Author Topic: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency  (Read 16256 times)

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Ok, so this thread is being started to move a discussion out of the "Next Administrator" thread, and its based on various comments I see everywhere - is NASA a science agency.  I am going to stipulate a few things up front

1)  NASA does do science.  A lot of science.  And it has science in it's objectives.  And, it should continue to do science, and a lot of it. 

2)  I am in the camp who is very concerned about climate change, and thinks we are headed to some serious pain if we don't change our activities.  Please understand, I don't t want this thread to be about the climate change issue.  But I suspect this will come up during the discussions, and so I do want to put that on the record. 

3)  If you allow for a maximum extrapolation, everything becomes some form of science - this includes business, art, raising a family, etc.  However, most people don't say "applied human biology", but rather, medical.  They don't say "real-time applied economics" but business.  So, I respect this fact.

So, this brings us to the point - why I say NASA's not a science organization.  There are a lot of activities that NASA has done, and is doing, and should do, that aren't about enabling or doing science.  For example - the COTS program and the Commercial Crew program - they enable science, but that is not to say they are about science.  And yes, they utilize science in their program, but again - they aren't about science, in the way that something like the Curiosity Rover is. 

You could also say the same thing about Apollo - everyone acknowledges that, while we did get a lot of science from the Apollo moon landings, their primary purpose was about geo-politics.  It was about showing that we were equal or better than the Russians.  The National Academy Study that our friend Mary Lynne Dittmar was a part of stated that there were many reasons for sending people to space.

I'll even point out that, in the US code that establishes NASA, it explicitly states non-scientific activities for NASA.  From Title 51, US code 20102 (basically the NASA act)

"(c)Commercial Use of Space.—
Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that [NASA] seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space."

The point of this is to demonstrate that there are a lot of activities that NASA engages in that aren't about science.  This isn't to say that science isn't important, or NASA should do it.  However, I do think that we need to recognize that there are many reasons for doing activities in space, and a large number of them are not about doing science, and NASA is a part of these non-science activities, and (most importantly) the non-scientific activities deserve to be seen as equal when considering and making national policy and NASA activities. 

This is not just an intellectual exercise, because there are real world implications of this.  For a real world example, I turn to the issue of  Harmful contamination of celestial bodies and planetary protection. 

Article IX of the Outer Space Treaty states "States Parties to the Treaty shall ... conduct exploration of [the Moon and other celestial bodies] so as to avoid their harmful contamination ..." and Article VI basically states non-state actors (ie companies, NGOs and individuals) are to be regulated by the launch states, and the launching states will be held liable if something goes wrong. 

The problem is that there is no formal definition for what constitutes harmful contamination.  There has been the development of planetary protection policies, under COSPAR.  But, those policies have historically focused on protecting the availability to do life science, above all else.  Now, I don't disagree with the importance of finding out if there is life off planet.  However, I don't agree that there should be a hierarchy when it comes to doing space activities, and at the top is life science, and I don't believe we've actually had that debate.  In fact, the Outer Space Treaty makes it clear that all uses of space are equal (short of making war in space).  In short, we are going to have to have a long discussion about what is important in attempting to prevent harmful contamination, and I don't believe it can be focused on just protecting the ability to do life science investigations on Mars, Europa, and Enceladus. 

My point in all of this is to borrow a line from a discussion a long time ago - Space is a place, not a program.  Our purpose of doing activity in space, cannot be focused purely on learning about space for science sake, but that it must play a role in actively helping people.  Space is not the domain of only scientists and engineers, but everyone should be involved in space and reaching for space, and because of that NASA has a role to play in space development and space settlement. 

Thus - NASA is a space agency, not a science agency. 

(and yes, I still don't have a way to address the issue of NASA aeronautics)
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 01:04 PM by Political Hack Wannabe »
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #1 on: 11/03/2017 01:40 PM »
Is is good of you to start this thread to not derail the "Who should be the next NASA Administrator"...
Allow me to restate: Pure science (understanding fundamentals) Applied Science eg. engineering (using knowledge gained from understanding the fundamentals to solve problems)... This my opening line for the junior courses I have taught over my career...

Edit:typo
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 02:08 PM by Rocket Science »
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #2 on: 11/03/2017 01:48 PM »
So, this brings us to the point - why I say NASA's not a science organization.  There are a lot of activities that NASA has done, and is doing, and should do, that aren't about enabling or doing science.  For example - the COTS program and the Commercial Crew program - they enable science, but that is not to say they are about science.  And yes, they utilize science in their program, but again - they aren't about science, in the way that something like the Curiosity Rover is. 
The exact same can be said about NASA in relation to space. One of its primary missions is to study aeronautics and the atmosphere, not even with the goal of enabling spaceflight.

The rest of your post is irrelevant or just a repetition of this point.

Thus - NASA is a space agency, not a science agency. 

(and yes, I still don't have a way to address the issue of NASA aeronautics)
You must have not read my post in the thread this split from, since I gave you the simple solution.
I can help you with that last point. Since science is a major portion of NASA's mission, if you want to people to stop saying "NASA is a science agency" you also just have to be opposed to all statements of the form "NASA is a _____ agency". For anything that you can fill in the blank with, whether aeronautics, space, science, etc. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.

Or you could accept the fact that such short statements are not meant to be a complete description of all agency functions.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #3 on: 11/03/2017 02:13 PM »
Is is good of you to start this thread to not derail the "Who should be the next NASA Administrator"...
Allow me to restate. Pure science (understanding fundamentals) Applied Science eg. engineering (using knowledge gained from understanding the fundamentals to solve problems)... This my opening line for the junior courses I have taught over my career...

The issue is that "being an enabler of development and settlement" for most of the general public is NOT a science mission.  I get your point that everything can be viewed as science and engineering, but most people don't.  They think in terms of pure hard sciences, and don't understand that there are other areas that have to be addressed.  The example of planetary protection is ultimately a legal issue, and yes, you can view that as a science, but MOST PEOPLE don't treat it as a science, or consider it a science. 

This is trying to figure a way to deal with the fact that language, while important, is frequently used sloppily.   
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #4 on: 11/03/2017 02:14 PM »
So, this brings us to the point - why I say NASA's not a science organization.  There are a lot of activities that NASA has done, and is doing, and should do, that aren't about enabling or doing science.  For example - the COTS program and the Commercial Crew program - they enable science, but that is not to say they are about science.  And yes, they utilize science in their program, but again - they aren't about science, in the way that something like the Curiosity Rover is. 
The exact same can be said about NASA in relation to space. One of its primary missions is to study aeronautics and the atmosphere, not even with the goal of enabling spaceflight.

The rest of your post is irrelevant or just a repetition of this point.

Thus - NASA is a space agency, not a science agency. 

(and yes, I still don't have a way to address the issue of NASA aeronautics)
You must have not read my post in the thread this split from, since I gave you the simple solution.
I can help you with that last point. Since science is a major portion of NASA's mission, if you want to people to stop saying "NASA is a science agency" you also just have to be opposed to all statements of the form "NASA is a _____ agency". For anything that you can fill in the blank with, whether aeronautics, space, science, etc. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.

Or you could accept the fact that such short statements are not meant to be a complete description of all agency functions.

The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #5 on: 11/03/2017 02:25 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #6 on: 11/03/2017 02:25 PM »
Allow me to help you with the first "A" in NASA, Aeronautics right off their web page:"Aeronautics is the study of the science of flight."
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/UEET/StudentSite/aeronautics.html
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #7 on: 11/03/2017 02:26 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #8 on: 11/03/2017 02:30 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion.
Why?
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #9 on: 11/03/2017 02:43 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion.
I already gave you 2 alternatives:
-Reject all short descriptions of this form because they are by nature incomplete
-Accept that these descriptions are intended as descriptions of major agency functions, and not as complete descriptions of all functions.

And I second Rocket Science's question of "Why"? Everything NASA does as far as I can think of relates to science (either pure or applied), but some things it does really don't relate to space: https://www.nasa.gov/scientificballoons/overview I don't think that between "NASA is a science agency" and "NASA is a space agency" one is more valid than the other, but if I had to pick which is more complete, I'd pick science.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #10 on: 11/03/2017 02:57 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion.
Why?

Because most people don't view science and applied science very broadly.  They don't view lawyers as "applied legal scientists", or business people as "applied market scientists." 

In short - I would argue that it is more inclusive, and allows people to think about space beyond the hard sciences. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline chrisking0997

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #11 on: 11/03/2017 03:01 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion.

the problem is you are trying to pigeon-hole the agency into one descriptive word, when in fact it has many missions in varying fields and for varying purposes.  But the word "science" encompasses those missions far more than "space" does.

Now if you are talking about public perception, that is a different thing, but the agency shouldnt be defined by public opinion
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #12 on: 11/03/2017 03:12 PM »
The problem is that I do actually think a lot of the general public do think its a complete description.  I wish that wasn't the case, but if you engage with a lot of them, they see it as a complete pure description. 

And that is a problem
Again, you have the same problem if you call NASA a space agency.

I would argue that space is at least closer to a better solution than science.  I welcome an alternative suggestion.
Why?

Because most people don't view science and applied science very broadly.  They don't view lawyers as "applied legal scientists", or business people as "applied market scientists." 

In short - I would argue that it is more inclusive, and allows people to think about space beyond the hard sciences.
I appreciate what you are saying because of it's association to being "elitist in nature" in these highly polarized times. First, can you apply the "scientific method" to those occupations you mentioned?  My only suggestion as I have encountered the general public is to ask them first to have an open mind and that no one person has "all" the answers. Second, as I have told my students, "the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know"... "Simply learn how to learn and learn how to think" There is nothing wrong with saying "I do not know"... Allow our friend Commander Data to elucidate...

http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 03:17 PM by Rocket Science »
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #13 on: 11/03/2017 03:15 PM »
Just as a point of reference, according to NASA this is who they employ:

- Professional, Engineering and Scientific (60% of NASA's positions)
- Administrative and Management (24% of NASA's positions)
- Clerical and Administrative Support (7% of NASA's positions)
- Technical and Medical Support (9% of NASA's positions)

I agree with others about the challenge of coming up with a one-word description for NASA.

It's clear NASA is tasked by the President and Congress to do many things, and my point has always been that science is a big part of that. And in fact science is an activity that is done not only here on Earth but in space too, so it's not as silo'd as just aeronautics or just space - which are both identified in NASA's name.

Poking around the NASA website trying to find out how many scientists are employed there, I found this:
Quote
While engineering – building the rockets and spacecraft and getting them out to their destinations in working order – was clearly the driving force of NASA in the early years, science was always an integral part of the space program.

So can we agree to say that science is an integral part of NASA?
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #14 on: 11/03/2017 03:18 PM »
Just as a point of reference, according to NASA this is who they employ:

- Professional, Engineering and Scientific (60% of NASA's positions)
- Administrative and Management (24% of NASA's positions)
- Clerical and Administrative Support (7% of NASA's positions)
- Technical and Medical Support (9% of NASA's positions)

I agree with others about the challenge of coming up with a one-word description for NASA.

It's clear NASA is tasked by the President and Congress to do many things, and my point has always been that science is a big part of that. And in fact science is an activity that is done not only here on Earth but in space too, so it's not as silo'd as just aeronautics or just space - which are both identified in NASA's name.

Poking around the NASA website trying to find out how many scientists are employed there, I found this:
Quote
While engineering – building the rockets and spacecraft and getting them out to their destinations in working order – was clearly the driving force of NASA in the early years, science was always an integral part of the space program.

So can we agree to say that science is an integral part of NASA?

Yes, I will agree that it is an integral part.  That I don't disagree with. 
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #15 on: 11/03/2017 03:23 PM »
I appreciate what you are saying because of it's association to being "elitist in nature" in these highly polarized times. First, can you apply the "scientific method" to those occupations you mentioned?  My only suggestion as I have encountered the general public is to ask them first to have an open mind and that no one person has "all" the answers. Second, as I have told my students, "the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know"... "Simply learn how to learn and learn how to think" There is nothing wrong with saying "I do not know"... Allow our friend Commander Data to elucidate...

With regard to your question - I would submit that it is possible to apply the scientific method to almost all activities.  The scientific method, in many respects, is a more systematized version of logic and critical thinking.  But, as state, most people don't perceive the world that way, and don't think that way. 

I fully agree that having people have more open minds is a good thing, and to push them that way.  The problem is that the world remains messy (including communications)

(and if you want to get to a word I REALLY get annoyed at, it's exploration - but that's a different discussion)
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #16 on: 11/03/2017 03:26 PM »

the problem is you are trying to pigeon-hole the agency into one descriptive word, when in fact it has many missions in varying fields and for varying purposes.  But the word "science" encompasses those missions far more than "space" does.

No, the problem isn't me.  The problem is that society is clumsy with it's language, and thus people broadly pigeon hole items and activities.  (This in fact, IMHO, is the real issue when it comes to discussions about whether we are too "politically correct" - people don't understand and accept how clumsy we are with language).

And I disagree that science is more encompassing - I would submit space is more encompassing.  Science only works if you require everyone to view every activity as fundamentally a science activity.  And most people reject that as well. 

Now if you are talking about public perception, that is a different thing, but the agency shouldnt be defined by public opinion

Actually, the agency is always defined by public opinion, ultimately.  That heavily influences why we have this problem.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #17 on: 11/03/2017 03:43 PM »
I appreciate what you are saying because of it's association to being "elitist in nature" in these highly polarized times. First, can you apply the "scientific method" to those occupations you mentioned?  My only suggestion as I have encountered the general public is to ask them first to have an open mind and that no one person has "all" the answers. Second, as I have told my students, "the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know"... "Simply learn how to learn and learn how to think" There is nothing wrong with saying "I do not know"... Allow our friend Commander Data to elucidate...

With regard to your question - I would submit that it is possible to apply the scientific method to almost all activities.  The scientific method, in many respects, is a more systematized version of logic and critical thinking.  But, as state, most people don't perceive the world that way, and don't think that way. 

I fully agree that having people have more open minds is a good thing, and to push them that way.  The problem is that the world remains messy (including communications)

(and if you want to get to a word I REALLY get annoyed at, it's exploration - but that's a different discussion)
When it comes to the scientific method, there really is no room for interpretation. The key is reproducibilty in the result no matter who or where the experiment is conducted when all variables are controlled.
Because the "world is messy" is not a good reason to lower the bar in our institutions but to ask the populace to rise to the occasion...
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #18 on: 11/03/2017 03:46 PM »
Actually, the agency is always defined by public opinion, ultimately.  That heavily influences why we have this problem.

What the public has seen in the press over the past couple of years has been mostly science related, since it has dealt with our science missions on Mars, to Pluto, on the ISS, and so on.

The only other NASA news has been rocket engine tests and such about the SLS and Orion, but over the past number of years the most news - and public excitement - has been about our science missions in space.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #19 on: 11/03/2017 03:47 PM »
The example of planetary protection is ultimately a legal issue,

Can you cite the relevant legal statutes?


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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #20 on: 11/03/2017 03:53 PM »
Actually, the agency is always defined by public opinion, ultimately.  That heavily influences why we have this problem.

What the public has seen in the press over the past couple of years has been mostly science related, since it has dealt with our science missions on Mars, to Pluto, on the ISS, and so on.

The only other NASA news has been rocket engine tests and such about the SLS and Orion, but over the past number of years the most news - and public excitement - has been about our science missions in space.

I’d dispute that to a degree now that NASA has reinstated its X Plane program as that’s starting to pick up public coverage, which will only increase as the program advances. That is aeronautical research at its purest.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #21 on: 11/03/2017 03:54 PM »
I'm at a loss as to why this matters. I read the OP's opener and remain unenlightened.

Thanks for moving it to its own thread though, it was clogging up the thread it spawned from.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #22 on: 11/03/2017 04:00 PM »

the problem is you are trying to pigeon-hole the agency into one descriptive word, when in fact it has many missions in varying fields and for varying purposes.  But the word "science" encompasses those missions far more than "space" does.

No, the problem isn't me.  The problem is that society is clumsy with it's language, and thus people broadly pigeon hole items and activities.  (This in fact, IMHO, is the real issue when it comes to discussions about whether we are too "politically correct" - people don't understand and accept how clumsy we are with language).
You are trying to boil down something to a single word that cannot be boiled down to a single word. You are making the problem of "people are clumsy with language" worse, not better.

And I disagree that science is more encompassing - I would submit space is more encompassing.  Science only works if you require everyone to view every activity as fundamentally a science activity.  And most people reject that as well. 
Multiple people here have explained why space is not more encompassing, and the explanations do not require viewing every activity as fundamentally "science," only that engineering is application of science. You have provided no evidence that "most people reject that," in fact this thread itself is counter evidence. Even abandoning any argument similar to "science covers everything NASA does," your original point still fails because you insist on saying that "NASA is a space agency" which doesn't cover much of what NASA does.

Now if you are talking about public perception, that is a different thing, but the agency shouldnt be defined by public opinion

Actually, the agency is always defined by public opinion, ultimately.  That heavily influences why we have this problem.
You are wrong and I am very glad for that fact, because if NASA was defined by public perception it would not exist. Seriously, I have talked to multiple people who think that NASA either went away or basically does nothing anymore since the retirement of the shuttle. This is a sign of some major shortcomings for NASA PR that can be discussed elsewhere. There also seems to be general unawareness in the public of the aeronautics portion of NASA. I have never seen anyone confused about what NASA does because of it being referred to as a science agency. The problem that you are claiming to exist is the one public perception problem for NASA I have never seen any evidence of and you appear to be the only person who thinks it exists.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #23 on: 11/03/2017 04:49 PM »
The example of planetary protection is ultimately a legal issue,

Can you cite the relevant legal statutes?

I did in the intro.  The legal statutes fall out from Article VI and IX of the OST.  This makes the US government liable for activities carried out by commercial companies, and requires the US to continue to monitor and regulate activities. 

This is partly where FAA/AST's payload review process comes in - https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/launch_reentry/expendable/payload/

If you fail to go that route, you are likely to run into issues of export control.  So, even if you are launching on a foreign launcher, you'll go through a payload review process.  Now, a big problem in this is that there isn't a legal entity that is overseeing all space activities - FCC handles some, FAA/AST handles some, and OSC handles some, but there are areas that no one oversees, but the US is liable for all activities, and the State department will step in and block launches or exports if they could result in a treaty violation.  This is why the Moon Express permit was important last year - it crossed a major threshold, and why we'll need something like HR 2809.  Here is another good explainer that covers it
https://spacefrontier.org/2016/08/moonexpressapproval/

So, does that answer your question?
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #24 on: 11/03/2017 04:52 PM »
I appreciate what you are saying because of it's association to being "elitist in nature" in these highly polarized times. First, can you apply the "scientific method" to those occupations you mentioned?  My only suggestion as I have encountered the general public is to ask them first to have an open mind and that no one person has "all" the answers. Second, as I have told my students, "the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know"... "Simply learn how to learn and learn how to think" There is nothing wrong with saying "I do not know"... Allow our friend Commander Data to elucidate...

With regard to your question - I would submit that it is possible to apply the scientific method to almost all activities.  The scientific method, in many respects, is a more systematized version of logic and critical thinking.  But, as state, most people don't perceive the world that way, and don't think that way. 

I fully agree that having people have more open minds is a good thing, and to push them that way.  The problem is that the world remains messy (including communications)

(and if you want to get to a word I REALLY get annoyed at, it's exploration - but that's a different discussion)
When it comes to the scientific method, there really is no room for interpretation. The key is reproducibilty in the result no matter who or where the experiment is conducted when all variables are controlled.
Because the "world is messy" is not a good reason to lower the bar in our institutions but to ask the populace to rise to the occasion...
Let me know how that works out, because IMHO, most of the populace has decided it doesn't want to. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #25 on: 11/03/2017 04:55 PM »
Actually, the agency is always defined by public opinion, ultimately.  That heavily influences why we have this problem.

What the public has seen in the press over the past couple of years has been mostly science related, since it has dealt with our science missions on Mars, to Pluto, on the ISS, and so on.

The only other NASA news has been rocket engine tests and such about the SLS and Orion, but over the past number of years the most news - and public excitement - has been about our science missions in space.

I would argue that there is a big item which you are missing, which is hugely important, and does get discussed in the press - the rise of commercial space, and NASA's involvement in it.  Things like Commercial Crew and COTS and SpaceX fall outside of science, but are space related and NASA related. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #26 on: 11/03/2017 05:02 PM »
I'm at a loss as to why this matters. I read the OP's opener and remain unenlightened.

Thanks for moving it to its own thread though, it was clogging up the thread it spawned from.

To answer your question, I'll borrow an adage from my boss

"When you are trying to communicate with someone, to be successful, you have 4 steps that you have to be responsible for
1)  What you think you are saying
2)  What you actually said
3)  What the other person heard you say
4)  What the other person think they heard you say"

In short, its that communication is very complicated, and because people lack nuance, they frequently make a mess of it. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #27 on: 11/03/2017 05:11 PM »
I suspect we are at an impasse for the first part of your response.  However, I did want to address a specific point.


You are wrong and I am very glad for that fact, because if NASA was defined by public perception it would not exist. Seriously, I have talked to multiple people who think that NASA either went away or basically does nothing anymore since the retirement of the shuttle. This is a sign of some major shortcomings for NASA PR that can be discussed elsewhere. There also seems to be general unawareness in the public of the aeronautics portion of NASA. I have never seen anyone confused about what NASA does because of it being referred to as a science agency. The problem that you are claiming to exist is the one public perception problem for NASA I have never seen any evidence of and you appear to be the only person who thinks it exists.
[/quote]

The lack of a clean and clear positive public perception about NASA IS the problem, and is the point I am getting at.  For better or worse, there is an ivory tower view when it comes to science - you can only do it if you are exceptional.  Its very similar to the perception of what it takes to be an astronaut - very very exceptional.  If Space becomes a place that average people reach towards, and NASA is the enabler of that, then NASA won't have a PR problem.  But I don't see those ideas being embraced.  And until that is addressed, NASA will always be stuck, like we have been for a good long time.
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline incoming

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #28 on: 11/03/2017 05:39 PM »
Do yourself a favor - google "federal science agencies"

You will see, right across the top of the screen, several agencies' logos, NASA among them. All of the agencies listed (NOAA, NIH, etc) do other things in addition to science. As I said in the other post, there is only one government agency that ONLY does science and that is the National Science Foundation.

You are right - language does matter.  And you don't get to unilaterally decide to change how a term is commonly used, formally or informally, no matter how much you want to.

Informally, "science agency" means an agency that does a relatively significant amount of science.  Formally, "federal science agency" means an agency that sponsors or performs scientific research. This is important because it means by law the agency must have a scientific integrity policy, must have an open access policy for the extramural research they sponsor, etc. 

NASA is a science agency both in the commonly used informal sense and the formal use of the term. You may have some other point you are trying to make about the democratization of space - find a different way to make it.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 05:41 PM by incoming »

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #29 on: 11/03/2017 05:52 PM »
Do yourself a favor - google "federal science agencies"

You will see, right across the top of the screen, several agencies' logos, NASA among them. All of the agencies listed (NOAA, NIH, etc) do other things in addition to science. As I said in the other post, there is only one government agency that ONLY does science and that is the National Science Foundation.

And I tend to be of the opinion that those agencies aren't science agencies either, and the only science agency is NSF.

You are right - language does matter.  And you don't get to unilaterally decide to change how a term is commonly used, formally or informally, no matter how much you want to.

I acknowledge I don't get to unilaterally decide this, but I do get a say in it (since I am part of the community).  Hence, I make my case and stand by it.

Informally, "science agency" means an agency that does a relatively significant amount of science.  Formally, "federal science agency" means an agency that sponsors or performs scientific research. This is important because it means by law the agency must have a scientific integrity policy, must have an open access policy for the extramural research they sponsor, etc. 

I get very nervous when someone says "informal" definition - because not everyone necessarily agrees with it.  As for the formal definition - can you show me a link to where it falls in either US code or something similar?

It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Online meberbs

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #30 on: 11/03/2017 06:06 PM »
I suspect we are at an impasse for the first part of your response.  However, I did want to address a specific point.
You want clarity and preciseness and better public understanding of what NASA does. I stated that you cannot boil down what NASA does to a single word. How exactly are we at an impasse?

The lack of a clean and clear positive public perception about NASA IS the problem, and is the point I am getting at.
If you think that saying "NASA is a science agency" impedes this, then saying "NASA is a space agency" is just as bad.

You are right - language does matter.  And you don't get to unilaterally decide to change how a term is commonly used, formally or informally, no matter how much you want to.

I acknowledge I don't get to unilaterally decide this, but I do get a say in it (since I am part of the community).  Hence, I make my case and stand by it.
Guess what, everyone else in this thread has made a case too, and they all disagree with you. At what point do you realize that you are the one whose definition doesn't match common usage, and that you are definitely failing at #3 and possibly at #2 from your list above?

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #31 on: 11/03/2017 07:13 PM »
I suspect we are at an impasse for the first part of your response.  However, I did want to address a specific point.
You want clarity and preciseness and better public understanding of what NASA does. I stated that you cannot boil down what NASA does to a single word. How exactly are we at an impasse?

And I say that although you can't boil it down to a single word, most people do that, and so we have to find something better.  You seem to be saying (and feel free to correct me) that we can't boil it down, and we shouldn't try, and we should try and push people not to do that.  I don't believe that is viable.  Further, you said that you don't need to take an extreme all encompassing view of what science is, but I disagree (see my points about lawyers vs applied legal scientists).  While I can't point to the exist place of disagreement, I can see that this is a philosophical disagreement. 

The lack of a clean and clear positive public perception about NASA IS the problem, and is the point I am getting at.
If you think that saying "NASA is a science agency" impedes this, then saying "NASA is a space agency" is just as bad.
  I disagree. 

You are right - language does matter.  And you don't get to unilaterally decide to change how a term is commonly used, formally or informally, no matter how much you want to.

I acknowledge I don't get to unilaterally decide this, but I do get a say in it (since I am part of the community).  Hence, I make my case and stand by it.
Guess what, everyone else in this thread has made a case too, and they all disagree with you. At what point do you realize that you are the one whose definition doesn't match common usage, and that you are definitely failing at #3 and possibly at #2 from your list above?

1)  This isn't actually a hugely populated thread with lots of people providing comments. 
2)  I think that it does provide more clarity, because it allows for discussions of development and the like, and I've gotten responses from non-space people who seem to understand my point. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #32 on: 11/03/2017 07:28 PM »
And I tend to be of the opinion that those agencies aren't science agencies either, and the only science agency is NSF.

This is fun.

What other aspects of reality do you redefine in your universe?


Offline Nomadd

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #33 on: 11/03/2017 07:38 PM »
And I tend to be of the opinion that those agencies aren't science agencies either, and the only science agency is NSF.

This is fun.

What other aspects of reality do you redefine in your universe?


Are you implying that this thread should be moved to the "Spock's beard" sub forum?
« Last Edit: 11/03/2017 07:38 PM by Nomadd »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #34 on: 11/03/2017 07:48 PM »
And I tend to be of the opinion that those agencies aren't science agencies either, and the only science agency is NSF.

This is fun.

What other aspects of reality do you redefine in your universe?


Are you implying that this thread should be moved to the "Spock's beard" sub forum?

I think this thread is rather goofy. But allow me to quote Abraham Lincoln:

"How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn't make it a leg."


Online meberbs

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #35 on: 11/03/2017 07:55 PM »
And I say that although you can't boil it down to a single word, most people do that, and so we have to find something better.  You seem to be saying (and feel free to correct me) that we can't boil it down, and we shouldn't try, and we should try and push people not to do that.  I don't believe that is viable.
You simply aren't going to find a perfect single word unless you go for the tautological answer (NASA), because there simply isn't a single word in the English language that completely defines what NASA does. You can do much better if you allow short phrases instead, to start with "science and engineering."

Also, to help you with your point #4 from above, when you say "I don't believe that is viable," I hear "People can only understand a single word at a time, because I said so and people other than me are incompetent"

Further, you said that you don't need to take an extreme all encompassing view of what science is, but I disagree (see my points about lawyers vs applied legal scientists).  While I can't point to the exist place of disagreement, I can see that this is a philosophical disagreement.
No, it is not a philosophical disagreement, it is you completely missing the point of what I said by taking it out of context. The point was that the definition of science chosen does not change the original counterargument I made. Your statements regarding the definition of science are irrelevant.

If you think that saying "NASA is a science agency" impedes this, then saying "NASA is a space agency" is just as bad.
  I disagree. 
So you are saying it is okay for people to be ignorant of the aeronautic work done by NASA?

1)  This isn't actually a hugely populated thread with lots of people providing comments. 
2)  I think that it does provide more clarity, because it allows for discussions of development and the like, and I've gotten responses from non-space people who seem to understand my point.
1) There has been a good variety of people from this forum who have responded.
2) It is a good assumption that those "non-space people" were ignorant of the aeronautic work done by NASA. In this case your correction of them would have been a reinforcement of the incorrect idea that NASA only does space. Therefore, rather than providing more clarity, you strengthened their ignorance.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #36 on: 11/03/2017 08:21 PM »
I appreciate what you are saying because of it's association to being "elitist in nature" in these highly polarized times. First, can you apply the "scientific method" to those occupations you mentioned?  My only suggestion as I have encountered the general public is to ask them first to have an open mind and that no one person has "all" the answers. Second, as I have told my students, "the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know"... "Simply learn how to learn and learn how to think" There is nothing wrong with saying "I do not know"... Allow our friend Commander Data to elucidate...

With regard to your question - I would submit that it is possible to apply the scientific method to almost all activities.  The scientific method, in many respects, is a more systematized version of logic and critical thinking.  But, as state, most people don't perceive the world that way, and don't think that way. 

I fully agree that having people have more open minds is a good thing, and to push them that way.  The problem is that the world remains messy (including communications)

(and if you want to get to a word I REALLY get annoyed at, it's exploration - but that's a different discussion)
When it comes to the scientific method, there really is no room for interpretation. The key is reproducibilty in the result no matter who or where the experiment is conducted when all variables are controlled.
Because the "world is messy" is not a good reason to lower the bar in our institutions but to ask the populace to rise to the occasion...
Let me know how that works out, because IMHO, most of the populace has decided it doesn't want to.
I'm fine with that, it's a free country...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #37 on: 11/03/2017 08:56 PM »
NASA is currently run as a science agency and this has detrimental effect on settlement. To see why, consider the humans vs robots debate. If science is your goal there's no need to send humans unless you're trying to study humans. This is exactly the justification for why the ISS exists - we're studying humans so we need humans, otherwise they wouldn't be there. This is exactly backwards. Settlement of the solar system, and eventually the stars, is the goal. Everything NASA does should be in support of that goal. Instead of every mission needing to have some science goal (no matter how weak the justification), every mission should have some settlement goal. So when some group says they want $1B to send a rover to Mars and another group says they want $1B for a space telescope, the usual priorities and compromises still apply but at some point it should be asked - how does this support settlement?

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #38 on: 11/03/2017 10:07 PM »
Settlement of the solar system, and eventually the stars, is the goal.

Your goal. Not NASA policy. Not United States policy.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #39 on: 11/03/2017 10:10 PM »
Your goal. Not NASA policy. Not United States policy.

Actually, settlement has been identified as the overarching goal of NASA by every review that's ever been done and there's been numerous attempts to write it into the Space Act. "Expanding the sphere of human influence into space" and other such words have appeared in numerous authorization acts.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #40 on: 11/04/2017 02:16 AM »
It's a /fact/ that one of the principle goals of NASA is science. Objectively, those arguing that NASA isn't a* "science agency" are wrong. Subjectively, I doubt the OP will admit this as it goes against their narrative. I hope to be proven wrong here.

Bridenstine wants to /change/ that fact. Quite clearly, it's in his bill. Fine. But that doesn't change what NASA has been since the VERY start in 1958. It's a twisted lie to pretend NASA isn't about science as one of its top priorities when it couldn't possibly be clearer that science is a chief priority for NASA.

If you're talking about what NASA /should/ do, then go ahead and start a thread about your opinion. But you're abso-freaking-lutely right that "language matters." It's some heady Orwellian stuff to talk about how "language matters" when you're, in fact, twisting language into a complete mockery.

https://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html
National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958
"(c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"



*(non-exclusively, as with any other singular label)
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online yg1968

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #41 on: 11/04/2017 02:17 AM »
This goes back to the debate that we were having elsewhere about Bridenstine's American Space Renaissance Act but stating that NASA's main objective is pioneering space would not make planetary science and Earth science less important. They each contribute to the pioneering of space. Stating in the 1958 NASA' Act that NASA's main objective is the pioneering of space would be a good idea but I am not sure that it would make a huge difference in NASA's day to day activities.
« Last Edit: 11/04/2017 02:18 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #42 on: 11/04/2017 02:25 AM »
This goes back to the debate that we were having elsewhere about Bridenstine's American Space Renaissance Act but stating that NASA's main objective is pioneering space would not make planetary science and Earth science less important...
Look, if you're LITERALLY removing/replacing this section of the charter:
"The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

...then you quite obviously are making science a less important objective to NASA. It's literally the first objective, and the language in Bridenstine's bill removes it. That is, objectively and legally, a significant change in its status.


I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here. The thread title starts with "language matters," but the OP and friends are saying the opposite.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #43 on: 11/04/2017 02:31 AM »
What the public has seen in the press over the past couple of years has been mostly science related, since it has dealt with our science missions on Mars, to Pluto, on the ISS, and so on.

The only other NASA news has been rocket engine tests and such about the SLS and Orion, but over the past number of years the most news - and public excitement - has been about our science missions in space.

I would argue that there is a big item which you are missing, which is hugely important, and does get discussed in the press - the rise of commercial space, and NASA's involvement in it.

Commercial space is not NASA. NASA uses commercial space as a supplier, but otherwise what commercial space does is separate.

Quote
Things like Commercial Crew and COTS and SpaceX fall outside of science, but are space related and NASA related.

Commercial Cargo and Crew, while exciting for many reasons, are worthy non-science type topics, although if you think about it they are only there to support our only National Laboratory in space - the ISS. Which is devoted to science.

BTW, I am baffled why anyone would think NASA is not one of the preeminent science organizations in the world. Baffled.

And sure, it does lots of other things too, but science permeates every section of NASA in one way or another.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #44 on: 11/04/2017 02:34 AM »
Your goal. Not NASA policy. Not United States policy.

Actually, settlement has been identified as the overarching goal of NASA by every review that's ever been done and there's been numerous attempts to write it into the Space Act. "Expanding the sphere of human influence into space" and other such words have appeared in numerous authorization acts.


"numerous attempts to write it into the Space Act"

So, not yet, huh?


Online yg1968

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #45 on: 11/04/2017 02:36 AM »
This goes back to the debate that we were having elsewhere about Bridenstine's American Space Renaissance Act but stating that NASA's main objective is pioneering space would not make planetary science and Earth science less important...
Look, if you're LITERALLY removing/replacing this section of the charter:
"The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

...then you quite obviously are making science a less important objective to NASA. It's literally the first objective, and the language in Bridenstine's bill removes it. That is, objectively and legally, a significant change in its status.


I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here. The thread title starts with "language matters," but the OP and friends are saying the opposite.

Some people are very good at construing legislation and do this for a living (e.g. lawyers). Other people don't understand the subtleties of laws. I will leave it at that.
« Last Edit: 11/04/2017 02:52 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #46 on: 11/04/2017 02:41 AM »
It's a /fact/ that one of the principle goals of NASA is science. Objectively, those arguing that NASA isn't a* "science agency" are wrong. Subjectively, I doubt the OP will admit this as it goes against their narrative. I hope to be proven wrong here.

Bridenstine wants to /change/ that fact. Quite clearly, it's in his bill. Fine. But that doesn't change what NASA has been since the VERY start in 1958. It's a twisted lie to pretend NASA isn't about science as one of its top priorities when it couldn't possibly be clearer that science is a chief priority for NASA.

If you're talking about what NASA /should/ do, then go ahead and start a thread about your opinion. But you're abso-freaking-lutely right that "language matters." It's some heady Orwellian stuff to talk about how "language matters" when you're, in fact, twisting language into a complete mockery.

https://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html
National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958
"(c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

(1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"



*(non-exclusively, as with any other singular label)

You seemed to ignore my first few points - I grant the science NASA has done.  I personally don't think it should stop.  I will 100% agree that science is one of its top priorities, and has been since it's beginning, and that its intregal to the agency. 

But, I would argue that, using your logic, NASA is also a commercial development organization - that is in the organic law that established NASA (under the non-exclusively clause), and it fits with some of its programs.  I mean, if I said that, would you accept it? 

The problem is that a lot of people don't want to take the time to learn nuances.  I'd like them all to read the NASA charter, along with US code, and so forth.  But they haven't so far, and so I believe it's worth looking for other options. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #47 on: 11/04/2017 02:55 AM »
Your goal. Not NASA policy. Not United States policy.

Actually, settlement has been identified as the overarching goal of NASA by every review that's ever been done and there's been numerous attempts to write it into the Space Act. "Expanding the sphere of human influence into space" and other such words have appeared in numerous authorization acts.


"numerous attempts to write it into the Space Act"

So, not yet, huh?

From Section 101 of NASA Authorization act of 1988 (Public Law 100-685)

Quote
Congress finds that ... the establishment of a permanent presence in space leading ultimately to space settlements is fully consistent with the goals of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958

From Section 217 of NASA Authorization act of 1988 (Public Law 100-685)

Quote
The Congress declares that the extension of human life beyond Earth's atmosphere, leading ultimately to the establishment of space settlements, will fulfill the purposes of advancing science, exploration, and development and will enhance the general welfare

From Section 202 of NASA 2010 Authorization Act
Quote
(a) Long Term Goal.--The long term goal of the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical, in a manner involving international partners.
    (b) Key Objectives.--The key objectives of the United States for human expansion into space shall be--
            (1) to sustain the capability for long-duration presence in low-Earth orbit, initially through continuation of the ISS and full utilization of the United States segment of the ISS as a National Laboratory, and through assisting and enabling an expanded commercial presence in, and access to, low-Earth orbit, as elements of a low-Earth orbit infrastructure;
            (2) to determine if humans can live in an extended manner in space with decreasing reliance on Earth, starting with utilization of low-Earth orbit infrastructure, to identify potential roles that space resources such as energy and materials may play, to meet national and global needs and challenges, such as potential cataclysmic threats, and to explore the viability of and lay the foundation for sustainable economic activities in space;
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #48 on: 11/04/2017 02:59 AM »
This goes back to the debate that we were having elsewhere about Bridenstine's American Space Renaissance Act but stating that NASA's main objective is pioneering space would not make planetary science and Earth science less important...
Look, if you're LITERALLY removing/replacing this section of the charter:
"The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

...then you quite obviously are making science a less important objective to NASA. It's literally the first objective, and the language in Bridenstine's bill removes it. That is, objectively and legally, a significant change in its status.


I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here. The thread title starts with "language matters," but the OP and friends are saying the opposite.

Some people are very good at construing legislation and do this for a living (e.g. lawyers). Other people don't understand the subtleties of laws. I will leave it at that.

If only the entity of the world could learn to speak with the degree of nuance that can be found in law. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #49 on: 11/04/2017 03:07 AM »
Commercial space is not NASA. NASA uses commercial space as a supplier, but otherwise what commercial space does is separate.

The role that NASA has played in the rise of commercial space, (and particularly if it does more) would suggest that it is not distinct.  In effect, NASA is a space development agency, given that they spend money on that as well.


Commercial Cargo and Crew, while exciting for many reasons, are worthy non-science type topics, although if you think about it they are only there to support our only National Laboratory in space - the ISS. Which is devoted to science.

BTW, I am baffled why anyone would think NASA is not one of the preeminent science organizations in the world. Baffled.

And sure, it does lots of other things too, but science permeates every section of NASA in one way or another.

Commerce Cargo and Crew's objectives were not JUST to support ISS.  That was written into their original objectives.  Part of their objectives was to enable the rise of commercial providers. 

Again, I come back to this point - NASA is an agency that does preeminent science.  But, because of the non-exclusive nature of NASA's activities, calling it a science agency I feel hurts it, when it is engaging in activities that aren't about doing pure science. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #50 on: 11/04/2017 03:12 AM »
Calling it a space agency also hurts it. Come on, you're trying to dance on a pin head, here. Just admit you were wrong.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #51 on: 11/04/2017 03:15 AM »
I think we've mined out about all we can from this. Locked. Make your case via report to PM if you think there's more.

Unlocked, let's see if a cooling off period does the trick. Avoid personal invective and stale back and forth, please.
« Last Edit: 11/04/2017 07:37 PM by Lar »
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #52 on: 11/06/2017 05:00 PM »
Mr Scott,

First, i would disagree that NASA can't try new things.  NASA has tried new things.  It is true that NASA, like any institution, develops its own culture, and things that run counter to that culture are difficult to implement.  But, if you have the right combination of circumstances, you can get it to try new things, and embrace changes. 

But that is dictated by a combination of who cares about the situation being discussed, and why do they care.  For example, I pose an interesting counterfactual - suppose Clinton had been elected, and she had nominated Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator - would there be the equivalent opposition that we are seeing now?   i would argue no, but I would argue that doens't make sense since Nelson and Bridenstine have significant overlap in terms of management experience.  Also, there has been substantial discussion of the theater aspect of the confirmation hearing, which raises a question - are those the real issues that are driving the opposition to Bridenstine's nomination?  Or are there other issues, but those are the easiest to communicate?  I tend to suspect the later, but I acknowledge that is only a suspicion of mine. 

Anyway, the point of my thread isn't about whether we should change NASA's mission, or move some activities out of it.  It's merely a question of what best describes NASA.
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #53 on: 11/07/2017 02:32 PM »
Mr Scott,

First, i would disagree that NASA can't try new things.  NASA has tried new things.  It is true that NASA, like any institution, develops its own culture, and things that run counter to that culture are difficult to implement.  But, if you have the right combination of circumstances, you can get it to try new things, and embrace changes. 

But that is dictated by a combination of who cares about the situation being discussed, and why do they care.  For example, I pose an interesting counterfactual - suppose Clinton had been elected, and she had nominated Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator - would there be the equivalent opposition that we are seeing now?   i would argue no, but I would argue that doens't make sense since Nelson and Bridenstine have significant overlap in terms of management experience.  Also, there has been substantial discussion of the theater aspect of the confirmation hearing, which raises a question - are those the real issues that are driving the opposition to Bridenstine's nomination?  Or are there other issues, but those are the easiest to communicate?  I tend to suspect the later, but I acknowledge that is only a suspicion of mine. 

Anyway, the point of my thread isn't about whether we should change NASA's mission, or move some activities out of it.  It's merely a question of what best describes NASA.
I wouldn't say Bill Nelson would be my first choice, however he is old enough to be Bridenstine's dad and the lifetime of experience that comes with it in terms of his relationship with NASA and its space related needs, at least for Florida... I would rather he stay in the senate...
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 05:06 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #54 on: 11/07/2017 08:17 PM »

The issue is that "being an enabler of development and settlement"


That has nothing to do with NASA

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #55 on: 11/07/2017 08:20 PM »

And I disagree that science is more encompassing - I would submit space is more encompassing. 

Wrong.  NASA day to day work involves science.  Space has little to do with it.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #56 on: 11/07/2017 08:24 PM »
NASA is currently run as a science agency and this has detrimental effect on settlement.


Good, keep it that way.

Settlement of the solar system, and eventually the stars, is the goal. Everything NASA does should be in support of that goal.


That is 100% wrong and something NASA should avoid at all costs.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 08:25 PM by Jim »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #57 on: 11/07/2017 08:28 PM »
NASA is a mission operations and logistics agency. 

That is 100% false.  NASA does more science than either of them.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #58 on: 11/07/2017 08:53 PM »
Pure science is the NSF's wheelhouse. NASA does science for a purpose and that purpose is getting humanity off this rock. Some people have quite reasonably said that it's not the job of a government agency to settle space... obviously I agree... but neither is it the job of a government agency to build airplanes and fly people where they want to go (looking at you British Airways) but no-one seems to mind the research and other work government agencies do to enable commercial entities to do that. If you're going to have a space agency at all, there should be some idea of what its goals are... otherwise shut it down.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #59 on: 11/07/2017 08:54 PM »
NASA does science for a purpose and that purpose is getting humanity off this rock.

No.

Hubble.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #60 on: 11/07/2017 09:00 PM »

And I disagree that science is more encompassing - I would submit space is more encompassing. 

Wrong.  NASA day to day work involves science.  Space has little to do with it.

I would have to disagree.

Let's take a look at a simple breakdown and see what aspects of NASA are space related.

Science
  • Earth Science -- Not Space related
  • Planetary Science -- Partially Space related
  • Astrophysics -- Partially Space related
  • James Webb Space Telescope -- Definitely Space related
  • Heliophysics -- Partially Space related
  • Education -- Not Space related
 
Aeronautics and Space Technology
  • Aeronautics Research -- Not Space related
  • Space Technology -- Definitely Space related

Exploration
  • Human Exploration Capabilities -- Definitely Space related
  • Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion) -- Definitely Space related
  • Space Launch System -- Definitely Space related
  • Exploration Ground Systems -- Partially Space related
  • Commercial Spaceflight -- Definitely Space related
  • Exploration R&D-- Definitely Space related
 
Space Operations
  • International Space Station -- Definitely Space related
  • Space and Flight Support -- Definitely Space related
  • Commercial Crew -- Definitely Space related

Education -- Not Space related
 
Safety, Security, and Mission Services -- Partially Space related
 
Construction -- Not Space related
 
Inspector General -- Not Space related

It's clear to me that space has a great deal to do with it.
 
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 09:02 PM by spacetraveler »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #61 on: 11/07/2017 09:11 PM »
NASA does science for a purpose and that purpose is getting humanity off this rock.

I would disagree with this as well however.

Space exploration has always been a core purpose of NASA, however "getting humanity off this rock" implies a permanent departure. Space colonization has never been a core purpose of NASA nor is it today.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 09:12 PM by spacetraveler »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #62 on: 11/07/2017 09:40 PM »
  • Earth Science -- Not Space related
  • Planetary Science -- Partially Space related
  • Astrophysics -- Partially Space related
  • James Webb Space Telescope -- Definitely Space related
  • Heliophysics -- Partially Space related
  • Education -- Not Space related
 

I love this. Gave me the second-best laugh of the day. I particularly enjoy how you have stated that something like the study of other planets--which, last I checked, are in outer space--is only "partially space related."


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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #63 on: 11/07/2017 09:42 PM »
  • Earth Science -- Not Space related
  • Planetary Science -- Partially Space related
  • Astrophysics -- Partially Space related
  • James Webb Space Telescope -- Definitely Space related
  • Heliophysics -- Partially Space related
  • Education -- Not Space related
 

I love this. Gave me the second-best laugh of the day. I particularly enjoy how you have stated that something like the study of other planets--which, last I checked, are in outer space--is only "partially space related."

The quote I was responding to characterized NASA as about science rather than space. Hence, I was basing my evaluation on only those things that directly involve travel in space, rather than abstract scientific inquiry. I rated those items as partially space related because there is a lot of pure science that occurs on the ground that does not directly touch space (but may be about space), but there is also science involving probes or other things that directly fly in space. But regardless of whether you rate those items as partially or definitely about space, it would seem that you agree with the basic premise of my post which is that space definitely has a LOT to do with the work done at NASA. :)
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 09:44 PM by spacetraveler »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #64 on: 11/07/2017 09:44 PM »
Space colonization has never been a core purpose of NASA nor is it today.

TITLE IV--ADVANCING HUMAN DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION

Subtitle A--Human Space Flight and Exploration Goals and Objectives

(Sec. 411) The bill states that the long-terms goals for the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be:

* to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and to do so where practical, with the involvement of international, academic, and industry partners,

* crewed missions and progress toward achieving the expansion of human presence beyond low-Earth orbit

* to enable the potential for subsequent human exploration and the extension of human presence throughout the solar system, and to enable a capability to extend human presence, including potential human habitation on another celestial body and a thriving space economy in the 21st Century.


If that's not settlement, what is?





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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #65 on: 11/07/2017 09:56 PM »
Space colonization has never been a core purpose of NASA nor is it today.

TITLE IV--ADVANCING HUMAN DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION

Subtitle A--Human Space Flight and Exploration Goals and Objectives

(Sec. 411) The bill states that the long-terms goals for the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be:

* to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and to do so where practical, with the involvement of international, academic, and industry partners,

* crewed missions and progress toward achieving the expansion of human presence beyond low-Earth orbit

* to enable the potential for subsequent human exploration and the extension of human presence throughout the solar system, and to enable a capability to extend human presence, including potential human habitation on another celestial body and a thriving space economy in the 21st Century.


If that's not settlement, what is?

I interpret that through the exploration framework. ISS is a "human presence in LEO", but I would not call it a colonization of LEO. NASA is about sending small professional teams of explorers to space destinations. I would see a "permanent human presence" outside LEO to be something like a moon base or L1/L2 base staffed with scientists and professional astronauts, not the head of a colonization effort for anyone that wants to get off this rock.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 10:01 PM by spacetraveler »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #66 on: 11/07/2017 10:15 PM »
Space colonization has never been a core purpose of NASA nor is it today.

TITLE IV--ADVANCING HUMAN DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION

Subtitle A--Human Space Flight and Exploration Goals and Objectives

(Sec. 411) The bill states that the long-terms goals for the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be:

* to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and to do so where practical, with the involvement of international, academic, and industry partners,

* crewed missions and progress toward achieving the expansion of human presence beyond low-Earth orbit

* to enable the potential for subsequent human exploration and the extension of human presence throughout the solar system, and to enable a capability to extend human presence, including potential human habitation on another celestial body and a thriving space economy in the 21st Century.


If that's not settlement, what is?

I interpret that through the exploration framework. ISS is a "human presence in LEO", but I would not call it a colonization of LEO. NASA is about sending small professional teams of explorers to space destinations. I would see a "permanent human presence" outside LEO to be something like a moon base or L2 base staffed with scientists and professional astronauts, not a head of a colonization effort for anyone that wants to get off this rock.

This has been discussed at length in multiple congressional hearings and other policy fora. If you go back and look at the most recent NASA Authorization, as it evolved through 2016 into early 2017 (I'm sure there's a thread on it here somewhere), you'll see that "settlement" was originally in the Senate bill explicitly.  IIRC, it was in the version of the bill that the committee reported out.  But it was adjusted prior to final passage, basically using different words to say the same thing, presumably to satisfy someone who had a problem with the explicit term "settlement."

So, there's your proof right there that while there is some support for settlement as a goal for NASA, there isn't (wasn't?) enough support for it to be included explicitly in the final bill that being came law. And there CERTAINLY isn't support for some notion that all other activities at NASA - science or otherwise, should some how link up with that one goal.

Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously. 

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #67 on: 11/07/2017 10:33 PM »
Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously.

That's what I said in my first post on this thread... every government agency has factions. NASA has been dominated by the "science is glorious, all hail science!" crowd for a long time now. Wouldn't it be nice if NASA could get back to what it is supposed to be about?

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #68 on: 11/07/2017 10:52 PM »
Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously.

That's what I said in my first post on this thread... every government agency has factions. NASA has been dominated by the "science is glorious, all hail science!" crowd for a long time now. Wouldn't it be nice if NASA could get back to what it is supposed to be about?
What you seem to be saying is completely opposite to what incoming just said.

Your post implies that science isn't what NASA is supposed to be about, when science quite explicitly is what NASA is about. There are other things that NASA is about too, but based on your posts you seem to think that much of what NASA is about should go away.

Offline Jim

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #69 on: 11/07/2017 10:55 PM »
Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously.

That's what I said in my first post on this thread... every government agency has factions. NASA has been dominated by the "science is glorious, all hail science!" crowd for a long time now. Wouldn't it be nice if NASA could get back to what it is supposed to be about?

Beating the Russians?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #70 on: 11/07/2017 11:02 PM »
Beating the Russians?

yes... at what? What was it that the Russians were trying to do that mobilized so many brilliant minds to come take on the challenge? What did they have in their heads and hearts? It wasn't "science". It was the stars.



Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #71 on: 11/07/2017 11:09 PM »
Beating the Russians?

yes... at what? What was it that the Russians were trying to do that mobilized so many brilliant minds to come take on the challenge? What did they have in their heads and hearts? It wasn't "science". It was the stars.

No, the Russians were not looking to the stars.  They were just looking to sway smaller countries

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #72 on: 11/07/2017 11:32 PM »
No, the Russians were not looking to the stars.  They were just looking to sway smaller countries

The geopolitics paid the bills, but that's not what mobilized the hearts and minds... and it was the Americans I was talking about. If they wanted to work on ICBMs, they could have gone into the army.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #73 on: 11/08/2017 01:31 AM »
No, the Russians were not looking to the stars.  They were just looking to sway smaller countries

The geopolitics paid the bills, but that's not what mobilized the hearts and minds... and it was the Americans I was talking about. If they wanted to work on ICBMs, they could have gone into the army.

They did.  More people worked on the ICBMs than NASA programs.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #74 on: 11/08/2017 03:45 AM »
They did.  More people worked on the ICBMs than NASA programs.

I think you just proved my point.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #75 on: 11/08/2017 04:18 AM »
Stephen Hawking (agrees with QuantumG since he also) believes that humanity must leave this rock:
https://www.space.com/38695-stephen-hawking-humanity-must-leave-earth.html
« Last Edit: 11/08/2017 04:21 AM by yg1968 »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #76 on: 11/08/2017 04:40 AM »
Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously.

That's what I said in my first post on this thread... every government agency has factions. NASA has been dominated by the "science is glorious, all hail science!" crowd for a long time now. Wouldn't it be nice if NASA could get back to what it is supposed to be about?
What you seem to be saying is completely opposite to what incoming just said.

Your post implies that science isn't what NASA is supposed to be about, when science quite explicitly is what NASA is about. There are other things that NASA is about too, but based on your posts you seem to think that much of what NASA is about should go away.

I do think there is a point in this that is also worth bringing up and that is prioritization.  There are many of us who believe that the public story is that NASA's primary job is science.  Not one of it's primary jobs, not an integral part of it's broad job, but it's primary job is science. 

That is the problem IMHO.  If there is understanding that there is and are multiple things NASA does, and there are multiple reasons to do things in space, then this isn't really a problem.  But from where I am sitting, I get the impression that the majority of people view NASA's PRIMARY job as science.  That science is at the top of prioritization.  That is a problem, IMHO
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #77 on: 11/08/2017 04:41 AM »
NASA does science for a purpose and that purpose is getting humanity off this rock.

I would disagree with this as well however.

Space exploration has always been a core purpose of NASA, however "getting humanity off this rock" implies a permanent departure. Space colonization has never been a core purpose of NASA nor is it today.

What about the 88 NASA Authorization Act, and how that explicitly endorses settlement, and that settlement activities are part of why we do space?
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Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #78 on: 11/08/2017 04:42 AM »

The issue is that "being an enabler of development and settlement"


That has nothing to do with NASA

It doesn't?  Congress would seem to disagree - see the 88 Authorization Act, the 2010 Authorization Act, and the 17 Authorization Act.  It has certainly decided that enabling commercial activities in space is core to what NASA does, which I submit is different than just science.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2017 04:47 AM by Political Hack Wannabe »
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #79 on: 11/08/2017 06:23 AM »
I do think there is a point in this that is also worth bringing up and that is prioritization.  There are many of us who believe that the public story is that NASA's primary job is science.  Not one of it's primary jobs, not an integral part of it's broad job, but it's primary job is science. 

That is the problem IMHO.  If there is understanding that there is and are multiple things NASA does, and there are multiple reasons to do things in space, then this isn't really a problem.  But from where I am sitting, I get the impression that the majority of people view NASA's PRIMARY job as science.  That science is at the top of prioritization.  That is a problem, IMHO
I said this before, but it appears I need to repeat myself. I have never, ever, met a single person who thinks that NASA's primary job is science rather than space. The other way around is common enough, but not that. If there is any problem it is the exact opposite of the one you are complaining about. In fact, both you and QuantumG seem to be suffering from this problem, as you both appear to think that space is NASA's only primary job and science is at best secondary. While this post you just wrote could be pointed to as evidence you understand that science is a primary job of NASA, this is more than countered by your repeated refusals to acknowledge this earlier in the thread after direct prompting. If you want anyone to believe that you think science at NASA is anything more than a secondary effect of its mission of space, then you are going to have to explicitly take back what you stated earlier in this thread.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #80 on: 11/08/2017 11:19 AM »
It doesn't?  Congress would seem to disagree - see the 88 Authorization Act, the 2010 Authorization Act, and the 17 Authorization Act.

Not true.  3 out of more than 60 congressional acts is not a mandate.

It has certainly decided that enabling commercial activities in space is core to what NASA does, which I submit is different than just science.

Not a core task

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #81 on: 11/08/2017 11:58 AM »
It doesn't?  Congress would seem to disagree - see the 88 Authorization Act, the 2010 Authorization Act, and the 17 Authorization Act.

Not true.  3 out of more than 60 congressional acts is not a mandate.

How is it not part of a Congressional mandate if Congress puts it into law?  I'll fully grant that in terms of prioritization, it's not been as high.  But as those statements have never been repealed, that does mean it's part of their mission

It has certainly decided that enabling commercial activities in space is core to what NASA does, which I submit is different than just science.

Not a core task

US code would disagree with you - Title 51, 20102, section (c) states
Quote
Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that [NASA] seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space

How is that not then considered a core task?
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #82 on: 11/08/2017 02:02 PM »

US code would disagree with you - Title 51, 20102, section (c) states
Quote
Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that [NASA] seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space

How is that not then considered a core task?

It isn't.  It just means NASA is to use commercially available services when available.  That is all.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #83 on: 11/08/2017 02:28 PM »

US code would disagree with you - Title 51, 20102, section (c) states
Quote
Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that [NASA] seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space

How is that not then considered a core task?

It isn't.  It just means NASA is to use commercially available services when available.  That is all.

2 points

First, it could have said that then.  It didn't - encouraging the fullest commercial use of space doesn't just mean buy commercial when available.  It means that NASA has an active role to play in the commercial development of space. 

Second, it's codified within what is the NASA Act. 
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #84 on: 11/08/2017 02:51 PM »
as I stated in the thread this was spun from:

National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Unamended) Section 102.C.5.


NASA IS a science agency. It's part of its very mandate.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #85 on: 11/08/2017 03:20 PM »
Similarly, that same bill very clearly reenforced the policy that NASA is a "multi-mission agency." No matter how much certain (relatively few) individuals WANT it to be so, NASA does not have one mission that trumps all others, and probably never will as long as we have a representative government. NASA is a science agency; NASA is a technology agency; NASA is a space exploration agency. This isn't just my opinion - it's the law, going all the way back to the establishment of NASA and reaffirmed countless times by re-authorization acts, many of which passed with huge margins or even unanimously.

That's what I said in my first post on this thread... every government agency has factions. NASA has been dominated by the "science is glorious, all hail science!" crowd for a long time now. Wouldn't it be nice if NASA could get back to what it is supposed to be about?
What you seem to be saying is completely opposite to what incoming just said.

Your post implies that science isn't what NASA is supposed to be about, when science quite explicitly is what NASA is about. There are other things that NASA is about too, but based on your posts you seem to think that much of what NASA is about should go away.

Maybe we can try looking at it this way. I think the Webb/JFK/etc transcript that was posted was HUGELY instructive and still relevant today. Go and read that entire thing, not just the snippet that was posted here. Webb was arguing if we make NASA just about Apollo and beating the Russians, you will lose a lot of NASA's supporters in the academic and scientific community.  And that is important not just for galvanizing support for the program, but it was important because Webb was viewing building a strong scientific and engineering "capability" as an extremely important justification for the space program.

JFK was saying that's all well and good, but that doesn't justify the massive investment they were making in NASA (in terms of % of the budget, GDP, etc far above what we invest today) and it doesn't necessarily speak to the "every day" person the same way the goal of beating the Russians to the moon did.

And they were both right.

Once that goal was met, NASA's budget has fallen off dramatically to about what it is now in current year dollars, give or take.   

Now the reason that we have any budget at all for NASA, vs. it just going away completely after Apollo, was that all of the "other stuff" NASA was doing was still important to people.  The science, the aeronautics, the technology, and at least some continuing investment in human space flight.

The notion of eventual space settlement is, to some, part of the justification for that large (though not by apollo standards) continuing investment we make in human space flight.  For others, the justification remains national prestige; for yet others the justification is more esoteric - exploration, science, inspiration, and discovery of the unknown.  And for a lot of people it's some combination of those three justifications.

But settlement and all of other human space flight justifications I've ever heard raised, are nowhere NEAR the level of a unifying goal that beating the Russians to the Moon was.  And even that was perhaps reenforced by the assassination of JFK.

So, barring something crazy happening (first contact?) there will NEVER be a goal or singular purpose that unites the agency. But in many ways that's a GOOD thing - a diversity of purposes is what has sustained the agency for so long and will continue to sustain the agency (hopefully) for decades to come.   

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #86 on: 11/08/2017 03:38 PM »
as I stated in the thread this was spun from:

National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Unamended) Section 102.C.5.


NASA IS a science agency. It's part of its very mandate.

Would you also call it a commercial development agency?  Because that is in the NASA Act as well. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #87 on: 11/08/2017 03:48 PM »
This is a breakdown of "NASA Occupations" that might assist with clarity:
https://nasajobs.nasa.gov/jobs/occupations.htm
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #88 on: 11/08/2017 03:55 PM »
Even in space policy, random carping about Congress (however justified it may be or not) isn't on. Don't post that. Don't respond to it either. Also random carping in general and "no it isn't" responses are not helpful. Belay those.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #89 on: 11/08/2017 05:00 PM »
as I stated in the thread this was spun from:

National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Unamended) Section 102.C.5.


NASA IS a science agency. It's part of its very mandate.

Would you also call it a commercial development agency?  Because that is in the NASA Act as well. 

Don't be obtuse, please. Commercial development comes by way of space and aeronautic development and the promotion thereof.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #90 on: 11/08/2017 08:55 PM »
I think one of the problems here is that a lot of people don't understand what an authorization act does. There's a lot of stuff that goes into authorization acts that never gets implemented.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #91 on: 11/08/2017 10:32 PM »

So, barring something crazy happening (first contact?) there will NEVER be a goal or singular purpose that unites the agency. But in many ways that's a GOOD thing - a diversity of purposes is what has sustained the agency for so long and will continue to sustain the agency (hopefully) for decades to come.   

I agree that there isn't a singular purpose to NASA's activities, per se.  I would even go so far as to suggest that something like settlement and development aren't singular purposes (and the phrase exploration has become meaningless when applied to space flight)

The issue is whether there is a cultural issue when it comes to how the public perceives space and NASA - do they understand the nuance that NASA has a science aspect, a development aspect, etc..., or do they just lump it altogether and assume it's only scientists, or something else?

As an example story - I was talking to someone who was very concerned about climate change (it's his big issue), and his response when I said I work in the space field, and started talking about NASA, his response was "well, you got a bunch of scientists and engineers there - lets have them go work on green energy, because that is what is important."  In his mind, all he could imagine for space was science. 

This is a breakdown of "NASA Occupations" that might assist with clarity:
https://nasajobs.nasa.gov/jobs/occupations.htm

You could also look at the budget, but that is much more diverse than science. 

I think one of the problems here is that a lot of people don't understand what an authorization act does. There's a lot of stuff that goes into authorization acts that never gets implemented.

I would challenge that.  I would submit that NASA is responsible for any and all of the items that are put into an authorization bill.  I will grant there are times when an authorization law contradicts a previous law, or is in conflict with another law.  And there are times where events overcome specific programs or activities. 

That said, in our context, Congress has dictated a role for NASA in settlement.
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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #92 on: 11/08/2017 11:26 PM »
That said, in our context, Congress has dictated a role for NASA in settlement.

Even if we were to accept this as so, the role if any that exists, is so vague and so amorphously defined that it might as well not exist at all.

There is no active program or initiative that anyone at NASA is tasked with that directly impacts on efforts to establish or expand space settlements. The only thing I can think of that even comes close would be the assistance given to Bigelow with testing their hab on ISS as a stepping stone to a more permanent presence in space.

If the Congress wished for NASA to be more directly involved in settlement then they would need to provide much clearer guidance to indicate that NASA should focus efforts in that area.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2017 11:28 PM by spacetraveler »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #93 on: 11/08/2017 11:30 PM »

So, barring something crazy happening (first contact?) there will NEVER be a goal or singular purpose that unites the agency. But in many ways that's a GOOD thing - a diversity of purposes is what has sustained the agency for so long and will continue to sustain the agency (hopefully) for decades to come.   

I agree that there isn't a singular purpose to NASA's activities, per se.  I would even go so far as to suggest that something like settlement and development aren't singular purposes (and the phrase exploration has become meaningless when applied to space flight)
As I said in my previous post, if you agree then you need to take back all of your posts earlier in this thread claiming that NASA is not a science agency, but is a space agency. You could argue both, or you could argue neither, but one and not the other is simply opposing to the claim that NASA doesn't have a singular purpose to its activities.

The issue is whether there is a cultural issue when it comes to how the public perceives space and NASA - do they understand the nuance that NASA has a science aspect, a development aspect, etc..., or do they just lump it altogether and assume it's only scientists, or something else?

As an example story - I was talking to someone who was very concerned about climate change (it's his big issue), and his response when I said I work in the space field, and started talking about NASA, his response was "well, you got a bunch of scientists and engineers there - lets have them go work on green energy, because that is what is important."  In his mind, all he could imagine for space was science.
Your final conclusion in inconsistent with the rest of your story. The person you were talking with recognized that NASA has both scientists and engineers per your quote, so it seems that he understands that NASA is not pure science, but also has development, etc. His suggestion to have them all work on green energy (which would involve development, not just science) is clearly about him thinking space exploration is basically useless and that all of the resources of NASA should redirected to green energy, ignoring many issues such as the fact that engineers specialized in rocket engines wouldn't be of much help.

His understanding that NASA has engineers directly contradicts the point you are trying to make, further showing that the problem you are trying to solve does not actually exist. His ignorant idea of what NASA should do is irrelevant to this discussion of what NASA is and does.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #94 on: 11/08/2017 11:46 PM »

So, barring something crazy happening (first contact?) there will NEVER be a goal or singular purpose that unites the agency. But in many ways that's a GOOD thing - a diversity of purposes is what has sustained the agency for so long and will continue to sustain the agency (hopefully) for decades to come.   

I agree that there isn't a singular purpose to NASA's activities, per se.  I would even go so far as to suggest that something like settlement and development aren't singular purposes (and the phrase exploration has become meaningless when applied to space flight)
As I said in my previous post, if you agree then you need to take back all of your posts earlier in this thread claiming that NASA is not a science agency, but is a space agency. You could argue both, or you could argue neither, but one and not the other is simply opposing to the claim that NASA doesn't have a singular purpose to its activities.

The issue is whether there is a cultural issue when it comes to how the public perceives space and NASA - do they understand the nuance that NASA has a science aspect, a development aspect, etc..., or do they just lump it altogether and assume it's only scientists, or something else?

As an example story - I was talking to someone who was very concerned about climate change (it's his big issue), and his response when I said I work in the space field, and started talking about NASA, his response was "well, you got a bunch of scientists and engineers there - lets have them go work on green energy, because that is what is important."  In his mind, all he could imagine for space was science.
Your final conclusion in inconsistent with the rest of your story. The person you were talking with recognized that NASA has both scientists and engineers per your quote, so it seems that he understands that NASA is not pure science, but also has development, etc. His suggestion to have them all work on green energy (which would involve development, not just science) is clearly about him thinking space exploration is basically useless and that all of the resources of NASA should redirected to green energy, ignoring many issues such as the fact that engineers specialized in rocket engines wouldn't be of much help.

His understanding that NASA has engineers directly contradicts the point you are trying to make, further showing that the problem you are trying to solve does not actually exist. His ignorant idea of what NASA should do is irrelevant to this discussion of what NASA is and does.

meberbs, I remain convinced of what I said earlier - we are at a fundamental philosophical disagreement about the perceptions of other people.  When you reach this point, there isn't much purpose in discussion of issues like these. 

That being the case, (and with Lars' earlier comments), my vote is to simply say we've reached the point of fundamental disagreement and leave it at that. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #95 on: 11/08/2017 11:58 PM »
That said, in our context, Congress has dictated a role for NASA in settlement.

Even if we were to accept this as so, the role if any that exists, is so vague and so amorphously defined that it might as well not exist at all.

There is no active program or initiative that anyone at NASA is tasked with that directly impacts on efforts to establish or expand space settlements. The only thing I can think of that even comes close would be the assistance given to Bigelow with testing their hab on ISS as a stepping stone to a more permanent presence in space.

If the Congress wished for NASA to be more directly involved in settlement then they would need to provide much clearer guidance to indicate that NASA should focus efforts in that area.

Strategic direction often has some level of vagueness - that is usually necessary.  For example (and I stipulate up front I am not looking to have this turn into an SLS litigation thread) - there is a strong argument that SLS violates the section (c) of 20102, and yet, you can also argue that it doesn't, because of the "where practicable" language. 

It also depends on the issue of how close we consider we are to developing space settlements (whether they are planetary body based or free space settlements), and what activities you are going after.  In many respects, the loss of the space settlement studies in the 90s makes this a lot harder. 

That doesn't mean that the language has isn't there, and that those implications and requirements cannot be folded into the broader NASA activities.  For example - one area that will be necessary for space settlement is the development of a robust space economy, and a robust space transportation economy.  Then the question comes into play - does Commercial Crew enable space settlement?  Does SLS enable space settlement? 

Another area that will need to be addressed is the issue of prioritization when it comes to interacting with the space environment, and NASA plays a huge role in this, with the issue of planetary protection - again, who determines the prioritization when it comes to life science vs resource development? 

In short - yes, I agree, greater clarity from Congress would be useful.  That said, there is enough clarity from Congress dictating the importance of this that it should be factored into discussions when NASA is developing programs, much in the same way sections (c) and (d) from 20102 are part of those activities. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #96 on: 11/09/2017 12:15 AM »
meberbs, I remain convinced of what I said earlier - we are at a fundamental philosophical disagreement about the perceptions of other people.  When you reach this point, there isn't much purpose in discussion of issues like these. 

That being the case, (and with Lars' earlier comments), my vote is to simply say we've reached the point of fundamental disagreement and leave it at that.
This is not a philosophical disagreement, this is me directly pointing out specific contradictions in the statements that you have made. The last time you called it a "philosophical disagreement" you had taken something I said so far out of context as to completely change its meaning. Also, the general public's perception of NASA is something that can be objectively determined, it is not "philosophical." You were even kind enough in your last post to provide an anecdote that counters your claim that people think NASA is only about science.

Since you did not respond to any of the points I made, I can only conclude that you cannot come up with any counterarguments, but are unwilling to admit that you are wrong.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2017 12:19 AM by meberbs »

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #97 on: 11/09/2017 01:51 AM »
I would challenge that.  I would submit that NASA is responsible for any and all of the items that are put into an authorization bill.  I will grant there are times when an authorization law contradicts a previous law, or is in conflict with another law.  And there are times where events overcome specific programs or activities. 

Well, for starters, authorization acts have established budget amounts significantly higher than actual appropriations (something that Senator Nelson used to complain about a lot).

Authorization acts establish overall frameworks, not budgets, and are often the source of unfunded mandates. In Washington there's a saying: "Budget is policy."


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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #98 on: 11/09/2017 02:15 AM »
The dream that NASA could actually do anything to get us out there...

Apollo was never about "getting us out there". It was all about showing up the USSR, and that just happened to be one of the many locations where that was being done.

Also, many people seem to think that even though words have been written to the effect that NASA should help to expand humanity out into space, that our U.S. Congress is willing to fund such an effort. Words are easy, but getting the money is hard, and so far the U.S. Congress has not been willing to fund (at this point) the expansion of humanity out into space.

Fund space science, sure. I think that is more from a standpoint of tradition, where the U.S. Government has funded pure research in a number of fields because it has been recognized that there are long-term benefits to doing that, but little by little funding for pure research has been reduced over the past few decades, and the current Congress doesn't look likely to reverse that.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online yg1968

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #99 on: 11/09/2017 02:23 AM »
The dream that NASA could actually do anything to get us out there...

Apollo was never about "getting us out there". It was all about showing up the USSR, and that just happened to be one of the many locations where that was being done.

Also, many people seem to think that even though words have been written to the effect that NASA should help to expand humanity out into space, that our U.S. Congress is willing to fund such an effort. Words are easy, but getting the money is hard, and so far the U.S. Congress has not been willing to fund (at this point) the expansion of humanity out into space.

Fund space science, sure. I think that is more from a standpoint of tradition, where the U.S. Government has funded pure research in a number of fields because it has been recognized that there are long-term benefits to doing that, but little by little funding for pure research has been reduced over the past few decades, and the current Congress doesn't look likely to reverse that.

I wonder if that is true. It seems that everything that NASA does for BLEO exploration is a lot more than it actually needs. The architecture proposed by Golden Spike or by SpaceX seems more reasonable and could fit within the current budget.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2017 02:32 AM by yg1968 »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #100 on: 11/09/2017 03:32 AM »
You could also look at the budget, but that is much more diverse than science.

Exactly what I was thinking.  Please find attached a breakdown of the major categories of NASA's FY 2017 appropriation, along with the relevant appropriation itself.

For each of the major categories (science, aeronautics, space technology, etc.), the spreadsheet shows both the appropriated amount and my own guess as to the percentage of spending in the category which constitutes science.  I don't expect everybody will agree with my guesses, but perhaps this breakdown will give us a clearer idea of what we disagree about.

I ignore appropriations for support functions, such as the OIG.  I presume that these support NASA's science and non-science functions in approximately the same proportions for which NASA has explicit budgets and therefore have little impact on the balance between science and non-science.

I would guess, in particular, that there will be howls of protest at my suggestion that only one-sixth of each of exploration and space operations counts as science.  For the latter, my rationale is that, as I understand it, most members of the ISS crew are fully preoccupied with simply maintaining ISS.  If you're lucky, one member is doing more or less full-time scientific research.  I then assume a similar percentage would apply to the exploration category.

With my own assumptions as to the percentage of each budget category corresponding to science (you can enter your own percentages), about 45% of NASA's expenditures turn out to be on science (higher than I would have guessed).  I would say that unless the science percentage is at least two-thirds, it would be misleading to describe NASA as a science agency.  That's not to say, though, NASA doesn't do a lot of phenomenal research.

P.S.  I don't think the discussion of JFK's views on NASA's function are very relevant.  In the sixties, NASA was largely about the non-scientific goal of beating the Soviets to the moon, but today's NASA is a different organization.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2017 03:42 AM by Proponent »

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #101 on: 11/09/2017 05:00 AM »
I wonder if that is true. It seems that everything that NASA does for BLEO exploration is a lot more than it actually needs. The architecture proposed by Golden Spike or by SpaceX seems more reasonable and could fit within the current budget.

I think it's important to remember that NASA's budget is partially based on artificial factors, and that there are no constitutional limits as to how much NASA gets overall.

Some programs within NASA have hard budget requirements, like the ISS and robotic missions that need to launch at particular times, but for the SLS and the Orion programs they are transportation systems that are being built in anticipation of future BLEO needs.

The future needs for the SLS and Orion require one or more BLEO exploration programs to be funded, however the level of funding possible is not limited - NASA's budget could go up, even significantly, if Congress wants the BLEO program goals to occur sooner rather than later. For instance, $5B a year would be a massive increase for NASA, but it's a rounding error for the overall U.S. budget.

But increasing NASA's budget would probably require a goal that is perceived as very important to the U.S., and I don't think such a BLEO goal is likely to show up anytime soon, and I don't think Congress cares what Elon Musk wants to do on Mars. So NASA's budget will probably stay about the same, and any new BLEO programs will be shoehorned into that budget profile - regardless how much that stretches them out into the future.

As to the topic at hand, if NASA was mainly a Human Space Flight agency, then I think we'd see a much more cohesive set of plans and goals, well supported by Congress, and a higher cadence of activity than we've seen. The science part of NASA has a pretty good cadence of missions, even though they cost far less than HSF, but they do provide a consistent stream of results. Not saying one is better than the other, just that science has been a very consistent effort within NASA.

My $0.02
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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