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  2012 U.S. Presidential election: Space and NASA

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Author Topic:   2012 U.S. Presidential election: Space and NASA
Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-04-2012 12:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From ScienceDebate 2012, an independent citizen's intiative:
ScienceDebate.org invited thousands of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens to submit what they felt were the the most important science questions facing the nation that the candidates for president should be debating on the campaign trail.

ScienceDebate then worked with the leading US science and engineering organizations to refine the questions and arrive at a universal consensus on what the most important science policy questions facing the United States are in 2012...

Space. The United States is currently in a major discussion over our national goals in space. What should America's space exploration and utilization goals be in the 21st century and what steps should the government take to help achieve them?

Barack Obama: We're fortunate to be part of a society that can reach beyond our planet and explore frontiers that were only imagined by our ancestors. I am committed to protecting these critical investments in science and technology and pursuing an ambitious new direction for NASA that lays the groundwork for a sustainable program of exploration and innovation.

We have extended the life of the International Space Station, forwarding efforts to foster international cooperation in space, supporting the growth of America's commercial space industry, and taking on our pressing scientific challenges while continuing the nation's commitment to robust human space exploration, science, and aeronautics programs.

From investing in research on advances in spaceflight technology, to expanding our commitment to an education system that prepares our students for space and science achievements, I am committed to strengthening the base for America's next generation of spaceflight. No other country can match our capabilities in Earth observation from space. In robotic space exploration, too, nobody else comes close. And I intend to keep it that way.

Two years ago I set a goal of sending humans farther into space than we have ever been — to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. We will continue to operate the Space Station until at least 2020 and perhaps beyond. When our Orion deep space crew vehicle takes its first test flight in 2014, it will travel farther into space than any spacecraft designed for humans has flown in the 40 years since our astronauts returned from the moon. That is progress.

The recent landing of NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars was a great leadership moment for our nation and a sign of the continued strength of NASA's many programs in science, aeronautics and human spaceflight. It's also important to remember that the $2.5 billion investment made in this project was not spent on Mars, but right here on Earth, supporting more than 7,000 jobs in at least 31 states.

My administration has put a big focus on improving science and technology, engineering and math education. And this is the kind of thing that inspires kids across the country. They're telling their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission — maybe even the first person to walk on Mars. That's inspiring.

This exciting work will lead us to important new discoveries and take us to destinations we would have never visited.


Mitt Romney: The mission of the U.S. space program is to spur innovation through exploration of the heavens, inspire future generations, and protect our citizens and allies.

  • Space is crucial to technological innovation. If we want to have a scientifically trained and competent workforce, we must demonstrate a long-term commitment to the pursuit of innovation and knowledge.

  • Space is crucial to the global economy. From agriculture to air transportation, from natural resource management to financial management, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without the space capabilities we have today.

  • Space is crucial to national security. U.S. and allied space capabilities provide a source of strategic advantage to military and intelligence functions that has no parallel.

  • Space is crucial to America's international standing. Independent access to space, the launch of satellites, and the travel of citizens to and from space continue to be seen as major technical achievements that convey not only America's military and economic power, but also the power of American values. The success of private sector enterprises in achieving these objectives opens a new chapter in American leadership.
America has enjoyed a half-century of leadership in space, but now that leadership is eroding despite the hard work of American industry and government personnel. The current purpose and goals of the American space program are difficult to determine. With clear, decisive, and steadfast leadership, space can once again be an engine of technology and commerce. It can help to strengthen America's entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness, launch new industries and new technologies, protect our security interests, and increase our knowledge.

Rebuilding NASA, restoring U.S. leadership, and creating new opportunities for space commerce will be hard work, but I will strive to rebuild an institution worthy of our aspirations and capable once again leading the world toward new frontiers. I will bring together all the stakeholders - from NASA and other civil agencies, from the full range of national security institutions, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises - to set goals, identify missions, and define the pathway forward.

Focusing NASA. A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. I will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic and top-priority science with inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs.

Partnering Internationally. Part of leadership is also engaging and working with our allies and the international community. I will be clear about the nation's space objectives and will invite friends and allies to cooperate with America in achieving mutually beneficial goals.

Strengthening Security. Space-based information capabilities are the central nervous system of the U.S. national security community. If America is to remain strong as a nation, the national security space programs must remain strong and sustainable. I am committed to a robust national security space program and I will direct the development of capabilities that defend and increase the resilience of space assets. I will also direct the development of capabilities that will deter adversaries seeking to damage or destroy the space capabilities of the U.S. and its allies.

Revitalizing Industry. A strong aerospace industry must be able to compete for and win business in foreign markets. I will work to ease trade limitations, as appropriate, on foreign sales of U.S. space goods and will work to expand access to new markets.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-06-2012 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
President Obama:
"I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways that we can scarcely imagine. Because exploration will once more inspire wonder in a new generation sparking passions and launching careers. And because, ultimately, if we fail to press forward in the pursuit of discovery, we are ceding our future and we are ceding that essential element of the American character."
From: President Obama's First Term: Key Accomplishments for NASA and Space

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-06-2012 09:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The one thing either of these gentlemen need to keep in mind though is IF space is not considered more of a priority, there is less of chance of it inspiring anybody on the education front.

A lot of us who were born during the 1960s and 70s (and early 80s) remember how the terms "astronaut" and "space travel" made us feel. In my case, somebody who was too young to remember watching an Apollo or Skylab mission, I can still remember our school hauling a television out to watch STS-2 and 3 lift off. I formed a school model rocketry club which flew rockets on a weekly basis. I got into a science club in high school.

Sure, young eyes and ears perk up when one hears about an astronaut from a home town flying or coming to visit and there are always enthusiastic hands that get raised when somebody suggests if it would be a good idea to go on a field trip to a local museum with aerospace hardware. But they are relatively short term events. Most of the time, things would revert back to other interests among the kids.

Now in the case of Romney, since his platform does seem to support a more robust defense industry, that can be a potentially good thing for space expenditures. As I recall, when Constellation's lunar program got shelved (since there seems to be debate as to whether it officially got cancelled or not) there were some DoD analysts that weren't too keen on that as it meant that the prices for certain elements used by both the Air Force and NASA would go up (solid propellant for rockets and missiles for one, plus some electronics used in both guidance and range safety) since the demand for those items would be lower. You can bet that an industry lobby from ATK (with others) is likely at least talking to Romney's advisors if not Mitt himself given his Mormon background (since ATK is in Utah).

Now I am not necessarily saying going back to the old ways and the old guard is necessarily a good thing either as I've heard rumblings about some of the legacy DoD/NASA contractors being too set in their ways to improve their business practices on certain things, resulting in level upon crushing level of bureaucracy and monetary waste. So, there are the companies like SpaceX that can teach them a thing or two about how to do things potentially leaner and for less expense (I dislike the term "cheaper"). But there are some flaws with the new ways as well.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 09-23-2012 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Romney for President, Inc. release (Sept. 22)
Securing U.S. Leadership In Space

Today, Mitt Romney released his plan for Securing U.S. Leadership In Space. As Paul Ryan travels to Orlando, Florida, today, he will outline the space priorities for a Romney-Ryan administration.

America's space program is an integral element of national prestige and power that protects our citizens and allies while inspiring future generations. It is an engine of technological innovation and economic vitality. Rebuilding NASA, restoring U.S. leadership, and creating new opportunities for space commerce will be hard work, but Mitt Romney will strive to rebuild an institution worthy of our aspirations and capable once again of leading the world toward new frontiers.

"America's space program lies at the intersection of so many important priorities, from technological innovation and economic growth to national security to international leadership," said Romney. "We must never waver in our commitment to this strategic national asset."

Romney will bring together all the stakeholders — from NASA, from the Air Force, from our leading universities, and from commercial enterprises — to set goals, identify missions, and define a pathway forward that is guided, coherent, and worthy of our great nation.

Space Priorities For A Romney-Ryan Administration:

Focusing NASA. A strong and successful NASA does not require more funding, it needs clearer priorities. Romney will ensure that NASA has practical and sustainable missions. There will be a balance of pragmatic and top-priority science with inspirational and groundbreaking exploration programs.

Partnering Internationally. Part of leadership is also engaging and working with our allies and the international community. Romney will be clear about the nation's space objectives and will invite friends and allies to cooperate with America in achieving mutually beneficial goals.

Strengthening Security. Space-based information capabilities are the central nervous system of the U.S. national security community. If America is to remain strong as a nation, the national security space programs must remain strong and sustainable. Romney is committed to a robust national security space program and will direct the development of capabilities that defend and increase the resilience of space assets. He will also direct the development of capabilities that will deter adversaries seeking to damage or destroy the space capabilities of the U.S. and its allies.

Revitalizing Industry. A strong aerospace industry must be able to compete for and win business in foreign markets. Romney will work to ease trade limitations, as appropriate, on foreign sales of U.S. space goods and will work to expand access to new markets.

star61
Member

Posts: 258
From: Bristol UK
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 09-23-2012 04:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yak yak yak jaw jaw jaw... "NASA doesn't need more funding".

There you have it. Clueless empty rhetoric as usual. I have zero faith in a U.S president ever realising the true value and benefit of a properly funded and seriously brave goal orientated NASA.

With the UK's useless attitude to manned spaceflight, we always had to look to NASA for the dream. Now I am just sad that these people talk the talk but they sure don't walk the walk.

Walt Cunningham for president!

micropooz
Member

Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 09-23-2012 05:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Romney's statement is long on criticism, but short on details of how he would fix the problem. "Bringing together stakeholders" (e.g. - appointing yet another committee) to "define the pathway forward"? That's what every president in recent history has done. And that administration's "pathway" always ends up at odds with the previous administration's "pathway", and programs get canceled. Then four or eight years later, it happens all over again.

What's Romney's "goal"? No clearer than Obama's "goal". It's too bad that space is such a minor issue to these guys that they cannot set a concrete goal. As much as Newt scared me on other issues, I admired the fact that he stood up and actually said where he wanted to go with the space program...

cjh5801
Member

Posts: 180
From: Tumwater
Registered: Jun 2009

posted 09-24-2012 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cjh5801   Click Here to Email cjh5801     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yet another advisory panel (excuse me, "stakeholder group") is considered decisive leadership? We aren't going to get anywhere under the current political funding model. There has got to be a better way.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-24-2012 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I admit the "doesn't need more funding" bit has me a little disappointed. But at the same time, there are certain elements of NASA's bureaucracy that could be streamlined as the number of attorneys, office workers and middle level managers is probably higher today at the offices than it was during the Apollo program (granted that is a broad statement on my part with no real facts as to if that is indeed the case or not). Even those who worked at NASA during its glory days admit it isn't exactly what it once was and that isn't due to not flying to the moon almost four decades after the final landing there.

Reading between the lines though, it does sound like Mitt is perhaps proposing a bigger stake from the commercial sector perhaps. When you think about it, NASA might fall into the "big government" definition, even though they aren't funded like other programs. They are funded through health and welfare expenditures, due to how the original charter was drawn up during the Eisenhower administration. As I see it, that is one of the reasons why NASA's funding becomes such a target during budget time as it literally becomes a fight between space and other welfare programs. But as the DoD showed with programs like Dyna-Soar and MOL, they don't always get to see projects through to the end either due to lack of funds.

Personally, I think NASA can do things better if its goals were tweaked a bit. By that I don't necessarily mean tweaking its priorities to include "global warming" studies and the like since that is NOAA's job. But they do need to have their focus maintained on aerospace and spaceflight. And for that matter they also need to have a better funding structure so they can see development programs from beginning to end.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Regardless of which person occupies the White House for the next four years, it will be Congress that has a bigger say in NASA funding than the President. A president can be a cheerleader for a program and introduce legislation. But Congress has to pass it into law (which a President can veto if Congress doesn't have the votes to override it).

I know how I am going to vote in the next election. No I am not saying who I will vote for as this is not the place for that. But Congress is the real power here. So any criticisms of NASA funding should potentially be leveled more at them than the suit in the oval office. I will say though that enhanced DoD expenditures could help space development, even if in an indirect way.

All times are CT (US)

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