How To Destroy NASA and Our Future

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While so many other things have been going on here in the country, the problems of NASA have been swept under the rug.  I’ve always tried to be honest when it comes to the Bush Administration, promising to complain about things when I thought it was necessary.  Right now, I’m complaining.  Something is going on within the Administration, the OMB, and NASA in general.  And  –  it isn’t good.  If we aren’t careful, and if Barack Obama is elected, say good-by to NASA (and our future). The very real problem is that the Bush Administration needs to okay the shuttle program to survive past it’s planned mortality of 2010.  Right now NASA is losing.

Space Politics

It is quite obvious the shuttle program was not planned to survive this long.  But, as always, the Democrats in the House and Senate NEVER allow us to go any farther.  All they want is keep flushing money down the welfare handout give everything away toilet.  And, currently our economy is paying the price for it.  Unfortunately, when things get tough, financially, the Democrats and liberals get tough, financially, on NASA. All we need to do is look at their duplicity in the banking industry and their failure to pass GWB’s reform package to see where the problem is.

“…While Weldon spent much of the statement criticizing Nelson’s seemingly contradictory statements about extending the shuttle while also buying Soyuz (which aren’t as “schizophrenic” as Weldon claims, since the shuttle, unlike Soyuz, cannot remain at the station for extended periods as a lifeboat for the station’s crew), he also took aim at the Bush administration for its perceived lack of support for NASA. “During its tenure, this administration has allowed community development spending to increase 91%, education to increase 57%, Medicare 51% and so on. NASA and the shuttle just wasn’t a priority for them and now we are seeing the consequences.”…”

It is not about putting country first, it is about revenge and their outrageous hatred of George W. Bush.  They would rather see the nation destroyed than see GWB survive intact.  Unfortunately when it comes to NASA, the Bush Administration doesn’t seem to be helping things.  If the shuttle program is shut down and we do not have a decent launch vehicle in place by 2010, we are going to be dependent on other countries, not all of them very friendly, to help us get into space.

“...In the past, Congress has shown reluctance to waive the Iran, North Korean and Syria Nonproliferation Act so that NASA could purchase rides on Soyuz spacecraft from Russia, who is a major enabler for those states. After Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Georgia on August 6th, those waivers are simply unacceptable politically, a reality every bit as unmoving as those you discuss in your post. So, the question boils down to this. Is the cost of restarting the Shuttle supply chain, keeping the Shuttle launching, and moving up Orion/Ares so large that the President and Congress would rather swallow their indignance over Russia’s invasion a U.S. ally and continue paying Russia for rides on Soyuz? I think, I hope, that the answer is no….”

More:

“...Orion and Ares have not been funded as originally estimated because the Bush Administration has not funded NASA as originally promised when VSE was proposed. Instead, NASA is behind several billion dollars in funding and this has hindered progress of both the Orion and Ares programs. At present, NASA guesstimates that the first flight of Orion/Ares I will be in 2015. Depending upon the Russians for 5 years to get American astronauts to the ISS has been a gathering storm. For NASA to book a ride on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft requires that the President seek a waiver from the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonpoliferation Act. Getting that waiver has not been easy. But with Russia’s invasion of Georgia, getting such a waiver through Congress could be very difficult….”

The only part of the “government” that seems to be interested in assessing a “future” in space is the Air Force, and then only a few people are interested.  One official wisely thinks we need a ‘national space strategy‘.  This will happen when Barack Obama and Rush Limbaugh embrace publicly and Obama endorses Limbaugh’s theology or vice versa.  In other-words – it’s not going to happen.

“… “We are on the doorstep of our next 50 years in space,” Sheridan said, “but we’re still invisible.” He proposed a national space strategy, a document that would communicate the value of space, inspire the public and generate increased interest and attention from Congress. “I think we can achieve something fairly dramatic,” he added. “Let’s do it as quickly as we can.” Elements of the strategy would include continued pre-eminence in space, renewed exploration goals, increased protection for existing and future assets and increased funding for education and aerospace work force development. “The value of a published space strategy would successfully translate policy into programs,” Sheridan said. “Few people remember policies. But everybody remembers [the] Apollo [program].” Sheridan said, “Nobody really sees space. We’re not as visible as our air brethren.” The problem is, “How do you stay at the forefront of the world stage if you’re invisible? We affect hundreds of millions of people” with our space programs, he added. A national space strategy would put valuable space programs back on “center stage” in the U.S. and globally, he said….”

The very real problem is Democrats have traditionally (with the exception of JFK and LBJ) balked when it comes to fully funding NASA (unless their district or state will benefit directly from the transfer of technology and payrolls).  While the shuttle program is not beyond repair, we’re reaching the point of no return.  Add to this the fact that Barack Obama now wants to take a good two million bucks from NASA’s already pinched budget for something in Ethopia, and you can see the problem.

Space Politics quotes Orlando Sentinel’s Robert Block about a leaked email from NASA Administrator Mike Griffin.  I think it says it all.

“…“Exactly as I predicted, events have unfolded in a way that makes it clear how unwise it was for the US to adopt a policy of deliberate dependance upon another power for access to ISS,” he writes in the August 18th message. In a “rational world”, he writes, the shuttle retirement would have been better timed with the availability of Ares 1 and Orion and NASA would have been given the “necessary budget” to make that happen.

Griffin blames the lack of that rational approach on the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). “[F]or OSTP and OMB, retiring the Shuttle is a jihad rather than an engineering and program management decision,” he wrote. “Further, the actively do not want the ISS to be sustained, and have done everything possible to ensure that it would not be.”

He later writes that he believes the next administration, be it McCain or Obama, will change course. “This Administration will not yield with regard to continuing Shuttle operations past 2010, but the next Administration will have no investment in that decision. They will tell us to extend Shuttle,” he wrote, adding that while it may appear “irrational” but that it will be the only “politically tenable course” when faced with otherwise abandoning the ISS at least temporarily. “Extending Shuttle creates no damage that they will care about, other than to delay the lunar program. They will not count that as a cost. They will not see what that does for U.S. leadership in space in the long term.”…”

There is an obvious feud between Griffin and the OMB.  Evidently there are sources in the OMB who do not like NASA. As usual NASA is getting the shaft.

“...Those tensions were illuminated last week when the Orlando Sentinel reported on the leaked email from NASA administrator Mike Griffin where Griffin complained of a “jihad” for retiring the shuttle by OMB and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The Post reported that OMB deleted some passages in a statement prepared by Griffin in March in response to a request for additional information after a House Science and Technology Committee hearing. The OMB deleted this comment by Griffin: “A Chinese landing on the moon prior to our own return will create a stark perception that the U.S. lags behind not only Russia, but also China, in space,” as well as another, “The bare fact of this accomplishment [a Chinese manned lunar landing] will have an enormous, and not fully predictable, effect on global perceptions of U.S. leadership in the world.”

Those edits, one NASA official who asked not to be identified told the Post, are additional evidence that OMB and NASA re not on the best of terms. “Whether this is cost-cutting across the board or if some people in OMB just don’t like NASA, we don’t know,” the official said. “But the result is that our budget always seems to be less than it’s supposed to be.” …”

Back in August, Barack Obama pledged to come up with $2 billion in additional funds for NASA.  On his web site he has said he will delay the development of Constellation for at least 5 years.  Tonight, both campaigns are taking part in a closed door, invitation only debate about space policy.  Why is the debate closed.

Action For Space

The McCain commitment:

“…The real question is whether we can afford not to. We must ensure that we have a balanced approach to our space investments along with proper management controls. Today, we rely more upon our space based assets than at any other time in history. We need the technological advances of these systems to effectively address tremendous challenges such as climate change. Failure to properly address these problems will have devastating effects on the future of the planet…”

His history of support for NASA:

“...In 2004, President Bush initiated the Vision for Space Exploration, or VSE. The VSE envisioned that the Shuttle program would cease in 2010, which would free up funds to finish the Orion and Ares I programs and get them launched by 2011 or 2012. To get through the 1-2 year gap between Shuttle retirement and Orion/Ares I first flight, U.S. Astronauts might fly on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. NASA’s 2005 Authorization Act, which originated out of Senator McCain’s office in 2004, initiated funding for VSE and, among other Space-related issues, required that there not be a gap between Shuttle retirement and Orion/Ares….”

American Space
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