[FPSPACE] Notes on Speech by O'Keefe
MattWriter at aol.com
MattWriter at aol.com
Sat Apr 3 09:18:51 EST 2004
I attended a speech by NASA Administrator O'Keefe to the National Space
Symposium here in Colorado Springs this week. Some notes:
O'Keefe is not the dynamic cheerleader his predecessor, Dan Goldin, was, but
he's effective as a speaker. He comes off as dedicated and sincere.
He is not happy about the treatment the new Vision for Exploration has gotten
in "establishment newspapers," a term he used twice (The NYT and WaPo have
printed critical editorials.) He complains they are using the trillion-dollar
cost estimate that is "pure fantasy. I wish we had a tenth of that." He
did not offer a cost estimate for the entire program, but focused on the theme
that modest, steady increases, like the 5% proposed for next year, in the NASA
budget, would fund the project. He noted that the American people mistakenly
believe NASA is a large chunk of the Federal budget rather than the less than
one percent it actually is.
He insisted NASA was not abandoning the Hubble telescope by deciding not to
service it again with the Shuttle. He said, "the best minds we've got" are
working on ways to extend the telescope's life without a Shuttle mission. He
insisted the Shuttle was not grounded permanently and would be used to complete
the Space Station.
O'Keefe basically focused on two themes. One was that humans were going to
explore the solar system, both because we as a species want to see new places
for ourselves (or at least through the eyes of other humans) and because
humans can do more scientifically than machines. The two Mars rovers have done
spectacular work, but it's work that "that could have been accomplished by one
astronaut in an eight-hour shift." His other theme, reiterated by other NASA
speakers, was that the Vision for Exploration was the right approach: not an
Apollo-style effort toward one goal, but a "balanced and affordable"
step-by-step vision in which many decisions could not yet be made - they would be made
along the say, based on what we learned from early missions about new
technologies, in-situ resources, etc.
It was very much a NASA-focused speech, with only passing mentions of
international partners, partnerships with DoD, or the role of private industry. He
insisted "we can win this debate" if the supporters of the new vision would be
as vocal as the nay-sayers.
And that's the highlights.
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