I respect the 9 people who wrote the latest report by the GAO concerning the need for a business case for Project Constellation...oh well, ok, I don't respect them. Business case for Constellation? What moron thought of that study? Was there was a business case for going to the Moon? Was there a business case for Lewis & Clark? Great nations explore. It really is that simple.
NASA Watch, The Write Stuff, and several other Space blogs, bearing in mind none of which are run by people who know what is a covariance matrix, and no, it's not a sequel to the Matrix movies, posted about the GAO report and then in unison declared that Constellation is dead. Well...gee, thanks guys. First, I have more degress than all of the Constellation critics combined. That means I know what I am talking about when I inform you that Constellation is fine.
If you do not know about some of these blogs, that is understandable. The biggest one, NASA Watch, is a blog by, for, and of engineer wanna-be, anti-NASA fanboys if there ever was one. It was created by Keith Cowing, once a NASA biologist who later met fame and fortune slamming NASA's Administrator at the time, Dan Goldin, a noble cause if there ever was one. The problem is, Dan left but Keith remained. And criticizing me while I was NASA's Administrator. Why?
My predecessor Sean O'Keefe made the mistake of taking Keith aboard NASA One one time too many. Sean said each was a long flight. Ever the politician, Sean appeared to be listening while Keith droned on. After that display of grace, Sean could do no wrong. I told Sean that he should get an Oscar for his acting and he said he should get 100 of those little gold statues for listening to that guy. In any case, the key to Keith is you have to act like you are actually listening to him. But that was hard for me to do with a guy who has 1/6th of the degrees I have.
Our falling-out occurred when he showed up at the FAA hangar we use at Reagan, bag in-hand, and demanding to know when we were leaving. I told Keith there would be no more NASA One flights, that I flew myself in my Tiger, and that I couldn't fly him due to legal concerns (yes, a white lie). Keith became upset, telling me that he could make my life difficult, that I was making a mistake that I would regret--I told him I already did. Did you know we have big guards from Germany--I think they once worked over in the eastern side--who we got in a very good deal after the Wall fell? Anyway, they escorted him away even as he shouted that I would rue the day I met him and didn't let him fly on NASA One. No kidding. Ever since, Keith and NASA Watch have had it in for me and for Constellation, which I created.
I wanted to sue Cowing to prevent his use of the acronym NASA, since someone should not be able to make money off of such a great agency. But the Dept. of Justice people said no. Idiots.
Back to the subject at hand...a business case for a space exploration program? I am definitely going to have to call Bart, who asked for this report, and find out what's going on.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Well, now that I'm no longer the NASA Administrator and am now here in beautiful Huntsville, Alabama, I have both time to spare and some thoughts to write. It is as good a time as any for some honesty about where America's space program is, where the space advocacy community would like to take it, and how NASA's new-age management (not Charlie--he's a good pilot, an astronaut, and smart like me) will run it. Of those matters I will post in the coming months. In the mean time, I wanted to make a few personal points.
I love being an engineer. If there's anything such as a religious calling, being an engineer is that for me. I also enjoy learning. That would likely account for the 7 degrees, 6 of which are of a graduate level, I have. I also very much like being smarter than all of those who criticized my leadership at NASA. Here's a quick question: who has more degrees of a technical background, me or my critics? This is not a trick question.
Imagine you are smart, like me. Now imagine that you have to tolerate the endless, miasmatic, pejorative droning of critics of the Constellation program who collectively know as much about designing, building, and launching real rockets as a they do about quantum mechanics. Yes, I even co-authored a book on systems engineering, "Space Vehicle Design", a 617 page text that is the standard in its field. The extent of the authorship of my detractors exceeds no further than one of the very worst reads ever, "New Moon Rising", a poster child for bad writing, if there ever was one. Think of it this way, my very technical book has an Amazon sales ranking of 336,639 while their book has one of 1,207,177; and no, higher is not better. These are the same detractors who spend NASA money every year to hang-out at their geeky version of a tree house called Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, a small Canadian nothing, playing astronaut and believing all-the-while that they are actually helping human space exploration. Hey guys, if you want to help, stop wasting money on this campground and making the rest of us look like we are reality challenged...I mean, this is almost as bad as the old L-5 types who used to wear Spock ears when they went to testify before Congress about supporting the space program. Yes, that was a big help in maintaining NASA's budget in the tens-of-billions, which is why we landed on Mars in the 80's and have O'Neill space stations orbiting above. Very useful.
But I'm tired of writing now and am going to go fly my Tiger.