- Parabolic Arc
- May 26, 2023
Goodbye, Gerst: Longtime Human Spaceflight Leader Removed From Post
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine shook up management of the space agency’s effort to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 on Wednesday by removing long-time associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) William Gerstenmaier from a post he held for 15 years.
“Effective immediately, Ken Bowersox will serve as Acting Associate Administrator for HEO,” Bridenstine said in a memo. “Bowersox, who previously served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for HEO, is a retired U.S. Naval Aviator with more than two decades of experience at NASA. He is an accomplished astronaut and a veteran of five space shuttle missions and served as commander on the International Space Station.”
Gerstenmaier will remain with the space agency in a new position as special adviser to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.
“I am grateful for Bill’s leadership. He has provided the strategic vision for some of NASA’s most important efforts, including the International Space Station, Commercial Crew Program, the lunar Gateway, Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft,” Bridenstine said in the memo. “We, as a nation, are thankful for his service in advancing America’s priorities and expanding the limits of science, technology, and exploration. “
The NASA Administrator also announced that Tom Whitmeyer will serve as the acting deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO. He replaces Bill Hill, who is being given a new position as special adviser to Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
Bridenstine’s memo is reproduced below.
Leadership Changes in Human Exploration
and Operations Mission Directorate
As you know, NASA has been given a bold challenge to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, with a focus on the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars. In an effort to meet this challenge, I have decided to make leadership changes to the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate.
Effective immediately, Ken Bowersox will serve as Acting Associate Administrator for HEO. Bowersox, who previously served as the Deputy Associate Administrator for HEO, is a retired U.S. Naval Aviator with more than two decades of experience at NASA. He is an accomplished astronaut and a veteran of five space shuttle missions and served as commander on the International Space Station.
Bill Gerstenmaier, who previously served as Associate Administrator for HEO, will be detailed to a new position as special advisor to Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. I am grateful for Bill’s leadership. He has provided the strategic vision for some of NASA’s most important efforts, including the International Space Station, Commercial Crew Program, the lunar Gateway, Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. We, as a nation, are thankful for his service in advancing America’s priorities and expanding the limits of science, technology, and exploration.
Tom Whitmeyer will serve as the Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO.
Bill Hill, who previously served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO, will be detailed to a new position as special advisor to Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk. Bill has served NASA and our country well. He has provided years of leadership and expertise in the development of Exploration Systems like the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems programs. His strategic direction played a key role during the Space Shuttle Program, helping safely complete 22 successful missions.
NASA has always been fortunate to have great talent that has served our country well. As we work to fill these key positions within HEO, we will stay mission focused knowing that exploration will go forward.
69 responses to “Goodbye, Gerst: Longtime Human Spaceflight Leader Removed From Post”
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Wonder what happened there? new space vs old space?
Could be Gerstenmaier was the one handing out “job well done” monetary awards to Boeing for late and never completed work. Also, check out that job title: Acting Deputy Associate Administrator. No wonder they haven’t yet put together a single SLS core stage booster – that’s red-tape squared.
I can’t help but keep wondering if Mark Sirangelo’s resignation a month or so ago and Bill’s (forced?) move are some how related. Political games within NASA perhaps worthy of a TV series (like “Yes Prime Minister” or, perhaps more appropriate, the Aussie series “The Games”).
Have you seen the just-released movie “The Challenger Disaster”? It’s a good dramatization of the political infighting at a small subcontractor over a small part which caused such an enormous tragedy. It’s quite painful to watch.
is there a new one?
Yes, it’s streaming now on Amazon Prime and others. It’s got a 2019 copyright date. I viewed it last week.
thanks Challenger is the focal point for me getting interested in flight safety…
I was employed as a mainframe Cobol programmer at a bank when Challenger was lost. A colleague approached with a strange expression on his face and said “You follow the space program, right? The shuttle just blew up…” There was a TV in the break room and everyone was watching the replay of the launch and explosion in shocked silence.
I was a junior in college. I had just returned to my dorm room from getting ready for class. My roommate nonchalantly said to me “the shuttle just blew up “. For a couple of minutes I couldn’t process what he had said. I saw the contrails from the SRBs and thought they were just images of icicles. But no, they were not. Needless to say , all Astro classes were canceled that day.
This is why I don’t think duheagle’s “just do it” philosophy is reasonable. Then again, I also don’t think that there is any way to explore space without killing people.
Truly a conundrum.
I was on a construction site in Florida about 70-80 miles away walking west when a dozer operator pointed and said “the astronauts just f…up” Turned around and saw the ugly cloud. We used to take shuttle breaks to watch launches and I think Challenger was the first or second that we missed. I may have been the only one there that really cared beyond watching the show. We kept working all day as that wasn’t considered a reason to stop. Didn’t see the television until that night. Quit and started my own company a few weeks later.
I think a variation on the “just do it” will be required to move forward. There will have to be some acceptance of risk. To me, this means that it will have to be non-taxpayer money and non-government employees taking the risks. The fatal accidents of VG did not result in congressional hearings and taxpayer outrage. I think their system is seriously flawed and they don’t, and shouldn’t care about my opinion. D2 is fundamentally different.
Bottom line. No Guts, No Glory. Just use your own money and volunteers.
Old Western Saying. The Timid never started West and the fools died on the way.
The U.S. government started airmail service in 1918 and 80% of the pilots who were with the USPO on that day were dead in the first year from crashes. But the airmail service went on.
If you are afraid of failure you find excuses never to launch the rocket, like CST-100 and SLS/Orion. SpaceX just delivered Raptor number 6 to Boca Chica to start flight tests. Raptor 4, unusable, is in Florida doing fitting tests on the Starship. And the other Raptors? In pieces at McGregor for failing their tests, failures that made Raptor 6 a much better engine. It’s how you move forward.
Exploration and danger are pretty much synonymous. Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” does a good job describing the test pilot’s attitude: ‘it’s not going to happen to me’. If the pilot didn’t feel that way they wouldn’t climb into the cockpit.
My guess (and this is just a guess) is that Gerst wasn’t fully on board with either accelerating the official program or incorporating innovative commercial solutions (especially on a sped up basis).
It seemed to me he was a “steady as she goes” type who firmly believed that the traditional ways were the best ways, and, though he and Bridenstine seemed to have some rapport, that ultimately clashed with both Bridenstine’s personal belief in using commercial space to open things up and the directive Bridenstine received from his boss Mike Pence to get to the Moon by 2024.
In particular, I read somewhere the other day that Gerst was strongly fighting to retain the Gateway despite the OMB pointing out that a Gateway platform isn’t actually necessary to get a lander to the lunar surface and back. Orbital rendezvous of the elements involved, without a Gateway intermediary, is perfectly possible, thus saving billions of dollars. So why did Gerst want the Gateway? — for the same reason it was NASA’s answer to asteroid redirect: a Gateway in lunar orbit can test out radiation procedures, remote operation of surface vehicles and high powered ion engines in prep for an eventual Mars mission, or serve as a lab to host returned asteroid or Mars samples, or serve as a staging point for Moon landings. And, with treaty-based international participation, it can outlast administrations. It’s the NASA bureaucracy’s plan to eventually be ready for a big mission while outlasting the intermediate administrations.
This didn’t jibe with Pence’s directive, so, for better or worse, he ultimately had to go
He did not mention Trump once in the hearing yesterday. That is why he was sent to Siberia. Trump just keeps digging a deeper hole. Gerst if you do no not want to retire, wait for the next election. I hope Democrats have learned a lesson and will put a Democrat in as Admin. That is useful to blame the Rep. for for the gap in HSF however as there are Rep. Admin. as far back as I can remember. He seemed as sharp as ever at the hearing. He is working for the Doorkeeper.
I think it’s a safe bet that Gerstenmaier has been removed because of NASA HEOMD’s ever more obvious problems with delivering SLS/Orion and now Artemis on any kind of firm schedule or budget.
I suspect though that Gerstenmaier was far more a reflection of HEOMD’s longtime baked-into-the-structure problems than a primary source of them. Unless Bowersox comes into the job armed with authority (and political backing) to fundamentally alter the organization, including bypassing and NODding its worst parts, I would not expect more than marginal improvements.
My sympathy, by the way, to all the competent people embedded in the dysfunction. (Like chocolate chips in a concrete cookie…) May you someday be freed to accomplish great things.
We shall see.
a pretty good analysis. I would add to this that I suspect few in NASA other then the child administrator and a few others think that the Pence goal is realistic, particularly in the midst of SLS being simply unmanageable, even commercial crew sort of flailing and a very unlikely reality that Congress will give NASA the 6 to 8 billion dollars more a year it needs
anyone who thinks that NASA can get SLS on track, develop a lander, space suits and such and do all this in a three year period to allow some “flight testing” before the actual attempt is kidding themselves…and that is if one excludes the Gateway.
Bowersox is a fine pilot but a weak manager and has near zero ability to “shake things up” at programs like SLS…but Jimbo had to do something
Well, I agree that a 2024 landing is certainly not realistic within the context of the existing NASA HEOMD doing business-as-usual. Counting on timely affordable results from them is like planning on being able to kick a dead whale down the beach.
I differ from your apparent assumption that existing NASA HEOMD doing business-as-usual is the only option on the table, mind. Assuming sufficient top-level political backing – and admittedly a LOT of backing would be needed – more radical solutions could (and should) be applied.
Henry…yes I am doubtful it could be done…but curious as well.
how do you see it being done? what changes would have to occur?
G. Harry Stine used to say you don’t turn a Winnebago into a Ferrari by tinkering with it. If that’s the performance change you must have, you jack up the Winnebago radiator cap and drive a Ferrari in underneath it.
OK…I dont think its possible…neither NASA nor even private industry has shown the ability to build complex systems in that period of time. SpaceX and Boeing are both struggling with a far simpler craft then a lunar lander or even a outside the VA belt machine. SpaceX’s time spans are to be kind “vastly optimistic”…its clear they are stalled already with their whatever the next rocket is called…they have not yet met a single date associated with it, and I doubt they have even a finished design
I suppose in “Countdown” style fashion one could ratchet up some hardware that actually is at least on CAD lunar capable but at best it would be a weak repeat of Apollo 11 not the far more capable 16 or 17…and it would occur at a risk factor that well..SpaceX blew up their Dragon2.
aboveall other then just “doing it” I dont see the point…much less how it moves the ball down the field. and thats why I suspect it wont be done…but gee four years?
Yup. It hasn’t been done recently, therefore it can’t be. Impeccable logic.
Look a bit farther back in history for examples of how such things have in fact been accomplished. Five years isn’t a relaxed schedule, no, but for a project based entirely on technologies that are known and established and taught in the schools now, it’s not impossible.
With, that is, the right organization, which is definitely not the current one.
Look a bit farther back in history for examples of how such things have in fact been accomplished
we could go back to my childhood I guess…but just in the world of fifth generation (ie software controlled) vehicles I dont know of one…
when I was in Iraq the MRAP or Cougar had a quick development time…but its mostly a big armored truck with some software but no where near the code that a space vehicle would require.
the last NASA human spaceflight program i CAN think of that did anything in four years or close to it…was either Gemini or Skylab. and both were either legacy programs or had hardware pretty heavily tested before.
and neither of them had any really sophisticated software.
and in any event it would I think be a minimalist mission
Well then, you’ve pointed out the basics: Revert to the fifties-sixties fast development methods used by Gemini at al (hint: SpaceX is a current practitioner) and keep the software – keep system features in general – as dirt-simple as possible, at least for the mark 1 versions.
first the problem with fifties sixties fast development is that it does not include software…and to me that is the long tent in the pole.
second spaceX …they are really not moving things that much faster than anyone else…in my view. they may be doing things that most maybe all are not doing ie recovering first stages but well Elon time is really no schedule at all
third…I am unclear why the hurry I know why Pence has a rush on but the rest of the nation?
You think that because your gauge for everything is Boeing, which, as you’ve noted on innumerable occasions, is not a software company. Just maybe it ought to occur to you that one reason SpaceX is able to do what it does on the schedules it achieves is that it is among other things, a software company. You seem to think this a flaw. I don’t. It’s one of their major assets and core competencies. Legacy MIC firms have trouble with software because they still do it the same way it was being done in the 80’s. Lotta water under the software bridge since the 80’s.
what they are doing is 1) not all that impressive except from a technical standpoint…it has not changed the basic economics of launching and 2) their crewed stuff is going no faster then Boeings…and they are blowing them up
the “myth” is that spacex does things “fast” …thats not reality
Well, it is pretty damned impressive “from a technical standpoint. But it’s impressive in other ways as well. Once again, you seem to be the only one who seriously asserts SpaceX has done nothing to change launch economics. The recent change to a new, lower, reused-is-the-new-normal pricing structure for Falcon launches is simply more evidence that the contrary is true and getting more so.
We don’t yet know what the full story is going to be for Commercial Crew – anent both SpaceX and Boeing. As things stand, SpaceX still has a good shot at beating Boeing to ISS with a manned mission despite having blown one up and Boeing not.
SpaceX’s speed of execution is no myth. The slowest thing they’ve ever done is FH, which, for some reason, seems to now be assumed to be SpaceX’s norm instead of an outlier by many. FH took five years of non-full-time and non-continuous effort. Boeing has been working on SLS for nine years and is still at least two years away from a first flight. That’s reality.
they have actually been pretty slow on several things…almost “everything
it took far longer then they predicted to recover the first stage, it has taken sometime to make it refurbishable…and its unclear that they will ever achieve themythic 24 hour turnaround…
BF whatever it is called doesnt even have a working design right now…there is a lot of talk and blah blah but so far well …its quite clear they are never going to make a 2024 date around the Moon and I’ll be surprised if they go to orbit before that date
FH what to say…oddly enough it is probably the one vehicle that will end up saving the company altough they will not reliably recover the core stage unless the payload is severely restricted. its a bridge to far
commercial crew…LOL there is so far no evidence they have discovered what went boom and until they do we wont have a clue how long it will take to fix it…and probably have to fly another uncrewed mission to make sure it doesnt do that with people on board
SLS is joke you wont find me defending anything about it, in fact I am quite the critic of it
“The recent change to a new, lower, reused-is-the-new-normal pricing
structure for Falcon launches is simply more evidence that the contrary
unclear it will change the economic equation at all, its not that much a drop…sorry on a 1 billion dollar payload, its chicken feed. or as the GOP says these days “an accounting error” 🙂
they are not that innovative in terms of speed.
You need to come out of your cave and formally surrender, Bob. The war’s been over along time. You lost.
in so many ways it has just started …but with the spaceX fan ok cult group it is filled with entertainment
its been three months since the bang…no real answers and what Elon stormed out of a press conference when asked about it
yeah things are going well
Your wasting your time with him. Starships will be doing a regular run launching hundreds of Starlink satellites and the Old Spacers like Robert will still be saying SpaceX is doomed. Paradigm change is just too hard for some folks to adjust to, which is why Administrator Bridenstine is cleaning house.
LOL people like you will still be predicting the mars flights are around the corner when 2024 comes and goes without a serious design 🙂
On billion dollar payloads, a fifty million cost saving on launch is not that much. Unless there is an equal or better ride as part of the package. Reliability is comparable to anything in the world now within a percentage point. And dispatch reliability is getting ahead of the competition by a bit. So that fifty or hundred fifty million in launch price savings is increasingly looking like free money to customers. With the apparent lower lead time to flight with the Falcon9, there is even some incentive to get the payload to market earlier. To what degree these things factor together, I don’t know, and it could tip either way with the next launch “anomaly” by any of the providers.
The other factor is that a relatively cheap launch will sooner or later attract relatively cheaper payloads that do the same job. There are numerous ways to make the sophisticated payloads both cheaper and higher performing if some risk of failure is allowed in due to the knowledge that a replacement can be on station in month if there is a problem.Much of the modern electronics change much faster than they can be space rated and launched. Much of the electronics launched are obsolescent before the candle lights relative to terrestrial application.
Shorter version. It makes sense to spend a lot more on launch to go for the last decimal in reliability only if there are no alternatives. If I can send up a $250M payload on a $50M launcher that does the same job as your $1B payload on a $250M launcher, a fair amount of risk can be absorbed without pain. WAG numbers of course, but on a par with info I’ve picked up here and there.
well. Along with being a Captain for a major airline my wife and I own two flying related business…lets look at our pipeline patrol company
“here are numerous ways to make the sophisticated payloads both cheaper
and higher performing if some risk of failure is allowed in due to the
knowledge that a replacement can be on station in month if there is a
my opinion is that wont work.
what would work is a system such as whatever Musk is calling his internet thing (or Bezos or whoever) where a failure is transparent to the folks who are the customers.
but there are almost no space business that can afford to be without a product for “a month” because the Customers will go somewhere else. If I were to tell Shelll “we cant fly for a month” Barr airpatrol would have the contract in a heartbeat. so I have to have enough airplanes on the ramp to do the service even if one fails
now you can have “hot spares” (and most of teh geo com people do) but in the end the ability to get a quick launch in case of a failure of your payload on orbit is only useful in terms of gaining redundancy after a failure…
to carry the analogy further…if Iridium went off line for a month…I would have to immeidately shift our airplanes comm systems to someone else. Shell wants the instant comm systems
likewise I DONT see a reduction in a few tens of millions leading to a reduction in hundreds of millions on the payload. “. If I can send up a $250M payload on a $50M launcher that does the same
job as your $1B payload on a $250M launcher, a fair amount of risk can
be absorbed without pain”
OK If you can do that…but that would mean that there is a lot of money in making a satellite last 10 years intstead of say 3 years…and I dont think that there is.
what I think “cheaper” launch cost do…is 1) make launches of scale (like the internet things or say human resupply payloads) cheaper…and due to the sheer numbers that works up to an amazing amount of money (it was like the autoleaning systems we put in the twins…they save a little bit of money each flight…but over weeks of 6 hour a day flights…they save a lot
and 2) if the launch cost go low enough they do make customers who would not have thought of doing something in space…think of it AND allow them to think of doing things in space that require economy of scale.
its hard to know that either 1 or 2 have been reached yet.
Your mention of hot spares is appropriate. As is your mention of having enough birds on the ramp in case one goes down. I think we are fairly close on that. Low enough cost makes co-orbiting hot spares feasible with rapid launch of another spare..
Where we might differ is on the reasons for current high cost of high end units. I think much of the cost is in trying to make them bullet and idiot proof to the point that years are spent trying for perfection. Those years and efforts can get expensive. It is a rational approach when the up front concept is that “we only get one shot at this”.
One of the people I read from time to time was part of a group that launched a small sat with cheap commercial electronics willing to take the risk of failure. Last I heard they lasted just as long as the space rated stuff orders of magnitude more expensive and far less capable.Anecdotal of course, but pointing to a possibility for designers willing to risk it. Data is starting to accumulate from the various breeds of smaller sats being launched in increasing numbers.
It is certainly fair to be Missouri on this subject as in many others.
I would say a few things to your post
Transportation cost are only an issue generally when the cost are a defining metric of whatever is being acquired. When they launched Syncom series of satellites (and even ATS) the “cost” of the launch was a primary consideration because 1) it cost more then the payload and 2) the payloads had no real means of creating revenue to pay for them.
The ATS 6 satellite which was enormously successful and today is actually less capable then most geo birds…was at the time not seen as a future prototype of any geo sat because of the launch cost of the Titan III …and of coruse it had no real means of creating revenue.
what made the “flip” is not so much that the launcher cost came down, they actually went up, but the revenue the product generates went sky high
as a result these things have become not “instruments” somuch as “capital facilities” where the entire “effort” is sized up for planned obsolence associated with retirement of assets…ie failures
I do a lot of south pole communication and the vast majority of Satellites that are involved in that are “enders” ie birds that have gotten to the point where the agency that runs them finds the remaining capability non compatible with the revenue or operational stream that is involved in making it work
When TDRS 3 was finally retired it was simply because it had ceased having any operational transponders…there was nothing but a shell remaining…NASA maintained it because the cost of doing so was trivial in the terms of TDRS operations and it was a South Pole asset…but most commercial “turn offs” are simply because what assets remain on the bird, are not worth the ground cost to maintain them
this is typically a 15=20 year experience.
in an asset that is worth a billion or so dollars to acquire the capability that makes it a money maker, I dont think 10 -20 million matter and if they do its to buy schedule and reliability (as you note)
I dont see that changing. particularly with humans involved. I suspect that there are going to be few “homebuilders” ie craft that are built to non space rated standards…if this is true…then the cost wont matter that much, unless the cost of the launch approachs the cost of the payload. SLS 🙂
as for space rated components. its hard to say. remember the recent Falcon launch where there were all these satellites on board?
most are now space debris. they failed quickly 🙂 Oscar 7 is of course an exception 🙂
I’m reading that 3 of 60 Starlink sats failed. 5% failure rate may or may not be workable, but that is not most. Unless we are talking about a different launch.
It may take a bit more thought to use readily available commercial components.instead of tested and developed to death space rated ones. It’ll probably be one of those things that are unacceptable until it works, after which it becomes obvious.
In my business a machine that will do the same job for 25 cents on the dollar is certainly worth consideration. Reliability and service availability and maintenance cost become major questions. The decision can go either way. It is the companies that think there is only one way that eventually disappear. In my experience more expensive is often paying for the nameplate, not the capability..ymmv
yeah sorry we are. I dont recall the number but it was I think out of Vandy…the company calls its satellite deployer a “sherpa” and they launched a record or near record or something number of cubesats and the like…
5 percent failure rate in the commercial world does not seem bad. actually it surprises me it was that low.
I think we can at least agree that poor implementation an doom any project. I can easily believe that a high percentage of cubesats failed if built by first time teams. The unk unks have easy targets.
Apparently you didn’t notice “keep the software – keep system features in general – as dirt-simple as possible” the first time.
We’re not talking a new stealth fighter here that needs massive seamlessly integrated software to be militarily competitive. We’re talking space trucks that mostly just need to know where they are, where they’re pointed, and status of their (fairly simple) systems. You *can* spend decades writing elaborate seamless layers of software to run the beast. But it’ll do the job just fine with something far more basic.
RE SpaceX, they don’t run as fast as their predictions, but they run far faster than the average NASA takes-decades-to-never-fly HEOMD vehicle development. Only place where that’s not entirely true is Commercial Crew – where SpaceX is supervised by HEOMD.
Why the HURRY?!? We’ve already wasted effing DECADES, and you ask why the hurry. It’s not “hurry”. It’s finally getting a very useful and very doable thing done on a reasonable schedule, instead of diddling away more decades and more hundreds of billions.
A slight nitpick: Gemini was established ‘specifically’ to enable the development and testing of Apollo hardware and operations, so it was neither a “legacy program” nor “had hardware pretty heavily tested before”.
it was Mercury MK 2
Call it whatever you want, it was neither a “legacy program” nor “had hardware pretty heavily tested before”
I dont agree 🙂
Re: “but gee four years’
It may not actually be quite that bad. Although I believe Pence said “by 2024”, NASA’s current plan is for Artemis 3 (formerly EM-3) to occur In 2024.
So, if we give ourselves to the last day of 2024 (though Pence would surely prefer it prior to the first Tuesday in November of that year), we have 2000 days to go, or in other words, 5 years, 5 months and 20 days. Still super tight for the present day NASA, but an extra approximately year and a half helps.
Of course, 5 and a half years only gives more time for the facts on the ground to change (different administration, different Congress, war, recession, shifting national mood, etc., let alone possible developments in commercial space). And Artemis isn’t even funded yet, so…
I honestly think the entire thing is a charade to simply increase the NASA budget on a permanent basis…
I honestly think the entire thing is a poorly considered attempt to turn NASA into a political instrument, to have NASA deliver the crowning achievement of a [re-elected] Trump administration as it wraps things up and, in Reagan-like majesty, turns things over to its chosen successor, (gulp), Mike Pence
that as well this is why I think its toast …I think Trump has figured out they cannot do it
It would certainly seem he’s figured out that “doing it” is not consistent with keeping the same old butts in the same old seats.
I hope Gerst and Hill are just the opening gambit in a serious housecleaning at NASA. The MSFC “leadership” should be the next ones on the chopping block.
After that, there’s quite an extensive list of impediments to progress elsewhere in NASA that need to go. The management at Goddard would be at or very near the top of said list.
As is the case with sociopaths, managerial incompetents and self-serving lifers always equate survival with permission. So they all need to go.
there is no indication that Trump even knows who “Gerst” is… doubtless in his astronaut worship gig he is impressed (if he knew) with “Sox” but aside from being a first rate pilot, he is a horrible manager and I doubt has any real authority
You may well be right anent Trump knowing who Gerst is. But Trump knows who Jim Bridenstine is and, as effective business execs do, he seems to have issued some orders to his “report” and backed them up with a license to kick ass and take names as required.
I have no knowledge of Ken Bowersox’s management credentials or history. I will concede that astronauts haven’t, in general, proven impressive when swapping their helmets for management hats, though there have certainly been exceptions. We’ll have to see how Ken does in his new job. One strike against him is that he’s a former test pilot.
As for his authority, he presumably has as much as Gerst did, but one hopes he will use it to better ultimate effect. “Sox” is part of a chain of command so his power is certainly not unlimited. He’s answerable to Jim B., for instance. I suspect one of the things that got Gerst replaced was that he never acknowledged that particular point – the attitude is common among Deep State lifers. One hopes that will be at least modestly less true once the Trump administration leaves office.
NASA has always been “a political instrument.” What has varied over time is mostly the degree to which the tune being played was audible to the general public as opposed to just insider beneficiaries.
The Trump administration is trying to refashion NASA from its current pervasive dysfunctionality into something that works – again. In return, they’d like to get some politically useful ballyhoo.
I don’t think making Trump and Pence look good is too high a price to pay for even a partially resurrected NASA. You, and other Trump haters on these forums think otherwise. Everyone has their priorities.
Bingo. Once it’s painfully apparent that the Program of Record isn’t going to be ready and SHS is, the logic of doing that Ferrari-for-Winnebago swap will become irresistible.
“Gerst” recognizes that NASA has near zero chance of doing this…and is trying to get some program (the Gateway) going which actually has a chance of surviving on the money available and regime change when it occurs
Very logical deduction, Bob. Being an engineer first, Bill has to make things actually work, as opposed to politicians, who have to be creative with “the truth”. He’s been effectively side lined, Congress/Senate were suspicious before with budget requests, now, they will be completely paranoid with anything coming out of NASA with this Moon by 2024 business. IMO, Mike, Jim & Co have just shot themselves through the foot. Mikes only hope, definitely now, rests with a Hail Mary from the use of SpaceX’s planned Starship. Regards, Paul.
As I have seen Gerst speak through the years, I have found him neither innovative nor inspiring. I’m hoping that new leaders will actually explore all of the possibilities including an end-to-end inner oak transportation system to the lunar surface without being forced to go through the Gateway or launch crew on the SLS / Orion.
I have never been convinced that a gateway is needed in order to have a reusable transportation system to the Moon. In fact, about 2.5 years ago I spoke with Gerst at a space conference and he acknowledged to me that the same thing could be accomplished via rendezvous. Now the OMB says that going to the Moon can be accomplished using rendezvous but Bridenstine is adamant that the Gateway if needed for a reusable system. So, what’s going on here? Does the OMB better understand orbital mechanics than the Head of NASA?
I personally think that NASA needs to hit the reset button and come up with a technically better, more cost-effective, more historically-significant, more politically-sellable approach. I’m also wondering where Scott Pace fits in with these changes.
using ISS would be better
Why? Why not rendezvous in LEO dock and transfer modules without going through the ISS middleman. But then, why even dock at LEO?
I would use ISS for two reasons
1. logistics. it would support a place to refuel boosters/ assemble space vehicles from sub parts and support the crew needed to do that
2. it would also evenutally be a place for cyclers which are essential if you use an earth orbit infrastructure.
In engineering there are always 3 ways of doing anything. The Gateway makes a good place to rendezvous manned capsules, heavy cargoes such as Moon base buildings, cargo transfer vehicles, refuelling tankers, robotic arms and reusable lunar landers. A single set of station keeping and RCS hardware supplied by the space station makes coordination considerably simpler.
Apollo rendezvoused its Command Module and returning Ascent Stage but had to throw away its very expensive Ascent Stages each time. Apollo avoided rendezvous problems on the outgoing trips by using a single launch on a heavy launch vehicle. The lighter (and cheaper) launch vehicles used today may force distributed launch and the complexity of several rendezvouses per Moon mission.
After the first of the new mini space stations has been developed making copies is cheap, about $2 billion, similar to the cost of launching a SLS.
The SLS can get an Orion to the Gateway. The Falcon Heavy can probably get a crew Dragon to the Gateway. The descent stage of the large landers may have the delta-v to push cargo from LEO to the Gateway. Normal launch vehicles like the Falcon 9 and Atlas V can get people and cargo to LEO, but would need to stage or refuel to get to the Gateway.
A ship yard in LEO can use its arms to assemble a transfer vehicle by appending cargo to the upper stage and refuelling the vehicle.
The ISS can be used as a ship yard since it already has arms. Unfortunately moving 10 tonne rocket parts around will create large vibrations that may upset zero-G experiments – IMHO that will get the explorers kicked off the station as disruptive tenants.
Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.
Pork will kill Pence’s goal. No new footprints on the Moon in 2024. My next prediction is:
2023 will be the year STS ‘finally’ sends humans into space,
just to circle the Moon for a couple of weeks, but SpaceX will be the FIRST to return humans
to the lunar neighborhood that same year; and they will be ‘tourists’.
The new boss seems to be cleaning house, so not the same as the old boss – or any of the several that preceded him.
Pork will put up a fight, but it’s already had to yield some ground. The next year or so will see more such losses.
It seems fairly clear that SLS-Orion haven’t got the luxury of four more years before a first flight. If that’s what turns out to actually be required, then both programs will die unflown well before 2023.
The key thing is that there are at least two paths to new lunar bootprints on the Moon that don’t have SLS on their critical paths. The first is SpaceX’s SHS. The second is some combination of Falcon Heavy, ULA upper stages, maybe even Orion and the current rudimentary Gateway, plus New Glenn and Blue Moon.
The latter probably looks more “realistic” to establishment types. Such an effort would be cobbly and subject to considerable internal friction, but it looks doable – even if barely. But I think the former is actually far more likely to get the job done on the mandated timeline.
LOL …if “the new man” gets in and really changes things then you can talk. He wont.
Boeing etc know that SLS is so far protected by forces far more powerful in terms of the political influence they are actually willing to us…then the forces such as they are against them
in large part this is true because the “other end” of teh equation is empty as well…there wont be six to eight billion more dollars for landers/suits/gateway etc…so why worry about SLS
as for SHS (is that what they are calling it now) there is not even a constant design
For what it is worth I suspect Trump is about to kill the Moon thing personally and soon, probably 20 July or there abouts
Three main reasons
1. we have been there and done that 🙂 OK he wont use those words but something like them…Trump hates being number 2 at anything and well he would be number 2…assuming
2. that NASA can pull it off, and I think Trump has figured out…they cant. He doesnt like the head of OMB but he listens to him, and Mulvaney is known to be skeptical of 1) the dollars involved and 2) the ability of NASA to do the program with any type of system much less with the Gateway. it they try and fail, which they clearly will do (OK they could technically have 5 years to do this) then Trump would be compared badly to JFK…
3. there seems to be little political support in the Congress including teh Senate for the spending. The US debt is accelerating now and its going to be catastrophic to try and sale an increase in NASA while cutting old people’s health care. OK they dont mind cutting old people’s health care…but the optics are bad.
If I had to bet, I would bet what we come up with is a modified “ARM” either a sample return of some Martian moon rocks…or a Mars sample return using some part of SLS and Orion to “catch” the sample.
To bad Gerst died for nothing 🙂
I think your analysis is wrong in almost every respect, especially the stated suppositions about motivation and the counterfactual claims about deficits. But at least we’ll know pretty soon how wrong you are. Anent much of the rest of what you’re wrong about, we’ll have to wait at least a year or two for that to be so obvious.
I doubt it will take that long. I suspect the plug gets pulled this summer
I liked him!