Shot across Constellation's bow

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vulture2

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The FAA already regulates commercial spaceflight; NASA is not a regulatory agency. Once it was an R&D agency. <br /><br />For NACA, industry was the customer. <br />For industry today, NASA is the customer. <br /><br />The role reversal could not be more complete. Yet Mr. Griffin has said that he sees no reason to use his budget to help industry develop new technology. One might hope he would read the history of his own agency.
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">But can we really maintain a permanent manned lunar base at a reasonable cost with the Constellation technology?</font>/i><br /><br />No.<br /><br /><i><font color="yellow">Does it make sense to burn our entire R&D budget flying missions?</font>/i><br /><br />No.<br /><br />With the current direction a NASA lunar base will enjoy the same broad support that STS+ISS does now -- which means pretty much close to zero. Just building and constructing STS+ISS has pretty much consumed all of NASA's manned budget for the last 35 years, and the only way to get money for a new vehicle (Ares *) and/or a new mission (the Moon) is by shutting down STS and then ISS.<br /><br />The same will be true for Ares+LunarBase. The only way to go to Mars (or any other mission) will be to shut one or both of these programs down for a number of years<br /><br />NASA doesn't have a good track record for transitioning to new spacecraft/missions. It seems that downtime for 5+ years will be their standard M.O.</i></i>
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">The same will be true for Ares+LunarBase</font>/i><br /><br />I should have added "<i>unless something changes</i>". By this, I mean serious introduction of commercial technology for bringing down costs of getting to/from the moon and/or serious commercial commitment to financially harvest the resources of the moon (PGM, He3, whatever).<br /><br />Another thing that could change is serious commitment to a manned Lunar or Mars program by other countries such as Russia, China, India, etc. This might prod Congress and the White House to seriously increase funding.</i>
 
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BReif

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Regarding sending a letter to your Representatives, Senators, Candidates, and the White House, THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. <br /><br />They need to know that there is support for Manned Space Flight out here, and that people do care. One ought to write every 3 months at the minimum, to constantly keep it in their minds. HSF is vital to the future of our nation, both in the sense of national security as well as economically. <br /><br />Moreover, I do not believe that we can rely on the private sector to "pick up the slack" from NASA, if HSF is canceled (which is a distinct possibility after the election, unfortunately (may I be wrong)). We need both government HSF programs, as well as private sector HSF programs, and they need to be complementary to one another. If NASA HSF dies, then the private sector HSF may well die with it.
 
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qso1

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The FAA already regulates commercial spaceflight; NASA is not a regulatory agency.<br /><br />Me:<br />Thats why I said "Becoming more of an FAA type agency that regulates commercial"...I know its not regulatory at the present time and whos to know if a decade from now that NASA won't be tasked with regulating commercial spaceflight? The alternative is to just hand the whole thing over to the FAA and that could happen too. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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ThereIWas:<br />Democrats already control Congress and they haven't canceled it yet.<br /><br />Me:<br />Thats because it has not become a high enough profile issue yet. Maybe Dems won't cancel it but its hard to imagine them not trying. After all, Barack Obama has just moved the visibility of NASA a notch higher by talking about cutting its budget in favor of education. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> The alternative is to just hand the whole thing over to the FAA and that could happen too.</i><br /><br />Actually that happened in the late 90s - FAA's AST (and the incredible Patricia Grace Smith) have regulatory authority over commercial space activity. NASA isn't equipped to be a regulator, especially since there is already a group set up to do it. Anything is possible in the future, but FAA is doing a great job now. <br /><br />This is the same reason that NASA won't be a US "Frontier Authority" - the organization and skill-sets are all wrong for it. <br /><br />Back to the topic - What does an educated populace do without actual projects to work on? Where does Obama think those children in his education program will work? Cutting part of US technical infrastructure away will only exacerbate the problem. If he wants to save money, cut some paperwork or bureaucracy. This is only because "NASA" has huge mind-share along with it's small budget.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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thereiwas

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"What does an educated populace do without actual projects to work on?"<br /><br />There are plenty of important projects to work on; just not in aerospace. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our communications technology (internet and cellphones) is years behind what other countries are using. We need a massive redesign of our transportation and electrical utility system. Catching up in these areas will require a lot of engineers.<br /><br />The old "space program spinoffs" justification doesn't hold up any more. We need these new Earthbound technologies in their own right and can't afford to wait until someone accidentally invents Teflon, or something like that. (That is an urban legend by the way - the inventor of Teflon was actually working on refrigerants.)
 
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juliemac

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My letter to Obama:<br />"You propose to cut back on NASA for education? OMG. I have a school age daughter, and I am worried about her schooling, where half the children do not even speak english? <br />Cutting back on the ONLY thing that the US can do is irresponcible and lacks forsight.<br /><br />We dont manufacture, we dont design, we dont assemble. All of that has been outsourced. What else is there for our children and the GNP?<br /><br />How do we make an income when we have nothing the outside world wants?<br /><br />We do make the best space systems. We do lead the world in that. We have rolled out new technologies and materials that are wanted around the world.<br /><br />Increase the amount NASA has to spend. Gather new materials and technologies that we can sell and balance the trade deficit. THAT will spark the interest of the children and give us a new HOME GROWN set of innovators and engineers."
 
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nimbus

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Don't use acronyms like OMG. Especialy not as pivotal parts of your arguments. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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j05h

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I'm not talking about spin-offs. I'm talking about space products that better people's lives. GPS is a good, cooperative, example, as are the commercial IKONOS satellites, never mind weather sats. New markets and products like space tourism services and destination-construction have the potential to truly open a new frontier. The HUGE mid-term space product is beamed power. More payloads means more employment in a burdgeoning aerospace sector and in ground-level devices and infrastructure - that is where new engineers/designers/assemblers would be needed. This is something the government can lead, follow or get out of the way on and it is up to the next president to make a difference. If he or she ignores space development and/or cancels ESAS/Constellation, that relegates the US government to robotic space access in an era of expanding human access. <br /><br />The problem with space development beyond flags-n-footprints is still the giggle factor - witness today's CNN/Youtube transcript with Tancredo and Huckabee dissing Mars or Constellation. <br /><br />It'd be nice to see a Mars-mission candidate but it won't happen. Newt Gingrich (despite his other problems) has suggested this as a political motivator. Whatever the government does, we as citizens/entrepreneurs need to focus on new payloads and new ways of utilizing outer space. That is the only way to make space development and an unlimited future happen.<br /><br />I agree that there are more important projects than space stuff in the sense of Constellation or ISS, but that is another strong argument for private space development. Space technology does have the potential to remedy massive Earthly issues, both material and electrical. It's not spin-offs, it's our next layer of infrastructure. In a US context it requires smart Americans in technical roles, deploying technologies that make a great difference to eveyone's lives. <br /><br />Regardless of political in-action, Mars can wait for the Elysium Bay Company.<br></br> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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spacester

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<font color="yellow">We dont manufacture, we dont design, we dont assemble. All of that has been outsourced. </font><br /><br />Say what? That is just not true. I'm a Manufacturing Engineer, and the job market has never been better. <br /><br />There has been a trend towards outsourcing, but's it's not as bad as all that. It's not good, I don't support it, but the demise of American Manufacturing has been greatly exaggerated.<br /><br />***<br /><br />Space Development needs to succeed on its own merits, and I have complete confidence it will.<br /><br />What the heck, I've said this for years, I'll say it again:<br /><br />All private spaceflight needs from the gummint to succeed is a stable regulatory environment, a level playing field, and maybe an anchor tenancy here and there. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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BReif

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Huckabee's answer was good; the rebuttal, WOW, we can't afford to go to Mars, or by extension (though he didn't say this but inferred it), to space at all... Why are politicians willing to sell out our future and our children and grand children's future in order to "save money" by cutting NASA, and killing our space program. The money still gets spent, its just wasted elsewhere, the return being that there isn't anything to inspire the nation or our youth any longer.
 
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Swampcat

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What I didn't hear in the rebuttal was any mention of the cost of war. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="3" color="#ff9900"><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>------------------------------------------------------------------- </em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong><em>"I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."</em></strong></font></p><p><font size="1" color="#993300"><strong>Thomas Jefferson</strong></font></p></font> </div>
 
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josh_simonson

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Most semiconductor parts (my field) are shipped overseas for assembly, but most of the orders themselves originate domestically. This means the white collar work, which is paid best, is staying here. There are greater barriers to entry into that area though - higher education is increasing in importance and that can leave a lot of folk SOL. Unemployment is low and GDP has been rising (though it might dip in the next year), I'd hardly call that a hollowed out economy. The same thing has happened in previous decades with sectors such as big steel. <br /><br />The falling dollar will be good for stemming the outsourcing tide, particularly with countries that aren't pegged such as India and Singapore.
 
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thor06

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I've moved away from the tech spin off argument for space exploration. Essentially if you wanted velcro it would have been a lot cheaper to develop it outright vs. building a space exploration system. Having said that, I'd like to assert that the "wow" factor cannot be understated. The best spin off is "space fever" i.e. many of our best scientists NASA and otherwise owe their love of science to Apollo.<br />I'll finish with what I think is the best reason for space exploration. The space program is the largest non military use of advanced tech. It is the most significant "good" thing we do, and it has the potential to change both the way we understand and manipulate the universe we all live in. Thoughts? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> <font color="#0000ff">                           www.watchnasatv.com</font></p><p>                          ONE PERCENT FOR NASA! </p> </div>
 
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thereiwas

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Velcro was actually invented in Switzerland in 1944. Tang was also marketed before NASA started using it (though it did not sell well until they got the added publicity). A lot of the things credited to "NASA spinoff" turn out to be apocryphal.<br /><br />I think breakthroughs in understanding and manipulating the universe we live in happens primarily in ground-based labs and through astronomy. Space-based <i>unmanned</i> telescopes.<br /><br />I am pretty sure the largest non-military use of advanced tech, at least by how many people benefit from it, is modern medicine and the Internet. (Like this, my favorite high-tech company.)
 
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thor06

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*sigh*....velcro was not a good example....k. I guessing you got my point though, not the best argument for space exploration. I certainly won't argue against robotic exploration if that's what you mean. I think the HST folks would beg to differ on the "unmanned" telescope, if you want to talk semantics. The "best thing we do with high tech" is subjective, so I respect your opinion but don't at all agree. The "wow" factor still stands. The public are generally unaware of some of my favorites Cassini, MRO, MER, etc. yet the launches, goings on, and landings of human spaceflight are at least in the news. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> <font color="#0000ff">                           www.watchnasatv.com</font></p><p>                          ONE PERCENT FOR NASA! </p> </div>
 
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cbased

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I think Internet was "invented" by DARPA so in a way it has military roots.<br />
 
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richalex

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The predecessor to the Internet was ARPAnet. As the name implies, it was an ARPA (later called DARPA) project. And, there is still a MilNet, the military's side of the Internet. But, much the same could be said of NASA. One reason the space shuttle has the design requirements it does is the military demanded them. NASA has never been a pure research organization.
 
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j05h

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None of these spin-off arguments asks the right question. Does the US government need a dedicated space access system? Are the coming commercial alternatives "good enough"? The LSAM is only around 25t empty. ELVs can handle that. Capsule-on-Delta is a great idea. Dragon-on-Delta has serious possibilities- TLI service modules, inflatable "houses", Dragon+SunDancer stacks. That would be a full interplanetary architecture using near-term and existing products.<br /><br />How do we create debate about space? That is a better question. Keith Cowing posted today about the lack of space organization attention to the youtube/cnn debate Q&A. This is a great opportunity to talk about space and space policy. <br /><br />"Space" may never win or lose an election, but it is Humanity's future. As posted above, there is still manufacturing in the US, and design, etc - this is a route to space, too. <br /><br />As far as the Internet and NASA being military in origin, Mark Pauline is quoted as saying "All technology is military technology." <br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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holmec

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>NASA has never been a pure research organization.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />??? Oh, then what else does it do?<br /><br />Exploration is research! Making new tech is research. ISS is all about research. <br /><br />Oh By the way in the 1990's, 75% of the internet routers were military owned and operated. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Does the US government need a dedicated space access system? Are the coming commercial alternatives "good enough"?<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />The way I see it, the comming commercial alternatives are a start but not enough. When they reach Ares V lift capabilities with low cost then they could really be in business and NASA could use their launchers. Not to mention commercial and other government customers. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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dragon04

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<font color="yellow">??? Oh, then what else does it do?</font><br /><br />It beats the USSR to the Moon, and provides the Military access to the "high ground".<br /><br />Exploration has always been an important <b>component</b> of NASA, but not its pure function.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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