Author Topic: In a change of attitude, NASA appears to embrace private rockets  (Read 14871 times)

Offline Star One

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I really can't imagine this Truce lasting long not with people like Newt Gingrich hectoring for new space from the sidelines. Especially if someone like him gets the big job at NASA replacing Bolden.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/nasa-spaceflight-chief-says-he-loves-all-of-the-rockets/

Online AncientU

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It is called a 'tactical retreat'

Echoing a frequent refrain on this forum:
Quote
Perhaps now that Bolden has left the agency, Gerstenmaier feels more able to speak out. During his comments this week, he noted that due to its high cost, the SLS rocket will only be able to fly once a year. "That doesn't make for a very compelling human-spaceflight program," he said.

also
Quote
  "We're going to be using some of these other rockets to augment what we're doing with SLS. So SLS is used for that unique case where we have to launch one very large mass that can't be broken up into separate pieces"
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 03:14 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Jim

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It is called a 'tactical retreat'


Nothing of the sort. 

Offline Star One

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It is called a 'tactical retreat'


Nothing of the sort.

Tactical realignment then?

Offline Proponent

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I think the truce will last some time.  Though it's now $20 billion into Orion/SLS, Congress is still vague on what to do with it.  I think that's no accident: it's perfectly obvious that doing much with SLS requires much more money than NASA's going to get (and deep down, Congress knows that -- the 2014 NRC report which Congress itself commissioned said so).  But, sooner or later, Congress has to start talking about using Orion/SLS if it's going to keep the money flowing.  By allowing consideration of much cheaper commercial systems, Congress can fudge the cost of using SLS for a few years longer.

Offline Blackstar

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It is called a 'tactical retreat'

Nothing of the sort. 

Yeah, I think this is all being over-interpreted.

Part of the problem is that the reporter is comparing what Gerst is saying now to something that Bolden said a little while ago. The problem with that is that Bolden often said things that were not exactly the policy, or even what he meant to say. So people took him literally when they really should have run his statements through an interpreter. Thus, I think there is less of an actual change now than the reporter thinks.

NASA already uses "private" rockets--if you accept that "private" means something developed by a company, possibly with a lot of NASA money. So it's hard to see a fundamental shift here or even much of a change in policy. If somebody builds their big rocket and proves that it works, NASA may take a look at it. There are a whole bunch of conditional "ifs" involved.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 05:42 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Star One

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It is called a 'tactical retreat'

Nothing of the sort. 

Yeah, I think this is all being over-interpreted.

Part of the problem is that the reporter is comparing what Gerst is saying now to something that Bolden said a little while ago. The problem with that is that Bolden often said things that were not exactly the policy, or even what he meant to say. So people took him literally when they really should have run his statements through an interpreter. Thus, I think there is less of an actual change now than the reporter thinks.

NASA already uses "private" rockets--if you accept that "private" means something developed by a company, possibly with a lot of NASA money. So it's hard to see a fundamental shift here or even much of a change in policy. If somebody builds their big rocket and proves that it works, NASA may take a look at it. There are a whole bunch of conditional "ifs" involved.

Well how are people supposed to know beforehand that they were meant to run everything he said through some kind of 'interpreter' first before getting to what he actually meant?

Offline Jim

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This is by any measure an abrupt about face by NASA brass.

Not really.  You are only provide selective quotes that seem to support your POV. 
NASA is more than just SLS.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 06:44 PM by Jim »

Online AncientU

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This is by any measure an abrupt about face by NASA brass.

Not really.  You are only provide selective quotes that seem to support your POV. 
NASA is more than just SLS.

The parts of NASA that are OT are human space flight, Gerst, SLS.  The quote I provided was part of the OP... Eric Berger selected it because of the contrast with Grest's statement.  Eric, like most good writers, select quotes that make their point.

What is your point, other than instinctive negativity?
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Online guckyfan

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Quote
Gerst

For us Germans it is somewhat weird to see the name shortened like this.

We do have an Astronaut with the name Alexander Gerst who was at the ISS:

Edit: I do know you are talking about William Gerstenmeyer, I have seen it before. It is not a problem to me, just feels weird.  ;)
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 08:51 PM by guckyfan »

Online AncientU

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Quote
Gerst

For us Germans it is somewhat weird to see the name shortened like this.

We do have an Astronaut with the name Alexander Gerst who was at the ISS:

Sorry.  Shortened William Gerstenmaier's, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, name as is common practice here.  Had to look it up first time I saw 'Gerst'.
Too much in a rush...
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Jim

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The parts of NASA that are OT are human space flight, Gerst, SLS.

NASA Launch Services Program is under Gerstenmaier.  They would be are the ones buying the rides on the rockets in the chart except SLS.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 02:04 PM by Jim »

Offline Blackstar

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Well how are people supposed to know beforehand that they were meant to run everything he said through some kind of 'interpreter' first before getting to what he actually meant?

Not "beforehand," but after observing Bolden do that many times.

I never worked with Bolden. I encountered him numerous times in a professional capacity, but never had to work with him. I know that people who interacted with him regularly found him to be a personable guy. I think that in retrospect, NASA had no major problems during his tenure as administrator. It ran smooth and steady, and that's an accomplishment that he should get credit for. As for Bolden's downsides, I would list several:

-no clear sense of vision or where the agency was heading (and I don't include the humans to Mars talk, because it was all talk and little action)
-he didn't care about anything other than human spaceflight
-his lack of ability to talk about anything other than human spaceflight
-his awkwardness as a public speaker
-his lack of diplomacy or political savvy

Many times those things combined in unfortunate ways. Go back and look at his "Muslim outreach" comments. What he was trying to say in an interview was that he was in the Middle East to talk to students in Muslim countries about science and education. Instead, he mucked it up, and the result was that for years conservatives with an axe to grind kept referring to NASA as the "Muslim outreach agency." It was a dumb blunder that he should not have made.

And there were numerous other examples of those things combining in inappropriate ways. For instance, in summer 2015 when New Horizons flew past Pluto the NASA administrator should have hit a home run with that. All he had to do was put a little bit of thought into it and he could have talked about how historic it was that NASA was revealing the mysteries of one of the furthest objects in our solar system. He could have said that it demonstrated just how important NASA was to the United States and the world and the future--the agency was rewriting the text books and changing humanity's understanding of the universe. He could have been poetic and uplifting. And it would not have taken much effort at all, because it was all right there waiting for him to assemble the words. Instead, Bolden stood in front of a group of scientists and read from notecards about how New Horizons was another successful step on NASA's Journey to Mars. That kind of stuff deflates everybody in the room, because they know that the administrator has no understanding of what is happening and really doesn't care what they actually accomplished. At that moment, when he should have praised them, he turned it into a lame effort to push a tired public relations agenda for the Potemkin human spaceflight program. (Note: if you draw a line from Earth to Mars, you will not pass Pluto.)

Add in the last point: Bolden had a tendency to say things that were more declarative than they should have been when a more politically savvy person might have left in some ambiguity. He sort of boxed himself into a corner at various times. (An example was when he stated that NASA would no longer build flagship class missions: right after that they approved Mars 2020, WFIRST and the Europa mission.) And if you watched him do that again and again, eventually you developed a filter for it.

There's an old joke about military staffers: "What the generally meant to say was..." You just hope that the guy in charge is sharp enough to not blunder himself into stating things that his staff has to clarify later.

Offline Star One

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Well how are people supposed to know beforehand that they were meant to run everything he said through some kind of 'interpreter' first before getting to what he actually meant?

Not "beforehand," but after observing Bolden do that many times.

I never worked with Bolden. I encountered him numerous times in a professional capacity, but never had to work with him. I know that people who interacted with him regularly found him to be a personable guy. I think that in retrospect, NASA had no major problems during his tenure as administrator. It ran smooth and steady, and that's an accomplishment that he should get credit for. As for Bolden's downsides, I would list several:

-no clear sense of vision or where the agency was heading (and I don't include the humans to Mars talk, because it was all talk and little action)
-he didn't care about anything other than human spaceflight
-his lack of ability to talk about anything other than human spaceflight
-his awkwardness as a public speaker
-his lack of diplomacy or political savvy

Many times those things combined in unfortunate ways. Go back and look at his "Muslim outreach" comments. What he was trying to say in an interview was that he was in the Middle East to talk to students in Muslim countries about science and education. Instead, he mucked it up, and the result was that for years conservatives with an axe to grind kept referring to NASA as the "Muslim outreach agency." It was a dumb blunder that he should not have made.

And there were numerous other examples of those things combining in inappropriate ways. For instance, in summer 2015 when New Horizons flew past Pluto the NASA administrator should have hit a home run with that. All he had to do was put a little bit of thought into it and he could have talked about how historic it was that NASA was revealing the mysteries of one of the furthest objects in our solar system. He could have said that it demonstrated just how important NASA was to the United States and the world and the future--the agency was rewriting the text books and changing humanity's understanding of the universe. He could have been poetic and uplifting. And it would not have taken much effort at all, because it was all right there waiting for him to assemble the words. Instead, Bolden stood in front of a group of scientists and read from notecards about how New Horizons was another successful step on NASA's Journey to Mars. That kind of stuff deflates everybody in the room, because they know that the administrator has no understanding of what is happening and really doesn't care what they actually accomplished. At that moment, when he should have praised them, he turned it into a lame effort to push a tired public relations agenda for the Potemkin human spaceflight program. (Note: if you draw a line from Earth to Mars, you will not pass Pluto.)

Add in the last point: Bolden had a tendency to say things that were more declarative than they should have been when a more politically savvy person might have left in some ambiguity. He sort of boxed himself into a corner at various times. (An example was when he stated that NASA would no longer build flagship class missions: right after that they approved Mars 2020, WFIRST and the Europa mission.) And if you watched him do that again and again, eventually you developed a filter for it.

There's an old joke about military staffers: "What the generally meant to say was..." You just hope that the guy in charge is sharp enough to not blunder himself into stating things that his staff has to clarify later.

Fascinating stuff and it paints another side to him.

Offline tdperk

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This is by any measure an abrupt about face by NASA brass.

Not really.  You are only provide selective quotes that seem to support your POV. 
NASA is more than just SLS.

If you look at it from the standpoint of budget, you might have a different view.

If you look at it from the standpoint of miss-spent budget, still more so.

Offline Danderman

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Budgets are policy.

Offline D_Dom

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Not sure about the value of this thread, if NASA weren't funding private rockets throughout history, how many would exist? Keep the conversation focused and be excellent.
Space is not merely a matter of life or death, it is considerably more important than that!

Offline Blackstar

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Not sure about the value of this thread, if NASA weren't funding private rockets throughout history, how many would exist? Keep the conversation focused and be excellent.

If the thread has value it is this:

-the article implies that there is a change in policy/strategy
-as several of us have pointed out, that is probably not really true, in part because people misunderstood the earlier policy/strategy

So the value is that it clarifies things.

A bit.

Maybe.

Sorta.

Well, probably not...
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 04:57 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Eric Hedman

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-no clear sense of vision or where the agency was heading (and I don't include the humans to Mars talk, because it was all talk and little action)

I always wondered how much of that was due to no support for a clear vision from the White House.

Many times those things combined in unfortunate ways. Go back and look at his "Muslim outreach" comments. What he was trying to say in an interview was that he was in the Middle East to talk to students in Muslim countries about science and education. Instead, he mucked it up, and the result was that for years conservatives with an axe to grind kept referring to NASA as the "Muslim outreach agency." It was a dumb blunder that he should not have made.

The only time I met Gen. Bolden was shortly after the "Muslim outreach" comments.  Up close he comes across as very personable and likeable.  I always wondered how he was prepped for his trip to the middle east.  I suspect the State Department gave him some talking points that they thought would go over well where he was.  Comments by people in his position don't say isolated to the intended audience.  Better thought needs to go into what gets said practically anywhere because of who will eventually hear them.

The big question comes with the next administrator and the support or lack of support this person will get from Trump to set a direction and to lobby for it to get done.  I personally suspect that NASA will be embracing more and more cooperation with SpaceX and Blue Origin.  And that will probably be coming from the White House.  There is a reason Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos talk with Trump.  It will work better with what are the coming budget realities.  Where that leaves SLS and Orion in the long haul is still anyone's guess.

Offline Star One

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Not sure about the value of this thread, if NASA weren't funding private rockets throughout history, how many would exist? Keep the conversation focused and be excellent.

If the thread has value it is this:

-the article implies that there is a change in policy/strategy
-as several of us have pointed out, that is probably not really true, in part because people misunderstood the earlier policy/strategy

So the value is that it clarifies things.

A bit.

Maybe.

Sorta.

Well, probably not...

Especially as a lot of people online seem to believe the line put forward by the article.

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