Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NASA is not behind or overbudget it is underfunded- and it has been for years

I have had the pleasure, privilege, and honor to work indirectly for NASA for over ten years now (13 and counting). I work with the best educated, hardest working and dedicated people anywhere on the planet (Huntsville Alabama has the highest concentration of advanced degrees, Masters and Phd, than anywhere else on the planet*). You do us a disservice when you insult NASA or cut a program and end American human space flight- stopping the momentum gained over the last few years. They are roughly 150-160 astronauts in the American astronaut Corp and most of them have never flown. I think their salary is about 80 grand a year. You are talking about amazing Americans and amazing human beings. Their are thousands of American workers dedicated to the American Space Program. They deserve better than ending American human space flight. Stop it and stop it now. Reinstate some kind of American Human Space Flight.

NASA's budget is roughly 17 billion. You lost track of more (much more) when you bailed out the banks. We have lost track of more in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money is there. Restart the American Space Program. I am not the biggest proponent of Constellation, but ending government run human space flight? This is madness- every other country that can, is increasing human space flight and we cannot? We are going to rely on the Russians? Yeah that should work out great. We spend more than the rest of the world combined on our military. the rest of the world combined! This makes no sense. It is a very simple principal of technology develpment. Get the capability- copy what we could do or what another country can do exactly how they do it. The Japanese are masters at it. Why can't we do it. I see all this discussion about the size and details of the vehicles and it just doesn't make sense. Look, work has been done on the Orion, Sounds great, I was not involved. Let's just copy the capability of Soyuz and Apollo (3 man crew to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Let's use our best two vehicles (Delta IV and Atlas V) that have the capability and only allow volunteers on it. Forgot the discussions about how to man-rate un-manned vehicles. Ask the astronauts- they're bright people and know the risks better than anyone. Stop talking and do it. The Space Shuttle is ending this year after a very successful launch record. We need a follow on program and it needs to be lead by NASA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sums it up quite nicely I think (From NASA Watch):

Yes, it really sucks that it has come to this. I have seen this movie before: I am a survivor of Space Station Freedom "reorganization". Friends who worked very hard were simply fired for no fault of their own. I turned down several positions and quit NASA civil service in disgust (ever wonder what prompted me to start NASA (RIF) Watch?). And now we are seeing this happen again like a bad sequel. Every CxP job lost belongs to a real human being with a family and bills to pay - and dreams that will now be dashed.

As such, I honestly cannot fault anyone in or around CxP for wanting to fight back. My teammates at SS Freedom did not like what was happening at all. Yet we worked on our version of the "Program of Record" until we were told to stop working - and move on to other things - or be fired. To this day I am proud of the folks I worked with and how they conducted themselves. Pieces of what we worked on orbit overhead right now. We did not mount insurgent movements as much as we might have wanted to. There comes a time when badly-managed and chronically under-funded programs run out of resources. That is what has happened to Constellation. Of course, in the end, the little guy always gets the shaft.

NASA, White House, Congress, and the contractors should never have let things come to this point. They should have been honest with the numbers and what they committed to do. The money to keep everything going is not there - it never was and it never will be. The powers that be did not exercise responsibility and now thousands of hard working people get the shaft as a result of bad management - bad management that runs all the way up to NASA HQ and the previous Administrator and his staff, some of whom are still inexplicably in their jobs at NASA.

What newly-minted graduate in their right mind is going to want to pursue a career at NASA when the agency runs itself like this?