And you Readers know what that means, right? Time to hammer NA$A!
Trump advisers’ space plan: To moon, Mars and beyond
Oh yeah, baby [palms sweat, pupils dilate, breathing deepens]
The Trump administration is considering a bold and controversial vision for the U.S. space program that calls for a “rapid and affordable” return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA’s mission to “the large-scale economic development of space,” according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.
The proposed strategy, whose potential for igniting a new industry appeals to Trump’s business background and job-creation pledges, is influencing the White House’s search for leaders to run the space agency. And it is setting off a struggle for supremacy between traditional aerospace contractors and the tech billionaires who have put big money into private space ventures.
Hmmm. Not as satisfying as burning the place to the ground, but go on; you’ve got my attention.
“It is a big fight,” said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, who drafted the Trump campaign’s space policy and remains involved in the deliberations. “There are billions of dollars at stake. It has come to a head now when it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside of NASA.”
Me starting to get mad. You not like it when I get mad…
“Billions of dollars”? Is that all you can wrap your pea-sized brains around? The future of humanity depends on getting off this here rock! I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: if you don’t care about that dying-horribly-from-radiation-poisoning thing, you can put a Hiroshima style bomb together at your kitchen table. Some plastic explosives, enough fissionable material to generate a critical mass, and some easily available electronic timers and switches, and you’re there. Let me repeat something else: figuring it out the first time requires genius, after that it’s just engineering, and even Buttfuckistan can produce competent engineers. [pauses, controls breath].
I like the unintended hilarity in that ‘graph: “…it has become clear to the space community that the real innovative work is being done outside NASA”. In case you’re a bit slow on the uptake, “space community” is a euphemism for NA$A. Had NA$A been doing its’ job and fulfilling it’s mission, there wouldn’t be any “space community” outside NA$A. Don’t believe me? Then show me where to book a weekend on Luna or where to apply to be a colonist on Mars or one of the Outer Planets.
Charles Miller, a former NASA official who served on Trump’s NASA transition team after running a commercial space cargo firm, is pushing for the White House to nominate a deputy administrator who foremost “shares the same goal/overall vision of transforming NASA by leveraging commercial space partnerships,” according to a Jan. 23 communication. That deputy would run the space program’s day-to-day operations.
That won’t be as effective as a row of heads on pikes, pour encourager des autres, but all right. People shake their heads and shiver a bit when I say “If I cannot have your respect, then I will have your fear”. But so far as getting Out There is concerned, they simply don’t grok how this could all go up in smoke and how quickly. They also don’t understand that the best way to pull the teeth of any number of crazies is to let them know that you’ll be munching on popcorn from $kilometers away as they set the world on fire. Kinda difficult to hold folks hostage when you don’t actually have them in your grasp.
“No NASA program dominated by bureaucrats could take the risks, accept the failures and create a learning curve comparable to an entrepreneurial approach,” he added. “Just think of the Wright brothers’ 500 failures in five summers at $1 per failure. Ask how long NASA would have taken and how much it would have cost.”
This. This right here. Some time back, in one of my scorchings of NA$A, I pointed out that NA$A presumes to hold private space concerns to a level of safety that NA$A itself hasn’t been able to achieve:
If NA$A existed in 1900, we’d still be taking trains. If NA$A existed in 1800, we’d still be on horseback.
Humor me for a little off-topic aside (quoting from the linked article):
The model for NASA’s new role, it says, could be the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a federal agency established in 1915, at the dawn of aviation, to promote and institutionalize aeronautical research.
You know those cowls that appeared surrounding radial engines in the 1930’s? Those airfoils that you see on B-24’s and B-26’s (amongst others)? That was NACA, i.e., Government doing something useful. It can be done. Personally, I think that abject terror is the best path, but persuasion might work. Then again, I’m something of a traditionalist, and perhaps there’s a better way than heads on pikes and gibbets.
But such an approach is likely to cause anxiety within NASA and in Congress.
“Clearly there is a very keen interest in bringing in commercial but there is still a lot of desire to maintain programmatic continuity,” said Andy Aldrin, director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology. “At some point those two things may not be consistent. At the end of the day there is only so much money to go around.”
At NASA itself, major components of the agency that are focused on human space flight, space science and aeronautics might see their budgets cut or redirected under the new administration. “The uncertainty is not good for the workforce,” said Brendan Curry, vice president of Washington operations for the Space Foundation, an educational organization whose members include a wide variety of space firms.
GAAAH!! “Programmatic continuity”?!? You mean vehicles that cannot land anywhere? That’s a real thing, you know: the current design that NA$A is pushing can go places but cannot actually land.
“The uncertainty is not good for the workforce,”
[Shrieks, tears hair, rolls around foaming at the mouth] NA$A’s reason for existing is to send people Out There, not as a work program for folks with advanced degrees, you %#(@$&@!!!#
Indeed, the bigger fight over the soul of the space agency could play out on Capitol Hill. Convincing skeptical lawmakers that are worried about the loss of NASA contractor jobs in their districts could be difficult — not to mention finding the additional federal money that might be needed to partner with private space companies.
And there we have it. Yet another reason to go to DC with a bunch of rope. And that “finding the additional Federal money” thing? Just suspend any tax obligations the private companies face. Us space fans would be more than willing to send them the money, especially if we knew that Uncle Sam wasn’t lurking in the shadows with his hand out.
“We can leverage more investment in commercial markets to provide a better foundation for what NASA would like to do with human exploration,” he said. “We have to understand what the relationship between those two things can be. Sound market economics can be a real strong foundation to launching a mission to Mars and human habitation to Mars.”
That one is really simple, Sparky: Get. Out. Of. Our. Way. Had you done that in 1970, there would be casinos on Luna, and I’d be able to have a BLT on Mars. And maybe even scuba dive on Europa.