60 Minutes to Air ‘Jobs, Dreams Lost after Shuttle End’

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The story of lost dreams and 7,000 jobs on the Space Coast, while widely appreciated in aerospace circles and in the halls of Congress, is itself largely, and sadly, unknown to the American people. That might change this Sunday evening when 60 Minutes airs, “Jobs, Dreams Lost After Space Shuttle Program Ends” at 7 PM ET/PT.It’s not easy for many to understand why people on the Space Coast, not to mention the rest of the space community, are disappointed at the Administration’s decision that they are expendable. First, most of the workers you’ll see on 60 minutes did their jobs more for passion than money. Those workers weren’t paid inflated wages and there were no executive bonuses. Yet they launched 133 successful Shuttle missions. And they did so because they felt they were a visible part of making America great.

And the job losses in the space community mean a loss of institutional knowledge of how to build and launch a rocket. And to do so safely. Will Rogers once said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment”. Experience helps flush-out the unk-unk’s that, if left to linger too long, can delay a launch date by months. In the case of the government-backed commercial cargo launchers, the years of schedule slip, really delay, are a very real manifestation of a drought of institutional knowledge of spaceflight.

In September 2010, a super-majority in Congress created the Orion and SLS programs from the ruins of the Administration’s efforts to terminate NASA’s human space flight program. For some today, there’s little care in the things that the nation can do that represent to the world how amazing our country is. But for those who kept, and future generations who will keep, our rockets flying and our astronauts safe, never mind those Americans who take pride in their nation’s accomplishments, the space program’s success is a marker to all that America is…a nation that explores.

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  1. Except that, the administration was not terminating the US’s Human spaceflight program

    We will be able to explore WHEN SLS is canceled, not because it was created.

  2. Ferris,

    As Reagan would say, “There you go again…” You can try to play that ol’ saw as often as you like, but the truth remains.

    As an Obama-Space backer, you face two problems. In giving his Titusville speech in 2008, did the President promise to close “The Gap” and subsequently break that promise? Or did he as a candidate deliberately mislead voters in stating he would strongly support space in order to win the tight race in Florida?

    In his speech in Titusville, FL on August 23, 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to close “The Gap”. The only “Gap” of importance that existed in August 23, 2008 in Titusville was the last flight of Shuttle and first flight of Orion-Ares I. Arguing otherwise is to ignorant, ill-informed, disingenuous, or unintelligent.

    So we can conclude that, at the very least, by canceling Constellation, the President broke his promise to the people of Florida in general, and Titusville in particular. That’s bad enough.

    But there’s another possible argument.

    In his Education Policy statement of November 22, 2007, candidate Obama stated on the last page, last paragraph, that the education initiatives would be funded by essentially canceling Constellation. This opens up another possibility. Candidate Obama had no intention of ever supporting Constellation. When he gave his Titusville speech, he quite intentionally lied to the voters of Florida in making his later-proved, false promises.

    Which is it Ferris?

    And given the 2/3rd support that SLS garnered in Congress each year, why would you think SLS will be canceled by the very body that created it? Yes, the President proposes each year to defund SLS. But his budget is, thankfully, DOA when it hits the halls of Congress.

    • Let me answer your last question, first

      SLS will be canceled because NASA will get a $1.4 Billion dollar cut, due to sequestration. After ISS, and Centers, SLS is the biggest target. And looking other places is much harder

      Do NOT think NASA will avoid sequestration, because it is special. NASA will only avoid sequestration if the entire federal government avoids sequestration.

      As for filling the Gap – no even then, as now, Ares I/Orion was not the only option, and anyone with 2 eyes could tell you that. COTS-D was a known option then. Kistler had a COTS-D option, as well (although it had lost its funding). Dream Chaser had an unfunded Space Act agreement with NASA, that included human transportation.

      You can live in the narrow world of only Ares I, and only Orion, but I live in the real world, where you had better look at exactly what the candidate is saying. But feel free to keep up the hyperbolie – makes for interesting reading.

      In short, the answer is obvious, particularly when you look at all 3 major statements on space – Obama saw how bankrupt Constellation was, and told NASA to go back to the drawing board. And, it should not be surprising, that most of the Augustine Committee’s options used Commercial Crew

  3. Well, Ferris, I’ll have to disagree with you about SLS. But we’ll see. In my corner, I’ve got Barbara Mikulski, Kay-Bailey, Shelby, Cochran in the Senate and Wolf, Culberson, Aderholt, and Alexander in the House. You’ve got…? Well, I guess you’ve got the President. So far, he hasn’t been exactly a winning hand.

    When are you new space guys going to get it? You’ve missed every-single political call. You missed Orion. Missed SLS. J-2X. In fact, what has the alt.space community gotten right? And why do you think you’re going to be right about SLS now?

    Ferris, as someone who was working on the Space Coast in 2008, you don’t know what you’re talking about if you think anyone was worried then and there about COTS anything. Know how many people there shed a tear when Kistler when belly-up? Neither do I. That’s because it got about as much press as a skinned knee. The only, and I mean only Gap that mattered to the thousands of voters in Bravard, Orange, Velusia, Osceola, and Indian River counties was the Gap between the end of the Shuttle program and first launch of Orion-Ares I.

    The world of today is that both SpaceX and OSC are nearer to 3 years behind schedule. Any promises made by commercial launch companies about when they can get crews to ISS need to be adjusted according to the over-promises, and under-delivery by the current crop just having trouble dropping-off Charmin to the ISS. Know why CCDev…oh, that’s right, it’s been rebranded CCP, is going to get a several hundred million haircut? Because where NASA and its partners are making great progress on SLS, Orion, and the J-2X, even with an Agency leadership lividly hostile to those programs, the commercial guys promised the stars and only delivered press releases.

    And whose talking about Ares I? No, Ferris, the bad news for the commercial guys is that there is building talk in space circles on the Hill to take from CCDev and give to Boeing so it can man-rate a Delta IV H. Mate HR Delta IV H with an Orion spacecraft, which is years ahead of any other companies craft in earning its human-rating wings, and guess what you have? American domestic, crewed, access to space. And all before 2017.

    Slap-on a J-2X-powered second-stage and you’ve got a vehicle that could deliver crew and more cargo than 3 Falcon launches. Heck, it can even get an Orion to the Moon. And the next question becomes whether LockMart/Boeing could market a commercial derivative of Orion-Delta IV H? And if they can…well, now that’s what I call market disruption!

    • Jim,

      I am curious, truly curious – where does the $1.4 Billion reduction come from? If you kill CCrew and Space Tech (and it’ll actually be harder to kill Space Tech) you still have 600-700 Million to make up

      Where does that money come from? Or do you have reason that we’ll dodge sequestration?

      I’ll have more later

    • Re COTS in 08:
      First, don’t complain to me that you were ill informed. I was only a college student at the time, and I was well aware of the various proposals. My point was, and still remains, Ares I/Orion was not the only game in town.

      As Boeing and Lockheed man-rating a Delta IV and launching Orion, and then marketing that for flights to ISS (as well as the rest in there about Delta IV Heavy & Orion), there is a lot in there I’d like to comment on, but I am dangerously close to NDA territory, so I’ll have to restrain my comments to this.

      Don’t you think Boeing would prefer NASA using the CST-100 & Atlas V over a Delta IV and Orion?

      Because to think that CCrew is only SpaceX is a real mistake.

  4. Ferris,

    I’ll just say that politically speaking my batting average is better than yours at this point and leave it at that.

    NASA, really its leadership, may prefer many things, but what will happen is another thing. None of the CCDev, et al., participants, including Boeing’s CST-100 will have funding to be completed until 2019. Orion will be ready in 2014.

    Congress is going to cut CCDev, a.k.a. CCP, by nearly or slightly over half. Currently, NASA acknowledges that no CCDev participants will be ready until 2017 under current funding. If funding is cut but the number of participants remain as planned, that will stretch-out til 2019. So Congress will force NASA to either down-select CCDev participants now to keep to the 2017 schedule or stretch-out that program to 2019.

    All of the CCDev, CCP, or whatever you want to term them, participants, even Boeing’s, are barely more than paper right now when stood-up next to Orion. Boeing has a pressure vessel that has not undergone any testing. Sierra Navada same. SpaceX blew Dragon’s sensors in its February EMI test.

    As Aerospace Corp. aptly noted in its June 1, 2009 study, if you’re going to human-rate an existing rocket, you go with the biggest one you have. Congress knows an Atlas V can barely lift Orion. The Atlas V H never got past CDR. So if you seek Congressional funding for human-rating a lifter, its members will insist that funds provide the capability to take Orion to ISS will cargo margins. Since no rocket has a greater lift capacity than the Delta IV H with the RS-68A engine, if an EELV is going to be human-rated, it’ll be the Delta IV H.

    • If you want to claim your “batting average” is better, fine.

      But that doesn’t actually address my question – what happens on sequestration? Does NASA get how, and if so, how? If not, how does it pay for a $1.4 Billion cut?

      • Looking at the legislative history of appropriations for Orion, SLS, and CCP (CCDev), and given that both Orion and SLS are programs created, and therefore favored, by Congress, I am really at a loss as to the basis for your assumption that SLS would not survive sequestration while CCP (aka CCDev) would.

        • I didn’t ask that. I said

          “What happens on sequestration? Does NASA get cut, and if so how? If not, how does it not get cut?”

          Where does the $1.4 Billion get cut from?

          • We’ll all know when the Congressional appropriators are done. They are the same people, by the way, who created Orion and SLS and who have repeatedly cut by half the President’s commercial crew requests.

            • Jim
              1. You still haven’t answered the major point – even if you zero out CCrew, you still have to deal with a large chunk of the budget. CCrew is not $1.4 Billion. Where does the rest of the money come from?

              2. This money is applied to the FY 13 budget, but isn’t necessarily being taken into account. In short, sequestration will happen AFTER they pass a budget (which pre-supposes a budget is passed), but affects the budget that is past.

              So where do you think the money comes from? ISS? JWST? Center closure?

            • Just to confirm – I looked it up – budget sequestration is done by OMB, and it happens after Congress passes a budget. In other words, suppose Congress passes a $18 Billion budget for NASA. OMB (maybe working in concert with NASA) then cuts NASA’s budget further, by $1.4 Billion (or roughly 8%), which mean NASA’s budget is only $16.6 Billion, not the $18 B that Congress passed.

              In short – Congress can zero out CCrew, and the NASA budget will still have to deal with sequestration of $1.4 Billion

              • Ferris, I think you’re approaching this subject matter much too…, well, logically and without an appreciation of past precedence. As a former aerospace engineer myself, I know we are prone to that tendency.

                You assume, in this case, that OMB will do as it pleases concerning sequestration and that will be that. But that isn’t the way Washington works.

                To imagine that the 8 Cardinals of the Full and Space Appropriations will let OMB run this show is mistaken. Too much political bad blood exists between the appropriators and the White House. Congress, being the only body that appropriates money under our Constitution, can reverse, or even prevent ( recall the Shelby language in 2009 Budget), actions regarding the budget by the Executive Branch.

                Why do you imagine that Mikulski and Wolf have hammered on Bolden to tell their respective Committee how NASA plans to deal with sequestration? She, Hutchison, Shelby, and Wolf and Boozman over in the House, know that some in the Administration (Holdren at OSTP, Shawcross in OMB, Garver and Robinson at NASA come to mind) may try to use sequestration to reverse Congressional will on space funding. The appropriators and their staffs have zero trust of the Administration’s willingness to keep its word. So, while OMB may, in a perfect world, “run” sequestration, language can always be inserted into the FY 2013 Budget that would limit OMB’s discretion. In fact, such limiting language can be inserted by Appropriators at any point into legislation. Once signed into law, any deviation is technically a misappropriation of funds. Expect such language, it’s guaranteed if NASA continues to try to delay on stating how sequestration will affect its budget.

                So want to know how will the $1.45B sequestration affect NASA? It’s simple; watch what each chamber’s Appropriations Committee does.

                • Jim
                  First, only Mikulski has asked about sequestration. Wolf did not during the hearings. And don’t forget – you’ll have a new Congress, and some of those people may not be on the committee, or in Congress at all. (and please don’t think that you are the only aerospace engineer in this discussion, or that those of us in the DC area aren’t privy to at least a few pieces of data – and you’ve made some other assumptions about what I may like/not like that is wrong)

                  Second, here is the problem with trying to insert language, deflecting sequestration.

                  1. SLS is not the top priority for everyone, even in space (I am looking directly at the Senior Senator from Maryland, and JWST).
                  2. The instant ANYONE on ANY of the appropriations tries to insert language, protecting a particular program from sequestration, a food fight will start. And this is not a space issues – just imagine what its going to be like for things like transportation, road construction, military, etc.

                  3. I go back to what I said earlier – lets assume that Congress zeros out CCrew (I don’t believe they’ll do that, but for the sack of argument). You still have to come up with $1.4 Billion

                  Don’t say “watch the appropriators”, and don’t say “It wont’ be SLS”

                  What gets cut? Show the budgets that disappear, that add up to $1.45 Billion

                  • Ferris,

                    Approps language inserted guiding the Executive on how sequestration is to be done for a given Agency will not start a food fight. Regarding Space funding, the “fight” started by the President in Feb. 2010 continues and no amount of sequestration guidance could make it any nastier than it has already been. You do recall that the Commerce Committee subpoenaed Bolden over SLS documents? And that was with Jay Rockerfeller running the place.

                    No matter who runs Congress, the Space debate should have shown you that relationships are what dominate. SLS may or may not be universally popular in either House (actually, I think it is, but that’s my own impression), but it is more popular that the President and SLS is very, very important to some key people. Nobody serving, and certainly not a newly member, in either chamber is going to start a “food fight” with the likes of Mikulski, Shelby, Cochran, Wolf, Culbertson, Boozman, among several others.

                    In the end though Ferris, since neither of us is a staffer on, nor a member of, Approps, we’ll have to just wait and see. And as such, this will have to be my last word on this matter for the time being.

                    Thanks for commenting.

  5. Its nice to know that when I ask a question, I shouldn’t expect an answer here.

    Something to keep in mind (along with ignoring the facts around President Obama and the FY2011 budget)

    • Mr. Valyn,

      Given your past behavior – no you shouldn’t expect us to waste our time replying. You have proven completely unwilling to have a conversation with anyone who has the audacity to disagree with you – and point out all the facts that you choose to ignore regarding the FY 2011 budget. When one tells others to do what they themselves refuse to do – there is a word for that type of person – and they best way to respond is to highlight this fact. If they choose to continue to behave in this fashion and refuse to compromise? It’s best to just ignore them.

      All the best, Jason Rhian

  6. Ferris,

    I’m sorry you feel that way. The extensive replies above do, I think, show that we respond to everyone who cares enough to comment. As in any conversation though, there comes a point where it must end. I am sorry you took my last reply for a “non-reply”. It wasn’t meant that way. But I do think I’m not going to change your mind nor you mine, so we just have to wait to see how sequestration works out as well as how SLS fares.

    Thanks for taking the time to write. Perhaps once Congress and the White House have settled this latest scrap we’ll have more to talk about. Until then, take care.


    • Jim,

      I normally have no problem with saying “we’ll agree to disagree” and far to often I think people don’t use that when they should on the internet.

      The problem is I am not saying you have to agree with me because of my evidence – I merely am asking how you add the numbers up, and you aren’t saying anything other than “my programs aren’t in danger”

      That is a non-answer, anyway you slice it

  7. Ferris,

    First, we don’t even know that sequestration will occur because frankly neither Party wants this to happen. After the 2012 elections, perhaps there will be some will to accomplish budget reform, as needed to avoid sequestration. Stick around–you’ll hear about it.

    As for the numbers, watch and wait. That’s all we can do. Neither of us is on Appropriations, so we don’t know what’s being negotiated, if anything. But we can tell from NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s testimony before Mikulski’s Committee, the priorities of NASA are: ISS, Orion & SLS, Webb. He stated that the rest will bear the brunt of the cuts before the priority programs are touched. If Charlie holds to that, SLS will be fine.

    • And to quote the Gipper, there you go again.

      I grant we don’t know that sequestration will happen. We don’t know that it won’t happen. But that has not been my question.

      And neither has whether you think SLS will be impacted by sequestration. I haven’t asked whether you think SLS will be impacted by sequestration.

      My questions have been, and still are

      1. If sequestration won’t happen, why don’t you think it will happen?
      2. If it does happen, where does the $1.4 B cut come from?

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