Armstrong vs Aldrin on the future of the space program?

posted at 9:30 am on April 14, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

I grew up in the space program, as the Admiral Emeritus worked for one of its main contractors (North American Aviation/Rockwell) from before my birth to the late 1980s, when he finally retired as a quality control engineer in the Space Shuttle program.  The names Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell, and Eugene Cernan loomed large in that era as men who risked everything to push America to victory in the space race.  When they speak with a united voice about the direction of the space program today, their words carry the weight of many years of sacrifice and honor.

Unfortunately, in this case, they may not be correct — and they’re not quite united, either.  Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, blasted Barack Obama’s decision to cut the Constellation program and focus on a “flexible” strategy for future space flights:

The first man to walk on the moon blasted President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel NASA’s back-to-the-moon program on Tuesday, saying that the move is “devastating” to America’s space effort.

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong’s open letter was also signed by Apollo 17commander Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon; and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, who is marking the 40th anniversary of his famous lunar non-landing this week. …

The most controversial part of the president’s policy is the cancellation of the Constellation program, which was aimed at developing a new generation of Ares rockets and Orion spacecraft to send astronauts into Earth orbit and beyond. …

Canceling Constellation could lead to thousands of layoffs at some of America’s biggest aerospace contractors, including Lockheed Martin, the Boeing Co. and ATK. Such job losses are among the factors behind congressional opposition to the cancellation. Armstrong and his fellow astronauts emphasize the bigger implications, however, and say in their letter that the decision would put the nation on a “long downhill slide to mediocrity.”

The letter notes that the U.S. space effort will be dependent for years to come on the Russians for transport to the International Space Station, at a cost of more than $50 million per seat.

Meanwhile, Buzz Aldrin — the man who followed Armstrong onto the Moon in that historic mission almost 41 years ago — says his colleagues have it wrong:

On the other side of the debate, the most outspoken Apollo-era advocate of NASA’s new policy is the man who was Armstrong’s co-pilot for the first moon landing: Buzz Aldrin.

“Many said the president’s decision was misguided, short-sighted and disappointing,” Aldrin wrote in an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal. “Having the experience of walking on the moon’s surface on the Apollo 11 mission, I think he made the right call. If we follow the president’s plan, our next destination in space, Mars, will be within our reach.”

The decision looks bad politically, especially with the job losses at the contractors looming large in a moribund economy.  Those are manufacturing jobs, high-paying, that won’t get absorbed by other industries.  They could cause a flight to other countries among aerospace companies, which could have a tremendously negative impact on our national security, and which might get amplified if Obama becomes bearish on new military systems as well.

Furthermore, the direction of NASA is in danger of being hijacked.  NBC reports that Joe Biden more or less admitted that any boost to their budget will likely be tied to global-warming nonsense rather than space exploration and actual scientific accomplishment.  Instead of sending men to the Moon and Mars, we’ll be sending cash to the UN for the excuse to impose state control over energy production.

On the other hand, the “flexible” strategy moves, oddly for this administration, more towards a decentralized, private market approach to space flight.  Rather than dictate designs and systems through NASA, the new plan relies more on acting like a venture-capital plan for innovation by companies looking to create that kind of market.  Many have predicted the commercial expansion into space, but the costs and the uncertain demand make this extraordinarily difficult to accomplish.  Space travel and exploration are still almost exclusively government affairs, except for commercial satellite launches, which don’t hold any promise for significant exploration beyond Earth orbit.   Also, that $50 million per seat looks like a pretty good deal for a handful of trips to the Space Station, considering the billions it would cost to perform those launches ourselves, if one doesn’t add the calculation of the political cost of access to the Russian program.

For conservatives demanding fiscal discipline from a Leviathan government, the questions are even more difficult.  Should we demand spending in this area, when a private market approach could work?  Republicans at the SRLC demanded a return to small federal government focused on the basics outlined in the Constitution.  At least for now, would that include exploration in space, or should it instead insist on shedding programs like this to return to fiscal sanity?

At this stage, the private-market approach seems unrealistic, but the days of big government programs should have been over a long time ago.  Maybe it’s time to take the small-government, private-market path and see where that leads.


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I know there have been a lot of great things invented by NASA … but that’s not why I’m for the space program.

I know that I am very ANTI-spending – but to me, the space program is so important to the health of this nation that we can’t afford not to fund it. Hell – I would even fund it at the expense of a few military programs if necessary – but I think there is fat in other places in the budget.

But … people need to realize our history as Americans – it’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS been about growing and exploring and expanding. That, combined with our Democracy – is what made us great for over 200 years. That’s what made us the best nation this planet ever saw.

We CAME to this land as explorers.

When we established ourselves here – we moved WEST.

We even toyed with a bit of imperialism after that – because we, as a nation, needed to explore new lands, and expand.

When we ran out of opportunities for that – the space program came along. My God people – we put a man (many men) on the moon using technology that is DWARFED today by the IPad. The men we put up there were just as important to the success of those mission as the technology was. It was a WHITE KNUCKLE effort all the way – and it was Americans that made it happen.

The sight of those Americans on the moon – I’m convinced – helped keep this nation together during the late ’60′s … a time of political assasinations, political betrayal and great civil unrest. But, as a kid – I could always look at Neil Armstrong standing on the moon as an example that America was the greatest nation on earth – just like my teachers (back then) would tell me in school.

I remember speaking to a Nasa scientist in 1978 and he showed me a picture of what they thought the space shuttle would look like. I said to him … “that’s awesome – can it fly to the moon faster than apollo?”

He told me … “No son, we’re not going to the moon anymore – this is an ORBITAL vehicle”.

Immediately a wave of depression came over me – we were taking a step backward here with the space shuttle – and I was right – after these thirty years of the space shuttle – there’s not many truly inspiring stories to tell about it.

It was Carter that gave us that damned shuttle – and took our dreams of space away. And now it’s Obama that’s killing the whole show.

We are worse off as a nation when the only men who have ever walked on the Moon are all getting ready to die.

Screw the budget … screw free enterprise and the whole capitalist system – it’s a disaster that Obama is killing them but …

When he takes away the one thing that kept us special – the one thing that most heavily influenced the way we thought of ourselves. He’s not just a socialist – he’s something more sinister.

HondaV65 on April 14, 2010 at 12:54 PM

America put the first man on the moon. Not ACME Space Incorporated. I didn’t lay down on the floor in front of my grandparents TV with my brothers and sisters and all our cousins and aunts and uncles to watch the flag of some company be planted on the moon.

Cowboys. Soldiers. Astronauts. Who will be our heroes in the 21st century?

Jaynie59 on April 14, 2010 at 10:24 AM

What a memory you just conjured up in my mind. The night man first walked on the moon; it was 9:00 at night where I lived, we were just elementary school age, so it was a treat to get our pillows and sit in front of our black and white television and watch history being made.

The disappointment in knowing that this part of our Country’s history is being left behind, is absolutely heartbreaking to me.

Susanboo on April 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM

In general I agree but why are so many of you willing to believe NASA is somehow a relatively efficient organization?

You’re missing the point. Exploration isn’t efficient. It’s exploration. Efficiency comes from the industries that will arise to support the exploration, and that’s where profit lies. Columbus wasn’t efficient, but you can bet that the guys who built the ships that went behind him became very efficient and putting them together and getting them into service and turning a profit.

NASA needs to be the explorer. Get to the Moon, set up shop and start bringing up industry (private). Then jump off to points further out and drag civilians and industry along behind.

Exploration isn’t efficient, never has been, never will be. Shouldn’t be.

I can guarantee you however, that exploration has VERY VERY VERY high rate of return regardless of it’s efficiency.

Jason Coleman on April 14, 2010 at 1:02 PM

The disappointment in knowing that this part of our Country’s history is being left behind, is absolutely heartbreaking to me.

Susanboo on April 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Even worse for people like me who weren’t around to see the moon landings and are watching the US relegate ‘space exploration’ to thrill rides for the uber-rich. (as skydaddy pointed out)

I fear we’ll have nothing positive of note to look back on at this rate. Previous generations won a world war against long odds, went to the moon on primitive technology, kicked Jim Crow to the curb, stared down the USSR in the most direct manner possible…

What’ll we have to remember? 9/11? “Mission Accomplished”?

Dark-Star on April 14, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Armstrong and Aldrin are both correct.

We need to return to the Moon *and* go to Mars. In fact, we need to do everything. We need to explore, we need to build, we need to push the boundaries. We need to exploit the literally limitless resources of space. We need a permanent human presence in space. We need to become a spacefaring civilization. There’s all kinds of ways to get to that point, but we need to recognize that as the goal.

We must spread the seeds of Earth far and wide, because if we do not do this, we will eventually become extinct, guaranteed.

That’s called vision. It’s something completely foreign to this administration.

ZenDraken on April 14, 2010 at 1:07 PM

People miss the point when it comes to private vs public exploration of space.

Corporate exploration of space would be based soley on profitability. That’s the way corporations roll and that’s the way they should roll.

There weren’t many corporations sitting around listening to Sputnik and thinking … “Geeze! We should be up there too! We can make some money!”

The stimulus behind our space program was the fact that the US Government didn’t want to concede space to the Soviets. We poured a helluva lot of money into that program – with no profit, in fact – huge losses pretty much. We would still be waiting on corporations to get to the moon if we had gone that route.

NASA, like any other government organization is hugely inefficient – but, that’s the cost of doing business here. I still think it’s worth it – for the positive effects it produces for the nation.

Also – when Neil Armstrong put his feet on the moon – every American taxpayer was a stockholder in that effort.

HondaV65 on April 14, 2010 at 1:11 PM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT

pseudonominus on April 14, 2010 at 1:15 PM

We need a safe, reliable surface-to-orbit transportation system.

Once we get into orbit, we are halfway to anywhere.

pseudonominus on April 14, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Last I checked, Aldrin wasn’t much of a space expert…oops.

joeindc44 on April 14, 2010 at 1:33 PM

The disappointment in knowing that this part of our Country’s history is being left behind, is absolutely heartbreaking to me.

Susanboo on April 14, 2010 at 12:58 PM

I was 10. My grandparents had a color TV. The console kind that was like a piece of nice furniture. My Nana kept all her old throw pillows in the front hall closet. When we grandkids came over we used to go to the closet, get the pillows out, and lay down on the wall to wall carpet in front of the TV. There were 10 grandkids altogether but half of them were teenagers by then, so they sat on the couches and chairs and the arms of the couches and chairs with the adults.

I was one of the little kids on the floor.

Jaynie59 on April 14, 2010 at 1:40 PM

For conservatives demanding fiscal discipline from a Leviathan government, the questions are even more difficult. Should we demand spending in this area, when a private market approach could work?

it’s just not economically viable for the private market to get involved. The technology is not there and will not be there unless the government, with the help of the Private sector as they are doing now, funds the development.

Once we reach the moon and are able to commericalize it then the economic benefits will be immediate. Especially when we can use the moon as a new launch site to explore mineral rich asteroids and at some point, Mars.

Sometimes the government needs to fund a Lewis and Clark and others will soon follow.

Daemonocracy on April 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

The initial effort to get in space has an enormous cost. Private industry will not invest unless they know they will get a good return. But nobody knows if the return will be good, bad, or indifferent until somebody spends the initial money to go out there and look.

The same could be said of the American West prior to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The future of human liberty is in space. Humans need to go somewhere off the map, where Big Mama Government can’t reach them, for good or for ill. Many of our current tensions are due to us being stuck in a limited space. If there were a colony on the Moon or Mars, how many of us would pack up and leave right now? Just try and take away my land if it’s all the way on Gliese 587d. Wanna clamp down? We’d declare independence. Try and stop us.

The credible threat of such a thing has been what has kept tyranny in check throughout history. It is no coincidence the rise of fascistic forms of governance in the wake of the planet being almost fully explored.

Sekhmet on April 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

Daemonocracy on April 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

1 2 3 JINX! You owe me beer!

Sekhmet on April 14, 2010 at 2:20 PM

I’m a NASA contractor employee and I’m really unhappy with the direction this president wants to take us. I was sad to See Aldrin’s stand on the issue as well. I am encouraged by that other big names in space history have come out against the President’s plan for NASA.

Personally, I don’t understand the notion that we should go to Mars without going to the Moon first. It’ like trying to run a marathon without being able to do a 5K.

The US space program needs to learn how to live away from the Earth on another celestial body before we try to travel to Mars. Obviously, the Moon is the place. It’s far enough away to build the experience and confidence to do it, yet close enough to return in the event of big troubles. All sorts of techniques and hardware for use on Mars can be tested and refined in preparation for that trip on the moon.

Why are giving up our only human-rated launch vehicle, the Space Shuttle? We are placing ourselves at the mercy of the Russians to get into orbit. When they are the only game in town, expect their prices to rise. If diplomatic relations between the US and Russia break down, what then? We’re zero-fault tolerant on being able to get into orbit once the Shuttle is retired. If there are any problems with the Soyuz (political or technical), there’s no alternative.
Then the Russians can hold the fate of the space station over our heads, since they control the only means to get there.

I also do not understand the idea that a commercial vehicle would be cheaper than the Orion/Ares. Regardless as to who builds this next vehicle, NASA will still have to certify it for human use. It’s not going to be cheap, no matter how it’s sliced.

BobOfTexas on April 14, 2010 at 2:28 PM

The NASA yearly budget is spent by the entitlement programs in the programs in thirty seconds. We get a bargain in our support for NASA, and for every one dollar spent in the NASA budget there is a 7 dollar return in commercial technologies.

What this seems like is a hijack of the NASA mission by people who want to use NASA to bring credibility back in the global warming debate. Armstrong is absolutely right; the Ares program was putting us back on track towards the moon and evenually to Mars. Armstrong is a quiet man and has avoided the spotlight for 40 years, instead enjoying the private life of a respected citizen in his community. For him to give this up with so vocal a criticism speaks volumes of his concern, and the concerns of many space veterans that we’re going to make a dangerous slide we may not recover from.

itsspideyman on April 14, 2010 at 2:32 PM

long downhill slide to mediocrity

I would say that is a running theme in the Obama regime.

bitsy on April 14, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Some are saying is we aim for the moon again, thats where we’ll stay and we will take forever moving from there. We have the Space Station. We’ve spent a ton of money building it and risked American lives all to pay 50M now a seat to Russia to get to it. I dont know why they dont keep the Shuttle going a couple years more since the Shuttles are 50% use of life, and build a sub station further out to go from Station to Station then ultimately to Mars and scrap say the Hubble 2 if you will and keep the current Hubble upgrading. The moon is a dirty dusty hulk of a place which will get us nowhere anytime soon other than a military advantage. It makes sense to shoot for Mars just like walking on ice you think may be unsafe. Ease out a little at a time, learning all the way. The main things are the jobs. Watch what happens to the Space jobs in Florida. Conditions are not favorable to retire, so you may very well have rocket scientists working in walmarts until they can retire.

johnnyU on April 14, 2010 at 2:45 PM

We could always send ALdrin and Armstrong back to the moon and let them duke it out in 1/6th gravity. LOL.

johnnyU on April 14, 2010 at 2:46 PM

I’m currently employed by Lockheed and have been developing the Orion Crew Vehicle for the past 2 years so obviously I’m biased in favor of keeping it and my job.

hanzblinx on April 14, 2010 at 3:00 PM

I say we rocket these two to the Moon and have them fight it out. I’m sure one of the major cable outlets would cover it.

Captain America on April 14, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Personally, I don’t understand the notion that we should go to Mars without going to the Moon first. It’ like trying to run a marathon without being able to do a 5K.
BobOfTexas on April 14, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Or like becoming the President without having ever accomplished anything beforehand. Disaster follows this plan.

batterup on April 14, 2010 at 3:23 PM

hanzblinx on April 14, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Some of us very much appreciate what you and Lockheed have been doing for us … I hope and pray it will not’ve been for nothing.

Tony737 on April 14, 2010 at 3:25 PM

So the duufus-in-cheif revives a program he killed just two months ago.

Brilliant.

pseudonominus on April 14, 2010 at 3:34 PM

When you piss off Neil Armstrong and make him come out publicly against you, then you know you’ve done something very wrong.

WordsMatter on April 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM

We should be going to Mars and the Moon on a weekly bases as soon as our tax rate is below 10% and we only use surplus funds after our national debt is paid.

TheSitRep on April 14, 2010 at 4:14 PM

However, real space science and exploration is squarely in the realm of government, because it takes tens of billions of dollars – not tens of millions – to do it.

Quite. Which is why the Wright Bros. were beaten to “first flight” by the Gov’t-supported Langley. Ignore all those press reports and photos showing the Aerodrome tipping into the Potomac while the Flyer soars; damned Libertarian lies and Photoshop, those are.

(Do I really need to “/sarc” that?)

You won’t see a private company land a rover on Mars, or a man on the moon, anytime in the next three decades. A focused government effort, properly funded, could do both within 20 years.

skydaddy on April 14, 2010 at 12:50 PM

I’ll be blunt. I don’t want to see “A focused government effort” land a rover or man on Mars “within 20 years.” The only way you’ll get that is if you skip the infrastructure on orbit that will allow ME or YOU to go, on our own nickel, in 25 or 30 years. Sure, the trip won’t be cheap, but will be more probable than either of us becoming NASA astronauts, I think. But right now we don’t have the underlying technologies to build that infrastructure. THAT is what the new NASA plan is – develop and build the infrastructure that lets us accelerate HSF for exploration, exploitation, and colonization in the next phases.

That was the sort of task that NACA had before it got sucked into NASA, and was the sort of task that made American aircraft not only the best in the world, bar none, but also the most widely available. It worked for aviation, it can work again for space.

Blacksmith on April 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

JohnnyU, I’m not certain where that 50% number comes from, but after the very last launch, the risk of catastrophic failure will increase significantly. Certain upgrades and modifications would have needed to be completed years ago and were not, due to budget constraints. While most aeronautical enterprises are and should be aware of risk, NASA’s culture today is to do it right – every time. Failure in their business is a highly public affair.

I have a weekly meeting with one of the men whose voice is counted on mission safety and flight. He’s been on Shuttle since the beginning – up 4 times, first as a specialist, once as a pilot and twice as commander. 1 in 8 are the odds of failure. Would you hop on Delta Airlines if they said you had a 1 in 8 chance of getting to your destination? Without numerous mods, which would ground the shuttles until completed, those vehicles likely aren’t going anywhere except museums.

Armstrong is right on this. Aldren is sadly mistaken and misguided. And counting on the Russians for transport indefinitely is a very, very bad idea.

av8tr on April 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Ironically, I think Obama is correct in this (cf stopped clocks…). Curious that when he wants to make something less costly and more efficient, he hands it over to the private sector…

In any case, it is true that corporations will not, by themselves, take us to Mars or the asteroids, or anywhere else outside of LEO/GEO. Point is, they don’t have to. There is money to be made in sub-orbital and orbital access, and the incentive to make a profit will ultimately result in cheaper access to near-Earth space. As one commenter noted earlier, once you’re in orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere in the Solar System. NASA could then look away –alas, probably only briefly– from the silly Climate-Change ™ nonsense, and devote itself to becoming a customer of these commercial launch platforms (perhaps commissioning mission-specific or general purpose upper stages for escape-from-orbit capabilities) to loft the pure-science stuff it does best.

Such an approach would split the difference between Manhattan Project/Apollo-grade endeavors (which get mired in cost-plus government contracting and pork-barrel politics), and a purely commercial approach which won’t offer a profit at least till HE3 fusion becomes commercially viable.

For now, I look to the Bransons and the Bigelows, and Allens, and the Rutans to pave the way out of the well. If they build it, we will rise.

Noocyte on April 14, 2010 at 5:13 PM

THAT is what the new NASA plan is – develop and build the infrastructure that lets us accelerate HSF for exploration, exploitation, and colonization in the next phases.

Blacksmith on April 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM

What are you smoking and where can we get some of it. The new plan does nothing to create orbital infrastructure to support HSF. In fact, the new plan abandons most of the infrastructure in place for a new expanded focus on atmospheric measurement to support climate change hysteria.

They are LITERALLY taking reams of documents/specs/plans/data and NASA administrative documents out of facilities in Huntsville and dumping them in the trash. Next comes the disposal of NASA hardware, then the reduction in facilities, including labs, test benches and tables and assembly facilities are all to be decommissioned at Huntsville, Michoud and Kennedy, then onward to decommissioning Houston and most of the civilian side of Vandenberg.

There’s no new NASA infrastructure being created for the next stage of HSF, rather they are hamstringing any future development of HSF at NASA. Administrators have been given instructions to destroy key components of existing plans in order to prevent a future administration from starting them back up.

So I ask again, what have you been smoking to see this rape of the American space program as a “rebuilding of infrastructure”?

As for “private” space endeavors, anyone who’s buying into any administration proposal about private space flight ought to look at the newest EPA regs about commercial rocketry. Within a 5 to 8 year window, it will be pretty near impossible to launch a rocket from an American facility, unless it’s a coke bottle filled with pressurized air, and even then they’ll have to have an environmental assessment.

Jason Coleman on April 14, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Relying on private companies is a non starter, if one wishes to get beyond LEO.

Think of everything beyond LEO as Antarctica — politically and legally.

So the only thing a private company can legally do is to make parts for some governments space venture, but, beyond the contract, collect no rewards.

Hussein’s plan just makes more ISS and thrill-seeking tourist rides into low orbit. No one goes to the Moon or Mars or some asteroid via a private venture – only the Chinese, Russians (who have a State space exploration policy) will go. American can be content to visit LEO and other frivolities, while the real exploration moves elsewhere.

Friendly21 on April 14, 2010 at 8:14 PM

Jason Coleman on April 14, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Never said “RE”building of infrastructure. I said building. As in we’ve never HAD that infrastructure – particularly orbital refueling. And if you go read the Augustine Commission Report, then you’ll find it in there as part of the Flexible Plan.

I’ll admit to being imprecise with my terms though – the actual construction of hardware isn’t outlined at this point. The designs haven’t been made and we still need to figure out how to store the more useful fuels (cryogenics) for the long term in space (aka the “boiloff problem”). It’s the basic research into that sort of problem – though not refueling exclusively – that is being funded. That’s not the sort of thing we’d normally expect business to look into at this point of technical maturity. It’s an ideal project for a government-lab though, while industry handles the mundane access to LEO mission that we’ve been doing for almost 50 years.

They are LITERALLY taking reams of documents/specs/plans/data and NASA administrative documents out of facilities in Huntsville and dumping them in the trash.

Bull. NASA never throws away studies or documentation. If you want, you can go find some of their original studies going back to the NACA days (I do on a regular basis – I recommend the Ames Research Center’s portal for ease of use, compared with the others). Hardware scrapping I’ll give you – rebuilding that is a pain, even if we do have the blueprints for all the tooling necessary. But if the designs are obsolete, then why rebuild them? As opposed to building something better? Why rebuild Gemini capsules and Titan IIs when we can stick Orions atop newer-build Atlases and Deltas?

Administrators have been given instructions to destroy key components of existing plans in order to prevent a future administration from starting them back up.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Have you these orders recorded, either in writing or taped? IF TRUE, then I share your outrage. IF NOT, then please don’t make crap up.

As for “private” space endeavors, anyone who’s buying into any administration proposal about private space flight ought to look at the newest EPA regs about commercial rocketry. Within a 5 to 8 year window, it will be pretty near impossible to launch a rocket from an American facility, unless it’s a coke bottle filled with pressurized air, and even then they’ll have to have an environmental assessment.

EPA regs are pointless, stupid, and arbitrary; most of them should be overturned as swiftly as possible, with Congress enacting what few regs are needed (thus allowing for the possibility of repeal). Dictates from the executive branch are something we never should have tolerated when Nixon started that agency, and really shouldn’t have put up with going back at least as far as FDR (maybe even further). If we commit economic suicide-by-regulation then we damn well DESERVE to fall. It’s simple survival of the fittest, in that regard.

But all that said, American companies are not the same thing as American facilities. A good analogy is Ford – who happen to own controlling stakes in several foreign brands. Do you consider Mazda an American brand? Because of the Ford ownership, I do. The brainpower of the company is American, the decisions made are American, so what does it matter than half the cars are made in UAW factories in Flat Rock while the other half are built in Hiroshima? A New-Space company with its engineering and corporate arms based in the US, but launching from somewhere more advantageous – for whatever reason – is to my mind no less American for not launching here in the US.

Blacksmith on April 15, 2010 at 10:36 AM

As for “private” space endeavors, anyone who’s buying into any administration proposal about private space flight ought to look at the newest EPA regs about commercial rocketry. Within a 5 to 8 year window, it will be pretty near impossible to launch a rocket from an American facility, unless it’s a coke bottle filled with pressurized air, and even then they’ll have to have an environmental assessment.

Bingo!! The Obama admin is hostile not only to business and new ventures in general, but its EPA is going to crush commercial spaceflight. If commercial is the way to go, then the Obama admin should be streamlining and updating regs, making it easier to get certified and put the space traffic control and management system into place to facilitate commercial flights. So folks like Blacksmith can say “overturn them,” but how?? Certainly, the Obama admin is not about to CUT regulations anywhere but instead layer on more and more and more.

Want commercial space flight? Then NASA should devote a significant part of its research to reuseable space flight systems and technologies, the OCST/DOT/FAA should create rational regs for regular space flight and lay in the groundwork for commercial/civil space flight traffic controls and processes, and the other agencies like EPA (which has already killed 14 astronauts, btw) need to be pared down and back-seated away from this industry sector. It also needs to be defended by the envronmentalists (who have killed 14 astronauts) and the international “community” who would prevent it from ever taking off…little things like proposed revisions to the Outer Space Treaty that would make commercial activities in space illegal in most areas and ventures and deny private property ownership of any piece of space rock or plot of Lunar soil, using a Law of the Sea Treaty extension to space.

THAT would show he’s serious. This plan is just aircover to get folks off his back for a bit, it’s not a serious space policy and certainly not visionary.

EasyEight on April 15, 2010 at 12:43 PM

paulrtaylor on April 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM
anikol on April 14, 2010 at 10:55 AM

I love how these handles came out of obscurity just to take a big dump all over the space program, and then disappear again. Nice having you around, fellaz. Y’all come back now, y’hear?

Count to 10 on April 14, 2010 at 11:16 AM

At least you’re present, and consistent. :) But on the question of manned space travel, I’ve seen you ignore valid points before, brush them aside without taking them on. It may be that you just didn’t consider those reasons to be very important to you, and if so, then fine… but that doesn’t mean others don’t consider them important.

RD on April 15, 2010 at 3:36 PM

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