Chasing Augustine

Tricia Mack is one of the best EVA officers I ever worked with.  Knowledgeable, hardworking, very personable she has trained crews, developed procedures, and kept at least one Flight Director (me) out of EVA hell.  I made many requests of her over the years as we worked together, but none of them was as strange as the request I gave her in the fall of last year.

When the Review of Human Spaceflight Plans committee (aka ‘the Augustine Committee’) was established in the late spring of 2009, several NASA folks were assigned to provide help and coordinate assistance to the committee.  Tricia was doing a rotational assignment at NASA headquarters and wound up being the secretary for the committee.  Phil McAlister, a very able headquarters staffer, was to be the official liaison between NASA and the committee.  I was asked to assist Tom Cremins on his support team for ‘Strategic Analysis and Collaboration.”  Tom and I had worked together before and I have the highest regard for his abilities, so I had no hesitation in accepting the assignment.  Many of the other NASA support staff was old colleagues and some, like Phil, were new to me but we got acquainted in a hurry.

By the end of the summer I regretted accepting the assignment in the worst way.  I was so upset with the whole process I told Tricia that I did not want my name listed in the report as having helped.  After a short discussion, she complied with my request and you won’t find my name anywhere in their report, especially not in the Appendix B which lists all the NASA folks who supported the review committee in one way or another.

A couple of months later I was notified that I would receive a Group Achievement Award for helping with the committee.  I told them I did not want the award and would not accept it.  They didn’t know how to handle that request. I boycotted the awards presentation but they still sent me the certificate in the mail.  My first impulse was to burn it.  I still may.

A fair question to ask is what about the committee’s work so thoroughly upset me?  There were a number of factors, far more than I can explore in one short post.  So I will deal with the #1 reason:  the committee was snookered by OMB.

In the spring of 2009, the Congressional Budget Office released a very well done report which examined the NASA mission as authorized by the Congress at that time.  The mission included significant science missions like the Mars Science Laboratory rover and the James Webb Space Telescope, significant expenditures in aeronautics, and then the human space flight program which was Constellation at that time.  You can read the whole thing at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10051/04-15-NASA.pdf .  The CBO’s bottom line:  NASA needed about $4 to 6 billion more per year to accomplish its entire authorized mission over the $19 billion in the current budget.  A one third increase in funding for NASA was obviously never going to happen.

Even though the paperwork indicates that NASA requested the review committee and set its rules, that was far from what actually happened.  OMB and OSTP wanted the committee and directed the acting Administrator to draw up the papers.  OMB in particular dictated the parameters of the study.  The Committee was tasked with coming up with at least two options for the US Space program that fit within the existing budget; options that exceeded that budget were initially not desired.

Dave Radzanowski, a brilliant NASA budgeteer, gave the committee a series of briefings on the expected future costs of the existing programs which lead to the same conclusion that the CBO had come to in a few months earlier.  What to do?

Somewhere the chairman and/or some members of the committee went back to OMB and asked what a reasonable increase in NASA’s budget might be allowed in the future.  The answer came back, ramping up to $3 billion per year is the maximum that might be expected but we are more interested in options that fall within the existing budget.

When the committee’s work was all said and done, they provided two options within the existing budget (options 1&2 within the report).  The committee chairman flatly stated in public meeting that these were “not very interesting”.  All the other options, the ones the committee really liked, the ones “worthy of a great nation” came in well above the existing budget.  Whether or not they would really fit within an increase of up to $3 billion over the next several years is a matter of conjecture since the financial estimates made for the committee are highly suspect.  But none of those more interesting options come close to the existing budget, that is certain.

Several of the committee members told us NASA pukes that at the very least the committee had ensured that NASA would get a significant budget increase.

Novices.

When the administration released their budget proposal for NASA, there was an increase over the previous predicted budget – $150 million in FY2010.  A pittance.  And the out year projections actually went down in some years.  So the “flexible path” without a budget to support is now what the nation gets, if we are lucky.  Even though the committee wrote a nice paragraph in their report about “matching resources and goals” (section 9.2 page 111) that lesson has fallen on deaf ears, once again.

Those of us who have watched the budget wars from inside government for several decades had a premonition it would turn out this way.

Lots of fancy viewgraph charts.  Big changes, imaginary promises, no more money. No bucks, no Buck Rodgers.

Thanks a lot Augustine.  The OMB gotcha.  I don’t think they ever intended to give NASA any kind of increase.  And Congress is already on record to cap the total NASA budget at what the OMB proposed.

Now the weather is turning cooler and I’m thinking about stoking up the fireplace.  I’ll need some paper to get the first fire going.  I think I know where I can find a piece to burn.

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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57 Responses to Chasing Augustine

  1. Harbles says:

    I like the new picture. Can you give a little background on when it was taken and what was going on at the time.

    So you don’t have any technical or philosophical issues with the Augustine report, it’s just that they didn’t know how the money machine in Washington works and played their hand poorly?

  2. Wayne,
    That’s an interesting take on the committee. It leaves me curious to know what you would have done differently if you had been tasked with putting together or being a member of the committee?

    ~Jon

  3. Brandon says:

    Wayne,

    So much of what us “Space Geeks” care about is never told and is only known to the few that participated. Thank you for breaking that mold.

    • David Buchner says:

      I agree very much with Brandon. Frustrating as much of this stuff is, it’s better at least being able to *know* about it. Thank you.

  4. Wayne – wow… on the outside, looking in, it was frustrating for us. From the inside, you’ve given us a view of the magnitude of the frustration you dealt with.

    Thank you for sharing this…
    Roger

  5. Liz Matzelle says:

    I couldn’t agree more. You know what else disappointed me? The “Obama Plan”. After all that drama about killing Shuttle and ending Constellation, is there anything actually different about this new plan versus Constellation?

    I mean…. Constellation was:
    1-end Shuttle
    2-build a semi-reusable capsule
    3-build a Shuttle-derived rocket to launch it
    4-use this combination to go to LEO and meteors/comets
    5-build a lander
    6-build a heavy lift vehicle
    7-go to the Moon and/or Mars

    The “Obama Plan” is:
    1-end Shuttle
    2-build a semi-reusable capsule
    3-build a Shuttle-derived rocket to launch it
    4-use this combination to go to LEO and meteors/comets
    5-build a lander
    6-build a heavy lift vehicle
    7-go to the Moon and/or Mars

    You could say “oh, but the capsule design will be different” or “but our rocket will be better this time” but really, the physics of the problem haven’t changed, the budget hasn’t change (significantly), the timeline hasn’t changed (well, I guess if anything we’re in a bigger rush now than before)… so how different are our solutions going to be? Was this really just a case of “re-branding”? How petty is that?

    WE CHOOSE TO GO

    • waynehale says:

      No, I believe there are real and substantial differences between NASA’s direction before and after Feb 1 2010. The real problem, over and over again, is that the resources do not match the mission, at least not yet.

      • Liz Matzelle says:

        I’d be curious what differences in focus and direction you see now versus under Constellation.

      • waynehale says:

        Lets see, moon as a goal, moon not as a goal, NASA built spacecraft, commercial built spacecraft, NASA built rocket, commercial built rocket, lots more.

      • Liz Matzelle says:

        Ahhh, see, I got the impression that while all that was said during the speeches, NASA at least recognized that COTS is only barely ready to try to take on cargo to LEO, and that the Moon is still an essential testing ground for all the equipment we’ll use to get to Mars. Maybe I have just been hearing what I want to hear? Has NASA really halted all development on any sort of future manned rocket system? I thought I heard in the news you were working on an Ares I alternative more like the DIRECT proposal?

      • waynehale says:

        Careful of the news reports. Under the Constitution, NASA can only work on projects which have been funded by Congress. Congress has not passed a NASA appropriations bill, but has directed NASA to CONTINUE working on projects that were voted on in last year’s budget: e.g., Constellation. All the news discussion is about PROPOSED projects that NASA MIGHT get told to work on. Read my previous post.

  6. Charley S McCue says:

    One thing that stood out (for me) in the Augustine report was that the only thing more expensive than Ares I/Orion was AOB (any other booster)/Orion. Did I interpret that wrong?

  7. Den says:

    “If they only gave us (much) more money, we’d do something worthy” song got old long ago already.

    $20b/year IS a lot of money, if you use it wisely. It’s enough to create twenty new companies a-la SpaceX or Orbital. If you can’t do anything meaningful with it, them maybe these money should be given to someone who can.

    • waynehale says:

      $20 B is the total NASA budget, it pays for science, aeronautics research, ground infrastructure, communications, and many other things besides just a rocket and a capsule. I didn’t say that I disagree with commercial space flight, just that the budget is not sufficient to do everything that has been asked. We are doing meaningful work; monitoring the earth, exploring the solar system robotically, expanding the human presence at the ISS. Those are all meaningful. Oh, and giving money to SpaceX and Orbital for services rendered, that is in the $20 B too.

  8. Tanya Markow says:

    Thanks for these comments, Wayne – nice insight into another side of our government.

  9. I greedily watched every minute of the coverage, sometimes multiple times, and I remember Augustine repeatedly suggesting to the other committee members that they needed more than two “affordable options”. At one point he coined the phrase “blue plate” to refer to options that required that extra $3B/year and subsequently say “another blue plate” throughout the deliberations.

    So really, in this table:

    The only column that mattered was Heavy Lift, and it was apparent to everyone that none of the options were affordable even with an increase of $3B/year – the recommendations (underhanded as they were) had already gobbled up all that.

    In the end, the committee made only three recommendations – everything else being an option. They were:

    * The ISS should be extended to 2020.
    * NASA should have a revitalized technology development program
    * Cargo and Crews should be taken to LEO by commercial partners

    The first was a no brainer, and only advocates who want the budget for their own projects think splashing the ISS in 2015 makes any sense – so there goes $2B/year of any potential increase. The technology development program would gobble up any other potential increase, but could conceivably result in more efficient operations in the long term. Commercial crew would receive scraps – even though it was the only possibility of reducing operations in the short term.

    So yes, while I enjoyed watching the review and reading the document that came out of it, I wish they had spent that precious time coming up with recommendations (not options) which could fit into the existing budget and actively work to reduce the operating commitments over both the short term and the long term.. because only by doing “more with less” government money will NASA ever do anything worthy of your great nation.

  10. Bill Adkins says:

    Wayne, Thanks for your posts. I, and I’m sure others, really appreciate your work here.

    It has certainly been a frustrating time for the past several years for NASA and all of us who care about civilian space. Augustine may or may not have been snookered by OMB–I suspect there are two sides to that story.

    Regardless, a major problem that persists is that each side only hears what they want to hear and only believes what they want to believe. For example, NASA believed that Congress was serious about its commitment to human spaceflight, always pointing to authorization bills and touting them as strong commitments to the vision, yet when it came time to put money on things, the budget requests and spending bills fell short. Savvy individuals should have seen this and planned accordingly to weather the storms, but instead NASA “doubled down.”

    It goes the other way too. I think that Congress wanted to believe that NASA could succeed even if it didn’t get every dollar–this was NASA afterall, and they’ll figure it out.

    In the end, everyone resorts to beating the drum for more money. That approach hasn’t worked very well and won’t serve us well going forward. Sounds great, but when the alignment between money and content is way off, it backfires. Truth is: “budget is policy” (or at least a major boundary condition). Instead of pushing policy and using it against budgeteers, let’s start with a conservative projection of the budget, and produce the best program possible within that budget.

    The Augustine panel said that there is no such program possible within the current budget that is “worthy of a great nation” . Is that really true? really? Or are we unwilling to take a serious look at why, despite spending more than all other space programs in the world, the US cannot figure out how to get out of its own way.

    Also, there’s little appreciation of how hard this stuff is and a lack of understanding that we’ve lost a lot of proficiency, especially in systems development. We need to temper our expectations on what can be done and get to work relearning a lot of the basics and show some progress.

    Ditch the grandiose plans; get us back to where we can build something that is a solid foundation to build upon. Take a page out of Russia’s book of slow evolutionary improvements–dare I say–spiral development. In the end it all comes back to the tortoise and hare. We can do better.

    • waynehale says:

      While I tend to agree that an evolutionary approach is more practical, I remain optimistic that this nation can do great things in space if the national will determines to support those great goals. You get what you pay for TANSTAAFL. For the last 30 years we have tried the space program on the cheap – are you really satisfied with that? Now, if we want to start a forum on acquisition reform or on improving program management, I think you have a good point. Russia, however, would hardly have a space program today if they hadn’t joined the ISS community. Oh and, please don’t say the word ‘spiral’ around me again.

      • ferrisvalyn says:

        The problem is of course, Congress has made it pretty clear, that, for the foreseeable future, more money will not be forthcoming.

  11. Graham says:

    Ouch!

    I know how you feel about not wanting to be in the credits – I made them pull my name on a certain videogame I worked on. Nobody dished out awards for that one, thankfully.

    Square peg, round hole. No bucks, no Buck Rogers. How do we make it more politically expedient for Congress to line up NASA’s objectives and budget than the current absurd situation?

  12. Darn it! Where’s a Cold War challenge when you need one?

  13. Chris Pino says:

    Wayne

    How would you compare the Augustine commission’s processes to previous ones you have observed – Young commission, CAIB, etc. How was OMB’s influence same/different?

  14. Jim Banke says:

    Wayne, great stuff, as usual.

    The cry throughout the land is that NASA isn’t being given enough to do what it’s told it needs to be doing, especially for human spaceflight. Many alternatives are suggested. All, it seems, requiring various levels of additional funding.

    So, given the menu of choices, and assuming a budget that doesn’t grow from FY10, what kind of a space program can we have for this amount of money each year? Any thoughts?

  15. Jake says:

    I can understand why you’d be angry at the OMB, but I don’t see what the Augustine Commission did to make things worse. NASA had a plan that was not going to fit within any reasonable budget; the Augustine Commission came up with a couple plans that fit within the current budget and a couple that would fit within a somewhat larger budget. Should they have said “you can’t have a meaningful human spaceflight program with the current budget; if you aren’t going to give NASA an increase you should just save your money and cancel the whole thing”?

    • waynehale says:

      What makes me angry, at the bottom level, is that Augustine had the potential to propose a great program, but they failed. If the nation keeps changing course in its space program every few years we won’t get anywhere.

  16. Paul Spudis says:

    Wayne,

    Interesting post. I figured that the committee were told what budget numbers to work to. The Aerospace Corp. took it from there.

    But more interestingly, the committee was presented programmatic alternatives that DID fit the existing budget run-out. Specifically, both ULA’s EELV-based architecture and the JSC group’s Shuttle side-mount architecture both got us back on the Moon within a decade and within the committee budget guidelines. Those alternatives were not even discussed in the report. The committee seemed more determined to kill Constellation and replace the Moon as a destination with their “Flexible Path” than with fixing Constellation and figuring out if lunar return was possible under the existing budget.

    • waynehale says:

      You need to talk to Dr. Crowley, he ran all that black magic analysis on the various architectures. Somehow multiple EELV did not meet his figure of merit criteria,

      • Paul Spudis says:

        I have and he is very elusive about the committee’s working assumptions and method of evaluation. Leeds me to suspect that the conclusions of the committee were written before the analysis.

      • Paul Spudis says:

        For “Leeds” in the above read “Leads” Sorry.

      • waynehale says:

        No Paul, I watched them invent it. It was not preplanned. Lots of arm waving though, just like any time the “architecture” crowd gets together. No conspiracy on this topic that I know of, at least not one with a detailed architecture.

    • Ronald Smith says:

      Sidemount only really makes sense if it is a supplemental program to the STS. As the orbiter will be retired in less than a year, sidemount limits one to a fixed volume for payload, a less than safe envelop for a capsule with an LAS, and high reoccurring costs thanks to the orbiter equivalent boattail design. Inline might have a slightly higher developmental costs, but it can lift a more massive volume payload, uninhibited escape envelop for the LAS, and has much more room for growth compared to sidemount.

      Now what most EELV supporters like to point to in deference to any SDLV’s are the massive fixed costs of the LC 39 complex. Could any reduction in the infrastructure along with modernization decrease those costs (ie only use Pad A, a couple highbays, at most two ML’s, reduce on pad time)? They seem to state that EELV- derived HLV’s will substantially reduce fixed costs compared to SDLV’s

      As for destination, looking at the number of NEO’s that will result in few missions per decade, I would not be surprised if a limited lunar program returns, it just may not be the polar base of Constellation.

  17. Tom says:

    Wow, just wow.

    I trust NASA management knew how you felt and why. How do they sleep at night…?

  18. Gary Miles says:

    Wayne, the destruction of the Vision was largely my fear from the beginning when the new HSF Review was announced. Regardless of who announced the policy at the time, VSE was a sound and goal oriented strategic vision for NASA. A policy that the agency had badly needed for decades. Despite what critics have said, the Constellation was the most realistic program given the political process in Congress. Could the Constellation program have been improved? Certainly. The HSFR commision missed the boat on not recognizing this political reality. A political reality that the Obama administration apparently missed when it announced its plans on Feb 1 without consulting members of Congress. So now we end up with this “Flexible Path” program that is much more vunerable to budget cuts. OMB’s dream. Shawcross may have gotten the last word.

    • waynehale says:

      To be fair, there were a lot of problems with Constellation. That is not an opening for all the critics to lay out their complaints once again. Perhaps I’ll put my thoughts together on those problems and what might or might not have been done to solve them in a future post. But its easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. Making the best decision at the time it must be made with the information on hand is what real managers do. Pundits can appear smart only because they have 20-20 hindsight.

      • Gary Miles says:

        I agree there were problems with Constellation programs, some technical, some management, and some budgetary. But rather than axe the program, would it not have been better to work to improve it? I look forward to reading your future posts about some of the problems with Constellation program. The US just walked away from 4 years of development and $9 billion investment. Another $2 billion will be needed to terminate program.

  19. Dr. R.A.H. TANSTAAFL says:

    Wayne,

    Very interesting perspective. I, like you, have had the opportunity to detail to 300 E street and I must say that as stressful as life can be at the field centers when dealing with the fallout of political machinations, watching the drama unfold slowly as a player on the stage, knowing full well what the ramifications will be and being powerless to do anything about it is a special kind of hell. The full time staffers at Headquarters are made of stern stuff in deed to deal with of this sort of thing year after year.

    To the point, I have been of the opinion ever since the VSE was announced that NASA was set up for failure by the Oval Office. NASA has always been a pawn in the great game of political chess played within the beltway. It seemed to me that since January 14, 2004 in the minds of the residents of the Oval Office NASA has been considered an expendable pawn. Strike that, not expendable, sacrificial. Your posting at first confirmed this for me.

    It now seems obvious after reading your post, and that since this mindset has been perpetuated from administration to administration, the notion to slowly eviscerate NASA was not initiated by the occupants of the Oval Office, but rather within OMB. Perhaps we will never know who or why. Quite frankly, at this point it doesn’t matter. I do fear that the person or persons within OMB who would seem to be influencing the Great Chess Game have their sites set too firmly on short term gains (be they economical, personal, political or ideological) and will end up losing our nations future in the process. I am not naive enough to believe that someone has a grudge against NASA, however, it seems that we have been deemed a tool to achieve a particular end and nothing more.

    – Sigh – Alas, poor NASA! I knew it well, Hale, an agency of infinite
    capability, of most excellent promise. It hath bore me on its back a
    thousand times, and now how abhorr’d in my imagination it is!
    My gorge rises at it.

  20. Stumbling around my own life, bothered by what I see around me, by the state of this nation has occupied a lot of my time… off and on.
    I say off and on because there are days I have to hibernate away from the reality keep I bumping into. It’s very painful. Kinda like giving birth to a watermelon near every day.

    I am amazed at the ability people like you and other ex-NASA and NASA people have to do their work and stay sane. It says something about the character one needs. The desire and drive. The ability to hibernate away from reality while occupying it. Admirable. It’s something I’m still learning how to do. I suspect the secret is to find what you love doing and do it. Which really is no secret if one listens to astronaut interviews or spends anytime watching educational programming on NTV. I don’t want to lose that outreach to a budget ax, it’s too important. I know it won’t go away. Unless NASA does.

    I have had more than one person tell me thanks for sending via email NASA news and/or pictures from Mars via the rovers and observers , Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra..so on. I see NASA’s touch all around in nearly every electronic device, in medicines, everyday life stuff we take for granted. When I tell people that, most are surprised, thinking everything they use was invented in China.
    The little blue meatball is humbly stamped everywhere, tho. I could prattle on all afternoon about it. I don’t need to tell you that which you know so well.

    I guess what I’m getting at is your sagely opins are a stellar cherry on the top of all that outreach. Both when you were at NASA and now. And example of what can go right when all around you seems to be going wrong. I thank you for your continued outreach on your own dime. Glad that someone with your clout cares enough to do so.

    One last thing people have told me is if they knew where their tax money was going to, that if there was a way for the money to go to NASA they’d be glad to fork over more. The dream is alive, just starving. I won’t let it go away either. If we and our children have nothing to look forward to as a nation, anger and apathy will ensue. Dividing us even more.

    I am hoping if I keep screaming loud enough people without hope might get some.
    And NASA might get some more money. The exciting science going on is brain candy of the healthy best kind. I am saddened by the chop to human space flight & exploration tho. I voted for change, but not THAT one. Hope that when things are better financially (THANK YOU CROOKED BUSINESSES for your continued ‘support’ of the country that bails you out, over and over. *sarcasm&anger) we can move past the inadequate funding NASA keeps getting ‘rewarded’ with for doing such outstanding work. (OK more a little more sarcasm&anger and I’m done there.) But I dunno, when things were rosy financially money wasn’t there then, either.

    The problem of funding is a prickly pickle in a pear tree. Does it always have to be that way? Can there be a little box to check on our federal tax forms that allows us to decide to give a little extra or direct X amount of our tax refund to support NASA? Am I so outside the box myself that I’m grasping at straws? Again, others I have talked to about this have come up with this idea on their own, so maybe not. A pleasant surprise. Maybe it’s a sign people really DO want change. I hope so. Our whole country needs a break.

    Thanks again, for caring enough to blog. Your utterings help keep me sane.
    BTW: Recording NTV video file was a joy yesterday. An employed whistling of the theme to the ‘Three Stooges’ popped up unedited as the STS-133 payload was delivered to Discovery at Launch Pad 39A. Hmmmm…I don’t think I’m alone in my opin things are a bit ‘looney tunes’. And am heart warmed someone could still whistle while they worked. A good thing.

    Thanks again, Mr. Hale🙂 for continuing to educate me.
    And thanks NASA, I’m at your back!

    Anybody caring to help support NASA financially search out your fav NASA center’s GEWE and buy your NASA stuff there first. I do. Because I care.

  21. Gary, what did NASA produce for that $9 billion? (actually it’s more like $10 billion now). Stop and think about how much money that is. Shouldn’t there be *something* to show for it?

    • Gary Miles says:

      Trent, do you know how much NASA invested before they produced the Saturn 5 rocket for Apollo? I guarantee you that it was a hell of a lot more than $10 billion dollars, especially in terms of today’s dollar. The same goes for the space shuttle. The initial investment in producing a new human launch system and heavy lifter is always high. So that argument rings hollow.

    • Gary Miles says:

      BTW, Trent, the Augustine panel report made it abundantly clear that if the US wanted to have a human spaceflight program that traveled beyond LEO then Congress was going to have to commit more funding, an additional $3 billion per year minimum. The report also made it clear that heavy lift was essential to space exploration and settlement beyond LEO. Had NASA received the funding that was originally called for at the beginning for the program of record, the US would have been landing on the Moon before the end of this decade. In the end, US policy and the policymakers are responsible for the state of our space program.

      • Umm.. if you *need* another $3B/year minimum to do anything beyond LEO then you’re never going to do anything beyond LEO. Is that it then? End of discussion? Or, could it be possible, that there’s something worthwhile you can do with the already significant amount of money that is allocated every year?

        Perhaps just the “we need a big rocket” approach is the problem and starting with the reality that you don’t have one is a more sensible alternative.

      • Gary Miles says:

        As Wayne Hale has pointed out above several time above, a ‘significant’ part of NASA’s budget is devoted to infrastructure, robotic programs, ISS, science, and etc. Rocket development is only one part of what NASA does. As Waybe Hale also pointed out, NASA had to cannibalize other parts of NASA in order to meet the budgetary needs of Constellation program as mandated by Congress because not enough money was appropriated. Yes, heavy lift is necessary requirement for exploration and settlement beyond LEO. This is reality, not ‘old thinking’. The majority of space technology experts agree. Even Elon Musk and SpaceX.

      • So Gary, what you’re saying is that without heavy lift there is *nothing* that can be done beyond LEO. And that NASA has consistently failed to get the funding it needs to do heavy lift. It really does sound like you’re saying there is no hope.

      • Gary Miles says:

        Please do not put words in my mouth. I did not say that there is no hope. And I did not say that NASA can do nothing beyond LEO, only that long-term human spaceflight and development beyond LEO is unlikely without sufficient funding. There is authorization in the recent Senate bill for the development of a heavy lift vehicle. However, as Wayne Hale pointed out, Congress has not appropriated enough money to enable heavy lift development to be successful yet. Rep Bart Gordon and several others have asked to the appropriations committee in both House and Senate to increase appropriations and to clarify the language of the authorization bill. So we will see.

  22. “Several of the committee members told us NASA pukes that at the very least the committee had ensured that NASA would get a significant budget increase.”

    Mr Hale:

    Thank you for your efforts and accomplishments at NASA!!!

    Regarding claims by the Augustine committee that they wanted to boost NASA’s budget, I am more inclined to believe that their objective was to kill Bush’s Constellation program, and that the budget increase request was the excuse.

    The Obama 2007 campaign promise to increase funding for early childhood education (read Head Start, a ploy to solidify his minority support vs Clinton) by putting NASA’s Constellation program on hold for 5 years is a more genuine indication of his funding priorities, which has had to morph several times to accomodate Florida voters and then Congressional budget approval, but has consistently followed a siege warfare strategy of encircling and then diverting away vital resources for non-essential feel-good projects such as commercial crew, random technology development, precursors missions(for what?), climate research, and green aviation.

  23. This blog is doing more to educate all of us, supporters and critics alike, on the difficulty of tasking NASA to do that for which Congress will not pay. TANSTAAFL is very appropriate here, but I doubt Heinlein would be proud of what was proposed on Feb. 1st.

    I can only hope that the House and Senate Appropriations committees will offer-up the funds needed to get us on a better path than that currently proposed on Feb. 1st…yes, I am an optimist.

    Thanks Wayne for educating us of what was going on.

  24. Timothy Knowles says:

    I wanted to add my thanks to Wayne for his contribution to the nations space programs and his postings to the site/blog.

    I would like to comment that much of the progress in space is accomplished by people who aren’t members of NASA but are employee’s of subcontractors

    I would like to see some leadership from NASA that lets us make as much progress as the available budget allows instead of every few years we have a new plan. One step forward, two steps back.

    After 30 working on our nations space programs, working on all three coasts (atlantic, pacific, gulf) I am waiting on my next assignment. If we had used the resources the country gave us wisely we would not be stuck in LEO.

    Tim

  25. waynehale says:

    OK, I’m just about to lock out more comments on this particular posting. I just deleted a long string of back and forth tit-for-tat discussion on particular arcane space architecture points that was way way way off topic.

    Please keep your comments reasonably short and on topic. If you want to explore the pros and cons of various space architectures there are other places to do it.

  26. Gary Miles says:

    My apologies for the extended discussion thread. It was not my intent to engage in one on this blog. In the future, I will restrict my comments to your replies. Thank you.

  27. Sorry Wayne for taking things off topic!

  28. Give it a rest. The writer of this piece is entitled to have an opinion. So what if Danny Boyle seems a decent person? I remember how people used to say Mel Gibson was a decent person too before he was revealed to be someone else.

  29. Charley S says:

    Thanks again!

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