AGW Skeptic Rep. Jim Bridenstine NASA Administrator confirmation hearing begins today.

Guest post by David Middleton

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) has been nominated to be the new NASA Administrator by President Trump.  His confirmation hearing starts today… And the greenies are having conniption fits!

OCT. 31, 2017 AT 1:14 PM

Trump’s Nominee For NASA Chief Could Remake The Agency

By Rebecca Boyle

Filed under Space

Before Rep. Jim Bridenstine was nominated to lead NASA, he already had unorthodox ideas about what it should do. In 2016, as one of Oklahoma’s congressmen, he proposed the American Space Renaissance Act, which he called a “pioneering doctrine” that would refocus NASA’s mission. The space agency would concentrate on human spaceflight and “permanently secure the United States of America as the preeminent spacefaring nation.” Bridenstine’s vision would eliminate two of NASA’s current stated missions — to pursue aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes, and to expand knowledge of Earth and its atmosphere. (Bridenstine has said that there’s no credible evidence that CO2 affects the global climate.) In their place, his plan would spread human influence throughout the solar system and ensure the U.S. shows up first on alien worlds — and gets them ready for use by humans.

On Wednesday, he’s likely to face tough questions from senators wondering if a 42-year-old former Navy pilot and climate skeptic with an enthusiasm for space but no technical background or formal connection to NASA is really the right man for the job.

[…]

538

The 538 piece is one of many articles questioning Bridenstine’s qualifications to be NASA Administrator.  He’s not a scientist, has no technical background (apparently being a Naval Aviator flying E-2C Hawkeyes isn’t “technical” in green circles) or “formal connection to NASA.”

Well, James Webb, namesake of the James Webb Telescope and NASA’s third Administrator had an oddly similar background.

James Webb…

Webb was born in the hamlet of Tally Ho in Granville County, North Carolina. His father was superintendent of the Granville County public schools.[1] He completed his college education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received an A.B. degree in education in 1928. He was a member of the Acacia Fraternity. Webb became a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and he served as a Marine Corps pilot on active duty from 1930 to 1932. Webb then studied law at The George Washington University Law School where he received a J.D. degree in 1936. In the same year, he was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia.

Wikipedia

Webb spent the next 25 years mostly as a government bureaucrat in various agencies before President Kennedy nominated him to be NASA’s first Administrator in 1961.  Webb led NASA from 1961-1968 when NASA’s primary mission was manned spaceflight, with the objective of a manned Moon landing before 1970.  NASA accomplished this.

Bridenstine’s background is very similar to Webb’s…

Bridenstine was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a Jenks High School graduate,[1] a graduate of Rice University with majors in Economics, Psychology, and Business, and has an MBA from Cornell University.[2] He is a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium and is a Naval Aviator in the U.S. Navy Reservewhere he flies the E-2C Hawkeye in Central and South America in support of the War on Drugs.[3][non-primary source needed] Bridenstine is an Eagle Scout and received several military awards, including the Air Medal.[4] As of 2016, Bridenstine is a State of Oklahoma record holder in the 200M long course freestyle relay.[5]

Wikipedia

In 2012, Bridenstine, with Tea Party backing, unseated a 5-term incumbent Republican congressman and has represented Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District since January 2013.   So, Bridenstine is every bit as qualified to run NASA as Webb was.

The other area in which the greenies are objecting is to Bridenstine’s commitment to refocus NASA on space operations and reduce its efforts in earth and environmental sciences – areas which more properly fall under the purview of NOAA, NSF and USGS, not NASA.  Oddly enough, a former Apollo astronaut and geologist, Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt has a similar view as to how NASA should refocus its mission:

MAY 25, 2011 BY HARRISON H. SCHMITT
46. SPACE POLICY AND THE CONSTITUTION #4

Former Senator Schmitt Proposes Dismantling of NASA and Creation of a New, National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA)

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American to the Moon and returning him safely to Earth by the end of that decade. President Kennedy’s confidence that this Cold War goal could be accomplished rested on the post-Sputnik decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to form the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and, in January 1960, to direct NASA to begin the development of what became the Saturn V rocket. This release of a collection of essays on Space Policy and the Constitution[1]commemorates President Kennedy’s decisive challenge 50 years ago to a generation of young Americans and the remarkable success of those young Americans in meeting that challenge.

[…]

Is there a path forward for United States’ space policy? When a new President takes office in 2013, he or she should propose to Congress that we start space policy and its administration from scratch. A new agency, the National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA), should be charged with specifically enabling America’s and its partners’ exploration of deep space, inherently stimulating education, technology, and national focus. The existing component parts of NASA should be spread among other agencies with the only exception being activities related to U.S. obligations to its partners in the International Space Station (ISS).

[…]

The easiest change to make would be to move NASA Space Science activities into the National Science Foundation (NSF), exclusive of lunar and planetary exploration science but including space-based astronomical observatories. At the NSF, those activities can compete for support and funding with other science programs that are in the national interest to pursue. Spacecraft launch services can be procured from commercial, other government agencies, or international sources through case-by-case arrangements. With this transfer, the NSF would assume responsibility for the space science activities of the Goddard Space Flight Center and for the contract with Caltech to run the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Also, in a similarly logical and straightforward way, NASA’s climate and other earth science research could become part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA could make cooperative arrangements with the NSF for use of the facilities and capabilities of the Goddard Space Flight Center related to development and operation of weather and other remote sensing satellites.

Next, NASA aeronautical research and technology activities should be placed in a re-creation of NASA’s highly successful precursor, the NACA. Within this new-old agency, the Langley Research Center, Glenn Research Center, and Dryden Flight Research Center could be reconstituted as pure aeronautical research and technology laboratories as they were originally. The sadly, now largely redundant Ames Research Center should be auctioned to the highest domestic bidder as its land and facilities have significant value to nearby commercial enterprises. These actions would force, once again, consideration of aeronautical research and technology development as a critical but independent national objective of great economic and strategic importance.

NASA itself would be downsized to accommodate these changes. It should sunset as an agency once the useful life of the International Space Station (ISS) has been reached. De-orbiting of the ISS will be necessary within the next 10 to 15 years due to escalating maintenance overhead, diminished research value, sustaining cost escalation, and potential Russian blackmail through escalating costs for U.S. access to space after retirement of the Space Shuttles. NASA itself should sunset two years after de-orbiting, leaving time to properly transfer responsibility for its archival scientific databases to the NSF, its engineering archives to the new exploration agency, and its remaining space artifacts to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Finally, with the recognition that a second Cold War exists, this time with China and its surrogates, the President and Congress elected in 2012 should create a new National Space Exploration Administration (NSEA). NSEA would be charged solely with the human exploration of deep space and the re-establishment and maintenance of American dominance as a space-faring nation. The new Agency’s responsibilities should include robotic exploration necessary to support its primary mission. As did the Apollo Program, NSEA should include lunar and planetary science and resource identification as a major component of its human space exploration and development initiatives.

[…]

AMERICA’S UNCOMMON SENSE
THE WEBSITE OF APOLLO 17 ASTRONAUT, SENATOR HARRISON H. SCHMITT

So… If President Trump had nominated Jack Schmitt to be NASA Administrator, they would be hunky-dory with it… Right?  Schmitt clearly has a “technical background” and has had a “formal connection to NASA”…

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, Schmitt grew up in nearby Silver City,[4] and he is a graduate of the Western High School (class of 1953). He received a B.S. degree in geology from the California Institute of Technology in 1957 and then spent a year studying geology at the University of Oslo in Norway.[4][5][6] He received a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University in 1964, based on his geological field studies in Norway.[4]

NASA career

Before joining NASA as a member of the first group of scientist-astronauts in June 1965, he worked at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Center at Flagstaff, Arizona, developing geological field techniques that would be used by the Apollo crews. Following his selection, Schmitt spent his first year at Air ForceUPT learning to become a jet pilot. Upon his return to the astronaut corps in Houston, he played a key role in training Apollo crews to be geologic observers when they were in lunar orbit and competent geologic field workers when they were on the lunar surface. After each of the landing missions, he participated in the examination and evaluation of the returned lunar samples and helped the crews with the scientific aspects of their mission reports.

Schmitt spent considerable time becoming proficient in the CSM and LM systems. In March 1970 he became the first of the scientist-astronauts to be assigned to space flight, joining Richard F. Gordon, Jr. (Commander) and Vance Brand (Command Module Pilot) on the Apollo 15 backup crew. The flight rotation put these three in line to fly as prime crew on the third following mission, Apollo 18. When Apollo flights 18 and 19 were cancelled in September 1970, the community of lunar geologists supporting Apollo felt so strongly about the need to land a professional geologist on the Moon, that they pressured NASA to reassign Schmitt to a remaining flight. As a result, Schmitt was assigned in August 1971 to fly on the last mission, Apollo 17, replacing Joe Engle as Lunar Module Pilot. Schmitt landed on the Moon with commander Gene Cernan in December 1972.[7]

Schmitt claims to have taken the photograph of the Earth known as The Blue Marble, one of the most widely distributed photographic images in existence. (NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17 crew.)

While on the Moon’s surface, Schmitt — the only geologist in the astronaut corps — collected the rock sample designated Troctolite 76535, which has been called “without doubt the most interesting sample returned from the Moon”.[8] Among other distinctions, it is the central piece of evidence suggesting that the Moon once possessed an active magnetic field.[9]

As he returned to the Lunar Module before Cernan, Schmitt is the next-to-last person to have walked on the Moon’s surface.

After the completion of Apollo 17, Schmitt played an active role in documenting the Apollo geologic results and also took on the task of organizing NASA’s Energy Program Office.

Wikipedia

Clearly, someone like Jack Schmitt has the qualifications that both James Webb and Jim Bridenstine were/are lacking in.   So, obviously he would be warmly embraced as NASA Administrator.  The facts that he would refocus NASA on space operations and and is an AGW skeptic, certainly wouldn’t trump his technical qualifications in the eyes of the greenies… Right?

Of course not.

More than 40 Florida scientists oppose Trump’s NASA nominee

By SERGIO BUSTOS 10/06/2017 03:40 PM EDT

MIAMI — More than 40 Florida scientists oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead NASA, saying Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine is unqualified for the job and that they are troubled by his denial of climate change.

“He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and he is not qualified to lead this prestigious agency,” the scientists wrote in a letter Friday to Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “At this critical time, we can ill afford to allow this vital agency be subject to political whims. There is too much at stake.”

[…]

Politico

Are “Florida scientists” those who specialize in Florida?  Or just scientists who live in Florida?

Do these “journalists” and Florida Senators strive for ignorance?  It sure seems that way.

WHY DONALD TRUMP’S NASA CHIEF PICK IS A CONTROVERSIAL CHOICE

BY SOFIA LOTTO PERSIO ON 9/2/17

The White House announced President Donald Trump’s preferred pick to head NASA on Friday night, but the choice is already proving unpopular, with Florida senators criticizing Trump’s choice.

[…]

Bridenstine did serve as a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve for nine years and is a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium between December 2008 and August 2010.

[…]

But unlike previous NASA administrators, the 42-year-old Michigan native does not have any formal qualifications in science or engineering…

[…]

Newsweek

Hello? Ms. Lotto, Senators Nelson & Rubio… Can you say, “James Webb”?

On the flip side, Jim Bridenstine has the endorsement of former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe…

Jim Bridenstine is the leader NASA needs

BY SEAN O’KEEFE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 09/26/17

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), the president’s nominee for NASA administrator, is facing criticism regarding his qualifications for the job. These concerns seem to be rooted in a clear preference instead for a nominee possessing skills or experience as a scientist, engineer or technologist. Perhaps most critically, some have dismissed Bridenstine’s experience as inadequate given that he is an elected politician.

But if history is any guide, technical skills are not necessarily requisites for success leading this storied agency. While several previous NASA leaders were credentialed or experienced in such disciplines, this was not a clear determinant for success. And contrary to the critical view, Bridenstine arguably has the best qualifications for success given the challenges ahead.

Of the dozen previous NASA administrators, perhaps the most extraordinary and historically noteworthy of them served during the Apollo era. James Webb possessed a diverse base of experience, but none of the technical skills extolled in some of the current dialogue. Webb earned an undergraduate degree in Education, served in the Marine Corps, earned a law degree and served as a congressional staffer before a brief time in industry.

[…]

Webb’s contribution was not his scientific or engineering know how. But he did have a wide breath of experience in finance, business management, the art of negotiating outcomes and making decisions in the very emotionally charged public policy arena.

In short, Webb was, by any standard, a politician and an awfully good one.

He successfully marshaled an exceptional team of engineers and scientists, none of which suffered low self-esteem. Choosing among a multitude of diametrically opposite “right answers” advanced by those with technical expertise, it was up to Webb to achieve consensus among them to forge a path forward.

He also needed to secure the president’s support for a strategy, devise management plans to achieve the outcomes and somehow convince Congress to appropriate funds to finance the endeavor. To do so required exceptional leadership, management and political skills drawn from an array of experiences and professional training to yield the heralded achievements of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

He was a most remarkable public servant. But to listen to the critics today, it seems some might consider Webb to be a marginally qualified nominee.

[…]

It is impossible to tell if Jim Bridenstine will have the kind of success that Webb achieved. But in pursuit of this parallel prospect, it’s altogether possible he has exactly the skills and experience to position the agency to make that possible. His policy views, voting record and insights on how he may choose to use skills honed as a politician and elsewhere will surely be revealed in the upcoming confirmation hearing. But if past is prologue, he’s qualified to clear the hurdles for Senate confirmation. And I’m willing to bet he’ll prove to be a fine choice as the 13th NASA administrator.

Sean O’Keefe served as the 10th NASA administrator in the George W. Bush administration, 2001-2005, and is presently a professor of public administration at the Syracuse University Maxwell School. 

The Hill

Jim Bridenstine could even be good news for Elon Musk…

Earlier this year, Musk announced that SpaceX would fly two private citizens in a trip around the moon by late next year. And he hinted at the moon base during a conference in July.

“If you want to get the public really fired up, I think we’ve got to have a base on the moon. That’d be pretty cool. And then going beyond there and getting people to Mars,” he said. “That’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for.”

It also could be a good business move. Jim Bridenstine, the Trump administration’s nominee for NASA administrator, has advocated a return to the moon, writing in a blog post last year that “from the discovery of water ice on the moon until this day, the American objective should have been a permanent outpost of rovers and machines, with occasional manned missions for science and maintenance.”

NASA is poised to ask the private sector for proposals to develop a lunar lander that could take experiments and cargo to the moon’s surface, with flights starting as early as 2018.

WaPo

Wow!  I mentioned Elon Musk without saying anything negative about Tesla!

Featured Image from Popular Mechanics

1502891038-bridenstine-slideshow

 

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78 thoughts on “AGW Skeptic Rep. Jim Bridenstine NASA Administrator confirmation hearing begins today.

  1. The Florida gravy train…ever notice the most obscene global warming papers are generated at Florida universities?………

    …so much for the muslim outreach program

    • “At this critical time, we can ill afford to allow this vital agency be subject to political whims.

      I totally agree. There must not be a continuation of the last 30 years of NASA being subject to political whims.

  2. President Trump hits a Home Run with his selection of Jim Bridenstine, and as a Nation, we’ll win the space ballgame hands down!

    The quantity of democrat naysayers is in direct proportion to the wisdom of our President!!!

    • tomwys1. I agree with your assessment and with the need to “…win the space ballgame…”.
      China is challenging us everywhere (with our money!) and seeks to dominate in space for prestige and, no doubt, military reasons. With our GPS, surveillance, missile launch detection, and space research the need to lead in this area should be obvious. Count President Trump’s nomination as another win.

  3. A good number of our ‘good times’ agencies, NASA, should be mothballed until we can get our budget in order so that we are not spending ‘money’ we don’t have in support of ridiculous projects. Supposing we can significantly alter global climate change is unbelievably ridiculous.

    • {My laptop routinely selects phrases and eliminates them. I believe the first line read “…agencies, like NASA…”}

  4. I felt a great disturbance in the Green Side of the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror. Alas, they haven’t been silenced yet.

  5. NASA has become something of a porkbarrel agency, funding endeavors unrelated or only peripherially related to space and aeronautics. Bridenstein seems to be interested in restoring the original purpose.

  6. “Jim Bridenstine could even be good news for Elon Musk…”

    “Earlier this year, Musk announced that SpaceX would fly two private citizens in a trip around the moon by late next year. And he hinted at the moon base during a conference in July.

    “If you want to get the public really fired up, I think we’ve got to have a base on the moon. That’d be pretty cool. And then going beyond there and getting people to Mars,” he said. “That’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for.” ”

    Maybe he can even save Musk from bankruptcy, in which he undoubtedly steers with Tesla. A song for Musk: Whenever you think it’s no longer possible here on earth, somewhere comes a light ago.

    Musk, the cat with the 7 lives.

    • You assume that Tesla is intended to make a profit. Maybe it’s just a grand R&D effort that is partially self-financing.

  7. Not sure what Senator Rubio is selling. I think he is still mad that Trump called him “Little Marco” after someone advised Rubio to go negative against Trump. Remember Rubio was close to the last man standing in the Republican primaries. He then went negative and crashed in the polls. Rubio continues to get REALLY bad political advice. While I have seen them agreeing recently Rubio and McCain were best buddies earlier in the year. While we cannot bring the jobs back under Obama Florida lost 20K jobs in and around the Cape Canaveral area. Where did the money go? Into AGW “research.”

  8. No scientific or engineering background? So according to the gate keepers of knowledge, simple arithmetic is all the knowledge you need to pilot an E-C2 or F-18, yeeah, just well trained chimps that push the right buttons in the correct order (eyes rolling).

    And I love how wikipedia is chalk full or uncredible sources and links that go nowhere, yet they need 3rd party verification that Bridenstine has piloted the EC-2 in South America.

    • The “funny” thing is that Wikipedia fails to even mention that he flew E-2C combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and then transitioned to the F/A-18 and trained for air combat and strike missions, before he flew E-2C missions in Central & South America. Nor does it mentioned that he transferred to the Air National Guard to fly MC-12 Liberty surveillance aircraft. The MC-12 is basically a Beechcraft Super Air King that has been modified as a special operations (“M” designation) surveillance aircraft.

      Bridenstine began his Naval aviation career flying the E-2C Hawkeye off the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. It was there that he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and gathered most of his 1,900 flight hours and 333 carrier-arrested landings. While on active duty, he transitioned to the F-18 Hornet and flew at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, the parent command to TOPGUN.

      Bridenstine was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2012 while flying missions in Central and South America in support of America’s war on drugs. Most recently he transitioned to the 137th Air Refueling Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, where he will fly with an MC-12 squadron stationed at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

      https://bridenstine.house.gov/biography/

  9. Well the Democrats are aghast at Bridenstine because he has openly questions their Climate religion.

    Hopefully, the new NASA Administrator will downsize GISS and redirect its studies and staff expertise back to space physics.

  10. “…we can ill afford to allow this vital agency be subject to political whims.”

    Of course, James Hanson and Gavin Schmidt have not been involved in politics. (sarc)

    • Yes, I was going to mention that one too. If it’s the “other side’s” views, well, that’s just politics. If it’s your *own* views, it’s nothing less than saving the world and life as we know it! Outright heroism! Far above any petty old “politics”!

  11. Hmmm… Marine Corp pilot, Oklahoma Congressman, supported by Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party Patriots and other conservatives, negative perspective on AGW proclamations of impending disasters, thinks NASA ‘climate science’ functions should be discontinued or merged into NOAA, thinks NASA should be focused on national aeronautics and space programs administration…..

    I really like this guys qualifications and focus!

  12. On the whole “return to the Moon” thing, NASA is quietly sitting on a raft of data and research that details how lethal to humans the space environment is beyond LEO. LEO is below the VanAllen Radiation belts and thus below them is where Earth’s magnetic shield protects us at the surface and astronauts in LEO at the ISS. Passing through the Van Allen Belts is a short term exposure, but then beyond that the much higher and more dangerous GCR flux kicks-in to damage cellular DNA of astronauts.

    The moon is doable for only Apollo-syle short duration missions.
    Mars, at 800 days in interplanetary space, … forget about it for manned travel.

    NASA’s web page on the Orion space capsule has this little gem (my bold for emphasis);

    “Orion blazed into the morning sky at 7:05 a.m. EST [note: Dec 4, 2014], lifting off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The Orion crew module splashed down approximately 4.5 hours later in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles southwest of San Diego.
    During the uncrewed test, Orion traveled twice through the Van Allen belt where it experienced high periods of radiation, and reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth. ”
    https://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/december/nasa-s-new-orion-spacecraft-completes-first-spaceflight-test

    And it is getting worse for the next few years as the Sun’s magnetic activity and solar winds diminish to SC24-SC25 crossover. GCR flux and energy levels are increasing of course as we see in the neutron counts rising as they do at every solar minimum. The late 60’s-early 70’s Apollo program, where astronauts ventured beyond LEO, coincided with the solar maximum years of SC 20.

    Then we’ve had folks post comments here at WUWT that private industry is working on “light-weight radiation shield” for astronauts. That’s an oxymoron. Radiation shielding requires shear mass. Some Types of atoms are better neutron absorbers, but GCRs are mostly relativistic speed protons. Good luck shielding that without generating a large, high flux magnetic field around the spaceship. And as for absorbing GCR induced neutrons, Gold is one of the best for all types of radiation, but of course quite heavy and very expensive. Boron is also a good neutron absorber but very expensive and does little to nothing for gamma, alpha, beta radiations. Simple hydrogen works quite well to, but a lot is needed to be effective. Polyethylene has been studied as it has a lot of hydrogen in it. NASA space radiation engineers are working on the problem (see web link below).

    NASA also has this web page on Space Radiation:
    https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/real-martians-how-to-protect-astronauts-from-space-radiation-on-mars
    The first paragraph is an eyeopener.

    On Aug. 7, 1972, in the heart of the Apollo era, an enormous solar flare exploded from the sun’s atmosphere. Along with a gigantic burst of light in nearly all wavelengths, this event accelerated a wave of energetic particles. Mostly protons, with a few electrons and heavier elements mixed in, this wash of quick-moving particles would have been dangerous to anyone outside Earth’s protective magnetic bubble. Luckily, the Apollo 16 crew had returned to Earth just five months earlier, narrowly escaping this powerful event.

    What they won’t say is that an interplanetary human journey radiation problem is outright unmanageable and unresolvable for the 800 days a journey to Mars and back would take. It is unresolvable until we can cost-effectively put a massively shielded space vehicle in orbit. Then that massively shielded crew vehicle would require a huge amount of fuel to make the accelerations to leave Earth’s orbit, head to Mars, decelerate to obtain a Martian orbit, then another burn to leave Martian orbit, and then another burn to enter Earth orbit. The only point of efficiency is on this Earth orbital insertion, the spacecraft could jettison the massive radiation shielding to lessen the thruster burn impulse needed for this final insertion.

    Bottom Line: going to Mars is a sure death sentence by radiation poisoning for any human astronaut with the foreseeable technology even with some improvements in shielding tech.

    • “light-weight radiation shield” for astronauts. That’s an oxymoron… Polyethylene has been studied as it has a lot of hydrogen in it.
      Thanks for an informative comment, but be careful about oxymorons.

    • Astronauts, and equipment, modern craft for a manned mission would be seriously risky. Different story when you don’t have to provide a habitat for meat :D

      Been following Orion for a few years. You are correct, as is, Mars is just not going to happen for meatbags.

      • AI robots will explore the planets and stars as we sit happily, enjoying our beers, and watching the videos safely on Earth.

      • Seriously folks.

        The senior engineering-science team managers with radiation issue oversight at Goddard-Maryland have been briefed on the human radiation hazards for a Mars mission. Mars and back is basically a No-Go for humans for any foreseeable technology. It’s a suicide mission.

        The reason you will not hear NASA acknowledge this is political. A lot of people are employed in the Humans to Mars mission concepts and technology-engineering concepts. A lot of contractors with contracts are working and employing people on aspects of a manned mission to Mars. Everyone believes it can happen.
        Yes, we can build the rockets, stock the space vehicles with food and fuel. Develop the insertion and Mars lander technology. We can do those things. We can’t fix the human DNA problem though.

        So except for that frail pink human bodies that will get literally fried by long term radiation exposure on the 800 day trip outside Earth’s magnetic shield, we can send a sack of meat to Mars and back. Chronic radiation poisoning though is a horrible death: Leukemia, lymphoma, heart failure, dementia/psychosis, acute bloody diarrhea, coughing blood, peeing blood.

        But NASA’s Mission to Mars for Humans is jobs program. Like much of the US government, simply a jobs program.

      • Astronauts, and equipment, modern craft for a manned mission would be seriously risky.

        When humans conducted manned missions to explore the earth and oceans in centuries past, it was seriously risky, many left and never returned. We can have people among the people who explore or we can watch others go and some come back. Some will choose to stay in new worlds they find. Some will perish, but it will happen. When Columbus discovered America, when the USA won independence from England, no one then knew that the USA would save help England and much of the world from Germany and Japan and Italy in World Wars. Settlements far from Earth can become allies or enemies and/or both.

    • nuclear spacecraft will solve these problems. The amount of fuel, the time of flight, the total radiation exposure will all be solved with nuclear powered spacecraft. It only has not happened yet because we have not been working on it enough.

      • Water is still mass. And mass requires a lot of lift to LEO. Then that huge mass would have to be accelerated to Mars, decelerated for Mars insertion, and accelerated again for Earth return. That’s a humongous lot of fuel.

      • Joel,

        Agree radiation is a huge problem, but not insurmountable. Also that at present manned mission to Mars preparation is a jobs program to boost NASA’s budget.

        But there are foreseeable future work-arounds. Need for exterior shielding can be reduced by wearing suits of boron or other proton capturing material inside the craft and sleeping in lead coffins.

    • “What they won’t say is that an interplanetary human journey radiation problem is outright unmanageable and unresolvable for the 800 days a journey to Mars and back would take. It is unresolvable until we can cost-effectively put a massively shielded space vehicle in orbit. Then that massively shielded crew vehicle would require a huge amount of fuel to make the accelerations to leave Earth’s orbit, head to Mars, decelerate to obtain a Martian orbit, then another burn to leave Martian orbit, and then another burn to enter Earth orbit.”

      How about this scenario to get us back and forth to Mars safely:

      We establish a base on the Moon where we can mine water ice.

      We build several crew habitats that will serve as transfer vehicles from Earth orbit to Mars orbit.

      We encase these Mars Transfer Vehicles in a meter-thick coating of water ice to serve as radiation protection.

      We obtain water ice from the Moon to use as rocket propellants.

      We use the propellants to send these Mars Transfer Vehicles into a permanent orbit that comes close to both the Earth and Mars. These Mars Tranfer Vehicles are Buzz Aldrin’s “Cycling space stations”. They cycle back and forth between the Earth and Mars. The more Transfer Vehicles you put into these orbits the more frequently they will pass by the Earth.

      The Mars Transfer Vehicles never land on the Earth or Mars. Instead we use shuttle craft at both Earth and Mars to match orbits with the Transfer Vehicles to load and unload them when they get close to Earth or Mars.

      We establish an underground shelter on Mars’ moon Phobos.

      This way astronauts will be protected on the long journey to Mars and back, and will be protected once they reach Phobos.

      We need to start out with a base on the Moon, so we can mine the water ice that fuels all this activity, which is just what Bridenstine is proposing to do.

      I think it was Elon Musk (although I’m not positive) that said recently that he would like to see the Moon colonized. But I think that would present some big problems like Lunar dust which gets on and into everything. I don’t see lots of people living on the Moon.

      Any Moon base would have to do something about the Lunar dust. Pave it over, or set up in an underground tunnel. Something.

      We can do these things if we will just use our heads a little bit. NASA is not known for doing things the easy, logical way, but Bridenstine is not a bureaucrat so maybe he can overcome the bureacratic inertia within NASA.

      Musk and all the other private launchers will love Bridenstine because he promotes private enterprise in space activities.

      • Just a thought. Since space is cold and superconductors like the cold would a magnetic shield based on super conductors be practical? I realise those pesky little neutrons might still slip through though.

      • “Just a thought. Since space is cold and superconductors like the cold would a magnetic shield based on super conductors be practical?”

        There are people working on this kind of radiation shielding but there’s nothing practical so far.

        Exotic materials also hold some promise of serving as radiation protection.

    • joelobryan

      As a non scientist, engineer or anything else; wouldn’t it be sensible to assemble any manned Mars spaceship, in space? The problem of weight for radiation shielding then becomes less of an issue.

      Wasn’t something something similar done for the space station?

  13. ‘And the greenies are having conniption fits!’

    Boy, are they. And I must say, for sheer karma’s sake, I’m trying not to enjoy it so much.
    Except that they SO deserve their angst.

  14. From the standpoint of commercial space transportation, my field, Mr. Bridenstine is the best possible choice. He’s quite accomplished for his age, and the place could use some youth. Further – and I speak from first-hand knowledge – he has a very deep grasp of both the technical and economic aspects of space technology.

    • Tesla excels at this bit…

      Loss per share of $2.92 vs. $2.29 expected according to Thomson Reuters
      Revenue of $2.98 billion vs. $2.95 billion expected according to Thomson Reuters

      They beat the revenue estimate (slightly) and came in way below the earnings estimate.

    • It was down more today, to just under $300, a drop of almost 20% from its high about three months ago. Some of the bearish articles on Seeking Alpha paint a bleak picture of the firm’s future. One comment I remember is, “Musk has lost control of the narrative,” to which I responded, “He won’t be given the benefit of the doubt in the future.”

  15. Some people here need to go and browse some space blogs and websites and the real story on radiation during a trip to Mars. Not too risky at all and anyway that risk is based on the LNT theory which has no experimental backing.
    joelobryan and Mark-Hkesinki are full of it.

  16. We need the same change of guard here in Oz for the CSIRO. So they can get back to their original charter of R & D instead of wasting time and our money on dishing out AGW propaganda.

  17. They wrote: Jim Bridenstine is unqualified for the job and that they are troubled by his denial of climate change.

    “He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and so on.

    We elected Trump because he does not know everything he needs to know but he knows how to fine the people who do know what is needed.

    Trump picked Jim Bridenstine because he will pick the people who do know what is needed. and because he knows man made CO2 has not caused and will not cause measurable climate change.

    No so called denier does deny climate change, we deny that man made CO2 caused it.

  18. Joelobryan said:

    “So except for that frail pink human bodies that will get literally fried by long term radiation exposure on the 800 day trip outside Earth’s magnetic shield, we can send a sack of meat to Mars and back.”

    Well, that may be just why SpaceX currently plans trips of 80-180 days to Mars.

    And : “Those lunar tubes have been empty for 3.5 billion years. Stable?

    You obviously know little of lava tubes. In general, the longer they last, the more stable they are. The majority of collapses in lava tubes happen with 2 weeks of emplacement. To give you an idea how stable most of the tubes surviving those first 2 weeks are; You may have heard of the Mt. St. Helens eruption? On Mt. St Helens is a lava tube system known as Ape Cave. The Park Rangers tell me that after the eruption nearly blew the mountain apart, the only damage visible in Ape Cave was a single fist sized rock dropped, they think, from ceiling to floor of the lava tube.

    “Ready to collapse with the slightest push?”

    In the first 2 weeks of its existence, a great number of eons ago, maybe. After spending all those eons on the slopes of shield volcanoes of Mars with earthquakes attendant to volcanoes, there have been all too many pushes more than “slight” to not qualify them as safe until we know otherwise. Lava tubes are *not* a foreign environment to some of us.

    “Would you bet your life on it when no rescue is possible?”

    After the robots go through first and take measurements, most certainly. The risks are fewer than sitting here in the Portland metro area, waiting for the rioting I-5 Corridor Banditos of the Black Mask to decide they want to start having a little more fun

  19. joel: “What they won’t say is that an interplanetary human journey radiation problem is outright unmanageable and unresolvable for the 800 days a journey to Mars and back would take. It is unresolvable until we can cost-effectively put a massively shielded space vehicle in orbit. Then that massively shielded crew vehicle would require a huge amount of fuel to make the accelerations to leave Earth’s orbit, head to Mars, decelerate to obtain a Martian orbit, then another burn to leave Martian orbit, and then another burn to enter Earth orbit.”

    How about this scenario to get us back and forth to Mars safely:

    We establish a base on the Moon where we can mine water ice.

    We build several crew habitats that will serve as transfer vehicles from Earth orbit to Mars orbit.

    We encase these Mars Transfer Vehicles in a meter-thick coating of water ice to serve as radiation protection.

    We obtain water ice from the Moon to use as rocket propellants.

    We use the propellants to send these Mars Transfer Vehicles into a permanent orbit that comes close to both the Earth and Mars. These Mars Tranfer Vehicles are Buzz Aldrin’s “Cycling space stations”. They cycle back and forth between the Earth and Mars. The more Transfer Vehicles you put into these orbits the more frequently they will pass by the Earth.

    The Mars Transfer Vehicles never land on the Earth or Mars. Instead we use shuttle craft at both Earth and Mars to match orbits with the Transfer Vehicles to load and unload them when they get close to Earth or Mars.

    We establish an underground shelter on Mars’ moon Phobos.

    This way astronauts will be protected on the long journey to Mars and back, and will be protected once they reach Phobos.

    We need to start out with a base on the Moon, so we can mine the water ice that fuels all this activity, which is just what Bridenstine is proposing to do.

    I think it was Elon Musk (although I’m not positive) that said recently that he would like to see the Moon colonized. But I think that would present some big problems like Lunar dust which gets on and into everything. I don’t see lots of people living on the Moon.

    Any Moon base would have to do something about the Lunar dust. Pave it over, or set up in an underground tunnel. Something.

    We can do these things if we will just use our heads a little bit. NASA is not known for doing things the easy, logical way, but Bridenstine is not a bureaucrat so maybe he can overcome the bureacratic inertia within NASA.

    Musk and all the other private launchers will love Bridenstine because he promotes private enterprise in space activities.

    • I apologize for this post appearing twice. The first time I tried to post it, it just disappeared into the ether. I waited several hours to see if it would show up and it did not, so I posted it again.

    • Instead of de-orbiting the International Space Station in ten years (which is the plan), NASA should take at least a few of the individual habitat modules that make up the space station and convert them into Mars Transfer Vehicles. And convert one or more into Lunar transfer vehicles.

      The space station modules are already in orbit, and can be refurbished in orbit. We add a meter-thick coating of water ice, obtained from the Moon, to the outside of the modules to make them radiation proof. We use rocket propellants obtained from the Moon to put these modules into a “permanent” cycling orbit between Earth and Mars.

      If we want artificial Earth gravity for the trips back and forth to Mars, and we do. then we take two of these space station modules and put each one on the end of a mile-long cable, and we rotate these modules around their common center at one revolution per minute, and this produces artificial gravity (centrifugal force) on each of the modules which is equivalent to the gravity on the Earth’s surface.

      Now we have everything we need to travel to Mars and back in a healthy, safe manner: Radiation protection and one Earth gravity

      No sense burning up perfectly serviceable space station modules. We should give them new life as Mars Transfer Vehicles.

      • ” We use rocket propellants obtained from the Moon”

        Please explain to me the chemistry of these supposed “propellants”……what will you use as the oxidizer?

      • Reusing space station modules for a Mars program would definitely not fly with NASA if a regular NASA bureaucrat were running things. All NASA bureaucrats would see is an opportunity to create a whole new, multi-year NASA project by building these things down here on Earth.

        This is the kind of thinking Bridenstine will be going up against. Instead of focusing on space development, the NASA bureaucrats focus on building and extending the bureaucracy and initiating multi-year programs is their goal.

        It’s like when NASA was deciding which kind of space station they should build back about 1994. They had three design options: Option A, Option B, and Option C.

        Options A and B consisted of space stations which required multiple space shuttle launches over many years to put everything in orbit just like the International Space Station.

        Option C consisted of attaching a 15ft-long habitat module to the bottom of the space shuttle’s orange External Tank. The space shuttle would have enough power to put both the External Tank and the attached habitat module into orbit and it would take only one launch, instead of the dozens of launches the other two designs required.

        Option C would require an additional space shuttle launch to put everything it needed into orbit (solar panels), for a total of two space shuttle launches. Option C’s habitat module (15 ft long and 27.5 feet in diameter) in combination with the empty External Tank (153 feet long and 27.5 feet in diameter) would make a space station with more volume than either of the other two designs.

        In other words Option C was the superior design in terms of time and money spent with Option C costing about $5 billion total, while the other two came out to $16 billion and $20 billion (the cost estimates for Options A and B were all over the place, and were low-balled to NASA, as the finished product cost about $100 billion).

        So, it’s a no-brainer as to which space station design we should use, but that’s not the way the NASA bureaucrats looked at it. They said to themselves, if we complete a space station in two launches of the space shuttle then how are we going to justify flying the space shuttle.

        So the NASA bureaucrats picked the space station design that took a decade to put in orbit, requiring dozens of space shuttle flights, because this extended the program for as long as possible which was their goal.

        The NASA bureaucrats couldn’t see that they could justify launching the shuttle even if they only needed to use two shuttle launches to put the entire space station in orbit, by pushing for a Moon/Mars development program that would have made good use of all those extra dozens of space shuttle launches. We should already have people on the Moon and Phobos.

        Alas, those NASA bureaucrats couldn’t see beyond their nose and their current space project.

        Think about it: If we could put a complete space station in orbit using two shuttle launches and costing $5 billion, then we could do the very same thing for a Moon/Mars development program. Two shuttle launches puts a Lunar Habitat module in orbit where it can be transferred to Lunar orbit. Another one could be landed on the Moon’s surface to serve as a Moonbase. Another could be put in orbit as a Mars Transfer Vehicle and another could be put in orbit to use as a habitat on Phobos.

        That’s about $25 billion spent on a basic complete Earth/Moon/Mars development program (not counting the propellants required in orbit, but that applies to any program of Moon/Mars development And would have required more shuttle launches, just what the NASA bureaucrats wanted). And it would use enough shuttle launches to keep the NASA bureaucrats from getting nervous. And this whole Earth/Moon?Mars development program would cost about one-fourth as much as the $100 billion Internation space Station cost.

        The International Space Station program was a huge setback for space development. It put us about 20 years behind where we should be now.

        Let’s hope Mr. Bridenstine has a little more vision than some of those he follows. From what I know, he does seem to have the right stuff. :)

      • “Please explain to me the chemistry of these supposed “propellants”……what will you use as the oxidizer?”

        Water ice is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. You separate the two and then burn them together, just like the space shuttle used to do.

        Water ice is handy for a lot of things: Radiation shielding, drinking water, breathable oxygen and propellants and oxidizers.

        A solar or nuclear powered mass launcher could launch the mined water ice into lunar orbit, where it could be picked up by transfer vehicles for all the uses listed in this thread.

      • OK, I get it….there is no “rocket fuel” on the moon……you are using solar energy to produce it with electrolysis. You have a clue how much it costs to hurl 1 kilogram into a trans-lunar orbit? You don’t get much solar energy out of a 1-kilogram solar panel, not to mention the tanks, pipes and excavation equipment you need to mine the ice.
        ….
        It’s possible, but it might be cheaper to provide every living American with free health care than to pay for this boon-dongle

      • “You have a clue how much it costs to hurl 1 kilogram into a trans-lunar orbit? ”

        Do you?

        I suppose it would depend on what was included in the costs. Should we figure in all the money we have spent on space development up to this time, or just the Moonbase development costs, or just the cost of the mass driver?

    • I’m having problems getting this to post. I’ll try again. Don’t know what it is about this thread that’s causing me trouble.

      Reusing space station modules for a Mars program would definitely not fly with NASA if a regular NASA bureaucrat were running things. All NASA bureaucrats would see is an opportunity to create a whole new, multi-year NASA project by building these things down here on Earth.

      This is the kind of thinking Bridenstine will be going up against. Instead of focusing on space development, the NASA bureaucrats focus on building and extending the bureaucracy and initiating multi-year programs is their goal.

      It’s like when NASA was deciding which kind of space station they should build back about 1994. They had three design options: Option A, Option B, and Option C.

      Options A and B consisted of space stations which required multiple space shuttle launches over many years to put everything in orbit just like the International Space Station.

      Option C consisted of attaching a 15ft-long habitat module to the bottom of the space shuttle’s orange External Tank. The space shuttle would have enough power to put both the External Tank and the attached habitat module into orbit and it would take only one launch, instead of the dozens of launches the other two designs required.

      Option C would require an additional space shuttle launch to put everything it needed into orbit (solar panels), for a total of two space shuttle launches. Option C’s habitat module (15 ft long and 27.5 feet in diameter) in combination with the empty External Tank (153 feet long and 27.5 feet in diameter) would make a space station with more volume than either of the other two designs.

      In other words Option C was the superior design in terms of time and money spent with Option C costing about $5 billion total, while the other two came out to $16 billion and $20 billion (the cost estimates for Options A and B were all over the place, and were low-balled to NASA, as the finished product cost about $100 billion).

      So, it’s a no-brainer as to which space station design we should use, but that’s not the way the NASA bureaucrats looked at it. They said to themselves, if we complete a space station in two launches of the space shuttle then how are we going to justify flying the space shuttle.

      So the NASA bureaucrats picked the space station design that took a decade to put in orbit, requiring dozens of space shuttle flights, because this extended the program for as long as possible which was their goal.

      The NASA bureaucrats couldn’t see that they could justify launching the shuttle even if they only needed to use two shuttle launches to put the entire space station in orbit, by pushing for a Moon/Mars development program that would have made good use of all those extra dozens of space shuttle launches. We should already have people on the Moon and Phobos.

      Alas, those NASA bureaucrats couldn’t see beyond their nose and their current space project.

      Think about it: If we could put a complete space station in orbit using two shuttle launches and costing $5 billion, then we could do the very same thing for a Moon/Mars development program. Two shuttle launches puts a Lunar Habitat module in orbit where it can be transferred to Lunar orbit. Another one could be landed on the Moon’s surface to serve as a Moonbase. Another could be put in orbit as a Mars Transfer Vehicle and another could be put in orbit to use as a habitat on Phobos.

      That’s about $25 billion spent on a basic complete Earth/Moon/Mars development program (not counting the propellants required in orbit, but that applies to any program of Moon/Mars development And would have required more shuttle launches, just what the NASA bureaucrats wanted). And it would use enough shuttle launches to keep the NASA bureaucrats from getting nervous. And this whole Earth/Moon?Mars development program would cost about one-fourth as much as the $100 billion Internation space Station cost.

      The International Space Station program was a huge setback for space development. It put us about 20 years behind where we should be now.

      Let’s hope Mr. Bridenstine has a little more vision than some of those he follows. From what I know, he does seem to have the right stuff. :)

  20. When in consideration of what President Obama’s NASA Administrator (Charles Bolden) stated as NASA’s “foremost” mission: Muslim outreach—the appointment of Bridenstine is a massive improvement.

  21. David,
    You initially remark that James Webb was the third NASA administrator, and then below the block quote refer to him as the first administrator.

    • I had initially described him as the first administrator and then corrected it to third. I must have missed that reference when I was making the correction.

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