Congress passes NASA authorization bill, but I'd rather watch sausages being made

By Phil Plait | September 30, 2010 7:42 am

NASA logoI just finished watching the members of the U.S. House of Representatives debate the NASA authorization bill. The bill was passed, and I’m glad, but that was a sickening debate.

I watched the speeches live on C-SPAN. Many Representatives of both parties didn’t like parts of the bill, but felt it was important to pass it. I agree; I have reservations with it as well. However, most of this bill is just fine, and hits the right notes.

Not everyone agreed. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) strongly opposed the bill, for example (interestingly, she’s Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and her husband and brother-in-law are astronauts). She apparently is one of the few people still holding onto the idea that we should continue to work on the Constellation rocket system which will be defunded with this bill. I disagree with her on that quite strongly (see below).

She did make some good points, things I myself said in my earlier post. For example, the bill is too specific in what kind of rocket should succeed the Shuttle. That’s not for Congress to decide; they should make broader goals that align with what NASA wants to do, and then allow NASA engineers to make the system. Of course, there was consulting with NASA on the bill, but the bill itself shouldn’t go into details like that. Anyway, despite that, I strongly disagree with Rep. Giffords that this bill should have been voted down.

What really galled me, though, was that several Republicans blamed President Obama for NASA’s current mess, including Ralph Hall (R-TX, remember him?). This is grossly and demonstrably unfair and untrue. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) hammered over and again the idea that Obama is trying to kill the manned space program. That is not true, and in fact the current situation (including the five year gap between the Shuttle and any follow-on rocket system) started in the Bush Administration. Constellation has been in trouble for some time, behind schedule and over-budget. I’m of the opinion that Obama’s plan to defund Constellation does not kill the manned space program as Culberson said it will. I have written about this repeatedly: far from killing it, this new direction may save NASA from the mess it finds itself in right now.

What’s weird is how Culberson used the bogeyman of Obama to try to gain sympathy for the bill, saying that a yes vote on the bill would stop Obama’s plan to dismantle NASA. I find that odd, as much of the bill aligns with Obama’s plan for NASA, including defunding Constellation and promoting a new rocket system*. Moreover, I want to point out that Obama’s plan, and this bill, funds private space concerns (like SpaceX, which is preparing to launch its Falcon 9 rocket which will be man-rated and capable of flights to the space station). You’d think Republicans would support this, as they have a mantra of privatizing health care, social security, and so many other government efforts. However, many Republicans don’t like private space companies. An exception I must note was Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who spoke up about funding private space efforts and how important it is. On most issues he and I disagree strongly, but on this one we agree.

uscapitolWatching the speeches on this bill (and others that came after while I waited for the votes to be counted) was certainly a lesson for me. I saw Representatives stand on the Floor and say things that were breathtakingly untrue. Of course I know this happens all the time, but to see it myself, and see it over something that concerns me immensely, made the breadth of the purely political maneuvering visceral.

If anything, watching this awful display will make me pay even more attention to what’s going on in Congress. It’s an election year, and the rhetoric will be dialed up for sure. We all must be on our toes.

Again, I’m glad the bill was passed. I just wish it had been done in a more noble way.



* I’ll note that while the new bill appears to me to align with much of what Obama wants, not all of it does. However, reading through it is difficult, as much of the language is in Congress-speak and confusing. Since I’m not an expert, I’m willing to entertain discussion of this in the comments. Where does the bill diverge from Obama’s plan? Besides some specifics (like rocket design) how does it modify Obama’s proposed NASA plan?


Related posts:

- Akin breakin’ heart
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) disses private space
- BREAKING: House to vote on Senate NASA bill WEDNESDAY
- Followup: Rep. Ralph Hall’s unbelievable statement on science funding bill


CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (93)

Links to this Post

  1. Quick Links | A Blog Around The Clock | October 1, 2010
  2. The Value of NASA | Skywatcherz.com | May 17, 2011
  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) strongly opposed the bill, for example (interestingly, she’s Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and her husband and brother-in-law are astronauts). She apparently is one of the few people still holding onto the idea that we should continue to work on the Constellation rocket system which will be defunded with this bill.

    Her … & Neil Armstrong & former Apollo Flight Director Chris Kraft & Jim Lovell & many other Apollo astronauts and other astronauts and space lobby experts and many, many more. Incl. me natch.

    So Constellation is now officially dead and with it the capability of NASA to put astronauts into space aboard its own rockets. “Gosh-Durnnit” is far, *far*, too mild a word to use but the BA wouldn’t let me type what my initial reaction is here. (Hint : swearing.)

    This is a very sad day indeed. :-(

    Obama has just killed NASA’s human spaceflight future – & Congress has just colluded in that. Shame! :-(

  2. Messier Tidy Upper

    What the ..?! This post wasn’t supposed to be made. Accidental duplicate deleted. Sorry folks. :-(

  3. John

    One major issue with the bill is that it aims to cut some NASA funding for STEM. That got some of the no votes yesterday.

    The extension of the shuttle funding + the requirement that some shuttle tech be in the heavy lift vehicle is also a divergence from the Obama plan.

    The major point to remember, however, is that this is an authorization bill, not the actual appropriations one. That’s the one that is the final word on money.

  4. Messier Tidy Upper

    Source for Neil Armstrong and Chris Kraft’s opposition :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/28/breaking-house-to-vote-on-senate-nasa-bill-wednesday/#comment-310421

    as I noted before.

    Wonder what Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Chris Kraft are saying as they hear about this. Bet it isn’t complimentary about Obama and his short-sighted, weak-kneed, pathetic space policy.

  5. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper – repeating something ad naseum doesn’t make it true. NASA was losing this capability with or without Obama’s proposal. But it doesn’t need to own & operate something that should become routine.

    NASA’s human spaceflight future is alive and intact, and has a better shot now of doing great things.

    Wait for the first human launch of the CST-100, or Dragon, or Dreamchaser.

  6. My 8th grade Earth and Space Science class is having a debate about the point of space exploration and astronomy. If there are any astronomers out there that would like to chime in about why we should (or shouldn’t) spend money to explore space, please contact me. My students have been writing out questions and hope to find astronomers/astrophysicists/astronauts to answer them. Thanks! : )

  7. @Messier: Did you even read what Phil wrote? Or did you just see the headline and spout the republican BS party line?

  8. Ken

    It’s the best Bill we could get at this time, so it is very good it passed. The move to private transportation will be difficult for some people but it is necessary and is about time!

  9. Oli

    Why is human spaceflight such a big deal? I’d much rather have Uranus and Neptune orbiters and a probe headed for Sedna than humans on Mars or the Moon.

  10. Messier Tidy Upper

    @^ drksky : Yes, of course I read what Phil wrote. I just totally disagree with him on this issue.

    I have a lot of respect for the BA and I love his blog but in this case he is plain wrong.

    I’m with Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Chris Kraft and many others who also oppose Obama’s plan. Do you think the BA, smart as he undoubtedly is, knows better than all of them – really?

    @ 5. Ferris Valyn :

    repeating something ad naseum doesn’t make it true.

    D’uh! But what do you think I have specifically said or repeated that isn’t true?

    Arnmstrong is opposed to this – he has spoken out against Constellation‘s cancellation publicly which is incredibly significant given how Armstrong otherwise hardly ever speaks publicly.

    Ditto the others. I’ve backed up what I’ve said with considerable evidence & now I’m getting called a “troll” for it. :roll:

    Or did you just see the headline and spout the republican BS party line?

    I’m NOT a Republican. I don’t always or even usually agree with them either.

    I’m living on a different continent altogether but if I could’ve voted for the US presidency in 2008 I would’ve voted Obama over Mr “can’t telltehdifference between planetariums & overhead projectors” McCain and Sarah “Ctreationist” Palin.

    I am a huge fan of the Apollo program & I think the Moon-landings were the gretaest thing Humanity – let alone just the USA has ever accomplished.

    I was looking forward to seeing Constellation fly and get funded properly and I fully expected that would be Obama would do that even if he added (NOT subtracted) successor programs to it. I feel Obama has betrayed the space lobby by scrapping Constellation & wrought enormous damage not just to the US of A but the whole Western world too.

    I don’t think this is something we should let slip by quietly either.

    I hope Space-X and tehothers suceed.

  11. Jamie Mueller

    I’ll second that! Mmmmmm sausage!

  12. Andrew Crisp

    First time poster here, and I’d like to say “yay” for the bill being passed.

    I wanted to make an observation re: Armstrong vs. Obama. As I understand it, Niel Armstrong effectively vanished from sight after his historic moonshot – I remember the 30th and 35th anniversaries had speculation on if Armstrong would emerge to say anything about that great moment. This leads me to wonder if Armstrong is acting on anything more than simple patriotism (which, IMHO, is a pretty poor foundation on which to critique government policy).

    Buzz Aldrin, on the other hand, has been pretty active in space advocacy since the late 1980s, and thus (to me at least) is better equipped to judge the merits and faults of the Obama plan. I understand he is strongly in favor of Obama’s effort to fix NASA.

    As for Constellation itself…

    When I heard the Ares rocket would be using the Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster as a first stage I did a facepalm. I know the Shuttle has had a good track record with them, but honestly, if you can’t shut an engine OFF when things go wonky, it’s not a good engine. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 design (and kudos on its first test launch being such a smashing success last May) with 9 chemical engines on the first stage is much safer (and something of a “spiritual” successor to the Saturn V – playing up the similarities between Falcon 9 and the Rocket That Took Americans To The Moon ought to be a huge PR success).

    Further, as I said, SpaceX has already had a successful test launch of it’s man-rated rocket, while the Ares I-X launch was riddled with problems. Sure, you could spend a lot of time and money fixing those problems, but… well, why re-invent the wheel? NASA might save a lot of money by buying launch vehicles from SpaceX (and other companies when they get going) – which means more money for other programs (humans on Mars, unmanned probes to the planets, etc) in the long run.

    Just my two cents on the issue. All errors are my own.

  13. Jerry

    Just to set the record straight…..the space program has been privatized/commercialized long ago…..USA, Lockheed, Boeing, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and ATK….are selling stocks today ????

    As far as I know…NASA doesn’t make any of the systems on the shuttle or space station and went commercial long ago?????

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Jerry : NASA may not make the Space Shuttle (etc..) but they certainly are in charge of flying it. It is their logo on the bird and them in charge.

    ——-
    SIGH. Need more editing time here.
    —–

    My reply at # 11 was to #6. drksky natch.

    Or did you just see the headline and spout the republican BS party line?

    I’m NOT a Republican. I don’t always or even usually agree with them either.

    I’m living on a different continent altogether but if I could’ve voted for the US presidency in 2008 I would’ve voted Obama over Mr “Can’t tell the difference between planetariums & overhead projectors” McCain and Sarah “Creationist nutter” Palin.

    But seeing Obama as the lesser of two evils doesn’t make me a fan of his or blind to his many flaws either & I think there are many areas of concern with him. In an alternative universe somewhere, Hillary Clinton is making a much better US President than Obama ever will be.

    I am a huge fan of the Apollo program & I think the Moon-landings were the greatest thing Humanity – let alone just the USA – has ever accomplished.

    I was looking forward to seeing Constellation fly and get funded properly and I fully expected that would be what Obama would do even if he added (NOT subtracted) successor programs to it. I feel Obama has betrayed the space lobby by scrapping Constellation & has now wrought enormous damage not just to the US of A but the whole Western world too.

    I don’t think this is something we should let slip by quietly.

    I sure hope that Space-X and the other private companies succeed – they gosh-danged better now hadn’t they?

    However, I wish NASA was up there doing its job for the Public’s sake – & Science’s too. They won’t be now.

    I know G. W. Bush didn’t fund Constellation properly, I know NASA’s situation can’t be entirely pinned on Obama – but the buck does stop with him. I blame Bush for not funding Constellation adequately and other past presidents for their failures to get NASA going more too. But that’s ultimately irrelevant to this.

    Obama had a choice – choose to fix Constellation (& NASA’s plight more broadly) or choose to scrap it. He chose scrapping not fixing. Giving up because doing what JFK called the hard things” was too hard & too expensive. When instead he should have said “Yes we can fix Constellation and fly it – just like we did fix and suceed with Apollo & with the Hubble Space observatory too!”

    Obama chose poorly.
    I fear we will all suffer badly for Obama’s poor decisions here well after his one term has ended and he has deservedly faded into obscurity.

  15. Wayne on the plains

    @6 Ms Abney,

    I would be happy to help, but I can’t find a contact address for you at the link you provided.

  16. Jeff in Tucson

    @Messier – Name dropping isn’t the most successful way to get your point across in any debate. I like Neil Armstrong too–he’s a smart guy, a national hero, and he really wants to send people to Mars (me too), but pushing Constellation forward would only serve to have NASA compete with the commercial spaceflight marketplace, when their job should be to support that marketplace. As Ferris(5) said, there are a number of commercial human rated launch systems already on the drawing board, and the beauty of capitalism is that their competition with each other will lead to much quicker innovation and lower costs than NASA could achieve on its own. IMHO

  17. Autumn

    I REALLY don’t understand why Republicans wouldn’t like private space companies. Aren’t they all about private industry pushing progress forward in lieu of government programs?

  18. Gary Ansorge

    15. Messier Tidy Upper

    True, Obama WAS given a choice, to greatly increase the funding for Constellation(around another $ 50 billion, as I recall) or scrap it in favor of a much more efficient system.

    Personally, I favor a nuc powered(nuclear lightbulb) primary thruster.THAT would be truly revolutionary.

    Obamas choice was limited by available resources and his avowed desire to improve health care. Given the limitations imposed by the health care fight and all the political infighting that resulted, I’m just glad he was able to improve NASA funding at all.

    Gary 7

    PS: WHICH continent?

  19. Josie

    ok so…we have a change in our means of manned space flight. Who here remembers the last Apollo mission and the 6 year wait before we went back into space again on the totally new and different re-usable Shuttle?

    I can’t say I remember much as I was in the single digit age group.

    Granted, I believe we had plans for the Shuttle in the early 70′s, but how different is all this debate over constellation from the one back then over how best to go from the one-shot style conveyance to the Shuttle?

    We’re not buying a new model year Shuttle here –we’re buying a whole new vehicle that will take us further and have more functionality than anything previous. Frankly I would rather we scrap something that’s apparently not working well (constellation) and take what we have learned from that process and apply it to an even better plan…even if that means waiting 6 years to put a NASA logo wearing human back in space.

  20. Daniel J. Andrews

    I saw Representatives stand on the Floor and say things that were breathtakingly untrue. Of course I know this happens all the time, but to see it myself, and see it over something that concerns me immensely, made the breadth of the purely political maneuvering visceral.

    It still stuns me to see it too, and I even expect the politicians to lie. You’d think no-one would have the nerve to utter such blatant lies that 1. can be easily checked for veracity and 2. are being recorded for posterity, yet many of them do it over and over again. Are they stupid, evil, don’t care about the intelligence of the voting public, power hungry, amoral??? At times like that I wish I could hack into the communication system and add corrective subtitles…or at least have Valerie’s voice (Miracle Max’s wife in the Princess Bride) pipe in with “LIAR!”

    I guess the big questions are, “Why do we tolerate liars in politics, and why don’t we toss them out and tell them they’re out because they lied?”

  21. Greg

    Funding Constellation further would be a huge risk, and one not worth taking, IMO. If you do grant them a massive uptick in funding and they still don’t produce, you are simply delaying the cancellation of the program to the next president (or Obama’s second term, or whenever), when even more money and time, both of which could have been spent exploring a better alternative, will have been wasted.

    With respect to Mr. Armstrong, etc, I’ve seen in the government what happens when someone gets attached to a particular program and will stand by it no matter how much it founders, no matter how much funding in sunk into it with no results. Our astronauts are deservedly national heroes but that doesn’t mean they are experts in what financial decisions need to be made to advance space flight. Sometimes programs need to be axed. If we haven’t already reached it, how much money would it take before the expense outweighed the ultimate value brought on by the program? Constellation is a black eye on a space agency that desperately does not need black eyes right now.

    I say this as someone whose grandfather worked for NASA on both Apollo and the Shuttle programs. I am enormously proud to have that in my family. I want NASA to succeed as much as anyone, including in manned space flight. But I agree that Constellation is not the way to do it.

  22. I guess there are worse things than someone opposing the bill because they want to fund NASA differently as opposed to not at all.

    ~Rhaco

  23. While the Republican disengeniousosity (prolly not a real word) was plain to see, it is worth pointing out that since the Constellation Program was authorized in December of 2005, it’s been funded by 2 Republican budgets, and 3 Democratic budgets.

    And why does there still need to be a 5 year gap? What have Democrats been doing with the budgets and legislation the last *4* years? Don’t blame Republican obstructionists, because Democrats didn’t do anything about NASA to obstruct.

  24. Squidmonde

    @Messier Tidy Upper
    I agree with your frustration, even though I disagree with your conclusion. To see a NASA budget that chops off NASA developing a rocket to take us past low-Earth orbit is a pretty grim day. However, it was a grim day that was, in my opinion, a long time coming. Given the problems and limitations of Constellation that were deep in the design, “fixing” Constellation would have been a long, expensive process, with no guarantee that the problems were even something that could be overcome. Constellation, unfortunately, was a money and resource sinkhole that could have swallowed NASA for an entire generation. It pains me to say that, because the impetus behind Constellation was very much in the spirit of the ’60′s NASA. In truth, the budget replaces Constellation with . . . nothing. We’re providing funding to private firms to develop and test human low-Earth orbit vehicles under their own roof, but as of now (pending the appropriations bill), NASA is no longer in the rocket and vehicle design business. Maybe what the commercial enterprises are coming up with will wind up actually being the first step towards human exploration of deep space, but right now that’s not obvious.

    But trying to make Obama out to be a villain because he (and the Augustine commission) tried to keep Constellation from swallowing NASA is paying selective attention to reality. Just because “fixing” Constellation would have been a hard thing doesn’t make it a good idea. I can “challenge” myself to lick my elbows, but if I’ve spent a couple of hours trying to do it and getting nowhere, having someone come along and say, “Stop trying to lick your elbows, you’ve got better things to do” means that person is looking out for my best interest. I’m not cheering the death of Constellation, and I don’t think Obama is a hero for ending it, but if the point of NASA is exploration and not just writing paychecks, then it was the right decision to make.

  25. Richard

    @Rhacodactylus: You’re making the dangerous assumption that “I want to fund NASA differently” is not a euphemism for “I don’t want to fund NASA”.

  26. Chris Winter

    Phil Plait wrote: “I just finished watching the members of the U.S. House of Representatives debate the NASA authorization bill. The bill was passed, and I’m glad, but that was a sickening debate.”

    Be glad you didn’t watch the debate over Waxman-Markey last year. (Or maybe you did; I really have no idea.)

    I think it would be great if NASA expeditiously designed and built a successor to the shuttle. But I don’t see that happening, regardless of what design was/is chosen. I hark back to the days of NACA, when its role was to develop technology that was then exploited by commercial firms. The process worked well, though it wasn’t very dramatic. (Of course, NASA continues to develop aeronautical technology today, but that’s a small part of its budget.)

    Putting more money into things like fuel depots, CELSS, VASIMR and (dare I say it?) NTR seems to me a very good thing. Of course it won’t get people into space on American rockets soonest. But the commercial sector is getting ready to take up the slack. I think that too is a very good thing.

    But I see I’ve overspent my acronym budget, so I’ll close for now.

  27. JMW

    Thinking about it, I’d rather have NASA researching the design of a deep-space craft that can be built in orbit. Use commercial rockets to get the astronauts, equipment and parts to orbit, build there. Then head out. The Moon. Mars. A handy passing asteroid or comet.

    As for the commercial rockets, NASA should also be designing standards of safety and control that contracting rocket companies have to meet in order for NASA to use them for launch services.

  28. Ferris Valyn

    Please note, I am only comparing the years where there is both the president’s budget, and the Senate Bill.

    The major changes from Obama’s original proposal are
    Reduction in the Space technology budget (instead of going from almost $600 million to $1 billion+, it goes from $350 M to $515 million)

    Reduction of Exploration tech development (was suppose to be $1.5 Billion ramping up to $3.3 Billion Billion, its now $250 Million ramping up to $449 Million)

    Reduction in the robotics precursor missions (was suppose to be $125 Million ramping up to almost $700 Million, is now $100 Million, for 3 years)

    Reduction in Commercial Crew (was $500 Million ramping up to $1.4 Billion, will now be $312 Million ramping up to $500 Million). Also, there are restrictions on the funding
    Only $50 Million can be spent on awards to companies in 2011. Also, no money can be spent unless NASA has completed human ratings requirements, a market assessment, a review of procurement mechanisms, a review of government supplied hardware that may be of use to companies, and flight demonstration & readiness requirements, and the vehicles must have crew rescue capabilities

    It also reduces the Human research budget.

    It also requires NASA to develop 2 new pieces of Hardware, not originally planed for – the Space Launch System (this is the Super Heavy lift vehicle being discussed – funding starts at $1.6 Billion, ramping up to $2.6 Billion) and the multi-purpose Crew Vehicle (this is essentially Orion – funding starts at $1.1 Billion, ramping up to $1.4 Billion).

    What really saddens me is what they did to the tech development budget, and the reporting requirements in the Commercial Crew section. I am not thrilled by how much they cut the Commercial Crew budget either, but the tech budget was almost destroyed, for there stupid big rocket.

  29. SLC

    Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) hammered over and again the idea that Obama is trying to kill the manned space program.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Culberson is incorrect, as noted by Dr. Plait. I would suggest that Rep. Culberson might profitably have a chat his constituent, Steven Weinberg on this subject but, given that Rethuglicans are notorious these days for ignoring expert advice, it in all probability would be an exercise in futility for the Nobel Prize winning physicist. But of course, according to many on this blog, Prof. Weinberg doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  30. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper – ok, first of all, in your alternative universe, I suspect something very much similar is going on. For a very simple reason – during the campaign, Lori Garver was Clinton’s advisor on space policy. Now she is the Deputy administrator, and is considered one of the people behind the budget plan.

    As for doing its job, it will be. NASA astronauts will be on the station, preparing for going beyond LEO. And you need to remember – private companies built the space station, and the space shuttle.

    Obama didn’t give up – he solved a mess that couldn’t be fixed.

    Yes, Armstrong spoke in opposition. Guess what – Armstrong is wrong. The Apollo group (and I suspect you) believe that there must be a way to recreate the Apollo excitement/Lovefest. The problem is Apollo was a unique thing, that happened because of some very specific circumstances. You cannot repeat Apollo, because the social pressures aren’t there, and won’t be there.

    But, as I said, that doesn’t mean we are giving up on Human spacflight. Obama is setting the stage for the next big push for human spaceflight, by have NASA focus on doing things Beyond Low Earth Orbit, and developing the technology needed to make Beyond Low Earth Orbit spaceflight actually affordable and sustainable (which it isn’t under Constellation, or Apollo).
    Obama is creating the Gemini of Beyond Low earth orbit spaceflight. In 10 years, you’ll see NASA astronauts go very cool places. And it will be BECAUSE of Obama, not in spite.

  31. Matthew Ota

    Agree or disagree, as long as Obama signs this into law, at least NASA has some direction now, at least until the next presidential election. But too many people base their decisions on creating make work jobs for aerospace workers instead of going with pure engineering solutions that will make for a better long lasting space transportation infrastructure.

    We will cobble a heavy launcher from obsolete space shuttle parts. Solid motors, in my opinion, are too dangerous for manned flight. Liquid boosters are demonstrably safer.

    But they want to keep those jobs going in Utah…

    Meanwhile NASA throws away all of the billions spent on Constellation, just like they threw away the money on the VentureStar and the ISS Assured Crew Return Vehicle.

    This is the true waste of taxpayer’s money in NASA. And I am sure just as much money gets wasted by other branches of government, as they have much larger budgets. It is a shame.

  32. Elmar_M

    I am glad that the bill passed, though I would have rather liked to see the administrations proposal get passed. But as Phil said (through the flower), politicians are liers and idiots.

    @Messier:
    You clearly are very badly informed. You spread missinformatíon and you clearly refuse to read and process what others (including me) are writing to correct you.
    What shall I think about a person like that?

  33. KC

    >Obama has just killed NASA’s human spaceflight future

    Feh. Constellation was never going to get us to the Moon or anywhere else. Good riddance to bad trash I say.

  34. bandsaw

    The pain and the grief and the outrage at the end of Constellation comes from two factors. First is the loss of vision. Under Constellation we could say we were going to put people back on the moon to stay by 2020 and then on to Mars. Now we can say we’re taking a variable path that may include landing on a near earth asteroid by 2025 and sending people to eventually fly past Mars. Which of those statements is more inspiring? Second is the timing. Because of the way Federal budget cycles work, having the President cancel this large program in February of an election year meant that all the workers on Constellation could either (a) keep working really hard on a program that their boss said not to do any more or (b) try and adjust what they’re doing to fit a variable path that we all know Congress is going to weigh in on (and just did, 7 months after the President’s announcement). Additional changes are still to come when the new Congress gets around to passing NASA’s FY 2011 appropriations (writing the actual check). Even though FY2011 starts tomorrow, Congress likely will not get around to NASA’s appropriations bill until at least February, and more like March. This will mean yet another major redirect. You want to talk about disappointment, wasted effort, and wasted money, all the folks working on Constellation knew when the President made his announcement that we would be spinning in circles for more than a year before we knew what we were really doing again. This also meant that many good people lost their jobs. This is why folks have been so upset by the end of Constellation.

  35. SanAntone

    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for NASA to propose something to launch on the Space Launch System. And, of course, what that something (or somethings) will be. Also how much time and extra money will be needed to procure it/them.

    Right now, as far as I can tell, SLS is totally lacking a payload.

  36. Grand Lunar

    “Obama has just killed NASA’s human spaceflight future.. ”

    Messier, where do you get THAT idea?

    Constellation wasn’t any better. Replicating the capacity of existing rockets at twice the developement cost with Ares 1 is not smart. Nor is having the monster rocket Ares V, which was more expensive than anything built before. Two 100 ton capacity rockets can do better than a single 180 rocket that’s more expensive to build and launch.

  37. Grand Lunar

    “Where does the bill diverge from Obama’s plan? Besides some specifics (like rocket design) how does it modify Obama’s proposed NASA plan?”

    AFAIK Phil, the bill calls for the new heavy-lift developement to start in 2011, rather than 2015 as Obama originally stated.
    Also, IIRC, it calls for Orion to be used as the basis for the deep space vessel, rather than as a lifeboat.

    I do believe it offers less funding for commercial space that originaly planned.

    That’s all I’m familar with as far as differences go.

    While I’m also not too crazy with specifics being made about the rocket (though if I wrote the bill, I would named the plan for the rocket for NASA to use), it’s better than nothing, and better than the program of record.

    It seems the bucks are available, hopefully. Now it’s time for the Buck Rogers….

  38. Bruce

    I agree that cutting a program that was going no where is smart. I would like to see us go to the Moon again and other bodies but the thing is with so many people against government waste how do you convince them to invest in visiting the Moon and staying there?

    We have people who are not interested in spending money that ‘produces no results’ like space. You can find a lot of discussion among people where they think manned programs are a waste and we should focus on robots.

    Armstrong has a great vision to go back up there but very few people are buying it. How do you sell that idea to those who yell at you then slam the door shut?

  39. The annoying part is, if this bill works as planned and NASA has another heavy booster by 2016, then the next president will get credited with “fixing what Obama tried to kill.”

    Sigh.

  40. Ray

    Screw Constellation and “new” rockets. Brush off the Saturn V plans and re-start the line. Really, how much has rocket technology changed since the 60s? Big tube with rocket motors? Check. LOX and LH2? Check. Big launchpad at Canaveral? Check. Matches? Check.

  41. Actually, Messier does read and process what others say. I thought him pretty much a troll over Global Warming, and he proved me wrong.

  42. Ferris Valyn

    Ray – its called money. Saturn Vs are cost a lot more than we currently budget for NASA.

  43. Jeffersonian

    It’s a House bill – a step in the process.
    I dunno, it looks to me like, as far as Obama was involved, he made good decisions on this one overall. Given the alternatives, and the years of Bush slack with lip service to NASA, this is a direction-indicator of progress at this point.

  44. “If anything, watching this awful display will make me pay even more attention to what’s going on in Congress. It’s an election year, and the rhetoric will be dialed up for sure. We all must be on our toes.”

    A good sentiment, but a little late. House and Senate have both adjourned until the elections.

  45. SanAntone

    “Also, IIRC, it calls for Orion to be used as the basis for the deep space vessel, rather than as a lifeboat.”

    For values of “basis” in the vicinity of “crew return capsule” that might be reasonable. But Orion is a somewhat plumped-up version of the Apollo CSM, and the thought of sticking four or six people in it for a two-ish year trip to Mars is daunting. It would be fine for moon trips, maybe to the earth-moon Lagrangian points — but beyond that you’d need an additional habitation module. Or at least a toilet.

  46. Always a curious tactic Phil to demonize people who demonize Obama. Using the same bad behavior to illustrate someone else’s bad behavior is a curious tactic (and a brilliant one if you are an adolescent). I expect better out of smart people, but life is full of disappointments.

    That said Obama certainly has killed manned space flight for the moment. This happened under his watch and he gets the credit or gets to be the goat. Will he lay a foundation for something better? Given all the hope and change that has been applied to our country, I am not going to bet on that happening. But if Obama does, he will certainly get my appreciation as NASA is a good indicator of our science and technological prowess as a country.

  47. “The annoying part is, if this bill works as planned and NASA has another heavy booster by 2016, then the next president will get credited with “fixing what Obama tried to kill.””

    It is tough to say, not like NASA has a lot of political sex appeal to begin with. If it did the first Bush would have been run out of town for hosing the ISS as badly as he did.

  48. SanAntone

    “That said Obama certainly has killed manned space flight for the moment.”

    Really? Like he killed off Shuttle? Like he killed off ISS and US access to ISS? Like killed off a Shuttle replacement for the next few years?

    Please explain.

  49. on

    There’s like one guy not even from America that’s not in favor. Oh yeah I’m gonna take seriously what he has to say. ;) Whatever our direction, let’s fuggin’ rock it.

  50. EdF

    My only frustration in this whole thing is how people, including many of the people posting here, use private rocket development vs NASA rocket development in their argument.

    First, most of the rocketry NASA is using today IS from private companies. The new plan does not really privatize the situation much more. However I would not classify a Space X and Boeing or ULA in the same category. So in order to not confuse things, I usually call it the entrepreneurship of space vs. the established government contract method. It’s notable because Republicans are not against the privatization efforts, they are however looking to keep the current system. Most of all though, it’s about jobs these days, everything is, and we should be HAPPY AND PROUD that NASA did something little else has, united both parties. With all the drama, that means it’s still important to us as a nation. I look for any bipartisan victory these days.

    Second, it is also very important to make clear that NASA still needs a heavy lift rocket. Most people against Constellation, among other things, point out how the Falcon 9 is a better option. Most people for it however are less concerned about LEO, they are more focussed on the things Space X and the others will not care about for decades, heavy lift to get us going somewhere, anywhere.

    But I see some mud being flung. I think the specifics are important in this case because someone who is pro Constellation may also be pro Space X, just sees different reasons for it. As for politics, both parties have major issues on this subject. Nobody is a saint, Obama is no savior nor is he an agent of doom. NASA is still short on a goal and direction, and I frankly see that as a HUGE issue. It is a unique government agency, that generates bipartisan support, public support, and inspires many of our children to go into the sciences. It deserves special handling.

  51. Joe

    I really don’t think this is worth all the indignation. It’s simply politics as usual. Which doesn’t change the fact that it’s totally ridiculous, I know. But if the balance of power were reversed, it would just as easily have been Democrats kicking and screaming and Republicans lauding it. The most ridiculous point of all is how some Republicans are against privatizing spaceflight. As a fiscal libertarian, it becomes increasingly frustrating to find a politician who intelligently represents me.

  52. Steve D

    As soon as Bush II announced a plan to return to the Moon, I said “Not going to happen.” This country lacks the political will. Every time some program needs money, we’ll hear “Why are we spending money on going to the Moon when we have needs right here on Earth?” That’s just what happened to NASA after the end of the Apollo Program. No Apollo 18, 19 or 20, no Grand Tour, no mission to Halley’s Comet. But of course we used the money for all kinds of needs here on earth like, er.. , well, what exactly DID we get for the money? Remember the paradise we built in the 70′s and 80′s? No crime, no drugs?

    Right wing troglodytes hate education; left-wing troglodytes hate the space program. Never mind that our social and regulatory programs waste more in a week than NASA spends in a year.

  53. Kerry M

    This Bush VS Obama thing is pointless. Sure the president can use his proxies in congress to help push a Bill. But we all know who writes the checks. It’s important to focus on who was in Congress at the time.

  54. SLC

    Re Steve D @ #53

    Right wing troglodytes hate education; left-wing troglodytes hate the space program

    Gee, I guess that Prof. Bob Park of the Un. of Maryland physics department and Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg are left-wing troglodytes.

  55. jfb

    @Ray: You can’t just build a new Saturn V, at least not according to the original plans; none of the equipment exists anymore. I mean, nostalgia’s great and all, but check out the specs for the LVDC — 25-bit, 16K words of *core* memory weighing over 70 pounds; come on.

    While the Falcon 9 is nowhere near the same weight class as a Saturn V, it’s something that’s built with up-to-the-minute techniques and materials. Any new BFR is going to be a ground-up endeavor.

  56. Pete Jackson

    Where were Armstrong et al after 1986 when Challenger blew up? It had become clear when DoD abandoned the shuttle that it was never going to be more than a very expensive way to just keep flying in low Earth orbit. True, the national will did not seem to be interested in doing more, but Armstrong et al did nothing to try and change the national will.

  57. Buzz Parsec

    SLC, Steven Weinberg is not a constituent of Rep Culberson, unless he has a really long commute (at least 100 miles each way!) Culberson represents the Texas 7th district, on the west side of Houston. Austin is at the border of the Texas 10th, 21st and 25th districts. Weinberg might reasonably live in any of them.

    Also, Weinberg opposes manned spaceflight solely on the not unreasonable but completely incorrect basis that it’s a very inefficient way to do science in space. This is true, for many kinds of science*, but is completely irrelevant.

    Manned space exploration isn’t to do science. It’s purpose is to learn how to live and work off the surface of the planet Earth. This is essential to the long term survival of the human race and possibly for the survival of life itself. We don’t know if intelligent life is unique in our galaxy or even in the entire universe. It seems unlikely, but until a counter example is found, we just don’t know. In fact we don’t know if multicellular life or even any kind of life exists anywhere but on Earth. Is this a sane gamble to take, .6% of the US budget vs the future of life in the universe?

    [*] I don’t think he appreciates just how difficult robotic exploration is when speed of light delays prohibit real-time control. Can you imagine how much more efficient the Mars rovers would be if they were being controlled from Phobos vs. from Earth?

  58. SLC

    Buzz Parsec @ #58

    1. Mr. Parsec is living in a dream world. I would suggest that he mosey on over to Bob Parks web site, a link to which is below. Prof. Park, at the start of every term points out to his students the impracticality of travel to other stars in this galaxy, not to mention other galaxies. This notion that life on this planet can somehow be preserved, in case of looming disaster, by traveling to another is science fiction out of the 1934 novel, “When Worlds Collide.” The only planet we are going to call home for the foreseeable future is this one. Live with it.

    Just for ducks, here’s a paragraph from the latest posting by Prof. Park.

    DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: I AM WRITING TO VOLUNTEER MY SERVICES.
    Boeing announced that its going into the space-tourism business with Space Adventures to take astronauts, who seem to have little else to do, to the ISS along with tourists who have way too much disposable income. The story in the NYT last week said this would “bolster the Obama vision for NASA.” That part of the story must be wrong Mr. President, your vision is grander than that. Since the space race is long over, you may be worrying about what to do with the astronaut corps, as well as that goofy pile of hardware we put in low-Earth orbit for reasons now forgotten. To help, I skipped lunch today to make you a things-to-do list: 1) send DSCOVER to the L1 point, it’s way past time; 2) drop the ISS in the Philippine trench before someone else gets hurt; 3) commit a number of large telescopes to identifying potentially Earth-crossing objects and to refining their trajectories; 4) forbid astronauts to go near Mars, although a robotic sample-return mission would be nice; 5) install a sonar on Europa to look beneath its frozen ocean; 6) start putting together a giant segmented telescope at the L2 point to study extrasolar planets; additional segments can be added by future generations. Let me know when you’ve finished the list and I’ll skip another lunch.

    2. I am well aware that Prof. Weinberg thinks that the scientific progress gained from the manned space program is far out of proportion to the cost of the program. The notion that Prof. Weinberg is unaware of the finite velocity of light, which is implied in Mr. Parsecs’ comment relative to the time delay in operating robotics causes me to ROTFLMAO.

    For example, the folks like Dr. Plait who promote manned space flight point to the repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope by astronauts. For the cost of tha manned space program, we could have sent a dozen such telescopes larger then the Hubble into space, in addition to other scientific activities. I have a flash for Mr. Parsec. I once took a course from Steven Weinberg. I knew Steven Weinberg. Mr. Parsec ain’t no Steven Weinberg.

    http://www.bobpark.org/

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 42. Vagueofgodalming : Thanks. :-)

    @19. Gary Ansorge Says:

    PS: WHICH continent?

    Australia.

    Personally, I favor a nuc powered(nuclear lightbulb) primary thruster.THAT would be truly revolutionary.

    Yeah, nuclear rockets would be cool & I’d love to see them tried too – but can youimagine the shreiks from the greenies? What’s more they would have some semi-valid sort of case given the risks of spreading radioactive material if things blew up.

    Now if they were constructed and flown from the Moon .. :-)

    Unfortunately, as I understand it, there’s a ban on nuclear materials and experiments in space – not sure whether that would prevent nuclear rockets (eg. Project Orion) but I think it likely would. :-(

    @57. Pete Jackson :

    True, the national will did not seem to be interested in doing more, but Armstrong et al did nothing to try and change the national will.

    I’m not sure that’s true. Just because you (or me or the rest of us) doesn’t hear about something doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    @37. Grand Lunar Says:

    “Obama has just killed NASA’s human spaceflight future.. ” Messier, where do you get THAT idea?

    From the fact that Constellation is gone and the Space Shuttle is going & NASA is going to lack any manned spaceflight capacity into the indefinite future. there’s no plan that ican see other thanrelying onthe private companies and Russia.

    Constellation wasn’t any better. Replicating the capacity of existing rockets at twice the developement cost with Ares 1 is not smart. Nor is having the monster rocket Ares V, which was more expensive than anything built before.

    Not smart? Well its smarter than having no plan or flight ready vehicle at all.

    @33. Elmar_M Says:

    @Messier: You clearly are very badly informed. You spread missinformatíon and you clearly refuse to read and process what others (including me) are writing to correct you.

    What “misinformation” *precisely* do you claim I’m spreading? Disagreeing with your opinion isn’t misinformation, mate. What facts do you claim I’ve got wrong & where is your evidence showing this?

  60. Georg

    Hello,
    in this Blog there is several instants of (R-Tx) or (D-Tx)
    in connection to some representatives.
    Tx (Az for Arizona?) stands for Texas, I assume, but what does that
    R or D respectively mean?
    Second question: “watching sausages beeing made” is that
    a common phrase? What does that mean?
    Something boring?
    Georg

  61. Tim

    @61. Georg Says:

    R = Republican
    D = Democrat

    So R-Tx means the Republican representative in Texas.

    And yes you’re right about “watching sausages being made” being equivalent to “boring” … like “watching grass grow” and “watching paint dry” :)

  62. Chris Freeman

    Can you submit the inaccuracies in the congressmens’ speeches to factcheck.org? Knowing about spaceflight is a pretty specific subject and I bet very few people would pick up on the errors that were made.

  63. Elmar_M

    @ Messier Tidy Upper, who said
    >>What facts do you claim I’ve got wrong & where is your evidence showing this?

    1. Obama did not kill human spaceflight as you are claiming. This is total missinformation.
    First of all, the cancellation of the shuttle programme was already instigated under the previous administration. The Constellation programme also was instigated then and then underfunded.
    2. The constellation programme was not in any way far enough progressed to provide the US with any human transport capability before the ISS was meant to be destroyed. This was all under the plan of the previous administration.

    Further (in another thread) you were basically blaming Obama for having to buy seats on Soyus from Russia.
    This also had already been instigated by the previous administration. It was the plan all along to do that until Constellation would come online. Constellation was then, as most cost plus- government pork- contracts, delayed and delayed again and “The Gap” grew larger and larger. We all know the story.

    Then you were claiming that Constellation was already far along.
    I explained to you there already that it was not and so did others on this board. Constellation until this point is still only a paper rocket, with no, NO flight ready hardware even in sight (earliest estimate was 2017!!!!). Again, I explained this to you over in the other thread. I can do this again, if you want me to, but I would really prefer you just went there and read it again.

    For more information, I would recommend you go and visit Clark Lindsays excellent Hobby Space site. There you will find not only his opinion, but also links to many other, excellent websites by people that KNOW their stuff and they will tell you the same thing.

    SpaceX is not the only commercial company couning as “the commercials”. The ULA is already trusted by the DOD with bringing billions of USD worth of military hardware which needed to guarantee the savety of US citizens and troops across the globe into space.
    Atlas and Delta are more than good enough to bring a capsule with astronauts to the ISS. They have had a near flawless record for years. AND THAT HARDWARE ALREADY EXISTS!
    Boeing has already begun development of their own capsule and Orion was never cancelled, not even according to the administrations plans. Just downscaled. But that would have happened anyway, even with Constellation not being cancelled, because Ares1 could not provide enough power to lift the heavy capsule into orbit.

    Regarding the moon plans and the administration cancelling those. Well delayed is not cancelled and Altair, the moonlander was no where to see, neither was AresV. It would have been way into the 2020ies until they would have come online, even under the previous administration.

    These things are all well known and they are not “my opinion”, but the conclusions the independent commission of experts, the Augustine commission. You may have heard of it.
    The administration followed their recommendations. IMHO, Obama did an excellent job here. He did exactly what anybody with a decent brain would have done. He did not rely on his own oppinion, he ordered an independent panel of experts to review the situation and then give their recommendations. His decision was clearly based on their recommendations and it was actually, to the point, the same decision that I would have made as well.
    Ít was logical and pragmatic. Of course if you want emotions in space science, then you need to do some stunt like a moonlanding. And it would have only been another stunt, because the Constellation architecture would have been soooo expensive to maintain that a permanent presence on the moon would have been impossible given the realities NASAs budgets, which Obama acutally INCREASED, btw. And even with this budget increase NASA would have been unable to complete Constellation.

    Using the “commercials” will be much cheaper, because they will not be paid with expensive cost plus contracts. Instead they will be paid via fixed cost contracts. Cost plus contracts only benefit the porkers like ATK. Of course they would be happy to continue getting government pork instead of proofing their ground in the free market.

    It is also interesting and noteworthy that the Republicans, who are supposedly sooo much for free markets, quickly forgot about that and rallied against the bill when they saw their pork endangered (ATK, defence = contractor, Alabama, mostly republicans, you name it).
    The same can be said about some idiots on the Democrat side, who even went against their own president and against national interests in order to keep their pork. This onece again proofs that you can not have a functioning democracy with just two parties. Here in Austria we at least have one true opposition party in addition to the two big ones. So they get their fingers smacked every now and then. The US clearly needs something like that too. The showing of both Reps and Dems during this “NASA- pork battle” was absolutely despicable!

    Anyway, if everything goes well, then Obamas plan of using the commericals will actually shorten the gap compared to what it would have been under the “old” plan and all that for a lot less money.

  64. SanAntone

    > Unfortunately, as I understand it, there’s a ban on nuclear materials and experiments in space – not sure whether that would prevent nuclear rockets (eg. Project Orion) but I think it likely would.

    The treaty says, “States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner.” (*) Orion, which was to use small nuclear bombs, might be affected, but no other nuclear system that I’ve heard of would. Certainly reactors are OK, as a fair number have already flown without anyone but a few fringe types objecting. Even Orion might be allowed if you could make a lawyerly argument that the bombs were just “pulse units” and not, Heaven forfend, weapons.

    (*) http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SpaceLaw/outerspt.html

  65. Gary Ansorge

    60. Messier Tidy Upper

    “Yeah, nuclear rockets would be cool & I’d love to see them tried too – but can you imagine the shreiks from the greenies? What’s more they would have some semi-valid sort of case given the risks of spreading radioactive material if things blew up.”

    I am quite familiar with the intellectual limitations of greenies, which is mainly that they really don’t know anything about nuclear energy. The main advantage to the nuclear light bulb tech is that the reactive gas core is completely contained AND it operates at 25000 Kelvins, which gives a dramatic improvement to ISP(specific impulse/lb of reaction mass), about 7 times better than the best chemical fuel, which allows an equivalent improvement in payload capacity. No matter how big the L2/LOX rocket, it will still only be capable of launching a payload that amounts to 5 percent of the vehicles launch weight.

    I know of no way to cause a nuc explosion when the nuclear mass is only a couple of Kgs. But I’m sure that would be one of the screaming points for greenies.

    Nuclear EXPLOSIVE devices in space are forbidden by treaty, NOT nuclear materials. That was to prevent nations building nuclear weapons in orbit. Which does rather limit Orion type thrusters.(But treaties can be re-writen)

    Gary 7

  66. Elmar_M

    I agree with Gary, nuclear Lightbulb based nuclear rockets would be cool!
    Have you heard about the new Thungsten based fuel that they are researching for NTR propulsion? Those would work too.
    It just is impossible to get that past the politicians.
    The next best thing would be if one of the many smaller fusion reactors, that are currently being researched, could work out.
    Polywell, DPF, or FRC. They are compact enough that they could, provided some additional research and lightweight materials, be used for nuclear thermal propulsion. I really hope that one of them makes it. Would solve a lot of problems, not just for rocket propulsion.

  67. Gary Ansorge

    66. Elmar_M

    Dr. Bussard estimated that his Polywell reactor could provide an ISP of between 10,000 and 100,000(as compared to that of L2/LOX at 450). Unfortunately, THAT tech is decades away from implementation. The nuc lightbulb could potentially be up and running in as little as five years.(faster, if we really wanted to spend the money, as we did in the 1940s)

    Gary 7

  68. I actually like watching how sausages are made…

    I can’t add anything else to this discussion though except for what I’d like to see. I’ve been out of the loop with all of this. It gets all bound up in partisan BS anyway, no matter what position one takes. Mildly opposing the new plan makes one a right-wing hack. Mildly agreeing with it makes you a left-wing kool-aid drinker. Neither of which I am. Every single time I take one of those darn ‘political affiliation’ tests I’m dead center. I digress.

    I’d like to see private companies step up – and they have and will continue to do so.

    I’d like to see a mission to the Moon in my lifetime. Asteroid would be cool. Mars would be an extra-large bonus.

    I really do look forward to more robotics missions. I think that can help pave the way for humans. I just hope that we don’t end up pushing human space exploration back over and over again.

    Propose a system.
    Agree on the system.
    Design it.
    Build it.
    Test it.
    Fly it.
    :D

  69. #53 SteveD asked “well, what exactly DID we get for the money?”

    A couple of really really good wars in Iran and Afghanistan??

    #61 George asked about “watching sausages beeing made”..

    There is an old aphorism, often attributed to Bismark, which says: “If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.” Both processes are very messy even though the end result might be wonderfull

  70. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 64. Elmar_M :

    @ Messier Tidy Upper, who said “What facts do you claim I’ve got wrong & where is your evidence showing this?”
    1. Obama did not kill human spaceflight as you are claiming. This is total missinformation.

    As I ‘spose you’d expect, I’d dispute that. I guess that statement is a subjective assessment of the situation not a factual matter but it is certainly how I see it.

    First of all, the cancellation of the shuttle programme was already instigated under the previous administration.

    Okay I’ll grant you that. I don’t think I’ve ever stated that Obama is personally to blame for the Shuttle’s retiring. They were clearly getting long in the tooth and running out of time anyhow although I do wish he could’ve stretched them out longer. Fact is though that the Shuttle program is ending on Obama’s watch and he hasn’t got a replacement launch vehicle for them ready to take over. Now that may not be entirely Obama’s fault but that much is undeniable.

    The Constellation programme also was instigated then and then underfunded.

    Yes & I’ve already stated that Constellation was underfunded by Bush too – the answer being, I think, to fund it properly. You disagree natch preferring to discard it altogether instead but this is a matter of opinion & NOT “misinformation” as you’ve accused me of spreading. :-(

    2. The constellation programme was not in any way far enough progressed to provide the US with any human transport capability before the ISS was meant to be destroyed. This was all under the plan of the previous administration.

    Well, no, because Obama isn’t giving it the chance. :-(
    (&, yes, ok G.W. Bush’es gross underfunding hasn’t helped either.)

    I’m not sure if and when the International Space Station is going to be destroyed. I do vaguely recall a suggestion that it would be de-orbited at some future stage but didn’t think this was scheduled or agreed to by the international partners.

    Further (in another thread) you were basically blaming Obama for having to buy seats on Soyus from Russia. This also had already been instigated by the previous administration.

    Okay, firstly, show me the quote please. It may not be exactly as you suggest I said. I would probably have been talking about the lack of any replacement launch vehicle capacity – NASA without Shuttles or Constellation or “Plan B” left relying upon the Russians and the Private Companies. Begging for a ride and lacking the capacity to do it themselves.

    Blame the previous administration? That tired old political strategem for failure? :roll: Maybe so but Obama is president now & has been for about two years – he has the option of changing things and doing them differently. Or at least trying to do that.

    Then you were claiming that Constellation was already far along. I explained to you there already that it was not and so did others on this board. Constellation until this point is still only a paper rocket, with no, NO flight ready hardware even in sight (earliest estimate was 2017!!!!). Again, I explained this to you over in the other thread. I can do this again, if you want me to, but I would really prefer you just went there and read it again.

    Went where?
    Again, you see things one way and I another.

    Fact is there was a successful launch of an Ares rocket. There was that Oct. 28th test flight of the Ares I-X rocket as I’ve posted on the Youtube video before. So it was starting to take flight. You say it wasn’t legitimate and sufficient for your satisfaction. It was for mine. Okay, there may have been a dummy upper stage & you may think that makes it invalid or suchlike but I don’t. Besides it was a start. To me this is NOT the stage at which you cancel something, it just isn’t. :-(

    For more information, I would recommend you go and visit Clark Lindsays excellent Hobby Space site. There you will find not only his opinion, but also links to many other, excellent websites by people that KNOW their stuff and they will tell you the same thing.

    I’ll check that out.

    End Part I – Part II to follow.

    Breaking into segments for ease of readability, not being too excessively long etc ..

  71. BCL1

    Unfortunately, this is the way democracy works on any issue. The more a person knows about a particular topic, the more rediculous the House and Senate members sound when they debate it. Basically, our legislators can’t be experts in everything, but they are called upon to make important decisions on topics that they know nothing about. As society and technology become more complex, democracy is doomed to failure.

  72. Messier Tidy Upper

    Part II of my reply to #64. Elmar_M :

    ————————-

    SpaceX is not the only commercial company couning as “the commercials”.

    I know & I don’t think I’ve ever said otherwise.

    ..Atlas and Delta are more than good enough to bring a capsule with astronauts to the ISS. They have had a near flawless record for years. AND THAT HARDWARE ALREADY EXISTS! Boeing has already begun development of their own capsule and ..

    Yes,okay, ok. I do support the private space industry and hope they succeed. I just think it should be them as well as NASA and other national space agencies – but esp. NASA – too. There is a place for both and each covers different things and areas. It isn’t zero-sum & we aren’t better of ffor having only the private companies flying -or only NASA for that matter. Many eggs in many baskets y’know.

    … Orion was never cancelled, not even according to the administrations plans. Just downscaled. But that would have happened anyway, even with Constellation not being cancelled, because Ares1 could not provide enough power to lift the heavy capsule into orbit.

    Well good. Be a shame to think so much work and money went totally to waste wouldn’t it? :-(

    This is a detail compared to the general cancellation of the rest of the Ares-Constellation plan. You will permit me some generalisation won’t you? I find my posts have enough parenthetical caveats and footnotes as it is! ;-)

    Regarding the moon plans and the administration cancelling those. Well delayed is not cancelled ..

    Isn’t it? Delayed indefinitely with no plan to go back? You could call it “postponed” I guess but saying “cancelled” seems more honest and accurate a summation to me. If a NASA Lunar return is merely being “postponed” then where’s the firm “postponed but now set for” date, the firm methodology to go & new timeline schedule of how & when its happening? Vague hot air talk doesn’t qualify here.

    If there is a specific detailed plan & schedule for NASA going back to the Moon or Mars under Obama I certainly haven’t seen it – have you?

    End part II. // Part III to follow.

    (I know but Elmar_M’s # 64 was a long post that needs a bit of replying too.)

  73. Elmar_M

    @Messier, who said:
    >>I’m not sure if and when the International Space Station is going to be destroyed. I do vaguely recall a suggestion that it would be de-orbited at some future stage but didn’t think this was scheduled or agreed to by the international partners.>>

    Under the plan by the Bush administration deorbit was scheduled for 2017 (for lack of funding, which was needed for Constellation). Part of the plan by the Obama administration was to prolong the station. If the station was deorbited in 2017 (as was planned by the Bush administration), Ares 1, even given optimistic predictions, would have barely been ready by then. Since Ares1 allone is good for nothing in the Constellation – Moon plan, Ares1 would have been a rocket without a mission until AresV and the Altair lander would have come online and that was not planned to happen until the 2020ies.
    The assessment that Ares1 would not be ready before 2017 was based on Bush administration funding levels and the progress that far seen by the Augustine commission.
    The Obama administration actually INCREASED funding for NASA, but even with this INCREASED funding, it was determined that the funding would not allow for Ares1 to be ready in time to service the station (or be barely ready, I can not quite remember anymore). This is why the administration hit the breaks and decided to bring alternatives on board.

    >>Fact is there was a successful launch of an Ares rocket. There was that Oct. 28th test flight of the Ares I-X rocket as I’ve posted on the Youtube video before>>
    As I said, Ares1X has NOTHING in common with Ares1. Please read up on it! I will list a few bullet points for you here anyway:
    1. The first stage was a 4 segment SRB versus 5 segment SRB in the real Ares 1. A 5 segment SRB stage differs A LOT from the 4 segment SRB. It is NOT just another segment put on top. The core e.g. is set up differently. This has to happen to mitigate vibrations and to control the thrust to avoid having to high max Q, which would break the whole thing apart. In addition to this, the 5 segment SRBs need several other modifications to make them more controlable. In any case, this is not a trivial modification. It is basically a completely new rocket engine.
    So nothing was really tested here.
    2. As you mentioned yourself. The second stage was just a dummy. It had nothing in common with the real thing. The second stage has not even been ground tested yet, because it does not exist yet.
    Nothing of that exists and nothing was tested here.
    3. The first stage causes severe vibrations that could damage the vehicle and even kill the crew. For this several mechanisms had to be developed, some on the SRB, some between the upper stage and Orion. None of that was tested with Ares1X.
    4. There was no Orion capsule on top of Ares1X either, of course.
    So please tell me, what “flight ready” hardware was Ares1X demonstrating?
    5. The flight was only suborbital. So no orbital speeds were achieved (by far not). No complex control was needed for orbital flight.
    Nothing was tested here either. Or the other way round, I could say that a Trident ICMB has about as much in common with Ares1 as Ares1x has. Both use a solid rocket motor. Heck the Tridents are more of an orbital LV than Ares 1X was.

    In fact, I will say that Falcon 1 has more in common with Falcon9 than Ares1X had with Ares1.

    Meanwhile Delta and Atlas rockets are flying frequently and have been for many years with a near flawless record. Falcon 9 also completed its maiden flight. This flight was orbital and it was all final hardware except for the capsule which was a qualification test item (so not quite a dummy either).

  74. Bethany

    To Messier Tidy Up and others who think Obama cut the Constellation program:

    Let’s provide some data.

    The Obama administration didn’t cut the human space flight program, NASA WANTED THE PROGRAM CUT. If the agency doesn’t want the program why force it to. There are better and more efficient ways of getting people in space.

    The Obama administration didn’t do anything without consulting the agencies that work on space science. The Augustine Commission concluded that the Constellation program was behind schedule, underfunded, and over budget. Read it:
    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/meetings/10_22_pressconference.html

    You can find a really great review at Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Review_of_United_States_Human_Space_Flight_Plans_Committee

  75. Elmar_M

    @Messier, who said: >> I just think it should be them as well as NASA>>

    And where is the funding for that coming from and the funding for ISS on top of that?
    As I said, without AresV and Altair, Ares 1 would have gone nowhere. With the flexible path, there is at least some possible place to go, even without a Altair (one would still need some way to get there though, but there are alternatives suggested by the Augustine commission).
    So with the plan by the Obama administration, the US has at least a place to send their astronauts to (ISS) and multiple commercial partners to choose from for launch contracts to get them there. With Ares 1 allone, what exactly is there in regards to human spaceflight?

  76. Messier Tidy Upper

    Final part (III) of my reply to #64. Elmar_M :
    —————————————-

    These things are all well known and they are not “my opinion”, but the conclusions the independent commission of experts, the Augustine commission. You may have heard of it.

    Yes, natch. Just as I’m sure you’ve heard of Neil Armstrong and many others who’ve expressed opposing views in total disagreement to the Augustine panel conclusions.

    The administration followed their recommendations. IMHO, Obama did an excellent job here. He did exactly what anybody with a decent brain would have done. He did not rely on his own oppinion, he ordered an independent panel of experts to review the situation and then give their recommendations. His decision was clearly based on their recommendations and it was actually, to the point, the same decision that I would have made as well.

    Yes, I take your point but there are equally other experts who disagree & make a good opposing case coming to very different conclusions.

    …the Constellation architecture would have been soooo expensive to maintain that a permanent presence on the moon would have been impossible given the realities NASAs budgets, which Obama acutally INCREASED, btw. And even with this budget increase NASA would have been unable to complete Constellation.

    Well, your side has won – and so we’ll never know now will we? :-(

    I wonder what we’ve missed out, what could’ve been.

    Guess this all moot now. I hope your happy because I’m feeling mad as hell and very depressed about it all. :-(

    Using the “commercials” will be much cheaper, because they will not be paid with expensive cost plus contracts. Instead they will be paid via fixed cost contracts. Cost plus contracts only benefit the porkers like ATK. Of course they would be happy to continue getting government pork instead of proofing their ground in the free market.

    Sorry, ATK = ???

    The “pork” goes into the economy generally and as the BA has pointed out the money isn’t spent in space but on Earth. I’m no economist and that area, frankly, seems verging on a pseudo-science anyhow but I think NASA spending on programs like Constellation is an investment that actually benefits the economy too.

    It is also interesting and noteworthy that the Republicans, who are supposedly sooo much for free markets, quickly forgot about that and rallied against the bill … The same can be said about some idiots on the Democrat side, who even went against their own president and against national interests in order to keep their pork.

    Politics = hypocrisy and points scoring at the expense of supposed principles. I’m not surprised, outraged or anything anymore. Sad but, well, politics. I have pretty much lost all respect and idealism for all politicians. I had hoped Obama would be better than the usual ones. I’ve certainly been disillusioned there.

    Also thinking “misinformation”~wise : Have I said or suggested otherwise? I asked you to say what in your view I spread that was factually inaccurate. I’m seeing disgreement of opinion, analysis & emphasis but no factual accuracies so far.

    Anyway, if everything goes well, then Obamas plan of using the commericals will actually shorten the gap compared to what it would have been under the “old” plan and all that for a lot less money.

    I hope you are right, I really genuinely do.
    I don’t think so but I hope so.
    Anyhow, its over. Obama’s got his way.

    Rest In Peace Constellation – The Lunar return program never-to-be that was aborted before it could fly. We”ll never know what it could’ve accomplished had it gone ahead. Whose names could’ve been on the Moon. How it could’ve perhaps unfolded. Not for certain. :-(

    All I’ll say is that I wish it had been given more of a chance to work. I think Obama got it catastrophically wrong. :-(

    I hope that’s not the case. But ..

  77. Elmar_M

    @Messier Tidy Upper, who said: >>Yes, natch. Just as I’m sure you’ve heard of Neil Armstrong and many others who’ve expressed opposing views in total disagreement to the Augustine panel conclusions.>>

    And Aldrin and many more astronauts supported the administrations plan.
    Armstrong is my hero too, but he has been a bit out if touch with space business lately, compared to Buz, who has been very involved with the space industry and even launch vehicle development. Plus the Augustine commission was not just composed of (former) astronauts. I would take their word over Armstrongs any day.

    Messier wrote : >>Sorry, ATK = ??? >>
    ATK Thiokol.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiokol
    That is the name of the company that makes the SRBs for the shuttle and the first stage for Ares1. They also make ICBMs and pretty much any other solid rocket booster that the US military uses. This makes them a major defense contractor. This also means that they have a very strong lobby on their side. This lobby was doing a really good job at spreading missinformation and lobbying against the Obama admins plan. As one can see in your case, it worked.
    Anyway, the Constellation programme which was conceived by former NASA admin Griffin was layed out to get as much contract money to ATK as possible. They would have been the biggest winners of Constellation. ATK is mainly located in Utah and Alabama, which is why the representants of these states were particularily for keeping Constellation.
    This is also why they insisted on certain wording to be insterted into the Senate bill at last moment.
    To see how the motivation and thinking of these people goes and how why this is a shame, please read here:
    http://mainstreetbusinessjournal.com/articleview.php?articlesid=5409&volume=13&issue=29
    This is how government led launch vehicles and rocket programmes are “designed” in the US and this is why the US has never produced a launch vehicle that was cost effective.
    This is how Constellation was “designed” also and this is why it was bound to fail.
    NASA is supposed to be a science and space exploration agency and not an expensive government job creation programme!

    Messier wrote: >>The “pork” goes into the economy>>

    Uhm and money that goes to the “commercials” does not go “into the economy”?!! The difference is that the commercial launchers give you a better value for the money, because there are no cost plus contracts, but instead fixed cost contracts. You do not have to be an economist to understand the difference (read it up) and why one works and the other does not. With Obama increasing NASAs budget, even more money goes “into the economy”. It is just HOW the money is spent that is different. One is spent in a reasonable fashion, the other is wasteful government spending.

    >>I had hoped Obama would be better than the usual ones. I’ve certainly been disillusioned there.>>
    IMHO, he did wonderful. I could not have done any better. It was congress and the senate that screwed up. The administration did great! I wished everything in politics was done that way and the world would be a much better place. Obama really tried to bring change to NASA on an unpredecented scale.

    Messier wrote:>>Obama’s got his way.>>

    Actually, he did not. The senate bill was a compromise and IMHO not a very good one (though still much better than the house bill would have been).

    Messier wrote>>I think Obama got it catastrophically wrong. >>
    And that opinion is based on what facts? You are being emotional and not scientific! Learn the facts, read up on the facts. Inform yourself, then make an opinion. Dont dream up things that could have been in some fantasy world that is far from any reality and then blame the wrong people when it does not happen. Me and others have tried to point you towards the facts, we have listd websites even. You have demonstrated multiple times in that discussion that you are very uninformed and that you go by your emotions and what you would like to be true instead of the facts. I would love to continue this discussion with you, but only after you have read up on the facts and informed yourself. Read on Hobby space! It is an excellent site, frequented by both enthusiasts and industry veterans. You will find links to articles by well informed people there. Read them and learn!
    Here is the link again:
    http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php

  78. Anchor

    Messier Tidy Upper says, “Well, your side has won – and so we’ll never know now will we? I wonder what we’ve missed out, what could’ve been. Guess this all moot now. I hope your happy because I’m feeling mad as hell and very depressed about it all.”

    Well, BOO HOO. (Cue uncontrollable sobbing)

    Look. Why should anybody here even bother reading the opinion of somebody who supposedly inadvertantly posts a comment (#1) and ‘retracts’ it (#2) for these, um, ‘reasons’: “What the ..?! This post wasn’t supposed to be made. Accidental duplicate deleted. Sorry folks.”

    Nice apology. Guess maybe you just wanted to be first in the cue and got carried away, huh?

    Naturally, you can promote ‘your side’ all you want. You can blubber inconsolably all you want whenever so many others do not agree with your position. Believe it or not, there ARE people who have thought everything out for themselves, and many of them are a good deal more informed and intelligent than you are. They may even form their opinions on a comprehension of the distinction between one’s personal and potentially dubious opinions or fetishes and the harsh actualities of the real world within which events must transpire and dreams may be realized. (Oh dear, here comes another wave…*sob*…*sniff*…).

    Tough world, ain’t it? Shucks, no, I won’t put an obnoxious face on it, as you are wont to do. (Most of us get by expressing our feelings with WORDS instead of ludicrous pictographs).

    You declare, “I have pretty much lost all respect and idealism for all politicians. I had hoped Obama would be better than the usual ones. I’ve certainly been disillusioned there.”

    I have no doubt. What the flaming heck did you expect? President Obama IS a politician. He has to deal with politics and politicians within an intrinsically political system, as well as the changeable sentiments of voters who elect him and them to office. This is an arena that does not suffer fools, nor crybabies. He in fact DID the right thing with the circumstances he inherited. Alas and alack, that might not penetrate the thickness of your particular skull. (uh oh, here it comes…WHAAAAAAA!!!!)

    I’d like to be able to get back to the Moon too. Go to Mars. We ALL would. But if you can’t understand that the (conspicuously UNDERFUNDED) method proposed by the previous administration would NOT have procured those dreams (AND carried the significant risk of killing more astronauts in the bargain, thus setting back manned spaceflight another decade with the first accident) then you live entirely in a fantasy world. Even NASA didn’t like it. Go watch a cheezy sci-fi movie to salve your hurt feelings. The rest of us will continue to do whatever it takes in the screwy real world to reach the stars.

    If only Congress would quit acting like they were rocket scientists, telling NASA HOW to do it instead of simply giving them the mission for NASA to figure out, maybe we COULD start to get somewhere. People like you are useless: you might as well bemoan the widespread use of alternating current. (*sniff*)

  79. Scott de B.

    And yes you’re right about “watching sausages being made” being equivalent to “boring” … like “watching grass grow” and “watching paint dry”

    No, “like watching sausages being made” doesn’t mean it is boring, it means it is sickening — a distinct difference.

  80. Georg

    Hello Scott, Dave and Tim,
    thank You for explanation.
    Meanwhile I started to search for that phrase, I was successful
    in spite of me not believing.
    The phrase is (wrongly by wiki) attributed to Bismarck, but
    nevertheless a German origin is likely (as always when sausage is
    the theme). :=)
    And there is: “Better is not to know what is mixed into the sausage”,
    is a close translation of a German proverb.
    Technically it is easy to work in a lot of “waste” from butchering,
    and it was done in poor times. Cleaning the guts (either fresh
    or imported from China in a salted form, but not cleaned!)
    is not very appetizing. And the sausage “dough” does not look
    really good either.
    I associated the phrase “sausages beeing made” with the final
    process of injection of the mass into the guts. This part is
    “boring”.
    Georg

  81. Messier Tidy Upper

    @80. Elmar_M Says:

    Messier wrote : >>Sorry, ATK = ??? >>
    ATK Thiokol. [link del.] That is the name of the company that makes the SRBs for the shuttle and the first stage for Ares1.

    Thanks for that explaination and the Hobby space link. :-)

  82. Messier Tidy Upper

    @81. Anchor :

    Why should anybody here even bother reading the opinion of somebody who supposedly inadvertantly posts a comment (#1) and ‘retracts’ it (#2) for these, um, ‘reasons’: “What the ..?! This post wasn’t supposed to be made. Accidental duplicate deleted. Sorry folks.”

    You could equally ask why would anybody bother reading your opinion either? :roll:

    What’s wrong with my comment #2 precisely? For some reason instead of posting my first comment once, it posted twice. I didn’t (& don’t) retract my first comment but just I explained that situation for the accidental duplicate of it in what I thought was a humerous, honest, way rather than leave it as a double post. Glad you liked it! ;-)

    I won’t put an obnoxious face on it, as you are wont to do. (Most of us get by expressing our feelings with WORDS instead of ludicrous pictographs).

    They’re called emoticons and, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve used words to express my views here as well. :roll:

    My use of emoticons are just an additional extra touch. :-)

    Emoticons are handy in conveying emotion, emphasis and meaning – I like them and I’m not alone in using them. If you have a problem with them, well tough. They certainly better than SHOUTING RUDELY IN ALL CAPS like you are wont to do! :-P

    What the flaming heck did you expect?

    I expected better.

    I expected Obama to fund NASA incl. Constellation properly rather than abandoning it. If each US President keeps scrapping his predecessors spacecraft we’ll never get anywhere. Constellation may not have been perfect but it was better than nothing. Don’t forget Apollo had major early troubles and came in for harsh criticism early on too.

    People like you are useless:

    Well I’m good for telling *you* to go take a long walk off a short jetty wearing lead boots. :-P

    That’s at least as useful as your abusive comment, Anchor. ;-) :-P

    I suppose people like yourself who like to post abusive, childish and insulting ad hominem attacks on other people here – in violation of the Bad Astronomers “Don’t be a jerk – be polite” policy – are so ve-ery useful to the world? [/sarcasm] :roll:

  83. matt

    @85 Messier: “Constellation may not have been perfect but it was better than nothing.

    Yup. Good thing the alternative isn’t nothing. Does this count as a factual error? An untrue statement? Technically no. But it is certainly a false dichotomy.

    Constellation wasn’t ready to take anybody anywhere. By all accounts the commercials are much closer to manned spaceflight.

    Instead of complaining who scored the goal, you should be happy that our team won.

  84. Alereon

    Quick reminder that Neil Armstrong served on the board of Thiokol (ATK) since after the Challenger explosion. While I’m not calling him a sellout, it’s unrealistic to consider him impartial in the debate over a program that serves primarily to benefit a company he represented for decades. In fact, if you look at most of the pro-Constellation side of the debate, you’ll find lobbyists and others working for the defense contractors that would get the money for this program, sewing FUD about SpaceX and other private space ventures. The Republicans, a party that claims a platform of fiscal responsibility and restrained spending, are perfectly happy to earmark billions of dollars to benefit their patrons in the defense industry.

  85. Elmar_M

    Messier wrote: >>I expected Obama to fund NASA incl. Constellation properly rather than abandoning it. >>
    Even if Obama had put in much, much more money, Constellation would have not been ready before the ISS was to be dumped. So what would the point of that exercise have been?
    Maybe he should have spent extra money on the ISS too?
    So how much more money was Obama to put into this in order “properly” fund Constellation and NASA? It just was a bottomless pitt had shown NO results until then. As I explained to you, nothing of what you have seen of Constellation so far, is in any way final hardware. So far, it is nothing but a paper rocket! The commercials do already have completed rockets that work and that can do the job. So why are they “nothing”, as you put it? It is IMHO unfair to say that.

  86. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Elmar_M & 86. matt : I’m talking about *NASA* having nothing not the “commercials” – or, for that matter, Russia and China which also have vehicles capable of getting humans into orbit.

    Yes, okay the commercials may be able to take over but I’d like to see NASA having the capability of taking US and Western astronaust into orbit if say, FSM forbid, the commercials go bankrupt and Russia tells us to go jump.

    I don’t think that’s a false dichotomy although I guess I could’ve perhaps been clearer in what I meant.

  87. Elmar_M

    @Messier:
    But it is in no way different to what NASA does at the moment too. They too pay commercial companies to build the parts for the shuttle (e.g. the external tank and the boosters). The boosters are e.g. manufactuered by aforementioned ATK. If ATK had gone bankrupt during the shuttle programme, NASA would have been just as stuck (unless some politicians would have pulled the company out of the dirt with hard earned tax money).
    So it really is the same thing. The only difference is that the “commercial” vehicles are not DESIGNED by NASA and NASA is not paying expensive cost plus contracts to these commercial partners, but instead gets a fix price for every launch and it is up to the commercials to make all that happen including NASAs savety and other demands.
    Not having the vehicles designed by NASA has quite a few cost advantages, because politicians cant come up with all sorts of ridiculous demands that have absolutely no reason for existance other than to push pork towards some of their lobbyists.
    Also, it is very unlikely that all of the commercials will go belly up. Dont forget that the ULA consists of both Lockheed and Boeing. Both are already entrusted by the DOD to bring their satellites into orbit too.
    What letting commercials like SpaceX bid on the job does, is allow for competition and to let the best win, not the one that has the best lobby (like ATK). If NASA had their own vehicle that is heavily subsidized by the government, commercials would have a much harder time competing.
    Sigh, I dont get why all that is so hard to see and understand.

  88. Ferris Valyn

    @Messier Tidy Upper

    To add to what Elmar_M said,

    Do you really think its likely that Boeing will go bankrupt?

  89. me

    How could Boeing possibly go bankrupt when they own the patent on the use of the moons gravity.
    Surely they only need to collect from anyone who makes use of the tides.
    http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Boeing_Patent_Shuts_Down_AMC_14_Lunar_Flyby_Salvage_Attempt_999.html

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