[FPSPACE] LA Times story about anticipated Bush Speech...

Peter Pesavento eagle267@svol.net
Tue, 13 Jan 2004 12:05:36 -0500


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Fro Globalsecurity.org...



=20
  Los Angeles Times January 10, 2004=20

  Expected Bush Space Plan Sparks Debate Over Manned Missions
  Some say NASA needs such a strategic vision, but others see a burden =
for a nation in debt=20
  By Ralph Vartabedian and Elizabeth Shogren, Times Staff Writers=20

  In the aftermath of the Columbia shuttle disaster, investigators =
asserted that NASA's space-flight program was floundering, without any =
clear goals or future vision.=20

  The initiative President Bush is set to unveil next week -- which is =
expected to call for building a moon colony and undertaking a manned =
Mars landing -- could answer a question that long has vexed the space =
program: Why should the nation spend billions of dollars every year to =
put humans in space?=20

  Following the successful and popular Apollo moon program, NASA =
developed the space shuttle and then began building the international =
space station, under rationales that failed to ignite strong support in =
the science and technology communities.=20

  At various times, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration =
justified its work by touting the ability to perform zero-gravity =
science experiments, develop commercial products in space or cheaply =
launch payloads, among other things. Those rationales largely have been =
discredited.=20

  The idea of a Mars or moon mission is not new. Advocates of space =
exploration always have considered them the key long-term goals, and the =
justification for such a massive effort remains the expansion of human =
presence beyond the known world -- an instinct as old as the human race. =


  The value of the Bush administration proposal is likely to be judged =
not by the idea itself, but by whether it can create the political and =
financial support needed to make the program real.=20

  "Bush can talk the talk, but he has to come up with a plan that =
generates something besides artwork," said John Pike, an expert on space =
issues. "He has to come up with a plan that is politically and =
financially sustainable."=20

  White House officials have withheld many details of the plan and have =
made no public statements, deferring until Bush makes his widely =
anticipated speech next week. But the initiative already has sparked =
strong debate, even within the ranks of space-exploration advocates.=20

  A manned moon or Mars mission could be a tough sell to the general =
public, coming at a time when the federal government is heavily in debt =
and facing massive investments needed to modernize the electrical grid, =
improve crumbling highways, build new universities and many other items =
crucial to U.S. economic competitiveness. The U.S. Treasury is expected =
to sustain a $480-billion deficit this fiscal year, and rack up annual =
deficits of $1.4 trillion between now and 2008.=20

  "We have not experienced such severe budget deterioration in so short =
a time period since World War II caused the nation's defense budget to =
grow sharply," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget =
and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based think tank. "Given these =
looming deficits, there is no money available in current or future =
budgets for the expensive new space endeavor."=20

  But supporters of the initiative brush aside such concerns, saying the =
effort will not be unduly expensive and that it is essential to U.S. =
technological leadership.=20

  "Setting up operations on the moon is affordable, as long as it is =
taken as a primary goal for the American space program and not larded =
onto all of the other things that NASA does," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher =
(R-Huntington Beach), chairman of the House subcommittee on space and =
aeronautics. As an example, he cited NASA's efforts to assess global =
warming, saying: "Over the years, we have spent tens of billions of =
dollars of NASA money proving global warming is occurring, which I think =
is suspect and debatable."=20

  After the Columbia accident in February, many critics questioned the =
entire foundation of the human space flight program, arguing that =
robotic spacecraft could more effectively, safely and economically =
explore the solar system in future years. Bush has closed the door on =
that argument.=20

  "The president's decision is that we are not taking man out of the =
picture, which is the right decision," Rohrabacher said in an interview =
Friday.=20

  When Bush's father was president, he proposed a Mars and moon mission =
but made little effort to recruit political support for the idea. At =
that time, NASA produced a series of cost estimates, some of which =
called for spending $20 billion a year for 20 years. The sticker shock =
alone doomed the program.=20

  This time around, the president may not elect to put his goals into a =
formal and sharply defined timeframe, avoiding the entire cost issue. =
Congressional sources said Friday that Bush's plan might differ from the =
version that has leaked out of the White House.=20

  Rohrabacher said the initiative might be achieved with a 5% annual =
increase in NASA's current $15-billion annual budget. By phasing out the =
shuttle as quickly as possible, NASA could free up money for the new =
effort and regain the confidence that once characterized the agency, he =
said.=20

  "This lack of strategic vision has been very hurtful to the space =
program," he said. "The president's goal is a challenge to this =
generation to set up operations on the moon and a challenge to the next =
generation to move on to Mars. As long as it is done in a responsible =
financial way, it will have the support of Republicans in Congress -- =
even at this time of high deficit spending."=20

  But some aerospace analysts remain doubtful the program will go =
forward.=20

  "It's absolutely lunacy," said Marco A. Caceras, senior space analyst =
for the Teal Group, an aerospace research firm based in Fairfax, Va. =
"We're not going to have a moon presence anytime in the next 20 years, =
and we're certainly not going to have a man go to Mars in our lifetime." =


  He criticized the Bush administration for even floating the idea amid =
a number of space issues that need to be resolved, including returning =
the space shuttles to flight and completing the international space =
station. "It's extremely irresponsible to even pose the question when we =
haven't even sat down with Congress for the current manned space =
program," he added.=20

  Space purists, however, never question that within a lifetime, human =
footprints will be left on Mars.=20

  "The challenge is to come up with a plan big enough to have forward =
momentum, without being so expensive to be dead on arrival," Pike said. =
"It will play itself out in slow motion, and incrementally advance human =
presence in space. This human space flight thing is an intelligence =
test, a test to see if there is intelligence on Earth. It is an =
expression of the confidence in our society."=20

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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Fro Globalsecurity.org...</FONT></DIV>
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<DIV><!--StartFragment -->&nbsp;
<BLOCKQUOTE>
  <P><U>Los Angeles Times</U> January 10, 2004 </P>
  <H2>Expected Bush Space Plan Sparks Debate Over Manned Missions</H2>
  <H3>Some say NASA needs such a strategic vision, but others see a =
burden for a=20
  nation in debt<!--StartFragment -->=20
  <P>By Ralph Vartabedian and Elizabeth Shogren, Times Staff Writers =
</P>
  <P>In the aftermath of the Columbia shuttle disaster, investigators =
asserted=20
  that NASA's space-flight program was floundering, without any clear =
goals or=20
  future vision. </P>
  <P>The initiative President Bush is set to unveil next week -- which =
is=20
  expected to call for building a moon colony and undertaking a manned =
Mars=20
  landing -- could answer a question that long has vexed the space =
program: Why=20
  should the nation spend billions of dollars every year to put humans =
in space?=20
  </P>
  <P>Following the successful and popular Apollo moon program, NASA =
developed=20
  the space shuttle and then began building the international space =
station,=20
  under rationales that failed to ignite strong support in the science =
and=20
  technology communities. </P>
  <P>At various times, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration =

  justified its work by touting the ability to perform zero-gravity =
science=20
  experiments, develop commercial products in space or cheaply launch =
payloads,=20
  among other things. Those rationales largely have been discredited. =
</P>
  <P>The idea of a Mars or moon mission is not new. Advocates of space=20
  exploration always have considered them the key long-term goals, and =
the=20
  justification for such a massive effort remains the expansion of human =

  presence beyond the known world -- an instinct as old as the human =
race. </P>
  <P>The value of the Bush administration proposal is likely to be =
judged not by=20
  the idea itself, but by whether it can create the political and =
financial=20
  support needed to make the program real. </P>
  <P>"Bush can talk the talk, but he has to come up with a plan that =
generates=20
  something besides artwork," said John Pike, an expert on space issues. =
"He has=20
  to come up with a plan that is politically and financially =
sustainable." </P>
  <P>White House officials have withheld many details of the plan and =
have made=20
  no public statements, deferring until Bush makes his widely =
anticipated speech=20
  next week. But the initiative already has sparked strong debate, even =
within=20
  the ranks of space-exploration advocates. </P>
  <P>A manned moon or Mars mission could be a tough sell to the general =
public,=20
  coming at a time when the federal government is heavily in debt and =
facing=20
  massive investments needed to modernize the electrical grid, improve =
crumbling=20
  highways, build new universities and many other items crucial to U.S. =
economic=20
  competitiveness. The U.S. Treasury is expected to sustain a =
$480-billion=20
  deficit this fiscal year, and rack up annual deficits of $1.4 trillion =
between=20
  now and 2008. </P>
  <P>"We have not experienced such severe budget deterioration in so =
short a=20
  time period since World War II caused the nation's defense budget to =
grow=20
  sharply," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and =
Policy=20
  Priorities, a Washington-based think tank. "Given these looming =
deficits,=20
  there is no money available in current or future budgets for the =
expensive new=20
  space endeavor." </P>
  <P>But supporters of the initiative brush aside such concerns, saying =
the=20
  effort will not be unduly expensive and that it is essential to U.S.=20
  technological leadership. </P>
  <P>"Setting up operations on the moon is affordable, as long as it is =
taken as=20
  a primary goal for the American space program and not larded onto all =
of the=20
  other things that NASA does," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington =
Beach),=20
  chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics. As an =
example, he=20
  cited NASA's efforts to assess global warming, saying: "Over the =
years, we=20
  have spent tens of billions of dollars of NASA money proving global =
warming is=20
  occurring, which I think is suspect and debatable." </P>
  <P>After the Columbia accident in February, many critics questioned =
the entire=20
  foundation of the human space flight program, arguing that robotic =
spacecraft=20
  could more effectively, safely and economically explore the solar =
system in=20
  future years. Bush has closed the door on that argument. </P>
  <P>"The president's decision is that we are not taking man out of the =
picture,=20
  which is the right decision," Rohrabacher said in an interview Friday. =
</P>
  <P>When Bush's father was president, he proposed a Mars and moon =
mission but=20
  made little effort to recruit political support for the idea. At that =
time,=20
  NASA produced a series of cost estimates, some of which called for =
spending=20
  $20 billion a year for 20 years. The sticker shock alone doomed the =
program.=20
  </P>
  <P>This time around, the president may not elect to put his goals into =
a=20
  formal and sharply defined timeframe, avoiding the entire cost issue.=20
  Congressional sources said Friday that Bush's plan might differ from =
the=20
  version that has leaked out of the White House. </P>
  <P>Rohrabacher said the initiative might be achieved with a 5% annual =
increase=20
  in NASA's current $15-billion annual budget. By phasing out the =
shuttle as=20
  quickly as possible, NASA could free up money for the new effort and =
regain=20
  the confidence that once characterized the agency, he said. </P>
  <P>"This lack of strategic vision has been very hurtful to the space =
program,"=20
  he said. "The president's goal is a challenge to this generation to =
set up=20
  operations on the moon and a challenge to the next generation to move =
on to=20
  Mars. As long as it is done in a responsible financial way, it will =
have the=20
  support of Republicans in Congress -- even at this time of high =
deficit=20
  spending." </P>
  <P>But some aerospace analysts remain doubtful the program will go =
forward.=20
  </P>
  <P>"It's absolutely lunacy," said Marco A. Caceras, senior space =
analyst for=20
  the Teal Group, an aerospace research firm based in Fairfax, Va. =
"We're not=20
  going to have a moon presence anytime in the next 20 years, and we're=20
  certainly not going to have a man go to Mars in our lifetime." </P>
  <P>He criticized the Bush administration for even floating the idea =
amid a=20
  number of space issues that need to be resolved, including returning =
the space=20
  shuttles to flight and completing the international space station. =
"It's=20
  extremely irresponsible to even pose the question when we haven't even =
sat=20
  down with Congress for the current manned space program," he added. =
</P>
  <P>Space purists, however, never question that within a lifetime, =
human=20
  footprints will be left on Mars. </P>
  <P>"The challenge is to come up with a plan big enough to have forward =

  momentum, without being so expensive to be dead on arrival," Pike =
said. "It=20
  will play itself out in slow motion, and incrementally advance human =
presence=20
  in space. This human space flight thing is an intelligence test, a =
test to see=20
  if there is intelligence on Earth. It is an expression of the =
confidence in=20
  our society." </P></H3></BLOCKQUOTE></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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