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Counter-Attack of the Space Socialists

The Porkers are out to kill the US space program..

There really is not a lot of difference between Republicans and Democrats (with a few nasty exceptions) when you scratch the surface. Almost to a man and woman they are just Socialists with different priorities over what part of the economy and your life should come under State control first. Perhaps the bi-partisanship in the attack on New Space has more to do with the threat that an area once part of the Statist ‘Ummah’ might escape.

If you are an American and not a Socialist, call your congressman and senator and tell them off. Then join your local tea party and work to excise the Republican-Socialists from what once was a slightly (but only slightly) more freedom oriented party.

As the Commies used to say, you have nothing to lose but your chains…

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23 comments to Counter-Attack of the Space Socialists

  • It’s been the same story since well before Sowell coined the phrase — when it comes to civil liberties, Republicans are third rate firemen and Democrats are first-rate arsonists.

  • BD

    Point of clarification: if you have multiple providers but only one customer, and that customer is the government, how “capitalist” is that? The technical term is monopsony (the opposite of monopoly), and in that situation, the single customer will get to call the shots.

  • Dale Amon

    You are missing the point. The old way is ‘cost plus contracts’ where the government defines the product to be something that is so expensive to create only they can afford it… assuming it ever gets finished because it costs so much and takes so long.

    The new model is ‘fixed price’, where the company creates a product and the government buys a service. The end result is an anchor tenancy for something that is commercially viable.

    This change will not kill commercial space, but it will feed Dinosaurs who will do their damndest to kill off the real capitalist pipsqueeks who dare to actually build something economically viable.

    I say damn Senator Shelby and all those like him to the darkest pits of hell.

  • Laird

    The article you linked is far from clear as to which parts of NASA will remain funded during FYs 2011-13. However, the mere fact that the cuts will affect “projects that supporters say would have benefited Kennedy Space Center” doesn’t matter to me in the least. NASA has become an immense make-work project for engineers and bureaucrats. The manned space “program” is a joke; it serves no discernable purpose and I shed no tears for its loss. And the simple fact is that we can’t afford it, certainly not right now. If the government were flush with cash there might be a different discussion, but at the moment it’s mega-deficits as far as the eye can see. Cancelling some projects and deferring others for a few years, even some with arguable value, is no bad thing. I need a new kitchen, but I can’t afford it, so it goes on the back burner until times are less lean. The government must do the same. It’s called allocating resources, making hard choices and living within one’s means.

    We need to cut spending in a massive way, and every cut is going to gore someone’s favorite ox. So be it.

  • RAB

    But Dale, I thought that Obama’s New NASA wasn’t about rockets anymore, but religion.

    It’s Obama Trek 12, The search for Allah!

    Apparently you cant even get out of low orbit anymore without a bit of Inshna Allah.


    You are going to have to go it alone mate. Nasa might as well change their name to British Leyland.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    What’s the problem?

    I want to see government funded manned space exploration dead and buried. Preferably with a wooden stake through its heart. And I write those words as a space enthusiast. Like a few others on this blog, I want to raise a toast with my buddies in a bar on Titan. But while the government is running things, that ain’t never gonna happen.

    With the brilliant exception of the Moon landings, state funded, manned space exploration has achieved very little at truly astronomical cost. When the Shuttle was being developed during the 70s, assurances were given it would provide cheap, reliable access to Earth orbit; some said it would be “The DC3 of space.” In a speech in 1984, describing the proposed International Space Station, President Reagan talked in glowing terms of a city in space. What happened to all that, I wonder?

    More to the point, there’s no reason to believe any of this will change while the government remains in the manned space travel business: very little for a lot of money. And, more critically, they’re likely to try and thwart those with better ideas. But with government out the way, the real Space Age can begin. It seems plausible that one or other of the private space companies now being formed could reach Earth orbit within five years. And with cheap, reliable access to LEO, there’s a whole load of possibilities. As Heinlein said, once in orbit, you’re “… halfway to anywhere.”

    Hot jets!

  • Eric

    It wouldn’t be so depressing if they were actually going to build something. But they won’t. This will be another NASP project, where lots of paper will get generated and design contracts let. In the end, there’s no point to it and it’ll be quietly strangled after untold millions in taxpayer cash is funneled to campaign donors.

    Millions that could have gone into developing something that actually works.

  • Ian F4

    “What happened to all that, I wonder?”

    What happened was the downfall of communism.

    “Ray Gun” Reagan also stated, privately, but within earshot of the USSR, that one in x missions was going to be for military purposes, like building an orbital missile platform (or anti-missile platform, or launch detection platform to assist ABMs) and was going to completely wreck the MAD balance.

    So it was all really part of Ronnie’s big plan to “break” the Soviet economy, once that job was done in 1988-1992, no further action needed.

  • MarkyMark

    The United States can’t afford much of what it currently spends money on. It continues to fund programs by borrowing money which there is little realistic chance of it ever paying back (in non-inflated dollars anyways).

    Unfortunately for NASA supporters public opinion surveys consistently show that where priorities have to be set the public are in favour of cutting NASA’s budget (and foreign aid) rather than say the defense budget, homeland security or medicare or social security.

    The public’s opinion reflects (to my mind) next to no appreciation for the value of science, next to no excitement at the prospect of reaching out to explore the universe or any understanding of the relative costs of NASA (chump change) vis-a-vis say the Pentagon or Medicare.

    For those pushing for NASA funds the NASA boss coming out and saying that his “foremost” mission as charged by the President is muslim outreach and improving muslim self-esteem is both mind-boggling and disastrous.

    It has to be extremely short odds that the first Martian to be greated by a human will be met with an outstretched and a “Ni Hao”.

  • Ian F4

    There is are important islamic elements for NASA – which direction do you face five times a day whilst in orbit, does breathing a richer oxygen mix violate fasting, how long is a “day” in orbit during ramadana-ding-dong ?

  • Bollocks – some people like space, some people like social welfare. So long as either of them are trying to get the money for these things by appeal to government, then they might as well make that extra effort and try a personal plea to the back of my hand.

  • llamas

    Schrodinger’s Dog +1

    Space exploration is an awfully-expensive luxury, and usually an expression of national zeitgeist as much as an advancement of science.

    The US can’t afford it right now, and especially not the manned variety, which is exponentially-more expensive. What benefits we do derive from this activity as a nation (weather satellites, GPS, Sirius-XM) can be perfectly-well provided by for-profit enterprises using reliable and well-understood technology.

    But NASA has (quelle surprise!) well-entrenched constituencies supported by powerful legislators, so we will continue to p**s money at it. Oh, well . . . .



  • Michael Kent

    Schrodinger’s Dog wrote:

    What’s the problem?

    The problem is that the “compromise” mentioned in the linked article de-funds Obama’s FY11 NASA budget and instead funds a massive government-run launch vehicle and capsule system. While it may seem strange given how Socialist his other policies are, Obama’s FY11 NASA budget is the most pro-market space proposal the United States has ever had. Keeping it intact should be the goal of everyone wishing to raise a toast in a bar on Titan.

    The FY11 proposal continues the recent practice of buying delivery and return of supplies for the International Space Station from the private sector (i.e. delivered to the ISS by the commercial company on a fixed-price contract) while expanding that effort to include commercial crew delivery and return. It jumpstarts the commercial crew business by funding two or three competing manned spacecraft under a 50/50 government/industry partnership using fixed-price contracts in which the intellectual property remains with the commercial company. It will then fund commercial crew services (i.e. a space “taxi” service) under a fixed-price contract.

    Any commercial spacecraft developed under this effort will be available for non-government use. Boeing, for example, is partnering with Bigelow to develop a capsule to launch crews and customers to Bigelow’s planned private space station. SpaceX is planning to offer its manned Dragon capsule for similar purposes.

    Under this budget proposal, it will likely be possible to buy a ticket to Low Earth Orbit (not just sub-orbital space) in five or six years.

    The budget also funds technology testbeds to demonstrate advanced space technology useful for private space to expand beyond LEO, such as propellent depots, inflatable modules, autonomous rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life-support systems, and advanced ion propulsion. The “compromise” de-funds all of that in favor of the cost-plus behemoths of Orion and HLV.

    Killing this compromise and funding the FY11 budget proposal is a worthy goal for any pro-market space enthusiast.


  • Laird

    Thanks for the additional detail, Mike. It certainly makes things clearer than the original linked article.

    But please understand if I’m less than enthusiastic about a business model which is reliant upon NASA funding. If Boeing/Bigelow, SpaceX, et al, can’t make a go of it on their own, without suckling from the NASA teat, they need to rethink their strategy. And if that means putting off commercial passenger flights to LEO for a few extra years, so be it.

    It seems to me that the argument you should be making is not to restore the Obama budget, but rather to also kill “the cost-plus behemoths of Orion and HLV.” And if anyone truly believes there is any value in going to the ISS, let the Russians (or whoever) take care of the transportation. Because whatever the technical merits of those “technology testbeds” you listed, the sad fact remains that they are a luxury we simply cannot afford at this time. They’ll just have to wait a little longer.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not an American – but I do have a grasp of basic facts and reasoning and Phelps is correct.

    Hardly any Republicans are “socialists” – but they are often “third rate” foes of socialism (confused and weak – and, yes, sometimes corrupt).

    Indeed some Democrats (even in the House and Senate) are not “socialists” – they just tend to be more pro bigger government than Republicans are.

    Some Democrats in the House and Senate (and in the Whitehouse) know perfectly well that ever bigger government means socialism (and support that) – but many do not think in terms of where things lead.

    As for the space program:

    I oppose NASA – I have never supported a civilian government agency in charge of space operations.

    Government’s only role in space should be a defence role – so government space efforts should be under the control of the military (the creation of NASA in the late 1950’s had very bad consequences at the time).

    However, I ALSO oppose the government subsidy of private companies.

    That is “corporate welfare” and it is wrong.

    As for cooperating with Obama (remember that Barack Obama really is a socialist – and has been motivated his entire life by an intense hatred of the United States) appointees in the hopes of getting tax money.

    Well people who do that can, no doubt, justify their actions to themselves.

    Perhaps they reason that less tax money will be used that way, and/or that better space results will be achieved.

    Perhaps they are correct.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Senator Shelby.

    He is not the man that Senator Denton was – and I wish that Denton (not Shelby) had won in 1986.

    However, Shelby did not know that Denton would react to defeat by killing himself, so the “damm him to the pits of Hell” is not justified (actually it would not be justified even if he had known that Denton would kill himself – Shelby never MADE Denton kill himself).

    As for Senator Shelby’s politics.

    He opposed TARP (in defiance of Bush and the Republican leaders in the Senate and the House) and that is rather more important than which companies he favours getting government tax money.

    I would NOT support the companies that Shelby favors getting the money.

    But I would not support the other companies getting it either.

    “Cost plus” v “fixed price”.

    I have heard that song for THIRTY YEARS Dale (in British defence contracts) and somehow the “fixed price” never turns out to be fixed price.

    “The government altered the specifications – even though they promised they would not, so OF COURSE we had to alter the price….”

    If government is the buyer then the deal is likely to be corrupt – period.

    Burning a Senator from Alabama (even sending him to Hell – something you do not have jurisdiction to do Dale) is not going change that.

  • LaFIe

    I thought painting your oppositions with broad ideological strokes was the domain of the left. Declaring that there is ideological and practical uniformity between Republican and Democrats is intellectually lazy and completely ignorant of the dynamics and history of US democracy.

    Also, when did trolling pass as commentary on Samizdata?

  • Paul:

    the creation of NASA in the late 1950’s had very bad consequences at the time

    How so?

  • Paul Marks

    First I should say I wound have voted Dale’s way (had I been on the Senate committee).

    I know what Shelby would have done with someone like me – he would have have said (privately of course) “these sons of b….. supported Barack Obama in the election – would you not like to stick your finger in their eye by making sure their companies do not get any financial benefit from the taxpayers for doing that?”

    To which the only honest reply would have been “Yes – but not at the expense of the taxpayers paying out even MORE money, money to companies that back you for relection Richard”.

    Of course that is a sober reply – Senator Shelby has been in politics long enough to know that the way to win someone over to your side is to buy them a few drinks as you are talking to them.

    Then you commit to things to things you would not agree to if you were totally sober – but, when you sober up, you still feel honor bound to stick to them (that is the key – enough drinks to get someone more flexible, but so many that they can use the “I was drunk” excuse to themselves).

    Still Alisa’s question:

    NASA meant Vanguard (etc) – the mess up rocket that kept blowing up (thus giving leadership in Space to the Soviets). Eventually NASA had to give in and use military rockets – but a lot of time and money was lost.

    Also it meant an end to the AirForce X program. (the Navy also had its own space program, unmanned, but a lot of that is still hard to find out about).

    No more X15’s into space – and no later developments. Just back to big fireworks.

    A lot of the interesting stuff (although made by private compaines) was military funded (and military orientated) and NASA meant turning away from a lot of that.

    NASA did not mean an end to military space efforts – but it did mean big wrong turn (for example away from developing resuseable craft).

    Jack Kennedy stepped on things like the Orion Project (nuclear powered military space craft) – and loved unreuseable rockets to the Moon.

  • So what was the reason for this preference for a separate, non-military agency?

  • @Paul Marks

    Alabama Senator Shelby’s predecessor, former Senator Jeremiah Denton is still very much alive. Are you confusing him with someone else?

    And I agree with Dale; Barry’s space policy is just about the only thing he’s done right since he got to the White House.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Edward King – you have astonished me (and in a pleasent way)

    I heard the “Jeremiah Denton gassed himself in his car” story years ago from some people who hated Shelby (the story was that Shelby had pushed him so hard, and so unfairly, in the campaign that he killed himself).

    It was such a savage thing that it never occured to me that it MIGHT NOT BE TRUE – I should have checked it and I apologize for never checking it down the years.

    I just did not think people would make up an anti Shelby story of that extreme type (I repeat I was told the story many years ago) – although I know the man is hated by a lot of people (not just Dale).


    It was a political thing (“space is peaceful”) – there was no rational case for creating NASA.

    As for America’s space policy.

    The United States is a bankrupt nation – that will become obvious over the next few years

    A bankrupt nation can not have a “space policy” – so all this talk is beside the point.

  • Paul Marks

    I am still getting my head round the fact than Denton is still alive (did I really never check – over all these years? or did I check and then forget again?).

    It makes perfect sense of course.

    Why should a man who had endured years of torture from the Communists in North Vietnam (and who still managed to blink out morse code messages when put on propagada display on television) crack up just because Shelby (supposedly) said nasty things about him in a election campaign?

    I suppose the old saying “the bigger the lie the more easy it is to believe” kicks in.

    And saying a living man was driven to suicide decades ago (by the wicked Shelby) is a rather big lie.

    Still no excuse for me falling for it – it was VERY STUPID of me.