Government planning

Neil Armstrong Clarification: First Moonwalker Wants to "Encourage Newcomers."

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You can't see it but Neil Armstrong is actually smiling about the future of private space.

I was hoping a letter in my inbox from 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley was a job offer, but it turns out he was just interested in my recent post about the frosty relationship between private space entrepreneurs and NASA veterans Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and Chris Kraft:

Recently you published an article that took note of an interview with Elon Musk that appeared on 60 Minutes. We're glad you noticed our reporting on SpaceX Corporation. Because you are interested in the privatization of manned space flight I wanted to make you aware of something that we should have made more clear in our story.

Part of our interview dealt with the congressional testimony of Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. Both raised concerns about the Obama administration program. Part of Armstrong's testimony included this:

"I am very concerned that the new plan, as I understand it, will prohibit us from having human access to low Earth orbit on our own rockets and spacecraft until the private aerospace industry is able to qualify their hardware under development as rated for human occupancy. I support the encouragement of the newcomers toward their goal of lower-cost access to space. But having cut my teeth in rockets more than 50 years ago, I am not confident. The most experienced rocket engineers with whom I have spoken believe that it will require many years and substantial investment to reach the necessary level of safety and reliability."

In our 60 Minutes story on SpaceX, I reminded Elon Musk of the criticism. The quote of my question is:

"Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, have both testified against commercial space flight in the way you are developing it, and I wonder what you think of that?"

We should have made it explicit in our story that, while Armstrong was "not confident" that the newcomers could achieve safety and cost goals in the near term, he did want to "encourage" them. We also should have spelled out more clearly that his concerns were directed toward the "newcomers" in general and not SpaceX in particular.

Armstrong contacted us after our story to say that many people have misconstrued his position as a result of what we said on 60 Minutes. We agree he has a point. I wanted to give you a little more clarity on this in the event you continue to write about the subject.

If you feel publishing this note would be a service to your readers, please feel free to do so. 

Kraft and Cernan, as you can see in the original post, still seem to be adamant in their view that space travel can't be trusted to just any slob in "Who Farted?" t-shirt. But it's good to hear Armstrong is willing to let somebody other than government employees slip the surly bonds of earth. And kudos to Pelley (who is also the only one of the Big Three anchorbots giving substantial play to the Fast and Furious debacle) for being scrupulous. 

No word on whether Armstrong is willing to let amateurs try this: 

NEXT: Did Gov. Brown Just Admit Defeat of High-Speed Rail Project? Don't Celebrate Yet.

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  1. The real question is, is Armstrong’s mailbox properly secured?

    1. He encourages newcomers to bash the living shit out of it.

      Sorry sloopy, you’re old news. Not this time, I’m afraid.

      1. Bashing the mailbox isn’t the problem. He’s just not confident that “newcomers” can achieve the safety and cost goals associated with replacing it. That’s a function that should only be entrusted to a billion-dollar NASA program, which should have a post planted by 2027.

        1. He probably would be more receptive to private manned spaceflight if a private person hadn’t wantonly attacked his mailbox.

          1. So you’re saying that the reason we’re not all living in Moonbase Noot right now is sloopyinca?

            I can accept that.

            1. Sloopy is why we don’t have hot moon chicks in purple wigs and mini-skirts.

              That’s unforgivable.

              1. Yes to you, and yes to Hugh. Sloopy denied us and all of America its future.

              2. And listening to space jazz in a lunar cantina, sucking down smokey 21st century astro-laudanum while post feminist society grab assing hot moon chicks in purple wigs and mini-skirts.

                That’s unforgivable.

                1. damn you, sloopy!

                  1. Are you happy now, sloopy? Huh? Are you happy that you’ve denied this to all mankind?! (skip to 3:32)

                    1. Perky lunar boobs with bounce and not a stretch mark in site! Co-ed locker rooms!

                      Carter is no longer history’s greatest monster, that dishonor now belongs to sloopy.

                    2. DAMN YOU SLOOPYYYYYYYY!

                    3. He’s going to be responsible for the Planet of the Apes, too.

                    4. Goddammit, I want my mesh shirts! Fuck you, sloopy.

                    5. We have to wear blue jump suits with shiny white zip-up boots?!?!?

                      No deal.

                      The purple haired women would have to be full frontal for that….and no other men but me.

                    6. JW: In the future you can prequeue your youtube videos by appending “t=xxmxxs” to the end, e.g.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCxSThNRtWkt=3m32s

        2. I told you we should have grabbed those Kraut mailbox scientists!

          1. Damned Russians got them all. Gagarin’s mailbox never got smashed.

            1. We can’t allow a mailbox gap!

    2. Flaming dog shit, Episiarch? I had no idea you were so juvenile. Actually, yes I did.

      1. Of course you did.

  2. Just what I needed…

    I will say only this: I wish I had lived closer to John Glenn instead of Neil Armstrong when I was a youngster.

    1. What, you couldn’t take the effort to drive a few hours and strike a blow at an America-hating monster, but you could take a few minutes to ruin the day of America’s only hero? There are no words to describe your depravity.

      1. The thing about Glenn is that, after The Right Stuff came out, I would have voted for Glenn in a heartbeat, if that was all I had to go on. Luckily, I had his paternalistic congressional record to go on.

        Same with McCain. If he was still the insolent POW, flipping off the VC, he’d probably get my vote. Instead, he’s a slimy old pol, with few bedrock principles other than his own cult of personality.

        Another log on the bonfire of “power corrupts”…

        1. At least McCain hates torture. One nice stance, out of many, many, many, MANY crappy ones.

        2. Truth about McCain is he was a lousy pilot no one liked and no one wanted. Except for his father’s influence, he would have been shit canned after the first totaled aircraft, and likely went on to grow long hair, wonder around Venice Beach and become the fifth member of the Doors.

    2. John Glenn: Statist, government-loving, power-hungry Ed Harris lookalike. Gets credit for not being the first guy to orbit the Earth and for not being the first American in space. Also hijacked the entire space shuttle program for a farcical test of old people in space.

      Neil Armstrong: First human to walk on another world. Probably the only thing that will be remembered about our country in a thousand years. Liberty-loving hero who has never traded one bit on his godlike status for any kind of gain, be it political or financial. Doesn’t live in a compound, because he should be able to live in peace with his hundreds of thousands of fan letters. . .oh, wait, he can’t get those because sloopy destroyed his mailbox in what can only be described as a terrorist attack. Where’s our local agent provocateur when you need him?

      J’accuse, sloopy, j’accuse!

      I might forgive you if you went and bashed in Senator Glenn’s mailbox. And replaced Lord Armstrong’s.

      1. Lord Armstrong

        You know, the fact that even Neil Fucking Armstrong can’t get a patent of nobility is probably the worst thing about this country.

        1. He needs to come up with a new title of uber-royalty. He can do it. He’s Neil Motherfucking Armstrong.

          We’ll melt down the Liberty Bell for the coat-of-arms on his sash.

          1. Plated in melted moonrock. All of it.

            1. Topped with a diamond made from the ashes of the Apollo 1 crew.

              1. Gus, Ed, and Roger would’ve wanted it that way.

                1. Fuckin A, bubba.

        2. How the fuck is he not a knight in the UK at least? Jesus, I’m serious. Blow up Iraq, get a knighthood. Sing or act, get a knighthood. Land on the Moon and point the way to the future of mankind, fuck you.

          We should nuke the Queen right now. Fuck, no wonder Obama keeps insulting her!

          1. You have to be British to be knighted.

            1. You can get that foreigner knighthood thingee–don’t screw with me. Schwarzkopf got one. For blowing up some Iraqis. With all due respect to his generalness, Neil Fucking Armstrong walked on the Moon.

              Besides, the UK can’t make an exception for the first man to walk on the Moon? Fuck them.

              1. You can get that foreigner knighthood thingee

                Jack Ryan got one too, for saving the Royal Family from getting shot by those dirty micks. Remember that? Just a book/movie, you say? Well Tom Clancy researches the shit out of his books, I say.

                So yeah, foreigners can get knighted. But I don’t think they’re entitled to the “Sir.”

                1. Jesus. They’re awarding knighthoods to fictional people and not to the first man to walk on the Moon?

                  1. Jesus. They’re awarding knighthoods to fictional people and not to the first man to walk on the Moon?

                    These people haven’t even mastered the use of the toothbrush. I doubt they’re even aware that someone has actually walked on the moon.

                  2. Gustav Graves got one in Die Another Day.

                2. Toadying to the Brits. It’s like jumping a shark if the British had sharks.

                  Splinter Cell is being made into a movie, and in spite of being Jewish, Sam Fischer doesn’t even give the Israelis a pass, shot one dead without a second thought.

                  1. Well, we can’t ennoble Armstrong–it’s illegal. So the UK is the next best option. Unless someone can do it.

                    1. The most noble title of all is free man.

          2. Fuck, no wonder Obama keeps insulting her!

            Well that and she beat up his grandpa.

      2. “Neil Armstrong: First human to walk on another world. Probably the only thing that will be remembered about our country in a thousand years”

        I hope not.

        1. We’ll also be remembered as the first people to nuke a bunch of civilians.

          1. Nah, other nukings will probably make everyone forget our little bombs.

        2. Sorry, the little experiment in less oppression will be lost in centuries of statist hell.

    3. October 29, 1998 was a great day to be an Ohioan. We got to live every red-blooded American’s most cherished dream: our US Senator, sitting atop a nine-hundred-foot tall column of fire!

  3. OT:
    “As Oracle tycoon nears buying Lanai, residents scratch their heads that this is possible”
    Uh, do you own you car? That’s why it’s ‘possible’.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/…..1P5CLG.DTL

    Oh, and what NA thinks of private efforts to replace NASA is sorta predictable.

    1. He’s not one of the NASA-is-the-only-way guys, like Cernan seems to be. He’s made positive noises about private space before. And he’s Neil Fucking Armstrong–so some respect. No, not some. Shitloads.

      1. PL,
        “And he’s Neil Fucking Armstrong–so some respect. No, not some. Shitloads.”

        Sorry, no hero-worship here; don’t see it. Regardless of his views (and I really don’t know them), he’s a guy who took a government program E-ticket ride.
        Yes, he ‘walked on the moon’. Yes, he could have died in the effort. So what?
        I despise Kennedy’s ‘we will land on the moon’ boondoggle; ’60s HSR, no more and no less. And Armstrong got the ride. So?
        If you want to pitch it, let’s see cost/benefit numbers.

        1. Yeah, yeah, he’s got historical significance up the wazoo. Doesn’t matter that it could’ve been someone else; it wasn’t.

          In any case, I’m 100% behind private manned spaceflight and don’t care if NASA ever launches another person into space.

        2. By the way, it’s a major pet peeve of mine that EVERY SINGLE FUCKING NEWS STORY OR DOCUMENTARY ON THE APOLLO PROGRAM LEADS WITH KENNEDY! Arrrggghhh! The man didn’t give a crap about the space program, certainly not about going to the Moon. Johnson was a little more interested, but the people we should be honoring for the achievement are the engineers and scientists involved.

          Speaking of that, I watched a show called Moon Machines (I think JW recommended) that was really enjoyable. All about the technology–no astronauts or other people who usually get the accolades.

    2. So, wait, a corporation owned the island before this and non of the residents knew? And they’re now worried “over a system that leaves some of the most important decisions about their community to a single person”?

      Given their previous lack of involvement I’d think they’d be glad a guy like Ellison is taking over – at least he has a good track record, unlike most governments.

  4. Isn’t being the first man on the moon sort of like Al Bundy having once scored 4 TDs in a high school football game? How do you top that later?

    1. You don’t. Why bother? He’s done something insanely awesome and significant. Kiss his fucking ring–he’s Neil Fucking Armstrong.

  5. Cernan will run his mouth 2 years after he’s dead, and never be in doubt of anything, but I’m disappointed in Kraft being so rigid. Not surprised, but disappointed.

    1. To be sure, I have plenty of respect for Cernan, Kraft, et al. I just wish they’d shut their traps. It’s true enough, though, that when you get old, you sometimes have trouble accepting radical change. And SpaceX and New Space is general is radical. Bet he didn’t know that he was paving the way to orbital whoretels!

      1. Oh, yeah, metric fuck-tons of respect. Cernan belongs to a *very* exclusive club and Kraft was there from the beginning. They deserve all the credit they can get for the moon program. But jebus, Cernan, shut the hell up for once.

        Branson really needs to get on the stick with the orbital whoretels. I’m not leaving this money to kids to blow on fancy blow-up sneakers and them eletro doo-dads.

        1. It’s going to be Dragon to Bigelow. There’s already a contract.

  6. In Armstrong’s defense, the obvious reason NASA never returned to the moon is that there’s nothing left to do up there.

      1. Think about it. If there were still scientific discoveries and potential colonization to be achieved on the Moon, don’t you think NASA would have done them by now?

        Obviously there’s nothing up there but dry rocks and those revolting onion men.

        1. NASA? NASA? The organization that can’t leave low-Earth orbit? That NASA? I daresay that’s the last institution whose judgment should influence you.

          As soon as the costs of getting to orbit get reasonable, the Moon is going to have a lot of visitors.

          1. Ummm…errr…He3

            Of all my many many typos on hit and run, that was my most embarrassing.

    1. We need to get some strip joints up there. That’ll drive the traffic, as long as the cover charge isn’t too high.

      1. You’re coming dangerously close to referencing an abominally bad Eddie Murphy movie. Tread carefully, sir.

      2. Low-gravity sex. After Bigelow successfully makes billions on zero-gravity sex in its orbiting whoretels, someone will try to cash in on low-gravity sex on the Moon.

    2. Build a moonbase and mine for HE3 while cloning the same guy over and over again to run the facility.

      That, or turn it into a penal colony and testing place for a libertarian society.

      1. Dude. Purple wigs and mini skirts before anything.

        1. That’s in the Outer Space treaty.

  7. First Moonwalker Wants to “Encourage Newcomers.”

    The Tenctonese?

  8. What the hell is this Armstrong’s mailbox thing anyway? I’ve seen this on some threads this week-what don’t I know?

    1. Sloopyinca attacked and mutilated Armstrong’s mailbox. After the Moon landing, in case you were wondering.

      What’s worse than treason?

      1. That isn’t treason. It’s not even a war crime. Those are parking tickets compared to what sloopy did.

        1. Heresy seems too tepid, too. What does the Church call it when you’re going directly to hell?

          1. Childfucking?

            1. No, that’s what the church calls it when you’re going directly to another diocese.

              1. And this is why I love HR.

                1. And the fact that I can’t use any motherfucking ampersands is why I hate it.

          2. Not heresy – apostacy.

            Heresy is simply to large of a doctrinal difference.

            Apostacy is when you not only reject the orthodoxy, you actively fight to destroy it.

            1. That’s the word I’m looking for–Apollostacy.

      2. Someone call R. Lee Ermey, he’ll know how to handle the twinkle-toed communist cocksuker that just signed his own death warrant by messing with Neil Fraking Armstrong.

        1. Cocksuker is ok but you have to substitute “fracking” because “fucking” is too strong?

  9. Neil Armstrong: cutting-edge, unsafe rockets for me, but not for thee.

    1. He walked on the Moon for your sins.

      1. with stolen money

          1. True…as far as we know (queue suspenseful music)

          2. Receiving stolen good is, well, not so hot either.
            Sorry, PL, AFAIC, Armstrong was one more Kennedy/Johnson PR figure.

            1. He went for all mankind. It’s right there, on a plaque he left on the fucking Moon. Go get it and I’ll show you.

    2. Yeah, what’s the deal with that? There are 7+ billion of us. We could fuck up a thousand attempts before getting it right with barely a bump in the population. It’s not like we are trying to shoot earth cities up into space.

  10. OT: According to Twitter, The Jacket is gonna be on Real Time w/ the Smug One tomorrow.

  11. I’m glad I went and ate dinner for the last hour.

    1. Yes, same sentiment here. I worked some more and then walked home from work.

      1. Well, I took Banjos to eat Basque for the first time. She was mystified by the process, which I will recount here for the uninitiated:

        (This all came out one thing at a time (except for the first two items)

        Cabbage soup
        Bread with salsa
        Pinto beans
        Pickled beef tongue
        Romaine salad
        Cucumber salad
        French Fries
        Steamed veggies
        Spaghetti
        then the main course came out, which was lamb chops with garlic for Banjos and a NY Strip for me.

        It was pretty good, but we were wondering if they were gonna bring out something bizarre for dessert like a Pop-Tart covered in Froot Loops. Alas, it didn’t happen.

        1. I just made chicken noodle soup with the edition of shredded ginger root and shitake mushrooms over some onion chapatis left over from a few nights ago. Nothing fancy.

        2. Basque as in Spain Basque? Where are the pintxos?

          1. They were serving them in the bar, but we went and sat down in the restaurant.

  12. Holy shitballs! Battle Royale is finally on Netflix VOD!

  13. You know who else walked on the moon….

    1. Buzz Aldrin
      Pete Conrad
      Alan Bean
      Alan Shepard
      Edgar Mitchell
      David Scott
      James Irwin
      John W. Young
      Charles Duke
      Eugene Cernan
      Harrison Schmitt

  14. I think his point is this – NASA, with all that money and supposedly brilliant scientists/engineers, didn’t have the best safety record in the world.

    How will a commercial company with a fraction of the budget and people who likely either worked for some of the NASA contractors or weren’t considered good enough to be hired by them.

    Not that I agree with him, but I do see his point of view. People will likely get killed by an accident eventually, and then what will happen? We’ll likely see a huge outcry in the press over safety issues.

  15. “The most experienced rocket engineers with whom I have spoken believe that it will require many years and substantial investment to reach the necessary level of safety and reliability.”

    Who are these experienced rocket engineers that have more experience than Space-X? How many new rockets (as opposed to proven designs) has NASA launched in the last 20 years?

    Athena and Ares – that’s it. Every other rocket in the last 20 years has been either repurposing an older design (usually an ICBM) or a completely private development.

    Why the hell do people listen to these guys?

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