Author Topic: Miles O'Brien interview with Rep. John Culberson about NASA  (Read 975 times)

Offline Eric Hedman

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Interesting line from this interview:

ROBERT WALKER, Trump Space Adviser: Newt has had several conversations with Trump and with Vice President Pence. And both of them are space cadets. And there are other fairly high-ranking people in the White House who are also space cadets.


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/stars-hold-trump-administration-heres-nasas-mission-change/

Offline Coastal Ron

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Interesting line from this interview:

ROBERT WALKER, Trump Space Adviser: Newt has had several conversations with Trump and with Vice President Pence. And both of them are space cadets. And there are other fairly high-ranking people in the White House who are also space cadets.


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/stars-hold-trump-administration-heres-nasas-mission-change/

You have to keep in mind that what politicians say is relative to who is President.  For instance from the interview:

"REP. JOHN CULBERSON: NASA has been underfunded for far too long. They have been short-sticked by previous administrations, this past administration. And I’m very excited and pleased to see President Trump recommend enough funding for NASA as a whole."

Trump is actually calling for a small decrease in NASA funding, whereas Obama in the past had requested increases from the Republican Congress.  And it has been the Republican Congress who has determined NASA's funding levels in the past, so Rep. Culberson is being disingenuous to imply that Trump is changing anything - especially since Presidential budget requests are routinely ignored by Congress.

And as a reminder of Trump's budget priorities:

"MILES O’BRIEN: The Trump administration is proposing only a 1 percent reduction in NASA’s $19 billion annual budget. Hardest-hit programs are science and education."

Both science and education are foundational requirements for any modern society, and the children of today become our future workers and leaders tomorrow.  Because how we prepare them today affects how they will be able to deal with tomorrow, cuts to science and education is the equivalent of "eating your seed corn".

As for "space cadets":

"ROBERT WALKER, Trump Space Adviser: Newt has had several conversations with Trump and with Vice President Pence. And both of them are space cadets. And there are other fairly high-ranking people in the White House who are also space cadets."

To me a "space cadet" is someone who is not just a fan, but a knowledgeable one to some degree.  And we know that Trump is not any more knowledgeable about "space" than the average citizen.  And maybe less.

Pence hasn't really had a lot of experience with space related issues in government, so I think "space cadet" would be a generous read for both.  But hey, politicians are always overselling themselves to constituents, so this is nothing unusual.  Just I wouldn't expect anything above average at this point based on their backgrounds, and average to me is just maintaining the status quo with regards to NASA.

This part was really illustrative:

"MILES O’BRIEN: For Congressman Culberson, that is well and good, but he believes the most important green-lit mission is aimed at this object, the icy moon of Jupiter, Europa.

The Europa Clipper was approved by the Obama administration and Congress in 2015, more than 10 years after Culberson began obsessively pushing NASA to go there. Europa has always fascinated him. Beneath the ice is a salty ocean. How much? He answers the question with a poster on foam core he keeps in his office.
"

Regardless the merits and priorities of the Europa mission, Culberson is definitely the sponsor for this funding in the House.  For every new program you need to have people in both the House and Senate that will stand up and fight for funding, because there are a lot of priorities that politicians can identify.

So the key thing to keep watching for is who the sponsors will be in the House and Senate for the new programs that require the SLS and Orion.  None have been funded yet, though many have been proposed, yet Culberson is the only one to get his program attached to the SLS (the ARM failed).
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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