Deputy Administrator to Leave NASA

Lori garver

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. Photo Credit: NASA

It is reported on several space news sites that NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will be leaving NASA in early September and will be taking up a position with the Airline Pilots Association. Some might wonder why NASA’s Deputy Administrator would leave at this time, and her announcement today will certainly shed more light on her reasons for doing so. But it had been rumored for some time that NASA’s Deputy Administrator wanted to leave. NASA Administrator Bolden and OSTP Chief Holdren release a dual press release on Ms. Garver’s departure from NASA.

A native of Michigan, Deputy Administrator Garver’s career in space policy started with her work for then Ohio Senator John Glenn in 1983, then as Executive Director of the National Space Society in the late 1980’s, and continued as Associate Administrator of Policy and Plans during the Clinton Administration. Ms. Garver has been married to David Brandt, who is also a passionate space enthusiast, for over 25 years and they are the parents of two teenage young men.Ms. Garver led the Obama NASA transition team after then-Senator Obama won the 2008 presidential election, a role in which she became a lightning rod for many in the aerospace community. It was reported in early December 2008 that there had been a sharp exchange between Ms. Garver and then-NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. The source of conflict was the Obama space transition team’s efforts to figure out how to terminate Project Constellation–Ms. Garver’s opposition to the Bush Administration’s Vision for Space Exploration and therefore Constellation wasn’t a secret–and proceed with a new space plan. Those rumors, and a Wall Street Journal article about them, prompted Neil Armstrong’s December 27, 2008, letter to the Wall Street Journal, Future Space Opportunities Are the President’s Call, in which he in part stated that then President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team ‘faces a tough early choice between extending the life of the aging space shuttle and accelerating its replacement.’

“I certainly hope that isn’t accurate, in that the transition team should play no part in such decisions. While these men and women are experienced and enthusiastic space program veterans, they are neither aerospace engineers nor former program managers and cannot be sufficiently knowledgeable to make choices in the technical arena.”

This would not be the last time that the future NASA Deputy Administrator would clash with Neil Armstrong. And those eventual encounters would also include other former astronauts such as Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell.

That fight began in earnest on February 5, 2010, the day NASA announced a plan to terminate Project Constellation and source human space transportation to new commercial space companies, although some would argue the fight actually began with the Augustine Commission. It was widely rumored, and over the years multiple sources have confirmed, that Ms. Garver was one of the key architects of the NASA plan, along with several others including individuals at the Office of Management and Budget and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

NASA’s new human space flight plan received a less-than-enthusiastic reception by Congress, in part because Congress had not been consulted during the plan’s gestation. By April 15, 2010, it was clear that the space plan proposed by NASA, OSTP, and OMB was in deep trouble. Behind the scenes, bipartisan opposition was building, forcing the president to try to control the damage by going to Kennedy Space Center, with Buzz Aldrin for support, and making a speech during which he proposed that the Orion spacecraft, a key part of the Constellation program, be continued as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. But the president’s Kennedy Space Center speech received only tepid support, even from those in the President’s own Party. And the stories by KSC personnel of who was and wasn’t allowed into the speech, never mind the president’s unwillingness to even have a token meeting with his own civil servants, made the whole trip a PR disaster. It wasn’t just Congress that was opposed to the new NASA spaceflight plan; Robert Zubrin announced his opposition in an article in the New Atlantis, “Going Nowhere“. And on that day, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan publicly announced their opposition to the new NASA human spaceflight plan. Opposition to the new human space flight plan continued to build until on May 12, 2010, when the battle to end the NASA human space exploration program itself effectively came to an end.

On May 12, 2010, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan testified before the full Senate Commerce Committee, testimony that was carried live by the three major TV and cable news networks. Armstrong’s testimony was as gripping as it was critical:

“With regard to President Obama’s 2010 plan, I have yet to find a person in NASA, the Defense Department, the Air Force, the National Academies, industry, or academia that had any knowledge of the plan prior to its announcement. Rumors abound that neither the NASA Administrator nor the president’s Science and Technology Advisor were knowledgeable about the plan. Lack of review normally guarantees that there will be overlooked requirements and unwelcome consequences. How could such a chain of events happen? A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the president that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program. I believe the president was poorly advised.”

On September 29, 2010, the House passed S 3729, the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, after a debate on the House floor that was broadcast live by the TV and cable networks. On October 11, 2010, President Obama quietly signed the NASA Authorization Act into law. For the Obama White House, this was a Pyrrhic victory; the House version would have more or less fully rolled back the cancellation of Constellation. The 2010 Great Space Debate was over.

There were other subsequent battles that NASA Deputy Administrator Garver reportedly played a key role in, which multiple first-hand sources both in and out of NASA confirm: efforts to slow Orion’s development; delays in implementing programs the 2010 NASA Authorization Act; a refusal to produce the Section 309 Report as required by the Act that concerned Orion and the SLS. Such foot-dragging eventually led the Democratic-controlled full Commerce Committee to threaten and then to subpoena NASA, and, in particular, emails and other communications by the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, and their staff in August 2011.

The NASA Deputy Administrator weathered all of the legislative defeats and oversight by Congress. So the question on some people’s minds is, why leave now?

Even if the Obama Administration nominated her, because of past battles with the Senate, never mind the 2011 subpoena, the drought of support for her among even Democrats means the NASA Deputy Administrator could never be confirmed for any position by the Senate. Some are openly speculating that Deputy Administrator Garver made the decision to move-on given the limited prospects of advancing in NASA beyond Deputy Administrator. But her opponents should mute their rejoicing.

So what will be the legacy of the NASA Deputy Administrator? Most certainly, the biggest historical legacy will be the 2010 defeat of a presidential initiative that represented a policy and political failure of enormous proportions. Legislative sources say another legacy of the Deputy Administrator will be her behind the scenes work that has contributed to the decline of the bipartisanship found in 2005, 2008, and 2010, but is gone today. The question remains whether that bipartisanship in debating and deciding our nation’s space leadership will ever return? Another legacy, as told by NASA sources, is the thorough distrust of NASA’s leadership, never mind the near complete lack of confidence in Charlie Bolden and Ms. Garver, among the NASA rank-and-file. In the minds of many NASA workers, there are today two NASA’s, NASA headquarters in Washington, which they try as mightily as possible to ignore, and the NASA family that is trying to keep this nation’s space program moving forward. Those same sources will say that the distrust is not just of the space agency’s leadership, but of the space media itself, which since the 2010 Great Space Debate many have seen as proxies for the Deputy Administrator.

Rather than a debate to increase NASA funding in order to afford commercial cargo and crew development side-by-side with a national space capability, the Deputy Administrator and her allies chose to fight a war of attrition that gave to one by hacking from another. Supporters of the Deputy Administrator will say that NASA’s budget would never be increased to pay for commercial space; opponents point-out that we’ll never know because neither she nor her allies even tried to grow the space agency’s budget. Every source tells us that the fight to end Constellation and replace it with a dependence upon commercial access to space has riven the space community and seeded ill-will that will take decades to diminish. In the final analysis, the NASA Deputy Administrator’s lasting legacy will surely be one of division and not unity, of decline and not growth.

Given Deputy Administrator Garver’s passionate interest in space, tenacity in seeking her goals, her willpower at staying the course, and her sheer bullheadedness it must also be assumed that her absence from the fore of space policy is only temporary and that she will return to the space policy scene in some manner. If the world of politics has a theme, it’s that rebirth is the norm.

The site has vigorously opposed the NASA Deputy Administrator’s vision for NASA in particular, and her human space flight program policies in general. An energetic policy debate is how good ideas are ferreted-out. Nobody could expect any less when discussing something as important to this nation, and its future as a great power, as the goals and means of continuing its push outward from low-Earth orbit. All of us here at AmericaSpace.com, as surely will others, look forward to future discussions about this nation’s human space flight policies, whether with Ms. Garver or others of similar policy positions.

For now however, this site’s owner, editor, and staff wish Ms. Garver and her family the very best as she pursues her new endeavors. Ad Astra!

At my opinion piece detailing why we don’t do pressers en masse, if you’ve a presser you want to paste, go there. The standard for comments is that you should…well, comment. Pasting a presser as a comment sans any context as to why the presser is newsworthy is just impolite.

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64 comments to Deputy Administrator to Leave NASA

  • Ben Harrison

    The question remains whether that bipartisanship in debating and deciding our nation’s space leadership will ever return?

    Space is no more special to politicians than farm subsidies are. And if the political divide in Congress over the budget isn’t a clear enough indication, one only has to look at the recent votes in the House and Senate to see that NASA is not special in their minds.

    So what will be the legacy of the NASA Deputy Administrator?

    That will depend on which side of the space policy debate one is on. For those that thought the Constellation program should have continued, no matter how much money it was going to cost (and ending the ISS in 2015), she is not viewed well.

    For those that wanted the ISS to continue, wanted a domestic crew transportation system, and saw the Constellation program as over budget and not worth the effort, she will likely be viewed more favorably.

    For now however, this site’s owner, editor, and staff wish Ms. Garver and her family the very best as she pursues her new endeavors. Ad Astra!

    Being the 4th longest serving deputy administrator is pretty good, and I think government service can be a challenge for someone that is not done with their career. Still time to come back as the NASA Administrator in a future administration.

    • Ben,

      I don’t think you’re up on your space legislative history. Look at the votes for the previous NASA Auth. acts.

      ISS was legislated to continue long before DA Garver showed up. Read the 2008 NASA Reauth. Act.

      If you think that NASA and the American space program are better now than 5 years ago, then I have some prime swampland I’d like to sell you.

      • Ferris Valyn

        Sorry Jim, but no.

        The 2008 NASA Reauth did not extend ISS. It laid some of the groundwork to extend ISS, but it did not actually extend it.

        • No, Ferris, you’re wrong. The 2008 NASA Auth. Act prevented both the NASA Administrator and NASA from doing any planning to deorbit ISS before 2020. Furthermore, NASA was to determine what needed to be done to keep ISS orbiting for 5 years beyond 2015. Lastly, it required the NASA Administrator to come up with a budget plan for operating ISS beyond 2020. What part of that doesn’t strike you as keeping ISS in orbit til 2020?

          Here’s the actual language:

          SEC. 601. <> PLAN TO SUPPORT OPERATION AND
          UTILIZATION OF THE ISS BEYOND FISCAL YEAR 2015.

          (a) In General.–The Administrator shall take all necessary steps to
          ensure that the International Space Station remains a

          [[Page 122 STAT. 4794]]

          viable and productive facility capable of potential United States
          utilization through at least 2020 and shall take no steps that would
          preclude its continued operation and utilization by the United States
          after 2015.
          (b) Plan To Support Operations and Utilization of the International
          Space Station Beyond Fiscal Year 2015.–
          (1) In <> general.–Not later than 9 months
          after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall
          submit to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House
          of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and
          Transportation of the Senate a plan to support the operations
          and utilization of the International Space Station beyond fiscal
          year 2015 for a period of not less than 5 years. The plan shall
          be an update and expansion of the operation plan of the
          International Space Station National Laboratory submitted to
          Congress in May 2007 under section 507 of the National
          Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005
          (42 U.S.C. 16767).
          (2) Content.–
          (A) Requirements to support operation and
          utilization of the iss beyond fiscal year 2015.–As part
          of the plan required in paragraph (1), the Administrator
          shall provide each of the following:
          (i) A list of critical hardware necessary to
          support International Space Station operations
          through the year 2020.
          (ii) Specific known or anticipated maintenance
          actions that would need to be performed to support
          International Space Station operations and
          research through the year 2020.
          (iii) Annual upmass and downmass requirements,
          including potential vehicles that will deliver
          such upmass and downmass, to support the
          International Space Station after the retirement
          of the Space Shuttle and through the year 2020.
          (B) ISS national laboratory research management
          plan.–As part of the plan required in paragraph (1),
          the Administrator shall develop a Research Management
          Plan for the International Space Station. Such Plan
          shall include a process for selecting and prioritizing
          research activities (including fundamental, applied,
          commercial, and other research) for flight on the
          International Space Station. Such Plan shall be used to
          prioritize resources such as crew time, racks and
          equipment, and United States access to international
          research facilities and equipment. Such Plan shall also
          identify the organization to be responsible for managing
          United States research on the International Space
          Station, including a description of the relationship of
          the management institution with NASA (e.g., internal
          NASA office, contract, cooperative agreement, or grant),
          the estimated length of time for the arrangement, and
          the budget required to support the management
          institution. Such Plan shall be developed in
          consultation with other Federal agencies, academia,
          industry, and other relevant stakeholders. The
          Administrator may request the support of the National
          Academy of Sciences or other appropriate independent entity, including an external consultant, in
          developing the Plan.
          (C) Establishment of process for access to national
          laboratory.–As part of the plan required in paragraph
          (1), the Administrator shall–
          (i) establish a process by which to support
          International Space Station National Laboratory
          users in identifying their requirements for
          transportation of research supplies to and from
          the International Space Station, and for
          communicating those requirements to NASA and
          International Space Station transportation
          services providers; and
          (ii) <
          > develop an estimate of
          the transportation requirements needed to support
          users of the International Space Station National
          Laboratory and develop a plan for satisfying those
          requirements by dedicating a portion of volume on
          NASA supply missions to the International Space
          Station.
          (D) Assessment of equipment to support research.–As
          part of the plan required in paragraph (1), the
          Administrator shall–
          (i) provide a list of critical hardware that
          is anticipated to be necessary to support
          nonexploration-related and exploration-related
          research through the year 2020;
          (ii) identify existing research equipment and
          racks and support equipment that are manifested
          for flight; and
          (iii) provide a detailed description of the
          status of research equipment and facilities that
          were completed or in development prior to being
          cancelled, and provide the budget and milestones
          for completing and preparing the equipment for
          flight on the International Space Station.
          (E) Budget plan.–As part of the plan required in
          paragraph (1), the Administrator shall provide a budget
          plan that reflects the anticipated use of such
          activities and the projected amounts to be required for
          fiscal years 2010 through 2020 to accomplish the
          objectives of the activities described in subparagraphs
          (A) through (D).

          • Ferris Valyn

            Yes, I am well aware of the section

            Read it again. Carefully this time

            Section (a) doesn’t make it official policy that ISS will continue after 2015. It requires that NASA retain the position to be able to keep ISS around after 2015. Thats not the same thing as formally extending it beyond 2015 (which happened in the 2010 Auth bill).

            These are fundamentally different items. You can view it as lawyering, but this is legal language, and this is what it means.

            • No, don’t stop at a), go to 601 b) 2) C) 1) E), which states,

              (E) Budget plan.–As part of the plan required in
              paragraph (1), the Administrator shall provide a budget
              plan that reflects the anticipated use of such
              activities and the projected amounts to be required for
              fiscal years 2010 through 2020 to accomplish the
              objectives of the activities described in subparagraphs
              (A) through (D).

              • Ferris Valyn

                Again, that doesn’t mean its formally extended. Thisi is, yet again, a planning thing.

                Formal extension happened as a part of the 2010 re-auth.

                • The sense of Congress, as stated in the 2008 NAA, was that ISS was not going to be splashed in 2015 but extended at least til 2020.

                  Did specific language in the 2008 NAA prohibit NASA from planning to end ISS in 2015? Yes. Does the 2008 NAA force NASA to figure out how to operate, and fund such operations of, ISS beyond 2015? Yes. Does the 2008 NAA officially state that ISS continue, and specify such funding to operate ISS, through 2020? No.

                  The way things work, even in DC and despite what has gone on in NASA since 2009, is to plan first and execute second. By preventing the Bush Administration from even planning to deorbit ISS in 2015, the die was cast. The 2008 NAA established that Congress was not going to let ISS go.

                  I understand your need to find one sliver of a silver lining in the soon-to-be end of Jim’s and your friend’s role at NASA. But the extension of ISS beyond 2020 falls to Congress and not the Obama Administration in general nor the NASA DA in particular.

                  • Ferris Valyn

                    I don’t deny the planing part is import. But the plan, in of itself did not actually extend ISS. It allowed ISS to be extended. This is turning an aircraft carrier, and yes, it was fully turn in part thanks to 2010, not just 2008.

                    Second Jim, but its not about “finding the one sliver.” Its precisely the reverse – you are determined to show that everything associated with her was wrong.

                    • Garver’s emphasis on social media was a positive move. I assume credit for the improved NASA TV goes to her. The improved website is a good step forward.

                      But overall instead of fighting for a stronger or better funded NASA, she created divisions within that have debilitated the space agency and will last long after her departure. Her efforts have set back out exploration by years. All for what?

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      She did fight for a stronger NASA. The only way NASA is going to get stronger is by embracing NewSpace. And until NASA produces value and is seen to be producing something of value by the average person, its budget will continue to be roughly $16-18 Billion.

                      And don’t forget, FY11 did increase the NASA top line.

                    • Paying more money while ending Constellation was not a positive move.

                    • Ferris, you need to visit more NASA centers, actually work in engineering, and definitely get out of Washington. The great work being done on Orion and SLS, not NewSpace, is going to make this nation once again a leader in human space exploration.

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      Constellation was not viable, with the money it was going to get.

                      And you need to go beyond the Space world, and see the rest of the world.

                    • Ferris,

                      In addition to working aerospace, I’ve earned an undergrad and graduate degree in aerospace engineering, worked on two Presidential campaigns, moonlight as an iOS developer, and run a business for the past 30 years.

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      You’ve missed my point Jim

                      Go to Detroit. Tell the single mothers barely making ends meet why they should care about NASA’s HSF program.

                      Go to the fisherman off the coast of New England, and tell them why they should care about NASA’s HSF.

                      Go to the farmers in Iowa, the Dakotas, and tell them why they should care about NASA’s HSF.

                      You’ll find most of them don’t really have a reason, for good reason.

                    • I was raised with my two brothers by a single-father in the 60’s and 70’s who raised us lower-middle class as an architect who took a pay-cut because he wanted the city housing to be better. I’ve worked boatyards and bars in New Orleans and two jobs just to eat. And yes, I worked on public house projects and in construction. There was no silver spoon in my mouth.

                      My Dad, dog-tired at the end of the week, still took me to the Rocket Center in Huntsville every weekend or so, an hour drive then. He didn’t have the time but he still helped me build my rockets and launch my Estes Saturn V. Why? Because he wanted to push my passions for the dream he had for our nation, as one exploring outward.

                      What’s you’re point? That the poor and working poor don’t care about space. What do you think gave me the dreams that got me out of
                      Birmingham, Alabama? Werner Von Braun and the amazing things my fellow Alabamians did to get us to the Moon.

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      You had the unique position to be able to be close to it Jim. Go to places that don’t have a real tie to space, and sell it.

                      And not everyone can view it as religiously as most space people do. Space can provide better ROIs than simply “inspiration.” The day that space provides a real, measurable, quantifiable ROI, that people can touch and feel, will fundamentally change our relation with space, world wide.

                      Until that day, we’ll be looking over our shoulder, waiting for the proverbial fireball

  • Vladislaw

    “That fight began in earnest on February 5, 2010, the day NASA announced a plan to terminate Project Constellation”

    No the fight started with the VSE. President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration was going to get rid of 8000 NASA jobs with his plans for commercial access to space and no new rockets for NASA. Members of Congress in space districts said no and in comes Griffin and the ESAS and out goes using commercial vehicles and we get the pork rocket to no where. Constellation. The cost plus stakeholders were estatic, congressional porkonauts were estatic .. no hardware .. but all those jobs were safe for another DECADE… no hardware.. but hell who cares, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCMuGCM__5k Like Stennis told Von Braun .. he didn’t care what he did as long as mississippi didn’t lose any jobs.

    • Commercial cargo came-in with Griffin.

      You’re revising the history of VSE more than a bit. See a history of Bush’s VSE at http://spaceflightchronicles.com/2012/11/21/a-history-of-the-george-w-bush-vision-for-space-exploration-vse-by-paul-spudis/

      The person who helped so many loose their jobs was not Bush but who is resigning effective Sept. 6.

      • Ferris Valyn

        So, what you are saying is that NASA is purely about jobs?

        Didn’t know you were the socialist, Jim.

        • Jobs, knowledge, expertise, and the ability of America to project herself into the vast unknown reaches of space.

          • Ferris Valyn

            Three of those don’t require NASA HSF.

            And the forth has, so far, not been clearly demonstrated to have measurable value.

            • Leonidas

              Sorry to be breaking in late to the discussion, but it was an interesting thread to follow. I have to ask only a question.

              Since the fourth reason that Jim states (going into space) doesn’t have any measurable value, then what’s the point of a space endeavor at all? If NASA isn’t required anyway, why should Commercial Crew be funded as well, if going into space doesn’t demostrate any measurable value? Why are we here talking?

              And what does ‘measurable value’ mean anyway?

              • Ferris Valyn

                The presumption is that Jim’s reasons are the only reasons. In point of fact, there are reasons, damn good reasons, to send people to space. But if we don’t understand those reasons, its possible that we aren’t moving towards our goals, or even undermining our efforts to get to those goals. This doesn’t mean that NASA isn’t required, but it does mean that you have to be willing to not have any golden calves.

                Let me give you one example, and which demonstrates measurable value – communication satellites. Yes, they have the measurable value of self-sustaining industries, and that counts for a decent amount (NASA could be disbanded tomorrow, and the comm sat industry would go forward just fine). Additionally, and in some ways more importantly, the average person everyday relies on communication satellites. Another example is GPS. So, to put it simply, measurable value is found by the money and the time that the average person is willing to invest in something, such that they will help to support it. Finally, that measurable value must come from something intrinsic to the situation. Comm satellites cannot work without being in space. This is in stark contrast to something like spin-offs (which we can get by direct investment)

                So, to short circuit this quite a bit, the value of HSF is the promise of space settlement and space development, and the promise of space resources. Therefore, that must be your overriding goal – enabling space development and space settlement. Because for that, you do need humans, and there is real, measurable value. Apollo achieved great things, but at the end of the day, it was like building the pyramids – great achievement, but it didn’t fundamentally alter the average day for an individual in a positive way (see for example the poem about whitey on the moon). Things like Comm sats, GPS, and so on, have.

                Therefore, its not about “America to project herself into the vast unknown reaches of space,” rather, its about America being able to use the resources of space, to broadly and directly enhance the life of every citizen. Not by inspiration, but by real events, and measurable items.

                And that is what this fight is really about – whether we fund spaceflight because we are trying to recreate a quasi-religious special feeling, or because we are trying to improve the average persons life.

                • Leonidas

                  Ferris, thank you for clarifying it. I couldn’t agree more! The space program shouldn’t be about ‘one-off’s’ and ‘stunts’ but rather it should be about space development and space settlement. The use of space resources to enchance life. To add cislunar space and the Moon to our economic sphere of influence and move outward. That’s what it’s all about. Actually the core of Bush’s VSE was about that. It wasn’t just Cobstellation.

                  I’m neither a narrow-minded NASA supporter nor an exclusive ‘NewSpace’ embracer. In my view, space settlement and development cannot happen by either the public sector alone or the private sector alone. It will only happen as a public-private partnership, where everyone will have their place under the Sun and their distinct role, both NASA and the private sector. Settlement and development historically has always worked that way here on Earth, and I beleive that’s how it will be with space.

                  As a last note, the current state of NASA and the space program isn’t NASA’s fault anyway. NASA doesn’t dictate policy,it only follows one. And a bad space policy doesn’t make a good space program. Apollo ended up being a ‘one-off’ not because of NASA, but because of decisions made by the White House and Congress. If NASA was allowed to pursue its original plans for the Apollo Applications Program back in 1969, as vigorously as Apollo itself, and wasn’t cancelled by the White House, I beleive it would have cleared the way for lunar settlement and cislunar space development, where the private industry would at some point have followed suit. Indeed if that had come to pass, we would be living in a very different world today.

                  • Ferris Valyn

                    Leonidas – the problem is that VSE died when Constellation started.

                    As for the current state of NASA – I’ll grant that it isn’t NASA fault alone, but don’t assume that NASA didn’t play a role in it. For example, you talk about “if NASA had been able to pursue the AAP in the 70s” – why should it have been? From the publics perspective at large, and from the elected officials perspective, no one had figured out how to actually get direct benefits from space resources. No one had figured out how to make the case that space could be a producer, rather than a consumer (because it was a consumer at that point).

                    NASA is by no means the only entity at fault, when it comes to space policy, but they deserve some of the blame.

                    • Leonidas

                      Granted, you’re right, but we’re in 2013 and no one has demonstrated how to get direct benefits from space resources even today and putting aside the satellite industry, no one has made the case that outer space beyond LEO can be a producer either.

                      From my perspective, if NASA’s HSF is deemed as ‘meaningless’, the Commercial Crew Program should also follow suit for the same reasons. Why the average person should care if the CCP partners are funded at all? What are the direct, practical and meaningful benefits of CCP other than flying a few crew and cargo to the ISS? I’m also personally in the unemployment line. Why should I care about CCP anyway? See my point?

                      And yes, the VSE was the right way to make space policy. In fact it was the right policy, but it was implemented in the wrong way.

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      You’ve blown by a very important point

                      ” no one has demonstrated how to get direct benefits from space resources even today and putting aside the satellite industry,”

                      Don’t put aside the satellite industry. Why have they succeeded? I submit that the IntelSat and PanAmSat battle is in many ways the same battle that NewSpace is having with the current paradigm (and in particular the old Paradigm of Station transportation vs Commercial Crew).

                      As far as NASA HSF being meaningless, Commercial Crew – I am more than willing to live under my own sword. The ISS, and Commercial Crew/Cargo, can if managed correctly, open the LEO marketplace for using micorgravity. we are just barely beginning to see some results from this, with some of the work being done by NanoRacks, by ZGSI, and others.

                      In short – NASA’s HSF program should examine the success of the comm sat industry (and the other successful satellite industries), and figure out how to replicate this success with various aspects of human spaceflight.

                      Finally – if you screw up the implementation, then the policy is destroyed. In many respects, FY11 was an attempt to implement VSE.

                    • Leonidas

                      Ferris, you say “The ISS, and Commercial Crew/Cargo, can if managed correctly, open the LEO marketplace for using micorgravity”.

                      I don’t see that. A similar thing was said in the 1990’s about the satellite and launch industries – that the market will open up and prices will go down – didn’t happen. Why should it happen now with Commercial Crew?

                      And since everyone’s so confident that it will happen, why can’t CCP partners attract private investors and have to rely by 90% on NASA money? If it’s such a sure-fire industry, private investors won’t have to worry about their investments-they will get them back with profit, when the industry is opened up as proclaimed. Why the need for NASA money at all (and in the order of 90% of the cost)?

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      Leonidas

                      I didn’t say it was sure-fire. Thats why I said if managed correctly (I hope that happens, and I am fighting tooth and nail for that too happen). A comparison of the 90s, with the comm sat industry I think would be useful. Why did PanAmSat open up the comm sat industry, but the launch market didn’t? I will say, I don’t believe its nearly as simple as “the technology wasn’t ready”, particularly when you look at how close things like MirCorp and Iridium got.

                      Finally, to the issue of attracting private investors – again, this is my point about creating the ecosystem. Creating an ecosystem where an industry can be self-sustaining takes some effort, and we don’t yet have that ecosystem.

                      Getting that ecosystem in place will democratize space.

                  • Leonidas

                    Ferris, that’s an interesting discussion. How in your opinion could the CCP be managed correctly?

                    And that’s my concern also. Why isn’t the ecosystem ready after nearly 60 years of space technology? Apart from the public space program, why hasn’t the private sector been up to the task and what could it be done to make it so?

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      Short version of managing it correctly – CCP MUST be a partnership program, with payments based on milestones and fixed price (and true fixed price). Ideally, I would just exercise the optional milestones in the current SAAs. Additionally, there must be more than 1 provider that actually flies.

                      Short version as to why the ecosystem isn’t set up yet- we spent 60 years only looking at specific technical choices, and not the broader ecosystem, and not building the ties needed beyond the technical world. This was, in part driven by the fact that space, and NASA, grew up in an unusual situation, where its culture was closer to that of the military, rather than a regulatory agency, or a development agency. A great symptom of this can be seen in how, for many years, if you wanted to go into space, you were either an engineer or a scientist. That has needed to change for a long time. Another example of this is how the Ariane program came about (actually, I think it was the Europa program originally – I’d have to go back and look)

                      There was a really good talk by Jeff Manber at U of Michigan, called can capitalism survive in space, that I think hits on this really well.

                      The point being – we spent a lot of time focused on 1 item that we thought would get us the ecosystem (cheap space access based on a particular technology), and didn’t understand how complex the ecosystem actually was.

                    • Leonidas

                      But isn’t the CCP conceived as such? A partnership program where the payments come in when milestones are met. What could go wrong with that?

                      And there’s definitely have to be more than 1 provider flying! (Maybe it’s because I have a soft spot for spaceplane designs, but I’d really like Sierra Nevada to be one of them).

                    • Leonidas,

                      You raise an important question about commercial space and its problems of finding a market with a return-on-investment sufficient to encourage private investment, as has happened with every other transportation mode, whether ship, rail or air.

                      And before Ferris brings it up, yes SpaceX has several commercial satellite contracts. But it is late in launching SES-8 and will miss Thaicomm 6 and OG2 launch dates; the bainvestment, for commercial crew beyond NASA’s needs. There is no funding beyond NASA. Were that otherwise, I’m sure Silicon Valley’s Elon Musk would have more private financing than he’d know what to do with.

                      And before Ferris brings it up, yes SpaceX has several commercial satellite contracts. But it is late in launching SES-8 and will miss Thaicomm 6 and OG2 launch dates; the backlog is really stacking-up. How much longer can that go before those customers exercise their option to launch elsewhere?

                      There is cloud on the horizon for commercial crew. Title V, Sec. 501, subsection a) of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act states that ISS is to remain operational until Sept. 31, 2020. Unless an authorization bill extending ISS operations beyond October 1, 2020 is signed into law, there will be no destination for NASA’s CCP participants. Because NASA refused to down-select CCP participants, which it can freely do as that program is funded through Space Act Agreements, the very earliest that any CCP participant will fly is 2017, and that is predicated on full funding of CCP, which will not happen. This intersection between the dates of the beginning of commercial crew and the end of ISS is being talked about in our capitol. After all, why continue to spend hundreds of millions on commercial crew if there won’t be an ISS to go to for more than a couple of years?

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      Leonidas – that is how it was concieved. But look at the difference between conception and implementation of VSE to Constellation

                      As for how it could screw up – see the ASAP, see the push to downselect to a single provider, etc etc

                    • Leonidas

                      Jim, the inability of the so-called NewSpace companies to attract any other means of funding besides NASA, has always been a big issue for me as well. I always ask that question and never get a satisfactory answer (and probably never will): if all the NewSpace vehicles will lower costs so drastically as proclaimed and since they represent such a revolution, then where are all the private investors? It’s a question similar to the one at the heart of the famous Fermi Paradox.

                      Furthermore, I find it unacceptable that a vast majority of NewSpacers today, wholeheartidly reject NASA, yet on the same breath they demand that it funds them fully. In my read of things, if you don’t like the way NASA does business, that’s fine, you can go and find your own investors that can do business more to your liking – Oh, I forgot, there’s no one else to fund CCP besides NASA! I wonder why this is the case.

                      On another note, leaving CCP aside, what are the chances of the ISS extending operations beyond 2020? If the hardware is deemed as capable of operating for another decade, why shouldn’t it become operational until 2028?

            • Ferris,

              This is another point where you and I have to part company. The fourth is the only reason to spend even just one penny on space. If there’s no national goal to move outward then the commercial space companies can pay for their own dreams.

              • Ferris Valyn

                Define move outward, and tell me who it includes – because the way you stated it, all I see is a few people going to space. I don’t have an interested in recreating an Apollo, with a few people on the moon or on Mars.

                Tell me how Constellation or OldSpace gets us to have two million people in space by 2050, or that it gets us very close to that, and I’ll fight for it till the asteroid comes.

                • Ferris,

                  NewSpace advocates assume that NASA is the reason millions or even thousands won’t be in space by 2050. The NewSpace community further errs by assuming that the current crop of CCP awardees will be the common man’s path to space. As in so many things, NewSpace geeks are wildly off the mark. Exhibit 1, Futron space tourism study? Boy, was that thing ever off the mark.

                  If what you want truly is to move as fast as possible in crewed space transportation, cancel the current commercial crew SAA’s and turn the hundreds of millions in funding to other efforts that will lead to short-, medium-, and long-term benefits to space transportation with less risk.

                  In the short-term, Boeing’s proposed X-37C should be funded in lieu of the CST-100, Dream Chaser, and Dragon since its parent vehicle the X-37B has more time in space and as many launches as Dragon/Falcon 9 while providing the benefits of the Dream Chaser.

                  http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/03/x-37b-expanded-capabilities-iss-missions/?goback=%2Egmp_4343963

                  In the medium-term, since it appears that the nut in composite H2 tanks has finally been cracked, some amount of commercial crew funding should be used to finish X-33 and launch it.

                  For the long-term, the AFRL’s hypersonic a program is the key to cheap crewed access to space.

                  • Ferris Valyn

                    Jim, contrary to your claims, NewSpace doesn’t see NASA as the enemy. That so misses the mark.

                    The problem you are missing is you are assuming that the AFRL’s program must be THE SOLUTION to cheap access. Do you want me to review the history of programs that MUST BE the solution to cheap access?

                    The reality is that to get millions of people in space, you have to have the right ecosystem. Yes, part of that is tech. But whose to say its hypersonics? Why not space elevators? Why does it have to be SSTOs? Why not a pure rocket vehicle, or a TSTO? I can go on, but the point is believing there is one magic tech that will open the heavens misses what is involved in settlement and development. It doesn’t happen because you have one single technology, but because you have a suite of technologies. And it doesn’t stop there – you have to have a value proposition that is permanently self-sustaining. You have to have operations that can with-stand a certain amount of turbulence. I can go on, but my point is simple – Cheap access, and the follow-on of space settlement, won’t happen because NASA (or the US government for that matter) invested in a specific technology, and vehicle design.

                    Cheap Access will happen because America decided to create the ecosystem that allow every individual to choose to go to space.

                    And that is a paradigm shift of the like you aren’t prepared to make. And that is unfortunate.

                    • Ferris,

                      Since 1990 I have made my living in the oil and gas business, where the chance for a strike is less than 1:10 but all the money must be on the table before I even find out if there’s anything below of commercial value. So I’ve been putting cash down on the barrel taking risks longer than you’ve been talking about taking risks.

                      I’m in a business that has seen enormous technological change since I started in it. Horizontal drilling has gone from the exception to the rule. I make financial bets on new technology far more often than you talk about making bets on new technology.

                    • Ferris,
                      Sorry, but Jim isn’t the only person to note the constant attacks of NewSpace against NASA. Our previous discussions should have made this clear. A good many within NASA find NewSpace’s attitude sickening. Your “side” has held its hand out for cash – at the same time you were attacking the very source of those funds. The problem you’re missing is all that bile has made NewSpace’s successes lessened, its allure is far less appealing when one has to deal with the bile-laced vitriol that has come out of your camp over the years. How many times have I personally questioned what NewSpace expects to gain from ‘Biting the hand that funds them?’ You’ve repeatedly, ignored or downplayed this – especially now that it’s coming back to bite you.
                      Having said that? I’ve noted less of this behavior from your camp of late – you’d be wise to continue in this vein,to stop burning bridges – & start building them.
                      Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      Jim – this isn’t about taking risks. And as I said, its not about just techincal changes, or technological investment.

                      Lets take the internet for a moment – its development required a certain level of technical development. HOWEVER, it wasn’t just about technological development. You had to have the financial markets believe that the industry was viable. You needed to have government address how it would regulate it. I could go on.

                      My point is – space development, and space settlement, is not purely a technological problem. And if NASA is going to pursue things like space development, and space settlement, it has to look at the broader strategic questions.

                    • Ferris Valyn

                      This comment violates AmericaSpace commenting rules and has been removed.

        • Read Vlad’s comment again, unless you were addressing his comment.

  • Jack Resmondo

    Actually Jim, the American space program is slightly better off than it was 7 years ago. It’s interesting that you chose 5 years, the amount of time President Obama’s time in office. Your political affiliations are showing.

    The VSE was largely an unfunded mandate. President Bush and Mike Griffin could present all the pretty renderings and proclamations of going to Mars that they want. But, Congress never adequately funded the effort. There was little to no money for Altair. Ares I and V were albatrosses with a voracious appetite for cash. The sad thing is that the projects weren’t introducing much new technology, so taxpayers were paying for the reinvention of the wheel. You’d think since they were emphasizing so much off-the-shelf technology that Ares I could have been built cheaply and quickly. But, no. The Ares I team had its chance and failed.

    7 years ago, there was tremendous resistance to the concept of private spacecraft and Commercial Crew. Cancellation of the Space Shuttle had already been ordered with a suitable replacement coming online in the near future. Now we have three viable candidates who have actually constructed craft, rather than talking about them, who could get America to LEO within a couple of years. We have a private company delivering cargo to ISS, and another that is testing their cargo craft. For the first time, America has a company about to commence suborbital space tourism within months. The VAB, LCC, and LC-39B are undergoing major renovations, improving some infrastructure that has been in place since the 1960s.

    Implying that it’s all doom and gloom for the American space program reminds me of the time in the late 1970s just before the Space Shuttle launched. Is it a bad time for the recipients of federal pork? Yes. But not for space in general.

    • I have to disagree. If you talk to those who deal with NASA on the Hill, Dem or GOP, folks at NASA who’ve survived the storm, and others who work on the space program as contractors, we are not better off today than we were in 2008. A great deal of talent has been lost. According to the NRC study, NASA leadership does not have the confidence of its workers. And where we had a goal (the Moon) today we have no idea where we are going. We had then in Mike Griffin a technically talented and decisive leader at NASA where today we have a crying Administrator.

      VSE, really Constellation, was very nearly fully-funded its first fiscal year. You are obviously correct that subsequent Congressional funding fell-short of White House requests. But that period of time overlapped the Iraq surge and other frankly higher profile issues, at least from the perspective of Congress and the WH. Since I wasn’t working on Constellation at the time, I cannot comment as to the technical issues facing Ares I. I would note that the so-called deal killer highlighted by Constellation critics like Cowing and others, acoustic oscillation, was tamped-down and eventually was a non-issue. I’m sure NASA would have squashed Ares I’s remaining issues and been able to fly…last year, this year?

      7 years ago, there was resistance to the idea of funding private companies to build products that the government would then have to pay for the use of but would never own, a very strange acquisition method to be sure. Another reason for the resistance was the same that exists today, doubt that LEO is a place where commercial entities increased efficiencies are sufficient enough to enable them to make a profit. The jury remains out on that. Recall that in 2006, SpaceX was running two years late with Falcon 1, TacSat-1, its first payload, had already been canceled because Orbital had already flown TacSat-2. So many in Congress and elsewhere didn’t want to put the crew LEO access eggs in a basket of companies having trouble being on time, even when funding guarantees were met.

      The VAB, LCC, and other renovations are despite behind-the-scenes opposition, not because of support from, Bolden and his team. Time an again, the requested budget for such renovations have been less than half of what the House and Senate later determined were needed. The appropriators have had to force these exploration construction and compliance budgets on Charlie and Lori. Never mind the ridiculous proposed cuts to SLS and Orion that NASA attempted from 2012 through 2014, all of which fortunately were reversed. Had those cuts taken place, critics of SLS and Orion would be howling about how incompetent NASA is in managing projects.

      I don’t mean to sound pessimistic about America’s space future. I think after Sept. 6, things will look up as Lightfoot assumes the DA role. He did great work as the MSFC Center Director in making sure SLS would run as well as it does now. SLS has a lot of time margin, is on budget, and just passed PDR. Orion has a couple of issues, the biggest being mass, but Guyer says that will come down. So the programs to continue our exploration of the Moon and beyond are coming along. And without the Deputy Administrator, it may now be possible to get a destination set.

      But a lot of damage has been done to the Space Agency and a great deal of bad blood exists. I hope all of that dissipates with the continued successes of Orion, SLS, and other programs.

    • Actually Jack, no its not. Covering this beat, I can tell you first hand that the infrastructure has been decimated, the workforce has been dismissed & dispersed. Sorry, the “belief” that the space industry is in better condition than it was 7 years ago – is just so much factually inaccurate NewSpace propaganda. Maybe your favorite companies are more visible – but that’s about it. Of all the NewSpace firms – only one is launching – & they best they can manage to date is a single mission in a year. Before you critique someone on their political affiliations – you might want to reign in your own. As your later comment highlights – your one of those people who has no problem calling someone out – for what you yourself are guilty of.

      Having said that, the points raised in your second paragraph are accurate.

      As to your 3rd paragraph – it sounds like you’re just repeating what you’ve seen in a NewSpace press release. All three of the “viable” candidates could fit in the shuttle’s payload bay, only one has flown & none have launched a single astronaut. You’re comparing apples to oranges. As for VG launching tourists into space within months? They’ve been saying that for years. You’re guilty of what so many other NewSpacers are guilty of and that is repeating what you’ve seen on a PowerPoint or press release & then acting as if it’s already historical fact – when it’s not.

      Jack you raise some valid points, but when you waggle your finger at folks for doing the same thing you’re doing, when you inject snarky comments, distort the truth & spread factually inaccurate talking points? Sorry, but when you act the way you have – no one wants to hear what you have to say & fewer still will believe you when you say it.
      Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Ferris Valyn

    BTW, when did Boeing become a new space company (as opposed to a NewSpace company)?

    • Huh? Good question.

      • Ferris Valyn

        Your article said
        “and source human space transportation to new commercial space companies”

        Boeing is one of those companies. ULA is one of those companies. How are they new?

        • Boeing isn’t New Space; it is the company that gives a sheen of legitimacy to CCP.

          When the downselect in CCP comes so that it can fit its $500M budget while we wallow in a CR funded at FY13 levels for who knows how long, which company do you think will remain? One that has built a few rockets or one that has decades of experience? SpaceX or Boeing? Actually, after Sept. 6, that may just possibly be an open question.

          Still, do you really not know the justification for why NASA welcomed Boeing into CCP? No, you know as well as do I that adding Boeing to CCP was a move by NASA to add gravitas to a program otherwise bereft of companies who had the experience to design, build, and launch rockets, just as was adding Blue Origin in order to keep ATK’s Liberty System from winning a CCP award. (Blue Origin’s entry, and who requested it, is a story we will someday write, but not now) You know that if Boeing exits commercial crew that the CCP program will die.

          Boeing isn’t New Space, Boeing is the only entity whose presence makes CCP seem less a hobby and more of a serious effort to to actually build an independent means of crewed access to LEO.

          • Ferris Valyn

            Did you read my comment? I didn’t claim it was a NewSpace company, although parts of it have been, and it could be (since NewSpace isn’t about age, but philosophy).

            As for a downselect – it’ll depend on if a downselect comes, and if so, how much of a downselect comes.

            As for involving Boeing in CCP – I have no problem with Boeing being involved in CCP. But they’ve been involved since day 1 (and frankly, from before, since they were a major competitor for the COTS program, and yes, CCP came directly out of COTS).

            My point is, CCP wasn’t about giving it to “new companies” – its about getting any companies to take ownership, and invest their own efforts into space.

          • Jack Resmondo

            Boeing gives “a sheen of legitimacy to CCP”? “…if Boeing exits commercial crew that the CCP program will die”? That’s funny. I’ve seen less progress from Boeing than the other two competitors. You have an interesting perspective- one of a person who is entrenched in the status quo of big, wasteful government projects that provide no real competition. The truth is, the good ole boys of the old, closed, institutional NASA paradigm don’t like perceived outsiders moving their cheese. They’ll fight for their territory until no cheese is left. These days, that is a distinct possibility.

            “The site has vigorously opposed the NASA Deputy Administrator’s vision for NASA in particular, and her human space flight program policies in general.” So much for unbiased reporting.

            • Mr. Resmondo,
              I found your snarky comment obnoxious & unfair. AmericaSpace has striven to tell both sides in as unbiased a manner as possible. Having said that, is MSNBC unbiased? Is FOX News unbiased? Why are you holding AmericaSpace to a standard even they aren’t held to? Many of those from the NewSpace camp (as your comments show you are) have repeatedly done this – but have not done so for those supporting their views. Your comments underscore this hypocrisy. Visiting AmericaSpace means you might see something you don’t like. Such as the fact NewSpace behaves the same way as OldSpace, that the costs they claim are proven inaccurate, that despite the fact they say they’ll launch 12 times a year – they barely launch a mission a year. All the while the ‘good ole boys’ are launching once a month.

              NewSpacers want all the “cheese” for themselves too – so really, how are they better than OldSpace? NewSpace brags about how great they are – but they haven’t launched a single person into orbit, they haven’t demonstrated long-term viability. However, they expect to be treated as if they have. Until they do so, until they’ve shown they aren’t the next wave of Kistlers, of Rotary Rocket Companies – until they prove themselves, paid their dues – we’ll be critical of their claims. SpaceX has started down this road, as I’ve stated in the past they’ve gained my respect the old fashioned way – they’ve earned it. What is it about NewSpacers that makes them think they’re entitled to cred they haven’t earned?

              Getting back to my first point, I work daily to make AmericaSpace as unbiased as possible. I find it telling you’ve remained silent until now. Whenever we post something positive about NewSpace you say nothing, however, as soon we state something critical? – you speak up. While you don’t represent a media outlet, this makes you biased also – but you call us on it. How very NewSpace of you.
              Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

            • Being unbiased does not mean hiding one’s head in the sand. It means reporting on the good, the bad, and doing so fairly. Read the article to which these comments are attached and tell me where the facts do not support what we wrote. Read our other articles and tell me where we were misleading in our reporting? We don’t include a quote or statement unless we have at a minimum of two sources. That means it can take us longer to post. But it also means that when people such as you claim we are “biased”, we can respond that while all are biased, we are fair and very accurate in our coverage.

              Had SpaceX completed COTS ahead of schedule and under budget, we would have reported that. Instead, we reported that, not two years after SpaceX promised to get a crew spacecraft launched within three years if given the “go”, that SpaceX was itself 2 years behind schedule and $118M over budget in just launching cargo. If the Falcon Heavy was in fact going to have a LEO capacity of 50 mt, we’d cover that. Instead, it will have 43 mt, a reduction of 8%. Why single-out SpaceX? Because the company executives will bend any ear to say how awesome it would be if they just ran the whole space program but never own up to their many and often short-comings. The engineers at SpaceX are top-notch; their management needs to stop over-promising and under-delivering.

              This site has stood up when others wouldn’t and called a spade a spade when it came to reporting on the sometimes ridiculous claims by the New Space crowd. Many of us worked during the “Faster, Better, Cheaper” regime of the 90’s, know how disastrous and unrealistic it was at that time, and don’t want to see the space agency and America’s capabilities to access space suffer through a repeat.

            • Jack, are you saying that Boeing is not meeting its CCiCap milestones? Because if it is meeting those milestones, then what’s your beef? That Boeing’s milestones should have been more aggressive? Why don’t you email NASA’s Mango and raise that issue with him–afaik, Boeing is on target and on schedule with CCiCap.

  • Vladislaw

    .Jim Hillhouse wrote:
    ” Unless an authorization bill extending ISS operations beyond October 1, 2020 is signed into law, there will be no destination for NASA’s CCP participants.”

    Bigelow Aerospace is still on track to launch an inflatable space station module in 2016. BOTH Boeing and SpaceX are listed as providers to service the station. BA is also quoting a price 26 million a seat for SpaceX 36 million a seat for boeing ..

    I bet NASA will be an anchor tenant of this new station.

    • Well, let’s go through this mental exercise. You are a member of Congress elected ostensibly to spend the taxpayer’s money wisely in the pursuit of U.S. goals, foreign or domestic. If ISS is to be deorbited in 2020, are you still going to spend the billions planned to get CCP over the end zone on the hope that Bigelow does in fact launch his station in 2016? I guess one thing that Congress could do is send staffers to Bigelow’s place and see if in fact he is building flight hardware that he intends to launch. That would be in construction now, so it’s easy to confirm.

      But I just don’t see the U.S. Congress hedging billions on the hope that a private space station makes it to orbit. For one, that’s a lot of private investor capital at stake. And as our own commercial crewed companies have shown, they can’t seem to raise the money themselves, which is why they need NASA. Elon stated in 2011 that the gov’t was the preferred way to get funding, that it wasn’t the best way forward.

      Maybe you’re right, maybe Bigelow will launch. I’m unsure.

  • Jack Resmondo

    Oh, Jason, Jason, Jason. You don’t know me- at all. I’ve been reading many (and enjoying most) articles on AmericaSpace written by you, Jim, Ben Evans, David Darling, and others. I am your audience and have encouraged others to check out your stories. Trying to pigeon-hole me as “NewSpace” or whatever tag you choose, is just like your reference to MSNBC and Fox News- political, divisive, and of the right-wing/left-wing, red-state/blue state mindset. One thing’s for sure, you’ll always drive some people away with that attitude.

    Maybe you’ve been saturated by so much political dogma, especially by those cable channels? Do you want to emulate their style of propaganda disguised as journalism? I don’t waste my time watching any so-called cable news. Who wants to be saturated by bias? I don’t, whether it is on television or the Internet. Nobody will be swayed by opinion, no matter how it dressed up as “fact”.

    I’ve seen you take your bully pulpit to others who don’t agree with your view, or who have a broader outlook. You used those tactics last Fall around election time. Now, it’s my turn to receive your wrath because I favor a balanced approach and think that disparaging Lori Garver was unprofessional. It’s very sad that you and I are on the same team in general, and want America to achieve excellence in space exploration, but you perceive me or anyone who approaches the tasks from a different angles as the enemy. We’re not, but I’ll never convince you of that.

    As for Boeing, Jim, it’s just protecting the good ole boys club. Status quo. Ultimately, it’s not a healthy way to do business, nor is it good for the taxpayers.

    • Oh, Jack, Jack, Jack – if I drive away folks who complain about what they themselves are guilty of – I’m fine with that. Obviously by your snarky attitude – you don’t know me at all either.

      I think both sides of politics, space, etc – are destructive & counter productive. However, it’s my experience NewSpacers waggle their fingers at people for doing the same thing they’re doing. They deride NASA all the while extending their hands for cash from the very agency they attack. They brag about vehicles that haven’t flown. In so doing? They’re essentially saying they (with no experience launching crew) will do better than the agency with 50 years & more than 150 manned missions under its belt. The only thing I try to do – is highlight the hypocrisy, arrogance & bile coming from NewSpace. What you’re saying in your second paragraph is that bias that benefits those you support is okay, however anyone else’s bias is unacceptable.

      I’ve seen those from the opposite side take their “bully pulpit” to me – but strangely your mouth was shut when that happened. Why is that Jack? You’re fine with others attacking me – but when I do it – I’m the bad guy? It appears those who agree with you have a “broader outlook” – while those who don’t are limited. You have a nasty double-standard. I want to be enthusiastic about NewSpace, but their portfolio is empty, their attitudes stink & they expect to be treated better than they deserve. You & I aren’t on the same team. Whereas I support SpaceX, SNC, Bigelow, Orbital, Boeing, Lock-Mart & anyone else who is willing to risk it all by launching – you’ve clearly shown your bias against several of these companies with your “good ole boys club” comments. While I support a “broader” array of companies, it appears the one with the “narrow” outlook – is you.

      As to the Garver article? If you actually knew all the facts you probably wouldn’t sound so bad. When Jim posted the article I tried to add language that it was: commentary, an Op-Ed. Jim, as the website’s owner, overruled me & removed my edits. I warned him, asking him to call the article an editorial – he declined. So, here’s the thing – you don’t have all the facts – but you chose to open your mouth anyway. All the while pushing your anti “OldSpace” agenda. You seem to have an inflated entitlement complex which you feel allows you to say whatever you want – something you deny others. When you come to AmericaSpace & find this behavior isn’t only not tolerated, & is returned in kind – you can’t handle it.

      You think you can call yourself unbiased, that you have “integrity” & thus the high moral ground, all the while resorting to arrogant, snarky comments, attacks on those whose views you don’t approve of & so on. You need to come down off your high horse. NewSpacers don’t have anymore answers than OldSpacers, if they did, they’d be launching far more than they are, they’d have commercial customers lined up out the door, thus they wouldn’t need to be propped up by NASA – but rather than address this, you come here & try to talk down to one of the few sites that tries to offer up all sides, who points to the gaping holes in the NewSpace propaganda & who is unwilling to allow commentors say whatever they wish.

      In your defense, most people don’t recognize their own bias & when they see others, whose views they don’t agree with, come under attack – they think it’s okay. It’s not. I try to make AmericaSpace as unbiased as possible, but we’re a small company, one whom you’ve opted to hold to a higher standard than far larger outlets. It’s also natural for people to place those they disagree with under far greater scrutiny – than with those they agree with.

      In summary, you’ve openly displayed you’re bias toward NewSpace – but don’t want to admit it. You’ve come at me personally about Jim’s Garver article – without knowing all the facts. Despite this, I’m sure you’re response (if any) is to just insult me again & push your agenda. I’d like to say I’m disappointed, but sadly, I’m not even surprised. My advice? Stop expecting better treatment than what you’re giving. If you want to have an adult conversation, a debate about facts – we welcome it. If you want to come here & talk down to people – I’d suggest you stick with the sites that tolerate that sort of thing.
      Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Jack,

      I don’t normally reveal internal discussions that occur within AmericaSpace. As you’ve raised a question to Jason’s professionalism and veracity, I feel however that the record should be clear to everyone.

      Jason, after reading my draft, requested that it be labeled as an opinion piece. As I had worked with multiple sources on any points raised about Ms. Garver, my feeling was that such a label was in fact misleading.

      I know the points raised in my article are unpleasant for some, including yourself. But it is far from unprofessional; there is not a single misleading or factually inaccurate point raised in my piece. Indeed, if you go through the article, and go to the links, I think you’ll realize that I have my facts backed-up. As I stated to you, any point made in the article was backed-up by multiple sources. And honestly, I had enough sources to write a much more scathing piece. History is about facts. And the multiple sources correlated the facts raised in the article.

      Jason and I have striven to be fair to all sides of the New Space and Old Space crowds. As I noted to you, in hindsight I should have raised the social media outreach that Ms. Garver championed as one of her more positive accomplishments at NASA. And Jason did feel that my article should have been rated as “opinion”. But as the owner of the site, I over-ruled him. And I still feel that, given the multiple sources supporting all issues raised that the piece, it is factually accurate and fair, though obviously tough.

      Thank you for your interest in our coverage of Ms. Garver and her legacy at NASA. As I feel this response covers all of the points you raised, save those of Boeing and its CCP participation, let’s agree to disagree and close this thread now.

      Thank you again.

      Jim