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ATI Surveys Experts on Obama’s Cut to NASA’s Constellation Program
From:
Jim Jenkins - Applied Technology Institute Jim Jenkins - Applied Technology Institute
Washington , DC
Saturday, April 10, 2010


Concept of the Orion crew exploration vehicle delivering crews and cargo to the International Space Station
 


Experts & Space Industry Professionals Speak Out in Both Support and Opposition of President's "Bold New Course for Human Space Flight"


Washington, DC –April 10th, 2010- Last week, Applied Technology Institute (ATI) , a Space & Satellite technical training company for various NASA facilities, Department of Defense and Aerospace contractors, surveyed their Space and Satellite clients and space industry expert instructors to find out how they feel about President Obama's controversial decision to cut NASA's Constellation Program. All survey participants are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly, by the shift in direction for the National and Space Administration as outlined in President Obama's 2011 Fiscal Budget Plan.

ATI's Technical Director, Jim Jenkins says he saw an opportunity to support a healthy debate among space professionals that the public may be interested in hearing. "The Constellation controversy has been covered by varying viewpoints from different news sources, but we think people want to hear the opinions of those actually working in the space industry—those who have the technical knowledge and industry expertise to understand how this decision may affect the space industry long-term," he says.

ATI's survey asked the participants to weigh-in, expressing support or opposition to the President's budget decision to cut the Constellation program in order to, "Build the Foundation for a Bold New Course for Human Space Flight, " followed by an opportunity for them to explain their opinions as to how this change will affect NASA and manned space flight exploration.

ATI's Constellation Controversy Survey Results Summary

A majority of 60% percent opposes the President's decision to cut NASA's Constellation Program while 32% percent expressed support. A few of the survey participants, 8% percent, are undecided. Nearly all participants explained their opinions in detail with regard to how the decision will affect NASA and manned space exploration.

Sampling of ATI Survey Respondents in Support:

"Yes, but we should continue flying Shuttle until we have a demonstrated replacement capability operating. We should not look to other countries for our space taxi service."

"YES, I support decision to terminate Constellation program, but because it is not affordable and sustainable while performing any real exploration, e.g. spending all of our resources on the transportation system like we were in Apollo. This is the reason we terminated the Apollo Lunar program so that we could develop a reusable space transportation system that would bring down the cost of transportation. The Shuttle reduced the cost to ~ 1/3 of the cost using the expendable approach. We need to continue to develop and improve the reusable transportation system architecture to achieve this objective before we start considering a trip back to the moon or to mars. The shuttle cost reduction did not fully achieve the cost goal; however, we did not place any hard requirements on Life Cycle Cost controls during the DDT&E (design, development, test, and evaluation) phase with a continuing cost reduction improvement objective."

"The good news for sure is an increase of $6 billion over the next five years. It stresses new technology and innovation (to the tune of over $1.5 billion), which is also good. A lot of NASA's successes have been from pushing the limits on what can be done. It also stresses Earth science, which isn't surprising at all; Obama appears to understand the importance of our environmental impact, including global warming. So that's still good news."

"Yes. It was stupid for NASA to have agreed to the previous administration's request to go to Mars with a hugely expensive detour to the Moon, particularly with inadequate funding."

Sampling of ATI Survey Respondents in Opposition:

"White House plans to cancel the Constellation moon rocket program could jeopardize U.S. leadership in space exploration. Criticism, from both Republicans and Democrats, underscores the difficulty that President Barack Obama faces in convincing Congress of his plan, which would terminate Constellation and instead rely on commercial rockets or on Russia to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. "It could leave our country with no human exploration program, no human-rated spacecraft and little ability to inspire the youth of America," said U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics."

"The plan to go to Mars and abandon the moon will put manned exploration beyond low earth orbit behind by 2-3 decades. The VASIMR propulsion technology is decades away from being able to send any appreciable mass to the red planet. Nuclear reactors in space needed for the VASIMR plasma engine have been abandoned since the seventies and need to be reconstituted needing significant time to get to a working level for either test or even flight. Without Constellation there will be no capsules or other manned craft for an appreciable time. No heavy lift vehicle is even close to the drawing board as well. It is a presidential blunder of enormous magnitude – on scale with the unilateral decision to invade Iraq."

"These programs belong to the American taxpayer regardless of whether NASA funds commercial business or does it themselves. If anyone with an 'inside the beltway' address will be open to hear, maybe the taxpayer should decide the priorities for funding. For the billions of dollars in funding that NASA has received in the last 3 decades, there is little space transportation growth to show except for science projects to Mars and the outer planets. Manned spaceflight has been stuck in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). And it will take manned spaceflight to grow a viable economy in space. It will take NASA in partnership with the innovation of industry to 'unstick' us safely out of earth orbit in order to visit our solar system and learn more about potential threats outside of earth's magnetosphere. And both NASA and the commercial space efforts need sustained and predictable funding for years to come to be successful."

A full reporting of the responses and feedback from the initial survey is available for view and comment on ATI's BLOG. ATI encourages further participation from both the public and private sectors to continue this important and controversial debate.

ATI is planning a follow-up poll after the President's April 15th conference on NASA's future where he will outline his strategy for the next step in space exploration. Jenkins says, "It will be interesting to see if any opinions shift after the President details his strategy for the future of space, since those details have yet to be presented beyond his 2011 Fiscal Budget Plan."

ATI specializes in professional development seminars in the technical areas of space, defense, sonar, systems engineering and data analysis. For over twenty-five years, ATI has presented leading-edge technical training to defense and NASA facilities, as well as DoD and aerospace contractors. ATI courses provide a clear understanding of the fundamental principles and a working knowledge of current technology and applications. ATI has the unique capability to schedule and deliver courses in a matter of weeks. They offer customized on-site training at your facility anywhere in the United States, as well as internationally and over 200 annual public courses in dozens of locations. World-class design experts lead courses. To register or for an on-site quote, call (888) 501-2100 today, or visit them now on the web at www.ATIcourses.com.

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TAGS: Professional Development, Short Courses, Technical Training, NASA's Constellation Program, President Obama, Space & Satellite Professional Training

 
Carolyn Cordrey
Training Coordinator
ATI Courses, Inc.
Washington, DC
888-501-2100
 
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