There seems to be an impression that things will change dramatically under Obama's plan regarding the NASA/Contractor relationship. I beg to differ. NASA will still be the ones determining what "technologies" to pursue. This is no different than what is happening today. NASA gets the funds and doles it out to industry. Only today, there is a specific goal that private industry is tasked to achieve. Under Obama, the goal is nebulous. Yes, that could let private industry achieve wonders if they were truly allowed to be free to pursue what they thought the best technologies were, but NASA bureaucrats, and Congress, will still be telling companies exactly what to do. Anyone who doubts that really hasn't watched the Federal Gov't too closely for the past 50 years.
Anyone know who designed/built the Apollo capsules??? Take a guess. It wasn't NASA. It was McDonnell Douglas. Who designed/built the shuttles main engines??? It wasn't NASA. Try Rocketdyne. The Shuttle itself??? Rockwell. NASA doesn't design, build, or launch shit. They make a final go/nogo decision on launches after listening to the contractor system engineers, but thats about it.
I have no problem whatsoever with private industry taking over all aspects of spaceflight. I don't think we would have very much more spaceflight since there isnt much of a market, but I still have no problem with it.
Did anyone look at the proposed budget numbers??? NASA is getting $6 billion more over 5 years. That is enormous when you couple it with cancellation of Constellation. There will be billions of dollars awaiting the direction of NASA to distribute. Congressman will simply call up NASA and have them direct the funds to a campaign donor in their district to study some bullshit thing like ants sorting screws in space. There will be exactly zero accountability of the money. We all know this is how these types of fundings work. This is a 20 billion dollar slush fund.
Getting NASA out of the day to day space business is fine...however, they really arent in it now. Its all handled by contractors. Every last bit of it. There is no difference between what happens now as opposed to what will happen under Obama's plan. The only difference is that there is no overriding direction for the agency. What happens with government money if there is no controlling direction (authority)??? Anyone want to take a guess?
If there is to be a NASA, it needs that singular, inspiring direction else it will be a failure. Apollo worked for that reason. Shuttle and station failed for that same reason. Constellation's objective was to go to Mars. There were steps along the way, but that was its objective. Like it or not, Constellation was the right idea. The specific rocket might have been wrong, but that's beyond most folks's capabilities to ascertain until they actually start launching it.
I would rather see a total elimination of NASA than have one under the vague guidelines of the Obama plan. The tax money would be infinitely better kept in the hands of the public as opposed to doling out on the whims of congressman for any ole "technology" a constituent wants to pursueComment Posted By John Galt On 3.02.2010 @ 19:39
Another thing to keep in mind that every President since Bush the Elder has stated a prime goal of NASA is commercialization. Does anyone really think this time it will be better?
The only true market for space is launch services, and it is a limited one. If the gov't is "creating" a market by telling a private company to build a rocket to launch NASA astronauts, it isn't really a commercial endeavor and it is simply the way things are done now. Obama's "plan" is no change in that with the exception that there is no "big" program to define NASA.
That's all fine and good, but it will destroy the image of NASA in the public's eye (one of the few government agencies that still is viewed as positive by a majority of Americans). When that happens, NASA is finished. It will simply be another bureaucracy with a $20 billion/year price tag that doesn't do anything.
The debate should be if we should have a NASA at all. If so, it should be with the grand vision that inspires and cannot be done by private industry (Mars, Moon missions). Those kinds of missions develop new technologies to tackle the problems faced and those technologies have a great and varied application to the real world. Having the nebulous missions as Obama envisions leads to "technology" achievements such as learning if ants can be trained to sort screws in space (ht to The Simpsons).
NASA hasn't really crowded out commercial endeavors since Challenger, as stated by James. Commercial industries need few satellites and NASA stopped commercial satellite delivery after Challenger. Having the gov't stimulate private industry via Obama is no different that what has been the case since the creation of NASA.Comment Posted By John Galt On 1.02.2010 @ 21:20
Let me start out that I work within the current Space Program. I'm not a NASA employee…I work for a contractor of NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. I ready the Shuttle's for launch. I am also a fan of spaceflight in its many forms. This is important so everyone can see where I'm coming from.
I'm one of the few people in the space program that actually thinks the Shuttle and the Space Station were mistakes. I didn't in my younger days starting out there (of course), but after seeing how things are and learning how the programs were sold, I quickly changed my mind. When the shuttle was sold to Congress and the Nation, it was claimed to be able to launch 50 times a year and that ALL of the nation's satellites (government AND commercial) would be launched from it. This was the big mistake. When the government said it would launch ALL satellites, that greatly deterred true private enterprise from developing launch capabilities since there is now way one can compete with the government and unlimited money. As a result, our unmanned rocket fleet withered away. I firmly believe the shuttle program caused us to lose 20 years in space exploration. Similar arguments can be made against the space station, but there really isn't that much of a market for microgravity, at least none that is economically feasible enough for private industry to even think about entering. Launch services, however, there is definitely a marketplace and the shuttle ruined that because of its over-exaggerated claims.
Now, you might think I'm all for the new Obama "plan" for NASA. Lets look at it for a bit. The claim is that NASA will have a new direction that will be promoting commercialization of the space industry. Hmmm. OK. That needs to be addressed...
Currently, NASA itself does absolutely nothing right now. Contractors do all the work of designing vehicles, satellites, maintenance of the orbiters and launch site equipment, and launching the orbiters. What you say? NASA does nothing??? Yes, that is true. Well, that might be a bit harsh, they do develop requirements that a vehicle or spacecraft needs to meet, but the actual design is far beyond the NASA personnel's capabilities. If you were to work with some of the NASA folks that "oversee" my work, you would know how incredibly inept many are in the systems they sign off on.
So, today, NASA gets funding for a project and they "contract" that work out to "private" industry. Hmmm, seems kinda similar to what Obama is proposing. Today, Congress (and the Prez) define the projects on which NASA farms out to industry. These various satellites, space shuttles, stations, etc are all line items in congressional budgets. What will be the case in Obama's "plan"???
NASA will no longer have a defined direction. So, congress will no longer need to put line items into the budget for various missions. All the NASA money will go into generic line items such as "commercialization" or "r&D" etc and nothing specific. What do you suppose will happen to much of this money if its in non-specific categories??? Sounds like another bureaucratic slush fund to me.
Without a defined direction, NASA becomes simply another bureaucratic black hole. Nothing will be produced and even more money will get wasted and given to powerful congressional "friends". Sure, private industry will still launch rockets with telecom satellites on them, but they do it now. Private industry might create a crew capsule to launch on a current unmanned Atlas or Delta rocket if NASA gives them the money to do it, but how is that different than the way NASA currently contracts to a private industry to develop the Obama-killed Orion spacecraft?
I believe this is the first step towards killing the space program. Sure, additional funding is being added to NASA's budget, but the launch of the big rockets is not there any longer. Seems like NASA is getting more money to do less. Hmmm, what will the public think of that? What will the public think of all that money being sucked up by NASA and NASA isn't even launching anything? I think that answer is obvious. Public support will inevitably wither away and Obama will accomplish something that he mentioned during the primaries. To paraphrase "I would eliminate NASA's funding and give it to education". Only, this current "plan" gives the appearance of support due to extra funding, while setting the stage for the public to become totally disinterested.
Killing the space program might be fine, believe me, I understand how bad the government runs it right now. But, the gov't will still be running it under Obama's plan. Private industry will not invest their own capital into manned space flight if the gov't is giving them some money to do so anyway. We won't see any truly private endeavors until Richard Branson get get some hookers up to Virgin's Hotel Galactica and he's well on the way to doing that now without ANY gov't assistance.
What made the space program work in the past was that NASA had a clear, defined goal to solve a specific problem…get a man to the moon. Problems had to be solved and technology was developed to solve specific problems. Those technologies went on to benefit private industry in a plethora of ways and quite possibly paid for their development thru increasing GDP thru the years. NASA lost its way with the shuttle and station because there was no longer a clear defined goal. They always had the nebulous "create new technologies" or "perform r&d" type things. As a result, they never lived up to their potentials.
Obama's "vision" repeats those same mistakes. His only vision is NASA should develop some vague technologies without a true use for that technology. There is no defined direction. He says the future will use the technology. Great. I'm sure that will be true to some extent. But it doesn't capture the imagination, and without that, NASA is dead. It will lose public support. Without the pure and simple goal, NASA will end up wasting its billions each year pursuing the pipe dreams of individual congressman or executive. Those pipe dreams will never be listed in the congressional budgets. All will be done at the discretion of the executive and NASA bureaucracy and the people will have even less influence.
Sorry if this rambles a bit. But I disagree this is the right direction for NASA. I think it is NASA's death knell. There is an arguable point that NASA should be killed and I won't debate that. NASA should do basic reasearch, but that research is best developed by having a simple goal to achieve. This budget gives NASA more money to do less and it will be completely uninspiring to the youth of today.Comment Posted By John Galt On 1.02.2010 @ 17:37
This is a post on flu vaccines, but I feel I must address Katrina in my own way...
In a world of finite resources, those resources cannot go everywhere. Anyone disagree? OK, after Katrina passed, New Orleans appeared unscathed. Good Ole Shep Smith was reporting from a pristine Bourbon Street afterall. Mississippi, however, was decimated. Now, if I have finite resources (National Guard, bottled water, food, etc) where do I send them in the immediate aftermath of the storm? New Orleans, which was unscathed??? Somehow I think what was left of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi might have been a little pissed at that. The levees broke after the storm had passed. The initial resources of the Federal Gov't went first to where they were needed the most...Mississippi. It takes a little time to write the orders, assemble extra guardsmen and send them to New Orleans. It doesn't help when the Governor of Louisiana doesn't sign over the LA Guard to the national effort. Could things have been done better? Of course, but to paraphrase Rick, this is the government after all. This was an event of near biblical proportions that our nation has never seen before. Well, except maybe early in the century in Galveston, or maybe the Chicago fire, you know, disasters in which the cities recovered without federal help. I lived in New Orleans for 4 years. I love the town. Lotta fun there. But, it is a city built in a sinking bowl. Shit is going to happen there regardless of who has the reigns of power in Washington.
As far as the flu vaccine situation. 100% agree with Rick. I only blame Obama in the way the Democrats blamed Bush...for political reasons instead of actual reasons. No matter how one might wish it, the Federal government can't do shit about creating things.Comment Posted By John Galt On 26.10.2009 @ 17:17
The bowing down was a bit of a joke relating to Bambi's bowing down to the Saudi King. Sorry, I thought that would have been obvious.Comment Posted By John Galt On 26.10.2009 @ 06:35
You're right, I probably should've said "Arabs" instead of "Muslims".Comment Posted By John Galt On 25.10.2009 @ 20:20
Do you honestly believe that Al Qaeda did all their planning and training for 9/11 during the first 8 months of the Bush administration? Please answer honestly. I'm guessing WTC bombing #1, the Khobar Towers, and The Cole had nothing to do with terrorists ambitions either. I'm sure all of that was due to George Bush and the evil Republicans stupidity on foreign policy as well.
As for the Republicans "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" on "healthcare"...GOD I HOPE SO!!! Pretty amazing feat since not a single Republican is necessary for passage.
I'm as conservative, libertarian, Constitutionalist, Federalist, and any other "right-wing" name that you could possibly give. But yet, I can see the faults that the greatest President in a century has and will admit to them. Maybe because I'm not a Republican. Never have been, probably never will be. What's your excuse for kissing and wiping the ass of the Democrats?Comment Posted By John Galt On 25.10.2009 @ 19:45
That would be Reagan. And yes, that was a mistake on his part. So, does that make it right to ignore who did it? Does that make it right to bow before the Muslims today? Should it be totally forgotten since the greatest President in over 100 years made a mistake?
I'm surprised Rick is surprised that Bambi didn't mention Hezbollah in his speech. Its par for the course. No one is at fault except the mean ole USA.Comment Posted By John Galt On 25.10.2009 @ 15:13
I like the idea of turning Arizona into a solar plant. We wouldn't have to deal with John McCain as a senator anymore.Comment Posted By John Galt On 24.10.2009 @ 17:08
TMLutas Said: "the nazi right" ???
The Nazis (German National Socialist Workers Party) are a left-based government. Not right. As is the case for all statist governments.
The "right" is anarchy. The "left" is tyranny. The more government control a system has, the further to the left on the line it is.Comment Posted By John Galt On 14.10.2009 @ 15:52