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Election 2012

Obama Rips Romney Over Space

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
April 4, 2012
Filed under , ,

Obama camp, Dems swipe at Mitt Romney over space policy, MIami Herald
From a transcript of a call with Obama supporter and Cocoa Mayor Michael Blake said: … “Romney has repeatedly stressed he’d make no promises about funding for the space program or the future direction of NASA. When it comes to NASA and space exploration, it is clear that Mitt Romney is completely wrong on the issue and out of touch with the Space Coast.”
Mike Griffin, Romney Space Advisor, earlier post

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

25 responses to “Obama Rips Romney Over Space”

  1. jski says:
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    What a JOKE!  The Obama administration killed Constellation and replaced it with a mission-to-nowhere.  Any administration that claims to commit multiple presidents and multiple congresses to anything is basically saying: I don’t give a damn about this!  And the thing Obama couldn’t care less about is HSF in particular and NASA in general.

    Strangely, one thing he’s done that’s been beneficial, all be it totally unintentional, is to accelerate Griffin’s commercial effort.  I have no doubt he’d love to de-fund NASA and use the money for social engineering purposes.

    • ASFalcon13 says:
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       “And the thing Obama couldn’t care less about is HSF in particular and NASA in general.”

      For what it’s worth, I don’t see Mitt Romney caring about it any more than Obama.  The best we’ve gotten out of him is:

      “Bring them together, discuss a wide range of options for NASA, and then
      have NASA not just funded by the federal government but also by
      commercial enterprises.  Let’s have a collaborative
      effort, with business, with government, with the military as well as
      with our educational institutions.”

      In other words, let’s have NASA pulled in even more directions than it already is.  He’s laid out his priorities right here: military and business, and NASA is a tool only to further those goals.  Honestly though, we have to realize that outside of the state of Florida, this is also the viewpoint of the general public.  Although we can argue about the benefits of space, most people aren’t going to pay attention to that when there are issues that hit closer to home, like the economy, health care, gas prices, family members serving overseas, that sort of thing.

      We’re a minority, folks.  Unless we have a president in office that actually has some personal interest in space, expect to continue to see a lack of attention from the White House.  For what it’s worth, the only candidate I’ve seen so far that I think actually would give serious consideration to the space program is Newt.  Although his overall plan itself isn’t necessarily feasible, at least he’s expressed interest in the success of NASA and the space program on its own merits, and not just as a subservient tool to further military and business interests.  Maybe you don’t like moonbases, but at least the guy’s got enthusiasm.

  2. chriswilson68 says:
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    There’s nothing wrong with what the Obama administration originally tried to do with NASA — kill Constellation and use commercial procurement to get HSF capabilities much more efficiently.  The problem was the Obama administration didn’t care about it enough to expend political capital to fight for it.  So they mostly caved to a few powerful Senators who wanted SLS pork.

    Gingrich was probably the only candidate of either party who actually cared about NASA and would have put any effort in to fight against it being bled dry for pork.  Unfortunately, his space program was bonkers.  It was so wildly overly-optimistic about what could be done with a small amount of money that it bordered on crackpot territory.

    • John Thomas says:
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       One problem was that Constellation was killed before the replacement program was in place. Commercial space and how NASA would use it was more a set of ideas and promises.

      • dogstar29 says:
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        Of course one could also say that Shuttle was killed before its replacement was operational. This completely ignored the recommendations of the CAIB report, which said that the Shuttle could continue to fly safely until its replacement was operational. The CAIB also said that any attempt to design a Shuttle replacement for any mission beyond access to LEO would fail.

        • John Thomas says:
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          The CAIB said that should the shuttle continue to fly past 2010, it must be re-certified. I haven’t seen any estimates as to how much that would cost, but I would assume it would be expensive. And unless that re-certification required major redesign in the shuttle, it’s failure rate would probably not be significantly decreased.

  3. Ioldanach Dyfrgi says:
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    Obama’s calling Romney on his lack of NASA support? That’s rich.

  4. Nassau Goi says:
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     Another talking head conservative. So, Obama did bad by supporting and investing into sustainable manned spaceflight? Something that should have been done ages ago.

    This really is a shameful sob story, all the apparent intelligence in the world and NASA really had no plan to get into space continuously and on budget.

    NASA could use a small share of the few trillions that the Fed decided
    was in the best interest of financial entities, where Mitt Romney is a huge benefactor. Not to mention many of these benefactors where foreign.

    • hikingmike says:
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      I agree. I bet Obama’s camp can’t wait until Dragon docks to ISS so the anti-commercial people won’t be able to continue their arguments without seeming nonsensical. Division of labor here – NASA for the hard stuff, commercial for the somewhat less-hard stuff where a business model can be had.

      • no one of consequence says:
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        I think its “fear barking” we are hearing right now from cowardly space.

        There’s a palpable fear … what if Dragon does well?
        What if they all … COTS/CCDEV … do well?

        And what if then SLS/Orion … pushes back on schedule / cost overrun / change of scope / change of architecture … after another major success?

        They’d come under pressure to cancel SLS, and put Orion on EELV.

        • dogstar29 says:
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          Yeah and  maybe we could find the author of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study who claimed that it would be cheaper to launch Orion on the nonexistent Ares 1 than on the already operational Delta IV.

    • DTARS says:
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      Hikingmike

      Mr. Obama’s capture the flag!!! 🙂

      • hikingmike says:
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        Good analogy 🙂
        I’m thinking it’s more like Kick The Can. If you’ve played that you know when the can is kicked (to the chagrin of the person who’s “it”), everybody’s set free in a jailbreak, hehe. 

    • JJ says:
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      What is sustainable about it?  Their economic models are questionable at best.  All there has been is the launch of a piece of cheese, when there are dozens of payloads launched around the globe with proven rockets and you claim is “sustainable” already?

  5. Nassau Goi says:
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    I think it’s quite hilarious with all the head in sand conservatives complaining about Obama space policy. He supported the companies and people that were working hard to push expectations.

    The average NASA parking lot is empty at midnight.
    SpaceX has it usually half full.
    NASA used to be that way a few decades ago.

    The same people criticizing him would be doing the same even if he had doubled NASA budget for being a large government socialist or some other keyword.

    • no one of consequence says:
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       My read is that Obama has always been skeptical of NASA because it is so easy to be used to fund multibillion dollar programs to favor defense contractors. As he is now embarking on trimming down the enormous not on budget wars with trillions of dollars of gluttonous overspending agreed to by “fiscal conservatives”, a) he doesn’t want the roaches to flee into a “safe” eatery of NASA projects, nor b) be blamed for upscaling NASA funding to accommodate SLS needs and be labeled wasteful, as he is already for the tiny amount of commercial space funding he’s asked for.

      Romney can fake allegiance of SLS and get astros who are more interested in political fealty than in national interest to give him cover without requiring commitment to a program he’s likely to cut seconds after getting into office. Anyone interested in space backing Romney clearly has made their priorities known as political theory first, practical realities last. We all know how those have always worked out before.

      The irony here is you can’t be a conservative, true to principles, true to the pragmatism of HSF … and back your party. That sucks.

      No one who knows space well … would ever compromise space one micron … to give a thimbleful of spit to any political theory period.
      Because space is hard. Harder than politics.

    • Anonymous says:
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      I think it’s also interesting that, according to SpaceX human-resources personnel, the company receives many resumes from NASA personnel who insist in their cover letters that they are more enthusiastic about the former than the latter. And are willing to give up the relative security of civil-service positions for less secure, and often lower paid, positions with SpaceX where people work very hard indeed.
      The kicking around NASA is getting as a perpetual political football, involving decades of tight budgets and Congressional posturing, has taken a toll on agency morale, and some have simply had enough and are bailing out.

      • dogstar29 says:
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        I have heard that SpaceX is very reluctant to hire civil servants (though they do make exceptions). Old joke I heard in 1968. We used to have a rocket we called the “civil servant”. It wouldn’t work, and we couldn’t fire it.

    • JJ says:
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      NASA doesn’t make its vehicles and rockets.

  6. muomega0 says:
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    The architecture was depot centric with smaller launch vehicles before Bush Congress replaced with the unaffordable Constellation Heavy lift architecture.  Leaked NASA studies, reported here on NW, show that the depot centric architecture would save 57 Billion dollars vs the HLV Constellation/SLS architecture over 30 years, about 3B/year. 

    Further, the unsustainable HLV architecture cancelled funding for the lunar lander , required ISS splash down in 2015 *and* shuttle retirement to pay for Constellation.  For example, External Tank procurements were all but halted by 2006!  Many other technology challenges were completely neglected, including having, even today,  *zero* radiation protection for BEO cosmic radiation.

    It took a *real* space policy to step up to NASA technology challenges including balancing costs, the flexible path, in order have enable future missions or a *destination”. 

    The issue today is funding continues for a SLS HLV that the country does not need since it has excess launch capability. The “outpost” is not the challenge to deserve a *prize*, nor is building a heavy lift launch vehicle.

    The joke is the repeated uniformed posts that omit facts with no shame, and would focus the agency on the key enabling technologies of the future.

    Most of the folks at NASA are very excited about a future with less dollars being spent on LVs and more spent on missions and technology development to sustainably explore.

  7. no one of consequence says:
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    Cernan and Crippen are political tools.

    Later they will wish they didn’t sell their manhood so cheap.

    add:
    Cessna,
    If there are, they don’t have astronaut manhood to sell for cheap as tools.

  8. Dr. Brian Chip Birge says:
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    From my perspective I don’t see a single one of these yahoos that’s been a friend to space. Newt maybe but his other baggage is too heavy. In the world of the insular echo chamber of short sighted politics, space is nothing more than a soundbite generating tool with which to whack your opponent around with, when massaging statistics gets old. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It is up to us space enthusiasts to break this cycle by providing something they and the lay-public can’t ignore and given our tendency for infighting I’m not too optimistic. But then I read the stuff over at http://www.nasahackspace.org/ and I start to feel hopeful, the problem becomes putting all this together into a sustainable long term plan for off-planet development.

  9. Todd Austin says:
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     It sounds like you’ve been consuming the pre-masticated version of reality spit out by Fox ‘News’.  Bush killed shuttle, replacing it with an underfunded overspeced system.  When the Augustine commission looked at the numbers, they didn’t add up to success with any sort of budget that NASA was likely to get.  Killing it in favor of CCP and putting the remaining money into real R&D that might get us away from this rock was the way to get the most bang for our shrinking buck.  I count that as smart support for a manned space program with a future, not cheap pandering to voters in Texas, Florida, Alabama, etc., and to the legion of deep-pocketed aerospace campaign donors.

  10. sshamba says:
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    Isn’t this a case of pot calling the kettle black? I had to leave JPL after 18.5 years because this bozo Obama decided to cut back all the planetary science stuff. Obama’s hope and change stuff was all BS. He came across as supposedly pro-science pro-education and he has proceeded to destroy the most scientifically beneficial and most educationally interesting part of the space program: the planetary science.

    I know getting pictures back from Jupiter, Mars and other planets inspire kids to get into science and engineering (hey, that is how I got into it by watching stuff from Pioneer and the Vikings). I am not sure if sending stuff into low-earth orbit is going to be as inspiring.

    I am not sure about Romney and the space program (we won’t know until if and when he gets elected) but with Obama I felt we have been sold a bill of goods. The man is a liar as far as the space program is concerned and he is destroying the space program.