[FPSPACE] What should NASA be?[Scanned by MAIL]
epgrondine at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 1 16:25:02 EDT 2007
You appear to be unaware of the key role played by Trevor Gardner in framing
the debate on space during the 1950's.
Similarly, you have left DEALING WITH THE IMPACT HAZARD out of your analysis
of NASA's future role.
The Congress hasn't.
Get over it.
Man and Impact in the Americas
>From: DSFPortree at aol.com
>To: MATULAT at uhv.edu, fpspace at friends-partners.org
>Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] What should NASA be?[Scanned by MAIL]
>Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 11:27:06 EDT
>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
>achieve great things. If I hated human spaceflight, I wouldn't write books
>it. Also, I wouldn't suggest that we stop reaching for the moon and calmly
>the groundwork for great things.
>"People like you" - hmm. I suppose that this must be business-model-speak
>"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
>alas. One reason CEV development is struggling is that there's no money to
>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
>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
>southern states. Space was LBJ's issue, his way of staying in the public
>Eisenhower saw Sputnik as a demonstration of the freedom of space, which
>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
>touch in the eyes of the hysterical public, a perception LBJ did his best
>keep alive. JFK eventually used it on Nixon - the "missile gap." NASA was
>in part to address the hysteria, in part because LBJ wanted to look
>- it was his initiative - in part to do spaceflight. The point is, it
>really for some grand, overarching, long-term purpose.
>Some folks were annoyed when NASA was founded because they thought that
>was doing a good job doing aeronautics tech development, and that
>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,
>impressive show of political power and technological expertise, but at root
>damned irrational. Most of the stuff we groove on - cool pictures of Mars,
>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.
>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
>an easy one. Commercial benefit is another, though people don't swallow it
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>deposing him, and, guess what, just as everyone with expertise in the
>predicted, all hell broke loose. We lost control of events; they took
>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
>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
>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
>that a smaller step - finishing the CEV - will survive because almost no
>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
>standing still. I can feel it - the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath
>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.
>falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little
>world, and if we let go..." - The Ninth Doctor
> See what's free at http://www.aol.com.
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