Tag Archives: Pence

Pence reiterates Trump administration’s willingness to abandon SLS

Turf war! At today’s National Space Council meeting, vice-president Mike Pence reiterated the Trump administration’s willingness to replace SLS with commercial rockets, if that is what it will take to get Americans back to the Moon by 2024.

Pence said the schedule for completing SLS must be accelerated, but also opened the door to using rockets built by a commercial spaceflight company for the lunar mission. “We’re not committed to any one contractor. If our current contractors can’t meet this objective, then we’ll find ones that will,” he said. “And if commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be.”

It is very clear now that the Trump administration is beginning the political war necessary for shutting down the SLS boondoggle, something that cannot happen easily considering how its large workforce is scattered in so many states and congressional districts. To make it happen, they need to publicly illustrate its failure, repeatedly, but do so in a manner that does not overly antagonize SLS’s supporters. This is why both Pence and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine have been careful to express support for SLS, even as they hint at its replacement.

The battle is joined, however, and that could be a very good thing for the American space industry, in the coming years.

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Trump administration goes all in for LOP-G

The swamp wins! In a speech today Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that the Trump administration is giving its full endorsement to the construction of the Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), as well as SLS and Orion. These big boondoggles, which will trap us in lunar orbit while the Chinese set up lunar bases and take possession of the surface and its resources, are going forward, with both the president’s support as well as Congress’s.

Providing further evidence that the Trump administration has bought into these projects, in his introduction of Pence NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave a big public endorsement to the executive secretary of the National Space Council, Scott Pace, a man who has been a big supporter of these projects of the bureaucracy. Pace believes we need these projects, despite the fact that they have been under construction for two decades, have cost an ungodly amount, and have literally flown nowhere.

Pence also said that they intend to have the space force a reality by 2020, and also hinted that the Trump administration is making a careful review on the future of ISS.

Overall, the speech was a big endorsement for government space, in every way, with the private sector designed not to lead as free Americans following their personal dreams but to follow, servants of the desires of the government and its wishes.

If you want to listen to about 30 minutes of pro-government promotion, I expect it will be posted here at some point.

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Pablum from Pence on space

If you want to waste about about 25 minutes of your life, you can listen to the speech that Vice President Mike Pence gave today at the Kennedy Space Center here, beginning at the 49:30 minute mark.

My advice is that you don’t do it. Pence said nothing. He handed out a lot of empty promises and cliches, without any specifics or details of any kind. He confirmed for me what I have suspected of Pence for several years, that despite the fact that he lives and breathes a conservative and honorable personal life, as a politician he is a hack.

He made a big deal about the recreation of the National Space Council, which he now leads. However, as this article by Eric Berger properly noted the people who seem to be exerting the most influence on that council, on Trump, and on Pence are from the big space companies that have spent more than a decade and a half spending about $40 billion trying to build a big rocket (SLS) to fly a single unmanned test flight of the Orion capsule.

My pessimism here might be misplaced. We still do not know who will be on this space council. Furthermore, the Trump administration has been very good at doing a lot of public relations and soft stroking of its opponents in order to put them off guard prior to hitting them hard, where it hurts. This might be what Pence was doing here.

Nonetheless, the lack of any substance in Pence’s remarks makes me fear that he will be easily influenced by the big players who simply want the federal cash cow to continue sending them money, whether or not they ever build anything.

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