October 05, 2007

Hillary Clinton on Science

Hillary Clinton has given a speech that outlines her position on stem cells (for lifting research bans), space (more for space science not for manned Mars and moon), and for having directors of science related programs ensure that politics is kept out of science decisions.

This is relevant because Hillary Clinton is currently leading the democratic candidates in polling by a wide margin, she has the most funds raised of any candidate Republican or Democrat, and she has what is widely acknowledged as the best and most disciplined political machine.

Not really going out on much of a limb: I predict that she will win the US presidency in 2008.

Related to this is a prediction market tracking indicating 58-60% chances of a Democrat becoming president in 2008

At tradesports on Oct 5, 2007, Hillary will win president is 42.7% They have Obama at 8.2%, Al Gore at 7.7% and Edwards at 2.6%. If we presume that Hillary is a Democratic nomination lock then she would move to 61%.

I support space development, but I do not mind the fact that she will probably cut the manned Mars and Moon programs. The programs, as they are currently planned, are misguided.

1) The current human Moon and Mars plan look like a lot money for not much return

The total funding of Project Constellation through 2025, inflation-adjusted and without any other increases to NASA's budget, is estimated at $210 billion; the ESAS estimates the cost of the program through that date at being only $7 billion more, at $217 billion.

Project Constellation is a NASA program to create a new generation of spacecraft for human spaceflight, consisting primarily of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles, the Orion crew capsule, the Earth Departure Stage and the Lunar Surface Access Module. These spacecraft will be capable of performing a variety of missions, from Space Station resupply to lunar landings. so the $210-217 billion estimates is just the start and does not get the humans to Mars part of the plan.

The International space Station was also a lot of money ($100+billion) for very little return. So the purpose of space station resupply is not useful either.

All of the pieces pretty much duplicate existing rocket capability.

2) Nasa should not build and operate the hardware and the missions.

The US government does not build the highway system, and the cars and operate all of the vehicles. Government shoulder the risky development of new technology. Like the first two nuclear propulsion rockets or super-ion drive tugs, then license the technology to private industry.

3) We could start paying just for lunar and orbital development without this hardware. If we make new space hardware then it should be for hardware that really makes a substantial improvement in cost and performance.

As I have noted in my proposed plan to win the Google lunar landing challenge, Nasa could use existing rockets and launch large robotic missions to the Moon starting in 2008-2012.

-Build a large lunar lander (lunar orbit to the surface), repeating old tech but scaled up
-Build the earth orbit to lunar transfer tug
-Build the robots and systems that you want to land on the moon.
-Use an existing rocket to take it to earth orbit, with about 20 tons
-Use low energy transfer to get it from earth orbit to the moon, takes 5 months but uses very little fuel by weight of the vehicle. 10% of the vehicle weight from earth orbit
-Use the large lunar lander to deliver 5-15 tons of robots and equipment to the moon with each $70-200 million trip.

Using about $3 billion per year. There could be six missions to the moon each year with $500 million per mission. $200 million for the trip. $300 million for the gear and the mission.

The purpose would be to land things to build up what would become permanent infrastructure on the moon and in earth and lunar orbit. Power generation systems and systems for processing material and building facilities (telescopes, pre-deployed moon bases.)

Yes, Hillary and most of the presidential candidates have talked about nuclear power.

Hillary clinton is one of eleven co-sponsors on the climate stewardship bill. Which the EIA has projected would nearly triple the amount of nuclear energy by 2030. I view this is a good thing, since it would reduce coal usage and thus air pollution and save tens of thousand of American lives per year when fully implemented.

I had coverage of the position of the presidential candidates on nuclear

There is a video of Hillary talking about nuclear and energy

Nuclear power, about which Hillary says she is "agnostic," has been neglected for so long in this country (it only supplies 8% of our total energy needs) that it cannot be part of anything but a long-term solution.

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