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Constellation decision is a blow to US pride, but the economy comes first

Post  sc4ram on Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:44 pm



June 14, 2010
Constellation decision is a blow to US pride, but the economy comes first

By shelving the Constellation programme, President Obama is writing the next chapter of America’s history. Compared with previous ones, it does not look uplifting.

Half a century ago another charismatic Democratic President led the US into a massive, state-funded gamble on human space exploration. The Cold War required it. After the shame of Sputnik, the idea of the Hammer and Sickle being hoisted on the Moon was simply intolerable. Congress and the public backed it, Nasa delivered on time (if not under budget) and the result was a masterclass in courage and resourcefulness.

In 2010 Mr Obama had to decide whether to match John Kennedy’s dramatic challenge with a pledge to boldly go where no astronaut has been before. America today has at least as much to prove as it did in 1961, but it does not face the sort of existential threat that galvanised the nation behind Apollo. Its fascination with space peaked long ago, and in financial terms its cupboard is bare.

President Obama is nothing if not rational. He came to office facing the collapse of the US economy and has since ordered a freeze on discretionary non-security spending. He has ring-fenced his education budget, committed the Treasury to paying $1 trillion (£690 billion) over ten years on health insurance subsidies, and still has two wars to fund. In the circumstances, Nasa’s quixotic lunge toward Mars with a “new generation” of distinctly old-fashioned rockets looked vulnerable at best. If Mr Obama has his way, it will be doomed.

According to polls, fewer than a third of voters think state-funded human missions back to the Moon and then to Mars and beyond are justifiable in the current economic mess. Yet Congress cannot bear to let Nasa relinquish its global leadership in manned space exploration, which is why it is using every legal tool available to block the plan to force Nasa’s contractors to stop building hardware for Constellation. Much of the congressional case rests on one Earthly concern: jobs. More than 2,000 skilled staff depend on Constellation contracts at the Marshall Space Flight Centre in Alabama alone. Thousands more jobs are at risk in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. In Florida, the congressional delegation includes powerful Democrats that Mr Obama would prefer not to confront in a midterm election year.

There are stronger strategic arguments for maintaining America’s lead beyond Earth’s orbit. If it steps back, China will become the world’s dominant space-faring nation and its goals there remain unclear. Mr Obama understands this. He also knows that the idea of journeying to the next frontier retains a powerful hold on the American psyche, which is why he claims that his plan to outsource research and development for new propulsion technologies will lead eventually to Mars. Yet the frail US economy leaves his hands tied. For at least ten years American astronauts will fly to space in Russian capsules, or not at all — because American consumers borrowed too much for their houses.
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Obama Wants You To Weigh In On Space Recovery Plan

Post  sc4ram on Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:51 am



http://flametrench.flatoday.net/2010/06/obama-wants-you-to-weigh-in-on-space.html
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Cooperation at heart of Obama's new space policy

Post  sc4ram on Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:29 pm



http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100629/NEWS02/6290323/1086/Cooperation+at+heart+of++Obama+s+new+space+policy
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NASA's budget gets a boost

Post  sc4ram on Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:17 pm



http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100630/NEWS02/6300332/NASA+s+budget+gets+a+boost
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NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World

Post  sc4ram on Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:00 pm

After reading this , given the backdrop of broken campaign promises in this area, having to manage NASA post shuttle, the corresponding budget planning, the 9000+ jobs at stake here in Brevard alone (not the mention the rest of the country) , if the Chief NASA administrator has time to go to the middle east in pursuit of "better relations", Im starting to conclude that these people in power have no use for NASA other than to let it die in the vine.


http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/05/nasa-chief-frontier-better-relations-muslims/
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USA to lay off up to 1,000 on Oct. 1

Post  sc4ram on Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:41 am



USA to lay off up to 1,000 on Oct. 1
Up to 20 percent of United Space Alliance's 5,100 shuttle program workers at Kennedy Space Center face layoffs on Oct. 1, the company announced Tuesday.

A total of 15 percent of the workforce in Florida, Texas and Alabama will lose their jobs as the space shuttle program comes to an end.

"It is due to reduction in work scope," company spokeswoman Kari Fluegel said.

Two shuttle missions remain: STS-133 currently is scheduled for no earlier than Nov. 1, and STS-134 is set for Feb. 26, 2011.

USA has about 8,100 workers in Florida, Texas and Alabama. The company expects to lay off 800 to 1,000 in Florida, 300 to 400 in Texas and about 10 in Alabama. The percentage of workers laid off in Florida will be slightly higher.

"Our workforce has known for several years that the Space Shuttle Program has been scheduled to end, but layoffs are always difficult for everyone involved," Virginia Barnes, USA president and chief executive officer, said. "The accomplishments of this team are unmatched in human spaceflight."

All laid off employees will receive severance compensation and support for resume development, job interview training and career transition training. This layoff is part of an estimated 8,000 jobs to be lost at KSC out of 15,000 total jobs as the shuttle program ends.

"Though USA will be a significantly smaller company after the space shuttle program is completed, we are optimistic about our future," Barnes said. "USA has a great deal to offer in the way of skills, experience and expertise, and we are looking forward to providing our unique capabilities to a wide variety of new and existing customers."

The company has asked for volunteers to leave the workforce.

"That's the first step of the process," Fluegel said. "Our employees were aware that this was coming."

Several smaller layoffs are expected before a massive layoff right after wheels stop on the last shuttle mission.

"We anticipate there might be a couple of small actions before we get to the end of the program," Fluegel said
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Flying NASA into the ground

Post  sc4ram on Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:23 am

Kevin OBrien, The Plain Dealer Thursday, July 08, 2010

Among my earliest memories is waking before the California dawn to watch the countdowns and launches of the Mercury program.

I was 4 when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, and I was hooked. I knew the astronauts' names. I knew who was Navy and who was Air Force. I knew an Atlas from a Redstone. I knew the lingo. I could do a dead-on imitation of the capcom, complete with the static and the little beep at the end of each transmission.

And as time went on, I built the models: airplanes, rockets, aircraft carriers -- anything flight-related. My heroes flew high and fast in fascinating machines, against daunting odds, and always with America's future on the line.

They flew F-4s and A-6s through swarms of surface-to-air missiles in Vietnam. They flew the X-1, the X-2 and the X-15 to the edge of the atmosphere. They flew Mercury and Gemini capsules around the Earth.

And finally, they strapped themselves into Apollo capsules atop hulking Saturn V rockets and flew to the moon.

The combination of imagination, engineering, mathematical precision and sheer guts was amazing to me.

These days, I'm sadly amazed at different things.

On June 30, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden offered an indication of just how frighteningly narrow the horizons of our space program have become. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Bolden said this:

"When I became the NASA administrator, or before I be came the NASA administrator, [President Barack Obama] charged me with three things: One was, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering."

NASA exists to do none of those things.

If Obama would like to increase young people's interest in math and science as a happy byproduct of NASA's work, he'll put the space agency back on the job of flying high and fast in superbly engineered machines. That's the sort of thing that captures the imagination.

For that other nonsense, there's a State Department.
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Funding may alter NASA's spaceflight direction

Post  sc4ram on Sat Jul 10, 2010 2:08 pm

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100710/NEWS02/7100318/Funding+may+alter+NASA+s+spaceflight+direction
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You should be mad about NASA leader's remarks about Muslims

Post  sc4ram on Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:09 pm



http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20107110320
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For NASA, an al-jeer-a

Post  sc4ram on Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:08 pm



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/7/for-nasa-an-al-jeer-a/
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Millions Earmarked For Space Coast Industry

Post  sc4ram on Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:19 pm



http://www.aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/06/23/05.xml&headline=Millions%20Earmarked%20For%20Space%20Coast%20Industry&channel=space
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Muslim Outreach Not the Job of NASA, White House Says

Post  sc4ram on Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:18 pm

IMO, these guys running our government are a incompetent bunch of boobs.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/12/white-house-muslim-outreach-task-nasa/
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Bill Nelson's proposal unsettles Space Coast EDC

Post  sc4ram on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:53 am



http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100715/NEWS02/7150311/Bill+Nelson+s+proposal+unsettles+Space+Coast+EDC
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Plan kills NASA's Constellation moon mission, adds shuttle launch

Post  sc4ram on Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:17 am



http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-senate-committee-vote-20100715,0,2590515.story
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Comercial funding axed; no extra shuttle launch in House plan

Post  sc4ram on Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:46 am



http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20107210336
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Human Spaceflight on the Brink of Extinction?

Post  sc4ram on Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:58 am





Roger Launius-blog to Space News July 22, 10


Senior space community advocates, leaders, members and pundits have been disagreeing and debating and reaching no consensus in a very public quarrel over the future of human spaceflight. This argument has become so desperate that for the first time since the beginning of the space age, the United States has the potential to end the current human spaceflight program indefinitely without clear plans for a follow-on. Is U.S. human spaceflight on the brink of extinction? Since President Obama’s declaration on Feb. 1 — announcing that the Constellation program would end and the United States would rely on an emergent private sector for access to low Earth orbit — numerous high profile spaceflight advocates have come out on both sides of the debate.

In April Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and Jim Lovell famously sent the president a letter warning that the proposed change to human spaceflight “destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature.”

Proponents of the plan, among them Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, counter that the president’s approach will return NASA to its roots as a research-and-development organization while private firms operate space systems. Turning low Earth orbit over to commercial entities could then empower NASA to focus on deep space exploration, perhaps eventually sending humans to Mars or elsewhere.

The debate has largely been over maintaining a traditional approach to human spaceflight with NASA dominating the effort, owning the vehicles and operating them through contractors. That was the method whereby America went to the Moon; it has been proven successful over nearly 50 years of human space exploration. Then there are those from the “new space” world that emphasize allowing private sector firms to seize the initiative and pursue entrepreneurial approaches to human spaceflight. Advocates of the more traditional approach believe that the other side will sacrifice safety; the entrepreneurial approach criticizes the forces of tradition with large, over-budget, under-achieving space efforts. There is no resolution.

Nothing like the rancor of this debate, its longevity, it’s very public nature and its intensity has taken place in the history of human spaceflight. It reminds me of an important lesson learned about politics by the space science community in 1967.

In that instance, based on recommendations from planetary scientists, NASA’s Office of Space Science had formulated a $2 billion program (in 1960s dollars) to search for life on Mars known at that time as Voyager (not to be confused with Voyagers 1 and 2 that went to the outer planets). At the same time Homer Newell, leading the NASA science program, canceled plans for missions to other planets. While a few scientists supported the Voyager mission, many thought it too risky and expensive. A public dispute spilled into the Capitol before the general public.

In the summer of 1967, because of conflicting testimony from scientists and a general shortage of funds due to the cost of the Vietnam War and the needs of the Great Society, infighting among space scientists prompted presidential and congressional questioning and eventually forced NASA to cancel the Voyager project.

In the fall of 1967, frustrated by the congressional action and irritated at this strife, NASA Administrator James E. Webb stopped all work on new planetary missions until the scientists could agree on a planetary program. Thereafter, the scientific community went to work hammering out a mutually acceptable planetary program for the 1970s. Retrenched and restructured, a program emerged that led to a succession of stunning missions throughout the 1970s, even as budgetary pressures and reduced political support remained.

The space science community learned a hard lesson in practical politics from the Voyager fiasco. Most important, they learned to resolve their differences in internal discussions, not in public complaints to the media or in testimony before Congress. They also learned that while strong scientific support could not necessarily guarantee political support for a mission, lack of agreement among the space science community would certainly ensure a program’s demise.

It may be that the current crisis in human spaceflight will become the same type of teachable moment for the space community. Failure to reach an internal position in support of a path to the future has fostered the current state of unrest and contention in the policy debate. While the dramatic nature of the shift proposed makes consensus exceptionally difficult, the very public fight ensures continued controversy aired in the media and on Capitol Hill with only a modest chance of success.

If those who care deeply about the future of human spaceflight cannot reach agreement as to a path, why should those tangentially involved, at best, care either? Public opinion polling has long stated that the general public likes space exploration, but that its support is like the Platte River — a mile wide and an inch deep. Hence the difficulty of obtaining even modest increases in the NASA budget every year. This is especially apparent in a context in which the U.S. during the last few years has expanded significantly the national debt even as the nation is unwilling to make funding available for NASA to see its Constellation program through to fruition. What is the problem with $3 billion more per year for NASA when the deficit is so large already? This situation portends deep difficulties for human spaceflight; only a united approach can ensure the future of human space exploration.

The 1967 space science debacle was only resolved when the science community united to support a plan for the future; is resolution in the current debate over human spaceflight only solvable through a convergence of the space community’s priorities? If so how does this convergence take place? Does leadership come from the White House, from NASA, from a professional organization, from some other source? A lot is riding on this process. Obviously, profits for corporations are at issue, but so too is the future of humanity in space.

I sincerely hope that an initiative to bring the parties together for discussions will be successful. Failure to achieve consensus could mean that decisions over the future of human spaceflight might take courses unacceptable to the space community as a whole. Will those committed to human space exploration have to learn the hard lesson of cancellation of its major program as did the space scientists in 1967 before convergence? I hope not. For any new approach to succeed, however, those interested in human spaceflight will have to change perspectives, priorities, and approaches. They do not have to change their values and goals — an expansive future for humans in space — there is agreement almost to the last person on those. While this change will certainly be difficult, it is also critical for a robust future.

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USA giving notice to employees losing jobs this fall

Post  sc4ram on Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:59 am




http://space.flatoday.net/2010/07/usa-giving-notice-to-employees-being.html
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Iran aims to put man in space by 2019

Post  sc4ram on Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:12 am

I nominate Mr. Ahmadinejad for the first ride, as Jackie Gleason used to say; "to the moon Alice"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100723/sc_nm/us_iran_shuttle_space_3
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Planetary Society Urges Debate On NASA Authorization Bill

Post  sc4ram on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:33 pm




by Staff Writers- Space Travel
Pasadena CA (SPX) Jul 30, 2010
The Planetary Society has issued a statement about the request that the U.S. House of Representatives suspend the rules when voting on the NASA Authorization bill:
The U.S. House of Representatives is being asked to bring a highly controversial NASA Authorization bill (H.R. 5781) to the floor for a quick vote before Congress heads out of town for its summer break. The NASA bill would be taken up under procedures to "suspend the rules" that limit debate and do not allow amendments or changes to the bill.

The future of the space program is too important to rush through a controversial change in policy.

The Planetary Society is very concerned that the proposed NASA Authorization, which was only recently unveiled by the House Science and Technology committee, has taken an approach to space exploration that deviates significantly from any plan offered by NASA or any previous Administration - one that raises many fundamental questions about the direction and sustainability of the space program.

Specifically, the proposed bill abandons any significant investment in exploration technology, effectively eliminates the Administration's approach for engaging the commercial sector, establishes a program of loan guarantees that the Administration did not request, and seeks to reinstate programs that have been determined to be unsustainable.

It also proposed no specific exploration goals for U.S. human spaceflight, a serious omission that was recognized after the tragic loss of life on the shuttle Columbia. Human space flight should be worth its cost and risk, and, as the Augustine Committee stated after an independent review of the U.S. human spaceflight program, "worthy of a great nation."

There has been inadequate time to review and understand the implications of this new plan. Therefore, the Society urges the House leadership to wait until after the August recess to bring the bill to the House Floor, allowing a full and open debate and for amendments to improve the bill.
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Is NASA Being Set Up To Fail (Again)?

Post  sc4ram on Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:22 am



http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/nasa/nasa-senate-appropriations-constellation
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Space program an issue politically

Post  sc4ram on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:23 pm



http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100808/NEWS05/8080358/1006/NEWS01/Space+program+an+issue+politically
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Florida could benefit from planned Boeing spacecraft

Post  sc4ram on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:33 pm



http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/08/florida-could-benefit-from-planned-boeing-spacecraft.html
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Feds Call For Space Grants, Commercial Center

Post  sc4ram on Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:10 am



http://www.aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/08/18/02.xml&headline=Feds%20Call%20For%20Space%20Grants,%20Commercial%20Center&channel=space
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Layoff anxiety

Post  sc4ram on Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:03 am



http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100822/NEWS02/8220331/Layoff+anxiety+top+risk+to+space+shuttle
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It's All About NASA, Space Jobs in Bill Posey's District 15

Post  sc4ram on Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:05 pm





http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/its-all-about-nasa-space-jobs-bill-poseys-district-15

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Re: Up to 9000 Jobs to be lost at the Cape after the Shuttle goes Obsolete

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