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Splitting NASA

Posted by: Andy Hill - Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:46 pm
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Splitting NASA 
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Post Splitting NASA   Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:46 pm
With the arguments currently going on about NASA diverting funds from their aeronautic work to the space programme might it be better to split it into 2 separate agencies, one to look after aeronautics and the other astronautics?

This would allow them to focus on their separte goals.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:55 pm
Why at all is NASA researching aeronautics? Isn't that done by the aeronautics companies and by universites and scientific institutes? May be it's the basis for their research of space technologies - but are they doing work for the aeronautics firms? Work financed by the tax-payers but done for private profits (costs socialized in connection with privatization of revenues)?



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:06 pm
They should cut in management functions. Regarding the threat somewhere here why a small company couldnt built the cev was because they have to make a lot of documentation which they lack the man power for. If they can lower those management functions, you should 'need' less and less reports.

Imo, NASA should be reorganised completely and partially make it a private company. The money spending won't change much and the real progress either.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:25 am
This moment the topic caused me to ask for the reasons why the US created NASA - if I am right the reasons were vision, pioneership and leadership.

Without NASA there never would have been the missions to the moon and so on. One additional reason may have been the task to get insights into the rocket technology developed in Germany in Peenemünde during the thirties and the first half of the fourties of the twentieth century.

At the time NASA was created aeronautics weren't that far proceeded as now. Jet propulsion of airplanes wasn't there or was still in its infancy because jet propulsion was part of the development of rockets. This may be one reason why NASA is working on aeronautics.

So there may be an anachronism involved that needs to be removed - NASA should look to aeronautics as far as required and useful for space vehicles and space missions only.

NASA has been created too because nobody else was doing what NASA's was and is. This has cahnged or is changing currently and it will go on to be changing.

Vision, pioneership and leadership should be left to NASA as far as these are not done by others - what is changing too but there will be always something left of it. NASA could be a moderator, coordinator - it could have tasks called "ordnungspolitisch" in German. Another analog could be the famous MITI - Ministry of International Trade and Industry if I am right - of Japan. MITI assisted the japanese privates and the japanese markets concerning the external markets and businesses but never reduced internal competition in Japan. NASA could be assisting concerning space without reducing competition in construction, production, development, sales etc.

So the split should be done - but one of the parts should be removed then.



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PS: Besides - one of the reasons of the existing NASA will be egoism of bureaucracy. It's tending to establish and to increase its own importancy and necessity. Will be an obstacle to the split (perhaps) if no way is found to re-canalize it...


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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 20, 2005 2:48 pm
I think that the aeronautics part of NASA could be pretty much replaced by industry as the technology has matured since NASA's conception. Also if companies like Boeing wish to compete in the world aerospace market then they should do so without having NASA foot the bill and provide all the facilities necessary.

I believe the european airbus consortium operates without having its own government agency, although it gets government financial help. In any case there is no reason to prop up any aerospace company now, let them all compete without government funding.
Government money will still be given to them to produce military aircraft but commercial aircraft should be developed at their own cost.

Space is not a mature technology and at the moment has no commercial income so requires government funding, this may change in the future if true competition is achieved but space exploration is to risky a business to attract high levels of investment and its difficult to see how investors would get a return on their money, especially on robotic missions.

Perhaps NASA should concentrate solely on space and leave aeronautics to private industry.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 20, 2005 3:12 pm
Agreed.

Regarding Airbus the situation is very complex. Airbus is part of EADS. But there are a lot of companies that are part of EADS only partially - the borders of EADS are going through single companies! I don't know if this is valid for Airbus too but it may be.

Next Airbus' shares are owned by several european countries - France and Germany mainly - and at least some shares may be owned by the governments. If so then the governments will own more than only a few percent. The full name of EADS is European Aeronautics Defense and Space - "Defense" gives a hint that the governments are involved, interested and have influence on the top management.

But there are a lot european countries involved in EADS most by small shares only but it may be of political meaning. This may cause reasonable autonomy of EADS and Airbus.

And it's NOT required that the governments fund EADS or Airbus by more than their shares - they buy equipment for military purposes from EADS.

Additionaly "Space" - as part of the name EADS - says that Arianespace is part of EADS too. So EADS is getting revenues from Ariane V and its former and future versions. "Space" menas too that companies are part of EADS that develop equipment, instruments and probes etc. for ESA.

So EADS will be funded by the markets by far and majorly as well as by normal shares - their customers are the governments, ESA, airlines and commercial space users. They are doing what NASA is doing but they do it as a huge private trust that doesn't depend on taxes.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:23 pm
No, NO, NO!!!!! NASA is the single BEST aeronautics research organization in the world, bar none. It has been since the days of being the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) back before the Space Race. Through NASA's research, we've developed every single military airplane that is in the US military inventory, and the lessons we've learned from those have contributed to the development of every last civilian air vehicle in existance. There is no sufficient substitute in any industry for government-funded university-supported research.

And just for future reference, back when the NACA was created, we didn't know there was such a thing as an upper atmosphere that trailed off into a vacuum, much less the minerology of the Moon or the existance and nature of things like the Van Allen Belts. As far a aerospace research goes, NASA is it, hands down.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 10:20 pm
They won't listen to you cowboy--NASA bashing has become the "in" thing to do.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 11:05 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
Through NASA's research, we've developed every single military airplane that is in the US military inventory,


Didn't the US Military buy Sea Harriers from the UK because they couldn't make their own?

EDIT: I wasn't bashing NASA, I think that they've achieved great things I just posed the question whether the aeronautics and astronautics parts might be better split to stop arguments over funding. I did not say that aerospace research should not be carried out by the part of NASA that does it now, just that big companies like Boeing could afford to do its own research on civil aircraft. Military aircraft research should of course be funded and carried out by governments.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:29 am
Hello, publiusr,

I agree to Andy Hill.

And please note that nearly always objective and logic arguments are used when NASA is "bashed". And there are facts proving Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and NASA to be wrong in a range of relevant aspects. Currently and today this is really fact. Back in the sixties and seventies it has been different because some technologies didn't exist that are known today. The inventions of Rutan, Ball and others could have been made by the others too but it seems they didn't have been interested - this they can be critized for heavyly and it can be suspected that the reason is power - market power as well as political power. They are barring developments and evolutions that shouldn't be barred: Access to space for the general public.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 22, 2005 12:18 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
spacecowboy wrote:
Through NASA's research, we've developed every single military airplane that is in the US military inventory,


Didn't the US Military buy Sea Harriers from the UK because they couldn't make their own?


Well.... I do believe I might have lied... I think BAe did develop the Harrier on its own....

Harrier Origins wrote:
There was still no official British government interest. However, the Americans continued their assistance, with a stream of Yanks dropping by to see the marvelous new jet take shape, and the US National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) performed flight tests with a 1/7th scale model and wind-tunnel tests on a 1/8th-scale model. Part of NASA's charter was to investigate advanced aircraft concepts, and if the P.1127 didn't fit that description, nothing did. The British industry's own Aircraft Research Association at Bedford also performed wind-tunnel tests on models.

Source for above quote

...Or maybe I didn't lie. 8)

Instead of fragmenting NASA -- let's face it, you need to know aeronautics in order to get to the place where astronautics is at all relevant -- why not remove from its shoulders the responsibility of human spaceflight? That would solve nearly all of the budgeting problems practically instantaneously.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 22, 2005 12:38 pm
Hello, spacecowboy,

to me it seems that at least you, Andy Hill and me myself are aiming at the same idea - NASA should have those tasks the Aldridge commision and their report says NASA should have.

What each of us says fits into that - the difference only is the direction from which we look to it.

To point to a concrete project NASA developed a solar powered unmanned airplane that can fly arround more than 40 hours. This seems to be a project Scaled Composites could have done too - and perhaps better or cheaper. I am missing the relation to astronautics, space and missions to planets. Airplanes for training astronauts are quite another thing and airplanes as a study for horizontal launching and landing space vehicles are space-related too.

I don't think that Andy Hill has in mind to fragment NASA - the split has to do with the direction of NASA's doing. This direction should be space only but not doing research for use by Boeing in development of passenger airplanes or military aircraft.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:29 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
Harrier Origins wrote:
There was still no official British government interest. However, the Americans continued their assistance, with a stream of Yanks dropping by to see the marvelous new jet take shape, and the US National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) performed flight tests with a 1/7th scale model and wind-tunnel tests on a 1/8th-scale model. Part of NASA's charter was to investigate advanced aircraft concepts, and if the P.1127 didn't fit that description, nothing did. The British industry's own Aircraft Research Association at Bedford also performed wind-tunnel tests on models.


OK so the US had the money to develop Harrier and the UK didn't, no change there then. It does not make it an aircraft developed by NASA, if they did some testing because they were interested in the concept and couldn't figure out how it work whats that got to do with anything? :)

spacecowboy wrote:
Instead of fragmenting NASA -- let's face it, you need to know aeronautics in order to get to the place where astronautics is at all relevant -- why not remove from its shoulders the responsibility of human spaceflight? That would solve nearly all of the budgeting problems practically instantaneously.


I repeat again: there is no need for NASA to spend money on commercial aircraft designs for the likes of Boeing, there is no reason to stop it working on military aircraft and it is right that they do that.

If removing human spaceflight from its responsibility would solve the budget problems then that should be done. It would make the new agency focus on the welfare of their astronauts a lot more, if there was an accident then the new agency would be out of business whereas NASA, as is, have a lot of other things it can do.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 25, 2005 12:50 pm
The fact remains, Andy, that NASA has the best researchers and the best test facilities anywhere in the world. Here is the largest test facility -- click on the one that says 80x120. NASA did the testing on the Harrier not because they couldn't fathom the depths of the British engineers' design, but because NASA is the only place in the world for the proper testing to be done.

Oh, and NASA doesn't spend money on commercial designs -- commercial ventures pay for the time they spend using NASA resources and facilities. Always have, always will.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 25, 2005 1:29 pm
Alright - I can offer a clarification:

1. Tests by private companies or foreign companies by spending NASA resources and facilities and payed by the companies aren't really done by NASA itself but they are bought by those companies.

The payments mean that the doing and the results are owned by the privates and NASA didn't it of its own.

2. NASA is the only place to do proper testing of the Harrier - but this doesn't mean that the skills of the british engineers are less than those of NASA's engineers. The situation does have to do nothing with NASA as a governmental agency but with NASA as the owner of ressources and facilities.

3. Regardless of NASA having the best researchers and test facilities they never should use them to do work, test and so on for Boeing etc. of their own and/or without being paid - and they really are payed for it as you say. As long as there is noone who pays for using the ressources NASA shouldn't work on aeronautics - except those required fro NASA's work on its space technologies and missions and only on those that cannot be bought from the private companies.

These three points mean an answer to a question noone is asking because the answer seems to be selfunderstanding: Who or what is NASA really? Is NASA their places for testing etc.? Is NASA the ressources they have? Is NASA the engineers employed there? ... NASA really is none of this - NASA simply is an organization that has got tasks from the government - nothing else, nothing more. To do these tasks they not necessaryly need to own facilities, not necessaryly need to employ scientists or other people, don't need places and so on - they could lease it, the could buy private services and so on but they don't need to own it.

So what seems to be put in question are the tasks NASA has got from the government.

There is a special economic criterion that should be applied. It's Ricardo's Theorem. This theorem says that someone should do only that what he himself can do cheapest compared to some others. Instead of cheapest it would be possible to say "best" in the snse of "optimal". He may be able to do other things better than all of the others but these other things mostly by far will not be the thing he can do best. Concerning NASA this means even if NASA could do aeronautics better than Boeing etc. or Rutan too - even then they shouldn't do aeronautics because among all the tasks they really can do the task of space missions and projects is the best they can do.

This too puts in question the tasks NASA has got from the government.

This is an offer only - economic criterion(s). The budget problems may be one reason to apply it and at the board there are posts providing additional reasons. Andy hill provides such reasons too. But this criterion can be replaced by another perhaps.

What about it?



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