Congress Seeks Significant Shift in NASA Budget Priorities

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden media briefing at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral, Florida prior to successful Orion EFT-1 launch on Dec. 5, 2014.   Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden media briefing at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral, Florida prior to successful Orion EFT-1 launch on Dec. 5, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

One thing seems fairly certain about NASA’s budget in Fiscal Year 2016 – a contentious clash is afoot between Congress and the Obama Administration on the space agency’s funding priorities and direction that will result in a multitude of significant winners and losers in a wide range of programs in the years ahead.

Not surprisingly, the Republican Congress and Democratic President Barack Obama are on a collision course regarding U.S. space policy, with fundamental differences on strategies and a wide gulf on ideas of where to spend our very limited federal dollars in the waning years of the current Administration.

On Feb. 2, the Obama Administration proposed a NASA budget allocation of $18.5 Billion for the new Fiscal Year 2016, which amounts to a half-billion dollar increase over the enacted budget for FY 2015.

Orion, NASA's deep-space crew capsule, and its Delta-IV Heavy rocket bathed in xenon lights at launch pad 37B / Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla the night before launching on its first test flight, EFT-1. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Orion, NASA’s deep-space crew capsule, and its Delta-IV Heavy rocket bathed in xenon lights at launch pad 37B / Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla the night before launching on its first test flight, EFT-1. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Now the US House Committee and Subcommittee responsible for deciding NASA’s budget (with Republican member majorities) have started their markup process, taking action and votes and begun slicing here and adding there.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden formally announced the rollout of NASA’s FY 2016 budget request during a “state of the agency” address at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) In February.

“To further advance these plans and keep on moving forward on our journey to Mars, President Obama today is proposing an FY 2016 budget of $18.5 billion for NASA, building on the significant investments the administration has made in America’s space program over the past six years,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said to NASA workers and media representatives gathered at the KSC facility where Orion is being manufactured.

One of the only things that the House and Obama Administration agree on is the top line budget allocation of $18.5 Billion for the NASA’s Fiscal Year 2016 allocation.

“NASA is funded at $18.5 billion in the bill, $519 million above the 2015 enacted level,” said Congressman John Culberson (R-TX ), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), on May 15.

“In another tough budget year, this bill prioritizes funding for law enforcement, national security, space exploration, and scientific research,” said Chairman Culberson.

Overall the additional $519 million for FY 2016 translates to a 2.7% increase over FY 2015. That compares to about a 6.4% proposed boost for the overall US Federal Budget amounting to $4 Trillion. So NASA’s increase is shortchanged compared to others, but an small increase is better than nothing at all.

Obama Administration officials say the 2016 proposal keeps the key Orion manned capsule and SLS heavy lift rocket programs on track to launch humans to deep space in the next decade. It also significantly supplements the commercial crew program (CCP) initiative to send our astronauts to low Earth orbit and the space station later this decade.

In numerous forums Bolden has repeatedly stated that NASA’s overriding goal is to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. To accomplish the ‘Journey to Mars’ initiative, NASA is developing the state of the art Orion deep space crew capsule and mammoth SLS rocket.

“NASA is firmly on a journey to Mars. Make no mistake, this journey will help guide and define our generation,” Bolden said.

However, both deep space exploration programs had their budgets cut in the White House FY 2016 proposal compared to FY 2015. The 2015 combined total for both in the Exploration Systems line item of $3.245 Billion is reduced in 2016 to $2.863 Billion, or over 10%.

By comparison, the House subcommittee voted for a total for Exploration Systems of $3.409 Billion for 2016. The big change was a substantial increase for SLS of nearly a half billion. Orion and Ground Systems Development are funded at the Administrations requested levels of $1.096 billion and $410 million respectively, which corresponds to a cut for Orion from FY 2015.

Furthermore, in the past year NASA announced a nearly year long delay in the maiden test flight of SLS from December 2017. It is now targeted for no later than November 2018 and will be configured in its initial 70-metric-ton (77-ton) version with a liftoff thrust of 8.4 million pounds.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (left) announces the winners of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to build America’s next crewed spaceships launching from Florida to the International Space Station. Speaking from Kennedy’s Press Site, Bolden announced the contract award to Boeing and SpaceX to complete the design of the CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft. Former astronaut Bob Cabana, center, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Kathy Lueders, manager of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, and former International Space Station Commander Mike Fincke also took part in the announcement. Credit: www.kenkremer.com

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (left) announces the winners of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to build America’s next crewed spaceships launching from Florida to the International Space Station. Speaking from Kennedy’s Press Site, Bolden announced the contract award to Boeing and SpaceX to complete the design of the CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft. Former astronaut Bob Cabana, center, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Kathy Lueders, manager of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, and former International Space Station Commander Mike Fincke also took part in the announcement. Credit: www.kenkremer.com

SLS-1 will loft the uncrewed Orion capsule on the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) flight on an approximately three week long test flight beyond the Moon and back.

Orion’s inaugural mission, dubbed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT), flew a virtually flawless flight on Dec. 5, 2014, and they have been busily reviewing the reams of data returned ever since.

NASA officials have said that a funding increase in the requested SLS and Orion budgets will not move up the 2018 launch date.

But what also seems rather abundantly clear is that the proposed White House cuts to SLS and Orion will slow the pace of critical testing and hardware manufacturing, potentially endangering the 2018 target launch date.

Nevertheless, because of numerous changes and additional cuts to NASA’s technology development programs, Bolden is not pleased with the House budget proposal regarding the Journey to Mars initiative.

The House proposal would cut technology development by nearly $100 million from $725 million to $625 million.

“Unfortunately, this work is in jeopardy of being halted, delayed or possibly undone by the [House Appropriation Committee] Budget Bill as currently written,” wrote Bolden in a new blog update.

NASA concept art for SLS posted on AmericaSpace

NASA currently plans to launch the first SLS on an unmanned test flight in 2018, with the first crewed flight out of Earth-orbit a couple years later. Image Credit: NASA

The big House committee plus up for SLS apparently comes at the expense of NASA’s other human spaceflight pillar, namely the Commercial Crew program of ‘space taxis’ to transport our astronauts to the low Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS).

Whereas the White House substantially fortified the CCP program, the House committee wipes out most of the increase.

CCP got a hefty and much needed increase from the Administration of nearly 50% from $805 Million in FY 2015 to $1.244 Billion in FY 2016. In reality that only partially makes up for substantial prior cuts by the Congress which has not fully funded the Administration’s CCP funding requests, since its inception in 2010.

The significant budget slashes amounting to 50% or more by Congress, have forced NASA to delay the first commercial crew flights of the private ‘space taxis’ from 2015 to 2017.

The net effect of Congressional CCP cuts has been to prolong US sole reliance on the Russian Soyuz manned capsule at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Indeed, given the crisis in Ukraine, one might think the Congress would eagerly embrace wanting to reduce our total dependence on the Russians for human spaceflight.

Especially given the two major launch failures suffered by the Russian Soyuz and Proton rockets in the past few weeks, it would seem prudent to wean our dependence on Russia and fortify development of an indigenous US system to launch our astronauts to the ISS.

Instead the House committee has dealt another substantial blow to CCP funding by slashing the Administrations 2016 request from $1.244 Billion to $1.0 Billion.

Administrator Bolden has said that full CCP funding in 2016 is required to keep the program marching towards a 2017 launch.

Otherwise the first crewed flights could be delayed yet again and the CCP contracts with both Boeing and SpaceX may have to be renegotiated to ‘slow progress’ on completing the required milestones to certify that the CST-100 and Crew Dragon spaceships are ready, safe and reliable.

“It would upend the investments we need to execute contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to return the launches of American astronauts to American soil and to do it by 2017,” wrote Bolden in his NASA blog.

“Instead, it would force us to continue our sole reliance on Russia. In other words, it would guarantee we will continue to send millions of dollars a year to Moscow instead of investing that money in United States, creating jobs and once again launching Americans from U.S. soil.”

Science is another area where priorities are differ markedly between the White House and Republican Congress.

Overall the NASA science budget of $5.3 billion gets cut by about $51 million. In recent years, the White House has cut the Planetary Sciences Division budget by over $300 million, as outlined here. They even “zeroed out” funding for the long lived Opportunity rover.

NASA Opportunity Rover looks ahead to Marathon Valley and Martian cliffs on Endeavour crater holding deposits of water altered clay minerals science treasure on Feb. 11, 2015.  Rover operates well after 11 Years trekking Mars.   This pancam camera photo mosaic was assembled from images taken on Sol 3929 (Feb. 11, 2015) and colorized.  Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA Opportunity Rover looks ahead to Marathon Valley and Martian cliffs on Endeavour crater holding deposits of water altered clay minerals science treasure on Feb. 11, 2015. Rover operates well after 11 Years trekking Mars. This pancam camera photo mosaic was assembled from images taken on Sol 3929 (Feb. 11, 2015) and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

The House is seeking to shift significant funding away from Earth sciences towards other line items. Planetary Sciences might receive an increase, with a funding increase especially for the proposed Europa orbiter mission due to launch in the 2020s.

Bolden had this reaction to the Earth Science cuts.

“NASA has an amazing fleet of Earth observation satellites, many in partnership with other nations, and they help us predict and respond to disaster as well as understand climate change and many other aspects of our living planet’s processes. Yet, the House proposal would seriously reduce our Earth science program and threaten to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate, and our ability to prepare for and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and storm events.”

“This includes funding above the President’s request for planetary science to ensure the continuation of critical research and development programs,” says Culberson.

Of course the U.S. Senate has yet to act.

How will it end?

Stay tuned here for continuing updates.

Ken Kremer

 

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111 comments to Congress Seeks Significant Shift in NASA Budget Priorities

  • Gary Church

    There are two ideologies fighting a war for tax dollars- “NewSpace” and, for want of a better term, “old space.”

    Old space is at it’s core a movement to establish the human presence Beyond Earth Orbit and it’s prophet was Gerard K. O’Neill. His vision for space colonization was to use the Moon as a source of raw materials to first build Solar Power Satellites and with the profits artificial hollow spinning moons (Bernal Spheres). The colonization advocates understand that the Saturn V was really a limited vehicle and a much larger Super Heavy Lift Vehicle (SHLV) is required to create a cislunar infrastructure and begin the largest public works project in history.

    NewSpace is at it’s core a movement to privative NASA and go nowhere but LEO. Mars is a gimmick- a hook that is used to befuddle the public. Between the dead end of LEO and the fantasy of Mars is a third contingent conspiring to keep humankind stranded on Earth- the Military Industrial Complex. If the defense business has a prophet it is Norm Augustine and he could explain why defense is easy money and space (as in Human Space Flight- Beyond Earth Orbit) is hard money.

    The flagship company for NewSpace is marketing a mediocre lift vehicle and has had a tremendously negative effect on the course of space exploration. For the influence it has bought from the present administration and public relations expenditures it has portrayed itself as a free market miracle when in truth it is the very definition of corporate welfare. I can only hope the next administration changes course back to the Moon and the original vision of humankind expanding into the solar system.

  • Gary Church

    “The significant budget slashes amounting to 50% or more by Congress, have forced NASA to delay the first commercial crew flights of the private ‘space taxis’ from 2015 to 2017.”

    That is an interesting blame game where NewSpace blames NASA and NASA blames congress, and congress blames “the age of austerity”, and NewSpace blames NASA and…..

    The net effect of Congressional CCP cuts has been to prolong US sole reliance on the Russian Soyuz manned capsule at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Actually it is the ISS that was supposed to close shop this year that is the cause.

    “Indeed, given the crisis in Ukraine, one might think the Congress would eagerly embrace wanting to reduce our total dependence on the Russians for human spaceflight.”

    Indeed. One might want to consider whether going around in circles at very high altitude should even be classified as “spaceflight”, considering LEO was left far behind in 1968.

    The logical path is to abandon the ISS and the taxi cabs and redirect the funding into a program to return to the Moon permanently.

    • John hare

      Or accept the reality that it exists and will continue to do so and act accordingly. Given that, why subsidize Russia?

      • Gary Church

        “Accept the reality that exists” and acting accordingly would be to abandon the ISS and the taxi cabs and redirect the funding into a program to return to the Moon permanently. And that would no longer subsidize Russia would it?

        • Or get CST-100 and Dragon V2 flying ASAP since this would be cheaper (billions of dollars) than a crewed lunar program (tens of billions plus, depending on the exact mission) and would allow us to make the best use of the time and money already invested in the ISS.

          Or even better yet, how about fund CST-100 and Dragon V2 *AND* start work on establishing a permanent lunar presence. Framing this as an “either, or” proposition is an obvious false choice since we are capable of doing both.

          • Gary Church

            “Framing this as an “either, or” proposition is an obvious false choice since we are capable of doing both.”

            The crystal clear “false choice” is “doing both” while at the same time claiming it would be billions of dollars cheaper. There is no “best use” of the money wasted on the space station to nowhere. It is a hole in LEO that 3 billion a year disappears into.

            A “crewed lunar program” that would establish a permanent base on the Moon is the wise investment. LEO is a dead end.

            • The bigger waste is abandoning the ISS after we have invested so much time and money into the project before we have gotten any reasonable return on our investment.

              • Gary Church

                In 40 years of Low Earth Orbit space stations there has never been a single product returned to Earth that yielded any appreciable ROI. Framing the ISS in economic terms as a revenue-generating project is….completely false.

                The majority of revenue generated from the space industry comes from GEO satellites. Over 100 billion dollars a year in profit comes from this industry- coincidentally about how much the ISS cost over the ten years it took to construct the majority of it piece by piece with the space shuttle.

                If it is a “ROI” that is desired then GEO is the place to site human beings. Except that would require massively shielded space stations with well over a thousand tons of water just to shield a small crew. One thousand tons of tap water to GEO is just for starters if a “ROI” is the goal.

                The only place where thousands of tons of water-as-shielding is available at “reasonable” cost for space stations and spaceships is the lunar poles.

                • Scott Smith

                  Sorry Gary but you are wrong or mis-informed on so many levels. No, there has been little if any material returned from space that has been worth the cost. What has been returned from space is knowledge and that is priceless.

                  There is no need for a manned space station to be in GEO. The knowledge we gain can be found closer to home by taking advantage of the shielding provided inside the Van Allen belts. What is needed now is a spinning station where we can investigate a variety of low G levels.

                  Water is not the only or even the best way to shield a space station. Even the cost of sending thousands of tons of water up from Earth would pale in comparison to the cost of establishing a water mining industry on the moon. Even if we could mine it without violating the space treaties is so thinly spread that mining it will be a logistical nightmare. The cost would be anything but reasonable.

                  • Gary Church

                    “Sorry Gary but you are wrong or mis-informed on so many levels. No, there has been little if any material returned from space that has been worth the cost.”

                    Actually….I said that and you repeating it does not somehow make it wrong.

                    “There is no need for a manned space station to be in GEO.”

                    If a “ROI” is desired then replacing the present satellite junkyard is the only way to do it with a human-crewed space station.

                    “Even if we could mine it without violating the space treaties is so thinly spread that mining it will be a logistical nightmare. The cost would be anything but reasonable.”

                    Who is misinformed on so many levels?
                    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150202114634.htm

                    1.6 billion tons of water ice at the lunar poles. Radar data indicates it is on the surface in sheets.

                • As I have attempted to explain elsewhere, there are other metrics than just purely “bottom-line” dollar-and-cents profits to measure the value of space programs. For example, weather satellite programs have never made any sort of profit but we have benefited from them in terms of lives and property saved because of the data they have returned. The Hubble Space Telescope hasn’t made this country a single penny in profit but there is no denying its value in generating public interest in space and inspiring some to follow STEM careers. There has never been a single planetary mission that has made any profit yet we have benefited from them because of comparative planetology and how it has deepened our understanding of how the Earth “works”.

                  If profit were the only metric considered for any space program, all we would have is comsats and space tourism. If profit were the only metric to be considered, none of your plans for missions beyond LEO would even be contemplated. The potential return from our already considerable investment in the ISS can not be measured simply in dollars.

                  • Gary Church

                    “-there are other metrics than just purely “bottom-line” dollar-and-cents profits to measure the value of space programs.”

                    40 years of LEO space stations is enough. Any such “metrics” applied to a lunar program mean the Moon will yield a far greater “ROI.”

                    • Then please provide us with economic studies by experts in the field that prove that what your proposed lunar program will generate a profit. Forgive me for being skeptical, but I do not believe your assurances otherwise.

                    • Gary Church

                      No thank you. No peer reviewed technical papers, no sworn statements or notarized credentials to go with my resume for you to approve- Sorry.

                      I stopped jumping through hoops long ago for people demanding I “prove” things to them. I have nothing at all to prove to you or anyone else. I am stating my views on a public forum and you can take or leave what I choose to give you.

                      You need to provide “us” with those “metrics” that show going in circles for the last 40 years has been worth it before tasking me. Really.

                    • Gary Church

                      Or maybe it was the “ROI” that you are confusing “value” with? Get your terminology straight Andrew. Are you talking about dollars and cents or “value”? As I stated, any kind of “metric” you want to use to provide non-monetary “value” to the ISS is going to prove a Moon program has far greater value. So is it “value” or “dollars and cents” you want returned on the investment? Or both? Or a mix of both? Please provide some studies by experts in the field. Or in other words, I do not believe anything you say either.

                    • The definition of “Return on investment” is the benefit to the investor resulting from an investment of some resource. One measure of “benefit” is strictly monetary with the ROI being defined as the ratio of the net profit of an investment and the cost of the investment. But, as I have stated, there are other potentially more intangible metrics to use to measure “benefit” than strictly money such as knowledge, experience, market position,etc.

                      If you are having issues grasping these basic concepts, I can only suggest taking a basic course in economics or business at your local junior college or adult & continuing education program. I would suggest a program that uses books with lots of picture, big print and small words.

                    • Gary Church

                      “-there are other potentially more intangible metrics to use to measure “benefit” than strictly money-”

                      Whatever you say Andrew. Intangible is such a great word. And all those links….and suggesting I “go to school.” And finishing with a blatant insult. Shows exactly what you are even if I am no longer allowed to return such compliments. Thanks!

                    • And I look forward to your non-snarky response with some studies that prove your position that your proposed lunar missions will meet your self-stated requirement for profits measured in dollars in any reasonable time period.

                    • Gary Church

                      “And I look forward to your non-snarky response-”

                      Find your own “studies” Andrew. I am not going to play that game- I already told you. This is what you get unless you want to go through all the LUNEX research done in the 90’s that propose similar schemes to mine. Good luck.

                      One More Time-

                      The majority of revenue generated from the space industry comes from GEO satellites. Over 100 billion dollars a year in profit comes from this industry-

                      If it is a “ROI” that is desired then GEO is the place to site human beings. Except that would require massively shielded space stations with well over a thousand tons of water just to shield a small crew. One thousand tons of tap water to GEO is just for starters if a “ROI” is the goal.

                      The only place where thousands of tons of water-as-shielding is available at “reasonable” cost for space stations and spaceships is the lunar poles.

                    • It is accepted practice in scholarly work to provide references to support claims being made in any published work. I do it all the time in the majority of the work that I publish on line and in print – go check for yourself via my web site which can be accessed by clicking on my name on this comment. While it is certainly unreasonable to hold the comments section of a web site like this to the same standard, it is not unreasonable to request a reference to support a questionable claim being made by a poster. This is especially true in this day and age with the internet and the ease with which links to material can be shared. In the end it is your responsibility to provide proof of your claims when requested, not the reader’s responsibility.

                      I have repeated the widely accepted view in business and economics that “value” can be measured in terms other than just the rather limited metric of “dollars”. I have supplied links to multiple on-line sites and documents that clearly refute your dubious claim that LEO projects like ISS generate no benefits and therefore have no value. You, in return, have refused to provide any documents from independent sources to support your claim that lunar missions can satisfy your rather limited definition of ROI and can generate cash profits in any reasonable time frame of interest to investors.

                      It is perfectly apparent to anyone reading this exchange who has made the better claim supported by the facts: LEO programs in general and ISS in particular have demonstrable value. Your claim to the contrary is proven to be false and all your subsequent claims are logically suspect. QED.

                    • Gary Church

                      “It is perfectly apparent to anyone reading this exchange who has made the better claim supported by the facts-”

                      Yes, my claim is false and all my subsequent claims suspect.
                      Unbelievable. Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.

        • john hare

          It exists and will continue to do so. Your preferences are not the reality that we have.

          • Gary Church

            Who is “we” John? Are you speaking for the American people? You are certainly not speaking for me and others who do not like the existing situation. I consider your questioning of my “reality” as possibly being construed as inciting and disrespectful. Please keep your comments professional.

            • Joe

              The current reality we have is that both the current Administration and the current congress intend for the ISS to remain functional until at least 2020, they would prefer at least 2024; but that depends on the Russians.

              Maybe some future administration/congress will change those plans, until then that is the situation.

              Arguing for such a change in plan is ligament, but there is nothing unprofessional about John’s posts.

              • And since the reality is the ISS will be there for years to come, we might as well put it to good use to maximize our ROI and support future missions beyond LEO.

                • Joe

                  Absolutely.

                  However, as per the conversation initiated by Jim Hillhouse below, it is questionable whether or not two “commercial” crew vehicles are required to support a facility that (even if the Russian launches are eliminated) will require only two crew launches per year.

                  That is where the debates over allocation of resources comes in.

                  If the ISS crew vehicle program were down selected to one, how much money would that allow to be transferred to BEO activities?

              • Gary Church

                “Maybe some future administration/congress will change those plans,”

                That would be the next administration hopefully. And then a different reality may exist. Predicting the future never works out for those who are so certain about it.

                Ask Lockheed Martin about the F-22 fighter; a program that would have dwarfed the entire NASA Human Space Flight budget. Obama and McCain made it a campaign issue and that quarter billion dollar each cold war toy production line was shut down. All it takes is two candidates arguing over the issue and the ISS and the taxi program is out and the Moon is in.

                Global warming is shaping up to be a critical issue and there really is only one way to end production of greenhouse gases- by beaming down the energy to power civilization from space. It is that or kill off most of the human race and go back to herding goats. Like the F-22 issue, the climate deniers on the right cannot really argue against limitless clean energy, can they?

                That would be one way the NewSpace business plan would get dumped in the trashcan. There are several others.

                • Joe

                  “That would be the next administration hopefully.”

                  The key word there is “hopefully”.

                  Until that “hopefully” actually happens, the people working the programs have to deal with the current policy.

                  If you get your favored administration/congress that would change. Unless and until that happens, the current situation is what it is and must be dealt with.

                  • Gary Church

                    There is a huge difference between “deal with” and promotion. Dealing with it means either supporting it or trying to get rid of it. In my “reality” it is imperative to get rid of that albatross while others have an agenda opposite to mine. Are we talking about the people working the programs or talking about policy and the control the taxpayer has over that policy?

                    Hare and LaPage have agenda’s opposite to mine but you……?

                    • Joe

                      “Hare and LaPage have agenda’s opposite to mine but you……?”

                      You seem to believe that you have the ability to read peoples minds, thus you know that “Hare and LaPage” have agendas opposite of yours. They certainly have agendas different than yours, but that is not the same thing.

                      As for my agenda, I will try to explain it as best I can:
                      (1) I want there to be a HSF Program aimed at developing Lunar Resources for a variety of uses, including and initially Cis-Lunar Space Applications Satellites.
                      (2) I want that program to be politically viable in what is a very continuous and difficult political situation.

                      To do that, I believe, requires forming alliances, not attacking people and intentionally making enemies.

                      That means making reasonable compromises. Compromises like:
                      (1) Making use of the ISS as a technology development site (and it can be a good one).
                      (2) Reducing cost of ISS use by reducing the “commercial” crew program to a single vehicle, thus freeing money for further BEO development.

                      By the way you post I assume that makes me a sellout to you. However, to me your all or nothing approach is likely to end up with each side getting nothing.

                    • Gary Church

                      “You seem to believe that you have the ability to read peoples minds, thus you know that “Hare and LaPage” have agendas opposite of yours.”

                      “-forming alliances, not attacking people and intentionally making enemies.”

                      “-I assume that makes me a sellout to you.”

                      Oh, they are opposite, there is no doubt of that to anyone who wishes to go back and read the history of our exchanges.

                      And the “mind reader” remark is intentionally demeaning. No doubt of that either.

                    • Gary, I cannot speak for John Hare but my agenda is not the “opposite” of yours. That implies that there are only two choices when in fact there are a wide range of choices available to us. As Joe rightfully points out, the details of our agendas are just different. And despite the differences we have in our space-related agendas, there are areas we do have in common.

                      I believe that the Moon should be our next objective beyond LEO for manned spaceflight. As a teenager I was inspired by the vision of Gerard O’Neill’s city-sized space stations built using lunar resources and feel this is a more sensible and achievable goal compared to something like terraforming other worlds. I feel that nuclear-based propulsion systems(including concepts like that studied in Project Orion) need to be part of the mix of technologies available for future missions and they need to be developed.

                      I am not going to pretend we do not have differences – we do. But then again, my agenda is not like Joe’s in every detail or like John’s or probably anyone else on this site. It is by questioning them and others as well as explaining my point of view that we can learn and reach some sort of amicable accommodation.

                    • Gary Church

                      I will believe it when you stop nagging and naysaying everything I post Andrew. I don’t want to be enemies with a fellow O’Neill follower but I will not be harassed either. I am going to continue to post what seems to drive several people who frequent this site nuts. That is just how it is.

                    • john hare

                      Agendas are not opposite, they are different. Demanding all or nothing, my way or the highway, tends toward nothing or the highway. My agenda, such as it is, involves freedom, tolerance, and individual responsibility. It involves dealing with what is rather than what I would wish it to be.

                      I want a vibrant space development that isn’t subject to the whims of the next election. I want many entrepreneurs to take their own chances to make real progress and maybe lose it all or become fabulously wealthy. I want government spaceflight to do things that benefit the country and the world in that order, and not the ones that happen to be politically connected at any given time. My wants mean nothing to reality except to the extent that my efforts are applied to move the needle.

                      One example. I dislike SLS and its’ predecessor. I think back at inception Griffin could have specified an LEO capsule ASAP for Delta heavy, and funded it with the development costs of the five segment booster as well as the Orion funding. It could have been flying well before Shuttle retirement. Heavy lift could have been four well known Shuttle SRBs mated to a stretched Delta IV with a 12 meter fairing at over a hundred tons initial capability. Or a sidemount with RS 68s instead of SSMEs flying ten years ago. That is not what is happening now, and it is not what will happen in the future. So other than occasionally registering my disapproval, I mostly try to leave it alone.

                      I think commercial space will eventually ramp up to massive operations in cislunar space and beyond. I don’t believe in taxpayer funds to subsidize it as it should grow organically or not at all. Various entrepreneurs will try various business models and various products until one finds a niche to exploit. Then another and another. It may start last year and I don’t recognize it, or in ten years, or a hundred. Restricting to one plan, one destination, or one organization is a recipe for stagnation. Competition is good when it is real, not when it is a smokescreen for stagnation or cronyism.

                      Anyone that can’t find something to disagree with in my agenda just isn’t trying very hard. As long as I don’t try to impose it on others, does it matter?

                    • Gary Church

                      “I want many entrepreneurs to take their own chances to make real progress and maybe lose it all or become fabulously wealthy.”

                      When the “entrepreneurs” are using tax dollars to subsidize their foolish games that makes them criminals, no matter how much cheering their fans do.

                      If the corporations that are using their own money want to play with hobby rockets it is of course up to the shareholders and the customers to rein them in. Privately controlled companies still use the commons- the infrastructure paid for by the citizenry to subsidize their gambling- and when they go bankrupt- as the overwhelming majority of private space companies have- it is the public that foots the bill.

                      It is an old game to tout “competition” but the truth is market competition is a wasteful and often counterproductive game played by people who more often than not are far more interested in making up the rules so they cannot lose than insuring a level playing field. Competition is marginally successful when strictly regulated and ruinous when it is not. It was not competition but cooperation between government and contractors moderated with draconian oversight (after the Apollo 1 fire) that landed people on the Moon. It also convinced aerospace that far more money could be made with cold war toys.

                      As I stated in my original comment at the top of the page NewSpace is at it’s core a movement to privative NASA and go nowhere but LEO. By way of the influence the flagship company has bought from the present administration and public relations expenditures it has portrayed itself as a free market miracle when in reality it is the very definition of corporate welfare. No NASA, no NewSpace, no ISS, no NewSpace.

                      Following the NewSpace path will in my view strand humankind in Low Earth Orbit for another 40 years and has already set back space exploration by at least a decade. And the damage is accumulating.

                    • John hare

                      Backwards. Competition works best when there is little oversight, just enough to keep it legal. Otherwise it is top down decisions that fail at the first set of mistakes. Without cost control, it is Apollo all over again with cancellations as soon as politically feasible.

                    • Gary Church

                      “I don’t believe in taxpayer funds to subsidize it as it should grow organically or not at all.”

                      “Restricting to one plan, one destination, or one organization is a recipe for stagnation.”

                      “Competition works best when there is little oversight, just enough to keep it legal.”

                      And this kind of ideology is exactly why….It was not competition but cooperation between government and contractors moderated with draconian oversight (after the Apollo 1 fire) that landed people on the Moon.

                • John hare

                  And then canceled it as soon as politically feasible.

                  • Gary Church

                    If it is important enough to repeat then it is important enough for you to explain John: “who” exactly canceled it and why was it “politically feasible”?

                    • John hare

                      Johnson cut funding well before the first landing. It wasn’t politically sustainable financially.

                    • John hare

                      There was no political ROI commensurate with the political capital to keep it going.

                    • Gary Church

                      So it “wasn’t politically sustainable financially” and “no political ROI”?

                      Tourism is going to generate a “ramp up to massive operations in cislunar space and beyond”?

                      Or is it asteroid mining?

            • John hare

              Reality is that ISS will be there and supported for another nine years.

  • Tracy the Troll

    “They even “zeroed out” funding for the long lived Opportunity rover”

    I would very much like to see a completely separate private venture get the ability to operate this robot and be completely funded by private donations. The purpose would be to allow the general public to select items on the Mars surface for investigation. It would create a great deal of interest to the general public to actually be exploring the diverse landscape that is Mars.

    • se jones

      >>completely separate private venture get the ability to operate this robot

      Unfortunately Tracy, that is not feasible. A “brassboard” replica of the spacecraft must be kept operating on the ground, together with a team of top-level technicians, engineers and scientists who are intimately familiar with the components and the software that runs it. All this costs a lot of money, there’s no way around it.
      Also, there is the significant cost of operating the Deep Space Network, which must be shared among users.

      Finally, the public would soon loose interest in “driving” something that only moves a couple of meters a week (on a good week) and items on the surface are mostly rocks that usually look the same except to PhD geologists.

      • Tracy the Troll

        se jones,
        Thanks for the update as to the details of the operation process. So it sounds very expensive to keep all these engineers engaged…Not something that crowd source funding could afford. But I thought I heard that these robots had gone through some type of software upgrade to make them much more autonomous as far as driving and even picking things to look at or things to look for. Could a further software upgrade eliminate the need for the ground based support teams?

  • Karol

    Excellent posts Gary! I always found it amusing how Newspacers tout as certainty the performance of rockets that have yet to fly, and the profits to be made in space that undoubtedly await every conceivable Newspace idea. I always thought that “commercial” meant “profit-generating” and “return on investment”. I’m still waiting for my profit-sharing check from Pioneer, Vanguard, Explorer, Ranger, Surveyor . . . . If enormous profit awaited, wouldn’t Wall Street “Greed Is God” investment advisers and hedge fund managers be pounding down the doors of the Comm Space promoters for a piece of the huge profits? Maybe, just maybe, the real profit is in say, hosting a lavish star-studed fund-raiser for the winning 2008 Presidential candidate who promptly (despite what he promised voters on the Space Coast), cancelled the Constellation program, made every effort to destroy the American human space flight program, and threw open the door to every carpet-bagger with a good Power Point presentation dreamed up after three martinis at a hot tub party. For a real “eye-opener”, ask Jim Hillhouse about real free-market exploration in the oil and gas industry versus the “crony capitalism” of Comm Space. Astronaut Jerry Ross also has some very interesting honest, right-to-the-bone insight about how the beneficiaries of Comm Space funding happen to be the most politically connected. Regardless of the Newspace line that Constellation was over budget and behind schedule (Ah, behold the one and only federal program that was ever over budget and behind schedule) Constellation could have been corrected, modified as needed, brought up to speed, and we would be flying to the ISS on AMERICAN, not corporately owned, rockets. Golly, I guess we can only hope that we will be given a good deal on seats to the ISS, but the same Newspacers who distrust Boeing as “Oldspace” have full faith in, and love for, Spacex. I’m sure that somewhere there is a good reason why we are creating a Space Launch System with taxpayer dollars while there seems to be a “private, for-profit” plan to go to Mars. Is there a new “space race” we haven’t been told about? Obviously, technical expertise is no longer needed in the aerospace field. Simply set your paid bloggers and social media machine to “I wanna retire on Mars” and you’ll get a vocal army to put on their latex ears, draw their plastic phasers, and come marching out of their parents basements to vehemently and fervently support the one who will lead them to a colony on Mars where they might even get to kiss a hot space babe. Oh, and as to the Ukraine, did anyone really believe that the Russians were going to allow the Ukraine to snuggle up to NATO and hand over Russia’s only warm water port at Sevastopol? Does anyone think that Americans will gladly send their sons and daughters into war against Russia over ethnically Russian Crimea, which most people couldn’t find on a map? Thanks for the very informative article Ken, and for the always excellent posts Gary!

    • Gary Church

      You are my hero Karol.

      “Oh, and as to the Ukraine, did anyone really believe that the Russians were going to allow the Ukraine to snuggle up to NATO and hand over Russia’s only warm water port at Sevastopol?”

      EXACTLY! I have pointed this out on a defense blog I used to comment on before I was banned there and saw many others state this also. They were NEVER going to give up that base and neither would we in their shoes. Suddenly our partners in space (and their rocket engines) are not our friends anymore. That we ever paid a penny to them for a ride was always a national disgrace in my view. I find it curious how perceptions are shaped by the media and are often accompanied by corporations sucking up billions to correct the newly perceived “problems.”

      I in my view it was always our problem and began with Nixon’s decision to retreat into LEO and try to make space pay for itself with the Shuttle. It all began with that and led to the 100 billion dollar useless space station to nowhere being so horribly expensive that after Columbia it was politically unacceptable to do the right thing and abandon it. Nobody says a word about a wet workshop (Skylab was a “dry” workshop) being able to replace that 100 billion dollar fiasco in one afternoon with a single launch.

  • Congress, even with Democratic majorities, has been at logger-heads with the Obama Administration over space since 2010. It should be understood that NASA Administrator Bolden does not write his agency’s budget; that task is done by OMB’s Space & Science Branch Chief Paul Shawcross largely because space is not a priority to either the President or his White House staffers. So what we’ve witnessed in the last 5 years is Congress taking-back control of space policy and funding from the presidency.

    Fortunately, Congress seems to have taken its ownership of space in general, and NASA in particular, seriously. Appropriators have funded NASA pretty much as authorized. And authorizers are trying to trying to chart a new course to take us out of low-earth orbit and beyond. Unfortunately for the NASA administrator’s relationship with Congress, the Obama Administration’s annual efforts to curtail the Orion and SLS programs have resulted in what can only be called an atmosphere of distrust.

    Specific to commercial crew, congressional appropriators have been adamant that, if NASA is serious about getting back into orbit ASAP, it should fund the CCtCap primary, Boeing, fully. Whether language specific to that will make it into the FY 2016 appropriations bill or the accompanying report remains to be seen.

    • Joe

      “congressional appropriators have been adamant that, if NASA is serious about getting back into orbit ASAP, it should fund the CCtCap primary, Boeing, fully.”

      Given where we are that is the most efficient thing to do.

      The problem is likely to be that in order to do that with available resources support for the SpaceX vehicle would have to be reduced.

      That would cause heads to explode, not only in the Administration; but all over the internet.

      • ken anthony

        I would not be opposed to NASA cutting funding to SpaceX. SpaceX would end up moving faster because other customers, without the overhead that NASA imposes, are waiting in the wings.

        • Joe

          Really,

          Care to share the information as to who these “other customers” are that want the crewed Dragon.

          Also, if they are really “waiting in the wings” with the money to support development of the crewed Dragon and would do so “without the overhead that NASA imposes”; why hasn’t SpaceX dumped NASA and taken them up on the offer?

        • That is an interesting point. I have a feeling that Sen. Shelby and Rep. Culberson would like to do that.

          But SpaceX is going to funded to some extent because, I honestly think, it’s people within the Administration would would get a veto threat against any effort to zero-out SpaceX’s funding. If there ever is such a funding cut, it won’t come until next year, when the Admin. is on its way out.

          But I’m so wrong on so many things, who knows…

          • Joe

            I wasn’t suggesting SpaceX would be defunded entirely, only that if total crew money remains limited; fully funding the (as you called it above) “CCtCap primary, Boeing” would require reducing SpaceX support by some as yet undefined amount.

            I suspect that would cause a firestorm with the White House (and certainly the internet), Though Ken Anthony seems to think there are some private investors “waiting in the wings” to pickup the slack and says he would not mind SpaceX CCtCap funding being entirely cut off.

            Can not picture who those private investors might but, as you said who knows…

    • Art

      “Specific to commercial crew, congressional appropriators have been adamant that, if NASA is serious about getting back into orbit ASAP, it should fund the CCtCap primary, Boeing, fully.”

      I really don’t see how that will make it into any passable obligations other than a statement of interest. And why is Boeing considered the CCtCap primary? Because it is twice as expensive as SpaceX? The only reason anyone in the HOR would want one primary, like Boeing, is to eventually defund the program & have more launches for the SLS/Orion system. The only other option for the idiots in the HOR subcommittee is to put in language for NASA to only use Boeing’s CST-100 for ISS operations. This would probably generate a lot of backlash amongst the Republicans in the HOR. Anyway they had to pass something so that they can compromise with the Senate in the budgetary process.

      • Gary Church

        “And why is Boeing considered the CCtCap primary?”

        Because they have a far better technology base and lower risk than the other company-that-will-not-be-named by me anymore. I understand there is a group of people who I must not incite with language that projects any adverse qualities upon that do not like such details mentioned but….similar DOD projects are often cancelled and a single system selected without much notice.

        “-the only reason anyone in the HOR would want one primary, like Boeing, is to eventually defund the program & have more launches for the SLS/Orion system.”

        No, that is not “the only reason”- but it is certainly a good one. Why have two LEO taxis? The military and their assured access policy is being gamed for billions right now in the same way the ISS is being used to suck up tax dollars. As has been mentioned, if for whatever reason a LEO space station is desired then a couple SLS launches with wet workshops will accomplish that. But LEO space stations have been going around in circles since 1971 and have not accomplished anything except…..going around in circles. Time to go back into space Beyond Earth Orbit and that is what the SLS is for.

        • Joe

          “Because they have a far better technology base and lower risk than the other company”.

          Exactly.

          • Tim Andrews

            Exactly why they got the award despite a markedly higher price tag – they were the safe bet.

            The political flap over the RD-180 engine could be a concern for relying mainly on CST-100 though, if it ever extends beyond DOD purchases. If it does, there may be a gap until Vulcan becomes a man-rated viable alternative launch vehicle.

            • Joe

              Two points:

              (1) It was not just their history of building successful vehicles that got them the contract. There was also the fact that their costs estimates (while higher) were more reliable.

              (2) The RD-180 issue is very real, but is going to have to be dealt regardless for other launch purposes. If it isn’t ISS access will be only one of the problems.

            • Gary Church

              “-there may be a gap until Vulcan becomes a man-rated viable alternative launch vehicle.”

              The game being played becomes obvious when the subject of human-rating the Delta-IV is explored.

              “In 2002, the RS-68 became the first large liquid-propellant rocket engine designed in the U.S. since the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) in the 1970s.[12] The primary goal for the RS-68 was to reduce cost versus the SSME”

              In 2002 the Delta IV began operations and at the beginning of 2003 the space shuttle Columbia was lost and it became clear very quickly what was going to happen. The Delta could have replaced the shuttle but human-rating it was not considered due to the expense. The Russian engine on the Atlas were never ever a good idea and was again a result of going cheap to maximize profit.

              You wanna play you gotta pay.

      • Well, language could make it into the actual appropriations bill, which would force NASA to fully fund the CCtCap primary fully with only the residual to go to the secondary. Or appropriators could insert such language into the final bill’s report. While a report does not have the force of law, I don’t think even NASA would wish to thwart the stated intent of congressional appropriators. If such language does not make it into either of the bill or report, then it comes down to how serious Bolden is about getting back to orbit ASAP.

        CCP people will already tell you that the schedule for each of Boeing and SpaceX has already slid right by at least 6-months. And even with full funding, that time is unlikely to be recovered. I’m pretty certain Congressional staffers already know of the schedule slip. And this in only the first…why 8 months of CCtCap?

        Bolden has repeatedly stated that time is of the essence in launching US astronauts, and if it’s truly the case that NASA wants to get to orbit ASAP, he can if he fully funds the CCtCap primary. But if he plays politics and proportionally splits the CCP appropriation, Boeing and SpaceX will only get 80% of the annual amount contracted. And as we saw in Constellation, any short-fall in funding means schedule slips, which means neither contractor may be in orbit before 2018 or even 2020.

        Boeing is considered the primary because NASA so designated it when the CCtCap contracts were announced. If you go back to the CCtCap presser and read the released docs, all of your questions, as well as the points you’re raising, are addressed.

        I think you’re being a bit hyperbolic in your comments of Boeing. Boeing did build the ISS, X-37B, and is a satellite manufacturer, so it knows a bit about building spacecraft. So Boeing was awarded $4.2B and SpaceX $2.6B because, some might say, with Boeing it might cost more up front, but there’s also greater confidence of its delivery commitments being met for that cost. SpaceX’s history isn’t exactly one punctuated with punctuality or hitting its cost targets, eg COTS. It bears mentioning that NASA, having worked with both companies, knows them pretty well, warts and all.

        There’s probably some of the politics to which you allude. But I don’t think it’s the primary driver. Members genuinely want America to again be able to launch its own astronauts, but they don’t buy that we need three spacecraft to do so. If you watch the House and Senate hearings of last month, one thing several members seem to be upset about is that NASA is not following the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, otherwise known as Public Law 111-267. Heck, President Obama declared Orion would be the lifeboat for ISS. Sometime a few years ago, Charlie won’t admit when, he arbitrarily decided to void PL-111-267 Sec 303 (3), which mandates Orion as the backup to commercial for ISS access, without notifying, much less asking, Congress. I mean, that’s just breathtaking in its over-reach. Anyway, the way some congressional members see it, with Boeing’s CST-100 and Orion, there is the redundancy that the NASA Administrator has been saying, as he does when trying to justify full funding of two CCtCap contracts, is needed for secure ISS access.

        • Gary Church

          “Bolden has repeatedly stated that time is of the essence in launching US astronauts-”

          I believe this is the devil in the details that makes the entire situation concerning LEO operations clear. The ISS is not a spaceship- it cannot go anywhere except in circles and the day it burns up and pieces fall in the ocean is coming closer and closer. The Chinese may send up a smaller version to test their technology but they are up front about where they are going- the Moon.

          In my view the bright shining future NewSpace is advertising with inflatable space stations is NOT going to happen. 3 billion dollars a year is a red flag- too much overhead for any investor to take a such a business plan seriously. The ISS will be the last LEO space station.

          That leaves the Moon and the ice on the Moon, and the volatiles locked in that ice, means a largely self-sufficient permanent base can be had for the cost of going in circles. Feynman’s Challenger quote about NASA having an obligation to inform the public is obviously being ignored.

        • Gary Church

          “-neither contractor may be in orbit before 2018 or even 2020.”

          This is the ridiculous situation that makes me clench my teeth when others comment, “Reality is that ISS will be there and supported for another nine years” and “we might as well put it to good use to maximize our ROI and support future missions beyond LEO.”

          At most the taxis will be used for a few years and then the ISS will burn up like the previous half a century of Salyut, Skylab, and Mir; as all space stations must when they become too expensive to maintain. Another 30 billion dollars will go down the drain and it will not do a thing to “support future missions beyond LEO.” But immediately abandoning LEO operations as a dead end and committing that funding to a permanent presence on or in orbit around the Moon makes far more sense.

          True space stations assembled in lunar orbit are a completely different animal than a “platform” in LEO because they will have to be fully shielded from space radiation (with water brought up from the polar deposits). Mate a nuclear propulsion system to one and it becomes a spaceship.

          A spaceship is always the best space station.

  • Edgar

    Fucking republicans, always road blocks to progress…

    • Joe

      Edger,

      Questionable, choice of descriptors not withstanding; this was an article about differing priorities between the administration and a majority in congress.

      What progress do you believe that the congress (by exercising its Constitutional responsibilities)is blocking?

      • I agree–this isn’t about who is evil and who isn’t. This comes down to different goals and how those goals will be achieved.

        • Gary Church

          I have always disliked the inevitable mixing of left and right bias into space exploration issues. Though in one way it is a wonderful display of how the game of divide and conquer is played by politicians because space confuses all the partisans.

          In my view it is all about the technology and the decisions made to best use that technology to achieve the end goal. Unfortunately the end goal is endlessly obscured and mutated by spin doctors pursuing special interests.

          The end goal is getting humankind into space and ultimately creating lebensraum.

    • blueoyster57

      Brilliant response there Edgar, just brilliant…….did you call Obama to get that one?

  • Gary Church

    “It should be understood that NASA Administrator Bolden does not write his agency’s budget; that task is done by OMB’s Space & Science Branch Chief Paul Shawcross largely because space is not a priority to either the President or his White House staffers.”

    In my view that does not let Bolden off the hook. I could go on but I better not.

  • I believe we are witnessing a turning point in planetary exploration as a result of the numerous discoveries by both space orobes, Hubble and ground-based observations. While we can squabble about who-does-what and for how much, the intelligent community fully understands the impact of future exploration.

    • Anything that gets people interested…no, excited once again to explore space, to get out there and touch it ourselves, I’m all for. I really hope you’re right.

    • Gary Church

      I started scuba diving when I was a teenager because of a school writing assignment I did on the discovery of the first black smokers by Alvin. Not that I was going to be swimming straight down a couple miles to take a look myself. It is interesting to me that 40 years later I am excited about the same thing. Forget Mars.

      The way to get the public excited and garner support for space exploration is to send HUMANS. Robots just do not make people (except scientists) want to contribute public funds. And we can send humans to the gas giant ocean moons- but it takes going to our Moon and using nuclear energy. Both of those prerequisites are presently verboten subjects.

      • Joe

        I basically agree with your statements, except for the part about Lunar Resources and Nuclear Energy being verboten subjects. That may be the case in some venues, but as far as I can tell not in this one.

        • Gary Church

          “That may be the case in some venues, but as far as I can tell not in this one.”

          Yes, you just have to disagree even though you agree. Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Gary Church

          If you basically agree with me Joe how about defending Moon return near the top of the page by replying to Scott Smith and Andrew LaPage?

          • Where did I say that I was against a return to the Moon? When I have stated a position on the topic, I support a return to the Moon and believe we should be doing that before attempting any long crewed flights far beyond cis-lunar space. So there is nothing to defend. Your issue seems to be that I do not agree with your specific vision where LEO should be completely abandoned in order to achieve that goal. In my view, it is not an either or proposition and we have reasons to do both.

            • Gary Church

              “So there is nothing to defend.”

              If you say so Andrew. But I doubt anyone can keep a straight face comparing that to your other replies to my comments. So incredibly over-the-top disingenuous.

              • Then please point out where in the comments to this or any other article on this or any other web site or where in my entire body of published work over the last quarter century I have ever stated that we should not be returning to the Moon. As I have stated repeatedly, the fact that I also support LEO missions is not proof that I do not support a return to the Moon since there is no logical reason we can not do both. It is only proof that I do not support your artificially restricted, ideologically-driven vision of the future of spaceflight where LEO must be abandoned before we move on to the Moon.

                Here is your chance to prove in public that I do not support the position that a return to the Moon should be our next goal for crewed spaceflight beyond the Earth. Don’t let us down!

                • Gary Church

                  “-please point out where in the comments to this or any other article on this or any other web site or where in my entire body of published work over the last quarter century I have ever stated that we should not be returning to the Moon.”

                  You go ahead and take care of that.

                  • Since you refuse to provide any proof to support your claim, your claim is obviously false and all your arguments based on that claim are logically suspect.

                    • Gary Church

                      Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.

          • Joe

            This certainly got lengthy while I was gone.

            “Yes, you just have to disagree even though you agree. Thanks for clearing that up.”

            Yes, Gary I agreed with your statement in general with one caveat. People do that all the time without having to argue about it or have it “cleared up”.

            “If you basically agree with me Joe how about defending Moon return near the top of the page by replying to Scott Smith and Andrew LaPage?”

            First of all for someone who is so sensitive to perceived orders or insults from others you have no problem trying to tell others what to post and where to post it.

            Now as to your questions:

            (1)I did not respond to Smith because I thought you had handled his assertions very well. You did so without any name calling and backed up your positions with an independent factual link.

            (2)I did not respond to LePage making an attack on Lunar Return because he did not make one (I re-read his posts before making this response). He even went so far as to tell you that he (like you) is a fan of Gerard O’Neill and supports Nuclear Pulse Propulsion as well. Your problem with him is that he also supports the ISS.

            You seem to take the position that if somebody does not agree with you 100% on every issue, they are your enemy and must be fought.

            If I agree with you, but note that this site is one of several exceptions to what you said, I am your enemy and must be fought. I actually paid you a complement above, wonder if you will even notice.

            If Andrew agrees with you about Lunar Return and even Nuclear Pulse Propulsion, but also supports the ISS; then he is your enemy and must be fought.

            Nobody (but perhaps a sock puppet) agrees with everything anyone else says 100%.

            As long as you continue to attempt to demand that kind of obedience, you are likely to have lots of enemies and very few friends or allies.

            • Gary Church

              Friends come and go, enemies accumulate.

              Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.

              • Joe

                “Friends come and go, enemies accumulate.”

                Given your style of communication, it is not surprising that has been your experience.

                • Gary Church

                  Given the replies you and your friends make to my comments it is no surprise at all. It is a given.

            • “I did not respond to LePage making an attack on Lunar Return because he did not make one (I re-read his posts before making this response). He even went so far as to tell you that he (like you) is a fan of Gerard O’Neill and supports Nuclear Pulse Propulsion as well. Your problem with him is that he also supports the ISS.”

              Thanks, Joe, for stating the facts of the matter and bothering to find them. But to make the record complete, I have to make the following declarations as well: While I embrace the idea of O’Neill’s city-size space colonies, I disagree with Mr. Church that the technology to actually build such huge structures in space currently exists today and feel it is a long-term goal for later in this century or the next. Because of this disagreement, Mr. Church apparently considers me an enemy. As for nuclear-pulse technology, I like the idea but disagree with Mr. Church that it is “off the shelf” technology and instead realize that there is many development (and legal!) issues that need to be addressed and that nuclear-electric and nuclear-thermal (e.g. NERVA) technologies are more readily available. Because of this disagreement, Mr. Church apparently considers me an enemy.

              As I and others have observed here and elsewhere, it does not matter if you agree with Mr. Church on some or even most of his views. Those areas of agreement are rarely if ever acknowledged. If you do not unquestionably embrace the entirety of his personal vision for the future of spaceflight, you are apparently his enemy.

              • Joe

                ” … it does not matter if you agree with Mr. Church on some or even most of his views. Those areas of agreement are rarely if ever acknowledged. If you do not unquestionably embrace the entirety of his personal vision for the future of spaceflight, you are apparently his enemy.”

                Yes, I said essentially the same thing above.

                I have other things to do this afternoon, otherwise I would join that Gary Church drinking game someone suggested.

              • Gary Church

                “He even went so far as to tell you that he (like you) is a fan of Gerard O’Neill and supports Nuclear Pulse Propulsion as well.”

                But you don’t support them or a Moon return- you just say do and then qualify those statements with caveats that actually mean the opposite is the case. And this proves you are what I said you are when you first began….replying to my comments.

                Like I said, so incredibly over-the-top disingenuous. That’s not negative- that is the truth.

                The three of you could not stand me honestly expressing my views and handing you back your naysaying and sarcasm. Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.

                • Joe

                  “But you don’t support them or a Moon return- you just say do and then qualify those statements with caveats that actually mean the opposite is the case. And this proves you are what I said you are when you first began….replying to my comments.”

                  You continue to believe that you can read other peoples minds (and, of course, attribute to them the worst possible motives).

                  “Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.”

                  That is apparently your new mantra, not even going to speculate as to its origins. However, repeating it over and over again probably impresses only you.

                  • Gary Church

                    “You continue to believe that you can read other peoples minds”

                    That would be your mantra. The statements I referred to and the caveats that reverse their meaning are there for anyone to see. So your mind reading brand is just another projection of an adverse quality upon me that I cannot defend myself against without “inciting” you to further mischief.

                    • Joe

                      If it is “my mantra” at least I do not repeat it over and over again as you just did yet again to John Hare below:

                      “Gary Church
                      May 22, 2015 at 7:40 pm · Reply

                      …Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.”

                      Do not know and really do not want to know the new “unfair” restrictions you feel yourself placed under or their source. But you seem to feel it necessary to repeatedly refer to them, as a way to avoid their intent.

                    • Gary Church

                      The intent is to avoid you- buh bye.

                    • Joe

                      Intent was obviously a reference to the intent of why you feel you cannot be a overtly rude as you have been in the past (so you try to do it covertly – with the emphasis on try).

                      As to avoiding me (and others):

                      Please do, but we both know you will not.

                    • Gary Church

                      “Please do, but we both know you will not.”

                      I have no problem avoiding you three- I just refuse to be a punching bag. You want to make a comment about me then you should not complain about what you get back- but none of you can stand it and accuse me of being the one who “cannot take a joke.” Riiight.

                      Don’t pee down my back and tell me it’s raining Joe. And the three of you in your bubble think everyone reading these comments is playing along with your crusade against me? They know what you are doing.

                    • Joe

                      And sure enough, you did not.

                      I could care less about your conspiracy theories and delusions about who is “peeing down your back” (nice turn of phrase – planning to start writing children’s books).

                      “And the three of you in your bubble think everyone reading these comments is playing along with your crusade against me? They know what you are doing.”

                      Yes Gary everybody can see that vast conspiracy that is out to get you.

                      Now it is Saturday Night and there are more pleasant things to do than converse with you about how you feel you are being abused.

                      Have a nice evening, if you are capable of it.

                    • Gary Church

                      And sure enough- you have to brand me a delusional conspiracy theorist and yet again mock me for exposing what you are doing.

                      I could care less about your rancorous grudge against me but it is against my principles to allow others to demean and insult me if I am capable of giving it back to them.

                      And I just gave it back.

                • Gary Church

                  Let me restate for clarity: Claims to “support” a concept or policy with caveats that reverse that support are…..I am not sure what the term is. I don’t do that and anyone who does is dishonest and two-faced. Someone who mixes this style of argument with insults and demeaning descriptors could be called a liar and a bully and that would be an honest assessment.

                • “But you don’t support them or a Moon return- you just say do and then qualify those statements with caveats that actually mean the opposite is the case. And this proves you are what I said you are when you first began….replying to my comments. ”

                  That is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. I *DO* support these things. I just do not share your particular assessment of how it can or should be done. The fact you can not recognize the difference is not my problem.

  • John hare

    Replying to Gary from somewhere way up the comments for this post, it’s getting tangled with replies.

    Asteroid mining or tourism may be drivers, just asLunar development and communications are drivers. I want many entities scouting for many sources of ROI. It may be quality of life as from weather sats, or excitement from distant exploration. There are so many possibilities that fixating on one is to restrictive of the future. IMO, the way to afford the various investigations is to allow people to risk it without a safety net.

    ROI takes many forms. Without it nothing happens. Even when I donate blood I get a mental boost though no money changes hands. If I only did it because I was told to, I’d probably skip it far more often.

  • Gary Church

    “IMO, the way to afford the various investigations is to allow people to risk it without a safety net.”

    And having spent a large chunk of my life saving people from their poor decisions at sea I completely and unambiguously disagree with that.

  • john hare

    It is a sad thing to realize that someone believes freedom is unacceptable.

    • Gary Church

      The reality is that some people accept that “no man is an island” and admit they are their “brothers keeper.” The Ayn Rand libertarians that make up a good percentage of NewSpace fandom have an opposite worldview. The reality is the malicious word games played on these forums mean someone who does not compromise their ideals is often combined against and relentlessly hounded. The reality is that some people commenting on these forums have a need to condescend and intimidate and are expert at doing so while never crossing that fine line.

      Someone believes “freedom is unacceptable”? That could be construed as a vile insult. But because of the ambiguous wording it is of course just fine. There are words to describe those who hide behind such sophistry but….Since I cannot use any terms that project an adverse personal quality upon someone and I have to comment in a professional manner and not in a manner meant to incite other commenters, I can only say…buh bye.

  • James

    Lunar Polar ISRU should enable the Moon to become the transportation hub and resource base for human and robotic exploration missions, and eventually settlements, across the Solar System. The Moon should also be quite useful for humans to gain needed long-term partial G experience.

    Effective Lunar ISRU GCR shielding experience for habitats, spaceship hangars, mining systems, power units, surface vehicles, ‘hop’ capable rocket ships, and human and robotic tended telescopes is also needed for similar elements that will eventually be developed for Mars, Ceres, and other missions and settlements across the Solar System.

    The Orion spaceship and SLS should be quite useful in exploring and settling the Moon and developing cislunar space. Flying the Orion on the SLS does not preclude others from developing similarly capable systems or various types of reusable Landers.

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