ATI’s Space Industry Professionals Weigh-In: Obama’s Decision to End NASA’s Constellation Program (Part 2)

For Part 1 of this post please click here Explanatory comments in opposition of how this change will affect NASA and Manned space exploration: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The new Obama space plan will definitely hurt manned space exploration. In this area, as in others, Obama is a leader who lacks vision.” ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The Obama space plan doesn’t […]
For Part 1 of this post please click here

Explanatory comments in opposition of how this change will affect NASA and Manned space exploration:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The new Obama space plan will definitely hurt manned space exploration. In this area, as in others, Obama is a leader who lacks vision.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The Obama space plan doesn’t appear to be a plan at all. He apparently wants to eliminate existing plans to use the Moon as a staging area for future space exploration, while at the same time eliminating heavy-lift launch capability. That would be the death-knell for future manned space exploration.” “Although unmanned scientific space missions would continue under the Obama plan, it is not clear how much support unmanned missions would receive in the future. Obama is of the opinion that the U.S. space program has had low return on investment. That notion is standard liberal poppycock. Estimates of the net loss in jobs (5000 – 7000 jobs lost) are probably low. The actual net job loss would likely approach 10,000.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “I believe we need to maintain the space program at this current level at the least. That includes launching, space science and the manned space program using our own launcher. I do not believe it is good policy to rely on the Russians to put us in space. “No, I do not support that plan.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “No….I feel this will put an end to manned space flight outside of LEO for the US. Doesn’t bode well for servicing mission to the Webb Telescope (that would be a know need), let alone any further exploration and experience outside of LEO. There is no money in the budget to pursue both, technology leaps would have occurred if they were remotely feasible. It is a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money and the skilled workforce will take a generation to recover if this in fact happens, as the Aerospace and NASA industry is already aging.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “NO. The way forward is ill-advised. Many programs now mentioned in the President’s budget are low-hanging fruit, having been worked on within NASA for years and should now be given to the commercial world. NASA should keep in part Human Spaceflight (HSF) as a major infrastructure issue, not unlike highway and air traffic systems. The US government must stay involved for development in a safe and sustained way (when BIG government works best) without competing with commercial space market. It is good to have commercial know-how, but for the overarching system, the US government must provide goals and leadership in concert with the desires of the nation. The NASA budget is very modest compared to expenditures of recent Administration commitments, and a parallel manned system to commercial HSF systems is the way to maintain American manned access to space. The AF has assured access to space through EELV. Surely another government agency should ensure human access to space. It seems that NASA has now trepidation for the future of human spaceflight and space development, so perhaps another civil agency such as the FAA Office of Commercial Space should undertake this bold challenge (?) to balance both commercial and civil HSF systems ensuring our (US) economic growth in space. The US is the only country with budgets large enough to do the tough infrastructure development that lay the foundation for the economic development of space—from which later the American economy can be rewarded. There will be no quick ROI from space—more of long term growth, long term development (10-20 years), with funding consistency, like the utilities industry. And funding must remain predictable and consistent for commercial planning purposes. The question should be ‘Is NASA able to give consistent and solid leadership to continue our American heritage in space?’—manned, unmanned, and safe? And a question for later, how will the commercial development of space be protected from pirates, terrorists, space debris, sabotage, early warning of solar and radiation effects, which provide other opportunities for entrepreneurial developments. This year NASA is losing its importance as a global leader in space exploration at its own hand. Commitments made and not followed through, and a past history of elbowing the US industry out of ‘competition’ has hurt the NASA image. So less government commitment for space exploration is occurring as a solution. NASA should look internally to understand this failure. I am reminded of Apollo 13 and how failure then was never considered an option, against all odds. And yet here we are—NASA withdrawing in failure. Failure to stand up and fight for the budgets it requires to ‘do the hard things’. NASA in the past has competed with the commercial space launch business and industry scientists and PI’s, and would not fund commercial ideas—but they would take commercial concepts for their own without cutting out work for the originator of the idea . This created a reluctance to partner with NASA and dependence and reliance on NASA and only NASA–within the nation and world-wide—for programs which NASA could not deliver at costs they could not determine and later could not afford. NASA has defeated free market access and commercial enterprise interest in space development for years although persistence and unlimited private funding has begun to grow this market segment even before the Augustine panels and report. NASA created a dependence on solely themselves for manned access to space, access to ISS for the US and the world (solely through the Russians or NASA), SCRAMJET technology development through them, data from any sensors in solar system explorations and earth remote sensors only built by them and collected by them (JPL is NASA). With so much now depending on ‘them’, the President by advice of OSTP and NASA top management has decided to abdicate. NASA as an agency should have been in commercial partnerships all along. Now is not the time to withdraw from manned spaceflight leadership. We still need an alternative to the commercial spaceliners. And there was a successful demonstration on October 28, 2009 of a system that can parallel commercial market development. A major mishap will set back the commercial side of a manned program. Big government has to remain in the game to keep the manned space efforts filled with substance safely. These programs belong to the American taxpayer regardless of whether NASA funds commercial business or does it themselves. If anyone with an ‘inside the beltway’ address will be open to hear, maybe the taxpayer should decide the priorities for funding. For the billions of dollars in funding that NASA has received in the last 3 decades, there is little space transportation growth to show except for science projects to Mars and the outer planets. Manned spaceflight has been stuck in LEO. And it will take manned spaceflight to grow a viable economy in space. It will take NASA in partnership with the innovation of industry to ‘unstick’ us safely out of earth orbit in order to visit our solar system and learn more about potential threats outside of earth’s magnetosphere. And both NASA and the commercial space efforts need sustained and predictable funding for years to come to be successful.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “Working in this industry here at Cape Canaveral Florida, I know the dedication of the work force and the passion for what is done. We follow in the legacy of the “Steely-eyed Missile Men” that achieve the greatest feat of the 20th Century, landing a man on the moon. Look at the technology that came from that effort in just a short 10 year time span. Technology that the planet runs on everyday. We created, built, and integrated that technology that achieved a goal landing in the Moon within a ten year period. Even though we may not be at the pinnacle of that feat now, we never the less still need to at least continue to provide our (the United States) own transportation to the International Space Station. Going back to the Moon may not be a high priority right now, so why not scale back Constellation to provide assured access to the space and keep our experienced work force intact to help build the future of human space flight. But to stop dead in your tracks and start all over is wrong and then to rely on the Russian to provide transportation to the Space Station, ironically in a rocket that traces it heritage back to Sputnik! Yes, the Russian have relied on ONE launch vehicle for human space flight over the past 50 years, even though they failed at a few others. The United States has used six different launch vehicles over that same 50 year period and by the end of this year we will have NOTHING to fly to space and no capability of resurrecting any of those past 6 vehicles to get up to orbit. Even though ARES-1 isn’t the best option, NASA should reorganize and expedite the ARES-1 and Orion development to become strictly an ISS transportation vehicle. Then build off of their lessons learned as to develop the future manned spacecraft and launch vehicles. I grew up with the space program, watching the Apollo missions on TV as a kid and it was those conquests and achievements that encouraged me to become an engineer. But now we’ll have nothing for the future generation to watch, admire, and to encourage them to pursue math and technology in school. Ask them who invented the technology for their fancy video games, they’ll say the Japanese. They don’t even now that the origins of integrated circuit is America’s Space Program. We need something for those kid to see and encourage them, watching a rocket the Americans designed and built flying to space will interest them more than some 100 page report from some PhD on the next manned spacecraft design, filled with “if we do this” or “if we do that” statements. Not sure what the future generation will want to be when they grow up, but chances are it won’t be mathematicians and engineers. So we’ll have to rely on the countries to fill those jobs just like we’ll rely on Russia to take US Astronauts to the ISS… BUT AT LEAST WE’LL HAVE HEALTH CARE!” “White House plans to cancel the Constellation moon rocket program could jeopardize U.S. leadership in space exploration. Criticism, from both Republicans and Democrats, underscores the difficulty that President Barack Obama faces in convincing Congress of his plan, which would terminate Constellation and instead rely on commercial rockets or on Russia to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. “It could leave our country with no human exploration program, no human-rated spacecraft and little ability to inspire the youth of America,” said U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ “The plan to go to Mars and abandon the moon will put manned exploration beyond low earth orbit behind by 2-3 decades. The VASIMR propulsion technology is decades away from being able to send any appreciable mass to the red planet. Nuclear reactors in space needed for the VASIMR plasma engine have been abandoned since the seventies and need to be reconstituted needing significant time to get to a working level for either test or even flight. Without Constellation there will be no capsules or other manned craft for an appreciable time. No heavy lift vehicle is even close to the drawing board as well. It is a presidential blunder of enormous magnitude – on scale with the unilateral decision to invade Iraq.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ATI encourages further participation from both the public and private sectors to continue this important and controversial debate.

ATI is planning a follow-up poll after the President’s April 15th conference on NASA’s future where he will outline his strategy for the next step in space exploration. Jenkins says, “It will be interesting to see if any opinions shift after the President details his strategy for the future of space, since those details have yet to be presented beyond his 2011 Fiscal Budget Plan.”

The Applied Technology Institute (ATI) specializes in professional development seminars in the technical areas of space, communications, defense, sonar, radar, and signal processing. For over twenty-five years, ATI has presented leading-edge technical training to defense and NASA facilities, as well as DoD and aerospace contractors. ATI courses provide a clear understanding of the fundamental principles and a working knowledge of current technology and applications. ATI has the unique capability to schedule and deliver courses in a matter of weeks. They offer customized on-site training at your facility anywhere in the United States, as well as internationally and over 200 annual public courses in dozens of locations. World-class design experts lead courses. To register or for an on-site quote, call (888) 501-2100, or visit them on the web at www.ATIcourses.com

2 thoughts on “ATI’s Space Industry Professionals Weigh-In: Obama’s Decision to End NASA’s Constellation Program (Part 2)

  1. First observation/question is why did you post negative survey responses first? At a minimum to be fair they survey comments should alternate for and against the proposal not to fund Constallation.

    Second, Human space flight is a strategic national capability that is only performed by the U.S. government. I agree with Congressman Griffith that “Keeping our space program funded at its highest levels is paramount to the success of our nation. We cannot yield up to a decade of space prominence to any other nation and then expect to pick up where we left off when we decide to commit once again to spaceflight. American supremacy in space equals supremacy in intelligence, missile defense, future technologies, education, trade and economic development.” NASA’s human space flight missions provide a strategic national capability that remains the responsibility of the U.S. government. US national capability in the human space flight domain is so critical that it must not be relinquished to non-government commercial entities whose existence depends solely on a profitable business base.

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