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NASA Mars Politics

Journalist: NASA Administrator Has Short Memory on Changing Space Policy (spacenews.com) 87

MarkWhittington writes: Recently, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated that NASA would be "doomed" if the next president were to deviate in any way from the current Journey to Mars program. Space journalist and founder of the America Space website Jim Hillhouse took exception to Bolden's assertion in a letter to the aerospace newspaper Space News. In the process, Hillhouse provides a good summary of how space policy has evolved during the past five years under the Obama administration.
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Journalist: NASA Administrator Has Short Memory on Changing Space Policy

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  • The course changes by the politics stopped so many good projects, and made it impossible to get anything big done. Just let them finish something. Space projects need time, more than a presidency term.
    • You can blame Bush all you want, and I can point to the fact that it was Obama who wanted to turn NASA into a moslem appeasing agency

      http://www.space.com/8725-nasa... [space.com]

      Both arguments wont get us anywhere

      I don't care if it is Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan or ... they are all politicians and American politicians simply can not understand science

      Whether or not NASA survive depends on one thing - the WILL for America to push forward its space program - whatever sitting president wants to dick around it shoul

      • It was under both Bush and Obama that politics changed things a lot. Politics should just mostly stay out of this.
    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @10:35AM (#50948007) Journal

      The different presidents have certainly had very different priorities for NASA. Mr. Bolden (the head of NASA), said these are the three things Obama asked him to do with NASA (quoting):

      When I became the Nasa administrator, he [Obama] charged me with three things.
      One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math;
      he wanted me to expand our international relationships;
      and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        ....
        and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good

        Having not heard this previously, I wondered if you were trolling at first. But, it turned up at the top of my google search. I wonder how that's been working for him?

      • LOL.
        Yeah. No. [nasawatch.com]
        • The White House made first tried excuses ("work with the best engineers from around the world") . Then they sent out a spokesman who said only that he, the spokesman, didn't know what Obama had told Bolden. The spokesman said he didn't know, he didn't say that Obama had not directed NASA to make caressing muslim egos their "foremost priority".

          Bolden apparently DID know what Obama directed him to do.
          "I don't know" is really not "yeah, no".

          • yeah, you can keep stroking yourself but in the end, most are going to find that you right-wing nut jobs have very little integrity or honesty.
        • That looks a lot like a standard non-denial. I figured it was just a ridiculous joke when the OP posted it, but having read through the entire contents at the link you provided, I actually now find it to be significantly more credible. It sounds like something that was intended to be a private conversation went public and that the administration needed to backpedal. Saying you don't know but don't think something sounds right is an easy way to do just that.

          • by tsotha ( 720379 )
            It's not a joke, but on the other hand I don't know how serious it was, either. My impression is the Muslim outreach stuff was a throwaway political line that was never meant to be acted upon.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one who finds the Jim Hillhouse article difficult to read? Each sentence is packed with so many extraneous details that it's easy to forget the point. Take the following sentence, for example. (Note that this is only one sentence.)

    The Obama administration on Feb. 1, 2010, proposed canceling the Constellation program and therefore any NASA means for reaching space, but by Sept. 29, 2010, after months of hearings, substantial bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate largely rejected

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Welcome to US space policy. It is by its nature difficult to read. Where it isn't painfully complex, it is painfully stupid.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @07:02AM (#50946535)

    Given Boldenâ(TM)s desire to pursue the âoeJourney to Mars,â it would seem only natural that the Orion and SLS programs, the only means currently in development for taking us beyond low Earth orbit, would be doing well since 2010. They are, but not for lack of effort by the Obama administration to underfund them â" proposals that congressional appropriators each year reverse. Since 2012, annual White House proposed budgets for NASA have fallen short of authorized levels by 78 percent and 70 percent respectively for the Orion or SLS programs.

    Funny, how, once again, dead end, expensive rocketry projects are hyped as being the "only" way. I'll point to the Falcon Heavy as an obvious alternative platform for NASA to go to Mars. Or if you want competition and can't be bothered to fund other big rocket development, you can fall back to the 20-25 ton range and use more than half a dozen or more different rocket systems throughout the world (Falcon 9, Atlas V Heavy, Delta IV Heavy, Soyuz, Angara, Ariane V, and Chang Zheng 5).

    If at the ending of Constellation, Congress had funded deep space projects for NASA rather than the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA could be doing deep space projects now, rather than hypothetical ones some point after 2023.

    • Funny, how, once again, dead end, expensive rocketry projects are hyped as being the "only" way. I'll point to the Falcon Heavy as an obvious alternative platform for NASA to go to Mars.

      First, Falcon Heavy [wikipedia.org] doesn't exist as a production product yet. Second, until we have a robust and competitive group of commercial rocket vendors it will remain necessary for NASA to make sure we have at least one option available, even if that option is economically non-optimal. Even if Falcon Heavy becomes a working and reliable products (and we have every reason to believe it will), tying yourself to a single vendor is still not a good idea if you can avoid it.

      If at the ending of Constellation, Congress had funded deep space projects for NASA rather than the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA could be doing deep space projects now, rather than hypothetical ones some point after 2023.

      If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts the

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        First, Falcon Heavy doesn't exist as a production product yet.

        It's much further along than SLS. SpaceX claims they'll launch it next year. SLS isn't even to the point of starting to build something that can be launched.

        Second, until we have a robust and competitive group of commercial rocket vendors it will remain necessary for NASA to make sure we have at least one option available, even if that option is economically non-optimal.

        No, that isn't NASA's job. Once again, we have the ridiculous assertion that NASA is doing something so vital that it needs to secure its own ridiculously expensive launch systems in case something bad happens to an existing launch system.

        And we still have the problem of the money. NASA funding has been almost flat for about 40 years. Where's the mo

        • It's much further along than SLS. SpaceX claims they'll launch it next year. SLS isn't even to the point of starting to build something that can be launched.

          True but not relevant to my point. Furthermore what are the contingency plans if SpaceX drops the ball or goes out of business? Don't let optimism cloud your judgement.

          No, that isn't NASA's job

          I'm afraid it is NASA's job. Congress made it NASA's job. While I agree with you that at this point it shouldn't be their job any longer we haven't made the transition yet and until we do NASA remains the only civilian government agency with the expertise to facilitate this activity. NASA seems to recognize this and is transitioning away

        • Please tell me how NASA is going to use the $3B that is allotted for SLS by Congress (e.g. it's a federal law, and diverting that money to other purposes would be an actual CRIME) for anything else? Do you think that Congress wouldn't find out? Do you think that when they found out they would just say "aww shucks, well I guess my lobbyists get to go tell their clients that they don't get their pork after all, because NASA decided to break federal law / be in contempt of Congress and we're not going to do

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            Please tell me how NASA is going to use the $3B that is allotted for SLS by Congress

            Have Congress allot the money for something else.

            If you're not happy with the direction NASA is going, tell your elected Congressional representative. And do it in writing, because emails are very easy to ignore.

            I'll need a few million of my favorite friends to do that too.

            • So, literally in one sentence you say to just tell Congress to do something and expect it shall come to pass, and then in the next sentence you say how that doesn't ever happen.

              Good luck with that.

              • by khallow ( 566160 )

                So, literally in one sentence you say to just tell Congress to do something and expect it shall come to pass, and then in the next sentence you say how that doesn't ever happen.

                So what? I don't expect anything here, including that NASA actually does the job that it was meant to do.

                At this point, advocating any sort of semi-effective space development strategy for NASA is pushing a wet noodle. There aren't enough people interested and there isn't enough utility in space activities (including exploration and science) to justify it. This is a dead end.

                If SpaceX delivers on Falcon Heavy, then I'll advocate to protect them from destruction. But I won't bother with what NASA does

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        In addition, if NASA really wants another large launch system for back up, throw some money at the United Launch Alliance to upgrade one of their rockets.
    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      We know why they have beaten the Constellation dead horse. It space shuttle legacy. It is pork. The space shuttle represented a lot of pork. And too many didn't' want to give that up. Hence constellation. I mean still solid boosters for man rated stacks? Really?
  • > NASA would be doomed

    Well guess what. Presidents clobber previous ones' big projects all the time, including previous plans to go to Mars and back to the moon. Obama clobbered the giant rocket that would have taken over for the space shuttle, to save money, and let the Russians ferry us around for some years.

    Then it turned out they were still Rooskies.

    Now the child of that rocket is back on the fast track, golly.

    See, clearing out the previous guy's stuff lets you simultaneously save money and deny him

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Tuesday November 17, 2015 @09:08AM (#50947215)

    Bolden's an ass and a political hack. And, absent a fundamental change, Congress is never going to give NASA enough money to establish a meaningful human presence in space. In the meantime, we flush billions down the toilet with monkeys in a can in LEO, starve real space science nearly to death, and pretend we're going to Mars.

    • I wish I had mod points today...you would get all of them!
    • Mod up. That sort of wraps up the discussion.

      I'll add: Congress wouldn't have given the money for Apollo either. Kennedy did that, and he had to do 3 things to get it done.

      1. Give a damn good speech.
      2. Back the Soviets down in Cuba.
      3. Get shot in the head.

  • TFA leaves out one important change to NASA policy brought by Obama early in his administration. This [space.com] is not a joke or a smear -- it really happened.

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