[FPSPACE] Re: NASA Administrator
Wed, 27 Dec 2000 16:24:50 +0100
In FPSPACE digest, Vol 1 #161 Jonathan McDowell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> Jonathan McDowell for NASA Administrator
>I don't think so, somehow... maybe in the Jesse Jackson Administration,
>but I can't see myself getting a phone call from Bush. And the job
>of NASA Adminstrator is not to excite the public, but to schmooze with
>Congress. I'd have to cut my hair and wear a tie. That doesn't sound
>like much fun...
>For what it's worth, my platform:
> - separate clearly in the public mind the goals of (1) science and (2) exploration
I seem to be missing (3) defence ?
At least one asteroidal impact may or may not be intercepted this century
depending on whether the task is granted budgetary priority
> - the long term goal of exploration is the colonization of the Moon and Mars
I take Mars to include Phobos and Deimos ?
Also a suitable NEO asteroid could be considered for permanent settlement -
faster to get to and from it, highly relevant experience hollowing out your first
'batcave' relatively close to home
> - public support, however, is not there yet for the outlay it would take, even
> for the new 'cheap' approaches.
I hope no approach is considered which would attempt to copycat the Apollo effort?
A steady proportional allocation of budgetary funds will eventually open up the entire
solar system for public and private enterprise
> - therefore, an agressive automated lunar and mars exploration program focussed
> more explicitly on technology development for human exploration,
> - while keeping astronauts in LEO for now (perhaps with some thought for
> experimental missions to GEO and/or NEO); we've spent so much on Station
> we should complete it, but we need to think of ways to keep long term
> operations costs lower
> - strongly support the X-38 program and investigate the possibility
> of being able to launch it on an expendable (e.g Ariane 5) as a backup
> human access to space should Shuttle and Soyuz be unavailable
> - maintain collaboration with and limited support for Russia, but ensure
> they are not in the critical path for Station. However, find ways to
> help their space infrastructure survive - I do believe the Russian economy
> will get healthy again a few years down the road.
Better duplicate the Russian contribution than surge ahead with minimal delay?
I think not!
> This is a tricky one - we can't see Energiya go down the tubes (Krunichev
> is OK because of Proton) but we can't get messed around by the Russian govt.
> in the way we have been. Maybe the attitude is, no more loans but we'll
> buy stuff to own and *control* ourselves.
> - revisit the advanced launch program, in particular review the X-33
> (I don't have the knowledge to say now that it should be cancelled, but I
> am skeptical of the program). We need cheaper access to space, not fancier.
> We need a Shuttle replacement, we need to learn lessons from Shuttle, but
> we should be building a vehicle with more margin, not one closer to the cutting
> edge, as our prime replacement. The fancy X-33/DC-X/whatever experimental
> spaceplane should also happen eventually when we have the money, but the key
> for now is getting humans to space cheaply (and for human spaceflight, I
> don't believe the commercial world will do the trick).
The right answers could well make or break a NASA administrator :-)
> - accelerate efforts to move as many functions of Mission Control as possible
> onto the spacecraft itself, with the MOCR moving more to a backup role for the
> next generation of human spaceflight.
> - for science missions, increase the ratio of data analysis money to mission
> development money, at the cost of fewer new starts. It's silly to throw away
> a working spacecraft because you don't have 1 percent of its cost to continue
> operating it, or to gather all the data and then not have any postdocs to
> analyse it. Since it always takes about 5 years to fully understand the calibration
> of a scientific space mission, shutting the team down after 2 or 3 years is
> never a good idea.
> - maintain a mix of SMEX-type small missions and a few major missions. There
> are some things small missions just can't do, but you do need a reasonable
> flight rate to keep teams from stagnating or dispersing.
> - Pluto now; Europa's cool, but it will keep, while Pluto's atmosphere won't.
Proximity over such distance is most likely inferior to EO-based observations.
Technology is bound to move forward over the years it takes such a SLOOOW
probe to plough through interplanetary space
> - HQ vs the centers: I think HQ is now actually *under*staffed. But HQ
> must give programs as much autonomy and responsibility as possible.
> My impression is that too many trivial things need multiple approvals and
> signatures... I don't know how much of that is NASA and how much is federal
> govt. requirement.
> - aeronautics: I don't know enough to say what should happen, but we either
> need to make the aeronautics part much more visible, or give it to someone else.
> Langley should be (1) researching only things that commercial aviation won't do
> and (2) providing a set of resources and facilities to the aerospace industry.
> The NACA heritage makes a strong sentimental attachment to Langley and Lewis/Glenn;
> but it's not clear to me how strong the practical tie is between the aero side and
> the space side these days - do we gain by having them both in NASA, or should
> we give aero to some other agency, would they do better if they weren't space's
> unloved junior partner? Alternatively, are there obvious aero things we should
> be doing that we're not that could be an important chunk of NASA?
> - anything that industry can do well, should be contracted out. But for things
> that industry has turned out to be poor at, we need the in-house expertise
> and experience (one thing that comes to mind is certain kinds of software,
> where contracting out has often led to disaster).
> - I think there are certain centers where there's still a lot of dead wood to be
> cut. I'm not going to name names, though, because it's not fair to trash people
> based on relatively superficial impressions. There's a lot too much of that on
> the net.
> There, now at least you know what you're voting for. I'd be a terrible NASA
I'm sure you would grow with the job :-)