View Full Version : Astronauts have too much clout

2003-Aug-05, 04:06 PM
So says our own JimO (http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-07-30-oberg_x.htm)

2003-Aug-05, 05:29 PM
From the article:

Astronauts demanded this higher level of bureaucratic power after the Challenger disaster in 1986, so that such a catastrophe caused by flawed management would never be allowed to happen again. But February's loss of Columbia has shown this rationale to be flawed.
Wait a minute ... I thought astronauts had demanded (and gotten) this high level of bureaucratic power after the Apollo 1 fire. Or at least, after Apollo 1, they demanded to be allowed on-site at the production facilities where their spacecraft were being built and to be able to openly criticize or reject portions of each spacecraft's design and engineering.

2003-Aug-05, 07:40 PM
From the beginning the astronauts nursed their spacecraft during production, checking it out and everything. Dave Scott was pretty unhappy when he had to swap his CSM with Jim Lovells when Apollo 8 and 9 swapped their objectives. With the shuttle, doing this is not any longer possible.

Laser Jock
2003-Aug-05, 08:02 PM
Well, don't let anyone say that JimO wouldn't criticize NASA. :wink:

2003-Aug-11, 01:49 AM
I read this article too, when it was in the print USA Today. I thought it was good, exceept the title seemed to be more of a general anti-NASA piece. I panicked for a moment before I realized it was by JimO. But I think the issue is not to decrease the number of astronauts, but to increase the number of spaceflights. I agree that there are too many for the number of available flights, but that is because the STS is an inefficient system. It would be better to introduce a safe, capsule-based OSP and maybe started a manned Mars or lunar return program to provide more flights for astronauts. In other words, instead of tuning the astronauts to the flights, we should tune the flights to the astronauts. There have been a lot of NASA management problems since Challenger, but I don't think astronauts are at the heart of the problem.

Managers' loyalties should be to their chain of command, not to their buddies, as so often happens with astronauts. They need to make choices that don't always enhance the power and glory of the astronaut corps and its leaders. Most of all, their subordinates must be confident that they have no hidden agendas.

But I don't think that they have major agendas other than making the dangerous STS system safer to fly. But I also agree with him here: it's good to have a glorious "astronaut image" for the astronauts, but at the moment it's not really helping the programs. However, as I said, I don't think that astronauts trying to promote their image but ignoring other issues was a major contribution to the Columbia accident.

Does JimO himself care to comment on this?

By the way, the article said he is writing a new book on the national security uses of space. Should be interesting.

2003-Aug-11, 05:03 PM
I think most of us are in agreement that if NASA is to continue with manned space flight, that NASA needs to do a lot more of it. But NASA doesn't have anything now that can approach that flight rate, and NASA (or congress--pick your villain) is doing a fairly good job of insuring that it never gets anything that can approach that flight rate.

2003-Aug-11, 07:40 PM
I agree. I cringe when I hear the words "Shuttle" and "2030" in the same sentence. It needs to be replaced, NOW. Hopefully the OSP will turn it into the cargo ferry that it is. It will undoubtedly be replaced before 2020, hopefully by an SSTO.