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Well Said, Dr. Griffin April 22, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.

– Mike Griffin, Goddard Award Dinner 2009


What’s next? A note from his Mom? January 1, 2009

Posted by shubber in Congress, CRATS, distracting PR, gauntlet being dropped, hot air, Manned Space, NASA, public service announcement, smack talk, space, Wasting Money.
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So in honor of our 300th post, i was planning to do a detailed examination of where we’ve been in the past couple years since the Space Cynics blog was started, how the industry has/hasn’t matured, predictions we (and others) have made that have/haven’t come true, etc.

And then I read this little gem.

Seems that Mike Griffin has been fighting pretty hard to keep his job when the new Administration takes over – and now he’s recruited his wife into the mix.  The headline:

Don’t Fire My Husband, NASA Chief’s Wife Begs Obama

Really? Have you no shame, Mike? It’s not like you’ve presided over any great legacy at NASA in your relatively short tenure under President Bush. You are beholden to your special interests in the military industrial complex, and only grudgingly have allowed any form of innovation or private sector involvement to participate in our development of space when forced, kicking and screaming, to adopt Zero G flights over the Vomit Comet or fund COTS – and even then you can’t do it right.

But to send out (via priority mail) copies of your speeches, as if anyone would want to suffer through them a SECOND time, was priceless.  Granted, it’s not like the total cost of mailing was even a rounding error in NASA’s budget – it’s about leadership.  The CEO of an organization, which is what you are for all intents and purposes, sets the tone for the people who choose to work for him.  When you engage in such behavior, it reinforces the wrong sort of message to the rank and file employees – no different than when the President chooses to get a hummer in the Oval Office from an intern and then lie about it on national television.

It’s about Leadership.

You missed great opportunities to engage in development of true CRATS, real hypersonics research, support initial studies into SBSP (yes, even though I am very cynical about it, that IS part of NASA’s job IMHO), and to put nails in the coffins of both VSE and the ISS, freeing up billions of dollars to fund the hardest part of the equation – getting out of the gravity well.

So, perhaps I can weave in a bit of “The 300” after all.   End your tenure with dignity, not sniveling before the next President begging for your job.  Or, even sadder, having your wife beg for you. DO your job, now, and then go out with pride.  If that’s still possible.


Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
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Dear Fellow Cynics and Space Cadets:

Over the weekend, a space petition was brought to my attention by a previous guest on The Space Show. This petition, which you will find below, is being offered to the global space community by the folks at Marsdrive.com MarsDrive is both in the United States and Australia and Hal Fulton, MarsDrive COO and VP, and based out of Austin, Texas, was a guest on The Space Show on Nov. 20, 2007.

Since receiving this petition over the weekend, Hal and the MarsDrive CEO, Frank Stratford in Australia, and I have had many discussions about the petition’s potential to achieve the MarsDrive objectives and I offered them many challenges and lots of criticism. After some careful thought on all our parts, Frank and Hal agreed with my suggestion to place the petition here on Space Cynics and let everyone read it, consider it, and offer MarsDrive any feedback about the petition. Thus, peer review has come to Space Cynics! Feedback can include suggestions for marketing, modifying the petition, getting more signatures, changing it, smoking or even drinking it, or whatever you want to offer to the MarsDrive team. Regardless of your thoughts about it, please do give them feedback. I am taking the liberty of extrapolating from one of the email discussions I’ve had with Frank about the goals and purpose of the petition.

“We would like the chance to go into space in our lifetimes – perhaps to orbital hotels, to the Moon, or to Mars. This is the essence of this petition. It was designed for people to simply express their desires and dreams. Again- this petition is for the people to express what they want, not what we tell them they should want. The value in this is clear to us as well. So far little has been done in this regard. Yes, we have had political petitions but this petition is for the people to express their desires without all the BS and diplomacy that encumbers political petitions. We therefore appeal to all world space agencies, government leaders, and private sector organizations to challenge them in this matter. We ask them to adopt policies and help develop technologies that will take humanity into space.–This petition, if enough people sign it, will gladly be presented to the above entities. From NASA to Congress to the ESA, E.U and large private sector organizations. By being open on the web it is already open to their view if they should choose to look at it.”

In my last email with Frank, I was told there were 147 signatures which is on the low side of what MarsDrive expects, wants, and needs. So Cynics and Cadets, it’s time for your comments and opinions. Have at it. Frank and Hal, if I have incorrectly stated something or if you wish to add to this narrative, please post a comment on this blog post. Your comments are welcome and welcome often.

Professor L

Petition for Inexpensive Space Access by MarsDrive (www.marsdrive.com).

We, the undersigned, believe that the time has come for space flight to be opened to all people.

We recognize, however, that this cannot happen with the current high price of space flight. Humanity will never develop an economy in space – will never work, travel or live on other worlds – if it remains too expensive.

We would like the chance to go into space in our lifetimes – perhaps to orbital hotels, to the Moon, or to Mars.

We therefore appeal to all world space agencies, government leaders, and private sector organizations to challenge them in this matter. We ask them to adopt policies and help develop technologies that will take humanity into space.

“We, the undersigned, believe that the time has come for space flight to be opened to all people.”


“In case there is any misunderstanding, we will first make this statement: We fully support, encourage, and applaud the persons and groups who are already making tremendous effort and progress in these areas. These people should be regarded as heroes.

This petition aims to stand alongside these persons and groups, and certainly not in opposition to them. The exhortatory language of the petition is not directed to them, but to the rest of the world — persons, companies, and organizations who are unaware or uncommitted where spaceward expansion is concerned.

As such, this effort is primarily to raise public awareness and “get the word out” — and here, the word “public” includes non-space-related private enterprise. It will make no difference in the long run, any more than a single Yuri’s Night party makes a difference in the long run. But if it helps move space “onto the radar” of even one person or group, it will have been worthwhile.

This “intent and purpose” page was created in response to an email from a member of the space community (here reprinted anonymously):

This seems to be fly in the face of Elon and Space X, Bigelow, John Carmack, XCOR, etc. They know what it takes to get to space let alone do it cheaper. There are hundreds of millions being spent on this problem around the world. Do you think waving a magic wand with a petition like this will solve the real engineering, science, and tech issues? Don’t you think Elon who is way beyond $120 million of his own money knows what it takes to lower space access costs?…

I think its well intentioned but if it has no delivery point or focus or end result in mind, its wishful thinking. Also, I think it tends to belittle those in the trenches working this problem with their life blood. Its not that the issues of low cost space access are being ignored, hell, they are being addressed on the public and the private side. $500 million and more of our tax money is trying to spur COTS players to do this cheaper than the gov. contractors.