Today we are launching a bold and ambitious new space initiative to enable us to explore new worlds, develop more innovative technologies, foster new industries, increase our understanding of the earth, expand our presence in the solar system, and inspire the next-generation of explorers…
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden February 1, 2010
Ed Buckbee, journalist and former director of the Alabama Space and Rocket Center, has sent the following letter, bearing the signatures of astronauts Scott Carpenter, Gene Cernan, and Charlie Duke, representing the historic Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.
Carpenter piloted the Aurora 7 Mercury mission in 1962. Charlie Duke walked on the Moon as lunar module pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972. Cernan flew on the Gemini 9 mission in 1966, served as lunar module pilot on Apollo 10 in 1969, and was commander of Apollo 17, during which he became the last man to walk on the moon. It’s easy to see why Buckbee calls them “The Real Space Cowboys.”
February 15, 2010
Dear Mr. & Mrs. America:
There has never been, and likely never will be, another government program that expedites technological innovation so much as the U.S. space program. There is not another program that has so successfully rallied a nation, inspired youngsters toward academic achievement or established the U.S. as the world leader in technology.
The manned space program has, in particular, been a source of our nation’s strength and character. But an Achilles heel in the form of our country’s executive branch threatens a mortal wound. Under the Obama 2011 budget, the U.S. will no longer ferry humans into space— no moon, no Mars. The source of much of America’s inspiration and spirit, the impetus for so much discovery, technology and imagination, is in jeopardy. The demise of America’s space program is just another step in the dismantling of our nation.
Where’s the vision put so eloquently in 1962 when President Kennedy said,” serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” President Kennedy delivered a vision to the American public that demanded courage, imagination and follow-through. The long-term focus has always been to progressively conquer new frontiers. Certainly, that focus has been shared by both government and private enterprise but to withdraw government from manned space flight will surely obliterate those far-reaching frontiers and precipitously lower our nation’s preeminence in technology.
We are the only country to ever conquer the high ground, the moon. And now we are to give that up to the Russians and Chinese who are committed to having a permanent presence there? The national security implications are starkly real. From the high ground, foreign governments will have greater access to monitor U.S. technology assets in Earth orbit. Whoever controls the high ground becomes the world’s leader in technology.
We ask you to join those members of Congress who have the fortitude and courage to embrace the vision that has become part of our nation’s signature and who are advocates of returning to the moon and maintaining America’s leadership role in the exploration of space.
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Astronauts
- Scott Carpenter
- Gene Cernan
- Charlie Duke
The Real Space Cowboys
White House plans to axe NASA’s return-to-the-Moon Constellation programme and ground the Space Shuttle have sparked unified opposition from Congress, which looks determined to preserve a full spectrum of US manned spaceflight activities.
A draft Congressional bill leaked to Flight International sets out the politicians’ alternate plan. It involves possibly extending Shuttle life to 2015, running competitive commercial crew and cargo programmes and continuing development of Constellation’s vehicles including a heavylift rocket designed to get astronauts to the Moon in the 2020s and then Mars.
In a heated hearing on Capitol Hill, President Obama’s NASA administrator Charles Bolden, a former astronaut and Shuttle commander, had to defend his deputy Lori Beth Garver and the president’s plan to shift NASA’s focus from missions to capabilities under the fiscal year 2011 budget request.
In the 24 February hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee’s science and space subcommittee one senator criticised Garver as the alleged author of the plan and budget, which the subcommittee’s members described as ending all US human spaceflight efforts with its retirement of the Shuttle fleet this year and cancellation of the Constellation.
Referring to the space programme as bipartisan, subcommittee chairman senator Bill Nelson of Florida says of the opposition to the Obama plan: “I have never seen [Congress] as unified as we are now.”
Much of the Congressional opposition to Obama’s plan stems from estimates pegging direct job losses from cutting Constellation, Shuttle and other programmes at 30,000, including 7,000 at the Kennedy Space Center.
Bolden told the hearing that the Obama exploration goal was Mars, but during the early February budget roll-out he said that the plan’s destinations would be decided by a “national conversation”.
KETK News – floridatoday.com
VIERA — The local economic forecast tied to President Barack Obama’s proposed NASA budget keeps growing bleaker.
Revised projections now show that about 23,000 workers at and around Kennedy Space Center will lose their jobs because of the shuttles’ retirement and the new proposal to cancel the development of new rockets and spacecraft.
That sum includes 9,000 “direct” space jobs and — conservatively speaking — 14,000 “indirect” jobs at hotels, restaurants, retail stores and others that depend on activity at the space center, said Lisa Rice, Brevard Workforce president.
The organization’s earlier estimate of 7,000 direct jobs reflected just the retirement of the shuttle program. The updated numbers also include the cancellation of Project Constellation and other initiatives as outlined in the president’s 2011 budget, Rice said.
“Our unemployment rate is going to skyrocket,” she warned Thursday during a five-hour Brevard County Commission space workshop. Much conversation centered on the future of human space launches from KSC, and attendees heaped criticism on Obama’s strategy.
Mark Nappi is vice president of launch and recovery systems for United Space Alliance, NASA’s prime contractor for shuttle operations. As things stand today, he predicted that more than 4,500 of the company’s 5,500 Florida workers will lose their jobs. Geographically speaking, Nappi said 4,850 USA workers live in Brevard, including 3,250 in the northern half of the county.
Commissioners asked what the county can do to recruit commercial launch companies from California, Virginia, Texas and elsewhere.
“The market will drive where space vehicles are launched from,” Nappi said. “And if we believe in Florida that we have the birthright to spaceflight operations, we’re going to be the Pittsburgh of the steel industry and the Detroit of the car industry.”
State Rep. Ritch Workman, founder of the Florida Space Caucus, denounced “this horrible president’s budget.”
Workman said that even if KSC somehow lures five leading commercial crew transport companies — SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corp., The Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corp. — from other states, that would account for only about 2,400 jobs.
“And we’re talking about putting humans on private spacecraft. That is not going to happen for a decade,” the Melbourne Republican said..
Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed budget includes $8.7 million for the development of the years-delayed Exploration Park, a proposed research complex that may someday employ 1,750 people, said Leigh Holt, county government relations manager. Crist’s budget also earmarks $3.9 million to refurbish Launch Complex 46, Holt said.
On Thursday, the county was scheduled to roll out an updated version of SaveSpace.us, a Web site that touts a pro-NASA letter-writing campaign. The site has picked up more than 11,100 fans on Facebook and nearly 200 followers on Twitter, county spokeswoman Kimberly Prosser said.
By a 4-0 vote, commissioners also decided to offer Pauley Management Inc. a new federal lobbying contract for space, transportation and other matters.
Highlights of NASA’s FY 2011 Budget
Top line increase of $6.0 billion over 5-years (FY 2011-15) compared to the FY 2010 Budget, for a total of $100 billion over five years.
Significant and sustained investments in:
- Transformative technology development and flagship technology demonstrations to pursue new approaches to space exploration;
- Robotic precursor missions to multiple destinations in the solar system;
- Research and development on heavy-lift and propulsion technologies;
- U.S. commercial spaceflight capabilities;
- Future launch capabilities, including work on modernizing Kennedy Space Center after the retirement of the Shuttle;
- Extension and increased utilization of the International Space Station;
- Cross-cutting technology development aimed at improving NASA, other government, and commercial space capabilities;
- Accelerating the next wave of Climate change research and observations spacecraft;
- NextGen and green aviation; and
- Education, including focus on STEM.
Cancellation of the Constellation program; and $600 million in FY 2011 to ensure the safe retirement of the Space Shuttle upon completion of the current manifest.
Earth and Climate Science
- Increases by $382 million over FY 2010 enacted, and $1.8 billion over 4-years (FY 2011-14) compared to the FY 2010 Budget; 1,802 1,945 2,090 2,217 2,282
- Re-flies the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which is critical to our understanding of the Earth’s carbon cycle and its effect on climate change;
- Accelerates the development of new satellites to enhance observations of the climate and other Earth systems;
- Expands and accelerates Venture-class competitive PI-led missions;
- Enhances climate change modeling capabilities to enhance forecasts of regional and other effects;
- Operates 15 Earth-observing spacecraft in orbit and launches Glory, NPP, and Aquarius; and
- Proceeds toward completion and launch of remaining foundational missions: LDCM (6/13) and GPM (7/13).
“We have an agreement until 2012 that Russia will be responsible for this,” says Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, about ferrying astronauts from other countries into low-Earth orbit. “But after that? Excuse me, but the prices should be absolutely different then!”
The Russians may be new at capitalism, but they know how it works. When you have a monopoly, you charge monopoly prices. Within months, Russia will have a monopoly on rides into space.
By the end of this year, there will be no shuttle, no U.S. manned space program, no way for us to get into space. We’re not talking about Mars or the moon here. We’re talking about low-Earth orbit, which the United States has dominated for nearly half a century and from which it is now retiring with nary a whimper.
Our absence from low-Earth orbit was meant to last a few years, the interval between the retirement of the fatally fragile space shuttle and its replacement with the Constellation program (Ares booster, Orion capsule, Altair lunar lander) to take astronauts more cheaply and safely back to space.
But the Obama 2011 budget kills Constellation. Instead, we shall have nothing. For the first time since John Glenn flew in 1962, the United States will have no access of its own for humans into space — and no prospect of getting there in the foreseeable future.
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.
Sure, decades from now there will be a robust private space-travel industry. But that is a long time. In the interim, space will be owned by Russia and then China. The president waxes seriously nationalist at the thought of China or India surpassing us in speculative “clean energy.” Yet he is quite prepared to gratuitously give up our spectacular lead in human space exploration.
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.
Fifty years ago, Kennedy opened the New Frontier. Obama has just shut it.
Space News – By Amy Klamper
WASHINGTON — Industry advocates are voicing concern with U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel NASA’s Moon-bound Constellation program and the threat it poses to America’s aerospace work force and U.S. strategic missile arsenals, but Defense Department officials said the two agencies are forging a plan to sustain the nation’s solid-rocket motor industrial base.
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is among those railing against Obama’s proposal to scrap NASA’s plan to replace its space shuttle fleet with new rockets and spacecraft in favor of relying on commercial crew taxis to get astronauts to the international space station and back.
“This is not money-saving. This is having some kind of half-baked scheme that we can commercialize this,” said Bishop, whose district is home to ATK Space Systems, the Magna, Utah-based solid-rocket motor manufacturer that is building the first stage of Constellation’s Ares 1 rocket and major subsystems for its launch abort system. ATK executives told investors Feb. 4 that canceling Ares 1 would cost the company $650 million in contract backlog.
While Bishop’s congressional district stands to lose 2,000 jobs under Obama’s proposal, the outspoken U.S. missile defense proponent said there is more at stake than northern Utah’s employment outlook. Shutting down Constellation, he said, threatens the nation’s ability to produce solid-rocket motors needed for ballistic missiles.
“It’s not a spigot you can turn on and off,” Bishop said in a Feb. 9 interview. “Once they’re out the door and in the unemployment lines, they’re not coming back.”
ATK and Sacramento, Calif.-based Aerojet are the only U.S. companies producing large solid-rocket motors for space launchers and strategic missiles.
Gary Payton, a retired military astronaut and former senior NASA official who serves as U.S. Air Force deputy under secretary for space programs, told reporters Feb. 4 the service was still assessing the industrial base impacts of canceling Constellation.
“We share an industrial base with NASA — on solids, liquids, range infrastructure and a work force,” he said during a media roundtable here organized by the Space Foundation. “So, with the cancellation of the Constellation program … we have got a lot of work to do with NASA to figure out how to maintain a minimum industrial base on liquid-rocket engines and solid-rocket motors.”…]
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Hearings Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal
FY 2011 Budget
› FY 2011 Budget Overview (387 Kb PDF)
› Administrator Bolden’s Statement (68 Kb)
› Deputy Administrator’s Remarks at the OSTP Budget Announcement (68 Kb)
› Office of Management and Budget: FY 2011 NASA Fact Sheet→
› NASA Budget Details From OMB→
› Joint Statement From NASA Administrator Bolden and John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (112 Kb PDF)
› Joint NASA-OSTP Factsheet (70 Kb PDF)
Final Report: Review of U.S.Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (PDF (157 Pages)
Huffington Post (Bill Richardson): Commercial Spaceflight: Creating 21st Century Jobs
Wash Times: GINGRICH & WALKER: Obama’s brave reboot for NASA
Denver Bus News: NASA could be rocketing to United Launch Alliance’s sweet spot
Judicial Watch: NASA To Focus On Muslim Outreach
Associated Content: Obama’s Space Plan – a Conservative Argument
Orlando Sentinel: Organized labor attacks Obama’s space plan
Aviation Week: NASA Plan Falls Flat In Congress
Knox News: Locals dismayed by space cuts
American Spectator: Climategate: This Time It’s NASA