Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


GAO predicts more delays and cost increases in NASA’s big projects

The Government Accountability Office is predicting more delays and cost increases for most of NASA’s big projects in its tenth annual report.

The cost and schedule performance” of NASA’s major projects “has deteriorated, but the extent of cost deterioration is unknown” because NASA does not have a cost estimate for Orion. Orion is “one of the largest projects in the portfolio” and NASA “expects cost growth.”

As for schedule, “the average launch delay for the portfolio was 12 months, the highest delay GAO has reported in its 10 years” of making these assessments. GAO said the 12-month average delay is up from 7 months in last year’s assessment.

Further, NASA faces the risk of more cost and schedule growth because of “new, large, complex projects that will enter the portfolio and expensive projects remaining the portfolio longer than expected.” Europa Clipper, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and Europa Lander are cited as examples of those future large, complex projects. GAO did give NASA credit for putting processes in place to control the costs of Europa Clipper and WFIRST.

GAO identified nine existing projects as the biggest contributors to the poor cost and schedule performance: SLS, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS), the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) cited in the 2017 report, Mars 2020, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), ICESat-2, NISAR, ICON, and GRACE-FO (GRACE-Follow On).

Orion has cost already cost the taxpayer about $15 billion, all of which will only buy the taxpayer three capsules (two unmanned test flights and a single manned flight). And yet they don’t have enough money yet, and NASA can’t provide a total cost estimate? To me, this appears to be outright theft. Building three capsules simply shouldn’t cost that much. (Note: the report claims Orion has cost about $6.6 billion. My number above comes from actual appropriations by Congress specifically for Orion. I think my number is a far more accurate reflection of the project’s true cost.)

Though the report expresses concerns about schedule delays in the commercial crew program, it is with the NASA-run projects that the report finds the worst cost overruns and delays. All of the usual suspects above come in for criticism: Webb, WFIRST, SLS (and its associated ground facilities), Orion, LOP-G.

I will make a prediction: All these NASA projects will be cited for further cost overruns and further delays in next year’s GAO report. By that time, we shall have also seen the first test flights of the commercial crew capsules by Boeing and SpaceX.

Readers!
 

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3 comments

  • Localfluff

    Orion makes no sense, should be canceled. SLS has come so far so it will probably fly to save face. If it were put to good use as an uncrewed launcher it could be worth its price. Like Mars sample return, Skylab sized space station segments to replace the ISS, astronaut shelter and equipment to the Moon’s surface, an Europa probe, an 8 meter telescope mirror.

  • wodun

    I suspect we will see some major changes to the LOP-G concept. NASA just did an RFP for Earth to Lunar surface payload services. This seems to be about rovers but direct flights points to the possibility of similar trips for humans, meaning the LOP-G is bypassed.

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2018/04/commercial-luna-1.html

  • Edward

    Localfluff wrote: “Orion makes no sense, should be canceled. SLS has come so far so it will probably fly to save face.

    Likewise, it could be that Orion also flies just to save face. SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) and Blue Origin’s New Armstrong are likely to make SLS obsolete, and at the rate its schedule is slipping, SLS may not launch before the BFR.

    It is too bad that Congress has NASA spending so much money working on expensive hardware that have no mission. It would have been so much better for them to set a mission so that NASA could design the hardware to match. Instead we have hardware in search of a mission — or even a single useful task. The money misspent on these projects could have gone toward more innovative projects.

    The Europa probe could be launched on other existing rockets, meaning that using SLS is not a particularly useful task for that rocket. Thus, the Europa project is only another excuse for continuing the wasteful expenditure on SLS, and if we amortize the SLS development cost (relative to the planned EM-1 non-productive manned flight) into the cost of the Europa project, that would make it the most expensive probe we have ever built or will build for decades to come.

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