Fairly recent news articles pertaining to NASA's predictable underachievement regarding Mars,
and the refreshing prospect of long overdue competition from Europe, Japan and Russia...
SA , (In some
places, we also include what we think
NASAWatch.COM's reaction would be
if injected with a healthy dose of truth serum)
BBC article: "Never has a spacecraft been built so quickly, on so little money, and been sent on such a long journey fraught with so many dangers...Beagle 2's atmospheric entry, descent and landing on Mars on Christmas Day will be the most worrying six minutes in the history of unmanned space exploration."
Beagle2.com: offers the latest news on the effort to contact the U.K.'s Mars lander.
BBC article: "Despite more than 30 missions launched to the Red Planet since the 1960s, only three landers have ever reached the Martian surface successfully."
CNN.com article: "Landing on Mars is very, very, very difficult," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science. "The fact that the world has failed most of the time it's gone there is indicative of that."
NASAWatch.INFO: And precisely how many of those missions were done entrepreneurially? ZERO.
BBC article: "But while the fate of Beagle may never be known, Esa has other plans to go back to Mars at the end of this decade. The aim is to send a big cousin of Beagle to explore the biology of Mars followed by a mission to snatch a sample of Martian rock for return to Earth. The British companies that helped build Beagle can make a key contribution to this programme. It rests on the UK Government to decide whether to sign up to the plans and commit the money that could make some kind of "Beagle 3" a reality."
BBC article: "Mike Healey from Beagle 2's constructor Astrium UK said [Beagle 2] really should have been able to communicate with [NASA's] Odyssey [by now]."
NASAWatch.INFO: Did Astrium actually
WANT the lean-budgeted Beagle 2 to fail? The European Space Agency
is almost as socialist as NASA. Some in Europe have complained that socialist
ESA has anointed basically one contractor monopoly, Astrium, while we already
know that NASA has anointed its own for Mars as well: Lockheed Martin. LockMart
and Astrium are basically NOT competitors for government contracts, and neither
one is particularly commercial where space is concerned either. Anyhow, even
though Astrium built Beagle 2, it apparently stands to profit disproportionately
if embarrassment from it should result in political demands for better funding
for ESA-sponsored interplanetary probes. How much support was there in Europe
for interplanetary missions BEFORE this "unintentional" embarrassment emanating
from Europe's first attempt? Not nearly as much, right?
Do you remember what happened when Lockheed's 1999 Mars missions failed miserably? LockMart and tax-leeching bureaucrats involved with Mars missions got MORE money for future NASA missions to Mars. Although LockMart got its feather$ ruffled a bit in the process, did it not come out ahead financially because of the 1999 "failures"? And weren't the causes of those Mars failures rather silly (if not intentional), as is documented here? It wasn't enough that orbiters had successfully made it to Mars: the public wanted photo-ops of the surface.
Here's the most annoying part: since then, Lockheed has worked against the emergence of pro-entrepreneurial, NASA-funded COMPETITIVE prizes. Lockheed consequently maintains its monopolistic stronghold over NASA's Mars endeavors. Now then, is it unsurprising that we've not heard of monopolist Astrium's supporting competitive prizes' emergence in Europe, either? It was a competitive prize, NOT a government contract, that lured Charles Lindberg's historic entrepreneurial flight from the USA to Europe. Nevertheless, the socialists in Europe's space agency now seem to prefer to overlook this awkward detail, just like the socialists corruptly dominating NASA do. Isn't it time to get the bureaucrats and their pet contractors out of humanity's way so that we can finally bring life to space, and space to life?
"Whoopee! Faster, better, cheaper [i.e. non-NASA] missions
to Mars are having a less-than-stellar record thus far! The more
I promote this news (and withOUT conspicuously mentioning pricetags, of course),
the more newsleaks and other favors I'll get
from my moles in the government bureaucracy and within the government
contractor clique. I'll also have more
(and other favors) awaiting me and my closest accomplices at the NASA
Haughton Mars Research Project in the Devon Island region of the world!
Burn this Holiday season, Britain's Beagle 2, Burn! And take the BBC's Dr. David Whitehouse with you! It's not fair how he gets so much more recognition than I do. It just isn't.")
NASAWatch.INFO: How can one be a sufficiently neutral "watchdog" regarding NASA when one actively seeks favors from the NASA clique, as our Devon Island exposé helps reveal?
"BBC News Online has won eight of the 21 prizes on offer at the annual
European Online Journalism (EOJ) awards... Dr David Whitehouse, BBC
News Online's science correspondent, won the best news story broken on the
net. That was for his story
"Space Rock on
Collision Course", about the 2002 discovery of an asteroid which could
hit the Earth in 2019. Dr Whitehouse has now won awards for four years
NASAWatch.INFO: That's a rather remarkable accomplishment, is it not Keith?
"Oh this just infuriates me! Heck, did I even cover that story?
Hmmm.... Either way, where are MY awards? Like my
corruption money and
sponsorships are enough to
sufficiently gratify me? Oh that did it! Whitehouse, you're
in the dog-house with me. Here, check out:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/20030804a.html: "NASA today announced that it has selected the University of Arizona "Phoenix" mission for launch in 2007 as what is hoped will be the first in a new line of smaller competed "Scout" missions in the agency's Mars Exploration Program."
HoustonChronicle article: "NASA decided Monday not to include a rocket-powered [uncrewed] airplane built by scientists at the Langley Research Center in its next Mars Scout mission, possibly because of concerns over risk factors following the Columbia shuttle disaster. The unmanned ARES plane, short for Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey, would have been the first plane to fly on another planet."
NASA HQ press release (#03-256): "NASA [has] selected Phoenix, an innovative and relatively low cost mission, to study the red planet, as the first Mars Scout mission. The Phoenix lander mission is scheduled for launch in 2007. The 2007 Scout mission joins a growing list of spacecraft aimed at exploring Mars. It also represents NASA's first fully competed opportunity for a dedicated science-driven mission...Principal Investigator, Dr. Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., leads the Phoenix mission in a partnership with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., and Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver. In addition, the Canadian Space Agency is contributing a meteorological package that includes a lidar sensor to study polar climate."
One thing that NASA isn't eagerly volunteering is that a significant
portion of the "victorious" Phoenix mission was already paid for by
U.S. taxpayers during the 1999 Mars debacle era.
Space.com article: "NASA's Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. selected Phoenix over three other concepts: a Mars airplane, an orbiter, and a novel sample return of martian atmospheric dust. The tough competition between the four novel Mars Scout missions has been underway over the past year. The Mars Scout program is designed to complement major missions being planned as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, as well as those under development by foreign space agencies. A Scout mission comes with a total mission cost cap of $325 million. The Mars Scout Program is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington, D.C."
NASAWatch.INFO: Lockheed again?!? Is NASA unaware that campaign finance reform has withstood U.S. Constitutional scrutiny? Regardless, how was this a "fully competeted opportunity" like NASA claims since in realilty no competitive prizes were offered for the results-producing winner, as opposed to merely for the company with hired guns like Republican activist Bob Walker's Wexler Walker group? Lockheed's among that lobbying group's paying clients. Ironically, however, although taxpayers are the ones stuck with the bill, taxpayers aren't considered to be official clients of that for profit lobbying firm. Wasn't the Bush Administration supposedly going to get politics OUT of the U.S. space industry? And why is the traditional space media ignoring this dimension of the scandal? Perhaps they covet Lockheed's sponsorship? Maybe there are other conflicts of interest involved, too?
SpaceNews article: WASHINGTON Four science proposals backed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems swept NASAs Mars Scout competition, all but assuring the Denver-based company a leading role in the $350 million mission the space agency plans to launch to the red planet in 2007. NASA officials selected the proposals from a field of 25 Dec. 6 for six months and $500,000 worth of additional study each. NASA plans to pick one of the four by August for development as the agencys first Mars mission selected via a wide-open competition. James Crocker, vice president of space exploration systems at Lockheed Martin, said he was surprised and humbled to learn that all four finalists were backed by his company. Lockheed Martin backed nine proposals in all.
NASAWatch.INFO: How's that for a government-enforced monopoly regarding our neighboring planet?
Space.com article: "[Japan's Nozomi] probe [originally intended for Mars] will remain in orbit. [JAXA spokesman Junichi] Moriuma said scientists will continue to modify Nozomi to carry out alternative missions, including monitoring solar activity, as it carves a wide path round the solar system. One lap is expected to take two years, he added."
NASAWatch.INFO: How much would you like to bet that the sponsorship-seeking U.S. space media will not go into how the $86 million dollar Nozomi mission's pricetag is way lower than anything NASA would force on taxpayers? Meanwhile, will we see any mention of how this is a failure of a socialist Japanese space program? Why were there no pro-entrepreneurial Mars prizes offered instead of contracts?
Here's Europe's first, ever, "close-up" photo of Mars.
NASA Watch.INFO: Here's our analysis of how much more affordably Europe's and Japan's socialists attempted to do do Mars than NASA's socialists did.
(NASAWatch.COM: "Of COURSE I have occasionally prematurely claimed that contact with Beagle 2 was lost. My bureaucrat & contractor allies need a morale-booster amidst the success of this substantially cheaper competitor. Fortunately I was able to persuade them that the false hopes I temporarily gave them were merely the "unfortunate" result of poorly translated documents from the Russians. If all else fails, blame one of NASA's other cheaper competitors after all.")
NASA Watch.INFO: Rather than let NASA continue corruptly throwing the money at the usually under-achieving government contractor suspects, why doesn't NASA offer competitive prizes to the first company or companies that could achieve certain milestones that would further the endeavor? NASA's annual budget is $15 billion dollars, which is around the same as all the rest of the world's civilian space agencies' budgets COMBINED. Perhaps we're somehow expected to forget how our national debt has reached an all time record high $6.8 trillion dollars?
NASA has not been nice to the Bush family where Mars is concerned, and you will likely get a kick out of seeing the only known live video coverage of George W. Bush discussing possible Mars missions.
SpaceFlightNow.com article: The $300+ million dollar Mars Odyssey mission's radiation monitoring device has stopped working...
(NASAWatch.COM: "I resent covering this. It makes my over-priced NASA clique look overpriced."
"Every time there's a major budget problem in Washington, the idea of closing
a major NASA center is kicked around, said Keith Cowing, a former NASA manager
who now runs an independent Web site, NASAwatch.com. "It's talk and
that's generally all it is," Cowing said. "That seems like a way to save
money quickly, but when the details get fleshed out, it just doesn't pan
out that way." ....Other NASA centers, most notably Glenn Research Center,
in Cleveland, Ohio, and Ames Research Center,
near San Francisco, sit on prime real estate. Glenn is located right next
to an airport, and Ames is near a research park. "Either one of those could
be sold for big bucks," Cowing said.
Howard McCurdy, a space expert with American University in Washington, said an effort to close Marshall would expend a lot of political good will that the White House doesn't want to burn. "It's not a very likely scenario," McCurdy said. "It's just not high up on the priority list, either. The White House is concerned with the war and Social Security reform, not NASA problems."
NASAWatch.INFO: What does Keith Cowing and his jointly owned SpaceRef venture stand to gain by tweaking NASA Ames like this? Perhaps more tax-subsidized support for SpaceRef's collaboration with the NASA Haughton Mars research project around Devon Island, Canada in which NASA Ames participates? For more insights, feel free to click here.
(NASAWatch.COM: "^ $ # % * ^ ) ] @ & !!!!!" )
FoxNews.com article / WashingtonTimes.com article: Even as the Wright Brothers were the first to fly, the tax-subsidized & co-opted Smithsonian museum nevertheless tried to claim the title for its own ally whose tax-subsidized "rig" fell into the Potomac River during its attempted take-off. The Smithsonian did not [temporarily] correct its misrepresentation until decades later, after Americans seeking to set the record straight called the scandal's attention to an overseas competitor known as the Science Museum of London, in 1928.
NASAWatch.INFO: Doesn't the NASA vs. the
much more economical Beagle
2 race come to mind?
Space.com article: "[Europe's] $353 million Mars Express mission was successfully launched on June 2nd atop a commercial Starsem Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. "
CNN article: Europe begins work on its Beagle 2 Mars lander.
NASAWatch.INFO: and at a mere fraction of the cost of whatever the NASA clique still monopolistically imposes upon U.S. taxpayers, as this article helps demonstrate. Is it surprising that NASAWatch.COM (which depends upon U.S. government bureaucrats and monopolistic contractors for leaked content, pageviews & banner ad sales, as well as for unblocked website accessibility and even e-commerce) would publicly behave with such hostility towards the BBC's Mars analyst, Dr. David Whitehouse? Next:
NASAWatch.INFO: Has it become a status symbol if not a career-booster to be perseveringly at odds with the lone editor of NASAWatch.COM? The BBC's Dr. David Whitehouse, whom NASAWatch.COM condescendingly and repeatedly called the Ocean on Mars correspondent this summer, would seem to have reason to think so. Dr. Whitehouse's Ice RESERVOIRS found on Mars recently won first place in the European Netmedia awards as the best Science reporting on the Web. Meanwhile, Dr. Whitehouse was also voted as being the European Internet Journalist of the Year 2002, by a panel of 143 European Judges from around 40 countries). To confirm this, one merely needs to look here.
IEEE Spectrum Online
"Clearly, if the British lander does find life on Mars, a scientific symposium
will have to be convened to sort out who may have discovered it first: NASA
WashingtonTimes.com article: NASA's latest twin Mars rovers will cost U.S. taxpayers over $800 million.
That's $48 million u.s.d. Presumably that
does NOT include the launch costs. The overall Mars Express mission
is costing around $353 million, though. When doing a price comparison
with NASA's $800+ million twin rovers, this shows how much private industry
can (HOPEFULLY) achieve in the absence of a stifling bureaucracy, or a Mars
cartel like the one Lockheed leads in the U.S.A. Unfortunately,
though, Europe's space program is bogged down in socialism which favors a
major aerospace contractor, and this will be their first time landing
on another planet too. Stay tuned...
Would it not seem that NASA's more eager to perpetuate our "need" for it
than it is to save taxpayers money that will be necessary for future Mars
rovers? Why doesn't NASA have solar panel cleaners for its
$800 million dollar 2003 Mars Rovers, so that
the missions could seemingly last much longer? Is there a PERSUASIVE
scientifically compelling justification for this "omission"? How is
it that after so much
studying of this problem, NASA has (conveniently) ignored the need for
remedies? Evidently it's easier to get funding for future rover missions
when there are none that are currently active?
NewMars.com Desert Research Station log: "If the Mars Society really wants to consider using a greenhouse to recycle the entire waste water of the hab, they need to spend a lot more money, maybe on computerised telemetry, and get better expertise in..."
NASAWatch.INFO: Why doesn't NASA finally put up a competitive prize for such wastewater-recycling in such a small, strapped sort of environment? The Mars Society (or the Moon Society, or the Planetary Society, or perhaps even the Mars Institute, or possibly even some member of the rather monopolistic aerospace cartel) could probably figure out how to do this affordably at a fraction of what NASA: JSC somewhat monopolistically charges taxpayers. And now that former Johnson Space Center director George Abbey has officially left NASA, inertia's easier to deal with (especially with a cost-cutting, "MBA-Presidency" team in the White House, at least until 2004).
(NASAWatch.COM: "But I'd prefer to see a CONTRACT (not a competitive prize) given, and awarded to buddies of mine. That approach has the added benefit for me of keeping that many more NASA bureaucrat allies of mine employed so they can leak national secrets to me for my personal profit, and continue generating at times sponsored pageviews on my websites, while potentially doing all sorts of other favors for me in exchange for my merely furthering their labor unions' agendas. ")
Previous postings regarding Mars underachievement
Previously from Space News: "Design troubles on NASAs twin Mars Exploration Rovers have driven up the projected cost of the 2003 mission by $100 million, prompting the U.S. space agency to borrow against future space science budgets to cover the added expense. The latest cost projections represent a 16 percent increase over the missions original price tag of $690 million."
NASAWatch.INFO: Design troubles? Procurement design troubles is more like it. Why doesn't NASA simply offer competitive prizes and let competing companies decide which expenses (or in this case, self-enriching redesigns) are worth undertaking? Meanwhile, to see how much more cheaply the British are conducting a similar yet largely private mission, feel free to visit here.
(NASAWatch.COM: "Stop linking to anything affiliated with Space.com! They wouldn't offer me my price and I've been disparaging them ever since. Meanwhile, if you want space prizes to exist, go fund them yourself. My bureaucrat and contractor allies want the $15 billion dollar annual NASA budget basically all to themselves. Why should I embrace, or even call much attention to a procurement reform that they predictably don't want? After all, they help enrich me with pageviews and news-leaks, while not letting access to my sites get banned from their workstations, or those of their peers. They also do favors for my allies and buddies. If space suddenly became a genuinely competitive industry, I'd stand to lose out big time. So, uh, prizes are a, er, childish idea. Now go away! Do not send me any more e-mails. This is getting way too creepy. And no I am NOT corrupt.").
To learn more about the property rights in space issue, please click
NASAWatch.INFO: Rather than force his company to try and play the NASA contractor game (or compete against companies unfairly subsidized by it), why not offer NASA-funded competitive prizes to help incentivize it and potential ones of African American billionaires & aerospace enthusiastsRobert Johnson and Donald Watkins as they possibly attempt to accomplish what the NASA cabal predictably has not? Isn't efficiency-rewarding competition the American way, even if it peculiarly isn't yet at America's rather monopolistic space agency?
(NASAWatch.COM: "Pssst! Hey Elon: Just because I've spent years self-servingly supporting statist governmental policies that are hostile to newcomer space entrepreneurs like you doesn't mean that you can't still buy some banner advertisement on my noble web properties, does it? Please buy banner advertising space ASAP because there might not be any left if you take too long to act on this great deal, even if it is probably at least ten times more expensive than the market rate:
NASAWatch.INFO: At least in part due to years of NASA's underachievements regarding Mars, ESA and the British are (wisely) conducting their upcoming Mars mission independently of NASA (as this CNN article and BBC article demonstrate). Without having more competition, NASA will most likely never stop being such a bureaucratic and corrupted contractor waste of $15 billion tax dollars annually. Did you know that NASA's budget is bigger than all the rest of the world's civilian space agencies' budgets, combined (source: Euroconsult-EC.com). If the British and Europeans perform just as well on Mars in early 2003, what will NA$A's excuse be?
(NASAWatch.COM: "But don't you see?!? My bureaucrat and contractor allies within the NASA clique can't handle competition. Collaboration with the much more streamlined Europeans, British and Japanese is crucial! This competitive tendency may be great for humanity and also for Mars exploration, but all I really care about is my own bottom line. I need their pageviews, leaked national secrets, non-banned access for their employees, and favors for myself and my pals. So I'd better promote sensationalism against this ESA independence movement, while I still can! Whew! here's a link to a relevant article in Science Magazine, bless their statist hearts.")
NASAWatch.COM: "I will be living
in a tent on Devon Island for nearly a month, as part of the NASA
Haughton-Mars Project, beginning Saturday
night." (July 4th, 2002). Meanwhile, here's
NASAWatch.COM's Keith Cowing's
Summer of 2002 Devon Island journal:
NASAWatch.INFO: Have we uncovered significant corruption involving NASA Ames civil servants and (the supposedly objective "watchdog") NASAWatch.COM regarding Devon Island, Canada? Is this not an example of how NASAWatch.COM sells out and literally sleeps with the enemy over which it pretends to be an objective critic? Was anyone even remotely surprised to see this civil service union letter from unionized NASA Ames bureaucrats (available at http://www.afeu.org/fair_act__letter_to_mcdonald.htm) aggressively promoted at NASAWatch.COM in July of 2002, even as most other news was either ignored or relegated to mere "press release" status? For further details on how conflicts of interest like these result in predictably biased coverage by that purported watchdog, please feel free to read this analysis. Additionally, there's the following series of related analyses:
NASAWatch.COM: "Behold, something greater than MarsSociety.org (which I betrayed, for my own potential benefit): http://www.MarsInstitute.info. The CEO & Chief Financial Officer is my SpaceRef business partner, by the way. We've worried about the lack of sponsorship at SpaceRef recently but maybe this new Institute will do the trick. Of course, far be it from us to prostitute ourselves by shaping our opinions according to what coveted donors or collaborators want."
NASAWatch.INFO: We predict that there will be plenty of pro-big-government (as opposed to pro-entrepreneurial) policies emanating from that purported institute. Was anyone even remotely surprised to see this civil service union letter from unionized NASA Ames bureaucrats (available at http://www.afeu.org/fair_act__letter_to_mcdonald.htm) aggressively promoted at NASAWatch.COM in July of 2002, even as most other news was either ignored or relegated to mere "press release" status there? Conflicts of interest abound and result in predictably biased coverage by that purported watchdog. For further details, please feel free to read this analysis.
Space.com exclusive interview of NASA HQ's Mars Czar, Orlando Figueroa:
"For decades, NASA's wish list of Mars robotic probes included picking up Martian samples and lobbing the precious cargo back to Earth for detailed study. For decades, pulling off such a mission has come with an astronomical asking price - in the billion dollars plus range. "It's a very complex and difficult mission, with a price tag to go along with it," Figueroa said."
NASAWatch.INFO: Then why not offer a prize which all companies can competitively pursue, while minimizing the supposed "difficulty" if their consequently efficiency-conscious employees so choose? Or do NASA's bureaucrats and bloated pet government contractors have a vested interest in maintaining the underperforming status quo? If companies such as Lockheed Martin or Ball Aerospace shy away from this sort of tax-subsidized procurement approach, and in fact lobby against it (at humanity's expense) then precisely what does that tell us about their suitability for the privileged near monopoly status that they currently still enjoy regarding U.S. Mars missions? If you want to see just how underperforming the USA has been regarding Mars, dollar-for-dollar, please click here.
(NASAWatch.COM: "I'll give some token coverage to the NASA-funded prizes issue now that NASA A.A. Dr. Scott Pace is calling a little attention to it, but that's going to be the end of that! If you want space prizes to exist, go fund them yourself. My bureaucrat and contractor allies want the $15 billion dollar annual NASA budget basically all to themselves. Why should I embrace, or even call much attention to a procurement approach that they don't want? After all, they help enrich me with pageviews and news-leaks, while not letting access to my sites get banned from their workstations, or those of their peers. They also do favors for my allies and buddies. So, uh, prizes are a, er, childish idea. Go away!")
NASAWatch.INFO: Attempted sabotage thwarted?
In September of 2001, NASAWatch.COM published
just about everything it could to disgrace the Mars Society, due to personal
differences with its founder Dr. Robert Zubrin (who has frequently
criticized governmental waste at NASA and throughout Washington D.C.).
Indeed, NASAWatch.COM prominently
published that the 2001 annual convention had its worst turnout ever,
that much of the board abandoned the society, and that Dr. Zubrin called
the Islamic world (as opposed to merely its fundamentalist faction) politically
incorrect terms. Later
NASAWatch.COM's lone editor evidently published
that the Mars Society wasn't even paying its bills.
Has NASA's Mars record justified taxpayers' expenditures and NA$A's enduring monopoly status?