Archive for the ‘NASA’ Category

Goals Without Resources Means Failure

An outstanding five-minute read on why NASA will again fail to meet expectations.  The article is by Rand Simberg writing for Popular Mechanics.

What’s so great about the story?

First, it provides some useful back-story on NASA’s sorry state of affairs.

Next, it highlights the importance of the administration working with the Congress, especially regarding major conceptual redirects.

Third, it gives an excellent recap of where the NASA-relevant legislation now stands.

Fourth–as far as I could tell–it agrees with everything I agree with

Great work!

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin supports many of the principles the administration has called for regarding NASA and he’s given some thought on how to move the nation forward in space.

Mr. Aldrin identifies a number of important ideas, but IMHO the three most important goals he calls for include 1) an increased presence and use of commercial space, 2) manned missions beyond low earth orbit, and 3) unlocking the economic/scientific promise of space.

Included in his proposal would be an Executive Order leading to a man-rated EELV.  Of course just such a gap-filler this has been considered (by many) and rejected (by NASA) in the past as not meeting their needs.

Now the needs have changed and massive programmatic whipsawing is occurring.  The challenge will be in generating administration, NASA, and Congressional enthusiasm for a man-rated EELV.

BTW, haven’t we pretty fully explored low earth orbit?

Senate authorizers have taken the administration’s etch-a-sketch for NASA, turned it upside down, and shaken (not stirred) violently.

Granted it’s only an authorization bill and it hasn’t been sent to the full Senate, reconciled, or signed into law.  However…it will have legs.

The biggest deal in the near-years is it halves the Obama request for commercial space.

The NASA Administrator drawing fire for his statement regarding the importance of NASA’s ‘mission of Muslim outreach’ has been circulating for several weeks.

But based on this link, the administration has known about/embraced the outreach mission for some time even though that ‘mission’ was rebuked by the White House Press Secretary just this week.

Similarly, this Orlando Sentinel post from February 2010 is very clear, although the Sentinel post doesn’t address the level of importance Bolden would later ascribe to Muslim outreach in his Al-Jazeera interview.

When NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said (possible) directive number one from the President was to “find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering” he probably had little feel for the space-storm his comments would cause.

As Dan Rather observed, the camera, even if its al-Jazeera, never blinks.

Now the White House has, er, sought to clarify Bolden’s statement though a disavowal.

The disavowal/distancing still doesn’t explain the Bolden’s original comment.

John Logsdon, writing at Space News, has a profound and truly excellent guest blog.  The crux: Apollo was great, but can we put it behind us?

Among the highlights:

The administration’s incoherent defense of NASA’s current vision…whatever it is.  You could go on to say this has been exasperated most recently by the Administrator’s comments as addressed here and elsewhere.

Apollo–it was to beat the Russians to the Moon and was not a vision for space exploration.  Holding on the stunt-mentality of the Apollo era (“let’s see Ivan try and do that!”) is a stumbling block to doing more–that’s of more value–in space.

Milestones are needed.  Without these, there is little urgency.  Likewise, without them, funding will tend to slide to the right and that means tomorrow never comes.

Great work by Dr. Logsdon!!

As Blue Oyster Cult has taught us, seasons don’t fear the reaper.  Nor, it would appear, does the space shuttle or government programs in general.  Can a thing be undead?

I’m shocked, shocked to learn that the shuttle is being extended into Fy11.

Read all about it from the stud-muffins at Spaceflight Now.