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Thread: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by WillRockwell View Post
    You are calling for another one trick pony, a gimmick to capture the imagination. We are not children anymore, and it's time to begin the serious work of designing hardware to enable man to explore space on a large scale. These are the boldest footsteps yet, you just refuse to see them.
    An overriding sense of purpose need not be a "one trick pony." The purpose can be broader than, let's say, a trip to Mars. For example, the President could have committed to expanding the frontiers of manned exploration in deep space. Once he laid that vision, he could have committed the U.S. to a number of steps and ambitious deadlines to signal that progress on that journey was being made.

    Instead, there were no firm and specific outcomes-related commitments. There were no ambitious deadlines. Investing in a series of projects should lead to some progress, but there are no demanding timelines. A belief that an outcome will occur is far short of a commitment to that outcome. A belief is about risk minimization. A commitment entails risktaking, as a nation puts its reputation on the line.

    All said, given the very distant timeframes and absence of commitments, it appears that the new strategy is one of investing in a variety of projects but leaving it to the normal rate of technological change to bring about outcomes related to those investments. There is nothing bold about such a course, except perhaps in the fiscal sense, as there is no effort to accelerate the rate of technological change, much less to seek to achieve revolutionary breakthroughs.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    An overriding sense of purpose need not be a "one trick pony." The purpose can be broader than, let's say, a trip to Mars. For example, the President could have committed to expanding the frontiers of manned exploration in deep space. Once he laid that vision, he could have committed the U.S. to a number of steps and ambitious deadlines to signal that progress on that journey was being made.

    Instead, there were no firm and specific outcomes-related commitments. There were no ambitious deadlines. Investing in a series of projects should lead to some progress, but there are no demanding timelines. A belief that an outcome will occur is far short of a commitment to that outcome. A belief is about risk minimization. A commitment entails risktaking, as a nation puts its reputation on the line.

    All said, given the very distant timeframes and absence of commitments, it appears that the new strategy is one of investing in a variety of projects but leaving it to the normal rate of technological change to bring about outcomes related to those investments. There is nothing bold about such a course, except perhaps in the fiscal sense, as there is no effort to accelerate the rate of technological change, much less to seek to achieve revolutionary breakthroughs.
    The President's speech laid out a timeline leading to Mars by 2035. It is a realistic plan which will leave us with the foundation for even more ambitious exploration, rather than leaving us with space junk, as did the Apollo program. The timeline for development of a heavy lift vehicle was accelerated by two years even beyond Bush's unrealistic and unmanageable delusion. The development of reusable, reliable and safe space technology requires patience. If you need something more immediate and "bold", I can recommend the recent Star Trek movie.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by 1984 View Post
    Five percent? NASA FY 2009 consumed less than half a percent of receipts.
    A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we are talking about a lot of money.
    Question remains, would you pay extra to support your favorite programs?
    If the tax form had a section for voluntary extra payment to NASA, would YOU pay extra?
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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by WillRockwell View Post
    The President's speech laid out a timeline leading to Mars by 2035. It is a realistic plan which will leave us with the foundation for even more ambitious exploration, rather than leaving us with space junk, as did the Apollo program. The timeline for development of a heavy lift vehicle was accelerated by two years even beyond Bush's unrealistic and unmanageable delusion. The development of reusable, reliable and safe space technology requires patience. If you need something more immediate and "bold", I can recommend the recent Star Trek movie.
    Three points:

    First, that President Bush’s approach had serious flaws does not make it the proper standard against which to measure the new approach. Noting the very limited ambitions of the new approach is not the same thing as expressing support for the Bush approach.

    Second, the Apollo program was truly revolutionary. It required the U.S. to develop new technologies that did not exist at the time of President Kennedy’s speech. It set forth a very demanding timeline. Its larger purpose was to regain leadership in space for the U.S.

    In the wake of Kennedy’s bold address, critics immediately attacked the program as ‘proof of American decadence,’ ‘extremely wasteful,’ ‘unlikely to yield the expected results,’ an initiative that would ‘steal’ engineers from Detroit and other productive industries, among other things. They advised that “we can spend money to better advantage on earth than by shooting it into space.” Both the President and Congress chose the bolder course and the “expected results” were achieved even sooner than the President had envisioned.

    Third, the flippant “Star Trek” comment is nothing more than a powerful rationalization for seeking limited aspirations. It is outright dismissive of a pursuit that would push the frontiers of progress, technology, and knowledge. It advocates the easier approach, but one that can only undermine the spirit of exploration, research, and risk-taking that leads to revolutionary breakthroughs and/or sustains a nation's position of leadership.

    Had that perspective prevailed, the U.S. would never have undertaken the Manhattan and Apollo Projects. Proposals for such initiatives would have been derided as figments of science fiction. Then, the Soviets would almost certainly have achieved the first nuclear breakthrough and the world would likely be vastly different today. Man would likely still be waiting to take the first steps on the Moon.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    My biggest sense of disappoint is that the new plan can probably be described as being "better than nothing." Unfortunately, in an environment in which numerous nations are accelerating their space-related activities, "better than nothing" is not good enough if the U.S. aspires to remain the leader in such technologies/capabilities.

    The enormous timeframes also reflect a lack of urgency. There is nothing revolutionary about the effort. Indeed, the large timeframes and lack of firm commitments even to those distant dates, suggests a strategy that is, at its heart, one that will rely on the normal rate of technological change to produce such outcomes. There is no effort to aggressively push and expand the frontiers of technology. There is no expression of a "can do" spirit that pervaded President Kennedy's speech.
    you began by grousing about Obama's refusal to fund a project constellation plan that takes us back to a 1969 objective; and now that he replaced that with a more far reaching objective you continue to complain
    appears you are simply looking for an excuse to bash Obama
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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    I love it when people think you can legislate technilogical breakthroughs. Just like legislating morality, it is not likely to work no matter how much you throw money at the people who are trying to make something happen.

    All this whining about budgets....it is like someone complaining that his latte' didn't have the right amount of foam while the rest of the world can't even afford coffee....
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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by justabubba View Post
    you began by grousing about Obama's refusal to fund a project constellation plan that takes us back to a 1969 objective; and now that he replaced that with a more far reaching objective you continue to complain
    appears you are simply looking for an excuse to bash Obama
    Not really. I began by discussing generalities based on Neil Armstrong et al's concerns, although looking back, I should have been more clear that my discussion was rather general and should not be read to indicate that I wanted to preserve the Constellation Project per se. IMO, as I expressed it later, if the President felt that there were a better approach than Constellation, that is fine. What I stated at various times in this thread is that I believed it would be important for the President to establish a clear, overriding goal and to lay out an aggressive course for pursuing that goal (investment, assessment mechanism, etc).

    I believe the President means well and is dedicated to manned space exploration. Nevertheless, I have a profound disagreement with the initiative's lack of a defining mission and its unambitious timelines. Given its enormously long timelines, the approach does little more than rely on the normal rate of technological change to produce outcomes. At the same time, even those outcomes are expressed as beliefs, not commitments.

    The historic experience with disruptive technologies, argues that one's relying on the normal rate of technological change and incremental advances in established technologies does not produce revolutionary breakthroughs. In fact, such an approach often contributes to the relative decline of companies'/industries' leadership positions. Harvard University Business School Professor Clayton Christensen has written extensively on disruptive technologies. At the same time, organizational missions that lack unifying characteristics, absence of concrete objectives/commitments, and enormously long deadlines do not produce organizational leadership (myriad literature on management and also psychology address such issues).

    Overall, my view is that the new approach is perhaps a little better than the one it succeeded. It is better than nothing. But it is far from "Kennedyesque" and it is far from a path that assures continued U.S. leadership in space technologies/capabilities over the longer-run. I hoped for better.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by UtahBill View Post
    I love it when people think you can legislate technilogical breakthroughs. Just like legislating morality, it is not likely to work no matter how much you throw money at the people who are trying to make something happen.
    The Manhattan Project, Apollo, and ARPAnet are all counter examples to what you have said.

    All this whining about budgets....it is like someone complaining that his latte' didn't have the right amount of foam while the rest of the world can't even afford coffee....
    It is not our culpability that they cannot afford coffee. Neither is it our responsibility.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by UtahBill View Post
    I love it when people think you can legislate technilogical breakthroughs.
    One can't legislate outcomes. President Kennedy was very clear about the daunting challenge he was setting forth. One can set the nation on a bold course and put in place the investment/mechanisms/personnel to pursue that course.

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    Re: Neil Armstrong, other astronauts call Obama's NASA plans 'devastating'

    Quote Originally Posted by UtahBill View Post
    I love it when people think you can legislate technilogical breakthroughs. Just like legislating morality, it is not likely to work no matter how much you throw money at the people who are trying to make something happen.

    All this whining about budgets....it is like someone complaining that his latte' didn't have the right amount of foam while the rest of the world can't even afford coffee....
    Whoa, just slow down.

    The foam to milk to espresso ratio is extremely important for a good latte.
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