Thursday, September 10, 2009

The One After 9/09

What a mess!

Maybe now we can call time on any more 60 day studies seeking higher truths? Maybe Santa Claus really doesn't exist? Maybe Sybil snuck a draft in when Norm wasn't looking? Maybe Jack Weinberg was right? Maybe Paul is dead?

Our first clue that something was amiss came in the form of the Panel make-up. Did you notice anyone in the group with more than academic or outdated credentials? Neither did we. Anyone who has constructed anything more tangible than view-graph presentations in the last 20 years? Ah, no. Anyone exhibiting any form of enlightenment whatsoever in understanding the real crux of the problem at hand and the organizational skills to dissect it? Anyone with new and innovative ideas?

Anybody besides Jeff, that is?

If the former, and we might now add, irrelevant, Emperor hadn't left us at the Italian Waiter's table holding the bill would there have been any need for a 475nm Ribbon Panel in the first place? Of course, not. This administration's need to socially intervene in anything and everything (as if our very health care depended on it) thus required some assessment of the depth of the ditch we currently find ourselves in. Having resolved that, does anybody really think this is about a measly $3B a year? Are we really saving that just to buy more clunkers next year?

No, the problem is the same as its always been. Alluded to but missing from the executive summary was a starting point. Just what is it that is so important to accomplish in space that only humans can do it? Without that starting premise (and we don't think its "field geology"), which the Panel clearly states as an axiom upon which all else must be derived, the presented options are set afloat, once again, without context. No need for Buck Rogers, no bucks.

Here Mr. Band Leader, a.k.a. LoriAndI. Have a kleenex.


Anonymous said...

That 12 pages of toner and paper flying in loose formation was really impressive-not!. Rocketman is right - when you start with no objective, use people with no current knowledge or obvious capability, you wind up with a report that has a pH of 7.

Let's take the measly $3B and buy clunkers next year! At least we would know what we are doing,why we are doing it and would have something to show for our efforts when the program is over. A stark contrast to Ares 1.

It would beat having to look vendors in the eye and try to convince them that they should become NASA step-n-fetchits when the their part of the program would only amount to 0.001% of their annual production. It would beat having to keep the perpetual smile on your face while the rest of the world knows that your program is headed toward the dust bin.

One thing is for certain, there is going to be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in Shelbyville when that stop work meteor impacts MSFC.

QuantumG said...

"As important as science is and as important as inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is and as important as engaging with international partners is and of developing the commercial sector, the subcommittee decided that the goal for human space flight that is sufficient to justify the necessary commitment beyond Low Earth orbit is to chart the path for the expansion of human civilization into the solar system. Some will choose to say this differently. Some say that the goal is that humanity should become a space faring civilization. I’ll take that to be synonymous with our committee’s formulation, our subcommittee’s formulation. Now this sounds terribly ambitious and dramatic but if that is not the point of human space flight, which now is exactly about finally once again going beyond Low Earth orbit, what the hell are we doing? None of the other figures have merit, however very important each is, is sufficient by itself to justify the commitment that going beyond Low Earth orbit requres and in many cases, there are alternative routes to those ends."

- Dr. Christopher Chyba

Paul Spudis said...

Just what is it that is so important to accomplish in space that only humans can do it?

Make more humans. Ultimately, human presence in space is about our survival as a species.

We have no capability at present to survive a global catastrophe, whether of external (asteroid impact) or internal (supervolcano) origin. Establishing multiple reservoirs of human culture on other worlds is our ultimate objective. The first steps along that path are to learn how to create sustainable human presence in space, using the material and energy resources we find there. We must create an incremental, cumulative program that teaches us these skills and develops these technologies. And this can be done under whatever budgetary environment we find ourselves under, if undertaken cleverly (admittedly, something not yet in evidence).

And we just might find that field geology is a useful thing to do along the way. :^D

Anonymous said...

Maybe Spudis should have been on the Panel. At least he can write coherently!

Dr. Lemming said...

Obviously the panel should have contained at least one field geologist.