When I first saw the title to Ars Technica's May 16, 2022 Former NASA leaders praise Boeing’s willingness to risk commercial crew I thought it suggested that Boeing and it's troubled Boeing_Starliner space capsule was risking the crew's life, but it really refers to the financial risk associated with participating in NASA's commercial crew program.
It draws from the Ars Technica broadcast linked below, including the line about the ability of big business lobbyists to influence how publicly elected officials vote and spend. "Boeing entering the commercial crew program meant that you got a lot more support from Congress because they tend to have a very robust lobbying program,"
They're quoting Lori Garver "former Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)" who "was awarded both the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal" and who "initiated a project to increase the visibility and viability of commercial spaceflight" among other things.
After about 22:50 in the Ars Technica broadcast Ars Frontiers: Part Two (my transcription):
So we did not foresee - because it was only right after that really that both Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk started amassing billions of dollars and investing in space companies. So it's a little bit unique right now because I think it will still be hard (as Boeing has found) to justify these investments to shareholders who want a shorter term return. So I'm probably not as "bullish" on commercial space generally, I'm thinking that cost-plus contracts are not a plague for everything we do because it's just not possible for publicly held private companies to invest hundreds of millions of dollars without a real serious market plan, and on technologies that are unproven.
It's actually... we had not realized that people would amass hundreds of billions of dollars, and the very people that were doing that would want to start space companies.
So that's the way it has played out so far. Boeing entering the commercial crew program meant that you got a lot more support of congress, because they tend to have a very robust lobbying program, but they haven't made it yet. It took SpaceX to deliver so far. But we were - I know I was very happy when the traditional big aerospace company Boeing bid, because I think that was a tough call. If they were to look back on it they wouldn't do it again.
In a nutshell, I think that what Garver is saying is that
- the Commercial Crew Program may not have "flown" without an established aerospace company like Boeing bidding along side the (perceived at the time to be scrappier1) SpaceX's bid, but that it was more than the gravitas of Boeing's name, it was their large lobbying presence in the US capital that got congress to approve and fund Commercial Crew program.
- and now Boeing probably regrets their decision because they are doing poorly and will probably loose money, and it was actually SpaceX that is delivering the technology necessary to make the Commercial Crew and Artemis programs a success.
That's interesting, so I'd like to ask:
Question: How and to what extent did lobbyists contribute to Trump/Pence's "next man and first woman" to the Moon? (via the Artemis and Commercial Crew programs)
1(from same Ars Technica article) "I don't think that we would be anywhere with commercial crew had it not been for Boeing coming into the fray," said Charlie Bolden, who served as NASA administrator from 2009 to 2017, during an Aviation Week webinar. "Nobody likes SpaceX, to be quite honest, on the Hill. They were an unknown quantity. I think if Boeing had chosen to stay out of commercial crew, we probably would have never gotten funding for it."
Wikipedia's Artemis Program says:
On 11 December 2017, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond. The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the Solar System and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities". The effort intends to more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and laying the foundation of eventual human exploration of Mars. Space Policy Directive 1 authorized the lunar-focused campaign. The campaign (later named Artemis) draws upon legacy US spacecraft programs including the Orion space capsule, the Lunar Gateway space station, Commercial Lunar Payload Services, and also creates entirely new programs such as the Human Landing System. The in-development Space Launch System is expected to serve as the primary launch vehicle for Orion, while commercial launch vehicles will launch various other elements of the campaign.
On 26 March 2019, Vice President Mike Pence announced that NASA's Moon landing goal would be accelerated by four years with a planned landing in 2024. On 14 May 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that the new program would be named Artemis, who is both the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. Despite the immediate new goals, Mars missions by the 2030s were still intended as of May 2019.
From the Time Magazine video Vice President Mike Pence Wants To Land Astronauts On The Moon Within Five Years | TIME at about 00:40
At the direction of the president of the United States it is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American Astronauts to the Moon within the next five years.
From Trump Whitehouse Archived's Vice President Pence Delivers Remarks Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing at about 14:46
And standing before you today, I am proud to report that at the direction of the President of the United States of America, America will return to the Moon within the next five years and the next man and first woman on the Moon will be American Astronauts.