www.spaceisle.com

Help Us Open the Solar System Frontier!
Space Frontier Foundation logo
Advancing NewSpace
FOUNDATION HOMEPAGE
Share your views on Space with your elected representatives! Enter your zip and click above to get info and links to your state and local members of Congress.
FOUNDATION PROJECTS
Return to the Moon
Teachers in Space
SpaceContest
NewSpace Economic Development
Space Settlement
The Cosmos Review
Permission to Dream
The Watch
Mars
Previous Projects
EVENTS
Events Homepage
Additional Events
RESOURCES
Space Store
NewSpace News
Subscribe to Updates
Space Companies
Advocates
Bulletin Boards
Affiliates
Web Links
You can listen to Foundation Advocate Dr. David Livingston's radio show
The Space Show
by clicking above.
Opinion Editorial
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Rick's Handy Dandy Guide to Space

By Rick Tumlinson, for Space News, May 9, 2005 – Although a bit more sophisticated in the ways of space than the anti-hero of “A Hitchhiker's Guide…,” the galaxy into which our mild mannered new NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has been thrown is every bit as bizarre, insane and confusing.

Seemingly sane administrators past have found themselves at a loss when confronted by the enormity of the challenge, often unable to even grasp what was going on around them. One famous example of this was Dan Goldin, who wandered the halls of NASA mumbling “faster, better, cheaper” even as the space station he had been tasked to build crept from its 1992 completion date and an original budget of $8 billion to infinity and something far north of $80 billion.

His successor, Sean O'Keefe, who some (not I of course) called a bean counting bureaucrat bereft of any expertise in the ways of space, at least tried to listen to others, having been told by the Big Boss in the White House to go to the Moon and Mars.

Unfortunately, his solution was to put together 13 roadmap committees comprised of hundreds of members to chart a course for him. Even two people trying to read a roadmap – let alone give someone else directions – more often than not results in running out of gas, becoming lost or getting into a car wreck. One can only imagine how much of our national wealth we would have expended, how many millennia it would have taken, and which part of Jupiter we might have ended up on, had this exercise continued.

And now we have Mr. Griffin. An engineer with space, military, academic and private sector credentials, obviously far over qualified for the job, and yet not quite smart enough to have acted as if he didn't hear the question when he was asked to take over the U.S. space agency.

As he swept into what I call “the Space Palace” with his loyal and entrusted team, Mr. (“Call me Mike”) Griffin began a task that has driven many over the edge and out of the airlock – changing NASA into a lean mean exploration machine.

Tossing the roadmaps, and grabbing the tiller, Mr. Mike and his “G Men” are now running headlong into the key and overarching philosophical split that defines the space community and yes, dare I say it, the paradigm shift that is underway in our field. (Sorry, but if ever there was one, this is it).

To help our able hero on his quest, I humbly offer the first of several thoughts from Rick's Handy Dandy Guide to Space, so that even though he may get lost amongst the cubicles, he will at least understand what and who he is dealing with in this incestuous and fascinating part of the galaxy we call the space community.

To begin, I offer the first part of my own completely biased view of the “Who?”

At the top level of this taxonomy are two types of personalities one is likely to encounter in our field. First come a lot of very nice people who are all about “Doing” space. They are simply thrilled to death to be a part of this great adventure, hang around (or become) space heroes, work on space projects etc. More than just fans, often times their lives are dedicated to being a part of this great “space thang.” Let's call them “Space Doodlers” (“SDs”). Doodlers believe that space flight is impossible without acronyms.

SDs range from academics to even some astronauts, and some of them (especially the ones with badges, which are very important to have and prove you are a registered SD) are making a living at it and are allowed to hang around government buildings.

In fact, gatherings of doodlers often form themselves into things called centers and programs, led by tribal heads known as “Managers” enabled by a special type of SD called a “Contractor,” who works for an “Aerospace Corporation,” which is something like a real commercial company, but not really.

Although working for the center or program, the contractor is often related to it, designed it or was paid a lot of money to consult with the manager who “baselined the mission requirements that drove the program development.” Since until recently there was no real mission and the “program” in question rarely gets developed to the point of being finished, no one knows what this actually means, but it sounds really neat – especially to other wearers of badges.

On the other hand we have the “New Space Pioneers.” This group has the hubris to believe this whole thing is about opening space, rather than “doing” it. Often they are a bit gruff, impatient, wheeling and dealing, with a demanding “get it done” and “show me results” attitude. They eschew such well worn space skill sets as Viewgraph 101 (now PowerPoint 101), meeting management, business golfing and progress report making – in favor of building stuff (occasionally blowing up stuff) and making things happen.

They are prone to exaggeration at times, and can smell an open checkbook from many kilometers away. They engage in “space swarming” behavior when in the presence of “potential investors” (this being someone who is known to have picked up the lunch tab at least once) and representatives of the media.

New Space Pioneers come in two subsets, Free Range New Space Pioneers, who wander around outside of the traditional space community (often called “entrepreneurs” or “hungry”) and Employed New Space Pioneers, who, although full of spirit and drive, are trapped in centers, programs or corporations, and while envious of their Free Range kin, prefer to eat regularly until the chance comes to fly, fly like a bird.

Often frustrated and angry, not only are they disruptive in what would otherwise be a leisurely schedule of meetings, presentations and lunches thrown by their doodler managers, like the best of the New Space Entrepreneurs, they have the nerve to think that a Real Rocket going to a Real Place is more fun than really cool pictures of a Real Rocket going to a Real Place.

So, given that the new goal sent down by the Boss's Boss is to actually get out there and go to those real places, the doodlers are about to find life getting a bit rough. Until now, our space program has been guided by the concept of “here comes the boss – look busy” with no concept of the what and why of what they are looking busy doing, or exactly when the busyness should result in a product.

It must be very disconcerting to them in briefings to have a boss who actually asks questions about what they are doing that make sense. Worse, I am sure, some of them are near meltdown at the prospect of actually having to finish a project successfully – and God forbid – on a budget!

With any luck, and just a little common sense, Mr. Mike just might be able to help some of those who have become doodlers over the years find their “inner Pioneer.” He will probably even find that many, from managers to contractors, have been ready and waiting for a captain who knows what he is doing, and has the necessary internal plumbing to do it.

With the New Space Pioneers out there ready and willing to join him as equal partners, America might at last have the right team and the right leader to take our first steps into the galaxy – this time to stay.

As for the rest, well, there is always the airlock.


Rick Tumlinson is the Founder of the Space Frontier Foundation.


The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

ABOUT THE FOUNDATION
Accomplishments
Who We Are
Leaders
Advisors
Policies
Action Reports
International
History
Annual Awards
NEWS & MEDIA
Press Releases
Op-Eds & Letters
Presentations, Speeches & White Papers
Political Reference
In the News
Other Voices
CONTACT US
Send Us Your Comments
Join the Fight!

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=spacefrontier-20&creative=9325&path=ASIN/189652267X/qid=1119587815/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1
The High Frontier is Gerard K. O'Neill's masterpiece. This new 3rd Edition Includes an introduction by Freeman Dyson.
Click above to order The High Frontier from Amazon.com.

The Frontier Enabling Test
Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

For more information call 800-78-SPACE (800-787-7223)
or
send us your comments

Foundation Logo

Banner artwork by Mark Maxwell
Webmaster: Peter Thorpe
pthorpe@space-frontier.org

Copyright © 1996 - 2008 Space Frontier Foundation. All rights reserved.
All work contained herein is protected by United States copyright/ intellectual property law.