Saturday, August 2, 2008

Where the Southern Cross the Dog

In Moorhead, Mississippi the Southern Railway line and the "Yellow Dog" line of the now Illinois Central Railroad cross each other at right angles. It is said that here Robert Johnson met Papa Legba and sold his soul in exchange for being able to play the blues guitar like no other.

As the Falcon 1 debris splashes into its watery grave, the Emperor will now be forced to call on Legba again. He will say that $3B is a small pittance to keep the space shuttle flying while providing an excuse for the his ever delayed steroidal aspirations. He will endure the sting of a scorpion and sign his name in blood, selling his soul to remain on the throne.

One cannot have one's cake and eat it, too. Indeed, as the late George Carlin said, "What should I eat, someone else's cake instead?" Well in this case, that's exactly what is going to happen. It is not possible to keep the space shuttle flying AND get Constellation by 2015-16 simply by buying an extra piece of cake.

The problem is that there are not enough "cake tins" with which to bake. Just ask former Viceroy Hale. He lost his job trying to keep the shuttle pipeline stocked to the expense of Constellation, before the Emperor got religion. If you don't give up the launch pads, the MPLMs, the OPFs, the test stands, and the personnel, then you are going to have to build new infrastructure for the pieces and parts you originally intended to inherit for almost free.

And it will take more than a few days to construct the replacements.

Of course, flying through the gap will cost a whole lot more than the $3B the Emperor says he needs to make up for Washington D.C.'s "silliness." Gehman be damned. Then again, he said it would only take $2B to pull in the Constellation schedule to 2014, an investment his very own program manager soon said he couldn't deliver on.

Nor has an responsible investment been made in the private sector to take over the shuttle's mission to supply the space station through the gap. $170M won't put gas in that car.

Anyone who takes the Clothless Wonder at his word has not been tracking his excuses as this program heads for the water. He will say anything to keep his job. Maybe he should heed the word of one of his predecessors who similarly bridged across two administrations but recognized the problem at hand almost 10 years ago. A choice must be made. Or all will be lost.

"In the next decade or so, we should be completing our work in earth orbit and getting ready to explore our solar system and beyond. We can't afford solar system exploration until we responsibly turn these earth orbit activities to a cutting edge private sector. The reality is that Federal spending constraints will not allow NASA to both stay in earth orbit and explore beyond. And things will probably not improve in the foreseeable future." - Dan Goldin, 1999 Space Frontier Foundation

2 comments:

kT said...

Only Michael Griffin could turn BOTH the space shuttle and Dan Goldin into the fantastic successes that, in retrospect, they really were.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, flying through the gap will cost a whole lot more than the $3B the Emperor says he needs to make up for Washington D.C.'s "silliness." Gehman be damned. Then again, he said it would only take $2B to pull in the Constellation schedule to 2014, an investment his very own program manager soon said he couldn't deliver on.

Nor has an responsible investment been made in the private sector to take over the shuttle's mission to supply the space station through the gap. $170M won't put gas in that car."

$2B or $3B would get a pretty well-funded crew-to-ISS COTS competition going, especially considering corresponding investment from the competitors themselves, potentially Bigelow, etc. That would be a lot more useful than $3B for 1 more dangerous year of the un-recertified Shuttle, or $2B to probably not finish Ares 1/Orion by 2014.