Skip to comments.With the Shuttle Program Ending, Fears of Decline at NASA
Posted on 07/04/2011 3:07:26 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
As NASA prepares to launch its last space shuttle ending 30 years in which large teams of creative scientists and engineers sent winged spaceships into orbit it is facing what may be a bigger challenge: a brain drain that threatens to undermine safety as well as the agencys plans.
Space experts say the best and brightest often head for the doors when rocket lines get marked for extinction, dampening morale and creating hidden threats. They call it the Team B effect.
The good guys see the end coming and leave, said Albert D. Wheelon, a former aerospace executive and Central Intelligence Agency official. Youre left with the B students.
NASA acknowledges the effect and its attendant dangers. It has taken hundreds of steps, including retention bonuses for skilled employees, new perks like travel benefits and more safety drills. Through cuts and attrition in recent years, the shuttle work force has declined to 7,000 workers from about 17,000.
The downsizing has been well managed and has achieved an acceptable level of risk, said Joseph W. Dyer, a retired Navy vice admiral and the chairman of NASAs Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. After a slow start, NASA and its industry partners did a genuinely excellent job in planning for the shuttles retirement, he said. But he conceded, Theres added risk anytime you downsize.
Nobody is predicting problems for the coming flight of the Atlantis, the 135th and last launching in the shuttle program. The event is scheduled for Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, before an estimated one million spectators.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Well it’s the change they voted for.
With the new mooslimb outreach programs and projects to prove man is causing global warming, there are huge opportunities at NASA. Unfortunately, none of them involve aeronautics or space flight.
Were not adrift, he said. And the vision is not gone. And we have a plan. We have a very sound plan.- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
Hey Charlie, maybe you should let us everyday workers know what the plan is. Because from our view, all we see is layoffs and project mismanagement by power hungry managers.
Our morale can’t be low. We have no morale to be low. We have thousands of highly skilled engineers just sitting around wanting to work.
GIVE US A MISSION!!!!
NASA has been declining since LBJ and Nixon. The good news is the very successful unmanned program, and private companies that will be developing manned rockets and space stations.
The Space Shuttle is outdated equipment and technology and ending the program was a good idea.
OK... so where's its replacement?
Does it still take fifty people to change a light bulb at NASA???
“The Space Shuttle is outdated equipment and technology and ending the program was a good idea.”
We have a 100 Billion dollar investment floating around in space and now have no access to it, unless we pay the RUssians. They DOUBLED their last fee.
You think THAT is a good idea?
Last one to leave Brevard County turn out the lights!
NASA will be able to devote more resources to help James Hansen predict immediate CAGW.
You’ll notice - everything the governments get involved with are inundated by lawyers, squeezing out the scientists and engineers who won’t put up with their political games. The ones that stay under the lawyers control ARE the B-Team!
I believe Challenger was a direct result of those political managers. RIP.
I never got space. I was in Vietnam when we first landed a man on the moon. I barely heard about it. And now we are supposed to go to Mars?! Why? What's there? Just sand.
When our ancestors explored the globe and found the Americas, there was something to look forward to. A new land and new opportunities. But Mars? Really? It's just sand. I can find sand anywhere.
NASA will become Barry’s official globull warming department.
Not many of Eric Holder’s people are aeronautical engineers, or engineers of any kind, therefore NASA is of no use to Eric Holder’s people, and must be destroyed.
We’re in the same situation as we were when Apollo was done and the Shuttle had not launched (1972 to 1981). It’s NOT a major problem. And this work is really better done by the private sector rather than the government (welfare for engineers is what we have now, and I worked in manned space flight [ground systems] for 6 years so I have some experience to calibrate on). Check out - http://www.spacex.com/ and http://www.scaled.com/ for what’s coming next. And in the not too distant future. Better, faster, cheaper.
A lot of us miss the old glory days, but with the moon reached and the ultra high maintenance shuttle done to death, and hard times upon all, what’s left for NASA? A handful of unmanned probes? I’ve heard of projects to try to clean up the space junk orbiting the earth.
I never did understand what Obama even ostensibly intended by this NASA-Muslim outreach. Do they wish to put sacred stones in orbit, or somefin?
A nation can have a space program or a welfare society, but it can’t have both.
Our morale cant be low. We have no morale to be low. We have thousands of highly skilled engineers just sitting around wanting to work.
One of the reason’s I left the Biz is that NASA is held hostage to the Politics of each Administration that comes in.
If there is to be real progress in building viable launch vehicles and exploration of the solar system then the effort needs to be completely separated from politics.
I don’t see it happening though. And what you see with happening to NASA was totally predictable. The saddest thing is that this has happened before after Apollo. The odds of good people going into Aerospace Engineering have just gone down again.
With all that being said maybe now is the time for private enterprise to step up and do the job. May they be successful!
Nothing like ceding the high ground.
The moon shots were a bid for global stature during the Cold War. They did succeed at that purpose.
If anyone has the spare dough to do a man-to-Mars shot today, it would be the Chinese. But they lack the expertise.
I hate to tell you this, but the ISS is not an investment. Seriously. Investments pay you back. The ISS not so much. And with a few inventive companies working on the problem, getting held up by the Russians will be a problem for maybe another 2-3 years. After that, we’ll be flying people better faster and cheaper than they will, and just maybe we can start to get some back from ISS. Myself, I’m not sure that humans add value in space that robots can’t do better. Jury is still out even after the Hubble repair. Hopefully the politicians and lawyers (but I repeat myself) can just stay the **** away. http://www.spacex.com/dragon.php SpaceX is already under contract with NASA to do this stuff.
Mission? Hell no. You know what makes things fly? It ain’t propellant. It’s MONEY. No bucks, no Buck Rogers. Gummint space is expensive. Private space, well, while not cheap its less than the welfare program for engineers and contractors formerly known as the big aerospace firms. Here’s a couple of relevant links...
We should have been working on a replacement for the last 30 years.
You just don't turn engineering back on after you turn it off. Engineering isn't a step function. Many processes in high tech cannot be put on a drawing or documented. Many times they remain in the brains of people that are being laid off.
In your lifetime you will probably never see a U.S. launched manned vehicle again. No American exceptionalism. I think that is what motivates Obummer.
No commercial company is going to do this. The liability insurance would put them out of business before the first launch.
There is no need to fear, the decline is already fully accomplished.
They need to shift gears. Reduce the manned flight operation to a skeleton crew. Keep a crew of a few young astronauts who you send into space every 5 years or so to keep their skills up.
The rest of the program ought to be robotic. Send robots to the moon to develop infrastructure for an eventual return to the moon by men. Build a moon base and fabrication facilities.
That approach would also have the advantage of stimulating our nascent robotics industry.
Yes, NASA needs to rethink its mission, and some stuff needs to go to the private sector - notably the routine stuff. However, I see NASA’s new mission going in a bad direction.
That would be the direction of navel gazing, and the never ending heavy head trip, lead by non-engineering/non-science types. I do not consider the AGW people to be among the science types, since the AGW’s have gone Lysenko on us. No exploration will get done, no data gathering since that may challenge the dogma of James Hansen spewing that humanity is a virus infecting Earth Mother Goddess Gaia.
Hansen is no scientist, he is now a priest of the AGW cult.
I agree. I drive NASA Road 1 in Clear Lake a couple of times per week, and there are MANY office buildings empty that were full of NASA contractor personnel. Any corporation looking to relocate to Texas can find lots of office space at a very low price.
The private sector has been working this for a long time. Check some of the links posted above. And no, manned spaceflight is not the be all end all. Getting us able to reduce the cost per pound in orbit is what we need now. Please note that humans really don’t do well in space in the long run (we’re built for gravity). We’ve got a bunch to do to figure out how to deal with that before we go to places like Mars. Personally, if we get going out to the Legrange points on a regular basis with unmanned missions until we get the biology right that would be just fine.
We have a 100 Billion dollar investment floating around in space...
Myself, I would like to see more emphasis on the aeronautics and less on the space.
If I were to give you a mission, I would focus on research and experimental design on terrestrial uses; things that could have long term economic benefit.
Your mission would be to create new, better materials; create more efficient engines, better avionics. Something like a Bell Labs of its day.
When you have the new materials and designs, they will scream for a use (and a new and greater mission).
Of course I would prefer to privatize NASA first, maybe owned by a consortium of businesses.
NASA has a mission. According to Obama, its mission is “outreach to Muslims.”
Fly a mullah to the moon.
It’s not necessarily going to outer space that’s important. It’s the Inventions that came out of solving the problem of going to space that gave us some great technology which changed how man lives.
An example. Cordless power tools. Medical imaging. Advanced plastics. It’s not unlike how the problems the military solves produce products that we use everyday.
These are some of the finest engineers and smartest people on the planet. This is where a real ivy league education pays off.
You’ll notice that both Bigelow and Cargo Resupply services are both orbital service industries and that is an indication of the real problem.
Nobody can own mineral rights or plots of land in space which means no one will go further because there’s no hope of future financial gain.
Space is silly. Billions of Muslims need attention and THAT’S the job of NASA.
“In your lifetime you will probably never see a U.S. launched manned vehicle again.”
Elon Musk and Burt Rutan say otherwise. And there are some other competitors in the game.
Ought to be a moon mission /colony and a Mars manned mission but Obama hates American greatness and doesn’t want us striving for anything that makes us lead...that’s the bottom line...he hates us.
I think we can get past that. YMMV
Private sector can do the same innovation just fine. Hughes did, Bell Labs did, etc.
” Nobody can own mineral rights or plots of land in space “
Ya mean that “Square Foot of the Moon” that I got for Christmas back when I was in high school was a scam???
Mars? Not really. When we “own” the Lagrange points by virtue of better, faster, cheaper technology, then let’s talk about Mars. Mine asteroids first.
Honestly, if the laid off engineers were smart and entreprenueurs (they’re not since they’ve been on the gubmint dole living in a bubble) they’d start or work for private companies that wanted to go to Mars or go mine the Moon...I mean I bet there’s new Periodic Elements, rare earth/err, rare Moon elements there.
Richard Branson...the Moon X or whatever that group was...
Hell we can’t even get past the EPA here on earth, I don’t see private industry having much success getting past the UN.
The sad thing is that all America needs to do to rush forward into space is ignore the UN.
Ignore the UN? ALWAYS a great idea. ;>)
It’s a lot cheaper to build a minaret than a launch vehicle... and much more in keeping with the new NASA Prime Directive.