Budget compromises between unmanned and manned exploration are deteriorating both
We are pillaging the robotic programs to feed human spaceflight. In the 2004 – 2006 timeframe, $3 billion moved from the science directorates to the Exploration directorate.
US is becoming uncompetitive in developing sophisticated and demanding technology and applications derived from space, Why?
Advanced technology development in other countries is increasingly surpassing the US
If we don’t act now, the U.S. will accelerate its inability to compete and will continue to lose more jobs
Italian Media Lario developed a 200 mm X-ray telescope using its Nickel electroforming replication technology. Using this, now they’re building an X-RAY communications system. It is much faster than fiber optic technology and the US didn’t develop it.
Other countries will surpass us in heavy space lift and manned operations
In 2007, Michael Griffin said China was capable of landing on the Moon before us. Subsequently, Chinese space official Ouyang Ziyuan said “China will make a manned moon landing at the proper time, around 2017.”
Space exploration requires a sufficient earth-based infrastructure. China is building four new space industry centers in Shangxi, Sichuan, Beijing and Shanghai. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a resolution to establish its space sector.
NASA is the only customer for manned launch vehicles to LEO or higher (ISS, solar system exploration). Take that away and ?
Loss of US space access capability is commercially and biologically dangerous – Why?
Let’s remember that NASA helped create an industry that reached $180B in revenue in 2005
Now orbital space junk threatens to kill satellites and the International Space Station that can’t move out of its own way using existing technology
In fact, in December 2001, the Space Shuttle pushed the ISS away from a discarded Russian booster that was passing uncomfortably close.
Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO, “The odds of a space-object strike during your lifetime may be no more than dying in a plane crash—but with space rocks, it’s like the entire human race is … on the plane.” NASA’s efforts are piecemeal and underfunded.
Individuals and public corporations are not always good at judging what is beneficial in the long term. For example:
Whether we commit politically and socially to human space activities, other countries will (i.e. China, India, Azerbaijan)
Without continued investment, we can lose a capability. In the 1970’s we gave up the Saturn V capability. We likely could have put up a space station in a few flights. Wernher Von Braun had plans to reach Mars using the Saturn V architecture. Now 40 years (2010!) later we’re recreating that capability again, but very expensively.
Commercial industry is necessary but not sufficient, because:
The X – Prize illuminates the lack of ROI in human space activities – though awesome -- but, they currently lack the scale and complexity to launch into orbit and re-enter at will. There is a great divide between flying up to 60 nm and falling back down versus getting into orbit, operating in place, and descending back safely.
We have a long-standing chicken-and-egg problem. Space activity strongly depends on the cost of reaching low-Earth orbit. Early airlines faced a similar barrier, only resolved when the federal government awarded guaranteed contracts to carry US Mail.
Is the commercial market self-sustaining? Well, the US Air Force asked for $1 billion of subsidies in 2004-2009 for the Atlas V and Delta 4 EELV. The commercial satellite market collapse invalidated the manufacturers’ ROI.
Finally, maintaining independent federal launch capability gives United States important strategic flexibility to access space under its own terms
Only the US Gov’t can advance national U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program since:
The ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. Without this being a national goal, the rest is irrelevant.
Pursuing the question of life on Mars is likely to involve human exploration no matter what we do robotically. A positive or negative robotic outcome may still lead us that life lies under hostile surface layers. Investigating this will require deep drilling to penetrate the permafrost.
Now, comets may have deposited organic molecules on the moon but this also requires rock cores from depths of up to 100 metres. Investigating this will also require deep drilling.
Practical concerns -- The world’s energy needs will double by 2050. Total energy from Terrestrial carbon based and Terrestrial solar power now is only half this number. But intriguingly, every day , the moon receives 1000 times this amount (~13,000 TW). Are we ostriches?
Again, China recognizes that mining of lunar helium-3 is an ideal fuel for nuclear fusion power plants.
Lunar Based Solar Power is a mainly strategy with no engineering beyond studies.
Budget compromises between unmanned and manned exploration are deteriorating both. No, we should only have unmanned exploration --
NASA is strip-mining the funding for unmanned space probes, astronomy, and earth observation to cover going back to the Moon, and later Mars. Is that a rational allocation of resources?
After over 200 billion dollars spent on the manned space station, about 5X more than budgeted, now NASA is pulling funding for the Moon and Mars. Does that make sense?
The Apollo program spent about $135 billion, in 2006 dollars, to place about 50 usable tons on the moon. An austere moon base would need 300 or 400 tons of structure, equipment, fuel, vehicles, and life support. Even if we lift this at half cost, you have a program cost of at least $300 billion to build the moon base.
Loss of US space access capability is commercially and biologically dangerous. No it isn’t because:
Let the government fund pure research based on the desires of the people, as filtered through congress. Don’t expect profit from them. Why is space so special that it can’t be allowed to act like everything else?
US is becoming uncompetitive in developing sophisticated and demanding technology and applications. No it isn’t because:
We haven’t lost our lead in high technology. Most of our space based technology was developed in the 1960s and 1970s, no new interesting space technologies have come of age since.
Individuals and public corporations are not always good at judging what is beneficial in the long term. Yes, they are because:
Significant private capital can be raised for space exploration.
Commercial industry is necessary but not sufficient. No, it is sufficient:
Private markets are better suited to invest in space exploration
The 2010 NASA budget is an important change to move NASA to a DoD like funding strategy – the government specifies and funds programs, the commercial industry executes them, the gov’t tests and deploys the programs.
Only the US Gov’t can advance national U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. And?
Why should government employees be the only ones allowed in space? At least with commercial passengers, spaceflight prices may eventually come down so more people (and not just the super rich) can go into space.
Look at how cheaply and quickly the contestants in the X-prize were able to do something NASA hadn’t been able to on a much larger budget. This is what competition does.
Scientific research to be done on the moon can be handled by occasional astronaut visits at a fraction of the cost of a permanent, crewed facility. Astronauts at a moon base spend their time keeping themselves alive and monitoring automated equipment, the latter task doable from an office building in Houston.
Budget compromises between unmanned and manned exploration
Loss of US space access capability
US is becoming uncompetitive
Individuals and public corporations are not always good at judging what is beneficial
Commercial industry is necessary but
Only the US Gov’t can advance national interests
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD): "There is simply too much pressure on NASA's budget ... [we must ] reduce the [budget] pressure and maintain a balanced space program by increasing [$$] to NASA and national space program.
A failing space industry will cause the U.S to lose satellites in orbit. Leads to risking human life (weather, comm satellites) and risk increasing job loss (company bankruptcies).
Europeans working microgravity experiments show crystals, both organic and non-organic, have significant, positive differences by growing bigger and more perfect than on Earth.
Government’s responsibility is to do the things that need to be done, despite whether or not an immediate monetary payoff exists. Things that, in the long-term, are better for society.
Economic or technical failure of a commercial carrier should not impact US ability to access space (GM? Delta IV? Atlas V?)
Satellite Based Solar Power is currently being pursued in parallel. Both Space Based Solar Power strategies requires a long term commitment to space launch and human spaceflight capabilities, technologies and operations.
We are not just speaking of science fiction. We are talking about science fact.
Space Solar Power is real :
PG&E in California [has already decided] to tap renewable energy using solar power in space from Solaren. It plans to generate the power using solar panels in earth orbit, then convert it to RF energy to be transmitted to a receiving PG&E station in Fresno County.
We cannot sacrifice short term commercial ideology for long term survival and national strength –
The financial turmoil in the last 18 months was due to lack of concern of the long term effects of short term risk management and risk taking.
If commercial satellite industry collapsed in 2004, if moon and mars destinations are gone, there are no destinations to drive heavy lift. New ones must be created to drive the industry. Government must create the ‘US mail carrying ‘ excuse.
THEREFORE our Proposed Plan is to rightsize the budget for opportunities that would create jobs, building higher technical expertise, & larger industrial base for national human space and energy goals
NASA’s funding floor should increase to $22B in 2010, focusing on human and robotic exploration. Focus should be on scientific exploration and space based energy architecture . Current budget guess is $18B for 2010. Human / robotic tech should double from $1B to $2B. The other $3B should focus on LEO exploration and LEO energy architecture. Lunar funding to acquire international partners.
We must align NASA budgets to our joint, national imperatives and competitive realities.
Enforcement of the increase is the responsibility of the Executive, POTUS