“Fifty years ago, Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Obama has just shut it.”
One of the reasons those of us who are supporting Newt Gingrich are so angry is because of the absolute duplicity of the conservative press. They are out and out lying about things. Perhaps no one has been more two-faced in their attacks on Newt than the once formidable Charles Krauthammer. Watching him pander for Romney is painful. We are watching a once great thinker sell his soul for expediency. The worst of it is that apparently he has forgotten that he has a record in print also.
When a person first sits down to write, they are told to write what they know. The Pink Flamingo knows the advocacy of space. So, I’m going to use a subject I know a heck of a lot about. In doing so, I am going to use Krauthammer’s words against him. The worst part is that Krauthammer knows a heck of a lot about space. Instead of embracing what Newt proposed, he has slammed it.
For a little perspective:
“...Yes, we have a financial crisis. No one’s asking for a crash Manhattan Project. All we need is sufficient funding from the hundreds of billions being showered from Washington – “stimulus” monies that, unlike Eisenhower’s interstate highway system or Kennedy’s Apollo program, will leave behind not a trace on our country or our consciousness – to build Constellation and get us back to Earth orbit and the moon a half-century after the original landing.
Why do it? It’s not for practicality. We didn’t go to the moon to spin off cooling suits and freeze-dried fruit. Any technological return is a bonus, not a reason. We go for the wonder and glory of it. Or, to put it less grandly, for its immense possibilities. We choose to do such things, said JFK, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” And when you do such magnificently hard things – send sailing a Ferdinand Magellan or a Neil Armstrong – you open new human possibility in ways utterly unpredictable.
The greatest example? Who could have predicted that the moon voyages would create the most potent impetus to – and symbol of – environmental consciousness here on Earth: Earthrise, the now iconic Blue Planet photograph brought back by Apollo 8?
Ironically, that new consciousness about the uniqueness and fragility of Earth focused contemporary imagination away from space and back to Earth. We are now deep into that hyperterrestrial phase, the age of iPod and Facebook, of social networking and eco-consciousness.
But look up from your BlackBerry one night. That is the moon. On it are exactly 12 sets of human footprints – untouched, unchanged, abandoned. For the first time in history, the moon is not just a mystery and a muse, but a nightly rebuke. A vigorous young President once summoned us to this new frontier, calling the voyage “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.” We came, we saw, we retreated….”
“…It’s hard to entirely blame this state of affairs on a fickle public. Blame also belongs to the idiot politicians who decided 30 years ago to abandon the moon and send us on a pointless and endless journey into low Earth orbit. The Bush administration has sensibly called an end to this nonsense and committed us to going back to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. If his successors don’t screw it up, within 10 years NASA will have us back to where we belong — on other worlds.
At which point, we’ll remember why we did this in the first place. And when we once again thrill to seeing humans on the moon — this time, making it their home — we won’t much care whether the extra bounce in their gait is the effect of the one-sixth gravity or a touch of moonshine….”
On January 27, 1967 Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee were killed aboard the Apollo 1 capsule due to a massive fire. The fire was caused because of the use of pure oxygen.
“…According to United Press International, “Officials said an electrical spark must have ignited the pure oxygen inside the cabin.” The spark, which likely occurred in front of Mr. Grissom’s seat, created a huge fire because of the pure oxygen atmosphere and flammable materials in the cockpit. Just 17 seconds after the astronauts began screaming that there was a fire, all communication to the cockpit was lost.
The astronauts had almost no hope of escaping because of the numerous latches on the spacecraft’s hatch, which opened inward to the pressurized cabin. It typically took about 90 seconds to open. Emergency workers on the ground lacked the equipment needed to handle such a fire and had difficulty reaching the spacecraft because of the intense heat and smoke emanating from it. It took approximately five minutes for workers to finally open the hatch.
NASA’s investigations into the accident revealed several significant flaws in the design of the spacecraft and in the program’s emergency readiness. Consequently, NASA made changes to its Apollo spacecraft, like reducing the levels of oxygen in the cockpit, removing flammable materials from the cockpit and redesigning the hatch to open outward….”
The United States did not declare space travel too expensive and deadly. Instead, we picked up the pieces and went back to work. A year and a half later, that one small step was taken. Today, we have small minded little jerks who are more interested in proving a point than truly doing what is right for this nation.
Once upon a time, way back in the summer of 2011, Charles Krauthammer was a very big supporter of a strong US presence in space. Heck, he even wanted to explore the moon!
Krauthammer was so adamant on exploring space that he sometimes would get his facts wrong. But, he has always advocated a strong national space program – until Newt decided to run with it.
“….Of course, the administration presents the abdication as a great leap forward: Launching humans will be turned over to the private sector, while NASA’s efforts will be directed toward landing on Mars.
This is nonsense. It would be swell for private companies to take over launching astronauts. But they cannot do it. It’s too expensive. It’s too experimental. And the safety standards for getting people up and down reliably are just unreachably high.
…As for Mars, more nonsense. Mars is just too far away. And how do you get there without the stepping stones of Ares and Orion? If we can’t afford an Ares rocket to get us into orbit and to the moon, how long will it take to develop a revolutionary new propulsion system that will take us not a quarter-million miles but 35 million miles?
To say nothing of the effects of long-term weightlessness, of long-term cosmic ray exposure, and of the intolerable risk to astronaut safety involved in any Mars trip — six months of contingencies vs. three days for a moon trip.
Of course, the whole Mars project as substitute for the moon is simply a ruse. It’s like the classic bait-and-switch for high-tech military spending: Kill the doable in the name of some distant sophisticated alternative, which either never gets developed or is simply killed later in the name of yet another, even more sophisticated alternative of the further future. A classic example is the B-1 bomber, which was canceled in the 1970s in favor of the over-the-horizon B-2 stealth bomber, which was then killed in the 1990s after a production run of only 21 (instead of 132) in the name of post-Cold War obsolescence.
Moreover, there is the question of seriousness. When John F. Kennedy pledged to go to the moon, he meant it. He had an intense personal commitment to the enterprise. He delivered speeches remembered to this day. He dedicated astronomical sums to make it happen.
At the peak of the Apollo program, NASA was consuming almost 4 percent of the federal budget, which in terms of the 2011 budget is about $150 billion. Today the manned space program will die for want of $3 billion a year — 1/300th of last year’s stimulus package with its endless make-work projects that will leave not a trace on the national consciousness.
As for President Obama’s commitment to beyond-lunar space: Has he given a single speech, devoted an iota of political capital to it?
Obama’s NASA budget perfectly captures the difference in spirit between Kennedy’s liberalism and Obama’s. Kennedy’s was an expansive, bold, outward-looking summons. Obama’s is a constricted, inward-looking call to retreat….”
Krauthammer was furious because we were not going back to the moon. That was in 2010. My my, how things do change.
NOW THE ACTUAL SCIENCE
Newt’s ideas are technologically sound. The problem is not with the science, but with the pundits and politicians here on Earth.
“….The smallest hurdle is technology. After all, sending astronauts back to the moon by 2020 and setting up a permanent home there was the goal of the last Republican president, George W. Bush, and NASA had embarked on developing new rockets and spacecraft to accomplish that. Few doubted that, given enough money and time, NASA would be able to duplicate its success of more than 40 years ago.
A permanent moon base could adapt technologies used in building the International Space Station. NASA was also developing an R.V.-like lunar vehicle where astronauts could drive around the surface of the Moon for weeks at a time.
But money was the problem. When the program, known as Constellation, did not receive as much financing as originally promised, development fell behind, pushing up the price tag. A review of experts concluded that it would cost $150 billion for Constellation to reach its destination close to the original schedule. The Obama administration instead canceled it.
A new NASA program similar to Constellation with brand new rockets would be similarly expensive. But a recent NASA study concluded that the space agency could use smaller existing rockets, coupled with fueling stations in orbit, to reach the Moon within a decade.
A new propulsion system for going to Mars would likely call for reviving old technology — nuclear-powered rocket engines that were originally developed in the 1950s. NASA has already begun work on nuclear propulsion — nuclear reactors that provide continuous thrust — but lacks the money to finish.
But Mr. Gingrich talked of overturning the status quo at NASA, pushing to work faster, to accept greater risks and let private companies take the lead role.
“It’s not something that should be mocked or should be seen as a remote possibility,” said Michael Gold, director of the Washington office of Bigelow Aerospace, a private space company. “The reason this is both possible and economically viable is that many of the systems and technology, if not all, already exist.”…”
The deal is, Newt’s not as far out as the far right wants you to think he is. If we had one fuel tanker of Helium 3, the entire US would have power for a year.