Policy: October 2009 Archives

Inaccuracies at SaveSpace

Brevard's 'Save Space' campaign pushes for NASA funding, TCPalm.com

"Brevard County officials launched a Web site, http://www.SaveSpace.us, to try to generate 500,000 letters to President Barack Obama by Oct. 31. The Save Space Web site has racked up more than 42,000 hits since its Sept. 28 launch, said Kimberly Prosser, county spokesman. The site includes six downloadable letter templates and printable posters and banners. A campaign cornerstone: Video footage of Obama's August 2008 campaign stop in Titusville, where he pledged to "help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service."

Keith's note: I posted a comment about the misleading video that this group has posted on their Facebook page. Laden with depressing music, scare mongering titles, and highly edited short snippets taken from hours of Augustine deliberations, this video purports to focus on Augustine Option 4b which talks about shuttle derived launch vehicles. Well, it is actually a propoganda piece for the DIRECT concept - one of two shuttle-derived concepts briefed to the Augustine Committee. At one point NASA JSC's John Shannon, an advocate for the other shuttle-derived concept that was thoroughly briefed (yet ignored in this video), the Shuttle Sidemount HLV, is shown talking about a shuttle-derived launch vehicle while DIRECT imagery is shown. At no time is the Shuttle Sidemount concept even mentioned. Very deceptive.

Well, they did not like my comment, so they removed it. This is rather odd given that a decision to go with the Shuttle-derived Sidemount option is most likely to retain current Space Shuttle jobs - just as they are right now. I guess the easiest way to deal with conflicting or critical information is to ignore it or remove it.

Oh yes, "42,000 hits" since 28 September is not that much to crow about given the number of people affected by this issue and the goal of getting 500,000 letters written by this coming Saturday. Many websites that are considered "small, low traffic" do this sort of traffic in a single day. Regardless as to whether this group is referring to 42,000 "hits", "file transfers", or page views" on their website, there is a zero missing in all of their numbers that one would expect to see if their effort was actually on the path toward generating 500,000 letters by 31 October 2009.

That said, this group is not sitting down but is standing up and taking some action. Inacucracies aside, that is to be applauded - and emulated. Hopefully this sort of thing can start to happen again in the future - but not just at the last second every time some scary job loss looms - but also in the quieter times when making the value of space exploration to the entire population can be done - not just focusing upon a portion of Florida.

Augustine Report Commentary

5 Surprising Passages From the Full Augustine Report, Popular Mechanics

"NASA released the full text crafted by its Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (the so-called Augustine committee) today. The 157-page examination lacked an endorsement of an overall strategy, but there are a few passages of interest that were not included in the summary that was released in September. Here are a few passages that leapt out at us."

Throttling back ambitions would leave NASA adrift, opinion, Houston Chronicle

"NASA has been trying to explore space on a shoestring. Because the cash-starved Orion won't be ready until at least 2016, and the shuttle is being retired next year, the U.S. will be forced to launch astronauts on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft at $51 million per seat."

NASA's New Space Race Needs Life Support, NPR

"Houston, we have a problem: According to a blue-ribbon panel, the U.S. space program is on an unsustainable trajectory. This past week, the Human Spaceflight Plans Committee released a report saying that unless NASA receives more money fast, the space agency will have to scale back its near-term ambitions."

NASA. It's worth it., editorial, Houston Chronicle

"The government has already allocated close to $800 billion on economic stimulus, so it's difficult to understand why NASA, with a full-time and contractor workforce totaling nearly 60,000 nationwide and 18,000 in the Clear Lake area, isn't worth an additional investment to continue manned space exploration. NASA's role in stimulating technological development with widespread applications to other industries is well established."

No to NASA: Augustine Commission Wants to More Boldly Go, Science

"And the two panel members in addition expressed their interest in bypassing a landing on the moon--the destination set by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004--in favor of a lunar flyby or rendezvous with an asteroid or Martian moon."

Greason: It's time to base U.S. space policy on the "truth", Orlando Sentinel

"OS: Now, let me put something to you that has been put to me. I don't necessarily agree with it but it is a sentiment that is out there. By not finding anything useful the U.S. can do in space for NASA's current human space flight budget of $7 billion or $8 billion a year, the committee failed. What's your reaction to that sentiment?

JG: It's not failure to point out truth. The truth is the truth. And it is high time that national space policy was made on the basis of truth and not on the basis of convenience. It is not true to say that we found there is nothing NASA can do within its current budget. There are two options laid out in the report that NASA can do with its current budget. What we did not find was a way for NASA to do significant human exploration beyond low Earth orbit in the near term with this current budget. And I don't like that answer either but that is not going to change it."

Alabama Hates Norm

Alabama lawmakers in Washington blast Augustine panel report, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Hallville, said the report provide no safety data that would help the White House or leaders in Congress to guide the future of NASA. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, said the report was incomplete, ill-conceived and would delay NASA's progress. U.S Sen. Richard Shelby said the report does not address safety concerns that could come about from extending the space shuttle past its planned 2010 retirement date and using the International Space Station as it ages. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said if the Obama administration is serious about space and NASA it will make sure the extra $3 billion a year the Augustine panel said NASA needs is in the federal budget."

NASA administrator addresses Thursday's expected space flight report, WAFF

"There are a million different routes to go where you want to go," Bolden said. "I know we want to go to Mars one of these days. How we get there is not yet decided, that's not tentative. That's constructive discussion and dialogue that will go on."

NASA's future missions in Obama's hands, Houston Chronicle

"The premier finding is that the human spaceflight program that the United States is currently pursuing is on an unsustainable trajectory," said retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, who led the panel for the past five months.

Panel Says Planned NASA Rocket Won't Do the Job, US News and World Report

"The committee charged with reviewing NASA's spaceflight program concludes that the Ares 1 rocket being developed to take astronauts into space after the Space Shuttle is retired is the wrong vehicle for the job."

No to NASA: Augustine Commission Wants to More Boldly Go, Science

"And the two panel members in addition expressed their interest in bypassing a landing on the moon--the destination set by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004--in favor of a lunar flyby or rendezvous with an asteroid or Martian moon.

U.S. panel pitches public-private space taxis, Reuters

"The United States could get astronauts back into space faster and spend less money by scrapping the Ares rocket designed to succeed the shuttle and turning instead to public-private space taxis, a presidential advisory panel said on Thursday.

Nasa 'should scrap Ares rocket', BBC

"A White House panel has suggested that Nasa should scrap its investment in the Ares rocket and instead focus on exploring places beyond the moon."

Put money into NASA or forget human spaceflight, panel says, Washington Post

"It is likely that the Flexible Path approach would engender more Public Engagement than the Moon First approach. In every flight, the Flexible Path voyages would visit places where humans have never been before, with each mission extending farther than the previous one, potentially leading to a full dress rehearsal for a Mars landing," the report states."

Human Spaceflight Committee Releases Its Report

"After an extended period of writing and editing, the Augustine Committee's final report was delivered to the White House yesterday. Today it was released to the public at a media briefing held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The Augustine Committee - named after its chair, Norm Augustine - is formally known as the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee. The Committee was chartered earlier this year by the White House under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). As such, its deliberations and other activities are done pretty much in the open. With the advent of web streaming, and other social networking tools, nearly everything that the committee did was done in full view of the public.

As such there should have not been any surprises contained in this report. That said, people still expected to see something new today such as the cancellation of Ares 1 or the selection of a new heavy launch vehicle. None of that happened. It was never going to happen.

In a nutshell, the Augustine Committee viewed NASA's current human spaceflight program as being in a time of transition. Mounting costs and technical challenges had resulted in the current approach being deemed as unable to meet the goals it was intend to accomplish."

Senator Nelson says White House will support robust space program

"It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources," the report says. More specifically, the space program needs another $3 billion annually. "I've asked the president to use money from leftover stimulus funds," said Nelson, in a prepared statement.

Chairman Gordon and Subcommittee Chairwoman Giffords Comment on Augustine Committee Report

"Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) added: "While I look forward to reading the Augustine panel's final report, Congress has already made its decisions on the issues considered by the panel. Now that both internal and external independent reviews have confirmed that the Constellation program is being well executed, we know what needs to be done. Let's get on with it and cease contemplating our collective navels."

Keith's note: Um, with all due respect, the issue that Norm Augustine reiterated multiple times today is "not could NASA build Ares, but should it build Ares". He did not give a unequivocal backing for continuation of the program of record. Rather he said that he thought that NASA could eventually make it all work. Congress may well have "already made its decisions", but the White House may have some different ideas as to what they want NASA to do. Stay tuned.

Overview and Introduction of Augustine Committee Findings, OSTP

"The Committee has conducted an objective and comprehensive assessment and has found that the U.S. human space flight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. Independent analysis conducted for the Committee determined that the proposed Ares I crew launch vehicle and Orion crew capsule (each part of NASA's plans for carrying astronauts to space in the future) would not become fully operational until at least 2017. However, this assumed that the International Space Station would be retired from service in 2016 - thus giving no immediate destination for the Ares I and Orion vehicles once they became available. Even with an unconstrained budget, the Committee determined that the Ares I and Orion would likely be available no earlier than 2016. Further, to enable astronauts to return to the Moon by the early 2020s, NASA would need at least $50 billion in additional funds, reflecting significant increases and schedule delays relative to initial estimates."

U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee
In the final report released by the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee they offered three paths with different options, they are;

1. Mars First
2. Moon First
3. A flexible Path

Our poll question is: Which of the three paths presented by the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee do you prefer?

Which Way Do We Go?

Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee Final Report, Executive Summary

"The nation is facing important decisions on the future of human spaceflight. Will we leave the close proximity of low- Earth orbit, where astronauts have circled since 1972, and explore the solar system, charting a path for the eventual expansion of human civilization into space? If so, how will we ensure that our exploration delivers the greatest benefit to the nation? Can we explore with reasonable assurances of human safety? Can the nation marshal the resources to embark on the mission?"

Poll: Which of the three paths presented by the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee do you prefer?

Human Space Flight Review Committee Report Available Thursday

"Human Space Flight Review Committee Chairman Norman Augustine will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. EDT, on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Zenger Room of the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, in Washington. Augustine will be accompanied by committee member Ed Crawley. Printed copies of the committee's final report will be available during the press conference and an electronic copy of the report will be posted to the committee's Web site at the start of the briefing."

Norm Is About To Deliver

Keith's note: Mutiple sources report that the Augustine Committee's Report will be formally delivered on 21 October.

A Vague Call To Action

Keith's note: The Coalition for Space Exploration put an advisory out this morning about some public service announcement videos they produced for www.KeepAmericaInSpace.com. The first one is above, the second is below.

These are certainly nicely made videos. My prime criticism, however, is that after all the nostalgic imagery and emotions are brought forth, viewers are not told what specific threats are being made to American space exploration and what specific things they need to do to stop these threats from affecting America's space program. All you get are hints and vague suggestions that things might not continue - with no explanation as to why.

If these videos are meant to be a call to action, then they are missing some critical components. Why do we need to Keep America In Space? What (or who) is threatening to prevent this? Is it President Obama who is doing this? Members of Congress?

These videos impart a sense that things are going OK as they are. If so, then why make the video in the first place? What are you asking viewers to do - and to think? Who do they contact in order to stop these threats? Congress? The White House? NASA? What do they say? What needs to be fixed?

If something needs to be done then you need to give people the tools to fix things and a "to do" list to implement if you want things to be fixed. You can't just drop hints and expect things to happen.

These ads (again, nicely done from a production standpoint) seem to be aimed at people who already support space exploration. In other words, more choir practice. When will the Coalition - and all "space advocates" - finally break this habit? You really do not need to convince the faithful. They are already in the tank.

These videos are described as "public service announcements". You need to reach out into the real world i.e. the "public" and make the discussion resonate with life outside of the space community. You know, bad economy, global warming, etc. Until that happens, these ads just sound like they are saying "you should support space because we are inspired by it - and because we work here".

So what do you think?

Last Augustine panel meeting ends in debate over Ares I, Orlando Sentinel

"The last public hearing of a White House space review committee on Thursday ended in a debate over whether NASA's controversial Ares I crew rocket was safer than other rockets and should be scored higher in rankings of the various options the panel would present to the White House. The decision was made to not rate the safety of any rockets, in part because the committee members decided it was impossible to accurately assess the safety of space ships that have never flown before, like the Ares I."

Direction of NASA's Future at an Impasse, Wired

"The specific vehicles and systems involved in the missions were not a significant factor, said Ed Crawley, an MIT professor and committee member, in introducing the meeting. Still, some members, notably Bohdan Bejmuk, chair of the Constellation program Standing Review Board, argued that the Ares I should get a higher safety rating than its competitors. "I completely disagree with that assessment," shot back Jeff Greason, CEO of XCOR Aerospace and vice-chair of Personal Spaceflight Federation."

'Deep space' mission is frontrunner in NASA review, New Scientist

"Augustine noted that the committee would not give an overall ranking for the options, since it would require making judgements about the relative importance of the various criteria. "That's beyond the committee's capability," he said. "For example, we're not in the position to judge the possibility of adding funds to the various programmes."

Panel's report threatens NASA's mission, The Hill

"A report suggesting that NASA's space travel goals are too ambitious for its budget is imperiling efforts by Florida and Texas lawmakers to win more money for the agency's budget. The Human Space Flight Committee, which was created by President Barack Obama, said this week that NASA's flight program is on an "unsustainable trajectory" due to its "pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources."



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