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And there goes the Moon, or “Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!” December 11, 2008

Posted by shubber in bailout, Congress, economy, finance, hot air, Manned Space, NASA, smack talk, thanksgiving, Uncategorized, Wasting Money.
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So, if the alt.space gossip lines are right, there’s trouble a-brewing in the halls of NASA these days, with the Administrator (Mr. Griffin) apparently not terribly interested in working with the Obama transition point person (Lori Garver).

Kudos to Al Fansome for pointing this out (initially on the SpacePolitics.com website, from which this was shamelessly pilfered).

Tensions were on public display last week at the NASA library, as overheard by guests at a book party.

According to people who were present, Logsdon, a space historian, told a group of about 50 people he had just learned that President John F. Kennedy’s transition team had completely ignored NASA.

Griffin responded, in a loud voice, “I wish the Obama team would come and talk to me.”

Alan Ladwig, transition team member who was at the party with Garver, shouted out: “Well, we’re here now, Mike.”

Soon after, Garver and Griffin engaged in what witnesses said was an animated conversation. Some overheard parts of it.

“Mike, I don’t understand what the problem is. We are just trying to look under the hood,” Garver said.

“If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar,” Griffin replied. “Because it means you don’t trust what I say is under the hood.

Just remember, folks – you heard it here first, though: the Moon program is a bunch of hot air and will be cancelled with the many budget realities that are now facing the incoming administration, including the never-ending bailouts.

Hey, maybe Big Aerospace should ask for a $100 billion bailout (make up a reason) and use that to launch someone to the Moon?

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Comments»

1. Monte Davis - December 11, 2008

“…heard it here first?”

I think it was March 2004 when I first used the words “dead man walking” about VSE — specifically about the unlikelihood that the sand-chart numbers would survive economic/political developments through the next five years, let alone through the late 2010’s.

Admittedly, in projecting those “economic/political developments” I was anticipating parallels to the trajectory of 1965-1975, rather than the 1925-1935 scenario that’s unfolding now 😦

2. Eric Haynes - December 12, 2008

Yep, ole Mike finally made a big mistake..which is he and his ego is finding it hard to let go.

In hindsight, the smart thing to do was give the transition team both options (1. Keep the shuttle or 2. Ditch the shuttle and continue with Constellation), keep his mouth SHUT and smile on the way out the door.

Nope, Mike’s ego got in the way and now he’s going to cry out the door, saying how badly he got screwed when in reality he screwed himself.

3. Charles Pooley - December 12, 2008

This incestuous coupling of industries with NASA is the civilian version of what Eisenhower warned us about. Since the Apollo days, NASA has become a parasite.

Griffin’s remarks are just “never mind the man behind the curtain” from Oz.

NASA needs to be dismantled, parts to support unmanned space probes, and support as a customer, not compete with a nascent space industry.

4. John McGowan - December 13, 2008

NASA already is a customer for the “nascent space industry”, also known as Big Aerospace: Lockheed and the few other giant aerospace firms.

When I attended the Space Frontier Conference in 2000 (my only time), I heard numerous speakers argue that NASA should get out of low Earth orbit, leave it to “private enterprise”, apparently meaning alt.space, now New Space, companies, and focus on deep space exploration. This struck me then and still does as ludicrous. The alt.space companies had and for the most part still have no track record in space. They have never sent so much as a paperclip into orbit. In contrast, NASA and Big Aerospace have successfully launched hundreds of satellites, space vehicles, and the Space Station into orbit. There was and still is no contest between NASA/Big Aerospace and alt.space.

So far, SpaceX has not really changed the equation. With difficulty, they have one satellite up. Congratulations are in order, but there experience also demonstrates yet again how difficult it is to build and launch rockets successfully.

Returning to the original post, NASA, like most government R&D colossi, will almost certainly continue to limp along in a rut for decades. These programs have enormous inertia. Sadly, thirty plus years of experience not just with NASA but many other programs shows that attempts to lobby for a change in direction will fail. Fusion researchers keep building ever larger tokamaks despite 30 years of failure. Cancer researchers keep pursuing oncogenes despite 30 years of mostly rising cancer rates. The same could be said of many other programs. The enormous amount of money and jobs involved in these R&D programs makes the programs extremely rigid. They have enormous financial resources for propaganda and lobbying to head off any challenge. Over the decades, they have developed sophisticated techniques to ignore, coopt, and often successfully ridicule and marginalize any alternatives.

As the experience of alt.space/New Space demonstrates, the “private sector” usually lacks the experience and skills in genuine R&D (not commercializing a proven technology that exists as a working prototype somewhere) to succeed where the stagnant government R&D programs have failed. In most cases, the “private sector” and its cheerleaders are unaware that they lack the necessary skills and experience. Perhaps Elon Musk has found this out the hard way, which may be a step in the right direction. Even so, a SpaceX or other “alternative space” company must not only reinvent the rocket but surpass the state of the art which is even more difficult.

John

5. Peter - December 14, 2008

Griffin has heard the saying “Trust, but verify” (since it was a favorite of Reagan, and this guy was appointed by bush). So his complaints about not being trusted are deceitful at best. The guy’s loud complaints are a sign that he has something to hide. As Shakespeare put it: “methinks the lady doth protest too much”

6. drbobbs - December 15, 2008

Did Mr. Griffin really think the Moon shot was going to be a reality? We’ve got two wars going on and the economy is imploding. Then there’s this little thing called health care. The current bailout mess is chump change compared to the potential carnage if we see a health care “bubble” burst. Unfunded Medicare liability by itself is $85.9 trillion or six times the nation’s gross domestic product!

I hope I live long enough to see the human race become a truly spacefaring civilization. But this is just not the time, I’m afraid.

7. Eric Haynes - December 15, 2008

I agree with Peter, Griffin must be hiding something. He probably has been hiding the truth about how much everything really costs in a vain attempt to keep Constellation alive.

Although I was a big fan at first; there’s something conceited, smarmy, and condescending about Griffin’s character. Just look at him, he’s always got that “I’m smarter than you” smirk on his face. Just for kicks, click on NASA’s official bio and try not laugh, I bet you can’t! http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/griffin_bio.html


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