[FPSPACE] What should NASA be?[Scanned by MAIL]
Matula, Thomas L.
MATULAT at uhv.edu
Sun Apr 1 16:16:45 EDT 2007
First, the evidence simply does not support your beliefs that Science did not replace technology as a driver of NASA before the VSE. Note the NASA mission statement that was developed before the VSE.
NASAs Mission Statement, pre-2006.
To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.
And the response from Dr. Griffin changing of it to bring it in line with the VSE.
NASAs Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
Published: July 22, 2006
Note this statement.
[[[But the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the understand and protect phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
We refer to the mission statement in all our research proposals that go out for peer review, whenever we have strategy meetings, said Philip B. Russell, a 25-year NASA veteran who is an atmospheric chemist at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. As civil servants, were paid to carry out NASAs mission. When there was that very easy-to-understand statement that our job is to protect the planet, that made it much easier to justify this kind of work.
Several NASA researchers said they were upset that the change was made at NASA headquarters without consulting the agencys 19,000 employees or informing them ahead of time.]]]
[[[The line about protecting the earth was added to the mission statement in 2002 under Sean OKeefe, the first NASA administrator appointed by President Bush, and was drafted in an open process with scientists and employees across the agency.]]]
Now based on this it appears that the Scientists at NASA felt that science was driving NASA planning and strategy before VSE. What evidence do you have to show they were wrong
Also note the current NASA mission statement in which the Scientists not only got the Earth added back in to statement but listed science as the first of NASAs missions.
NASA Mission Statement - Today
* To advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe.
* To advance human exploration, use, and development of space.
* To research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics and space technologies.
Again this positioning of science first in the mission statement speaks strongly of science and scientists being major drivers of planning and decision making at NASA. Yes, the robotic mission budgets may be smaller then the human spaceflight budget, but remember that human spaceflight and the life science aspects of it are considered a key element of NASAs science mission. Now you may not see them as part of the planetary scientists you are focused on, but its still science.
Note also that NASA has a Space Science Advisory Committee that is the largest of the Committees that advise the NASA Advisory Council, and is the only committee with subcommittees.
In any organization chart this large size and composition of a committee speaks of strong influence.
Also Senators Johnsons efforts to create NASA would not have succeeded if it wasnt for the major signal Sputnik sent to Europe and other foreign nations of a weaken U.S. You need to look beyond the domestic politics to the international politics to understand why NASA was created, just as you need to look at why NACA was created during WW I. Bottom line was that Eisenhowers science advisors were wrong about the political impact of the Russia succeeding first with a space satellite even if it did allow them to demonstrate his open skies policy. Perhaps the science advisors today are just as wrong about China and the impact it will have on global politics if they reach the moon first.
And once again, Project Apollo and the expansion of NASA occurred in 1961, three LONG years after the NACA was renamed to NASA. And NASA was given the task of responding to Soviet successes in space because it was the civilian agency most qualified, because of its engineering focus, to respond. Dont confuse a foreign policy goal (Moon Race) with the tool (NASA) used to carry it out. They are quote different. Actually there was a fear that the Kennedy Administration would shut NASA down as reported by Robert C. Seamans, Jr in his autobiography, Aiming at Targets (NASA SP-4106, 1996). It was only after the Bay of Pigs and seeing the political impact of Russia successfully placing the first man in space that NASA became a priority in his Administration.
From: DSFPortree at aol.com [mailto:DSFPortree at aol.com]
Sent: Sun 4/1/2007 10:27 AM
To: Matula, Thomas L.; fpspace at friends-partners.org
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] What should NASA be?[Scanned by MAIL]
First off, I don't "hate" human spaceflight. I question it's efficacy,
particularly since we can't spend as much money on it as is necessary to make it
achieve great things. If I hated human spaceflight, I wouldn't write books about
it. Also, I wouldn't suggest that we stop reaching for the moon and calmly lay
the groundwork for great things.
"People like you" - hmm. I suppose that this must be business-model-speak for
"I'm frustrated and can't offer a real argument, so I need to say rude
Technology development is important - that's been the gist of advanced
planning advisory groups since at least the 1980s. It never gets funded for long,
alas. One reason CEV development is struggling is that there's no money to do
much tech development.
NASA for the sake of tech development? What would be the point? Who's going
to pay for that? There needs to be a reason for developing space technologies.
Yes, some people thought Sputnik was a sign that U.S. technology was
slipping. Public hysteria, people running around in circles waving their arms. But was
NASA founded to advance technology? No. LBJ saw Sputnik as a stick to beat
Eisenhower, a way to move toward the Presidency, and a way to put fed money into
southern states. Space was LBJ's issue, his way of staying in the public eye.
Eisenhower saw Sputnik as a demonstration of the freedom of space, which the
first U.S. satellite had been intended to assert, and did his best to cool
down the post-Sputnik hysteria, which only made him look ineffectual and out of
touch in the eyes of the hysterical public, a perception LBJ did his best to
keep alive. JFK eventually used it on Nixon - the "missile gap." NASA was formed
in part to address the hysteria, in part because LBJ wanted to look important
- it was his initiative - in part to do spaceflight. The point is, it wasn't
really for some grand, overarching, long-term purpose.
Some folks were annoyed when NASA was founded because they thought that NACA
was doing a good job doing aeronautics tech development, and that aeronautics
tech research would be a poor second to NASA's "beat the Russians" focus.
Guess what - they were right.
Apollo, Shuttle, VSE - all the same way. None of this stuff is logical, or
particularly forward-looking. Space is like the pyramids - cool to look at, an
impressive show of political power and technological expertise, but at root
damned irrational. Most of the stuff we groove on - cool pictures of Mars, for
example - are mere ancillary benefits. Analogous to the tourist dollars the
pyramids earn for modern-day Egypt.
I suppose that science is partly an effort to impose rationality on
spaceflight. Not that science is wholly rational, but at least it tries. But mainly
it's a figleaf for covering the basic political role of NASA.
The fact is, science gets a small fraction of NASA's budget. Human
spaceflight, which is all about politics, gets a much larger fraction. It does almost no
science. So, how you can say science rules NASA is beyond me.
Many, many justifications have been applied to NASA's activities. Science is
an easy one. Commercial benefit is another, though people don't swallow it as
easily as they did once upon a time - the idea that we went to the moon for
Tang, teflon, and velcro is the basis of jokes nowadays. NASA overdid it.
Inspiring our youth is another, though properly funding our educational system would
probably be more effective. Defending America is another, though one
terrorist with a ball-peen hammer could make short work of a Shuttle.
The point is, the stated justifications are seldom the whole story.
I'm not happy that we're likely to get CEV (launcher to be determined) and
little else, and that we're unlikely to see people (of any nation) on the moon
or Mars any time soon, and that robots will do most space exploration. But
reality is what it is. We might be able to move forward if we stopped wishing so
hard and grappled with what is for a change.
When some people look at SEI, they see Congress getting in the way, Dan
Quayle undermining NASA, etc. I see a grand gesture that undermined progress being
made. The Pathfinder technology program got axed because Bush made his
high-profile space speech on July 20, 1989, and it just got worse from there.
Sometimes it's best to stick with incremental progress and not go for drama. But the
temptation to be Kennedy is strong.
It's a bit like the Iraq debacle. Saddam Hussein wasn't hurting U.S.
interests. We'd pulled his teeth. But we went for the grand gesture of invading and
deposing him, and, guess what, just as everyone with expertise in the region had
predicted, all hell broke loose. We lost control of events; they took control
I really thought that SEI would have weaned NASA of the need for
Kennedy-esque grand gestures, but in digging into it of late I find that SEI was
misinterpreted by many within NASA. Congress, Quayle, etc., were small parts of the
story, not the main reasons SEI failed. It failed, I think, in large part because
it was too dramatic to be taken seriously, so came under attack. NASA lost
control of events. The VSE will fail in part for the same reason, though I think
that a smaller step - finishing the CEV - will survive because almost no one
wants to rely on the Shuttle any more.
David S. F. Portree
author & educator
dsfportree at aol.com
Flagstaff Arizona USA
"It's like when you're a kid, the first time they tell you that the world's
turning and you just can't quite believe it because everything looks like it's
standing still. I can feel it - the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our
feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour, the entire planet is hurtling
around the Sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We're
falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little
world, and if we let go..." - The Ninth Doctor
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