Obama trashed NASA beginning with killing any actual way for astronauts to get to orbit by shutting down the Space Shuttle and then trashing a replacement vehicle. This is kind of a problem because without a space vehicle, NASA is not a space agency. It’s a bunch of rooms full of people with computers.
That left NASA astronauts in the unenviable position of hitching rides with the Russians, alongside millionaire space tourists.
But Obama gave Charles Bolden, his idiot appointee, a prime directive that NASA would now focus primarily on making Muslims feel good about themselves. That worked out about as well as you would expect.
Then Obama gave a speech declaring that the United States would land on an asteroid by 2025. Why an asteroid? No one at NASA seems to know.
The National Research Council released on Wednesday its report on NASA’s strategic direction, as requested by Congress.
“The 2011 NASA strategic plan and associated documents do not, in our view, constitute a strategy,” study chairman Albert Carnesale, a professor and former chancellor of UCLA, said in a telecon with reporters on Wednesday. The documents list NASA’s goals and programs, he said, “but there are no sense of priorities and no guidance for resource allocation, both of which would be essential to anything that would be called a strategy.”
One of the report’s biggest findings was that one of NASA’s biggest goals, sending a human mission to an asteroid by 2025, does not have widespread acceptance, even within NASA itself.
“If you ask people in the bowels of NASA, in the field offices—and we spoke with everybody from the directors of each of the field offices to college interns and everybody in between—this is not generally accepted,” Carnesale said of the asteroid mission goal. “It hasn’t been explained to them why this is the goal.”
That lack of acceptance is for several reasons, he said. Some see a lack of a budget line item for such a mission, while others note no specific asteroid has been selected, and some others question wonder an asteroid is the most logical next step towards the long-term goal of a human mission to Mars.
The obvious reason is that Obama needed to announce something and an asteroid by 2025 sounded good. It was either that or hop on a pogo stick to the corner market. And NASA is in better shape to do that than anything else, because as the report noted, the agency is in complete disarray without much of a mission except faking Global Warming reports and making Muslims feel good about themselves.
At a joint meeting of the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board in Washington on Thursday, the head of that study, Al Carnesale of UCLA, reiterated those concerns. “Since it was announced, there was less enthusiasm for it among the community broadly,” he said of the asteroid mission goal. “The more we learn about it, the more we hear about it, people seem less enthusiastic about it.”
Obama’s NASA chief in charge of Muslim self-esteem Charles Bolden declared that we have to go to Obama’s asteroid and if we go to the moon instead of the asteroid, then we’ll never go to the moon.
Charles Bolden, who showed no sign of accepting Carnesale’s advice. He noted that a number of nations have expressed interest, to varying degrees, in human lunar exploration. “They all have dreams of putting human on the Moon,” he said. “I have told every head of agency of every partner agency that if you assume the lead in a human lunar mission, NASA will be a part of that. NASA wants to be a participant.”
Sure. NASA will tag along. But no exceptionalism to see here. If the Saudis ever figure out how to launch a rocket powered by Muslim suicide bomber science, then NASA will have a technical specialist along to guide them during the Allah Akbar phase of violent reentry.
Otherwise, forget about it. You can’t make Muslims feel good about themselves by going to the sacred moon, which Mohammed probably visited on a flying horse during one of his hashish hallucinations.
However, he made it clear NASA has no plans to lead its own human return to the Moon under his watch. “NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission,” he said. “NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things.” Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars. “We intend to do that, and we think it can be done.”
“I don’t know how to say it any more plainly,” he concluded. “NASA does not have a human lunar mission in its portfolio and we are not planning for one.” He warned that if the next administration tries to change course again back to the Moon, “it means we are probably, in our lifetime, in the lifetime of everybody sitting in this room, we are probably never again going to see Americans on the Moon, on Mars, near an asteroid, or anywhere. We cannot continue to change the course of human exploration.”
That probably sounds like utter gibberish because it is. Bolden is 66. The supposed asteroid mission is another 13 years away. But the original timeline was for a lunar mission and possibly even a Mars mission. If we can’t actually get to the moon, our odds of getting to Mars are rather poor.
The moon is a mere 238,900 miles away. At its closest we’ll be 43 million miles away from Mars. The moon has fairly low gravity. Mars has higher gravity. Mars has an atmosphere, etc. Getting to Mars is far more difficult and considering the time that has lapsed, a moon landing would be a good test for NASA capabilities. If we had an orbital presence and a spacecraft constructed in orbit, instead of the old way, it might not be that difficult.
Bolden warns that we can’t continue to change the course of human exploration, but his boss is the one who changed it. The Bush Administration had a comprehensive NASA strategy that was working.
Bush’s VSE had a plan for replacing the Space Shuttle and using the moon as a testbed for a journey to Mars. Here was the vision for exploration from the man that the media liked to pretend was a gibbering idiot.
Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010. To meet this goal, we will return the Space Shuttle to flight as soon as possible.
In 2010, the Space Shuttle — after nearly 30 years of duty — will be retired from service. Our second goal is to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014.
The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station after the shuttle is retired. But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module.
Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods.
Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth’s gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement.
With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.
Crazy, right? It’s a comprehensive strategy for exploring the solar system that depended on staggered steps, rather than massive leaps. It was sustainable and sensible and it fell apart in 2008 when an actual gibbering idiot took over the country and decided to dedicate NASA to Muslim self-esteem and landing on an asteroid in 2025 while hitching rides on Russian Soyuz tubs.
Obama began by thanking Sheila Jackson-Lee, a woman who confused Mars and the moon. And then the real idiocy began.
The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am. But we’ve got to do it in a smart way, and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things that we’ve been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go.
Some have said, for instance, that this plan gives up our leadership in space by failing to produce plans within NASA to reach low Earth orbit, instead of relying on companies and other countries. But we will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan, in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs, which are both essential for the long-term sustainability of space flight.
Left unmentioned was that some of Obama’s backers would be cashing in on the plan.
Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. So we’ll start — we’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.
Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do.
The point of the Bush plan had not been simple exploration but a progressive program. The one thing that had been missing from American space policy.
The Obama plan was incoherent. It depended on trashing NASA while expecting private companies and NASA to try and make a space program work… somehow.
Elon Musk, the guy behind Tesla, was the prime beneficiary of Obama’s sudden burst of faith in the free market. Neil Armstrong strongly criticized it. But Neil Armstrong wasn’t a big Dem donor. Elon Musk was.
“When President Obama recently released his budget for NASA, he proposed a slight increase in total funding, substantial research and technology development, an extension of the International Space Station operation until 2020, long range planning for a new but undefined heavy lift rocket and significant funding for the development of commercial access to low earth orbit.
“Although some of these proposals have merit, the accompanying decision to cancel the Constellation program, its Ares 1 and Ares V rockets, and the Orion spacecraft, is devastating.
“America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.
“It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.
For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.
Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.
Commander, Apollo 11
…and now here we are.