all talking about how L-Mart is getting a sweetheart deal. In fact, we had a talk about it today. I'd like to see what Boeing might get.

As for R&D, I just don't want it to turn into a cyclical bunch of wheel spinning crap. Research just to do research and no hard systems developed that use it.

And that's my problem, NO plan has been laid out. No direction. What is it, built it and they will come? Space doesn't work like that, you know it.

Sadly, I don't think launch prices will ever drop enough, unless we develop anti-gravity drives. Money is ruining space, even though space is waiting right there for us. Time for 21 century economic systems to govern the future of the human race, not 1st century ones.

RJSNAP123 - I'm well aware of neo-feudalism and completely agree. Thus why I like the Venus Project so much. I truly believe its the best answer for the 21st century and least until something better is developed...for life on Earth and exploration off it.

Marcel F. Williams said...

Obama has caved in to the anti-manned spaceflight fringe of the Democratic Party! You know the "with all of the money we're spending in space, we could feed the poor" bunch! Ironically, they've been conspiring with the 'anti-government'Republican bunch (starting with Nixon) for decades to limit NASA's ability to do anything of importance.

And now they've found their perfect solution to what they believe are silly manned expenditures in space: "Just let private industry do it!"

That's like people telling Thomas Jefferson that if the Louisiana territories are so valuable, why don't we just let private industry pay Napoleon for it! Why should the tax payers have to buy it!

If Congress and the American people fall for this 'No path' space program then we deserve the economic, political, and strategic consequences of our decision.

Stryse said...

I'm definitely on board with having multiple systems to get American astronauts into space. Both to the ISS and beyond.

As much as I am a fan of the Shuttle, it is kind of sad that we've had to rely solely on it for so long. We've suffered as a result. When we lost Challenger, we were grounded. When we lost Columbia, we were grounded again. Soon we'll be retiring the three we have left, and be grounded yet again. (Except of course we'll just pay someone else to launch us... but what happens the next time that US/Russia relations sour?)