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Commercialization

Newt Gingrich Thinks SLS May Become a Museum Piece – Soon

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
May 1, 2017
Filed under ,

Keith’s note: Tweets from the “ULCATS Symposium: Igniting An Industrial and National Security Revolution in Space” held this morning in Washington, DC. I asked Newt Gingrich how the Trump Administration could support ULCATS (Ultra-Low Cost Access to Space) such as described in this new report done for the USAF – yet simultaneously support UHCATS – Ultra HIGH Cost Access to Space offered by NASA’s SLS program. Gingrich looked like he was waiting for this question and was clearly not a fan of SLS or other large, expensive launch systems supported by the government. More tweets at #ulcats

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.

39 responses to “Newt Gingrich Thinks SLS May Become a Museum Piece – Soon”

  1. RocketScientist327 says:
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    This is awesome 😉 there is so much great stuff here. This is changing the way we look at human spaceflight and settlement.

  2. Vladislaw says:
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    I bet there were some congressional porkonauts who were not happy with Newt expressing those opinions.

  3. jski says:
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    I’ve always thought that Newt would make an excellent NASA administrator.

    • muomega0 says:
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      The Newt Gingrich model of ‘success’ is beliefs over facts, but way worse is intentionally delivering the false beliefs. Newt Gingrich Exemplifies Just How Unscientific America Is.

      Gingrich has always hedged his stand on climate change evidence for votes:’ global warming is “probably”’ happening and that ‘here’s no “conclusive” proof of it, or that humans cause it’. He’s even suggested that the Earth may be about to move “into a long cooling period.”

      Rather than provide true leadership, he takes beliefs over facts for votes fueled by the UAH scientists using the wrong satellite drift rate in their retrieval algorithm from satellite data, incorrectly showing no warming. Fortunately, all the data sets now agree with stated uncertainty: the Earth is warming at the fastest rate ever due to CO2 emissions.

      Gingrich also trashes NASA when it fits his interests (not Congress who dictate what NASA does thru appropriations) “it’s the agency’s fault we don’t have “a permanent station on the moon, 3 or 4 permanent stations in space, [and] a new generation of lift vehicles.”

      Seriously?

      • ThomasLMatula says:
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        So is Climate Change going to be the new litmus test for a NASA Administrator?

        Really your post is perhaps the first good reason I see for transferring all climate research from NASA to NOAA, that a single part of NASA, marginally related to exploring space, will dictate the qualifications of a NASA Administrator.

        BTW He wouldn’t be the first NASA Administrator to not see global warming as NASA’s most important job.

        http://nasawatch.com/archiv

        Mike Griffin Is In Denial About Global Warming Threat

        • JadedObs says:
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          No, just the second terrible one. NOAA is an operational agency and NASA’s role in understanding the Earth goes all the back to the first Space Act. Moving that mission to NOAA without moving the money just means you want to kill it. Moving the mission, budget and people from NASA to NOAA wouldn’t do anything either to help NASA do exploration although it would drive up rates at Goddard for everything else!

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            Then why was NOAA given a Science Advisory Board under President Clinton’s Administration?

            http://www.sab.noaa.gov/

            Actually NASA’s charter is long overdue for an overhaul. The Cold War world of the IGY it was created in is long gone and NASA has just been drifting for the last couple decades. It doesn’t merely need a new goal, it needs a complete overhaul and refocusing.

          • Daniel Woodard says:
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            In the area of climate change, the partnership between NASA and NOAA has been reasonably productive, with NASA focussing on design and launch of systems for space-based observation and NOAA focussing on ground-based and operational space-based sensing, analysis, and modeling. It isn’t as far as I can see a holdover from the IGY.

          • Michael Spencer says:
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            I can hardly believe my…eyes?…reading your post, Doctor, and for the obvious reason, a reason that has been given that argument over time it has been made over the centuries: how does one discern ‘practical research’?

            Answer: Can’t. Which is why scientists simply follow their noses, looking into things that interest them.

        • muomega0 says:
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          Yes. Not just the NASA admin, but the world 🙂
          We need multiple orgs viewing the data.

          Planet Earth and discovery shift science to the forefront over HSF, because even without action, cc will cost more $Ts. The great news is that renewables have a lower total cost and will create a ton of jobs, way more than carbon.

          Griffin, after seeing the links above, like many before him, are likely to see the light. 😉

          For decades, a few scientists and the politicians owned by carbon fanned the flames on climate change, accusing 97% of the scientists of ‘manipulating the data’ for their own gain. There are consequences for lack of leadership — false news and beliefs rather than facts.

          • fcrary says:
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            For some reason, I am terrified by people with an absolutely certainty​ that their opinions are undeniably true. They scare me more than people I strongly disagree but who have some amount of self doubt.

          • muomega0 says:
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            No, you should be more terrified by those who spread false news (“propaganda”) to alter the opinons of many and ‘leaders’ who present plans forwards based on ‘beliefs’ not facts.

            It takes much time to investigate and obtain facts–we must rely on others in order to shape the path forward. Most scientists and engineers adapt their assessments/conclusions when presented new facts, not opinions.

            Take a look at the Heartland Institutes new flier sent to science teachers across the US to “consider the possibility that the science is not settled” and if human activity is contributing to climate change, “it would probably not be harmful and many areas would benefit”.

            Rather than address facts, it tries to discredit :”the IPCC is not a credible source. It is agenda-driven, a political rather than scientific body, and some allege it is corrupt.”

            It was the climate denying scientists who falsified the data, yet the propaganda/opinion spreading Heartland Institute once again claims incorrectly, “Four specific forecasts made by GCMs have been falsified by real-world data from a wide variety of sources. In particular, there hasbeen no global warming for some 18 years.”

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            So you feel HSF should be dropped as a NASA mission in favor of NASA mostly doing Earth Science? Gee, maybe we should also rename NASA as the National Atmospheric Science Administration. Who needs space.

            Of course without HSF or its planetary missions, the new NASA probably won’t be around very long…

          • muomega0 says:
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            HSF is a value judgement. 3B/yr for no missions is a terrible value. 3B/yr in renewables is a tremendous value 🙂 3B/yr at $100M/20mT is a good value, especially with the goal or reuse.
            1B/yr in climate change research to ensure forward planning spurs $T economic growth: priceless, or at least 1/1000.

            Most are simply asking for a better value and of course, a NASA demand for propellant, 80% of its mass, at a reasonable cost enables better Exploration value and likely creates new markets by lowering launch costs.

            NASA areas will continue to fall in stature and be killed if the Congress to continues to outsource. *Anything* retained, must be efficient, whether done in or out of house, even longer term R&D.

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            Yes, the old “why waste money on space when we have problems on Earth” argument. Do you know how much was spent on renewable energy in the U.S. in 2015? $44 billion.

            http://www.businessinsider….

            But that is not enough for you. You want to take 100% of the HSF budget to increase spending on renewable energy by another 7%. Yes, the typical anti-space argument environmentalists have been making for decades against space exploration.

          • muomega0 says:
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            Global fossil fuel subsidies represented 6.5% of global GDP in 2015. Globally in 2013, the coal, oil and gas industries benefited from subsidies of $550bn, four times those given to renewable energy. Carbon spent almost 2B lobbying over 5 yrs. In 2014 that US taxpayers were subsidising fossil fuel exploration and production alone by $21bn a year. ExxonMobil made what, $41B in *profit* that year? Dwarfs, HSF, no?

            Spend 3B less on SLS its still zero missions 😉
            HSF is not 3B at 100%, more like 3B/7B/yr.

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            So? What has spending on fossil fuels have to do with your desire to take the entire HSF budget and focus it on renewable energy? NASA is about space, not energy.

            If you want to get more money for your renewable energy go raid the budget for the Department of Energy, not NASA.

          • muomega0 says:
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            The carbon subsidy is not part of the DOE budget, but Earth Science is part of NASA’s budget, which way more important than spending 3B/yr on zero missions, which is only a part of the HSF budget which includes ISS also at ~3B/yr. 1% for space means you need to ‘rob’ someone else’s budget.

            On energy, traveling long distances fast is all about energy. Its less total energy ‘to Mars’ staging at L2 rather than LEO, and even less if higher ISP reuseable tugs are included in the architecture. Less energy means less launch costs and LEO HLV/Capsule now consume (sic) ‘the entire HSF budget’ with zero missions.

            The admin nor anyone in Congress should not be a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument. There are many on the internet not qualified for an entry level position.

          • ThomasLMatula says:
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            So again, you believe America should abandon HSF just so we have a few more billion to waste on renewable energy? On top of all the hundreds of billions spent over the last couple of decades…

            Or are arguing you against HSF because of the energy that might be wasted on Missions to Mars

          • Vagabond1066 says:
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            Do you support nuclear power? If not, then GW isn’t that big of a deal to you.

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      Yes, he would transform the agency. He would be a great administrator.

      • JadedObs says:
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        Yes, just like he transformed Congress before resigning in disgrace and assuring Clinton left office with a 68% approval rating!

  4. jamesmuncy says:
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    Thanks for attending and posting all of these, Keith.

    One important point Gingrich made: he said SLS was an attempt to recreate the Saturn V just more expensively and not as well. He didn’t criticize the Saturn V. Between FH and New Glenn it will be good that *two* high flight rate heavy lift hydrocarbon rockets are flying from the Cape again… Von Braun would approve.

  5. Jeff2Space says:
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    I skimmed that paper and it’s encouraging to see that the military is embracing the shift to reusable launch vehicles. It’s even more encouraging that they recognize that the industry will need the government as a large customer just as the railroads, aviation (air mail), and interstate highway system all did when those were in their infancy.

    But first and foremost, ultra low cost access to space is an asset that the US military will want to exploit.

    • ThomasLMatula says:
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      The military always has been interested in RLV. Recall DC-X. The question is if NASA will try to undermine them again, as with DC-X.

      • Jeff2Space says:
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        I’m pretty sure that NASA’s credibility in this area has been significantly diminished. The private sector is taking the lead on reusability, and DOD will be more than happy to buy services from private companies.

        • Daniel Woodard says:
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          Yesterday’s launch of a really expensive NRO mission on a Falcon (with booster recovery) sort of underlines that.

        • imhoFRED says:
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          As much as I’d like to believe that, I think the truth is more complicated.

          The DOD is not monolithic in its actions and/or operating philosophies. Have we already forgot block buy and foot dragging to get F9 certified?

          • Jeff2Space says:
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            True, but today, Falcon 9 has flown many more times including the recently successful NROL-76 launch.

  6. JadedObs says:
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    There he goes again, thinking he’s relevant… Doesn’t Newt know that he’s the museum piece?!

  7. Donald Barker says:
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    People like Gingrich & Walker, and many others who hold purse strings need to consider the cost of ending something that has gone so far down the road; even if the road has been costly, ill-planned and inefficient (try fixing that first). The past 50 years are so full of examples of government programs that have been started, heavily spent on (trillions) and then cancelled at the whims of humans who think they understand reality and are more important than the rest of us. I was studying physics at Colorado State when the Super-Collider was started and subsequently canceled putting the US behind Europe and the rest of the world in the arenas of particle and high energy physics – trying to catch up ever since then. I would love to see a compiled list of all such programs and know all those who voted for and then voted to cancel and take it out of their pay checks. Is it simply ignorance or hubris or what, who know?

  8. TerryG says:
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    In the spirit of this fun post, let’s have some fun predictions then.

    I expect the SLS to fly exactly once, as did the Spruce Goose, so those leaders who have staked their reputations on the project can fade away without total embarrassment.

    Thereafter, the Gingrich’s of this world and the bottom line will win through, so if Jeff Bezos or some other doesn’t lease the VAB, then Gingrich’s Museum sign will be hung above it’s front door.

    Hand on heart, no disrespect to SLS staff is intended.

    • Dr. Dan says:
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      You are pretty optimistic it will fly once. After working on the inside for many years, I don’t think it can get off the ground.

    • imhoFRED says:
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      Potemkin Rocket. If/when it flies, it will have a faux second stage, a “manned” capsule with zero astronauts, and no life support.

      Why test a rocket that won’t ever be used that way again?