Rick Tumlinson Senate Testimony, January 28


From Fred Becker <mach25@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date Fri, 30 Jan 2004 13:01:12 -0500


http://www.senate.gov/~commerce/hearings/witnesslist.cfm?id=1021

http://www.senate.gov/~commerce/hearings/testimony.cfm?id=1021&wit_id=2755

Given at a Full Committee Hearing:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Future Space Mission
Wednesday, January 28 2004 - 9:30 AM - SR-253

The Testimony of
Mr. Richard Tumlinson
President, Space Frontier Foundation

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee,

Just a few months ago I sat in this same room, calling for the United States to return to the Moon, as I and many in the space frontier movement have been doing for over twenty years. We in the Space Frontier Foundation have been calling for NASA to retire (or scuttle) the space shuttles, get out of Earth to LEO human and payload transport, and open the space station to commercial activities. We have also been calling for this nation to redefine the relationship between the government and private sector space activities, so that a new partnership might be created which would lead to a vital and growing human frontier in space stretching from the Earth to the Moon and beyond.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged (and somewhat surprised, given my long history of criticism of our national space program) to be invited by the White House to attend the President's announcement that this nation would indeed be returning to the Moon. As you can imagine I was pleased to hear that our message had been heard.

Ladies and gentlemen, I sat just a few feet from the President as he made his historic announcement, just as some of you did. And I looked into the man's eyes as deeply as I could during the whole speech. I believe he means what he is saying. I believe he truly wants us to begin opening space to the American people, to establish this nation permanently on the Moon and from their to catapult ourselves to the planet Mars and beyond.

I am not so naive as to be unaware of the political aspects of his announcement, dropped into the middle of the primary season of the opposing party, nor the positive note it adds to his own candidacy for re-election. But I am also aware of the downside of making such an announcement in a campaign year, especially at time when many who oppose his policies will be automatically pre-disposed to attack the ideas he spoke of, simply because they came from his mouth. Just as if, were he to say the sky is blue, his opponents would immediately argue that it is not. So to be honest, there is both an up and a down side to his timing. In fact, a part of me wishes he would have waited until after the elections, as I do not wish to see the Democratic party make a knee jerk reaction that rejects the core concepts of his proposal.

The fact that this plan is designed to begin with small incremental down payments that grow like the balloon payment on a home mortgage in the years after he leaves office also does not go unnoticed. But I can attribute this to the desire to make the idea a bit easier to swallow now, and is based on his confidence that our national economy will be able to handle such costs when the bill comes due. Even with major growth in our national space budget, the numbers spoken of are much smaller than the relative cost of our first push to the Moon was to our over all GDP.

I think the timeline is too slow - after all we went to the Moon from an almost standing start, developing three or four new launchers (if you count the LEM) and did it all in 7 years over 35 years ago. Let's get some challenge in there! It will help to focus and drive our space program. Also, I believe International partnering should not be based on State Dept. motives, but who can do the best work in a given area at the best price. International deals are done every second in the private sector on just such a basis.

Finally, the real private sector MUST be involved early on, not as a show, not as an after thought. If the Moon base is to turn into a settlement or community, it has to be designed to do so from day one. For example, as I discuss below, after the scouting and base camp phase, it would be good to see something along the line of NASA offering to rent X square feet of the buildings for X number of years or some such scheme that builds in the idea that NASA is not trying to yet again take on more facilities and overhead, but is just passing through on the way to Mars.

However, overall, I am supportive of the concept as outlined in his speech.

The Moon, Mars and the asteroids that float between the worlds of our solar system do indeed represent the future of humanity. It would be pure ignorant hubris to declare that we should not expand our species and the domain of life beyond this Earth, much like the declarations of a serf in medieval Europe proclaiming that the world ends just beyond the boundaries of his own village. Similarly, there is the short term thinking that leads to the conclusion that somehow science and the advancement of knowledge will somehow be damaged by the growth of human activities in space. As if the exploration and settlement of this new world where we sit today somehow held back the march of scientific progress, rather than driving our advancements and understanding of ourselves and the universe forward at a pace unknown before our ancestors struck out into the unknown. We are truly just at the bare beginnings of the story of humanity and the life forms of the Earth. And we stand poised to take bold steps outwards if we can do so wisely, economically, and for the right reasons. Those reasons are as wide and varied as those who look at the Moon and stars at night and feel their calling. Many speakers have laid out the possibilities, from Dr. Paul Spudis, who sang of the possibilities offered by the Moon, to Dr. Robert Zubrin , who waxes poetic about the vast vistas available to us on the planet Mars, Dr Gerard O'Neill, my mentor, who created a vision of humanity spreading out in colonies of glass and steel in the space between worlds.

All of these visions can be made real. All of the benefits to us these men have spoken of are real, as are a thousand more they could no more imagine than those who first came to this new world could imagine that the land they were exploring for gold and glory would give the world the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and an ongoing revolution in thought, science and medicine that has completely transformed our human civilization.

And therein lies the big question. Does the President's proposal leads to the Real opening of the frontier - by which I mean the expansion of the human domain beyond the Earth? Not outposts, not stations, not laboratories, but economically viable and growing communities of human beings that can eventually become new branches of our civilization. For if that is not the end point of this exercise, then, as some in our science community have said repeatedly, we should send robots instead. Also, if this endeavor is to be led by and for the government, and the above is its litmus test for success, it will fail. Governments do not open frontiers. People do - with the assistance of their governments, and sometimes in spite of those same governments. To succeed Every possible way to produce value (Include scientific value as well as economic) must be combined. If those two elements are then put into an equation, and the end result is positive or can be projected to turn positive we have a winner. If not, we have a negative cash/value flow and a loser. (NOTE - None of these elements was considered or kept on the table for ISS!)

--- Put giant KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!) posters everywhere, in all centers and offices. Give rewards for designs and ideas that go that way instead of the high tech, over specialized direction. For example, Rutan trumpets the fact that his flyers are the lowest technology, most off the shelf he could build, and where possible, units and structures are duplicated (look at the shapes etc. of his carrier and sub-orbital elements - cast in the same molds). Learn the lesson and apply it to the Moon. If a Home Depot bolt will work, use it. If you can go with voltages, air pressures etc. that make things simpler, then do it. Save high tech for later...

--- Rather than designing the habs etc. themselves, NASA should stay Lewis and Clark-like and focus on such things as scouting expeditions, and an early base camp that is designed to be expandable. Then put out a call to the non-space community for facilities that are low cost, robust, low maintenance and modular or expandable on a larger scale. NASA and other agencies could then sign ten or fifteen year leases, indicating (in the case of NASA) they are not planning on squatting down on the Moon but are moving on. (not ISS redux on the Moon.)

--- So some NASA guy will look out there and say we can't find any firms engaged in the right kinds of activities or willing to partner with us.Duh. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course not. You killed them all over the last thirty years, or trashed their ideas and killed off their investors, or supported your aerospace friends to the point you drove them out of business.

The private sector has been so burned for so long by NASA in the past that they must be coaxed back into space. Sponsor events and meetings with people in the military, business and commercial research/transport/life support communities and listen to them. Oil platforms, private diving bells and Navy subs, Hilton Hotels, airlines, all have lessons that can be transferred to this effort. The private sector has done a fair job of turning this New World into a permanent and expanding frontier. I bet they can help a little on the next one.

The International Space Station

As we move forward to the Moon, the International Space Station should be transformed into a multi-faceted nexus for both government and private sector activities. Some of these activities will be in support of the Lunar effort, and some will not, but all will contribute to the development of a vibrant human presence in LEO.

In his speech the President said:

"Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010 & finish what we have started."

Let me make a few important points: --- Almost all the original goals laid out for the space station have already been abandoned. It needs to be redefined and the program totally reformed or this will not happen.

--- We are not in charge of the station. We have partners who are using it for their own purposes, and interestingly, many of those partners are moving quickly towards private sector dominance of their activities and areas on station - as should we.

--- As the agency is cutting back its level of participation, there will be other orbital facilities, including the first space hotel modules, if entrepreneurs such as the self-funded Bob Bigelow in Nevada are to be believed (and given his wealth, determination and the realistic basis of his plans as revealed so far I do believe him.) other firms are looking at modules that might attach at first to the ISS and then through a "budding" process become independent free flying facilities themselves. Remember, the Chinese will also be flying their own facility by that time. This all means that a community can be developed that will create an economics of scale, a mutual interdependence and back up capability in case of disasters and accidents. (See my 1995 Testimony to the House Space Subcommittee on the idea of "Alpha Town" the first community in orbit.)

I used to be in favor of what I called an International Space Station Authority. This would have been a mechanism to wrest control from NASA and hand it to a more commercial friendly entity that would be less likely to play favorites when it came to which companies would provide services, establish the rule of law, set safety standards etc.

As a great military strategist once said that the commander who cannot change his tactics based on changes on the field of battle is doomed to lose. Thus I have dropped the ISSA concept, since NASA is planning to divest its majority ownership one way or the other in the coming years.

The future I see for the facility would be one wherein NASA's role would become that of a tenant, who's main focus is the preparation and experimentation it needs to plan missions to Mars. I would like to see the US government set up a management structure for the US portion that would allocate NASA what it needs, and also open the rest of our ISS elements up to private sector use. This could mean anything from university operated labs and experiments to commercial research. Also, the new charter would allow and encourage the attachment of new modules, probably completely commercially owned and operated that could house experiments, and even accommodations for commercial guests such as future Dennis Titos (who I had the honor of signing up to fly into space a few years ago). Another commercial activity would be a construction shack and factory operated by commercial astronauts based on Dennis Wingo's on orbit assembly concepts. These space workers would be engaged in activities such as on-orbit construction of large space telescopes, antenna arrays, large space probes and even the ships to travel to Mars. One major idea would be to have the Hubble space telescope moved by an orbital tug to an orbit above the ISS, so that it could be lowered to the facility for astronaut EVAs to service it. The Hubble is far too valuable a resource to throw away, and NASA plans to do so are expensive, limited in vision and reveal a complete lack of understanding of the frontier ethic of keeping things low cost by re-using and re-cycling whenever possible.

Space Transportation

The President Said:

Our second goal...to develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014..."

--- I can see the SEV becoming the new OSP/X-33/NASP/X-38/ etc. - a cash draining, show killing tech project. NO NO NO! if every element in the transportation part of the equation isn't low cost, robust and re-usable or designed to become so ASAP, then let's quit now and go home as this project is DOA.

--- By the time NASA speaks of pulling out of its major role on ISS, there will probably be other players in the Earth to LEO transportation arena, so the support of ISS will not be a limited sum game. There may well be a wide array of possible Earth to Leo transportation alternatives. The private sector firms that make up what I call the Alternative or Alt.Space transportation firms will be well on their way to becoming full fledged orbital access providers - if the government can provide the regulatory and investment incentives they so desperately need if they are incentivised to cross from largely being sub-orbital or small payload orbital companies into the orbital game by prizes and multiple source pay for delivery services.

--- NASA must get out of the Earth to LEO business entirely. An astronaut's mission used to start on the Earth's surface. This will no longer be true. They will be able to ride into space on private vehicles, and NASA can save its time and funds working on the next leap - between planets. I know some think there will be an all-in-one vehicle developed for transit from Earth surface to these other worlds, but such a concept is ridiculous, short sighted and probably the most expensive way such movement can be accomplished. If one reads the President's policy carefully, and from a frontier perspective, the call for a crew Exploration Vehicle can be read as meaning a transporter that lives in space, and goes to and from destinations there, without returning to Earth itself. (A model that makes far more sense than carrying all of the hardware one would need for transits in and out of our atmosphere.)

--- The Near Frontier transportation system will need a re-fueling capability that can circumvent the incredibly high costs of bringing propellant up from the Earth's surface, and a port for flights to and from the Moon and eventually Mars. Paul Spudis and others have advocated mining Lunar elements at the poles of the Moon and using them to create space gasthat can then be shipped down the gravity well and used to re-fuel all kinds of space craft, and satellites. I understand one might not wish to have a space "gas station" in close proximity to inhabited facilities, but it can be developed and constructed using ISS astronauts. The NASA institutional side of the facility could contract out services from the commercial team if needed for fueling their Mars ships.

---I am also concerned that projects like the planned nuclear Prometheus vehicle and other high tech space-to-space elements will pace and slow down the program. This must not be allowed to happen. Stay simple at first. Get the first rope across the ravine, then work up to the foot bridge and then go for the super highway. Start development early though, so your needs intersect with your capabilities down the road...so to speak.

As I discussed last fall, there is a growing alternative space movement there in America. Whatever NASA does or does not do, this community, which is investing tens of millions to develop new space vehicles and orbital facilities, will open the space frontier in its own way. While America turned its eye to the past at Kittyhawk this December, famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan's sub-orbital rocket ship broke the sound barrier in Mojave, California. Few noticed, and fewer understand what this means. But as I also noted in my previous testimony, the goal of flying the first non-government rocketship into space is on track to be realized before the end of this year. Elon Musk's SpaceX will be flying small payloads into orbit at a dramatically lower cost per pound than current government vendors within the same time frame, and at least a half dozen other firms are on track to cross the finish lines in this alternative space race.

I mention this to let you know that there really are potential commercial partners out there beyond the current NASA contractors. The door to space is about to be blown wide open.

The Moon

The President said:

Our third goal is to return to the Moon by 2020.

Most of the comments I would make on this third element of his plan are contained in the following OpEd.

Return to the Moon - For the Right Reasons, in the Right Way (from an editorial in Space News)

"We do this and the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard..." President John F. Kennedy - from his speech announcing Apollo.

Any discussion of a permanent return to the Moon (RTM) must be centered on two over riding questions: Why?and How?The answers to each of those questions are interrelated and one affects the other. If we go for the wrong reasons we will fail. If we go for the right reasons and do it the wrong way, we will fail. And if we don't go at all, then we will have failed in a way that will send ripples down through the ages.

There are many different answers to Why?They include: far side observatories to seek life on other worlds; studies of Earth's history by studying the Moon's surface and geology; near side Earth observation telescopes (Triana on the Moon); searching for platinum class metals in asteroids buried in the surface; giant solar arrays beaming power to communications satellites and solar sail transports; isolated laboratories to try new and dangerous schemes; taking the high ground militarily; driving the creation of new technologies; and of course, backing up the biosphere and human civilization in case of catastrophe and expanding the domain of life and humanity.

There are also a few more subtle reasons we go:

We go to force the re-structuring of our national space activities. --NASA's human spaceflight program today is like an old ex- athlete who won the Olympics a long time ago. It is bloated, inflexible, self-indulgent, and lives on re-runs of its better days. It is neither inspiring nor useful. In fact, it is harmful, as without a mandate to move out to the Far Frontier of the Moon and beyond, NASA has squatted down in LEO and claimed it as its own, blocking any who might try to do anything useful on its turf.We can let it slowly die, or we can trim the fat and get it into shape by making it get out of the doorway to space, back into the arena, and forcing it to run again - this time with a team-mate called private enterprise - to whom it can hand the baton at the right moment.

We go to inspire. - The most important thing we got out of Apollo was inspiration. It was a star of hope in the darkness of the Cold War. It was the reason I am in this field, and the same goes for many of you reading this. The internet, telecom, the incredible advances in medicine and science, these breakthroughs are coming from organizations whose founders and investors were often born and raised during the Apollo program, and while its legacy was still fresh. If one looks at the numbers of engineers and science students graduated in the US, there is a clear correlation, and right now those numbers are falling, fast.

We go to prepare for even greater things. - We cannot throw expendable humans at Mars without knowing what happens to a spacesuit in a high radiation, high temperature differential, dirty, vacuum after its been worn and sweated in for six weeks. We need to learn how to operate off planet, how to build for permanence and how to live off the land in space. Also, those who advocate a direct drive to Mars ignore a major historical fact - the colonies in North America could not have survived without the ports of England and Europe. The development of a strong Earth-LEO-Moon infrastructure, dominated by commercial enterprises, is a necessity, if humans-to Mars is not to be another unsustainable flags and foot prints fiasco or perennial taxpayer funded government housing project.

The How?of returning to the Moon partially determines the Why?For example, if the timeline is too long, the budget too large, the end goal too amorphous, and the whole project is run by the usual suspects in the usual way, the end result will be an uninspiring, over budget dead end like the International Space Station (ISS). To make a Return to the Moon permanent, inspiring, economical and beneficial to the taxpayers who pay for it all, we must do the right things.

The Greatest Frontier

All of these ideas, for a new and revitalized ISS, for a return to the Moon, the establishment of the first space settlements, and the dream of expanding life beyond Earth, will not be achievable if we do the wrong things, proceed in the wrong manner, and aim at the wrong goals.

First, we must ignore the whining of those who say they need a lot more money and time. We went from a standing start to standing on the Moon in under ten years - forty years ago! Keep in mind, when Kennedy asked the NASA of that time if it could be done, they told him no, and then they went and did it when ordered to.

Next, we must re-structure NASA, as the agency in its current form cannot handle the job. The center-based structure of today must be ended and several non-relevant centers closed or handed over to other agencies. Activities such as aeronautics and Earth studies must be handed off to the FAA and NOAA. Planetary robotic exploration should be given to JPL and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NASA must shed operational activities such as LEO transport and running the space station. The Orbital Space Plane should be canceled - now. Prizes, multiple source contracts, investment and tax incentives must be put in place to encourage the new Alt.Space firms to take over human transport to space, and drive the traditional aerospace giants to modernize or get out of the field. The space station should be mothballed, handed to our partners or be taken over by a quasi-commercial Space Station Authority as a destination for commercial and university users. ISS and other NASA pet projects must not be grafted onto a moon project simply because they exist. If they really support it they are in, if not, they are out.

What is left should be divided into two parts. The first should be a lean mean human exploration machine that focuses on the Lewis and Clark function and acquiring or creating the lowest tech tools possible to travel and explore beyond the Earth. The second should be an agency like the old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics from which NASA was created. Its job would be to push the envelope of space technologies and systems in support of our space industries.

The new NASA would then be one of several players in any RTM project along with DOD, DARPA, NOAA, NSF, universities, and most importantly, the commercial sector. NASA will support planetary transportation systems development, scouting, surveying and pitching the first base camp, then others take over as the agency focuses on developing systems for Mars exploration - it's next destination.

For the Moon Base to survive and prosper, it must be built in the right spot, it must be robust, easy to operate at low cost, as self sufficient as possible and be easy to expand. The International Space Station is failing because it is in the wrong place, too delicate, too expensive to operate, and produces nothing of great value - scientific or commercial. To pay for the Moon Base we must combine a wide variety of income producing activities and services, such as those listed above. BUT, the people building the habitats after the first phase, operating the telescopes, and running the facility itself should NOT be government employees. The long term Lunar facilities should be designed and built by private firms in response to a short list of needs put out by the partners, with the US government leasing those it needs. Long term management of the base should be in the form of a Moon Base Authority to promote new activities, manage infrastructure, oversee safety, and enforce the law.

Tied to the Earth with Red Tape

Forget the Moon, forget Mars. The greatest frontier NASA has to face is itself. From timid bureaucracies to over burdening regulations and procurement rules to outright Not Invented Hereturf oriented jealousies, NASA's culture must be changed, and this mandate must come from outside of the agency, and even from beyond the scope of the new commission being formed as we speak to look into how to accomplish these goals. Without dramatic, near-term and permanent changes the President's initiative will fail. And I am very afraid that the discussion now underway is nowhere near strong enough nor has it reached deeply enough to force logical people to make the hard choices needed.

For example, at a level above the agency, we must modify the overly burdensome Federal Acquisition Regulations or throw them out completely in favor of fee for service and delivery business style operations. Along the way the incredible piles of paperwork NASA uses to certify and manage each piece of hardware should be pared to a minimum. The space community is rife with examples of NASA loading potential providers down with paperwork. Sometimes even the simplest sounding deal is drowned in paper. Safety and quality needs to be assured certainly, but at some point it gets ridiculous.

This story came to me from Bill Haynes, a former Air Force test pilot.

(Consider) the carabiners astronauts use to tether themselves during EVA. The best climber's carabiner at REI costs $19.00. I found the manufacturer of NASA's carabiners, and he said he charges $1,095.00 each. When I told him about REI's, he said sure, he could probably sell his for a $100 or so, except that NASA requires a "pedigree" all the way from the mine for every ounce of aluminum in his, his welders and machinists each have to be re-certified every six months and the paperwork stack that accompanies each carabiner is inches high. That might make sense for say, the turbine buckets in the Space Shuttle Main Engines. It makes absolutely no sense for those carabiners that will never encounter more than about a fifty lb. load in space. The REI carabiners are rated at 6,500 lbs.

This approach to the business of space will not get us to the Moon again.

New Approaches

Every possible way to produce value (Include scientific value as well as economic) must be combined and every way to reduce costs must be found. If those two elements are then put into an equation, and the end result is positive or can be projected to turn positive we have a winner. If not, we have a negative cash/value flow and a loser. (NOTE - None of these elements was considered or kept on the table for ISS!)

--- Put giant KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!) posters everywhere, in all centers and offices. Give rewards for designs and ideas that go that way instead of the high tech, over specialized direction. For example, Rutan trumpets the fact that his flyers are the lowest technology, most off the shelf he could build, and where possible, units and structures are duplicated (look at the shapes etc. of his carrier and sub-orbital elements - cast in the same molds). Learn the lesson and apply it to the Moon. If a Home Depot bolt will work, use it. If you can go with voltages, air pressures etc. that make things simpler, then do it. Save high tech for later...

--- Rather than designing the habs etc. themselves, NASA should stay Lewis and Clark-like and focus on such things as scouting expeditions, and an early base camp that is designed to be expandable. Then put out a call to the non-space community for facilities that are low cost, robust, low maintenance and modular or expandable on a larger scale. NASA and other agencies could then sign ten or fifteen year leases, indicating (in the case of NASA) they are not planning on squatting down on the Moon but are moving on. (not ISS redux on the Moon.)

--- NASA should offer to buy data wherever possible. Prizes should be offered for milestones that can be reasonably offered to the private sector. Or if the word prizesis unpalatable, let's call them contingency contracts. For example, within the next year or so a short term, let's say 2 year contingency contractof around $80 million could be offered for high resolution images of the potential base camp site at the Lunar south pole. If it is won, we get our information cheap and spur several new firms into action. If not, there is still plenty of time for NASA to launch its own probes.

--- So some NASA guy will look out there and say we can't find any firms engaged in the right kinds of activities or willing to partner with us. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course not. NASA killed them all over the last thirty years, or trashed their ideas and killed off their investors, or supported their aerospace friends to the point you drove them out of business.

The private sector has been so burned for so long by NASA in the past that they must be coaxed back into space. Sponsor events and meetings with people in the military, business and commercial research/transport/life support communities and listen to them. Oil platforms, private diving bells and Navy subs, Hilton Hotels, airlines, all have lessons that can be transferred to this effort. The private sector has done a fair job of turning this New World into a permanent and expanding frontier. I bet they can help a little on the next one.

I was heartened to see the inclusion of language in the President's policy that indicated an awareness of these needed changes, but I'm still concerned that bureaucratic inertia will swallow any new and radically different ideas (or what those of us outside of the agency might call common sense).

The idea of an outside commission to lay the groundwork for this push outwards is a good idea. But it needs to be vested with real authority, and be comprised of space experts, business leaders and out of the boxthinkers. Unfortunately I am concerned the deck is already being stacked the wrong way, even if it is not being done so consciously.

The leadership of the commission for example, must be free of all ties to those who stand to benefit from its deliberations, nor should they have that appearance. This is not to question the integrity of anyone who might volunteer their time to do this important work, but to avoid any questions whatsoever about the validity of their findings and plans. I am hopeful that such considerations are going into the selection process, and any such issues are being rectified.

If the right people are assembled for this work, and given the mandate that appears in the president's speech - namely to open the space frontier, then I am confident that logic, history and common sense will prevail in their plans. I hope the White House, this body and NASA in particular pay attention, interact with them and move on their recommendations. I would also hope that the commission be empaneled to revisit this new space agenda on a regular basis.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think we have before us an exciting and powerful vision. We need not empty the coffers of our nation to make it happen, and in fact will create enormous new wealth, in the form of both economic and scientific wealth. If we can employ the power and genius of free enterprise we can transform our moribund space program into something incredible. But the people in this room, in this building and in this town must lead this time, and not be led, by lobbyists and Center Directors, party bickering and pork barrel politics. Let's get back to exploring. Let's let loose our reborn Lewis and Clarks to blaze the way for new generations and let's make sure everyone, especially those at NASA know they are spending our money to clear the way so we can follow. The space program will then get all the support it needs.

For if we want to inspire and create excitement in our children we must go somewhere! Go fast, go hard, and don't wait around developing the absolutely highest tech most expensive machine to get there. Use what you've got and go! Live off the land. Put the urgency of danger and joy of discovery together and people will pay attention. Explore! Shine a light into a new lava tube on the moon...Dig for that water in the Aikin basin, show the blast off of the first mission to Mars, launched from the Moon & the pale blue marble of Earth in the distance. Feed that helmet camera shot of the Valles Marinaris to the world. And cover it live, good or bad, success or failure, life or death...

For good measure, don't deny that people will die, or act surprised when it happens - make that risk part of the message....drop the obsessive lip service about safety and focus on being safe....assure that NASA and our people in space are doing their best to be safe, adopt serious procedures to avoid death....but say up front that people will die on this quest.

And once we are back to the Moon DONT STOP...it will be just as boring for NASA to be landlord on the Moon as in LEO. Show some learning. Get there, scout, set up the beginnings of the base. As others move in (universities, institutes, commercial users) the agency can go off in a nearby crater and begin developing its planetary surface exploration capabilities, then move on to Mars, where the vistas are larger and the opportunities for long term excitement abound. But don't squat down again. MOVE.


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