Newt Gingrich Calls Space Launch System “Disgraceful” Pork

Newt Gingrich Calls Space Launch System “Disgraceful” Pork

October 21, 2011 Blog, Opinion, Our Policy Voice

Dallas, TX — Oct. 21, 2010 — Responding to a question about the Congressionally-mandated Space Launch System, Presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, “I think it is disgraceful the way getting into space has been turned into a political pork-barrel. It’s an abuse of the taxpayer and an abuse of America’s future.” Gingrich’s comments were made at a Town Hall meeting in Dallas held yesterday.

Speaker Gingrich lamented the unwillingness of Congress to allow American companies to provide commercial access to the International Space Station.

“This is a country which led the way into space by cutting through the red tape, doing what made sense and getting it done,” Gingrich said. “It is a tragedy that between bureaucrats and politicians we have reduced NASA to the point where we are relying on Russian rockets to get to the space station.”

Asked whether it was time for the US to privatize human spaceflight, as unmanned satellite launches were privatized in the Reagan Administration, Gingrich replied, “Absolutely.”

Gingrich would not stop with privatizing launches to Earth orbit. “I would call for a total replacement of the current structure of NASA with a brand new system that is aggressively designed to challenge free enterprise. I did a two-day workshop in 1999 with the National Academy of Engineering on the use of prizes. If you had taken 5 or 10 percent of the NASA budget in the last decade and put it into a prize for the first people to get to the Moon permanently, you’d have 20 or 30 folks out there getting to the Moon, we’d already be on the Moon, and the energy level would be unbelievable.”

Bob Werb, chairman of the Space Frontier Foundation, called Gingrich’s comments, “Exciting. A rare example of common sense, seldom heard from politicians in recent years.”

“The Space Frontier Foundation is a nonpartisan organization that does not support or endorse any political candidate,” Werb said. “Nevertheless, we are gratified to hear Speaker Gingrich bring his years of experience and obvious intellect to the discussion of space policy. Unfortunately, most recent discussions of space policy, by politicians from both parties, have shown a complete lack of seriousness. Fiscal responsibility and a strong space program can go hand in hand, if we leverage the genius of the private sector. We hope that Republicans and Democrats alike will take note of the Speaker’s remarks, put pork-barrel politics aside, and support the changes America needs to make to ensure its continued leadership in space.

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*Transcript of the Q&A*

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Question from audience: Congress is forcing NASA to build an unnecessary rocket that will increase the cost of access to space. The Space Launch System is the largest single earmark in US history. President Reagan privatized unmanned satellite launches. Isn’t it time we do the same for human spaceflight?

Former Speaker Gingrich: Absolutely. I think it is disgraceful the way getting into space has been turned into a political pork-barrel. It’s an abuse of the taxpayer and an abuse of America’s future. This is a country which led the way into space by cutting through the red tape, doing what made sense and getting it done. I would call for a total replacement of the current structure of NASA with a brand new system that is aggressively designed to challenge free enterprise. I did a two-day workshop in 1999 with the National Academy of Engineering on the use of prizes. If you had taken 5 or 10 percent of the NASA budget in the last decade and put it into a prize for the first people to get to the Moon permanently, you’d have 20 or 30 folks out there getting to the Moon, we’d already be on the Moon, and the energy level would be unbelievable. What we have done, it is a tragedy that between bureaucrats and politicians we have reduced NASA to the point where we are relying on Russian rockets to get to the space station after a generation of total American leadership.

5 Comments

  • spacecraft says:

    .
    the $L$ is too big and expensive and its first test launch will be greatly delayed (to 2020 or later) by the bad idea to use two never flown, expensive and non yet man-rated boosters like the SRB-5 or the one that should come out from the, 8-11 years long and very expensive, "Booster Competition For New NASA Heavy Lifter"
    .
    read more here: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_chan
    .
    the Cygnus is a (unknown reliability) expendable cargo-only vehicle that will carry only 2.5 tons of payload (the same of a Progress) at a price of $195M per mission (that's three times the price of a Progress)
    .
    the Dragon is another (unknown reliability) expendable cargo-only vehicle that will carry only 3 tons of payload (a bit more than Progress) at a price of $133M per mission (that's twice the price of a Progress) and its only advantage is that a Dragon can work also as a cargo-return with a max payload of 3 tons
    .
    the Atlas V with a crewed CST-100 (very probably) hides a BIG BUG that should KILL the entire project
    .
    Blue Origin has 1/10th of the funds and engineers of SpaceX (that has needed 8 years to reach today's goals) so, it may probably need over a decade to trasform its "flying boiler" to something of useful and reliable like the american Redstone or the german V2
    .
    the DREAMchaser is only the mockup of a 20-years-old, badly designed and ugly HL-20 "spaceplane" that probably will never fly, not even for a $300M test, and that lacks a LAS
    .
    so, NASA is quickly going towards its END http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts2/075endofnasa.html!
    .

  • spacecraft says:

    .
    the $L$ is too big and expensive and its first test launch will be greatly delayed (to 2020 or later) by the bad idea to use two never flown, expensive and non yet man-rated boosters like the SRB-5 or the one that should come out from the, 8-11 years long and very expensive, "Booster Competition For New NASA Heavy Lifter"
    .
    read more here: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_chan
    .
    the Cygnus is a (unknown reliability) expendable cargo-only vehicle that will carry only 2.5 tons of payload (the same of a Progress) at a price of $195M per mission (that's three times the price of a Progress)
    .
    the Dragon is another (unknown reliability) expendable cargo-only vehicle that will carry only 3 tons of payload (a bit more than Progress) at a price of $133M per mission (that's twice the price of a Progress) and its only advantage is that a Dragon can work also as a cargo-return with a max payload of 3 tons
    .
    the Atlas V with a crewed CST-100 (very probably) hides a BIG BUG that should KILL the entire project
    .
    Blue Origin has 1/10th of the funds and engineers of SpaceX (that has needed 8 years to reach today's goals) so, it may probably need over a decade to trasform its "flying boiler" to something of useful and reliable like the american Redstone or the german V2
    .
    the DREAMchaser is only the mockup of a 20-years-old, badly designed and ugly HL-20 "spaceplane" that probably will never fly, not even for a $300M test, and that lacks a LAS
    .
    so, NASA is quickly going towards its END http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts2/075endofnasa.html
    .

  • Keith says:

    Gingrich's rhetoric sounds great, at first glance. However, as Elon Musk has found out, actually getting safely to space (much less returning) is a very complicated and risky venture, much less going to the moon and establishing a permanent presence there. A lot of seemingly unneeded NASA requirements and procedures to launch are based on long-term experiences with launching and the old adage "if it can go wrong it probably will". NASA does have waste built into it, for sure, but taxpayers actually get a lot for the money spent, considering the constraints they are under as a politicized government agency.

    • Ameriman says:

      Keith
      'taxpayers get a lot from the money spent (by NASA)' ….. LOL…. What BS is that?
      Nasa has wasted 40 years and $500 billion in taxpayer$s without getting a single American out of Low Earth Orbit…
      A dead-end boondoggle Space Shuttle which cost over $1.5 billion per launch, a useless Space Station which even NASA knows needs to be dumped in the ocean, and a failed/canceled Constellation boondoggle..

      Big Govt NASA is another bloated, top-heavy Federal Agency dedicated not to space, but to propagating/expanding it's budget, providing Congressional pork, and routing $billions to it's 'big space' legacy corporate partners..

  • Royce says:

    NASA spends about $16 billion annually on not getting into space. If the "New Space" companies had just 10% of that for three years the cost of getting into space would drop dramatically. You can support space development or you can support pork, you can't have both.