Author Topic: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency  (Read 9345 times)

Online 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)
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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 »

Online 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

Offline 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?

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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.

Online 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.
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 Lar

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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 Mr. Scott

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #52 on: 11/05/2017 12:43 AM »
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)
NASA is a mission operations and logistics agency.  NSF is a science agency/foundation.

It is too difficult for NASA to try new things.  They simply prefer high TRL over managing risk.  This is totally adverse to trying new science/technology.  The maiden launch of any new launch vehicle will use obsolete technology just like it has always done in the past.

There should be a new public domain technology development agency that is like DARPA.  This is to make it 100% independent of the launch vehicle development/schedule slips that NASA has.

Science should be funded by NSF.  JPL does a very great job with what they are doing.  However, I keep hearing that they are a subcontractor to NASA.  Just do science in NSF.

Mission operations and logistics should be funded under NASA... if that is really what they really want to do (explore the moon/Mars).  Just reduce the NASA charter mission to. just. one. mission. at. a. time.  Don't confuse Moon then Mars.  Just do one and only one mission.  That's it!

Aeronautics is woefully underfunded at NASA.  This should go under the new technology agency.

The system is perfectly designed to give you the results you are now seeing.
« Last Edit: 11/05/2017 12:46 AM by Mr. Scott »
Star fleet said it was only going to be a five year mission.

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #53 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 #54 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 #55 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

Offline Jim

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #56 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.

Offline Jim

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #57 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 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #58 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.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Language matters - why I say NASA is not a science agency
« Reply #59 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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