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Dr. Albert Carnesale, Monday, 1-28-13 January 28, 2013

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Dr. Albert Carnesale, Monday, 1-28-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1938-BWB-2013-01-28.mp3

Guest:  Dr. Albert Carnesale.  Topics:  The NRC study, “NASA’s Strategic Direction And The Need For A National Consensus.”  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information.  We welcomed Dr. Albert Carnesale, Chair of the Committee on NASA’s Strategic Direction to discuss the National Research Council Report, their analysis of NASA, their findings, and their recommendations.  You can download the pdf form of the study report at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18248.  We started our 1 hour 34 minute discussion with Dr. Carnesale introducing us to the National Academies and the NRC, then this specific study.  We talked about its origins, its source of funding, its methodology, objectivity, and how it addresses issues within NASA, Congress, and the Executive Branch of the government.  Dr. Carnesale talked about the study Statement of Task.  We learned that it was equally important as to what they were to do as to what they were not to do. For example, the were not tasked to opine on what NASA should be, rather they looked at NASA’s current status and evaluated and reported on what they found.  Also, the study was a fast track study completed over seven months.  This is in contrast to an NRC-NASA Human Spaceflight Study spanning two years.  You can get information on the HSF study at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DEPS/ASEB/DEPS_069080.  Dr. Carnesale went over their findings and you will hear constant references back to the NASA 2011 Strategic Plan.  There were three main findings including the vision statement for the 2011 NASA Strategic Plan did not articulate “a national vision that is unique to the nation’s space and aeronautics agency,” that the mission statement in the 2011 Strategic Plan does not “articulate a mission unique to the nation’s space and aeronautics agency” and finally, that both the NASA vision and mission statements are so plain vanilla that they could apply to almost any part of the government.  These findings can be found on page 31 of the study.  Dr. Carnesale then discussed some of the specific findings and recommendations for the NASA program areas including human spaceflight, robotics, science missions, and technology.  NASA funding was discussed along with Congressional control and the congressional role in making space policy.  Our guest received questions about the value of space advocacy, its place in the study, and public feedback/commentary. One of the points made by our guest was that overall, most people they talked with seemed to think the ultimate HSF goal was Mars and that the Moon would be of value as a stepping stone in going to Mars.  However, there was no strategy for this, nor was there a strategy or policy or even funding for an asteroid visit or program.  We also discussed the gap which exists between the public’s liking the space program and the level of interest in congressional funding for NASA and its programs.  Listeners asked about pork spending projects and related inefficient characteristics of the congressional & NASA administrative practices.
In our second segment, the subject of sequestration came up and our guest said most thought it would impact NASA on the margins.  Dr. Carnesale got a question about getting NASA to focus on RLVs but something that specific was outside the scope of their study parameters.  Lots of comparisons were made with the Defense Department in terms of efficiency changes, including applying DOD like BRAC reductions to helping make the NASA centers more efficient, perhaps even to consolidate them.  Another listener wanted to know about the study suggesting NASA take on more frontline research such as in the earlier NACA.  Here, our guest talked about JPL which has a somewhat different structure than other NASA centers & suggested it was one of the management and organizational models that could be considered in streamlining NASA for the future.  Later in the segment, I asked what the methodology was for implementing the study findings.  He talked about the need for strategy, goals, and objectives with consensus in NASA.  Support and direction from both the Administration and Congress was essential.  Don’t miss his outline for implementation of the study findings and conclusions.  Throughout our discussion, we talked about the leadership role of NASA and the value of the contributions NASA has made to the nation and the world, looking forward to how best to see NASA continue in this light.  We also talked about partnerships with other government agencies, the private sector, and international players, especially for something as expensive as a Mars mission.  Toward the end of our discussion, Dr. Carnesale took a listener question about the need for better NASA communication to take the space story to the public.  He said the weakness was not in the communications, the weakness was in the lack of the NASA vision.  He cited outstanding communication from JPL and NASA regarding MSL and Curiosity.  Our last caller was from Dave Huntsman, a 38 year NASA veteran.  Dave raised some excellent points regarding what NASA could do on its own without Congress and the Administration.  He talked about programs put in place since the Challenger accident, all with mixed results.  The three of us took time to acknowledge remembering the Challenger accident on this day in history, January 28, 1986.

      Please post your comments/questions about this program and the NRC Study on The Space Show blog URL above.

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