NASA budget; Space policy discussion; Back in the groove or a rut

Amy Klamper has an updated version of her article on the impact that the elections may have on NASA: Election Result Could Increase Pressure on NASA Budget – === Bob Zimmerman talked about the elections and space policy on the Space Show on Friday: Robert Zimmerman -Thespaceshow’s Blog – Nov.5.10 === Paul Spudis hopes the new Congress will re-make NASA policy to once again set the Moon as the top priority: Can NASA Get Its Groove Back? – The Once and Future Moon.

He asks,

> What happened to NASA and America’s dream to boldly go?

It was dashed by the enormous costs of spaceflight. Until those costs are drastically lowered, there is no chance of inspiring any broad and lasting enthusiasm for spaceflight.

> [these new committee chairs] seem to be cautious about handing the reins of LEO access to commercial start-ups

You mean startups like Boeing? This NASA budget debate reminds me of those TV ads with the duck except instead of repeatedly yelling “Aflac” to unhearing people asking about insurance providers, advocates of the Administration’s NASA plan have been yelling “ULA” to those who refuse to hear anything but “SpaceX” when it comes to commercial crew providers.

Some in the Senate finally heard the word when Boeing gave a presentation in June about their CST-100 capsule, which would launch on a ULA Atlas V, and their collaboration with Bigelow. That helped considerably in getting the compromise NASA Authorization bill passed.

Those new committee chairs may want guarantees

> that NASA retains the infrastructure necessary to assure our national interests in space.

However, maybe they will learn that the Defense Department has been quite satisfied with ULA providing the infrastructure to assure our national security interests in space. Maybe they will also learn that there are no profound differences between delivering a NASA crew to the ISS and a commercial crew to a Bigelow station.

I definitely agree that a “majority of the panel of engineers and scientists” presenting at last week’s SSI meeting

> held the view that lunar mining was the logical next move and that government needed to “prime the pump” and demonstrate that this was possible before private enterprise would follow.

However, I’m sure that a majority also believe that lowering the cost of getting to LEO is an essential first step in making lunar mining a practical enterprise.

Unfortunately, the new Congress could easily remake NASA policy and budget such that not only are commercial crew and lower launch costs forfeited but there will be no way to create a Moon base before 2030. There will just be a busy work heavy lifter project to maintain NASA center staffs in some key states.


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