It would be a funny legacy of this White House administration if it succeeded in breaking up the traditional aerospace cartel by appointing someone so green to a NASA executive position they actually weren't aware of the politics here and ran the contracting process as if every player were on equal footing. It'd be the first I'd ever heard of it happening in aerospace. ;)
Under his watch we're getting multiple, re-usable, private launch architectures and human spaceflight capabilities.
Plus, significant infrastructure in lunar orbit, forcing the ISS budget out of LEO.
All under complete American control.
As they do that, they'll consume more and more private services, and help spur more and more industry in space. For me, that's a huge, huge win.
That's a total failure. Absolute, complete, across-the-board failure of the human race.
Just a few decades ago the militarization of space was universally acknowledged as inappropriate and this was codified in international law.
That's a hell of an interpretation...
I'd instead say that the world powers recognized that nukes in space would be destabilizing, and banned that specific thing. Space has been militarized since the 60s.
Of course, actually there are weapons on some of the satellites but everyone pretends that there aren't to maintain stability. Publicly putting weapons in space is destabilizing, stupid to the point of evil.
Heck, even in the most idealistic portrayal of the future (Star Trek TNG) there's plenty of war in space.
Now then, you can't hold up Star Trek as something to help decide policy in actual space.
If anything "Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is the sci-fi to look to. I don't want to give a spoiler though, but, uh, whoever gets to the Moon first effectively rules the Earth.
That accounts for local space around the Earth, now Alan Dean Foster was the first sci-fi author to point out that war is impossible in space due to fundamental physics. I don't have the time to go into it now but it's not hard to work out once you clear away the mental/emotional dross.
In sum, "war" in "space" is a mental concept not grounded in physical reality. People have been watching too much fiction and are all screwed up in the head in re: the realities of space and physics.
If we wind up with "war" in "space" it will be a kind of theater that the powerful use to cow the naive.
Compared to the Soviets, Mao, German Reich #2 / #3, Napoleonic France... the world could do worse for the First nation to take the moon.
But I strongly suspect that we won't be able to colonize space without fixing our personal problems.
There are no effective international institutions. The human race hasn't figured out any way to unify on a global level. There are no world police - just scattered teams with nukes at each others' throats.
If history is any indication, being on the losing team means being on the wrong side of obliteration and conquest. Being on the winning team matters - a lot.
This is the prisoner's dilemma, without any benefit to cooperation. The US has the wealth and the industrial base to spread throughout the solar system faster and more aggressively than anyone else.
Whoever militarizes space first controls every other nation's access to space, and has the ability to deny access to opposing nations.
I'm thankful the US is doing it before China.
I'll leave that to you, shall I?
Probably in violation of international treaties, but who cares about those.
> Under his watch we're getting multiple, re-usable, private launch architectures and human spaceflight capabilities.
The commercial crew program was begun in 2010 under the Obama administration. Probably the only reason it still exists is nobody has mentioned that to Trump. Giving credit for a 10-year-old program to Bridenstine, who's been at NASA for two years, is utter nonsense.
Besides SLS, though, it didn't move meaningful industry outside of LEO. It was an important step, but didn't fundamentally move us past the post-Apollo Space Shuttle funk. The Asteroid program was potentially interesting for getting mining going, but small in scale, with long timelines.
Artemis is the first time NASA has run on aggressive, tight timelines since Apollo. They're shooting for achievable, inspiring objectives -- quickly. And this time, we'll have THREE architectures that can get any American or American ally to the surface of the moon for a price.
Gateway guarantees long-term government spend in Lunar orbit, just like the ISS guaranteed long-term government spend in Earth orbit. Artemis aligns government spend towards the industrialization and militarization of space, on terms beneficial to the US.
Trump, big on Space, fact.
And Space is really important this year, because whats going on on earth is fscked up beyond all recognition.
It's not just big government agencies that are vehicles for pork, the whole government's been that way for a long, long time.
It would be like saying "angry birds was developed with 10 days worth of Microsoft's annual budget".
NASA's 2020 budget of $22.6 billion from here:
22.6 billion * (10/365) = $712 million
TLDR: NASA realized that they needed "big rocket" capability. But because they get jerked around by the president, Senate and Congress every 4 years or so, the only way to get it was to design a program that was "unkillable", a program that was both ultra-conservative and spread the pork around widely.
The "new Space Force" is just a renaming of existing assets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_Space_Command). Hell, it's still under the Department of the Air Force and its Secretary.
My guess is that it's purpose is ABM.
As with the staffing, that's largely just a transfer from the Air Force.
> Most of the funding for Space Force in the F2021 request simply reflects shuffling funds into the new account structure, but an Air Force official said today there is a $900 million increase compared to FY2020.
Fighting such a war without a unified command over the theater in which that action unfolds seems destined for failure.
And failure to preserve or triumph in space substantially degrades planetary military capabilities.
So really, Space Force is an expression of "space is important to all the other military things we do now."
NASA is a civilian agency. It isn't and never has been justified by anything related to military defense.
It looks like the departing chief hadn't had the job for long. Might be a hot potato at the moment...
NASA has plan to get into the Moon by 2028.
Pence blindsights NASA and contractors by moving timeline arbitrarily forward without a plan in a grandstanding speech. "At the direction of the President of the United States, it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years”. It's not a Tweet so NASA must scramble to make a plan. Funding for a new timetable is not there.
Gerstenmaier is removed without explanation as a head of HEO almost immediately after he testifies to congress. Gerstenmaier quits NASA to consult SpaceX.
Loverro comes in, is very bullish about the timetable. Now Loverro quits suddenly.
I think it's time for Jared to come in. If he can handle Middle-East peace and Covid-19, why not a Moon landing as well.
You’re being sarcastic but this is horrifying.
In the country my parents immigrated from, government officials appointing their family members to important positions is very normal.
It also did get bad enough that my parents had to leave that country behind.
Official numbers from 2019: https://news.gallup.com/poll/245789/record-numbers-americans...
Anecdata suggest this has significantly increased in the last year, and especially in 2020.
We live in what amounts to a failed state. There's still some hope it's repairable, but it's rapidly dwindling, and Jared's crown prince role is a large contributor to that dwindling.
And now, with the current administration removing watchdogs and ramping up corruption, it will be a miracle if any opposition with a majority of votes can actually win. Look at the attack on vote by mail, as an example.
Roger Ailes is dead, but his legacy lives on.
I know it sounds preposterous that a president would refuse to leave office, but it also seems preposterous that an impeached president wouldn’t step down, and he’s become accustomed to degrading norms and breaking the law with impunity.
US lifestyle is still very good, but for those of us looking at the trend it’s really concerning. I know I’m personally making decisions with the possibility of needing to leave in the future.
Like Clinton? Like Andrew Johnson? No impeached US president has ever stepped down. Nixon resigned before he was impeached.
I think maybe the bar for conviction in the Senate is too high in a way that is corrosive to presidential accountability. Both Trump and Clinton committed serious crimes without real consequence and it is disgraceful, regardless of politics. (note: I don't care about the sex, I care about the perjury and obstruction of justice)
Government contractors were genuinely ecstatic. There is no downside for them.
People say he's unqualified for anything. But he is uniquely qualified in that he is immune to being fired for fucking up everything.
1. Senior Advisor to the President
2. Director of the Office of American Innovation within the White House Office (position created specially for him). The office exists only to make recommendations the President.
When he meddles with the CDC or the US foreign policy, he is not bearing any legal responsibility. He is grey eminence operating in unofficial capacity. He can't legally make anyone to do anything, but everyone knows that he is just phone call away from the real power.
Logan act does not apply to Kushner when he is acting on behalf of the president as he is doing today. Kushner has authorization to do what he does. He even has senior position in the WH. What he does not have is executive power or position on his own.
I'm not sure how this is going to turn out, but even if the US elects a different president, the current one has provided a nice handbook to a potential autocratic future president to gain unlimited power.
Even then it's easy to blame it on someone else. There's a reason they are calling it the Wuhan Virus.
Instead of this, we have the usual situation modern space exploration has settled into, some president boasts that we will do some thing and then after they left office some other president quietly kills it because its way to expensive.
What we should be doing is building coalitions with other countries to do join missions to the moon and all that, thats why the ISS has been so successful, its not just the US or Russia contributing, but dozens of countries. Not to say it could happen without the US or Russia, but the large number of countries working on it helps quite a bit.
Kennedy committed to the lunar landing shortly after Shepherd's suborbital flight, and the idea from NASA was that they'd orbit the moon. Kennedy thought a landing would be more spectacular, but it took NASA quite a while to settle on lunar orbit rendezvous, let alone the Saturn V architecture.
Kennedy was on the verge of cancelling Apollo when he died, and Johnston was anything but a space expert. Johnson was definitely responsible for ensuring no American woman went to space until after he was out of office, the evidence is clear on that one.
The single person most responsible for getting America to the moon was probably John Houbolt (or perhaps Konstantin Tsiolkovsky).
There is also a lot of debate as to whether the ISS has been successful; this really depends on what your objectives were/are.
 John Logsdon's Bibligraphy
I will argue quite firmly that without Johnson, there would be no moon landing or no space program as it developed later and as we know it now.
Johnson definitely did a lot of pork-barreling with the space program funds, but I think the main reason that Apollo went forward was because Kennedy had espoused a grand vision shortly before being shot. Without Lee Harvey Oswald, I doubt that Neil and Buzz would have made it to the moon, especially given Apollo 1.
My guess is that he was told: "Keep the moon landing on track for 2024 or you're fired." And the only way he could do so was to illegally expedite the selection process.
If more concrete information comes out, I'm all ears.
...then again, what's all the playground politics worth anyway? nada
I've been called out twice on HN for this , but I wholeheartedly disagree. I hadn't heard this rumor before now, and now I have new information.
I can use my own reasoning to qualify the weight I give the claim. I know this is a rumor. I'd rather have some known possibly incorrect data than none at all. It helps me understand the possibility landscape better.
This one even has a WaPo article.
A man's career was screwed...
He did preface with "My guess is". A guess is just that - a guess, without any info to back up your reasoning.
He very well could have made an stupid but honest mistake at some point prior to coming over to his current position (it looks like he was hired last October), and it finally caught up to him.
> He wrote that he took “a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission. Now, over the balance of time, it is clear that I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear the consequences.”
My suspicion is it was this: "Boeing also bid but was not awarded with a study contract."
He guesses that Loverro violated rules around procurement, potentially by pushing Boeing to improve their proposal because he favored a SLS based solution.
I find this practice very dumb. A huge amount of acronyms now have to be written like regular words.
Use all capitals if an abbreviation is pronounced as the individual letters (an initialism): BBC, CEO, US, VAT, etc; if it is an acronym (pronounced as a word) spell out with initial capital, eg Nasa, Nato, Unicef, unless it can be considered to have entered the language as an everyday word, such as awol, laser and, more recently, asbo, pin number and sim card. Note that pdf and plc are lowercase.
Maybe we should default to "What's it look like on the logo?" The NASA logo for one would look pretty dumb as Nasa.
That said, I hope humans get back to the moon soon.
More usefully, I'd ask, "Why the Moon?"
The US has been there, the science is well known (which is not the same as saying the science is all done) and all you (the US) can do in a international consortium to "Moon" is give away the crown jewels in knowhow and tech. Add to that, it's a research mission down another gravity well. I'd think that Mars is a more attractive science target (if you're determined to get stuck with gravity wells), one of the Lagrange points more useful from an engineering/space exploration perspective as a way-station, the asteroids for science and potentially minerals/engineering/learning to build/do stuff in space and outside the Earth's magnetosphere, or the gas-giants' moons for science/the search for extraterrestrial life. And all of those are things that (for large values of `true`) only the US has the capability to do. Leave other nations to go back to the moon.
Do the stuff no-one else can do and that will hugely enhance US space capability over anyone else. (I say all this as a non-US person.)
There are so many practical advantages in a Moon base that I don't know where to start. It's very surprising to see them ignored in every discussion about relative merits of the Moon respect other options. Maybe they've been forgotten because much time passed since Apollo.
The main point is probably that the Moon is not another gravity well. It's a much much weaker gravity well. Take a look at the Saturn V and then to the LEM. Of course the former had to carry the later and the other modules. But still, only the upper half of the LEM was needed to put two humans in lunar orbit:
Another important point: you can cover habitational containers with regolith to provide a good protection against micrometeorites.
Eventually factories will be made. Unlike humans, you don't need to take stuff from Earth, saving tons of fuel. The only things that seem to be a problem to make there are fuel, and oxygen because there's no water. Solar energy is even stronger while not at night, obviously.
Oh and "research project" is a way of talking. You can say "exploration" as well, eventually "industry".
Edit: a couple of advantages more, that I don't see mentioned. One that the Moon has gravity and a surface. That means that humans can work more like on Earth and storage is much cheaper to build.
And another one: if a way to make ships or fuel from lunar materials is found, it would help any other mission. Taking cargo from the Moon to Earth orbit is much cheaper than doing that from Earth surface. Even if you plan to go to Mars or the asteroids, a Moon base is a great thing to have.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_water suggests we have a lot of evidence to imply there is, but until we get there and extract enough for a cup of tea, I guess we can't be sure.
Something to keep in mind is that lunar nights last something like 13 earth days (a full lunar day is 27 days, 7 hours, and change.) So there's a big power storage issue to contend with. Perhaps nuclear power on the moon is the way to go. It wouldn't be the first time a fission reactor has been put into space.
Anyway, I'm sure there would be some other solution, maybe just halting production for two weeks.
If long-term human occupancy of the moon became a thing, it would be interesting to see what sort of cultural changes occur in a population working on a 'two productive weeks; two rest weeks' schedule.
"Due to the orientation of the moon’s spin axis, the sun skirts and circles around the polar horizon. On certain mountain peaks, or elevated crater rims, the sun shines 80 percent to 95 percent of the year, with short periods of darkness easily bridged by temporary power sources, such as fuel cells."
It's just a short summary of the reasoning.
Here - https://launiusr.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/why-explore-space-... - some arguments for space exploration in general.
Human exploration in particular becomes more clear when one realizes that modern robotics can't fit a lot of exploration requirements as well as humans can.
Aside from commercial goals - like resources, tourism, support of space equipment - we have natural, if strategic, curiosity of environment around us. We're just at the point when that "around" starts getting bigger than the planet.
I don't think anyone is against using space, but that's quite a different thing from human space exploration. The only specific example he gives of the direct use for space - using artificial satellites - don't require human space exploration. Neither do the more indirect benefits he mentions - international cooperation and having high level challenges. There are plenty of high challenges (even if we just look at space), many that would also have much more tangible benefits in addition to being a high level challenge.
Talking about our natural curiosity isn't a great reason either - we're already doing much more robotic exploration of space than most cultures historically did of their surroundings. And this exploration doesn't necessitate humans.
We don't have much more examples of actually being in space for humans - Apollo flights were short and few, so most other examples are either space stations or solo flights. Yet we have advancements of science even from that.
Particularly Apollo flights still represent the best overall scientific review of the Moon - and in general other non-Earth celestial bodies - so from science point of view advantage of robots is unclear. That advantage comes largely from being more economical to send a robot to space than to send a human, but things change with time, and flying to the same place becomes cheaper with time, so this advantage of robots may decrease. Will it be offset by increased robotic abilities is also unclear.
So Stuhlinger's arguments are not the only ones - and rather old by now, so newer ones are better seen.
As for natural curiosity, yes, we did often survey the other side of the river before going there - even before deciding if it makes sense to go, over millennia. Yet by now all rivers on Earth are crossed. So saying that exploration doesn't necessitate humans doesn't seem to generalize - it's the status quo for today, not the necessary law of nature.
Why would you want to do that?
Not sure about the religious part, but sending people into space is inherently good, indeed. Exactly the same as traveling the world instead of sending a drone to photograph the pyramids. But not everybody can appreciate the difference.
Personal preferences aside, it's difficult to argue against your position unless you define what you think are the goals of space exploration, human or not. Maybe there's also different goals for different persons.
We need to poke it with a stick every now and then, so that it knows we're still here.
At this point no one can do a manned Moon landing. That technology has been lost. US doing a landing is a way to reclaim that technology, and that can be useful to start building up some semi-permanent presence closer to the Moon, boosting research and eventually some kind of industry in cislunar space.
> all you (the US) can do in a international consortium to "Moon" is give away the crown jewels in knowhow and tech
From the POV of people involved at the scientific/engineering level, that may very well be the point. The less jingoism is taken upwell, the better for everyone.
Of course you are. Gravity wells are where the stuff is.
Even visiting the ISS is a form of "going down a gravity well." If every sentence must be accompanied with an asterisk and a "well, actually" explanation, nothing of value ever gets said.
Consider Halley's Comet, which has a volume of approx 960km^3 and a mass of 2.2×10^14 kg. An astronaut standing on the surface could reach escape velocity with a not-all-that-robust vertical jump. For similarly sized celestial objects, the real trick might be not escaping their gravity well.
Granted, it is technically correct to point out the difference is merely quantitative. However, the effects of that merely quantitative difference are so pronounced that in any practical sense there is a qualitative difference in how we would interact with such an object.
That's my point, though. If they're negligible as gravity wells, what's the point over just a space station? Working isn't any easier. We can't choose its location and orbit so easily. Resources to extract aren't significant. What else?
Ateros is estimated at 1.25 trillion in profits 
I really don't know what you base your opinions on, but science and economy it is not.
Eh? If you mean probes, ESA and China are launching missions in the next year or so (Jupiter and Neptune respectively). If you mean _manned_ missions, no-one can do that, currently.
The same launcher that will launch JUICE (ESA's Jupiter moon probe) will launch NASA's James Webb space telescope, because NASA didn't have access to an appropriate American launcher (everything available at time of planning failed on either payload capacity by mass, payload capacity by volume, or reliability track record, AIUI, so Ariane it was) after decades of under-investment.
And most of NASA's highest profile missions this century launched on an Atlas V, which, while made in the US, uses rocket engines designed in the Soviet Union almost 50 years ago and made in Russia (incidentally, these are by some metrics still amongst the most capable kerosene rockets available; underinvestment in rocket engine design isn't _just_ a US thing).
Domestic commercial stuff may take over at some point, but for the moment, NASA is largely dependent on partially or entirely foreign launchers for its highest profile scientific launches.
If you argue that way, one could just as well say that the US leveraged other nation's know-how to get into space in the first place... This idea also quickly falls apart if you'd just take a look at the pioneering work the Soviets did. Most of the firsts in space weren't done by the US.
As great as NASA was/is, not every great accomplishment was based on their work. The engineering side in particular was done independently and arguably better in some regards elsewhere (Soyuz for example, which incidentally is the basis for the manned Chinese capsules as well).
But I agree with you that it's unclear the value of going to the moon again.
not in the industry, but since the domestic launch capability has been privatized and is still pretty unproven, i'd think that NASA would want to confirm/test/vet the procurement ecosystem and the new launch capability in incremental stages, much as they did for their own systems when things were in-house.
So yes, the US has been to the moon before, but it hasn't been to the moon with these particular fully outsourced launch platforms yet.
Just a guess, but maybe it's because this president seems obsessed with editing himself into the narrative of numerous political and national news events that were historically significant during the early adulthood-middle age years of boomer-era folks like himself. Thus the effort to bring about personally-styled reduxes of the moon landing, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran crisis, the cold war, SDI, etc. All of these make up the notion of the "again" referred to in his slogan. Compare the focus on "American" story points of this period to how little he seems interested in events of similar significance that came into prominence after around 1990, other than opportunistically channeling the outrage of his base over anything connected to Clinton.
NASA will get itself tied in politics and paperwork, NASA's contractors will take in as much money as possible, while doing not very much work, and Musk will 'aim' for 2024, but be closer to 2042.
The man has already launched a car into space as a stunt.