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#1 2020-10-14 03:47:16

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

I notice there are several space advocacy organizations (the National Space Society, the Planetary Society, the Mars Society...).

What are the differences between each of these?

Which do you think is best, and why?

Which is the worst, and why?

Do they all advocate for increases in the NASA budget to achieve their objectives? Or do these space advocacy groups often end up competing for a NASA budget that is (essentially) fixed in size? (For example... debating whether resources should go to manned exploration vs robotic exploration, Moon programs vs Mars programs, etc).

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#2 2020-10-14 06:02:27

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 4,120

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

For JMartin re #1

The questions you have posed are worth while, so I hope you will invest some time and energy in answering them.

The NewMars forum is a good place to store your findings, because it has an extended lifetime thanks to the generosity of members (and donors) of the Mars Society.

The nature of your questions suggests (to me at least) that you are not acquainted with any of the space advocacy organizations, and in attempting to understand and write about their history, you would be offering a benefit to future forum readers.

It is going to require investment of some time and energy on your part, so I hope you are up to it.

It is ** so ** easy to ask others to do work.   If you look through the forum archives, you'll find plenty of examples of people asking provocative questions and then looking for others to do the hard work of answering them.

If you look through the archive, you'll also find plenty of examples of members taking the time and investing a lot of thought in creating posts that are worth reading and then re-reading as the need arises.

To get a sense of the scope of what is available here, please consider going to the top of several topics that may be of interest, and reading them all the way through.  Your example of the Bridenstine topic is a good one.  I personally appreciated your bringing that topic back into view, because I joined after it was created, and therefore missed it until now.

(th)

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#3 2020-10-14 07:34:56

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

tahanson43206 wrote:

For JMartin re #1

The questions you have posed are worth while, so I hope you will invest some time and energy in answering them.

I don't see why me asking people what their opinions are about a topic implies that I haven't spent any time or energy investigating this topic. 

tahanson43206 wrote:

It is ** so ** easy to ask others to do work.

Nobody asked you (or anyone else) to do work.  I posed some questions in my initial post for discussion. If you don't want to answer them because you think doing so is "work" -- go ahead and ignore my thread. I'm not interested in getting advice from a person who resents providing it.

I don't consider writing an opinion about political groups people participate in as a hobby or personal interest activity on an internet forum to be "work."

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-14 07:43:49)

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#4 2020-10-14 09:49:07

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 4,120

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

For JMartin re #3

It is good to see you are willing to contribute to the accumulation of knowledge and best practice, as well as insight ...

I'm looking forward to seeing your posts ...

Examples of a few of the many who have contributed in substantial ways include:

GW Johnson
kbd512
RobertDyck
JoshNH4H

Perhaps your ID will join that pantheon at some point!

I don't consider writing an opinion about political groups people participate in as a hobby or personal interest activity on an internet forum to be "work."

(th)

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#5 2020-10-14 10:46:56

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,277
Website

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

The Planetary Society is more generally interested in space. The Mars Society is focused on humans to Mars. Yes, the Mars Society has lobbied Congress to increase NASA's budget. There was an annual campaign where 4 space advocacy societies all converged on Capitol Hill together to lobby to increase NASA's budget. The 4th was the Moon Society. They agreed not to fight against each other, but simply work together to lobby Congress to support NASA.

I found the Planetary Society asks members for funding, but there wasn't any real way to directly participate. The Mars Society has various ways members can participate. The Planetary Society is much larger, and has a glossy magazine. They launched an actual solar sail satellite, although it failed to achieve orbit. And they help fund SETI.

National Space Institute and L5 Society merged in 1987 to form the National Space Society. L5 wanted to build a large O'Neill colony in Earth orbit, specifically the Lagrange Point known as L5. I don't know much about NSS.

Mars Society built and operate FMARS and MDRS, and have an annual convention. You can meet NASA scientists and engineers there. This year's convention is online, due to COVID-19. Registration is free, although you are politely requested to purchase a Society membership. It starts tomorrow. Even if you don't buy a membership, I really recommend you attend. Free...it can't hurt, and it's a lot of fun.
https://www.marssociety.org/

Last edited by RobertDyck (2020-10-14 15:17:00)

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#6 2020-10-14 17:27:38

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 20,235

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

Good question JMartin, as to what these other space advocacy organizations National Space Society, the Planetary Society do and how they are organized thou I have never given it much thought as I really do not have funds to support them and while I volunteer as Admin I do so as I like the website and want to make it productive for going to Mars one day.

There is alot of good science coming from the analog sites of the Mars society and the others support science as well just different.

Could Mars society do more, sure would be the answer but one needs a funding system to be able to and not just talented scientist or engineers wanting to make things to get us there to Mars.

The Space x approach is what is needed to be able to do more....

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#7 2020-10-16 03:43:25

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

I was reading about the history of the National Space Society, and while they seem to have some good people there, I strongly question why they decided to make Lori Garver their executive director at one point, and what this says about the organization and its motives.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lori_Garver

For those who don't know, Lori Garver (Deputy NASA administrator appointed by Obama) wrote an article (linked below) for the Washington Post titled:  "Forget new crewed missions in space. NASA should focus on saving Earth" in which she advocated NASA shift funding away from human spaceflight programs toward climate change research.  In the article, in support of cutting funding for human spaceflight, she points out that President Trump's proposed program for human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars is "a decree without a value proposition that has never inspired broad public support."

I can understand why many space enthusiasts would not be entirely happy with the Artemis Program supported by the President (since it uses the wasteful SLS rocket for at least part of the program), but there are very positive aspects of it such as the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS) that provide revenue for innovative companies like SpaceX to improve upon their already very efficient and rapidly developing space travel capabilities and innovate even more.

And even if you could somehow justify cutting Artemis because it uses the SLS for a portion of the program, the proper use of money saved from that cut would be to reinvest it in a better human spaceflight program that goes to the Moon/Mars in an even bigger and faster way using innovative companies like SpaceX to get the job done better with private sector efficiencies, not to abandon the Moon/Mars goal  entirely and focus on Earth climate monitoring.

Garver went on to write:  "the public doesn’t understand the purpose of spending massive amounts of money to send a few astronauts to the moon or Mars. Are we in another race, and if so, is this the most valuable display of our scientific and technological leadership? If science is the rationale, we can send robots for pennies on the dollar. [...] The public is right about this." 

If the public doesn't support manned missions to the Moon and Mars, the proper response should be to find a leader and an organization who can articulate why these missions are of value, and the value of making progress toward becoming a multiplanetary species and accessing the resources of space, not to abandon the program and give in to a public that is so ignorant of its value.

Why would an organization like NSS make Lori Garver their leader, and why should I donate to them now that I see they did that?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions … story.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/30/nasa-se … etics.html

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-16 04:51:34)

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#8 2020-10-16 05:02:21

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 4,120

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

For JMartin re #9

Thank you for doing the research you have reported.  Lori Garver was Executive Director of NSS for nine years, through 1998.  She served as assistant director of NASA, and everything I have read about her service is positive.

She has held a number of positions in other organizations since then, so I appreciate the opportunity to update my awareness of her career.

I would remind you that folks take on the role requested by their employer, and accordingly it would make sense (to me at least) that Ms. Garver would articulate positions that would be pleasing to the current employer.

As far as I know, Ms. Garver is highly regarded for her service at NSS.

This reply is limited in scope, because the system where I start my day is unable to see below the snippet level at Google.

Thank you (again) for your research! 

Edit#1 ... With access to a system running current OS, I was able to investigate a bit ...

Lori Garver can be understood as an executive who serves the organization she works for, either for compensation, or pro bono.  My review of her many positions over the decades confirmed my impression that she has always represented the positions of her client effectively.

In her latest venture, Ms. Garver is heading up an organization that is seeking to try to address climate change.  In that context, I would expect Ms. Garver to articulate positions in support of the objectives of that organization.

Lori Garver
Chief Executive Officer at Earthrise Alliance
Mclean, Virginia
Lori Garver is the CEO of Earthrise Alliance - a philanthropic initiative established to fully utilize Earth science data to combat climate change. Earthrise Alliance funds fellowships and awards grants to partner organi…See more on LinkedIn

I am confident that anyone who reviews the positions articulated by Ms. Garver during previous engagements will find that she has effectively and loyally supported the positions of those organizations. It is my impression Ms. Garver carried out the responsibilities of the positions she had assumed with care.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2020-10-16 08:26:56)

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#9 2020-10-17 20:56:02

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

Neither NASA nor Lori Garver will ever do anything meaningful to "save humanity" from climate change.  Nobody is "saving the planet", either, which will be just fine, with or without humanity.  Earth will still be perfectly livable for humans, even if we burn through Earth's entire supply of fossil fuels.  Over the course of a century or two, certain parts of Earth near the coastline will be significantly altered.  Climate scientists have repeatedly warned against interpreting extreme weather events as a direct impact of climate change, but the media cheerfully ignores that admonition in favor of their agenda.  The most significant and severe impacts appear to be loss of fertile farmland, some of it a direct result of government implementing policies supported by people claiming to be environmentalists (producing feedstock for fuel instead of food, for example), and the loss of life-giving plankton in Earth's oceans due to ocean acidification.  The media doesn't talk about that very much because most people simply wouldn't understand what it means.  In reality, precisely zero fertile soil is required to grow enough food to feed humanity, and arguably an obscene waste of natural resources given that hydroponics and aeroponics produce so much more food per unit area (development of this tech is a hard requirement for living on Mars or Venus).  Substantial desertification in the 21st century has been driven by humans diverting sources of water for agriculture or potable water for cities or industrial uses, but intellectually lazy people will blame that on climate change.  However, the loss of plankton is nothing short of an extinction level event, not for humanity but for lots of other forms of life.  However, some have been shown to adapt and so it's probable that species more tolerant of carbonic acid will become more plentiful.  We don't really know what the knock-on effects of that will be, but suffice to say it probably won't be good.

In short, Lori Garver's statements are just more vapid virtue-signaling intended to let everyone else know that she has no virtue.  These people exist to sell ideas to people who don't know anything about practical engineering and likely never will.  Ignorant people are easy to manipulate using fear, but that's as far as it goes.  In any event, eliminating the use of fossil fuels is a task wildly beyond NASA's capabilities, full stop.  NASA has much better odds of developing faster-than-light travel before doing anything meaningful to eliminate the use of gas / liquid / solid hydrocarbons.  Unless NASA was recently given dictatorial authority over the fossil fuel consumption of other countries such as China or India or Germany, then it's what we call "grandstanding" in politics, or pretending that you have far more influence over the outcome of some situation or event than you actually do.

If America was 100% powered by sunshine and wind, it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference in global terms.  All honest climate scientists will tell you exactly what I just stated.  Therefore, those politicians are really saying something that their supporters have been indoctrinated to cheer for, whether they understand what it means in any practical context or not.  When last I checked, the communist party was running China, and they're continuing to burn coal / oil / gas until they run out.  Short of starting a nuclear war with them, that won't change.  They'll pay lip service to the idea of caring about the environment, but then they're going to continue doing what actually works from a practical engineering perspective (burning coal / oil / gas) until something comes along that's actually cheaper to build and operate- not just superficially cheaper for one party when the greens play their "hide the true cost" game.  Germany is doing the same thing, but the rate payers bear the cost of their government's mistakes.  When they can get solar or wind, they'll use it, but then they're going to continue burning coal because nuclear power graphically illustrated the folly of their fool's errand and their ideologues can't have people seeing what a practical CO2-free power provisioning infrastructure actually looks like, lest they question why they paid more than half a trillion dollars, only to see CO2 emissions remain where they were at when they started.  Environmentalists aren't actually interested in a practical solution, merely propping up their true communist agenda using money extorted from their victims.  If they were purely motivated by wanting to keep the environment stable to support humanity, they would not have opposed nuclear power since the 1960s.  Most of the industrialized world would not be burning anything but neutrons to produce electricity or generate heat if they'd supported nuclear power.  When or where electrification was possible, nuclear power would've enabled that.  Most of them have written papers about their true agenda, which is reducing the human population and controlling those who remain through communism of fascism masquerading as communism.

The only people doing anything at all meaningful to address climate change are aerospace engineers who apply military aerospace engineering technology to new engine designs, primarily for war machines, because humans have an unhealthy fascination with killing each other.  The upside to that unhealthy fascination is that military technology is inevitably transferred to civilians.  The climate scientists, the media, and the politicians (people like Lori Garver, a poly-sci major) are all equally incapable of making any meaningful contribution because they're all exquisitely ignorant of what "better" actually requires without a relevant engineering degree.  No amount of government or media grandstanding will ever make an engine produce more power using less fuel.  Only clever engineers do that.  Everyone else involved are cheerleaders for human stupidity at best, authoritarian swindlers trafficking in falsehoods to extort money or enslave their victims at worst.

Those who love false analogies will cherry-pick some aspect of what the Chinese or Americans do that's "better" than the other country, but they will absolutely refuse to consider the totality of the problem, a problem that exists at a global scale and is intricately woven into every aspect of supporting technologically advanced human civilization, so nothing meaningful will ever be done about it, unless spending lots of money without much to show for it counts as a "result".  Like it or not, fossil fuels are what enable modern civilization to exist as we know it today.  Pound-for-pound, or kilogram-for-kilogram, there is no battery in existence, not even in a lab somewhere, that comes within a half order of magnitude of matching a gallon of gasoline when it comes to energy stored per unit weight of "fuel".  That is why humanity continues to use so many of those "evil" internal combustion engines- it's the highest form of power generation technology that we've actually mastered.  Wishful thinking won't change that.

To recap, the people pushing this climate change agenda in the media and politics are only interested in seizing more power and shaming or using violence to cause people to do things that are clearly against their best interests, nothing more.  They could care less about the environment or humanity.  Almost to a person, these activists hate humanity.  Dr Robert Zubrin calls them "merchants of despair".  That's a fitting title for who / what these people are and represent.  Anyone who truly wants to "make a difference" will become an engineer, not a scientist or political operative / activist, and they will invent better batteries, better fuel cells, more efficient internal combustion engines, etc.

As far as giving money to NSS or other space exploration and colonization advocacy groups, well, that's a personal call.  Tell me how many of these groups have succeeded in getting anything or anyone to another planet, or influencing someone who can.  I'd wager that that number is near-zero.  The people who have the know-how already work at the places that enable them to accomplish their goals / dreams.  Talking about problems without follow-up action doesn't solve anything.  It's great fun to discuss possibilities with people who share our interests, but engineering is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and practical and reliable engineering associated with such a complex human endeavor is prohibitively expensive.

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#10 2020-10-17 23:12:14

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

JMartin,
As far as giving money to NSS or other space exploration and colonization advocacy groups, well, that's a personal call.  Tell me how many of these groups have succeeded in getting anything or anyone to another planet, or influencing someone who can. I'd wager that that number is near-zero.

Which of those groups succeeded in getting anything to another planet? For purposes of this particular comment, I am going to assume some or all of them did by means of having their members influence the US congress to support NASA with more funding in the past, and in some cases they got it.  And that's probably why there are robotic rovers exploring Mars right now, various space telescopes in orbit delivering information about exoplanets, etc.. 

kbd512 wrote:

The people who have the know-how already work at the places that enable them to accomplish their goals / dreams.  Talking about problems without follow-up action doesn't solve anything.  It's great fun to discuss possibilities with people who share our interests, but engineering is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and practical and reliable engineering associated with such a complex human endeavor is prohibitively expensive.

You seem to have no understanding of the power of collective political action and the capability to use that to get what you want out of the government.  It is very much do-able.  Look at how effective the NRA is at blocking or rolling back gun laws, for example.  I don't see why there couldn't be a similar political advocacy group that helps space exploration advocates influence the congress through the same political process to get more funding for NASA to make Mars missions possible.

If everyone in society just did engineering and nobody spent the time writing letters to congress, there would be less government funding available for missions to the Moon, Mars, etc.  Without any political pressure to fund NASA, congress would probably cut the NASA budget and waste the money on some other program, and the end result for society would probably be much worse.  Having more engineers available to work on getting humans to Mars doesn't accomplish much if the government doesn't fund it.

And Mars missions are not prohibitively expensive either. The US government budget is a few trillion dollars a year. The Mars Direct proposal advocated for by some people in the Mars Society has an estimated cost ranging from $8 billion to $30 billion.  That is not "prohibitively expensive" for the US government.

Source:  https://www.marssociety.org/faq/#Q2

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-18 00:28:53)

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#11 2020-10-18 02:42:48

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

The only reason there are robots roving around on other planets and telescopes that can image other galaxies is because engineers made that happen.  Engineering is the application of scientifically proven principles to accomplish a particular physical task.  Engineers and fabricators in private industry and academia built the machines that sent humans to the moon, not scientists, not politicians, not space advocacy groups, not the general public.  Our politicians took some money from our government's bloated budget, surplus wealth generated by highly skilled and productive workers enabled by America's good fortune of not having been utterly destroyed during WWII, and directed it towards space exploration.  However, the reason humans have not set foot on Mars is not related to money.  There is no significant interest within Congress or NASA or private industry or academia to send humans to Mars.  Our little clique of like-minded individuals is not evidence of general public support, either.  We are not the general public.  The general public is not up at 4AM on a Sunday worrying about America's space exploration program.  NASA has been funded to Apollo Program levels for more than a decade now.  Either people became less capable of applying scientific principles over time as our technology improved at a mind-numbing pace, or they ceased to look up at the heavens in child-like wonder and then they stopped caring altogether.  Self-interest replaced interest in new ideas.

The most pressing problem humanity has right now is the short-sighted and low-resolution thinking of an ever-growing number of ignorant but highly opinionated simpletons, all of them infatuated with their own ideas about how the universe should work but doesn't, who have been indoctrinated to the point that they're utterly incapable of separating their own beliefs or ideology from objective reality.  The peanut gallery is already filled to capacity with people who will provide their uninformed opinion on virtually any topic you care to name off, but not a set of coherent policy directives that translate into a feasible action plan focused on delivering practical solutions to actual problems.  Adding extra seating capacity won't solve that problem.  Adding extra bureaucracy or workfare programs to NASA's budget won't solve that problem, either.

JPL and ULA have succeeded in delivering payloads to Mars on a routine and reliable basis.  Nobody else has.  If we were going to join a fan club to support an organization that actually gets the job done, as it pertains to landing things on Mars, it would be to support JPL.  Unlike SpaceX, they have no online groupies.  Why is that?  Were they all too busy getting the job done to work on PR?  Is it possible that most engineers don't think PR stunts add anything to their work?  Everyone whines about the cost of space exploration, but every single rocket that ULA launches is successful.  It's almost as if they know what they're doing and they're good at it.

Collective political action is for people who have little to no understanding of our politicians.  Turn on the TV of you want to see what our politicians talk about.  If you ever see them mention space exploration in passing, it's only in the context of "bringing home the bacon" to their district.  So long as they only have to run their mouths about what they're doing (their favorite activity), kiss babies, or sign legislation that someone else is paying for (their second favorite activity), then they're onboard.  The notion that any of them care about our little special interest group, unless it garners enough votes to reelect them, is facially absurd.  Have you ever voted for a politician because they supported space exploration?

President Trump has signed legislation into law that provides more money to NASA than they've ever received from any past President, and appointed an administrator who is at least willing to consider private sector alternatives to government programs that are cheaper, such as SpaceX, but even here, we're still "Orange Man bad", 24/7/365.  In short, even our own members don't really care about space exploration more than their personal politics or ideology.  They have their opinions, they justify it to themselves in whatever way they find most pleasing, and the rest is merely the natural result of their ideation.  Unless that changes, then what politicians actually care about won't change, either.  And why would they?  We keep voting for them, even if we're voting against our own interests.  Long story short, we're the problem, not our government.

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#12 2020-10-18 05:14:02

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

The only reason there are robots roving around on other planets and telescopes that can image other galaxies is because engineers made that happen.

Engineers don't make things like that happen unless NASA pays for it to happen.  And the only way to get larger NASA budgets is via some form of collective political action (joining some group similar to the Mars Society, the National Space Society, calling your congressional representative, emailing your congressman, etc).

kbd512 wrote:

Our little clique of like-minded individuals is not evidence of general public support, either.  We are not the general public.

The NRA isn't the general public either, and often takes positions on issues that are overwhelmingly unpopular among the American public.  And politicians often do what the NRA wants instead of what the majority wants because politicians know the NRA's members care about their issue and that NRA candidate endorsements can tip the scales in election polling.  (Not to suggest the NRA is wrong). There's no reason the minority of people who want a NASA-funded Mars mission could not do the same thing for their issue, even if such a policy is not supported by the majority of voters.

kbd512 wrote:

NASA has been funded to Apollo Program levels for more than a decade now.

False.  The following table shows NASA budgets over the years (adjusted for inflation).  JFK gave his famous Moon speech in 1963. As you can see from the table, there was a dramatic rise in funding provided to NASA over the next several years following 1963 that preceded the Moon landings.  And in particular, I'll point out that in 1966 the NASA budget was more than double the NASA budget of 2020 if you adjust for inflation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of … ual_budget

So it appears accurate to say that one of the reasons NASA has not made such enormous accomplishments like that more recently is simply because they haven't been provided with an appropriate level of funding to make bold Moon/Mars missions happen, particularly when their attention is split between doing that and taking care of all the other things they are funding (SLS, ISS, various space telescopes, Mars rovers, etc).

kbd512 wrote:

Have you ever voted for a politician because they supported space exploration?

I don't decide my vote based entirely on any single issue, but I can think of a case where a candidate's unusually strong support for NASA has motivated me to support them just off the top of my head. Yes.

kbd512 wrote:

President Trump has signed legislation into law that provides more money to NASA than they've ever received from any past President, and appointed an administrator who is at least willing to consider private sector alternatives to government programs that are cheaper, such as SpaceX, but even here, we're still "Orange Man bad", 24/7/365.

If you are arguing that the space enthusiast community should consider supporting Donald Trump because of that, I would probably agree. However, the matter might not be entirely clear to them like the 2nd Amendment issue is to NRA members, for example, because many space advocacy organizations such as the Planetary Society don't provide official candidate endorsements like the NRA does. 

So an individual space advocate is left to sift through news stories about what is going on with the annual NASA budget, how their congressman voted on different NASA budget proposals, etc. And a lot of people probably aren't going to spend the time to do that even if they care enough about the issue (in theory) to change their voting behavior based on it, especially given that the changes made from one NASA budget to another are often not particularly huge or obvious.

So I think there is a fair criticism to be made of space advocacy groups there that they don't always give political activists the tools they need to easily and effectively make a difference on the issue like other organizations such as the NRA does for their particular issue.

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-18 05:41:49)

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#13 2020-10-18 08:02:03

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 20,235

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

Maybe its time for a space amendment to be created to make it less of a challenge to get funding and to stop the waste by the contractors to produce what we need.
The coalitions for space is made of those bloatware contractors but space x along with the other commercial providers are still just making in roads to providing services for the military and others for launching mission equipment.

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#14 2020-10-18 14:04:17

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

You seem to miss my overriding point:

NRA members actually vote for their single issue, if that's truly what they're doing (it's more complicated than that, obviously- to me, not necessarily to you), so when Democrats draft anti-gun legislation that is either facially unconstitutional or prejudicial to law abiding citizens' right to defend themselves from violent street criminals, they either get struck down by SCOTUS or voted out of office or both.  The Democrat mayors and governors refused to permit the Police to quell riots in their cities, and Democrat DAs refused to prosecute rioters for rioting (protesting the Police does not involve burning down grocery stores and gas stations or setting or smashing the windows of every car in a parking lot), so now we have 10 million new Democrat gun owners, many of whom are now beginning to understand why we have the Second Amendment.  Republicans no doubt found it baffling that Democrat voters only "discovered" that Democrat politicians never cared about protecting their constituents from violent criminals after they ordered their Police to stick their thumbs up their butts during the riots, but it is what it is.  Even low resolution thinkers will eventually encounter situations so wildly different than what they've been brainwashed to believe, as to change their course of action.

Nobody votes politicians into or out of office based upon their views about space exploration.  If they did, and the people favored intense focus on space exploration, then we wouldn't be having this conversation right now, would we?  Politicians care about votes, nothing else, irrespective of which party you vote for, no matter what you believe to the contrary, and nobody votes based upon funding directed towards NASA / NSF / etc, so human technological advancement is clearly not a top priority for either major political party.

The Democrats want to use NASA as another political bludgeon to attack their opponents with, over their constituents' climate change hysteria.  The Republicans, as many times as they've attempted it, can't get enough time in office for an achievable space exploration objective to be executed.  Former President Bush, for all his flaws, set a goal of returning Americans to the moon.  Then President Obama took office and it was asteroid redirect, then lunar gateway, and sometime a decade or more later, we would visit Mars.  After President Trump took office, it was  once again a return to the moon, somehow the lunar gateway is still a thing, and a decade or more later, we would visit Mars.  When he said he wanted to send humans to Mars within 8 years, he was attacked incessantly by Democrat-run media and Democrat politicians.  In summary, there are no space exploration objectives that survive between administrations.  How is NASA supposed to achieve an objective when the objective changes every 4 or 8 years?

Regarding NASA's funding levels, is there any development that needs to be done to rocket engines or heat shields or life support equipment or the like to return to the moon?  Do we not already have the technology required?  Do you recall what I said about the apparent lack of progress not being a money problem?

NASA already has a heavy lift launch vehicle, one they never paid a dime to develop.  NASA and the Air Force paid for some of the engine development costs, but not the vehicle.  It's called Falcon 9 Heavy.

$1B (at $1B and 140t per launch) in Saturn V era money purchased 140t of lift capability to LEO.

$1B (at $90M and 68t per launch) in Falcon 9 Heavy era money purchases 748t of lift capability to LEO.

$1.00 in 1968 money is equivalent to $7.48 in 2020 money.  In simple terms, a billion dollars can purchase lift capability that significantly exceeds what was achievable in 1968, per dollar spent.

If NASA was willing to devote $1B to launch costs, out of its $21B budget, towards launches for our human space exploration program, then it has more than 5 times the lift capability that it had during the Saturn V / Apollo era for the same impact to the agency's budget.  If NASA opts for reusability, then it has more than 10 times the lift capability for equivalent money, which means that adjusting for inflation it has significantly more lift capability for equivalent money than it ever did during the Saturn V / Apollo era.

Do you recall what I said about low resolution thinking being humanity's most pressing problem?  There is no actual economics-based reason as to why we can't return to the moon, except for the graft and related corruption that Congress involves NASA in, for the politicians' benefit.  In short, NASA is already funded beyond Apollo era levels, in terms of capability available for purchase, per dollar spent.

If NASA is not willing to devote 1/20th of their budget to actual space exploration missions, then that tells me that space exploration isn't the primary motivational factor behind spending money, therefore the availability of money is not an impediment to achieving America's stated space exploration goals.  In other words, something other than spending money on space exploration is driving NASA's decision making.

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#15 2020-10-18 23:18:18

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

NASA already has a heavy lift launch vehicle [...]  It's called Falcon 9 Heavy.

$1B (at $1B and 140t per launch) in Saturn V era money purchased 140t of lift capability to LEO.

$1B (at $90M and 68t per launch) in Falcon 9 Heavy era money purchases 748t of lift capability to LEO.

$1.00 in 1968 money is equivalent to $7.48 in 2020 money.  In simple terms, a billion dollars can purchase lift capability that significantly exceeds what was achievable in 1968, per dollar spent.

If NASA was willing to devote $1B to launch costs, out of its $21B budget, towards launches for our human space exploration program, then it has more than 5 times the lift capability that it had during the Saturn V / Apollo era for the same impact to the agency's budget.
[...] There is no actual economics-based reason as to why we can't return to the moon

But that assumes NASA uses SpaceX for launching things to their destinations instead of SLS or other launch systems that are more expensive.  To my understanding, NASA won't do that because SLS is very popular in congress, despite its inefficiency and high expenses. (And yes, perhaps corruption).

You're also assuming NASA devotes an equal portion of its budget to human space exploration/colonization in 2020 as it did in 1968, which may or may not be the case.  Upon checking, it appears that only about a quarter of the NASA budget goes toward exploration as of 2019 and 2020:
https://www.planetary.org/space-policy/ … 020-budget

They appear to be spending a lot of money on many other things as well like JWST, WFIRST, Astrophysics, Aeronautics, Planetary Science, Earth Science, etc. I'm not sure it would be a good idea to cut all of those things and focus exclusively on human space exploration, even if it means we can have another Apollo-like program. 

It makes a lot more sense to me to just double the NASA budget so we can have all of the above, as well as a larger human spaceflight budget (while also cutting SLS, because I agree with you that it's wasteful spending).

And also none of this supports your arguments that space advocacy is unhelpful to achieving these goals and that engineering is the only thing that matters.  If anything, your points about government corruption only serve to illustrate that we should have more space advocacy groups and political activists out there to ensure congress directs NASA to spend its money appropriately on cost-efficient space access systems like we see with SpaceX instead of on inefficient systems like SLS.

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-19 00:49:03)

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#16 2020-10-19 03:19:03

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

If Congress and NASA are truly interested in human space exploration, although I contend that they are not, then they need to start making reality-based decisions about what projects their funding is spent on.  A quarter of the budget is still entirely sufficient to purchase cheaper commercial launches and still end up with more delivered tonnage than we had during the Saturn / Apollo era.

I messed up the tonnage figures in my last post.  SpaceX says F9H can deliver 63.8t to LEO.  For some reason, I thought it was 68t.  I haven't looked at it for about 2 years.  So, apologies for that.  However, NASA is, in point of fact, spending about $2B per year for SLS development.  $1B per year can purchase a lift capability of 708t with F9H or 125t with SLS.  Saturn V flew roughly twice per year, so with half the spending, at the projected maximum rate of SLS launches given current funding levels, we have more than double the lift capability of SLS or Saturn V.

If we combined the ACES upper stage from ULA's Vulcan with SpaceX's F9H, then our distributed lift and propellant transport capability would allow for flexible use of commodity launch hardware at affordable prices.  However, this assumes we're interested in a practical and affordable lunar exploration program using available commercial hardware.  We, the tax payers, paid for the development of all this technology, but Congress doesn't want to use it.  That's a people problem, not a money problem.  As such, we're not going to have any lunar exploration hardware for years to come.

The money squandered on SLS and Orion development could've and should've been devoted to critical systems development (long duration closed loop life support, radiation mitigation, artificial gravity, etc) and payloads (vehicles capable of operating in deep space for years at a time), but now there's no payloads ready for dress rehearsal and no money for payload development.  I hate to sound like a broken record here, but you should already know why.  The politicians who run America are not interested in space exploration.  They're interested in bringing home the bacon to their districts because that's what wins votes.  Whether a worthwhile result is produced, or not, simply doesn't matter to them.

Congress and NASA can't throw money into the wind and expect the results of their profligate spending to magically coalesce into a viable human space exploration program.  That's simply not how objective reality works.  Workfare or satisfying intellectual curiosity is all well and good, but tightly-focused development objectives and controls on funding distribution are required to produce a successful result.  Giving gamblers more money to play with won't improve their decision making.  NASA is supposed to be a space exploration agency, first and foremost.  All that other interesting but extraneous stuff you named off may be a convenient excuse for why the agency's human space flight division hasn't performed, but in business everyone in management would've been fired and replaced by now.

What we need are politicians who understand basic engineering and management and economics principles, who are more enamored with results than they are with the sound of their voice.  That's done through education and voting for intelligent and principled candidates, not cheerleading.  Until that happens, giving the government more money to squander won't solve any of the impediments to a more worthwhile human space exploration program.  If it were up to me, the Earth sciences and astronomy would be handed off to NOAA or the NSF, aeronautics to the military and universities, and robotic space exploration to JPL, which would leave NASA to focus solely on human space exploration.

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#17 2020-10-19 04:09:40

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

If Congress and NASA are truly interested in human space exploration, although I contend that they are not, then they need to start making reality-based decisions about what projects their funding is spent on.  A quarter of the budget is still entirely sufficient to purchase cheaper commercial launches and still end up with more delivered tonnage than we had during the Saturn / Apollo era.

You always point to corruption/waste as being the reasons NASA is not performing well, and you're ignoring the fact there are two main factors affecting the performance of the agency:

1) The level of funding provided
2) How efficiently that funding is used

I addressed #2 when I admitted that SLS is wasteful and inefficient, and agreed we need constraints on the use of cost-plus contracting at NASA for chemical rockets (the main source of SLS inefficiencies). However, that does not mean that #1 is not also a contributing factor.

You seem to want to focus on #2 and just ignore #1.  I favor a comprehensive solution that addresses both problems.

I understand you say NASA could (theoretically) buy as much lift today (or more) as they could during Apollo in their current budget if they used SpaceX launch services instead of SLS.  However, I see no reason to limit NASA to the amount of rocket lift they had during Apollo. We could have an even better space program if we addressed problem #1 and problem #2 (both) instead of focusing exclusively on problem #2 as you seem to want to do.

And how best to do that? With space advocacy political action groups that you have been denigrating in much of this thread. The only way to address corruption is with public scrutiny of NASA's decision from space advocacy groups and other watchdogs.

kbd512 wrote:

That's done through education and voting for intelligent and principled candidates, not cheerleading.

And who is going to supervise the behavior of congress and NASA and then educate people so they can stop corruption and ensure NASA has the funding they need so the public can have a superb space program? Space advocacy groups.

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-19 05:22:29)

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#18 2020-10-19 09:39:31

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

The SLS / Orion Program has been in development for about the same amount of time that Saturn V / Apollo Program existed, from letting of first contract to termination of program, if we include the Ares abortions in that development timeline.  I can't plausibly explain that except through gross incompetence or wholesale corruption of government and NASA signing off on it and no space advocacy groups doing anything effective to stop it.  It's not like there's any secrets here, so where were our space advocates and what became of that public scrutiny required to stopping the squandering of time and money?  The general public is supposed to supervise the behavior of Congress, but you can see how well that's worked by observing virtually any aspect of government.

Someone in our military said, "I want a supersonic vertical takeoff stealth fighter", yet nobody in our military, in Congress, or from the general public called BS on that request.  Except as a joke, those words don't belong together in the same phrase or sentence.  The mere fact that Lockheed-Martin and Rolls-Royce made that work at all, when money was no object, is not "proof" that we should spend money without regard to the practicality of what we're asking for.

This is not a word game to me.  It's a very simple math problem.  I want an even better delivered tonnage figure than the Apollo program provided and I have a $1B yearly budget to do that.  The tax payers already paid for the technology to do it, but instead we're opting to dump $2B into a non-performing program that hasn't produced a single launch over a time period greater than the entire operational life of Saturn V.

Do I?

A. Stop hemorrhaging money into the non-performing program and purchase commercial launch services
B. Ask Congress for more money for government-sponsored launch services, despite delivering no launch services
C. Pretend there is no problem, and continue squandering money every year instead of exploring the moon

NASA can "actually" purchase more lift capability than Saturn V or SLS.  There's nothing "theoretical" about that.  If NASA signs a check to SpaceX and says "I would like to purchase 11 launches every year for the $90M list price you advertised", SpaceX might even throw in a free launch to make that an even baker's dozen.  If NASA needed 3 F9H and 1 F9 launches for each lunar mission, then NASA can visit the moon 3 times per year.  At that point, we have an actual lunar exploration program, without going to Congress and asking for more money.

When I finally do go to Congress and ask for more money, I can point to the successes of our lunar exploration program, commercial crew program, and lunar gateway program and say, look at all this good stuff we gave the tax payers for their money.  May we please have some more money for a super heavy lift rocket and nuclear rocket engine for Mars exploration?  I could sign off on that because I have tangible results to support the assertion that the money was well spent.

Stuff actually gets done by doing what you can with what you have, not what you wished you had.  Imagine that.  The purpose behind spending money is to do great things, not to please your vendors.  Dr Robert Zubrin said that.  He's a better than average advocate for space exploration that runs a better than average space advocacy organization.  I happen to agree with him.

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#19 2020-10-19 11:06:10

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

The SLS / Orion Program has been in development for about the same amount of time that Saturn V / Apollo Program existed, from letting of first contract to termination of program, if we include the Ares abortions in that development timeline.  I can't plausibly explain that except through gross incompetence or wholesale corruption of government and NASA signing off on it

You seem to be blaming NASA for SLS waste, but it's congress who decides to spend money on SLS.  Congress writes the budget legislation, not NASA. And in some of their legislation, congress specifically wrote into the law that NASA is required to use SLS for the missions.  Why blame NASA for congressional corruption?

Cutting the NASA budget doesn't punish corrupt congressmen who vote to fund SLS, it punishes Americans who care about the space program.  Joining a space advocacy group that criticizes SLS and congressmen who fund it does.

Actually, NASA appears to have specifically requested to be able to use a commercial provider to launch some missions instead of SLS, yet congress forced NASA to use SLS:
https://spacenews.com/nasa-inspector-ge … exibility/

And yet you blame NASA.  That's not logical.

kbd512 wrote:

and no space advocacy groups doing anything effective to stop it.

You're denigrating them in this thread and acting like they're worthless, so what do you expect? Maybe if they had more support they could do something to educate the public about the problems with SLS.

kbd512 wrote:

where were our space advocates and what became of that public scrutiny required to stopping the squandering of time and money?

It doesn't really seem reasonable to me that you denigrate space advocacy groups that criticize SLS, then complain about SLS waste. Maybe if more people supported these groups instead of denigrating them there would be less of this corruption.

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#20 2020-10-19 14:11:36

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

If I take away the town drunk's money, who is spending all of his money on booze instead of food, then he won't have any money to eat, but if I don't take his money away from him, then he's going to drink himself to death and the public will have to pick up the tab for his medical bills every time he's taken to the ER for alcohol poisoning, until he finally succeeds in killing himself, but let's throw more money at that problem.  That'll solve it.  But how?  By killing him faster?

Congress and NASA aren't spending their money on programs that produce results, that space advocates would like them to spend our tax dollars on, and no matter how much space advocates have lobbied Congress we don't win politicians votes or pay for their reelection campaigns, whereas their favored contractors do, thus they will continue to ignore what we want, so let's give them more of our tax dollars and, somehow, that's going to result in Congress redirecting funding to programs that we want them to spend our tax dollars on.

That seems to be your line of argumentation over this issue.  Since that hasn't worked very well in the past, why do you imagine it'll work well now?

NASA has actual engineers who work there who knew from Day 1 that what Congress was asking for was wildly beyond the funding they were being given, so yes, NASA bears some responsibility for not being truthful about what they could realistically do with the funding they were given.  Their contractors also wildly underestimated timeline and cost.  Even after various breaches of contract and cost overruns that automatically triggered Congressional involvement, no fundamental changes were made.  It was a dog and pony show with no concrete action plan to reduce costs or restore the development timeline.  Political ideologues who don't care about the result and will simply throw good money after bad are enabled by, we, the people.  Ultimately, we are to blame for not reigning in the worst excesses of government.  The same could be said of our profligate military spending as well.

If it's not readily apparent, I only care about results, not excuses for poor performance.  It's not personal, it's just business.

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#21 2020-10-19 18:50:08

JMartin
Member
Registered: 2020-10-14
Posts: 15

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

kbd512 wrote:

Congress and NASA aren't spending their money on programs that produce results, that space advocates would like them to spend our tax dollars on, and no matter how much space advocates have lobbied Congress we don't win politicians votes or pay for their reelection campaigns, whereas their favored contractors do, thus they will continue to ignore what we want, so let's give them more of our tax dollars and, somehow, that's going to result in Congress redirecting funding to programs that we want them to spend our tax dollars on.

That seems to be your line of argumentation over this issue.

No it isn't.  That's a straw-man argument. And I'm not sure I see a point in re-typing my views since you apparently ignored them to begin with and you don't use the quote function of the forum to make it clear which part of my comments you're responding to, which makes it difficult to conduct a constructive discussion.

kbd512 wrote:

If it's not readily apparent, I only care about results, not excuses for poor performance.  It's not personal, it's just business.

You don't do anything to get results.  The space advocacy groups that aim to hold congress accountable for the ways they spend NASA funds aren't supported by you.  You indicated as much many times in this thread. 

Not only do you not support them, you've denigrated them repeatedly.

Last edited by JMartin (2020-10-19 19:28:17)

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#22 2020-10-19 19:26:37

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,830

Re: Differences Between Space Advocacy Organizations

JMartin,

A straw man argument is a class of argument wherein someone distorts, exaggerates, or takes the subject matter completely out of relevant context in an attempt to substitute a fallacious argument for what the other person is actually claiming / asserting / stating.  By your own admission and statement of belief, a belief I happen to share, NASA isn't making very good use of the tax money they've been given.

My response was that we have no agency with our elected politicians in Congress due to the following:

1. People who want more space exploration funding don't vote candidates into office based upon their support for space exploration
2. People who want more space exploration funding don't don't donate significant sums of money to their reelection campaigns
3. People who do donate significant sums of money to their reelection campaigns, such as the military aerospace contractors, are the ones who squander the funding
4. Advocating for giving more money to the people who squander our money is not going to produce the results you want to achieve

Please tell me how any of that was a distortion or exaggeration or out-of-context characterization of how distribution of funding for projects, based upon the proclivities of our politicians in America, actually works.

With respect to results or lack thereof, the space advocacy groups haven't caused Congress and NASA to stop squandering money on SLS and Orion, have they?

Until space advocacy groups start influencing voters' decision making process, our politicians won't care about what they want.  If you can tell us how you intend to do that, then I'm all ears.  Tell me how your PR campaign will influence voters and cause them to decide not to vote for a candidate unless they support the space exploration programs we want, such as Humans-to-Mars.

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