Breaking a Rule

So this is a little different, not really a blog post. I have had a personal rule never to testify before a congressional committee. Just never seemed like a good idea. Not that I haven’t been asked from time to time.

So in a weak moment I gave in and will be appearing Thursday morning as a witness before the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee. What have I gotten myself into?

“The hearing will examine the growth of the space industry, including the potential economic and scientific benefits of private sector space transportation, as well as the federal and private roles in advancing technology development, ensuring mission safety, and fostering exploration.”

So what do you think I ought to tell them?

About waynehale

Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions, and is currently a consultant and full time grandpa. He is available for speaking engagements through Special Aerospace Services.
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97 Responses to Breaking a Rule

  1. spacebrat1 says:

    that it is still the responsibility of the government to fund general science (w/o clear application) as it did during the Apollo era. Then commercial will find applications like the comm spinoffs that now rule our lives. And turn it over to a long-range planning authority freed of politics. This junk about throwing out the last guy’s stuff has killed any momentum or program had… please and thank you.

  2. Roger says:

    The Truth!!!
    Space flight has stimulated the Youth of the USA and to some extent other countries. Young people are working hard to gain the education which will allow them to get good jobs in the Aerospace Industry. These young people are the future of this Planet.
    We ( the older members of the Planet) have a responsibility to those yet to be born, to ensure their parents are properly equiped to ensure the survival of our species.
    If this planet becomes uninhabital we must be able to get away and ensure our survival. The stuff of Sci Fi, Yes. But so was space flight 75 years ago.
    I am almost 70 years of age I was brought up in a world where we had only just learnt to fly. John Glen inspired me. It was a great privelidge to have met him last year. He is still inspiring people including me.at my age.

  3. Yusef Johnson says:

    Tell them that NASA is not a dang political football.Tell them that until they endear the public will, we will never get the support level that was enjoyed under Apollo. Tell them that they have cast out a generation of manned spaceflight engineers, many of whom aren’t coming back, and had no problem working for less money. Tell them to pick a plan and stick with it, irrespective of Presidential administrations. Tell them the truth:Nobody wants to go to a damn asteroid. Tell them to pick leaders for the Agency that endear the respect of the average Joe working for it. Tell them we need more money. Hell, if they gave us a 1/4 of what DOD gets, we’d have put boots on Mars by now.

  4. Hi Wayne –

    If they’re serious about the growth of the private space sector, I would suggest that it is (certainly in these days of fiscal near-austerity) intimately tied to the stability and success of the federal space program (e.g., NASA).

    If possible, I would recommend a federal space budget that is *independent* of the annual politically-driven fiscal circus. We need something that gets a multi-year (it can be as small as 2-3 year cycle if they’re nervous) space budget that is set into law, so that space programs, which by their very nature are multi-year beasts, can actually move forward in a fiscally-responsible manner WITHOUT the annual funding re-justification and/or fear of total cancellation based solely on political whims. There could be (AND SHOULD BE) progress and/or financial triggers, like any good steward of the public trust and dollar should provide, that could prompt additional oversight. But, if those pre-defined milestones (cost, schedule, and performance) are met – LEAVE THE SPACE BUDGET AS THEY SET IT!

    That’s my $0.02… :)

  5. Andy Darnell says:

    Open with prayer. That is sure to work.

  6. Dennis says:

    NASA needs to foster man’s inherent nature to explore and learn about “the big questions.” Research also needs to be allowed to fail; if we don’t fail more than we succeed, we’re just not pushing hard enough. We have to allow for serendipity in discovery (unintended benefits). There also needs to be an understanding of how miniscule NASA’s budget really is. A penny for NASA!

  7. Mike Kaufhold says:

    Just seems we should emphasize engagement of the toughest development and application aspects of long duration human space flight and critical operations beyond the cis-Lunar arena – while supporting any and all commercialization of space by using/buying their services anywhere and everywhere that we can. As a new vector and mission axiom NASA should never build anything – or own/operate anything – if it is either available commercially or can be achieved commercially to attain or leverage into mission capabilities/objectives.

    Thanks for asking.

    BTW – Just to let you know you are truly one of the good guys in my book! The Ten Years series has been a journey for all of us – and I am very grateful (for one) to have had your insights and perspectives.

    V/r
    MK

  8. Andrew W says:

    America and other western nations got to where they are today through the competitive marketplace, those same economic principles will also work better than the alternative outside of the atmosphere.

  9. Beth Webber says:

    You should tell them exactly what you think. I have little hope that they are interested in actually listening, but your words are always worth hearing. Good luck.

  10. Tell them that just four manned missions to the ISS every year cannot sustain multiple commercial crew companies.

    The Federal government needs to help commercial crew companies and the emerging private commercial space station industry by starting a– national and international space lotto system– so that billions of adults around the world can risk a dollar or two every year for a chance to visit a private American space station aboard private American space vehicles.

    As an extra incentive, lotto winners would also receive a $250,000 monetary prize to compensate them for the time off from work for astronaut training and their trip into space.

    Combined with space tourism for the super wealthy, this should help to rapidly grow the commercial crew industry and commercial space station industry– without the need for any tax payer dollars!

    Marcel F. Williams

  11. Eric Berger says:

    Do what you always do, Wayne. Tell the truth.

  12. Charley S McCue says:

    “How much would you spend to save London? A dollar a day? No? Maybe New York? L.A.? Vegas? Your home town?”. It would a great deal less than that to increase funding for NASA so the Administrator could replace his answer “Pray” with a plan of action when the next asteroid targets Earth.

    Less dramatic facts, like each dollar spent on NASA stimulates the economy enough that more than a dollar is collected in taxes or that the research accomplished creates jobs, don’t seem to get through to Congress. Maybe saving voters could.

  13. Rene A. says:

    divide and conquer strategy is not working

  14. David Fabrizio says:

    Tell them? If your intention is to bring back the spirit and commitment of America in the sixties, that is not going to happen. This nation is heading towards the medevil system of the haves and the have not’s.The furthest thing from the politician’s minds is to make this country a leader in space again. By the way, the politicians are the “haves”. Become a Congressman for two years and you get medical for life. Imagine if JFK came back today and heard that we have to “hitch a ride” on a Russian Soyuz to get into space. Imagine Gus, Ed and Roger’s reaction. Stop. Just think about it. As someone who grew up with the space program and followed our heroes – the sick greed, lack of commitment and corruption in this country today turns my stomach.
    One last comment. If NASA ever again goes to the President and informs him that a program will cost 12 billion dollars (Space Shuttle) and the President tells them to do it for 6 billion – I hope that NASA leadership will have the guts and character to tell him “can’t be done PROPERLY and SAFELY”. That way we may avoid losing more astronauts needlessly.

  15. Adam Barbolet says:

    Wayne,

    Given your experiences on both sides, you may want to explicitly address the different roles the private and public sectors can or should play.

    For me, I find Schumacher’s subsidiarity principle very helpful on these matters. That, together with the idea that government’s role is to trade in public goods (or more specifically, to advance public goods for which there is no private market).

    Hope this helps.

    Adam (Aspen ’03)

  16. Debbie Bass says:

    Tell them that the students of America could use a dream. Reaching toward the stars with a consistent relevant program is exactly what the USA government should be investing in. To lose the brain trust we have will set us back a generation and this generation needs those leaders. My students love space exploration; love the stories I can tell about what little I know from you, Mike, Jerry and the others. I am always telling them that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they dream big. NASA has done that well for 50 years. Don’t stop now…

    But then, I’m just a 6th grade teacher who went into science because I watched the space program from afar and dreamed big…

    • Ken Kubiak says:

      Kudo’s to you, Ms. Bass, and thank you for your work in helping to inspire, educate and motivate our future. Your work is often thankless, but nonetheless essential for the future viability of our nation and the world.

  17. Pete Goldie says:

    I completely agree that is does not do your dignity much good to try to awaken a self-important person who is pretending to be asleep… however, you have to remember why Willy Sutton visited so many banks.

    If I am permitted, allow me to modify some of the earlier suggestions:

    “Nobody wants to go to a damn asteroid”… well, I think the recent 0.5 megaton detonation of an asteroid over central Russia clearly illustrated that we must explore that region if for no other reason than self-defense.

    “It is still the responsibility of the government to fund general science”… sadly, not true. General science is funded either out of self-interest (defense, profit, health), or as a public relations indulgence, it has never been a requirement of government. A better argument is to show the enormous payoff, however serendipitous, from general science funding.

    Finally, “space flight has stimulated the Youth of the USA”. Absolutely true, but that reason will not get the goods. To say a primary purpose of a project is to inspire youth is wrong. Great projects will inspire as a direct consequence of being great.

    Hope I did not step on any toes.

  18. Andy Eng says:

    You *must* tell them there is a way to properly pull the plug versus the many ways one can trip over the plug…

    (Re: To the many projects that were plugged in…)

    Thank you for asking….

  19. John Getter says:

    The discussion should not just be about an industry or short-term economics. The discussion is about exploration and the role it plays in human history and development and which nation shall lead those efforts. History shows that in every age the preeminent nation was the one which led exploration of the day. Exploration, of course chases curiosity and involves not just going places but understanding things. But the common ground is that great nations explore.
    Conversely, history shows that the beginning of the decline of every once-great nation can be marked by their decision to stop leading exploration. Rome, England, France, Spain… the list goes on for millennia. The decision to end the shuttle program early with no follow-on for Americans to lead exploration was a decision to begin our controlled decline. Once it was normal when we said, “If we can put a man on the Moon we can…” and did; challenged poverty, racial and gender discrimination, systematic oppression and on and on. Much remains to be done, but much was done because we simply decided to do it. And, oh yes. We also landed on the Moon, built permanent habitations in space, created machines that can see through time and space so far and so well they humble our imaginations.
    Tragically, the “new normal” says those days are behind us, that we cannot afford to dream and do as we did so recently. Don’t accept that!
    As JFK committed at Rice, our national leaders should again say to the world, “We choose to go…not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone.”
    It’s our choice.

    • Ken Kubiak says:

      Exceptionally well said, Mr. Getter!

      Mr. Haley, I must emphatically second everything that Mr. Getter said above. People, our political “leaders” included, like to compartmentalize problems into specific issue silos (e.g., a commercial space issue, an education issue, a banking crisis, etc.). What many fail, and have failed, to realize is that all of these issues are interrelated and that they all have an effect on the truly global world in which we now live.

      This “issue” is much larger than private or public space efforts, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada or NASA, the Moon and Mars or the ISS. The true “issue” is whether we as a nation will ever again dare to dream big, take leaps of faith, take bold risks, and be true leaders on the global stage. There are many reasons why both Apollo and Space Shuttle worked so well, but the fact remains that both programs were true technology testbeds (race tracks even), and were true works of technical “art” that were years ahead of their time. Whatever the geopolitical reasons are that allowed these programs to proceed, they could not have been as successful as they were without the dreams and risk-acceptance of a nation that still wanted to strive to be “Number One”. Sadly and much to our potential peril, we have become a far too risk-averse society. This is seen in the tightfistedness of our political leaders, countless new regulations that are implemented to “protect” us whenever something goes awry, and the endless excuses made for why we cannot do something or why something is “impossible.” Who would have thought in 1961 that we could land a man on the Moon in ten years? I’m sure many thought it “impossible” that a winged spacecraft would fly successfully exactly 20 years to the day that the first person flew in space. Nothing is impossible if we dare to dream, and take bold, daring risks to move ahead, but everything is impossible if we continue down the risk-averse, uncompromising and argumentative path we as a nation are currently on.

      To lead is to be a risk taker. Successful leaders need to believe in the goals and capabilities of those who they lead. We need our local, state and national leaders to believe in us, in this nation, in our ability to be great once again and be a beacon on the path into the future. We need to stop watching Star Trek, and start building it and living it. Forget the Moon… forget Mars. Let’s set a goal for Pluto or the nearest star in the next 10 or 20 years. Let’s build a true space colony in five years. Let’s replace jumbo jets with hypersonic space planes, cars with personal hovercraft, or find a truly renewable energy source. Many might say any or all of these things are impossible – that the distances are too far, the timelines too short, or the costs too great. I’m sure many had the same thoughts when President Kennedy challenged us to the Moon just days after Al Shepard’s 15 minute sub-orbital flight in 1961. Nothing is impossible as long as we dream big, take bold risks, and have the faith and conviction and commitment of our leaders.

      These things, and many more, will be done. If we do not do them, someone else will, and they will be the new leaders on the global stage. We can be that leader, but we need to be bold, risky, accept challenges and overcome them, and have strong leadership who supports and believes in this nation’s abilities to do these things.

      Thank you, and good-luck Thursday morning!

      • Ken Kubiak says:

        Before anyone flogs me for it, I did just realize I misspelled Mr. Hale’s name in my post. I clearly need more coffee, and should not write such things (or perhaps anything) early in the morning.

        Please accept my sincerest and deepest apologies, sir, and thank you for your past and continuing service to our country!

      • Roger says:

        Ken

        I am not American so would not dream of telling you – USA – what you should do. However it is your country which has inspired me and a lot of the youth of my generation. You talk a lot of sense.

      • Phil says:

        Fine by me… Wayne deserves a comet anyway.

  20. moontube says:

    Thanks for asking, Wayne. Show respect for the legislators. They have a difficult job and catch a lot of flak regardless of what they do. You know what’s important. Tell them.

  21. Steve Pemberton says:

    It may help to explain to them that one of the characteristics of private space companies that should be accepted is that they are entrepreneurial, and that private space companies will oftentimes be owned and/or led by very entrepreneurial individuals. This fact may make some leaders in government wary of them, as they may feel that it makes these companies less qualified to have a large role in a field as mammoth in scope as space exploration. The fact is that in many areas these companies are proving to move faster, farther and more efficiently than traditional commercial or government space programs. However that does not mean that space exploration should be turned over completely to private space, because the same entrepreneurial characteristics that can produce innovation, faster results and lower costs can also have short term unpredictability. On the other hand funding primarily only traditional companies will virtually guarantee status quo, and will create a risk of falling behind other countries in our technical capabilities. That is why there should be funding for both.

    Maybe it will help to compare it to something that they will understand like a stock portfolio. You don’t put all of your money into conservative stock funds, and you don’t put all of your money into aggressive stock funds. You put money into both.

  22. Scott St John says:

    To get to Mars, NASA needs to a lot of research and development and that costs money and the safest place to do it is on the Moon or lunar orbit. There is work on shielding the spacecraft from solar radiation, best place for that is on the moon. If something goes wrong they could have the astronauts back on Earth in 4 days which would be better than 6 months or a year and a half.

    • Exactly! The the lunar poles could also supply fuel for interplanetary vehicles headed for Mars from an Earth-Moon Lagrange point gateway.

      Marcel

    • lunarrover says:

      Absolutely build all manned exploration around redundant fall back strategies. Provide a “life boat” system by design, not just a lunar lander availability for emergencies. Pre-position solutions and work the problem ahead of time. Examine and supervise private ventures for safety as you have already learned in your experience with NASA. I want you on the team to oversee our efforts when we “boldly go”!

  23. Tell them that if they really want to foster space exploration and more importantly, exploitation, they have to stop funding so much pork and start offering to buy things at fixed prices. So much a Kg to LEO, so much a liter for potable water, so much a seat to ISS.

    They won’t listen. Pork means too much to too many of them. But it’s worth a shot.

  24. Dan Adamo says:

    There’s a lot of good advice for Congress in the foregoing responses, but much of it appears to stray from the hearing’s focus on “growth of the space industry”. Your audience being a Senate committee, I’d hope any advocacy you’d care to make in support of commercially operated human and cargo logistics between Earth and LEO would be well received.

    But, as in all things, I believe there are limits to this advocacy. Some form of independent Federal oversight and regulation, probably provided by NASA and the FAA, must be imposed to ensure safe, efficient, and competitive commercial practices are maintained.

    Furthermore, there are commercially proposed schemes for LEO logistics that are patently inappropriate in the near future. An example would be a reusable cryo propellant depot in LEO supporting destinations in cislunar space and beyond. With sufficient Federal funding to visit these destinations, using such a depot could certainly stimulate a great deal of commercial launch activity to LEO.

    But there’s a huge technology gap to emplace and operate a LEO depot, and the cost and risk to fill that gap is beyond a commercial venture’s fund-raising capability if investors exercise any due diligence. Such diligence would recognize a depot is inefficient and not conducive to reuse when located far from the end destination it supports. Another pitfall is a LEO depot cannot quickly respond to contingencies such as Apollo 13’s. To mount a timely rescue with a single launch to cislunar space or beyond requires heavy lift well beyond 100 mt IMLEO.

  25. Coastal Ron says:

    Thanks for asking, and thanks for the great articles you’ve published on your blog.

    First of all, I look forward to the day when it is stated that the policy of the U.S. is to be a spacefaring nation. Not just NASA, but both our public and private sectors.

    However, from my perspective unless some sort of “National Imperative” comes along, NASA’s budget will continue to stay where it’s at (and maybe even continue to shrink).

    If true, then it is very important that everything that NASA spends money on reinforces what it plans to do in the future. It’s also important that the science community and NASA are in sync with what the priorities should be. That happens to a certain degree today, but not completely.

    For instance, the SLS was not created based on a need from a series of customers – no customers have been identified so far, and certainly none that are funded. At this point we’re looking at the SLS sitting unused for many years while funding for SLS missions finally become available, and I’m sure you know better than most what kind of safety issue that could be.

    What this highlights is that while NASA does cutting-edge development and exploration very well, once it proves out the technology and techniques it should hand it off to the private sector so that NASA can afford to do the next exciting things on everyones “To Do” list. Moving mass to orbit is well understood, and NASA doesn’t need to do this anymore. In addition, NASA doesn’t need to operate systems once they have become routine, so that would mean, for example, that the ISS may be handed off to a private consortium someday after NASA’s involvement is no longer necessary (and not de-orbited, which I see as a waste).

    Basically, NASA needs to be smart about the money it gets and aim for smaller increments of accomplishment instead of larger ones that, if they fail, affect NASA for a long time.

    Enjoy the experience of informing our political leaders – your voice is worth hearing.

    • Patrick says:

      I agree.

      US human spaceflight and the SLS are not synonomous. In fact, sidelining billions of dollars per year to fund SLS does nothing but push human exploration of the solar system further into the future.

      There are many projects that Marshall and the SLS contractors could work on in lieu of SLS–interplanetary spacecraft, planetary landers, fuel depots, exploration architectures. The essentials.

      Commercial launchers, existing and in development, offer a far less expensive and nearer-term alternative to SLS.

  26. Mark R. Whittington says:

    I would mull upon forging commercial partnerships to further space exploration, with particular focus on the recent deal with Bigelow to come up with plans for, among other things, return to the moon.

  27. If the legislators have been in that position for awhile they may have heard the story on the impact to the tier 2 and 3 suppliers have been, trying to continue their businesses that produce very important products necessary to achieve the dream. Besides relaying a vision for space exploration blazing a trail for commercial exploitation, I would give them somewhat of a report card of how well, or not shuttle transition has gone. No bucks, no Buck Rogers as they say. We have lost a lot of valuable suppliers that were left with nothing to sustain them during the gap. Sustaining ISS is important, but it only does so much to keep the supply chain, much less innovation going. Orion is undergoing some pain as we move into the testing phase for EFT-1 and from the project all hands, sounds like SLS is also seeing some of the after effects. If there are similar stories from the commercial resupply contractors

    • Coastal Ron says:

      David said: “We have lost a lot of valuable suppliers that were left with nothing to sustain them during the gap.”

      My background is in manufacturing, and I find that statement hard to believe.

      First, no company in their right mind would have staked their survival on the Shuttle program, and in any case they had many years notice that it was shutting down. Second, when looking for a supplier most customers would prefer to use a company that has a balanced portfolio of work, so that the suppliers fortunes do not depend on the customers business for too much of their work backlog.

      If we make decisions about what to do in space based on the supply base, and not what the best ways are to accomplish our goals, then we’ll never be a leader in space technology.

  28. Todd Martin says:

    For private companies to invest and prosper, there must be a return on investment. If the Government wants to encourage the private sector space sector, then missions must relate to business opportunities. Asteroid retrieval with high thrust SEP has ISRU spin-off potential, Osiris-Rex does not. Robotic refueling demo at ISS has satellite refueling business potential, JWST does not. Ask to change mission selection from pure science rankings to include Applied science and technology.

    • Mike Fair says:

      Seconded.
      In more abstract terms, I think that NASA has suffered in the last 20 years by an over emphasis on vision and philosophy. While I am personally inspired and these things improve my ability to analyze programs of record, and while many people have done a great job of articulating them, I think the realities of Congress make it such that an overemphasis on vision can be counterproductive. Congress generally does not subscribe to a vision, even if it enacts one. Thus, billions can be allocated by 60% yays, but then cancelled later by 60% nays. In each cycle, the vision becomes more sweeping and philosophical, based on the assumption that better vision will yield more stability, and scope increases as well.
      Perhaps it would be better to provide a philosophical basis for Congress to emphasize stability and mission success, even after they determine that that a current program of record and its defined mission are the result of a vision that they no longer accept. Remember that Congress evaluates vision and purpose in light of priorities. Even if they are inspired by sweeping statements of colonization, it may be that other compelling ideas (e.g. poverty) become higher priority at some point in time.
      Better to complete development of a spacecraft, deploy on as many of its missions as possible, and then reevaluate it. People will argue that we should start over, if at CDR the mission is determined to be philosophically empty. I would argue that this is an endless circle.
      One philosophy of Shuttle was low cost from reusability, correct? At some point this was deemed unwise, in the sense that it was not possible due to competing design requirements and operational circumstances. Some might argue that ISS has also lost any justifying vision. There are many diverse examples, but it seems to me like many things point to the idea that something is better than nothing.
      Mr. Hale, you would no doubt do a fantastic job at articulating the top-level philosophy of a space program. But I suspect it would get lost in the many other such statements they’ve heard over the years on this subject. Your perspective as a manager of both hardware and operation is unique. Are there examples from your experience that show that, over the long run, it is better to stick to a development plan whose mission is in question, rather than scrap it all and start over?

      • Roger says:

        We have similar problems with Government stupidity here in the UK.
        We are building two Aircraft carriers. One is to be mothballed as soon as built. Theo other will be commisioned.
        Only one probl;em since we threw away all our Harriers we have nothing to put on it other than Hellicopters.
        Woops that politicians for you

      • Mike Fair says:

        Perhaps that is a reminder that not sometimes it is better to cut and start over, sometimes not. If a bridge is planned over a gorge, and it magically fills up with rock, then cancel the bridge and build a road. If a library is half built and all the residents move, then repurpose the building. The question is, can a rocket be repurposed? If not, and the mission(s) proceeds, isn’t the benefit likely to be more than a new program that might be perfect but probably not?
        Most government programs aren’t done according to sweeping vision statements that must be both inspiring and stable for a decade. Perhaps Congress should be released from the burden of having to vote on one, and given a less-perfect but more attainable format.

      • Roger says:

        A rocket can be re purposed. Sky Lab was built using a redundant Saturn Rocket. When the last Apollo missions were cancelled. Its amazing what can be done with some redundant Alliminum tubing.

  29. hip2bsqre@hotmail.com says:

    Tell them about the role of risk – got to be prepared to risk peoples lifes if doing something important. talk about about the rules for commercial crew and how gemini specs were under a few pages. If this was the age of the plane and commerical crew had to fill out all the specs that the govt wanted it would have never flown

  30. Bob Steinke says:

    The most important thing the private space industry needs is a proven customer base in a market with elastic demand. There’s plenty of people and technology to do amazing things, but they need money to do it. There’s plenty of private money out there, but they need to be convinced that there’s a business plan, and the biggest thing missing from the business plans is the ability to say with confidence that the customers will be there. The demand needs to be elastic (higher total revenues at lower unit cost) to create the virtuous cycle of downward spiraling costs.

    How does the government facilitate this? There are lots of ideas that range from buying flights to prizes to market research studies.

  31. Tell them that the role of commercial space is *not* limited to resupplying the government’s space station. Companies like Stratolaunch, XCOR Aerospace, and Virgin Galactic prove that. In the long run, ISS may prove to be a side show.

    SpaceX is not the only game in town, and it is not true that “If Elon can’t do it, no one can.” It is not true that all technical knowledge resides in NASA, or that Lockheed is the only company that knows how to build a space capsule. In fact, Lockheed has never built a manned space system. Boeing, or its heritage companies, built the Shuttle, Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, the American portion of ISS, even the X-15. Yet, we are now told that because they are “commercial,” they have less experience than Lockheed. That is nonsense.

    Congress should consider tax incentives, prizes, data purchase, liability and regulatory reform, and other measures to aid the development of true commercial space industries, serving commercial customers. Once again, commercial space is not limited to resupplying NASA’s space station.

    NASA has created the Flight Opportunities program to fly payloads on reusable commercial suborbital spacecraft. This program will allow NASA to get unprecedented bang for the buck. Unfortunately, NASA has established a top-level policy that prohibits Flight Opportunities from funding flights for human-tended experiments. That policy is absurd. NASA will fly astronauts on Soyuz. It will fly astronauts on SpaceX (eventually). But it won’t allow experimenters to fly on suborbital vehicles, which have less stringent technical technical requirements which allow for greater safety margins and more repeated testing prior to entering operational service. This policy needs to change. If NASA is unwilling, then Flight Opportunities should be transferred to another agency such as the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (along with its funding).

  32. ken anthony says:

    They will only listen if you appeal to their self interests.

    The voting public is 70% for humans going to mars before they’re too old to see it. It will not be sustainable as just some government bases (flags and footprints.) NASA must support private companies (that employ lots of voters!) that allow individuals to colonize mars and claim reasonable assets for survival. Those colonists will have relatives on earth (also voters… do you see a theme here? Forgive my attempt at lame humor.)

    If anything on my blog (about colonizing mars) is useful to you, feel free to take it.

    • Roger says:

      What you say has a ring of truth however when we get to Mars we may well find all the riches (minerals etc) heve been used up 5,000 to 50,000 years ago. I wonder by whome. That would not surprise me one bit. I am not a gambling man but I would put a few £s on it or even $s
      The asteroids might be the best bet for mineral wealth. So lets look
      I dont realy know how you tell your Government that.

  33. Fred K says:

    * Commercial resupply (COTS) is a success:
    — multiple suppliers assures reliability
    — competition drives down cost
    — fostering the growth of new companies (jobs, jobs, jobs)
    — fostering US capabilities

    * Commercial Crew is an emerging success:
    — program showing results, even while underfunded
    — will “save” money from being spent on Russian supplied seats
    — multiple suppliers assures reliability
    — competition drives down cost
    — fostering the growth of new companies (jobs, jobs, jobs)
    — fostering US capabilities

    The fixed price / multiple supplier / minimal requirements model should continue in these cases and be expanded to new areas like asteriod detection/data collection.

  34. yg1968 says:

    I would tell them that NASA shouldn’t abandon LEO even after the ISS is deorbited in the 2020s. NASA should consider renting a Bigelow station in the 2020s. Once ISS is deorbited, LEO should only be serviced by commercial companies such as Bigelow, SpaceX, Stratolaunch, Blue Origin, etc.

  35. Gerald R Everett says:

    Tell them that the cost plus contracting rules of the federal government both limit what we can do with our space program and damage the ability of the country to address it’s long term debt. Refer them to NASA’ own studies showing the effectiveness of Space X in developing the Falcon 9 as opposed to what it would have taken either NASA or DOD to develop a similar rocket using standard government contracting rules. Advise them that there own political interests in maintaining the status quo is in direct conflict with the good of the nation. Some of there centers may need to be de-scoped or eliminated for the good of the country. If they need political cover they should seek
    it as part of a budget deal establishing another BRAC commission that would include NASA as well as DOD facilities.

  36. lunarrover says:

    Four years ago I became “unemployable”. I kept working…without a paycheck. An unemployed semi-retired draftsman is now self employed. My new boss is stingy but optimistic. The new paradigm is “If you can’t join them, lick them”. I will compete with the old giants who would not put me to work. Space Don Quixote. I now have patents that are getting interest from industry and academia. Since this is one of the only viable growth industries left,, please do not kill the new space and unmanned markets. The economy depends on real products, not imports. This is your paycheck too, Mr. Congressman! http://exospace.wordpress.com/

  37. Darel Preble says:

    The most beneficial, important and critical legislation Congress could pass would be the Sunsat Act, which would charter a public/private company to initiate a power satellite company – just as Congress chartered Comsat Corp in 1962 which created our hugely successful communications satellite industry of nearly $300 Billion per year. This would create a huge new market for space transportation and enable an excellent energy alternative to be born, using no water, no fuel, and generating no CO2 in its operation. Japan is already far ahead in this Space Solar Power race and China is putting the pedal to the metal to catch Japan. The US is still asleep.

  38. Wesley says:

    Please ask them to give my young son and daughter ( ages 7 and 5) something to aspire to…a reason to have pride in their country…something to stir their hears and minds. I grew up seeing the space shuttle launch…and wish that I had been around to see man take his first steps on the moon. I got excited when Bush put in place plans to send us back that direction again. Now my hope is pretty much gone for seeing anything happen in my lifetime…and my kids have little to inspire them with regards to the future of spaceflight…

    And on a side note, thanks for your continuing blog posts. I’m always excited when I see a new one posted!

    • Leigh Kimmel says:

      Yes. We’ve spent far too many years making small plans that lack the power to stir people’s souls.

      We need a vision, but it needs to be broader and further-reaching than something that can be satisfied by a once-and-done. Yes, JFK’s “we will go to the Moon” gave us a stirring vision of what we could strive for, but once we’d planted the flags and footprints, we’d fulfilled it, and it became far too easy to stop. So after six landings, we retreated back to Low Earth Orbit and spent the past four decades going in circles. When I was a kid, I thought that just as soon as we got the Space Shuttle working and built that space station that was supposed to be our base from which to fare forth, we’d return to the Moon and establish permanent bases that would become settlements, we’d explore Mars and the asteroids, and in general we’d fulfill the vision of the future I saw in so many of my favorite sf novels.

      Instead we wasted the past four decades going through the motions, looking like we had a space program. There’s a reason why most of the sf I write these days is alternate history, and it’s not a happy reason.

  39. Ken Murphy says:

    What would I say?

    “Y’all suck. Your meddling is trashing the future of this country and you need to stop. If you can’t figure out what to do with the space program then step aside and let the younger generations, the clean-up crew for your messes, take the helm. Please don’t leave them a corpse of an industry, which is exactly what y’all are doing and why you suck.”

    This is, of course, why I would never, ever appear in front of a Congressional committee.

  40. Bob says:

    Tell them the truth. You have a better understanding of what that is than most of us here. I trust you to do the right thing.
    I remember going outside, after watching the Eagle land on the moon, looking up at the moon in awe and saying to myself, “There are humans on the moon!”. I can not describe what I felt at that moment, but I am afraid my children and even grand children will never have a similar experience of looking up at some celestial body and saying, “There are humans on x!” because we have lost our will to explore and take risks.

    • Leigh Kimmel says:

      Seconded. I still remember when my mother took me outside and pointed up at the moon and said there’s men walking up there. I think it may have been Apollo 12 rather than Apollo 11 (I wasn’t even in school yet), but I still remember that big fat moon hanging the ridge of my grandparents’ garage roof, and thinking of the wonder of it all.

  41. DougSpace says:

    My suggestion would be a specific application of Mike Kaufhold’s comment.

    Tell the committee that the public-private programs (e.g. COTS) are broadly recognized as some of NASA’s most successful programs.  But why limit America’s commercial space to LEO?  Rather go the next logical step with Lunar COTS programs to establish a commercial cis-lunar transportation infrastructure based upon harvesting lunar polar ice for propellant.

    This could be done in a politically feasible way.  This funding would be a continuation of the current public-private funding.  As COTS development concludes, fund the development of reusable cis-lunar craft.

    A Lunar COTS track doesn’t require taking funds from the government track (e.g. SLS) yet the two tracks compliment each other.  For example, propellant brought to L1 or LEO from the Moon would increase the payload to Mars considerably thereby reducing the launch costs from Earth to LEO.

    Also, an orbital transfer and landing vehicle (OTLV) going from LEO to the lunar surface could deliver equipment and supplies (one-way) and prove the craft safe before humans are sent on the same craft.  

    Having a commercial transportation system to the Moon would remove the flack that the Administration is getting by establishing an American manned Moon program that doesn’t violate Obama’s position that we aren’t going to send NASA astronauts back to the Moon for a repeat of Apollo.  This is a very different strategy while leaving the EML2 / asteroid / Phobos / Mars track intact.

    Finally, telerobotic ice harvesting can go only so far.  Eventually we’ll need humans to do the difficult repairs that dexterous telerobots can’t do.  But in situ water means oxygen and there’s all the minerals needed by plants and humans in the ice and regolith.

    Regolith removes the radiation problem from the table. So, early on, we’d have a permanent base with long-duration stays.  We wouldn’t have to wait until the late 2030s for the first permanent settlement, and a permanent base safely close at hand would provide valuable experience in preparation for the manned Phobos and Mars based.

    So there’s a practical, inexpensive solution if they would choose to pursue it.

    LunarCOTS.com
    CisLunarOne.com

    • DougSpace says:

      Addendum re: Dan Adamo’s comment. A Lunar COTS program’s main fuel depot would be at “destination” meaning the lunar surface. Secondly, a single fuel depot at L1 (with propellant coming from the Moon) could deliver propellant to several LEO destinations resolving the LEO fuel depot problem mentioned. A single L1 fuel depot using a reusable cis- lunar craft, serving numerous customers makes for a better business case than multiple fuel depots in LEO using expendable launchers.

  42. jimhillhouse says:

    Acknowledging that NASA’s budget is unlikely to increase anytime soon, but will actually decrease, things are tough at NASA and therefore for all the programs it funds, including commercial space.

    So maybe it’s time to consider a gov’t-commercial partnership to run ISS after 2020. I suggest this because keeping ISS, and its $3B annual budget, around after 2020 kills any possibility of exploring beyond low-Earth orbit. The ISS int’l partners have said repeatedly that they don’t want to use their HSF funds to maintain ISS after 2020. But splashing ISS in 2020 is also a waste. Ownership of ISS by a commercial space company or consortium after 2020 would mean a destination exits for commercial crew as opposed to hoping that Bigelow Aerospace will be able to make it in the space station business after 2020. A bird in the hand…, so to speak. And freeing-up some of ISS’s $3B budget would open-up BEO exploration. The lessons learned by commercial space in operating ISS would also help that industry find new ways to profitably operate in space.

    This is a suggestion. I’m curious what’s missing out of this, where it goes wrong?

    • Coastal Ron says:

      Jim Hillhouse asked: “I’m curious what’s missing out of this, where it goes wrong?”

      Well you didn’t mention the SLS. If you’re looking for $3B/year budget item that isn’t solving any current dire needs, then I’d cancel that one first before ending NASA’s needed research on the ISS.

      And while I suggested that the U.S. Government should indeed transfer the ISS to a private consortium after NASA’s done with it (and that splashing it is a waste), putting a fake date (i.e. 2020) on that transfer doesn’t make much sense. The decision should be based on what still needs to be done on the ISS, and how that enables our future capabilities.

      But this does raise a good point. During the Shuttle program, no one kept track of the assumptions used to justify the Shuttle, such as it’s supposed low cost and need for the commercial and military customers. I think because of that we muddled along for too long without a clear idea of what we should have been doing to succeed the Shuttle (i.e. no planned successor or an official successor).

      All significant programs should have a periodic public review of how they are meeting their primary goals, and if they are not, then something needs to be done. No program should be “cancel-proof”.

      • Ron, Wayne was looking for budgetary suggestions that take into account the political terrain in which we currently find ourselves. You and everyone here know as well as I that Senate Approps’ Chair Mikulski has stated that JWST and Orion/SLS are untouchables. Furthermore, Wayne is going to be talking to members who have 3-times now approve appropriations bills that fully fund JWST, Orion, and SLS, along with the authorization act creating the Orion and SLS programs, and two bills that express the sense of Congress that Orion and SLS are supported by…wait for it…Congress. We’re not talking about fairy tale “What if’s”, like the Futron 2002 Space Tourism Study.

        ISS is, per Section 501 (a) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010, to be operated until 2020. The albatross hanging around NASA neck is what to do with this $75B facility that costs $3B annually to operate now that it is completed?

      • ken anthony says:

        Ron, you make a good point, but what not to say may be as important as what to say.

        Avoid ox goring where possible. The Orion is even more worthless than the SLS. While the SLS is a [BIG] waste of money, payload capacity does give you options. Don’t start a fight if you can make your points without it.

      • Coastal Ron says:

        Jim Hillhouse asked: “Senate Approps’ Chair Mikulski has stated that JWST and Orion/SLS are untouchables”

        No doubt people said the same about the Constellation program in 2009…

        At some point Congress will need to address the lack of any funded use for the SLS, and that will be the point where we’ll all see what the entire Congress is actually willing to do in order to support the use of a government-owned HLV.

  43. There is absolutely no one better at communicating facts, ideas or concepts than you so stop fretting about it, lower your blast shield and let the force be with you. That being said, here are a couple spurious thoughts: If the committee is primarily Ferengi…er… Republican, tell them that even though science has no value and everything is preordained, there is profit to be made from orbital theme parks and hotels and from mining the moon. The moon’s helium-3 can enable fusion reactors to create electricity sellable to the whole world. Water, the stuff earth is running out of, can be extracted from regolith sent to earth by mass drivers less expensively than building desalinization plants. These two industries when developed could result in billions of dollars in profits for well-connected Feren…oops… conservatives to stash in off-shore accounts. If the committee is primarily Democratic in makeup, tell them that while we may have five-hundred million good years left before the sun roasts the planet, we probably have less than two-hundred years before the CO2 in the atmosphere, now at a dangerous 400 PPM, causes global warming to have the same effect unless science, the only thing that can, saves us. We need to learn from Arthur C. Clark and build a true space station wheel in equatorial orbit. A large wheel could generate a half-g at the outer edge without having to spin so fast as to be disorienting but have a zero-G central core suitable for research. It could also enable ATA–Anytime Moon Access– something not possible with the ISS’ 51.6° inclination. Besides hotels and theme parks, it could also be usable as a construction site for moon (and other destination) ships. Before going on to Mars, we need to learn how to really live, work and, yes, play in space and the best place to do that is on the moon. A city on the moon could be self sustaining and possibly even make a profit (see Republican section above) and, if something goes terribly wrong with, say, a poorly designed piece of equipment, the moon is close enough for rescue. Until we can sustain a moon colony on a permanent basis, we have no business venturing to Mars even though, with seven-billion warming people, we seriously need a back-up planet now. But, to get started, we need a non-revocable twenty-five year plan chiseled in granite. I’m sorry, I can’t stop laughing. Oh, man…we’re so dead.

  44. The Outer Space Treaty requires private sector activities on the Moon and asteroids to be regulated. A simple law authorising the issuing of mining permits and infrastructure permits will cover that. Continuing supervision can amount to the FBI having jurisdiction to check for breaches of the terms of the permit and power to arrest people for committing felonies in space.

  45. rickl says:

    As I see it, a fundamental problem with a government-run space program in a democratic society is that each time a new party takes power, it tends to repudiate the policies of its predecessor and strike off in a different direction. Each party also has different constituencies to please and to ladle out pork to. I think this is a major reason why we’ve been spinning our wheels in space for the last 30-40 years.

    A one-party authoritarian society is better able to maintain focus, but the Soviet Union didn’t reach the Moon first, because they lacked the dynamism of a free-market economy. On the other hand, the United States’ economy was freer in the 1960s than it is today. Now it is much more heavily regulated and controlled by the central government.

    I’m inclined to agree with those who think that NASA should return to its NACA roots, and focus on pure research, making its findings available to private industry. We also need to have a system of property rights for celestial objects. As I’m fond of saying, we need a private space industry, not a government space program.

  46. Phil says:

    Wayne, I guess I don’t know a lot about how these hearings work. If you have avoided them, it’s probably not pretty. A mentor of mine, Richard Feynman, faced similar struggles, as I am sure you are aware. Honestly, it was probably a mistake to break the rule. Politics and science are poor bedfellows.

    That said, the dialog will be them asking questions, and demanding short answers from you. You know what the questions will be. Be prepared with accurate and brief answers. If you do not know the answer, say so confidently. I have watched you dozens of times responding to the press in NASA reviews. I know I am speaking to the choir. You know what to say and when to keep quiet.

    So, my advice to you is to chill. All things will pass. Tell them what they need to know and it’s all good. Get a good softshell crab dinner when it is over with.

    Well, my cat has decided he is more important than my reply, Good luck in DC,

  47. Phil says:

    I’m not sure this is relevant to the subject… but it should be noted that Chris’s version of Space Oddity is approaching 8 million views in less than 3 days. At the moment, it is the most popular video on U-Tube. Draw your own conclusions… but that simple video, linking music, art, and science, may revive interest in space science, and we all would applaud that.

  48. red says:

    I would tell them that commercial-NASA partnerships like the ISS commercial cargo program have been a great success both for addressing NASA’s cargo needs and for our nation’s economic and scientific benefit. For example, Falcon 9 and Antares can win international launch business and can launch science spacecraft, and Dragon and Cygnus also have scientific and economic potential.

    In light of this success, NASA should pursue more such commercial-NASA partnerships. An example of this is commercial crew, but many in Congress are hostile to commercial crew because of Congressional parochial interests that conflict with commercial crew, so I probably wouldn’t discuss that. I would discuss the possible benefits of new commercial-NASA partnerships that would be less expensive and not about launching astronauts on spacecraft, and thus not conflict much with SLS/MPCV for funding or turf.

    An example is a commercial partnership for a satellite servicing demonstration mission, which has been suggested by NASA year after year but which hasn’t happened. This could be done in a way that also involves the GSFC satellite servicing people that Mikulski supports.

    NASA recently proposed an asteroid retrieval mission, but they have made it clear that, while the mission includes asteroid searches, robotic retrieval, and a visit by SLS/MPCV, it doesn’t include close-up characterization of potential asteroid targets to see if they are worthwhile. Commercial partnerships could help with the asteroid search, and could also help characterize a few asteroids close-up so NASA knows ahead of time their chosen object is retrievable and worth retrieving. Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries come to mind, but other commercial space players could also compete for such partnerships. This type of commercial partnership is not in conflict with SLS/MPCV, and in fact would help those programs.

    A similar case could be made for a commercial partnership involving lunar rovers. These might have long-term commercial potential for assessing resources (in the multi-decade style of Planetary Resources), but could also have other commercial potential (like media rights). A NASA commercial partnership might put them over the hump into economic viability, while at the same time delivering SLS/MPCV content (lunar telerobotic experiments from MPCV) and lunar science data. It might even be possible for a commercial partnership to deliver small lunar or NEO samples to an Earth-Moon Lagrange point or lunar orbit that MPCV could retrieve.

    There are many other potential commercial partnership opportunities with NASA, science, and economic benefits: commercial Earth remote sensing data, space tug services, more ISS demonstrations like Bigelow’s BEAM, etc. None of these need be particularly expensive or threatening to Congressional SLS/MPCV interests. While commercial crew is essential to NASA, commercial space needs some base hits, not just a single home run like commercial crew, and NASA partnerships can help them happen.

  49. Fred Willett says:

    Thanks for the invitation Wayne. I’m sure anything you’ve got to say will be well worth hearing.
    If it was me I’d say; SLS and MPCV will carry stuff for NASA, but only NASA. That’s fair enough.
    Commercial Launchers, commercial crew and cargo vehicles will carry stuff for NASA and anybody else that wants their services.
    Does this guarantee future markets for these vehicles?
    No.
    But commercial vehicles open a door to a commercial future.
    Without commercial vehicles and spacecraft the door remains closed.

  50. Fred Willett says:

    I would also recommend urgent intergovernmental work on finding a economic business model to allow companies to make money by cleaning up orbital debris. It’s potentially a great business opportunity and it’s something that’s sorely needed.

    • Mike says:

      The best and brightest of my generation are trying to figure out how to get people to click on ads, instead of figuring out how to go to Mars.

      If this doesn’t make you sad, I don’t know what else to say.

      • Bob says:

        Mike, as someone who has been in the business of writing software for 30+ years, I have to say that is so very sad, but oh so true.

  51. Greg Lange says:

    Who else is testifying at the hearing? Do you know what they plan to say, or have a good guess? That may or may not affect what you say in your opening statement. Wayne, as a former Flight Director and Program Manager, you have first-hand knowledge of NASA’s human spaceflight strengths and weaknesses, in the areas of operations, engineering, S&MA, and last but not least, management of large multi-organization programs. Using that knowledge, I suggest simply telling them your assessment of what NASA, as it is constituted today, can realistically do within the next decade or so in the areas described in the hearing purpose statement. You’ll do fine; please try not to worry too much. I’m looking forward to hearing what you say!

    • waynehale says:

      I am pleased to be in the company of truly brilliant witnesses at this committee hearing. We have traded our written statements back and forth and talked on the phone so we know where everybody is coming from.

  52. Col Vincent Alcazar says:

    Wayne: many good thoughts here. This is sort of like, if I had 10 minutes with The King, what would I say, what would I want him to know? To do?

    Wayne, here’s my 2 cents worth: what do we want US space to look like? Why that picture? I worry about the emphasis on commercialization of space, in the end it is self-serving and is not a national end.

    Before folks start throwing rocks at me, here’s what I mean: the conversation has to change to national vision; who establishes that? PoTUS? NASA? Congress? Someone has to establish a/some goal(s) but it has to be the next generation of thinking other than what President Kennedy said. Why? Because today we’re a different nation. In my view this points us back to essential vision. From any vision should spring a national strategy–not something recycled, but: priorities, resourcing, ways, means, and national ends. Who writes then implements that? If we have a vision document now (if) it is so good I have not heard of it–and I don’t live under a rock. I doubt many Americans have heard of any national vision either. Vision…without it, we’ll meander for another decade; meanwhile commercial space will be working, presumably quite well. Big deal. What comes next?

  53. Karl Hallowell says:

    “that it is still the responsibility of the government to fund general science (w/o clear application) as it did during the Apollo era.”

    I strongly disagree with spacebrat1 here. There aren’t unlimited resources to justify funding blue sky science without regard for payoff. Scientists, when they are faced with resource constraints, pick and choose what science to do. And they do so with consideration for what they might get – not a blanket assumption that any effort no matter how misdirected is good enough. Why should government agencies be different?

    I see NASA as an organization with too many goals and functions. Everyone wants the Moon. I think it could benefit from some segregation of these into independent organizations. In particular, NASA has demonstrated that in its current state and current support from the public and Congress, it is incapable of long term planning. That appears to me to be a I think we need to separate that planning function out and put it somewhere else, say in a mixed public-private entity though any public institution will be subject to the usual political vagaries and of course, the multitude of opinions out there on what to do.

    Perhaps instead, we should look at long term incentives (such as lower taxes for economic activities in space or subsidies for putting mass in orbit) that don’t require capabilities from government agencies that may never materialize. Some of the most powerful US programs and systems in the past have been rather subtle and indirect such as land grant universities, the land claim approach of the early US, and the GI Bill.

  54. Patrick says:

    Just as an aside, it appears two strategies have emerged in this thread: Tell the truth, or tell them what they want to hear. After reading your blog posts, I can’t imagine you’ll do the latter.

  55. Eric says:

    Wayne, I know that you’ll tell them the truth — that is who you are and one of many character traits that I admire about you. With that said…

    I have always been inspired and enjoyed your blog entries concerning mankind and exploration. It really doesn’t matter if the story is about space, covered wagons or sailing ships as your ability to inspire someone to want to keep striving to be more than they are is one of your greatest skills. As I see it, either the person you are talking to will want to be inspired or won’t. If they do, you have the unique ability to fuel that small fire and turn it into a bonfire.

    Pray first and be true to yourself — then God will take care of the rest.

  56. muomega0 says:

    The Augustine commission concluded that NASA’s budget should match its mission(s) and goals. Debates continue on the missions plans forward to send crew to beyond low earth orbit destinations that include asteroids, Mars, Venus, and/or the moon.

    Current and past exploration programs which includes SLS leave inadequate resources for missions, technology development, and therefore foster exploration. The beyond earth orbit heavy lift architecture excludes the existing smaller fleet of launch vehicles, often referred to as the commercial space or commercial crew industry, and has limited International participation. The low flight rate of SLS raises many safety concerns. Crew access to low earth orbit is currently being performed by Russia alone.

    In testimony early this year, A. Tomas Young said “I believe NASA and the civil space program are on a declining trajectory. Leadership has failed to establish a credible human exploration strategy. A strategy that is not funded is not a strategy”. The limited and compromised missions that result from the current, segregated architecture are appalling.

    The result is a U.S. space program that makes absolutely no sense primarily because of the lack of connection between SLS and commercial space. 1) A lack of payload service to HSF missions does not provide economic benefits to the private space sector. 2) Asteroid mission plans are compromised and require missions to be defined later to provide the necessary long duration deep-space experience for a missing, unfunded habitat module. The asteroid mission would not require extending the duration of the crew capsule which will be otherwise be powered down, and the electric propulsion system would not be designed for fairing size only to be flown on SLS. 3) The cost of the asteroid mission would be a few billion dollars rather than tens of billions of dollars and a stretched schedule.

    The number one issue is economic access to space. It is readily apparent that despite a decade of studies and development and decades of experience, shuttle derived hardware will consume NASA’s exploration budget leaving inadequate resources for missions and technology development and has set the civil space program back to square zero. Without correcting the process, more money will not resolve the disputes and conflict.

    Fortunately, internal, although limited NASA studies indicate that incorporating the existing smaller launch vehicles into the architecture can provide substantially more missions and scientific benefits for approximately the same budget, will grow the space industry, ensure budget for technology development, provide clarity for federal and private roles, ensure mission safety, and provide substantially more spinoffs to the economy. I can assure you there is a significant amount of challenging and beneficial work ahead for the NASA community in this approach.

    NASA’s space community has extensive experience and talent to trade mission goals, cost, schedule, and performance. I would encourage Congress to lift the constraints and provide the flexibility required by NASA to consider alternative architectures and perform the necessary but difficult tradeoffs to sustainably explore, advance technology, and foster the space industry.

  57. Phil says:

    Is this going to be on CSPAN?

  58. ken anthony says:

    You may want to talk about how NASA can encourage commercial interests by being an anchor tenant for services. For example, it seems to me the absolute next step should be putting a refuelable, general purpose ship in orbit, but not one owned by NASA. They should simply pay a ticket price to use the ship as they would with the crewed Dragon, Dreamchaser, et. al.

    This ship, launched once and reused many times; becomes a market for fuel, a precursor to depots, part of commercial competition for services and a platform for missions requiring other elements.

  59. P. Savio says:

    Tell them

    “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do”……

    Slightly more seriously – tell them to let NASA get on with it and stop under funding them. We need to become a multi-Planet species – now – remember the Dinosaurs died out because they didn’t have a Space Program.

  60. Charley S McCue says:

    I would like to restate my response, NASA needs more money. No Bucks, No Buck Rogers. IMHO, saving millions of registered voters (apologies to Ghostbusters) would be the goal that Congress could support and justify an increase in budget.

    When following various views concerning NASA, it seems to boil down to ‘either this or that’, just as many of the posts here have done. For example, funding Constellation would sacrifice STS and ISS. Killing Constellation saved ISS and funded Direct (now labeled SLS).

    Instead of fighting over a single piece of pie, the pie needs to be larger. A larger pie allowed NASA to create 4 space craft (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and LM) plus the most powerful rocket flown to date in a decade. That create jobs, not just in NASA but in new industries that spun off from the ‘Moon Race’.

    So, give NASA enough money to save the World. More pie and less ‘either or’.

  61. Warren Platts says:

    Tell them they should contract with Golden Spike to go back to the Moon…

  62. Don Denesiuk says:

    Interesting.

    http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=93f78807-737f-4354-9141-e5d728c0ecfe&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=a06730c4-d875-4fde-97db-9e2be611840e

    Wayne starts at about the 55:28 mark.
    At least the chair and vice chair showed up.
    You tried, you can rest easy for that. You made an honest effort, but I feel that some of those who make the decisions aren’t really interested in advancing the state of the art unless it continues to enrich the old space establishment with the same cost plus contract system that has failed to make access to LEO any less expensive after fifty years of practice (see SLS).

  63. Phil says:

    Great job today! How do you think it went?

    • waynehale says:

      After it was over I thought of all the things I wish I had told them instead! Wonder if it really made any effect on their thinking.

      • Roger says:

        I guess that is typical of a Scientist. I do thesame thing. Even when I have pepaired my piece. Or is it getting older that is the problem. In retrospctwe see so much we “could have done”.
        I think you did well. You made a good point well without lecturing (not that you would).

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