NASA's space shuttle's monopoly on human spaceflight from the USA
Relevant articles (and occasional commentary) on
(along with what we think NASAWatch.COM's reaction would be if injected with a healthy dose of truth serum)
News24.com article: "Challenger was obliterated in its 1986 disaster, and Columbia was lost in 2003, killing a total of 14 astronauts in the two accidents. NASA is left with Discovery and Atlantis, ages 20 and 21, as well as the 13-year-old Endeavour that replaced Challenger. People are young at 20, but electronics are well into maturity by then - if not beyond. "I wonder whether I could find a single electronics box in my house that's 25 years old and still works. I don't think I can. It's the same thing with the orbiter," the Nasa administrator said of a recent shuttle part breakdown."
NASAWatch.INFO: Can you imagine the tort liability (at taxpayers' expense, for starters) that would result if another Shuttle (quite foreseeably) fails, too?
Space.com article: "What if the Shuttle never flew again?"
NASAWatch.INFO: Don't Space Shuttle "workers" get to collect more overtime pay whenever launches are postponed?
NASAWatch.INFO: Have you seen how many more $600 million per flight Space Shuttle rides NASA hopes to impose upon taxpayers [presumably for Floridian governor Jeb Bush's benefit]? Nearly two dozen:
NASAWatch.COM: Stop rocking
the boat! I want to profitably sell my book
about this statist plan before it becomes financially doomed. Don't
you DARE insinuate that I don't deserve the
AP article: "Florida's Space Coast Worried for Future"
NASAWatch.INFO: Now that Jeb Bush has won
an historic re-election in Florida, can we finally do something about the
$600 million per flight U.S. Space Shuttle
monopoly? NASA, will your bureaucrats and pet
contractors continue trying to overlook President Bush's admirable (but
sourcing" mantra? Meanwhile, will the Administration finally
stop peculiarly neglecting to apply it, or at least explain why
potential "competitors" were consulted regarding the central planners' pet
orbital spaceplane Shuttle replacement project?
Space.com article: "NASA is talking with the two contractors who developed next-generation rockets about carrying the next-generation space shuttle."
NASAWatch.INFO: Why only
Orlando Sentinel article: "There is the possibility that increasing the private sector's involvement in the shuttle program could have an impact on jobs at Kennedy Space Center. Hundreds of jobs already have been lost during the transition to industry -- only 1,800 shuttle civil servants remain, down from 2,700 in 1991...NASA spokesman Glenn Mahone...added that NASA frequently receives input on its major programs -- both solicited and independent -- and that the [recent] Rand study is another example of that. "I think some of the things and some of the comments and so forth, certainly we've heard before" Mahone said."
(NASAWatch.COM: "Hey! Can't you give the NASA clique credit for at least pretending as if they'll take the Rand Corp's report seriously? How can my business affiliate's Space Transportation Association continue to raise money if I don't get to help with the charade? At this rate I could become dependant on the new MarsInstitute.INFO operation launched by another SpaceRef partner of mine who learned all he could from Bob Zubrin before turning around and becoming his competitor.")
NASAWatch.INFO: Maybe the White House can more seriously consider finally cracking down more on the wasteful $600 million-dollars-per-flight Space Shuttle monopoly. Is it not time to more aggressively implement its admirable "competitive sourcing" mantra where the Shuttle monopoly is concerned? Presumably Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center could handle the competition, while taxpayers (and consumers) would benefit nationwide. Is it surprising that Lance Bass pursued travel to the lone remaining space station on a RUSSIAN vehicle, as did Mark Shuttleworth and Dennis Tito (with greater success)?
(NASAWatch.COM: "Hey! Ease up, will ya? The solution is always to throw more money at a problem [as long as it's not my money]. Meanwhile, have you callously forgotten that the SpaceRef venture in which I very actively participate also includes the president of the decreasingly subsidized but still pro-pork Space Transportation Association? Can't you cease with the unfavorable scrutiny of the Shuttle monopoly (etcetera)? I'm sure as heck not making much money on selling banner ads now that the Discovery Channel's sponsorship account is toast. Anybody interested, though? http://www.spaceref.com/company/advertising.html ")
WashingtonPost.com article: "United Space Alliance hires a variety of law firms to lobby the federal government to support funding for the shuttle program. It says these expenses are not passed to the government...United Space Alliance spokesman Jeff Carr said law firms hired by United Space Alliance mostly provided analytical information. "I don't believe we do direct lobbying . . . [such as] working with Congress to influence funding decisions," he said. But United Space Alliance's documents show that its largest business partner in Washington is the law firm Reed Smith LLP, which got $246,100 last year. In lobbying disclosure filings last year, the law firm said its job was to "ensure continued Congressional and Executive Branch support for NASA's space shuttle program."...More than 2,500 vendors such as Launch Coast provide services that keep the shuttle program running, and any major shift in the nation's manned space program would have ripple effects in almost every state. While behemoths such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin make exotic components needed to fly into space, most of the smaller contractors provide more routine services or equipment that support the vast ground operation needed to boost the shuttles into orbit and help maintain them on the ground. "
NASAWatch.INFO: Why do we continue giving the Space Shuttle a monopoly regarding taking humans into space from the USA? Did you know that a Russian Soyuz mission carrying humans into space costs approximately $20 million, and has a better safety record than NASA's monopolistic $600 million-per-flight U.S. Space Shuttle? Ah, but for decades NASA's bureaucrats have enjoyed preserving the shuttle as a "cash cow" or "full-employment-act-for-bureaucrats" and their pet contractor allies. However, do you not see now more than ever what such selfish inefficiency has cost our astronauts? Congressional pork-barreling aside, aren't pro-entrepreneurial reforms regarding space exploration long overdue? And as for the Shuttle: why not privatize it and let it sink-or-swim on its own? If it can't survive, then why should taxpayers continue having to pay over half a billion dollars per trip to prop it up? Considering how we now have a record high $6.4 trillion dollar national debt, shouldn't genuinely privatized means of delivering humans into space from the U.S.A. finally be given a chance? Here's our page dedicated to scrutinizing NASA's Space Shuttle's monopoly on human spaceflight from the USA.
NASAWatch.INFO: Will Floridian Congressman Dave Weldon's presence on the House Appropriations Committee mean that NASA's Space Shuttle's monopoly on human spaceflight from the USA will survive President Bush's admirable "competitive sourcing" plans despite how Jeb has won an historic re-election as governor of Florida (from where the Shuttle always launches)?
WashingtonPost.com article: "John H. Marburger III, Mr. Bush's science adviser, said he had not met with the president specifically about space exploration, and had instead spent large portions of his time on the technology of domestic defense. And although Mr. Bush spoke of the need for a strong NASA when he made stops near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during the 2000 presidential campaign, he has made no major speeches about space during his time in the White House."
NASAWatch.INFO: What IS it with Florida and the Space Shuttle monopoly which so substantially benefits it, anyway???
USAToday.com article: "But [Space Transportation Association president Frank] Sietzen is skeptical that a $10 million prize or private financing will be enough to develop, test and license a new suborbital vehicle. He says the best hope for space tourism is for the government to become involved. The Space Launch Initiative, a $4.8 billion NASA program to design a next generation space shuttle, may also yield a craft that can be converted for commercial use, Sietzen said. But there's a catch: NASA still lacks money to build the vehicle after it is designed. Sietzen isn't worried. "The development of a suborbital space vehicle," he says, "is going to continue on its own." "
NASAWatch.INFO: Would the STA's sponsors refuse to let Mr. Sietzen endorse the efficiency-rewarding NASA-funded space prizes concept, or was a mentioning of that recent NASA budget item (discussed here) "coincidentally" left out of that sponsored article?
(NASAWatch.COM: "Hey, c'mon! Stop rocking the boat, will ya?! Can't we simply discuss the need for dialogue that would enable particular aerospace contractors to slow down the pace of long overdue reform? If D.C.-based space activism groups finally have to refrain from being so co-opted then NASAWatch.COM's bureaucrat, and media sponsoring government contractor allies would lose influence and marketshare to genuine entrepreneurs. That could force NASAWatch.COM to try and seek out alternative sources of revenue. C'mon, back off! Meanwhile, NASAWatch.COM's business affiliate who now runs the Space Transportation Association would no longer be as able to get subsidies from tax-supported government contractors, or potentially share the wealth with me either. Cut a guy some more slack, can't ya?!").
According to this SpaceFlightNow.com article, NASA is now reportedly entering the Shuttle-based webcam business. We're not fans of having NASA compete against the private sector. However, as NASA has yet to demonstrate a desire for there even to be a U.S.-based private sector regarding launching humans to space (despite its charter obligation to "encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space") then why not make NASA finance its presently over-priced Shuttle program by selling sponsorships? Seriously, why not? Here are several different space-related discussion forums that we know of, and with which we are not affiliated. Meanwhile, here is a directory of your elected officials.
"Don't allow sponsorship for the Space Shuttle! That
could drain from the potential sponsorship base for my own web properties!
Life's rough enough now that the Discovery Channel no longer backs
my web ventures. Banners anyone?
Space.com article: The new CEO of USA, Mike McCulley, says his "biggest headache may come from efforts within NASA and the White House to break apart or re-compete the Space Flight Operations Contract that USA has held since 1996...The original contract announcement said USA would be the single prime contractor for the shuttle program for six years beginning Oct. 1, 1996, at a total cost of $7 billion. A pair of two-year extensions were included to make it a 10-year, $12 billion deal. NASA exercised the first of those two-year options in 2002 but hasnt decided what to do with the second extension. Even before the Columbia tragedy the future of the SFOC deal was unclear...Critics of the SFOC have called it a monopoly, [and] challenged the assumption that SFOC has saved the government money..."
"NASA has told the Columbia accident board that it now believes it could
have kept the damaged space shuttle in orbit for up to 30 days, providing
time enough to launch a highly risky but "feasible" rescue mission involving
a second orbiter."
Space.com astronotes: "A Texas congressman is continuing to call for the end of flying crews on the space shuttle, saying the orbiter is too dangerous to fly with people on board. "I think we should use the three remaining orbiters in an umanned capacity, in other words convert them so you don't put humans in the orbiter," U.S. Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) said Thursday during an appearance on CNNfn. "We should use the Russian Soyuz or develop our own new shuttle or spaceplane to take astronauts back into space."
WashingtonTimes.com article: "A congressman from Texas said yesterday that NASA's shuttle program should be scrapped because it is too risky, and he vowed not to approve funding for manned spaceflight that relies on the three remaining shuttles. Rep. Joe L. Barton, a 10-term Republican, is the first member of Congress to call for an end to the program since the Feb. 1 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that killed seven astronauts. "The accident rate is just too high and you can't fix it," Mr. Barton said after a hearing of the House Science Committee's space and aeronautics subcommittee..."I'm not saying 'no' to manned flight. I just don't think we can have safe shuttle flights. I will support more resources for manned spaceflight, but I'm through turning a blind eye to an accident rate" of two shuttle wrecks for every 113 flights, he said."
NASAWatch.INFO: Beal Aerospace used to be in or at least close to his district. Maybe we'll finally start seeing some pro-entrepreneurial reforms? If not now, when? Congrressman Barton is one of very few engineers in all of the U.S. Congress, by the way.
pro-entrepreneurial governmental policies scare me. After all,
if bureaucrats suddenly have to compete more with private industry, and must
consequently better justify their tax-leeching sinecures, then who in the
Heck will subsequently have time to generate potentially sponsored pageviews
for my web properties? Meanwhile, who would still be empowered
to spread gossip to me so that I can publish it and thereby
personally profit, while I protect their jobs however I can? How
could I subsequently continue furthering my own agenda in ways
that benefit close business affiliates such as the one
who recently directed the Space Transportation Association?")
CNN.com article: More money for NASA?
NASAWatch.INFO: Not surprisingly, government contractors and their bureaucrat sycophants are taking advantage of the recent tragedy to try and hit up the taxpayers for even more money. NASA already has a bigger budget than the rest of the world's civilian space agencies COMBINED (Source: Euroconsult-ec.com), even though in several cases NASA is being out-performed by them. Wasn't it Republican President General Dwight Eisenhower who said "beware the military industrial complex" during his farewell address?
(NASAWatch.COM: "We're the opportunists? No no no! The real opportunists are the ones who preach that we repair and reform our space program without further procrastination, this close to its latest "unforeseen" disaster. C'mon, interpret things like I need for you to! I've got bills to pay and I need for my allies to stay put in the governmental bureaucracy and in the two most heavily favored aerospace government contractors.")
USAToday.com article: "It's not just dreamers who challenge NASA's assumptions, who chafe at a system dominated by big contractors, big bureaucracy, congressional pique and year-to-year budget squeezes. Others recall the computer and telecommunications revolutions of the past 20 years and wonder why the same hasn't happened to space travel."
NASAWatch.INFO: How about some
reforms? If not
What we believe NASAWatch.COM would say in response if injected with a badly needed dose of truth serum:
(NASAWatch.COM: "Oh, just hush!
Have you callously forgotten that the SpaceRef venture in which I very
actively participate also includes the president of the decreasingly subsidized
but still pro-pork
and pro big government Space Transportation Association? Can't you
cease with the unfavorable scrutiny of the Shuttle monopoly (etcetera) at
least until I can get paid off for continuing to conveniently "look the
other way" regarding how numerous potential competitors keep
getting excluded while the lion's share of tax dollars continue going to
a couple of supposedly "competing" companies? I want Boeing & Lockheed
to remain fat, happy & generou$ to the "unbiased" Space Transportation
USAToday.com article: "Until a few years ago, NASA was exploring several designs for vehicles to replace the [complex, overly expensive and underachieving] space shuttle. But NASA's new administrator, Sean O'Keefe, shelved those designs and committed to operating the [3 remaining] space shuttle[s] for the next 10 to 15 years...The next generation of reusable space vehicles is at least 10 to 15 years off said Donald H. Emero, who served as the shuttle's chief engineer from 1989 to 1993."
NASAWatch.INFO: Have you noticed how the protectionist aerospace cabal of contractors, bureaucrats and politically manipulative types haven't let our space program finally fund competitive prizes? Such prizes could reward the first companies that relatively swiftly bring about a replacement for that over-priced, conveniently labor-intensive and central planner-aggrandizing shuttle monopoly
OpEd: "Scrap the Space Shuttle
NASAWatch.INFO: It was published months ago but might be worthy of recycling now...
NASAWatch.INFO: In comparison, the X Prize
is worth merely $10 million to the winner but has been enough to spark
considerable interest from genuine entrepreneurs and space enthusiasts, as
opposed to bloated government contractors. And yet NASA still isn't funding
Do its pet contractors fear competition or something?
Washington Times.com article: "Numerous reports have demonstrated that NASA's sense of mission and on-the-edge spirit have been dulled by a risk-adverse culture and a bureaucratic mindset. For instance, the space agency is producing far fewer patents than it used to. Its researchers received a mere 89 patents last year, in sad contrast to the 155 they received in 1992, and in even more stark contrast to the 3,334 patents produced by IBM last year. Unsurprisingly, NASA scientists are producing far fewer papers... More troublesome are the failures of the space shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the subcommittee on space and aeronautics, called the space shuttle "the most efficient system ever devised to burn tax dollars," and it is clear that the shuttle has neither reduced the cost of manned space flight nor made space access routine, much less risk-free. The ISS has had similar problems. President Reagan was told that the ISS (then known as Space Station Freedom) would cost $8 billion. It is now thought that the station will cost nearly $100 billion to complete, about $30 billion of which will come from the United States. Research returns from the ISS have been negligible... Congress should consider ways to increase the number of companies investing in space. Mr. Rohrabacher's "Zero Gravity, Zero Tax" proposal which would reduce the tax burden of companies investing in space-oriented enterprise seems a step in the right direction."
NASAWatch.INFO: Why not allow a NASA pundit such as Robert Park (director of the American Physical Society's office of public information) to serve on the commission scrutinizing NASA's handling of the Shuttle Columbia? Didn't President Bush's Title IX Commission include people of diverse backgrounds & experiences?
(NASAWatch.COM: "Eek! If NASA loses its monopoly on launching humans into space from the USA, think what that could do to my business plan! So we need to abolish Lance Bass! We should guarantee government contractor dues for my business affiliate's Space Transportation Association. And preserving bureaucrats' job security is crucial too.")
.NASA Watch . info
.Which proposed legal reforms could best help our stagnating aerospace industry?
Will recent campaign finance reform breakthroughs essentially banning