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Politicians (!) pushing for ESA to join space race

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:38 pm
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Politicians (!) pushing for ESA to join space race 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:27 am
Concerning flight safety it's the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The technical rules given out are called JAR by I think an organization called JAA. I remember with awe when we had to design our first project on university after JAR-rules. It meant digging into tons of paper.

(About my comment politicians can stop flights, just look at the FAA denying some of the X Prize Cup contenders the flight permission).

EEA then has to be something else.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 04, 2008 8:58 am
Hello, Klaus,

regarding your hint to the FAA - that was what I said is not politicians stopping flights or the private industry.

The FAA is not the politicians. And they didn't try to stop flights. I agree that this is a very slight distinction at first glance but it is of meaning.

The task of the FAA is to ensure safety of third parties. There are objective criterions that are public accessable and known by which the< decide if a vehicle or a situation is safe or if it is not. They never intend to stop flights or an industry but simply want - justifiedly - that the vehicles and the private industry fit into safety. Like done in Germany regarding cars also.

To get the vehicles fitting into safety requires funds and the X Prize Cup contenders simply couldn't know what safety and FAA require from them before the first trial to develop a vehicle fitting into safety. This is experience simply by which it is found out which criterions have be fit in how much. They couldn't know the required funds really before having got this expereince. This simply has to do with infancy.

So the private Xprize Cup flights might stopped by too few funds merely or only. Since the contenders are all from the private industry they are free to look for and get funds since the politicians are forbidden by the constitution to hinder them.

So there is no struggle by the politicians to stop flights or the private industry. What's acting are requirements instead.

This is something quite different than what's happening when or if the Council of Minsters stops or cancels ESA's development of vehicles by denying budgets. In that case politics really are behind the denial since the ministers fail to agree on projects they might agree to give budgets for and since they fail because of diverging interests. They are the owners of ESA and can do so - they can't regarding privates because they don't own them.

The only way for politicians to stop privates would be to forbid privates or their vehicle via making a law against them - which again would hurt the constitution(s).

But when the FAA is doing something politics is over long ago - FAA simply is in charge to implement laws into reality.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:42 am
Right, but as you said, they make the law. One example: It is forbidden for US produced "products" (not only complete satellites but also small components) to fly on Chinese rockets. That's why the Chinese are out of the commercial business since about 2000.

So the politicians could decide: Ok, the risk of dying is significantly higher than on other kinds of transportation, so we need to forbid this.

(Of course it would positively spoken not good. As I often say: "It's time again for a small revolution")

Another example from a different kind of "business". Just yesterday there was again news that the EU considers a new office to filter Internet traffic. So never count on the rationalism of politicians ;)

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:50 am
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Right, but as you said, they make the law. One example: It is forbidden for US produced "products" (not only complete satellites but also small components) to fly on Chinese rockets. That's why the Chinese are out of the commercial business since about 2000.


And the US doesn't want anything exported, so even if they wanted, they couldn't. They're both paranoia, and i believe the Chinese can do a cheaper job and in the end better job then the US.

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Another example from a different kind of "business". Just yesterday there was again news that the EU considers a new office to filter Internet traffic. So never count on the rationalism of politicians ;)

Yeah, they kinda have to do something about it, but they're always doing the wrong thing to get to a particular solution. And off course, their actions won't solve anything else. Besides, they only care about themselves. You don't go into politics to change the world. You'd have to reform/restructure your whole government to do some good. But thats imho off course.


Back to ESA. If it's still a bureacratic driven entity which will have to answer to the EU/European parlament or whatever, it's no good. A better way would be that it would be run like a company in every sense but they would get the largest amount of money from the EU. Without intervention, this capital should be fixed for several years so ESA can do it's work and the politicians can't touch it.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:09 am
Hello, Stefan,

your point of ESA to have to answer to the EU or to the European Parliament is an important point from my point of view.

I can't remember not a single example where a german agency had to answer to any german parliament. The answers are all given by the ministers who indeed can be ordered into the parliaments by the representatives to answer questions.

What can happen only is that people from an agency can be ordered into a parliament to explain something and deliver a report if and when the ministers don't know the details.

But responsible is allways the minister and the minister only has to answer when the governmental budget is debated in the Deutsche Bundestag or any other parliament.

This is quite different to the US and the Congress where obviously NASA has to answer and report directly. In Germany NASA would be an agency the Federal Minister for Research and Technology would be responsible for. That Minister is responsible for other agencies too. He would tell the Federal Minister of Finance, the Chancellor and his colleagues how much baúdget he needs and detail it down to the agencies - including NASA.

During the debate in parliament only the minister and his colleagues would have to answer questions and the like and no NASA-official would be asked or so.

This is one additional point where ESA might be improved if it is reformed - there should be a responsible EU-commissioner who would be the only one to answer questions, telling minsiters and parliaments what budget(s) he needs and so on. Then ESA wouldn't have to answer to the EU or to the European Parliament since an EU-commissioner has to do that nonetheless.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:25 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
since I can't remember at present - what is the EEA? Is it the european pendant of the FAA?


It's an "EU light", with only one document governing the entire thing. The EU contries are members, along with the EFTA contries, apart from Switzerland.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:32 am
After having a look into more informations about the EEA I am pondering and thinking if the EEA can be applied orused. It seems to be more than a free trade region or area but not as politically organized and devloped as the EU is and the EFTA seems to be.

To make use of it to improve and reform ESA it seems to be erquired that the EU as well as the EFTA create and install their own space agencies and then form a joint agency together with Canada, Switzerland...

This joint agency then mustn't be another ESA where solidified "sub-"agencies" are member of but something independent where the minimum four agencies cooperate by without the ministers having a chance to control anything.

The independency might be compared to that of the ECB or the IWF perhaps.



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