jump to navigation

Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Haym Benaroya, & DrSpace, Monday, 4-9-12 April 9, 2012

Posted by The Space Show in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Haym Benaroya, & DrSpace, Monday, 4-9-12


Guests:  Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Haym Benaroya.  Topics:  Space policy ideas as presented in our Op-Ed & Open Letter which you can read on The Space Show blog.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed back Drs. Jurist and Benaroya to discuss our two articles to be published regarding U.S. space policy.  You can read the drafts of these two articles on The Space Show blog per the URL above for this particular program and date.  We are asking for your constructive feedback, comments, and questions as our intention is to refine both letters and submit them for publication.  All comments and feedback are welcome but the most useful feedback will offer suggestions for how to make our letters more effective in fostering space policy that supports economic, STEM, and space program growth on the civil side as well as on the private, entrepreneurial, & commercial side.  In addition, The Space Show suggests that listeners write their own 1,000 word Op-Ed and submit it to The Space Show.  I will put it up on the blog, plus offer you time on The Space Show to articulate your perspective and views. We know that some of you will disagree with what we have said and we do want your contribution to the discussion as you will hear during this program.  So do join in on the overall space policy debate.  Don’t just sit on the sidelines, get your ideas out there to advance the discussion.  During our discussion which was 90 minutes without a break, the three of us explained why we decided to write and publish our thoughts on space policy and our future in space, plus we went into some detail as to the content of leach letter.  We fielded several listener questions which offered suggestions as well as critiques of both our approach and our content.  Several of the listener comments offered no suggestions for making the letters more effective, opting instead to tell us where we were going wrong.  Please post your comments, suggestions, and feedback on the blog.  Any emails sent directly to me regarding our letters and this discussion will be posted on the blog in your name without any editing on my part.  If you want to send an email to Dr. Jurist or Dr. Benaroya, please send it to me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will gladly forward it for you.

1.  9 April 2012 – Open Letter to Our Government

2.  9 April 2012 – The United States at the Crossroads


1. Patrick Ritchie - May 2, 2012

On the open letter to government

Have you considered going after a specific senator or congressman as opposed to making this a broad letter? Or perhaps even a candidate who would be willing to make these ideas part of their campaign?

I would also try and make the message much more positive. Focus on how space makes things better, not how bad things are now (they know). Use specific examples, make it real. How specifically does space grow our economy in the short, medium and long term?

On the United States at the Crossroads

I like the tone of this one much more. But I’m already a believer, I think feedback form outside the space community would be much more valuable.

2. Alistair - April 11, 2012

Intersting discussion and comments. I’ve not listened to the full show yet (just caught the back end). Take the comments below with that caveat… I need to figure out the role planned for each document (by listening to the full show).
As for the documents, Kelly has some valid criticism. It does sound a bit in your face, which is admitted up front in the open letter. I’d be careful about using words like, “you” and “your”; they immediately put the reader on the defensive, causing them to lose focus on the message.
For some specifics, perhaps we should include something that talks to the fact that the space economy worldwide continues to grow (~10-12% annual), despite the economic problems.
Another approach is to read this letter outloud to someone or a group (e.g a class, PTA meeting, city council or Toast Masters). I find that you can trip over words, or definitely miscommunicate when the communication is one way (e.g. email/comments/letters), vice face-to-face. Face-to-face communication allows for body-language to be read, and for immediate clarifications/corrections/questions that can help guide the discussion (or get it off track) and result in a better document.
In a prior job, my office had to review documents going to a 4-star General. Jargon was usually the first tripping point (e.g. do people know what Cislunar space is?) Our rule of thumb was, if your mother wouldn’t understand it, then you may need to re-write it. We’d also ask the document authors to explain it to us; 90% of the time they were more eloquent in person than they were on paper… we’d tell them to write down what they just explained to us.
In general, I would trying to shorten up these documents. I think 2 pages max should be the goal. I think a general outline could be like this (you hit many of these, just needs to be a bit more structured/focused):
1. There is a problem (loss of leadership, increased foreign competition, etc. — keep it high level at this point)
2. The gov’t can be a part of the solution if leaders choose to do so. ‘If they don’t act now, we may never be able to lead again.’
3. Why is space good — benefits to whole economy (specific historical examples, emerging fields), continued growth in space economy, inspiration, STEM –> economic growth, –> world leadership
4. What the gov’t needs to do — clear direction for NASA, regulation reform and possible laws (e.g. ITAR, zero tax for space, etc.), funding stability, less partisanship and pork (and how it impacts space)
5. Wrap it up – appeal to their legacy, patriotism, long term impacts. Set some expectations (it needs to let the reader infer (but try not to overtly imply) that future generations will look poorly upon the decision makers… (i.e. ‘what the heck were they thinking… it’s so obvious they should have done more to support space’).
The open letter should appeal to the average American. As we all know, space advocates must justify space spending to those who think funding should be spent on Earth (which we know they are). Hyping deep space probes and cool pictures doesn’t translate for most Americans (who make think the pictures are cool, but when it comes down to it, space is out-of-sight-out-of-mind). Emphasis on how they use space day-to-day is critical (which is hit on by the second document). This is the real rub… how to state it eloquently and yet succinctly so that the average Joe has a take away of, “wow, space is really important; next time someone poo-poo’s space, I’ll be able to say, ‘hey, space is important to our economy.'”
But how to say that?

3. quantumg - April 10, 2012

An open letter to government: please stop doing everything you’re doing and just let me live my life in peace. kthxbye.

4. The Space Show - April 9, 2012

Joe and everyone else: Give serious thought to writing your own op-ed and let’s put it up on this blog for everyone to see. About 1,000 words or so. As I said to Kelly, I will offer you and others the opportunity to present your Op-Ed on a Space Show program. How about it? Join the discussion, be positive, make your own contribution as you see it. Join the front lines with us.


5. Joe - April 9, 2012

I like cutting to the chase.

I am sorry to say the letters sound like ranting loud and clear from people struggling with communicating their concerns to powerful people that are truly not interested in agreeing or disagreeing with you with their upcoming votes in Congress.

No offense.

They are going to kick NASA’s can down the road, so to speak until after the election and possibly longer. You will likely receive an appreciative “Talk to the hand” response. They are in election mode, not pro Space mode. We are currently experiencing the Apollo Off Steroids phenomenon.

I propose you try to reach out to large groups of everyday people much like what “Kony 2012” is succeeding at. You solicit donations after showing millions YouTube viewers a viral video that illuminates the current space travesty and the main people responsible for it. Their only goal is to simply make bad guys famous. If enough people know who the bad guy is, the more likely politicians will sit up and take note, especially during this election year.

This completely bypasses the “Talk to the hand” response. It is quite ingenious and worth following during this election year. The only things that count are votes. Turn the pyramid of the controlling authority hierarchy upside down. Get lots of people involved. To take effect, it will take millions of dollars and hundreds of like-minded people working long hours to simply recruit more like-minded people. You start with a good idea and slowly grow interest internally and then externally to induce the required virility to sustain itself.

Time is running out to take the right action. Any action simply will not do.

6. Kelly Starks - April 9, 2012

> .. Kelly, obviously you listened to the program..

Nope, missed it. I just responded to the text in the two docs.

>..Write your own Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor and articulate
> your own ideas and thoughts for the vision of America’s future
> and our space program…

Hum.. ok if I get a little time.

7. Kelly Starks - April 9, 2012

The United States at the Crossroads

>.. One critical trend has largely escaped much notice – the degradation in our
> space-related technological capabilities. We believe it deserves more attention. ..

>.. A society that was vibrant, optimistic, positive, and energetic has evolved within
> half a century into a stressed, dark, pessimistic, cynical entity that looks to government
> to solve all problems by ever-increasing regulation and management of our daily lives. ..

A little vague, but a MUCH better start.

>..The public is largely disinterested in space development other than mild interest
> provoked by pretty pictures obtained by space probes ..

Excellent, your starting admitting a lack of public support is a key – if not the key, issue.

>.. Yet, the public is mostly unaware of how intertwined space technology is with
> our economy, our society, and our daily lives. ..

Great angle to take — but you undercut it by mentioning comsats, weather sats and earth recon, and GPS. None of which were part of the space program – so why increase any funding for space if all the good stuff came from unrelated programs?

>.. Improved physiological and medical monitoring, telecommunications, cell phones,
> and cheap computer technology available to the average citizen. ..

This is actually pretty much a myth.

>== serves the nation in two additional ways by providing:
> 1. continuity of expertise in the most complex technologies and sciences,
> assuring that hard-earned knowledge of past decades is passed on between
> generations; and

Very vague.

> 2. jobs to those who are interested and able to pursue the frontiers of such professions.

This sounds like pork to districts.

>..Federal spending on space technology should be stabilized at its current level. ..

That was what they were planing to do anyway. You could just say you support their decision to do this – and drop all the rest.

>.. Space endeavors are highly-skilled and complex activities. Repeatedly gearing
> up and then downsizing and delaying development is not only horribly wasteful
> of the public dollar but is also terribly damaging to the people involved in these industries. ..

Common to all science and engineering programs the gov funds. What makes you more then another mouth at the troth?

>..The goals of NASA must be set to improve development in a stepwise fashion ..

What goals? What are you advocating NASA do?

> Regulations to prevent dual-use technologies from being distributed internationally
> (ITAR) must be improved.

Generally agreed to – but the way you phrase it, its not obvious if you want more, or less prevention of dual-use technologies being distributed.

>..Create a congressionally authorized and funded agency roughly analogous to the
> Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Science Foundation, or the
> National Institutes of Health to set space policy, set short and long term goals,
> streamline the regulatory processes, coordinate the military and civilian needs
> for space technology, and the like.

Seems like the core of the paper – but vague. I’m not sure what exactly your suggesting.

Past that, NASA is staggeringly huge compared to any agency handled by commissions like NRC, NSF, or NIH, and those commissions have clear goals. So using that model for NASA is politically a hard sell, and its not clear how it could work.

> Change NASA from an operational space agency into a space development organization.

How would that differ? What would be the advantages?

Dr. John M. Jurist - April 10, 2012

You obviously have some strongly held views that are different from ours and may have some validity. Write them up and subject them to public debate and criticism. Lack of time is not an excuse since you have spent considerable time and energy critiquing our efforts line by line. David has expressed his willingness to give you a forum.

8. The Space Show - April 9, 2012

Kelly, obviously you listened to the program. Too bad you did not call in as we would have liked hearing from you and discussing your points. Here is my offer to you and others that may comment on the blog on this show:

Write your own Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor and articulate your own ideas and thoughts for the vision of America’s future and our space program. I will publish it on this blog. I will offer you and others that do this time on a Space Show program to articulate your vision to the Space Show audience. If many of you accept this offer and the number goes beyond one full Space Show program, I will add in another Space Show program to accommodate everyone as getting the word out is important. So Kelly and all of the rest of you, do write your own thoughts down in format of an Op-Ed or a Letter to the Editor and let’s put it up on this blog and hear from you on a Space Show program telling us about your vision and ideas.


(DrSpace of The Space Show)

9. Kelly Starks - April 9, 2012

Looking over the open letter:

You tend to state as fact some common space advocate assuptions, that a non-space advocate would simply roll their eyes at:

> During the 1960s and early 70s, the U.S. space program had
> a dramatic and positive impact on all sectors of our economy.

Such as? What is your proff that the space program was the only, or significant part of, the reason?

> Why do you ignore the lessons of history and turn your back on a proven path
> that can lead us into a future of expanding economy and growing opportunities
> for Americans and others around the world? Why do you consistently make policies
> that take us away from economic expansion and opportunity? …
> Why do you ignore the obvious?

Strident and insulting (which would put of anyone regardless of what you say) and your point is unsupported and dubious. I.E. how is the space program going to lead us to prosperity? How does it provide economic opportunities beyond the traditional pork in districts? You take these as givens, then insult those not following you.

At this point I’d think most congressional aids would mark a que counting pro space letters of the week and pitch the rest.

> We are keenly aware that there are competing visions for America’s future. We also
> know that these competing visions are not all equally valid. ..

I.E. “I’m brighter then all those other folks do what I say!”

Guys I’m a big space advocate and spent most of my career trying to build it, and your turning me off!


You later actually make some good points
>..We know from objective study and the personal experience of history that the
> Apollo era drew tens of thousands of young Americans into schools to study
> engineering, science and mathematics. ..

List the objective studies, but otherwise a solid point. Though Obama would say space doesn’t inspire anymore – Green energy, or community activism, computers, biotech, or whatever does.

And arguably just because Apollo excited is no reason to assume VSE or going to Mars would now. They simply arn’t the challenge or accomplishment Apollo was.

>..But to continue to do this, we need economic policies that support growth. All
> Americans (including you) need to understand that the payoff for having both a
> robust civil space program and a robust private sector space industry enhances
> our future for generations to come. ..

You sate no evidence or really any logic to support any of that.

>..Unfortunately, because of your spending habits, our choices are becoming
> severely limited due to servicing our uncontrollably expanding debt. ..

Again you directly attack the reader your trying to convince to support you.

>..But we also know that there is a significant difference between an expense
> and an investment in our future. ..

Almost a exact quote from Obama and others pushing for their pet pork projects.

>.. Few understand how space medicine advances have improved medicine for us right here on Earth. ..

Well you better explain it, since they are by now, not only not going to take your word for it, they are looking for any way to pull your argument apart and put you down.

>..Yet we have only scratched the surface of what space can do for us. ..

As they say in creative writing, Show, don’t tell.

>..We do believe in responsible oversight of the taxpayer’s money, but not by you. ..
>..Track records and accountability do stand for something, even in government. …

Are you trying to get NASA gutted?!

>..We need to get as much pork out of current space policy as possible. ..

Not, the general agreement is that only the pork gets public support, and COTS and CCDev are top of the Senate and House lists for nothing but crony politics pork.

>..Many other writers and space policy experts, scientists, and engineers have
> articulated the benefits that would flow from various space programs and missions:
> Humans to Mars, for example, launchers to establish a true space transportation
> system, the economic development of Cislunar space, and more.

You’ve listed no general benefits here – just listed benefits to your cause. No one has ever stated a credible way to do economic development of Cislunar space. Drilling the huge US oil reserves would bring us tens of trillions of dollars in oil sales, and drive fuel prices through the floor causing both national and global economic boon due to lower energy costs pumping up economic development and standard of living.

Fielding polywell fusion reactors could end any potential for a energy crises, while dropping costs for electricity, and eliminating the bulk of our energy related pollution. While also undercutting the global market for dual use technologies” which support illicit nuclear weapons development.

Advance biotech and we may well not only cure many of the diseases ravaging the world but may actually reverse aging.

..and your offering what again to excite me? (in between in your face insults.)

10. Philip Backman - April 9, 2012

In the first letter, the three of you write; ‘Our space activities elevated our national spirit and grew our economy to global leadership.’ I agree to an extent with the first claim, although we all know there were more than a few people critical of the efforts and funding devoted, at the time, to placing a person on the lunar surface. How true, however, is the latter part of the sentence? Was the Apollo program truly a significant driver of the economy 45 years ago, or was it more of an effect; an activity enabled by a wealthy, militarized, and globally significant world power? Apollo would not have been possible in the 60s if it had not been for the already existing military and industry infrastructure that had been developed over the many decades before. I ask; if Apollo had not happened, would America and the world look much different today?

Phil Backman

Dr. John M. Jurist - April 10, 2012

Interesting point. Perhaps it was both an effect and a driver in the sense that the fact that our country was rich and had heritage technology to speed the necessary development and was a driver in generating public excitement. I suspect that the major difference had Apollo not happened would have been in delayed technological advancement in some areas — such as physiological instrumentation used in medical practice.

11. Michael J. Listner (@ponder68) - April 9, 2012

An open to the government is a laudable idea, but unless that letter is directed to an identifiable individual within the government chances are it will not be read.

Aside from rewrite in style, identify specific individuals within the government who can act on this and address it directly to them.

Terry in Corpus Christi - April 9, 2012

i believe like everyone else on this topic, NASA needs constant funding. I hate to be negative, I think we will be lucky to keep funding at the current rate. I am afraid it will be a zero sum game for some time. This country never has made big decisions without our backs to the wall. FDR had to strain with all his will to fight the Nazi’s in World War II. A large portion of the country wanted peace. Apollo came about because of the shock of the Russians success in space. Americans didn’t feel like leaders of the world anymore. The politics of this country is broken. Even a non-political statement is met five minutes later with a blistering attack from the other party. I am afraid NASA will have more cuts in the future. Commercial space could loose all funding to help support SLS and James Webb, of which I hope never happens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: