Campaign '08

Looking for winners and losers in Clinton’s space policy

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s proposed space policy, introduced during a speech Thursday in Washington, has provided a lot of fodder for both people in the space industry and armchair analysts alike. Seeing any discussion of space by a candidate is newsworthy; having a candidate devote several paragraphs to the subject, months before the first primaries and caucuses and more than a year before the general election, is quite rare. So how does this policy look?

Earth science is clearly a big winner here, as Clinton devoted a full paragraph of her speech to her concerns that such programs had languished during the Bush Administration. She promises to “fully fund” Earth science programs, although she doesn’t say with respect to what (perhaps the National Academies’ decadal survey report published earlier this year). She also proposes a “Space-based Climate Change Initiative” to study global warming and “to prepare for extreme climate events”.

Aeronautics also wins in Clinton’s policy, which decries the sharp decline in funding NASA’s aeronautics program has suffered in recent years. While not making any specific financial commitments, the policy states that Clinton would “make the financial investments in research and development necessary to shore up and expand our competitive edge”.

Prize programs in the sciences in general would also appear to benefit under a new Clinton Administration. In her speech she promoted “competitive prizes to encourage innovation”, although there are no specific details about prize programs in the policy statement. It would seem, though, that she would look favorably on programs like Centennial Challenges.

Human spaceflight and exploration has mixed prospects, it seems. The policy statement calls for a “robust” human spaceflight program “to complete the Space Station and later human missions”. as well as robotic missions “leading to future human exploration”. She also calls for accelerating the “development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles”, an apparent, but not explicit, reference to Ares and Orion. (Whether those programs can be substantially accelerated without massive additional funding, though, is a n open question.)

However, there is no specific mention of the Moon or Mars in the policy. According to a New York Times article today, that was not an accidental oversight:

But in a telephone interview afterward, she said that in the short term she would subordinate Bush administration proposals for human exploration of the Moon and Mars to restoring cuts in aeronautics research and space-based studies of climate change and other earth science issues.

Travel to the Moon or Mars “excites people,” she said, “but I am more focused on nearer-term goals I think are achievable.”

That suggests that the long-term Vision for Space Exploration as laid out by the Bush Administration in 2004 would effectively be truncated with Ares and Orion (or whatever alternatives a Clinton Administration would pursue).

72 comments to Looking for winners and losers in Clinton’s space policy

  • vze3gz45

    The first moon flight is set for 2019. If she runs and wins in 2009, she will not be president in 2019, so who cares that she wants to support more achievable goals. I think she will definately support the infrastructure to get us back to the moon, Ares1, AresV and Orion, nearer term goals that are more achievable.

    vze3gz45

  • richardb

    So can we agree that should another Clinton take over, VSE is dead for 4 to 8 years? Best that can be salvaged is the stick first human flight in 2015 and a warm production line for the engines and materials needed for Ares V? In fact my take from her speech yesterday is that Nasa gets a hair cut on its budget line should she win.

  • Brad

    That is the sound of the other shoe dropping. I should have known the other hints were raising a false hope. A Hillary administration means death for VSE.

  • Michael Mealling

    Does anyone know who advised her on these? Was it folks like the Space Foundation or is someone like Lori Garver helping her?

  • I’m not really surprised to hear that Ares-I’s sucking all the air out of the room has led to some backlash. I mean seriously, did people really think that a manned program that was so expensive that it could be only funded by taking large amounts from science and aeronautics was really politically sustainable? Had a more affordable and sustainable architecture for VSE been taken, we wouldn’t be having as much of a problem.

    ~Jon

  • MarkWhittington

    This is one thing that I had hoped to have been wrong on, but it appears that once again I was right. Hillary Clinton will gut the exploration account to pay for other NASA programs. And no airy talk about “more affordable and sustainable infrastructure” is going to stop her. She is just not interested in space exploration.

  • The Orion is definately coming. The Ares 1 is probably coming as well. The only thing that could be stopped is lunar missions. She would be president from 2009 to 2012, possibly 2016. If it’s ’12, then Ares V may still come on board. If it’s ’16, then she has the ax if she desires. Without Ares V, the whole project stays in LEO…

    On the plus side, at least we would actually USE the ISS. And, of course, we’ll get to see other countries go to the moon (if they don’t ditch it because USA isn’t doing it).

    In all honesty, I don’t see any administration cutting the moon landing, since so many other nations are pursuing it right now. The US doesn’t want to be left behind. They might cut costs on how we get there, but we have to go there. Maybe more international partnerships and shared costs. But I can’t imagine, unless other countries agree to drop it, that any administration would allow the RSA or possibly China to go to the moon and not have an American presence there. That would be very bad juju.

  • John Kavanagh

    Mark:

    I bet the price tag of VSE is less an issue for Hillary than the fact that it was advocated by Bush and isn’t associated with global warming, and other “down-to-Earth” problems. What a disappointment; although I shouldn’t have expected anything better from her.

    - John

  • anonymous.space

    “The first moon flight is set for 2019. If she runs and wins in 2009, she will not be president in 2019, so who cares that she wants to support more achievable goals. I think she will definately support the infrastructure to get us back to the moon, Ares1, AresV and Orion, nearer term goals that are more achievable.”

    That’s exactly the point of the New York Times excerpt. Clinton apparently plans to defer a human lunar return in favor of other NASA spending priorities. It’s unclear if Ares I/Orion will still get built. But Ares V, and EDS and LSAM, would apparently not get built. There’s no need to spend money on a heavy lifter, an Earth departure stage, or a lunar lander anytime soon if we’re going to defer a human lunar return.

    “So can we agree that should another Clinton take over, VSE is dead for 4 to 8 years?”

    For the human lunar return elements of the VSE, yes, it would appear so. But we would apparently see some of the robotic and space telescope elements of the VSE — the search for habitable environments and life at Mars, the outer moons, and extrasolar planets — come back.

    Personally, I’m torn — I do want to see those Origins-related space science programs and goals that Griffin axed come back. But I’d also like to see NASA break astronauts out of LEO affordably and sustainably in my lifetime.

    “Best that can be salvaged is the stick first human flight in 2015″

    Hard to say. As Mr. Foust notes, the full policy document talks about:

    “… robust human spaceflight to complete the Space Station and later human missions, expanded robotic spaceflight probes of our solar system leading to future human exploration… [and speeding] development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles to replace the aging Space Shuttle.”

    That could mean more dollars to accelerate Ares I/Orion, but that’s going to be many billions of dollars, which I doubt are in the cards. And even setting aside its technical problems and duplication of other national launch capabilities, the costs associated with developing and operating Ares I also make no sense if we’re not going to build Ares V to share the burden anytime soon.

    More hopefully, the plural references to “next-generation launch” and multiple “crew exploration vehicles” means that different approaches will be taken, or at least examined. Clinton’s advisors have evidenced interest in commecial space, so we might see a shift away a government-owned and -operated launch infrastructure to a multiplicity of COTS-like or EELV approaches.

    “and a warm production line for the engines and materials needed for Ares V?”

    If we’re going wait that long for heavy lift, then the high costs to Ares I of maintaining that expensive infrastructure by itself for so long don’t make sense.

    “In fact my take from her speech yesterday is that Nasa gets a hair cut on its budget line should she win.”

    There were no references to the NASA topline budget that I saw. There will be enormous pressures on the overall federal budget at that time, but it would appear that Clinton wants to reshuffle NASA’s budget from exploration to other areas, not reallocate exploration dollars outside of NASA. I would have predicted worse.

    “That is the sound of the other shoe dropping.”

    Some of us have been predicting that this would happen — the termination or deferral of the human lunar return effort — regardless of who took the White House. Griffin and ESAS are arguably leaving too much of a mess and have taken too much out of NASA’s other programs for it to turn out any other way with the next White House.

    “A Hillary administration means death for VSE.”

    For the human lunar return element of the VSE, yes, but it would appear to be a chance to bring other dead elements of the VSE back to life.

    “Does anyone know who advised her on these?”

    There have been several press reports pointing to Lori Garver.

    FWIW…

  • It may be wishful thinking, but I agree with Eric. In today’s world, no Administration is going to retreat completely from human spaceflight, so ESAS or something like it is likely to go forward. In fact, for better or worse (and probably worse), I would guess that an Administration focused on other issues would be less likely to re-think ESAS in the near term. While the money is big for NASA, it’s small in the wider Federal budget picture and won’t be their first priority. The timeline will be extended, but I doubt the LEO parts of the current plan would go away. Short of re-thinking the whole thing, it’s the politically cheapest way forward.

    – Donald

  • MarkWhittington

    “I bet the price tag of VSE is less an issue for Hillary than the fact that it was advocated by Bush and isn’t associated with global warming, and other “down-to-Earth” problems. What a disappointment; although I shouldn’t have expected anything better from her.”

    John, I suspect you are correct. Of course VSE enjoys huge bipartisan support in the Congress, so even if Hillary decides to gut funding for it (if she becomes President), Congress might go along.

  • Ray

    Jon: “I’m not really surprised to hear that Ares-I’s sucking all the air out of the room has led to some backlash. I mean seriously, did people really think that a manned program that was so expensive that it could be only funded by taking large amounts from science and aeronautics was really politically sustainable? Had a more affordable and sustainable architecture for VSE been taken, we wouldn’t be having as much of a problem”

    I suspect that a lot of the other candidates would also want to trim back on the ESAS efforts. There are too many interests that are hurt by Shuttle and ESAS, and that stand to be hurt even more if ESAS budget problems grow, as long as NASA doesn’t get big budget increases. The planetary science, Earth observation, and aeronautics areas all have their local politicians whose constituents are hurt if those programs are cut, just like the Shuttle workforce.

    Not only that, but these interests have a lot more other non-local supporters than the Return to the Moon has. These include comsat and remote sensing businesses and their customers and suppliers, the military, environmentalists, spy satellite agencies, NOAA, all sorts of scientists, airplane manufacturers, Planetary Society members, EELV/new rocket companies and their customers, and so on. All of these interests have a lot to gain by sharing costs with, or developing better technologies with, NASA robotic missions and/or aeronautics – or from the science results from NASA robotic/aeronautic missions. Collectively they can be expected to have a bigger political voice than ESAS, as long as they get organized.

    That’s one reason why I think ESAS fails the VSE “sustainability” requirement. It costs too much, and as a result hurts too many political interests, without giving those interests something better in return. The benefits are so far down the road that there aren’t enough supporters. To succeed, I think ESAS needs to change in at least 1 of the following ways:

    1. Get smaller and cheaper (eg: less difficult requirements – smaller payload and/or crew, or plan on a slower schedule that allows a smaller budget that doesn’t make enemies). If ESAS can refrain from, or significantly reduce, the budget it takes from other NASA areas, it will get less resistance.

    2. Get results faster – see parts of #1, or get more intermediate results using robotic missions to the Moon. This will bring more friends on board in a politically relevant time period.

    3. Use EELVs or new/cheap launchers – do this either in the main effort, or through orbital propellant depots, or through a vigorous parallel robotic effort to the Moon. This will make friends in the users of launch services (ie the military, NOAA, NASA science, commercial comsat companies, etc – all of whom want cheaper, more reliable space access – not Ares V).

    4. Use much more robotics to “pave the way”. This will get intermediate results sooner (see #2), and will also build the industrial base for launchers (see #3) and satellites (making friends of the military, comsat/remote sensing companies, etc).

    About the only think I can think of that ESAS does to bring on this kind of outside support is the engine shared with EELV. That’s good, but not enough. If there’s more of that type of thing, they need to get the word out.

    Fortunately there are all sorts of ways that ESAS can be changed to satisfy at least some of the other interests. However, I wouldn’t wait until 2009 to do it … the backlash may be quite painful if that happens.

  • anonymous.space

    “The Orion is definately coming. The Ares 1 is probably coming as well.”

    NASA has to get the design to close safely before that happens, and the performance/mass trends have been negative all year and still are. Unless NASA is willing to revisit requirements, there’s a decent chance that Ares I/Orion will die just from technical problems.

    And even assuming NASA gets the technical issues in hand, any new White House, Clinton or otherwise, may still go with the (legitimate, I think) argument that it makes no sense to spend so many dollars on an intermediate-lift launch vehicle that duplicates the capabilities of other national launch assets.

    “If it’s ‘12, then Ares V may still come on board. If it’s ‘16, then she has the ax if she desires.”

    No. The White House and NASA have to do five-year budget plans. Any new White House, Clinton or otherwise, can take Ares V/EDS/LSAM out of the five-year budget plan as soon as they’re on board (2009). And even without the five-year budget plan, a decision has to be made one way or the other by FY 2011, which is when spending on Ares V/EDS/LSAM ramps up.

    “In all honesty, I don’t see any administration cutting the moon landing, since so many other nations are pursuing it right now.”

    No other nation is pursuing a human lunar program. They’re sending robotic orbiters, but no one is building or funding plans to build human lunar hardware.

    “But I can’t imagine, unless other countries agree to drop it, that any administration would allow the RSA or possibly China to go to the moon and not have an American presence there.”

    I referenced this in two earlier threads, but just earlier this week, Aviation Week quoted Sun Laiyan, the chief of the Chinese National Space Agency, saying that “China has yet to decide whether it will send its citizens to the Moon.” See the ninth paragraph in this article:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw100107p2.xml&headline=Nations%20Looking%20For%20a%20Piece%20of%20the%20Exploration%20Pie

    As for Ruskies, they just got rid of the head of Energia because he kept talking about human lunar plans that did not jive with RSA’s budget.

    FWIW…

  • Frankly, I think that if we want robust off-planet manned flight, focusing on ESAS, and Moon/Mars isn’t the way to go. As has been pointed out, ESAS was unsustainable, and I am sorry, but I’ve said this before – VSE has been and is nothing more than mom and apple pie

    What we really need to be doing is talking to the canadates about what they would do concerning private spaceflight, and whether they would encourage Nasa to use the NewSpace companies.

    All this talk of “Hillary will mean the death of VSE” – please, VSE died when ESAS came out. Its just that simple

  • anonymous.space

    “And no airy talk about “more affordable and sustainable infrastructure” is going to stop her.”

    It may or may not stop Clinton from deferring the human lunar return, but Mr. Goff is right in his argument that the huge and unnecessary expenses associated with the ESAS plan just for getting back to LEO after Shuttle’s retirement gives the next White House, Clinton or otherwise, little choice but to defer a human lunar return. It’s either that, or continue gutting NASA’s other programs, or add multi-billions of dollars to NASA’s top line in what will be a very tight federal budget environment. None of those options are good ones.

    Had Griffin and ESAS chosen a more affordable and sustainable path, Clinton or any other Presidential candidate would not be confronted with these choices now. Instead of maintaining a degree of control over the fate of NASA’s human space exploration efforts, Griffin handed those decisions to the next Presidency. This is just the beginning of the results of Griffin’s choices and actions.

    “Of course VSE enjoys huge bipartisan support in the Congress”

    There has been no vote on the VSE since the Republican Congress.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “To succeed, I think ESAS needs to change in at least 1 of the following ways:

    1. Get smaller and cheaper (eg: less difficult requirements – smaller payload and/or crew, or plan on a slower schedule that allows a smaller budget that doesn’t make enemies).

    2. Get results faster – see parts of #1, or get more intermediate results using robotic missions to the Moon. This will bring more friends on board in a politically relevant time period.

    3. Use EELVs or new/cheap launchers – do this either in the main effort, or through orbital propellant depots, or through a vigorous parallel robotic effort to the Moon.

    4. Use much more robotics to “pave the way”. This will get intermediate results sooner”

    All good recommendations from Ray for the next NASA Administrator.

    My 2 cents… FWIW.

  • MarkWhittington

    I hardly believe that a politician who proposes a hundred and twenty billion dollar a year (to start) health care plan, a twenty two billiob dollar a year “baby bond” plan, and so on would shrink from adding a billion or so to NASA to pay for her priorities and preserve funding for the exploration account. Hillary wants to gut exploration because she wants to, not because she is forced to.

  • Terence

    Personally I think there is now a more robust commercial space environment out there and plenty of well-heeled backers for the taking. With Bigelow offering options for habitats that, by their own reference, could be used as modules for earth-to-lunar transits and a number of orbital launch vehicles on the drawing board, I think the prospect of this working on the private side is fairly strong. Frankly I think it’s plausible that a private firm or consortium of firms could beat out NASA even if they did keep the Moon-Mars program alive. There’s a lot of brreathing room allowed when we cut the bureaucracy out of the picture.

    Terence

  • Terence, while I don’t think we can call it a “more robust commercial space enviroment”, it is moving in that direction. Thats why I am more interested in the canadates responses to private spaceflight, rather than whether they support ESAS and VSE. That whole thing is a nonstarter, despite Whittington’s claims that its so great.

    What I’d really like to see is a push to actually pursue commerical activities, something that Nasa really hasn’t done real well yet, even with COTS (and we all know how well that is turning out).

  • MarkWhittington

    Terrence, do you actually imagine that commercial space would survive the taxes and regulations that Hillary has planned?

  • Terence: I think we’re actually getting close to the point where that is feasible at least for LEO. We’ll probably find out in the next Administration.

    Mark: I hardly believe that a politician who proposes a hundred and twenty billion dollar a year (to start) health care plan, a twenty two billiob dollar a year “baby bond” plan, and so on would shrink from adding a billion or so to NASA to pay for her priorities and preserve funding for the exploration account. Hillary wants to gut exploration because she wants to, not because she is forced to.

    Of course, we have a precedent for that. After wasting what will be many hundreds of billions of dollars before all is said and done failing to achieve anything constructive in Iraq, the current Administration hugely increased NASA’s budget . . . or, did they only promise to do that?

    – Donald

  • anonymous.space

    “I hardly believe that a politician… would shrink from adding a billion or so to NASA to pay for her priorities and preserve funding for the exploration account”

    It’s not a question of a billion or two. With her support of the “Mikulski miracle”, Clinton has already demonstrated at some level that she’s willing to throw another billion or two at NASA.

    The problem is that the budget for Ares V, EDS, and LSAM runs into the tens of billions of dollars. It’s another order of magnitude.

    “Hillary wants to gut exploration because she wants to”

    You can ignore her speech if you want to, but it’s clear that Apollo had a big impact on Clinton when she was an adolescent. In terms of personal preferences, it does not appear that she “wants” to “gut exploration”. But it’s clear that other national issues and NASA programs are a higher priority for Clinton professionally.

    “not because she is forced to.”

    The point is not that Clinton is forced to chose a particular policy option. She’s not. She’s a Presidential candidate — she can choose whatever policy options she wants for her platform.

    The point is that Clinton has to make a choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA program versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or in the federal budget. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    I do criticize Clinton a little for not giving the next NASA Administrator a chance to salvage the human lunar return effort with a better plan and program. But given how poorly Griffin and ESAS have done and set things up for the next President, I have a hard time faulting Clinton for the choice she’s made. I’d say the same for any other candidate that made the same choices, Republican or Democrat.

    FWIW…

  • Mike Puckett

    Talking about the Clinton space program in 07 is like talking about the Dole space program in 95 or the Tsongas space program in 91 or the Dukakis space program in 87.

  • This is absolutely positively why our first launch system musts be capable at some point in time to be easily upgradeable to a lunar configuration. This is precisely why the Jupiter-120 (Ares-II) (ISS) and the Jupiter-232 (Ares-III) (Moon,Mars) are configured the way they are.

    http://www.directlauncher.com

    With Mike at the helm the Ares-I will be the end of the road representing a massive step backwards from what we can buy today. After his disastrous approach falls in my generations lap we will be standing there operating a system that cost 10x times more than an EELV while trying to find a way to find the money needed to create a Heavy Lift system equivalent to the Saturn-V all while the demographics and national debt are placing the highest level of pressure on discretionary spending not seen since WW2.

    If anyone can help us get these facts across to the right people now would be a good time.

  • anonymous.space

    “Talking about the Clinton space program in 07 is like talking about the Dole space program in 95 or the Tsongas space program in 91 or the Dukakis space program in 87.”

    Well, even if you think she’s going to lose, she’s the only candidate in my memory to ever put out so many talking points on civil space policy, especially this early in the campaign. Clinton avoids a couple key issues, but at least there’s some meat to chew on.

    And she is arguably the leading candidate in the whole race, right now, beating out her fellow Democrats by pretty big margins and even the top Republican by around eight points in the last poll that I saw. You’re right that positioning in the pack will almost certainly change, but to have some substantial civil space policy positions from the leading Presidential candidate is a pretty darn rare event that’s very worthy of discussion and debate.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Mike Puckett

    “And she is arguably the leading candidate in the whole race, right now, beating out her fellow Democrats by pretty big margins and even the top Republican by around eight points in the last poll that I saw. You’re right that positioning in the pack will almost certainly change,”

    I think Gore was the favored pick to follow Clinton in 1999. By over 20 points IIRC. There ie only one constant about conventional wisdom, it is conventionally wrong about 90% of the time.

  • anonymous.space

    “If anyone can help us get these facts across to the right people now would be a good time.”

    For those of us who would like to pass it along, is there a way for White House, Congressional, or campaign staff to get in contact with you or another representative of the DIRECT team without just sending them to info@directlauncher.com? A more personal email address or phone number?

    I’d urge you to post it here or on the DIRECT website, but if you’re not comfortable with that, please do send it to my email at anonymous.space@yahoo.com. I can’t guarantee that any staffers will contact you, but if I throw a DIRECT paper at them, I’d like to give them good follow-up contact information.

    Also, I’d urge you guys to put together a 5-15 page PowerPoint presentation and post it on the DIRECT website. The 131-page AIAA paper is great, but it’s obviously a bit much for introductory discussions.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • I’d second anonymous’s comments about the Direct thing

  • Mike Fazan

    John, I suspect you are correct. Of course VSE enjoys huge bipartisan support in the Congress, so even if Hillary decides to gut funding for it (if she becomes President), Congress might go along.

    The perception of “VSE enjoy[ing] huge bipartisan support in the Congress” has less to due with VSE and more about maintaining jobs at NASA centers and their associated contractors. Key members of congress with NASA constituents will go along with anything as long as NASA and its industrial complex receive support.

  • Mike Puckett

    “If anyone can help us get these facts across to the right people now would be a good time.”

    If you want to pass your Direct info along to Lori Garver (Hillary), I would bet Keith Cowing could easily do it. Why not email him and ask? Worst he can do is say no.

  • Thanks all.

    Email: stephen.metschan@teamvisioninc.com

    Concerning NASA Watch, I think Keith really got nailed first/last time he posted our proposal.

    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2006/11/an_alternate_vs.html

    Given that he doesn’t seem to hold back punches, usually, it must have been much stronger than normal. The harder and closer you hit the mark the more likely you are to ring the bell :)

    I asked him about two weeks ago to just post an update since I consider our AIAA 2007 paper a significant improvement over AIAA 2006. The improvement was a direct result of his posting in 2006 because after that we were able to attract the NASA engineers that helped us significantly improve this year’s paper. I’m hoping 2008 will be even better.

    He turned me down because he wants me to expose who his helping us which I will absolute positively not do for two reasons. One, powerful people can take everything way from you except one thing, your integrity, that you have to give up. Two, I don’t know nor do I want to know the vast majority of who is helping us. The last thing we need is to lose any more courageous independent thinking individuals still at NASA and its contractors.

    Because of this he said we have no ‘credibility’ though I would suggest that our research stands on its own merits. I think he using this to cover for the real reason.

    Truth is independent of source. Most new ideas originated outside of the inner circle as well. I’m confused by Keith altogether. The Ark was built by an amateur and the Titanic by experts, ……your point is Keith?

    On the power point I agree. We also have four good overview posters and two flyers (few words many pictures) that we made for the conference but we got upgrade to a full session presentation at the last minute for reasons I don’t understand. I’m surprise we got accepted at all (both 2006 and 2007) given what Mike did in getting papers removed in AIAA Space 2005 that dared suggest something other than ESAS.

  • Mike Puckett

    I cannot imagine Lori Garver is that inaccessible. Surely a cursory interogatory will yield a contact who can place the documentation in her hands.

    I am nobody but I will see what little I can do to facilitate this. I MAY, MAY know someone who can help.

  • anonymous.space

    “I cannot imagine Lori Garver is that inaccessible.”

    Last I knew, Garver worked at DFI International’s (now DelticaDFI) Headquarters. Their corporate contact information is here:

    http://www.deticadfi.com/Internal.aspx?t=ContactUS&l=271&s=271

    If Garver is still there, presumably an operator/secretary can connect you.

    FWIW…

  • David Murtaugh

    Mark, Bush advocated a plan and then failed to fund it even at the level that he said he would in 2004, and yet you never said anything negative about this. But you jump right in and bash Hillary. Why? Why do you defend Republicans no matter what they do and bash Democrats no matter what they do?

  • She also calls for accelerating the “development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles”, an apparent, but not explicit, reference to Ares and Orion.

    I think that needs further clarification – I am going to see what I can find out. Does she mean in general, which means everything is up for grabs, does she mean Ares I/Orion, or does she mean the COTS competitors?

  • Keith Cowing

    Stephen:

    What a stupid accusation. I do not want you to “expose anyone”. You post all of this stuff yet, with the exception of you, your authors are graphic artists or rocket model builders. The veracity of the information you post is lacking.

    Your stuff is out on the Internet where anyone can find it – including Lori Garver. Gosh, maybe she even reads this website !!!

    I suspect however that like many folks in Washington Lori sees the value of an EELV/existing launch vehicle approach to conducting the VSE – instead of recreating things that already exist – but I will leave that to her to post on.

  • Keith Cowing

    Metschan says “Concerning NASA Watch, I think Keith really got nailed first/last time he posted our proposal. Given that he doesn’t seem to hold back punches, usually, it must have been much stronger than normal. The harder and closer you hit the mark the more likely you are to ring the bell.”

    “Nailed”? Huh? What are you talking about? I post things every day that annoy people. Whether or not people are irritated with what I post does not affect what I post. I hate to break it to you but what little reaction I did get from readers about the posting I did of your pictures was either a yawn or something like “hey, nice graphics”.

    No Stephen, that is not why I have resisted posting any more of your pretty pictures. It is because no one with any rocket design credibility ever manages to be associated with your “proposal” – just you and the graphic artist/rocket model guys who make all of the really pretty graphics.

  • Keith wrote:
    “What a stupid accusation. I do not want you to “expose anyone”. You post all of this stuff yet, with the exception of you, your authors are graphic artists or rocket model builders. The veracity of the information you post is lacking.”

    Keith don’t you see how you just made my point?

    You won’t post it because you falsely assert that there are no rocket scientists behind this. When you ask me to produce proof I say I cannot based on my promises to the other NASA engineering and contractor authors.

    There are absolutely rocket scientists behind this. I’m a mechanical engineer with over sixteen years of experience. Ironically a lot of what I know came from reading books written by Mike Griffin. Any rocket scientist who takes one look at the Ares-I and Jupiter-120 (Ares-II) would recognize the configurational advantages immediately. We wrote a 131 page paper that is far superior in many ways to ESAS as well. This is hardly some slick power point. We address real issues and use real engineering to solve them. Sorry if we haven’t cut any metal yet but with NASA burning every last dollar making Ares-I right now we are little short on cash.

    We have only listed the people that can’t be whacked by NASA or wanted to be listed even after we warned them. TeamVision was already whacked after we got sideways with them in early 2005 so there is not much more damage the current regime can do to us. We felt that it was better to serve in heaven than rule in hell. Basically anyone that didn’t want the shaft was given the shaft.

    Regardless about how you feel about us now, if something close to our proposal ends up happening, you well have played an important part in that for which we are all thankful for. I’m still just confused by your reaction in all this.

    Why did you post it the first time?

  • Keith Cowing

    “You won’t post it because you falsely assert that there are no rocket scientists behind this. When you ask me to produce proof I say I cannot based on my promises to the other NASA engineering and contractor authors”

    Newsflash: That’s what real technical papers and proposals do.

    “Why did you post it the first time?”

    Because I try and give everyone their 15 seconds.

  • MarkWhittington

    Hillary is not proposing to gut the exploration initiative because it is “unaffordable.” It’s not, but that’s beside the point. She is proposing to gut the exploration initiative, as she stated in the NY Times interview, because she wants to do other things and by implication does not find it particularly exciting. There are people who are so egotistical that they actually think Hillary cares about the whole Ares vs EELV controversy. Let me clue those of you in. She doesn’t. She doesn’t care.

    For the poster who thinks I do not criticize Republicans, I have sugested adding more money to the exploration account and I support the Mikuslki-Hutchison amendment.

  • Brad

    anonymous.space, “For the human lunar return elements of the VSE, yes, [VSE dead under Hillary] would appear so. But we would apparently see some of the robotic and space telescope elements of the VSE — the search for habitable environments and life at Mars, the outer moons, and extrasolar planets — come back.”

    With all due respect, non-human spaceflight elements of VSE? The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration. Without manned space exploration there is no VSE and space policy reverts to the pre-Columbia era.

    The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all? Pork? Might as well stop NASA manned ops altogether then. And without manned ops, what is the point of NASA as it was created in 1958? Might as well disassemble the whole agency then.

    anonymous.space, “Some of us have been predicting that this would happen — the termination or deferral of the human lunar return effort — regardless of who took the White House. Griffin and ESAS are arguably leaving too much of a mess and have taken too much out of NASA’s other programs for it to turn out any other way with the next White House.”

    That is not credible. For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending. The potential budget problems with Ares I and Ares V are still that –potential, not yet actual. Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.

    And in Hillary’s case it’s most likely VSE was going to be abandoned regardless of VSE progress under the current administration. It’s telling that Hillary herself does not use the excuse of blaming ESAS.

  • Brad

    And to clarify my own preferences, I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration.

    But on the other hand I don’t believe ESAS is destined to doom NASA either. I think NASA could make ESAS work.

  • al Fansome

    Mark,

    I hate to break it to you, but it is possible to want to gut Mike Griffin’s Ares 1 and Ares V, and be pro-human exploration, at the same time.

    The test of “affordability” and “sustainability” is quite simple — affordable and sustainable programs keep getting funded from administation to administration. If the next admistration does not fund it — by definition it was not sustainable. And since Sen. Clinton prefers spending on other space priorities, by definition it was not affordable.

    BOTTOM LINE: If Ares 1/5 are so affordable & sustainable, we would not be having this discussion.

    - Al

  • anonymous.space

    “Hillary is not proposing to gut the exploration initiative because it is “unaffordable.” It’s not,”

    Apollo-on-steroids has proven to be very unaffordable. Just to keep the schedule for Ares I/Orion on track for 2015 (and there’s only a 65% chance of meeting that date), Griffin has had to cut aeronautics in half, reduce the projected science mission flight rate from 9-10 per year to 2-3 per year, gut ISS research, cancel Project Prometheus, reduce exploration technology development to a bare minimum, and even cancel all the robotic lunar missions after LRO. We’re going to spend $20-30 billion before Ares I/Orion gets us back to ISS, and we’ll still have tens of billions of dollars worth of development on the actual human lunar hardware — Ares V, LSAM, and EDS — still to go to get back to the Moon.

    Unless we’re willing to ramp-up NASA’s top-line with Apollo-like increases, Apollo-on-steroids is not going to be affordable by any reasonable definition of that word.

    Apollo didn’t prove to be affordable for less than a decade at the height of the Cold War. Why the heck should anyone think Apollo-on-steroids would prove to be affordable more than a decade after the end of the Cold War?

    NASA has to adapt its human space flight programs to the realities, priorities, budgets, and opportunities of the 21st century. If, instead of taking their fate into their own hands, NASA’s human space flight programs keep relying on a repeat of the Cold War Apollo budget miracle to sustain forward progress, they’re going to continue to find themselves suffering from the same delays, deferrels, reductions in technical content and safety, and terminations that have stuck NASA’s astronauts in Earth orbit since the 1970s.

    To butcher a phrase, adapt or get stuck in LEO.

    “She is proposing to gut the exploration initiative, as she stated in the NY Times interview, because she wants to do other things and by implication does not find it particularly exciting”

    Clinton’s speech indicates exactly the opposite. She repeatedly makes reference to how space flight has inspired her life. Here’s four such passages:

    “But I have been fascinated by Sputnik ever since I was a little girl and as I have moved on in life and become involved in the public service and public office holding of our nation, I have spent time reflecting on what Sputnik meant and what our nation did in response.”

    “I remember as though it were yesterday when my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Kraus came into our classroom and told us we had to study math and science because the President said so. I was convinced President Eisenhower had called up Mrs. Kraus and told her ‘you tell those children and particularly that Hillary, who doesn’t really like math that much, that her country needs her.’”

    “You know, this is personal for me because when I was in junior high school, I was just captivated by the space program. It caught my imagination. There was such a great burst of interest. I did my 8th grade science project on space medicine. Some of you know that I even wrote to NASA asking how I could apply to be an astronaut and got back an answer saying that they weren’t taking women. (Laughter) I have lived long enough to see that change! (Applause)”

    “I was heartened to learn that after Sputnik went up sales of telescopes and binoculars shot up as well. Actually in my house, my father went out and bought some binoculars, so we could be on the lookout for Sputnik. And my memory of that, of peering into the sky in our backyard in a suburb of Chicago, I don’t think we ever saw it although my friends claim that they had seen it, was so exciting that somehow we were connected to what that meant. And it was not only a thrill for a young girl, but it really did start me thinking.”

    Just because Clinton the Presidential candidate places a higher policy priority on climate research and advancing aeronautics does not mean the Clinton the individual does not find human space exploration “particularly exciting”. Repeatedly in her speech, it appears quite the opposite.

    “There are people who are so egotistical”

    Please, no ad hominem attacks. Argue the logic, facts, and opinions of the posters, not the posters themselves.

    “that they actually think Hillary cares about the whole Ares vs EELV controversy.”

    Unless I missed a post, no one has stated such in this whole thread. Rather, some of us have noted that Clinton’s statements about Shuttle’s replacement lack detail and could be read as pros-Ares I/Orion, pro-EELV, pro-COTs, or some combination thereof. We have no idea if Clinton cares, because we can’t tell what the campaign’s position is, if there is one.

    “For the poster who thinks I do not criticize Republicans, I have sugested adding more money to the exploration account and I support the Mikuslki-Hutchison amendment.”

    That’s not criticizing Republicans. That’s just supporting exploration and the amendment. Write something about how wrong it is for President Bush to veto the bill that this NASA-boosting amendment is attached to, which he’s already promised to do, and then you’ll be criticizing a Republican.

    Oy vey…

  • anonymous.space

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    A human lunar return effort is central to the VSE, but it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the White House policy document alone, only five out of 26 bullets deal with the lunar return effort. See:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html.

    And in NASA’s accompanying planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See PDF link here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    Griffin has killed off many of the other elements of the VSE (half the Mars missions, any outer moons missions, space telescopes, space nuclear reactors and propulsion development, etc.) to get the ESAS implementation plan started and keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 start to operations, but that doesn’t mean that the VSE was originally only about those activities.

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I agree wholeheartedly, which is part of why I’m so critical of ESAS. Instead of returning NASA’s human space flight programs efficiently and rapidly to the development of actual human exploration hardware, ESAS wastes $10 or so billion recreating an intermediate Earth orbit lift capability that’s already exists in spades in the nation’s launch vehicle stable, among other arguably unnecessary activities and requirements.

    “For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending.”

    No it’s not. While NASA’s budget increases have been somewhat lower than the VSE projected, the primary cause of NASA’s budget crunch is the fact that the ESAS plan busted the VSE budget from day one. Just to get Ares I/Orion started, Griffin had to cancel billions of dollars worth of ISS research, Project Prometheus, and other exploration technology development. Even then, Griffin could only afford to budget Constellation at a 65% probability of success, meaning that there is a 1-in-3 chance that Ares I/Orion won’t meet its 2015 operational date and/or suffer an overrun. The industry standard is 80% (1-in-5 chance of delay/overrun).

    Any program manager worth his salt would have chosen a technical path that was not so budgetarily precarious from the very beginning. Any halfway close observer of NASA’s programs could have foreseen that the budgetary good times would come to an end at some point in an effort that spanned multiple elections and incorporated adequate margins, disposable elements, and off-ramps for such eventualities. But instead of picking a conservative set of requirements and an efficient program approach, Griffin gambled on recreating Apollo in the absence of a Cold War budget, and worse, doubled down by putting the program’s requirements “on steroids” and demanding unnecessary elements. The more than doubling of the post-Shuttle human space flight gap to five years, the worsening flight safety problems arising from the continued mismatch between Ares I performance and Orion’s mass, and the deferral of the choice to start Ares V/EDS/LSAM development into the latter half of a potential Clinton II presidency are all the result of Griffin’s very poor gamble.

    “Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.”

    Absolutely. But that’s not the point. To repeat myself from earlier in the thread:

    The point is that Clinton is confronted with a choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware (Ares V, EDS, LSAM) would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice in FY11 (when the budget for Ares V, EDS, and LSAM start ramping up), if not earlier, between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA program versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or in the federal budget. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    It didn’t have to be this way. These choices did not have to be delivered into the lap of the next President. The development of actual human lunar hardware could have been well underway during this Presidency, had Griffin not taken the ESAS requirements and Ares I detours. From a space exploration advocate’s point-of-view, it was a terrible waste of a rare political opportunity.

    “I think NASA could make ESAS work.”

    At what cost?

    That’s the key question that the next President is forced to grapple with as a result of Griffin’s choices and ESAS’s unnecessary costs.

    “I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration. ”

    Exactly. NASA’s human space flight resources are limited, so they need to be spent productively. And ESAS is not doing that, not by a long shot.

    Well put. I obviously can’t say it any better myself.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “The test of “affordability” and “sustainability” is quite simple — affordable and sustainable programs keep getting funded from administation to administration. If the next admistration does not fund it — by definition it was not sustainable.”

    Right. Agreed. Exactly.

    “And since Sen. Clinton prefers spending on other space priorities, by definition it was not affordable.”

    It’s not so much that Clinton “prefers” other priorities, but rather that Clinton has to restore funding to those priorities that was taken away from them by Griffin because ESAS was so unaffordable.

    “BOTTOM LINE: If Ares 1/5 are so affordable & sustainable, we would not be having this discussion.”

    Absolutely. If Griffin wanted the ESAS plan to be sustainable, then it should have pursued a technical path that was budgetarily conservative and did not require such huge offsets from outside the VSE budget.

  • Keith wrote:
    “Newsflash: That’s what real technical papers and proposals do.”

    Keith I think you need to read your own stuff like this happy fun ball experience below. Thrust me this was the boy scout treatment.

    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2007/05/petty_politics.html

    Any guess on what would happen to our other unlisted authors that happen to be on the inside at NASA? Second I’m and Engineer and so is Chuck Longton both AIAA members. Chuck actual worked on Apollo. I’ve done a number of engineering studies for NASA over the last 16 years.

    Keith wrote:
    “Because I try and give everyone their 15 seconds.”

    Actually it was over 12,000 downloads which might place that one post at the top 10 for your site that year. Sounds like a topic that your audience might be interested in.

    I feel the good in you…the conflict :)

  • anonymous.space

    “With all due respect, non-human spaceflight elements of VSE? The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    A human lunar return effort is admittedly central to the VSE, but it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the White House VSE policy alone, only five out of 26 bullets deal with the lunar return effort. See:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html.

    And in NASA’s accompanying VSE planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See PDF link here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    Griffin has killed off many other VSE elements (nearly all of the robotic lunar missions, half the robotic Mars missions, any outer moons missions, space telescopes, space nuclear reactor and propulsion development, etc.) to get the ESAS implementation plan started and keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 start to operations. But that doesn’t mean that the VSE was originally only about those activities.

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I agree wholeheartedly, which is part of why I’m so critical of ESAS. Instead of returning NASA’s human space flight programs efficiently and rapidly to the development of actual human exploration hardware, ESAS wastes $10 or so billion recreating an intermediate Earth orbit lift capability that’s already exists in multiples in the nation’s launch vehicle stable, among other arguably unnecessary activities and requirements.

    “For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending.”

    No it’s not. While NASA’s budget increases have been somewhat lower than projected in the VSE, the primary cause of NASA’s budget crunch is the fact that the ESAS plan busted the VSE budget from day one. Just to get Ares I/Orion started, Griffin had to cancel billions of dollars worth of ISS research, Project Prometheus nuclear development, and other exploration technology development. Even then, Griffin could only afford to budget Constellation at a 65% probability of success, meaning that there is a 1-in-3 chance that Ares I/Orion won’t meet its 2015 operational date and/or suffer an overrun. The industry standard is 80% (1-in-5 chance of delay/overrun).

    Any program manager worth his salt would have chosen a technical path that was not so budgetarily precarious from the very beginning. Any halfway close observer of federal budgeting could have foreseen that the budgetary good times would come to an end at some point in an effort that spanned multiple elections. Any minimally decent budgeteer would have incorporated adequate margins, disposable elements, and off-ramps to prepare for such eventualities. But instead of picking a conservative set of requirements and efficient and resilient technical content, Griffin gambled on recreating Apollo in the absence of a Cold War budget, and worse, doubled down by putting the program’s requirements “on steroids” and demanding unnecessary elements. The more than doubling of the post-Shuttle human space flight gap to five years, the worsening flight safety problems arising from the continued mismatch between Ares I performance and Orion’s mass, and the deferral of the decision to start Ares V/EDS/LSAM development into the latter half of a potential Clinton II presidency are all the result of Griffin’s very poor gamble.

    “Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.”

    Absolutely. But the point is not that Clinton has made a particular choice. To repeat myself from earlier in the thread:

    The point is that Clinton is confronted with having to make a choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware (Ares V, EDS, LSAM) would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice in FY11 (when the budget for Ares V, EDS, and LSAM start ramping up), if not earlier, between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA program versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or in the federal budget. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    It didn’t have to be this way. These choices did not have to be delivered into the lap of the next President. Other NASA priorities did not have to suffer so gravely, and the development of actual human lunar hardware could have been well underway during this Presidency, had Griffin not taken the heavy ESAS requirements and Ares I detours. From a space exploration advocate’s point-of-view, it was a terrible waste of a rare political opportunity.

    “I think NASA could make ESAS work.”

    At what cost?

    That’s the key question that the next President is forced to grapple with as a result of Griffin’s choices and ESAS’s unnecessary costs.

    “I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration. ”

    Exactly. NASA’s human space flight resources are limited, so they need to be spent productively. And ESAS is not doing that, not by a long shot.

    Well put. I obviously can’t say it any better myself.

    FWIW…

  • Keith Cowing

    Stephen Metschan “Actually it was over 12,000 downloads which might place that one post at the top 10 for your site that year. Sounds like a topic that your audience might be interested in.”

    Yawn. Posts about my silly iPhone stunts did that in less than a day. Downloads do not equal credibility.

    You (and Direct) are an asterisk.

  • MarkWhittington

    A lot of people seem to be missing the main point of Hillary’s anti space exploration stance. She may have found herself in not only the unteniable position of being to the left of Barbara Mikuslki on the issue, but also by contradicting her cosponsership of the Mikulski-Hutchison Amendment.

    In other words, she has handed her political opponents an opportunity, should they choose to take it.

    And that opportunity does not include adopting fantasy “alternatives” to the current exploration plan. The opporunity involves taking two political positions that contradict Hillary and are popular with the electorate:

    (1) Reiterate support for the Vision for Space Exploration and indeed advocate quickining its pace along the lines proposed by the Senate.

    (2) Come out squarely in support for commercial space, which Hillary so conveniently ignored.

  • anonymous.space

    “A lot of people seem to be missing the main point of Hillary’s anti space exploration stance.”

    Clinton is not “anti space [sic] exploration” in the NYT excerpt. She simply assigns it a lower priority versus other NASA programs, like Earth science and aeronautics.

    “contradicting her cosponsership of the Mikulski-Hutchison Amendment”

    Assuming it both survives conference and gets a 2/3rds vote to override the President’s veto (a highly unlikely scenario), the FY08 amendment will not fund human space exploration. Ares V/EDS/LSAM funding does not ramp up until FY11. The amendment replaces funds taken from ongoing NASA programs, mainly ISS/STS, to pay for Katrina damage and Columbia recovery efforts. Even if Clinton was “anti space [sic] exploration”, her support for the amendment is not inconsistent with that position.

    “And that opportunity does not include adopting fantasy “alternatives” to the current exploration plan.”

    Clinton has not articulated or expressed support for any particular alternative, “fantasy” or otherwise, to ESAS/Constellation. As others have argued, she may in fact endorse the technical approach in ESAS/Constellation. The text of her speech and press release is not definitive one way or the other. How do you know? Can you read her mind?

    “Reiterate support for the Vision for Space Exploration and indeed advocate quickining its pace along the lines proposed by the Senate.”

    Again, the Senate amendment will certainly not accelerate any actual human lunar hardware. There’s none underway currently. It’s up to the next President (Clinton II or otherwise) to start (or not) those projects.

    Heck, even if redirected in whole to Constellation, $1 billion is unlikely to accelerate the $20-30 billion Ares I/Orion programs by even one year.

    And besides, since when is human space exploration a significant issue for voters? Why advise Republican candidates to waste their time and resources on something that’s not important to the electorate and that will probably only earn them jokes about being “spacey” or “moonie” candidates on late-night TV? Whose side are you on?

    “Come out squarely in support for commercial space, which Hillary so conveniently ignored.”

    This would only make sense if we knew that Clinton opposed commercial space activities. If Clinton’s speech and press release do not mention commercial space activities, how do you know that Clinton opposes them? Can you read Clinton’s mind?

    And again, since when are commercial space activities a significant issue for voters? Why advise Republican candidates to waste their time and resources on something that’s not important to the electorate and that will probably only earn them jokes on late-night TV? Whose side are you on?

    [shaking my head]…

  • anonymous.space

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I agree wholeheartedly, which is part of why I’m so critical of ESAS. Instead of returning NASA’s human space flight programs efficiently and rapidly to the development of actual human exploration hardware, ESAS wastes $10 or so billion recreating an intermediate Earth orbit lift capability that’s already exists in spades in the nation’s launch vehicle stable, among other arguably unnecessary activities and requirements.

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    A human lunar return effort is central to the VSE, but it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the White House policy document alone, only five out of 26 bullets deal with the lunar return effort. See:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html.

    And in NASA’s accompanying planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See PDF link here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    Griffin has killed off many of the other elements of the VSE (half the Mars missions, any outer moons missions, space telescopes, space nuclear reactors and propulsion development, etc.) to get the ESAS implementation plan started and keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 start to operations, but that doesn’t mean that the VSE was originally only about those activities.

    “For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending.”

    No it’s not. While NASA’s budget increases have been somewhat lower than the VSE projected, the primary cause of NASA’s budget crunch is the fact that the ESAS plan busted the VSE budget from day one. Just to get Ares I/Orion started, Griffin had to cancel billions of dollars worth of ISS research, Project Prometheus, and other exploration technology development. Even then, Griffin could only afford to budget Constellation at a 65% probability of success, meaning that there is a 1-in-3 chance that Ares I/Orion won’t meet its 2015 operational date and/or suffer an overrun. The industry standard is 80% (1-in-5 chance of delay/overrun).

    Any program manager worth his salt would have chosen a technical path that was not so budgetarily precarious from the very beginning. Any halfway close observer of NASA’s programs could have foreseen that the budgetary good times would come to an end at some point in an effort that spanned multiple elections and incorporated adequate margins, disposable elements, and off-ramps for such eventualities. But instead of picking a conservative set of requirements and an efficient program approach, Griffin gambled on recreating Apollo in the absence of a Cold War budget, and worse, doubled down by putting the program’s requirements “on steroids” and demanding unnecessary elements. The more than doubling of the post-Shuttle human space flight gap to five years, the worsening flight safety problems arising from the continued mismatch between Ares I performance and Orion’s mass, and the deferral of the choice to start Ares V/EDS/LSAM development into the latter half of a potential Clinton II presidency are all the result of Griffin’s very poor gamble.

    “Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.”

    Absolutely. But that’s not the point. To repeat myself from earlier in the thread:

    The point is that Clinton is confronted with a choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware (Ares V, EDS, LSAM) would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice in FY11 (when the budget for Ares V, EDS, and LSAM start ramping up), if not earlier, between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA program versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or in the federal budget. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    It didn’t have to be this way. These choices did not have to be delivered into the lap of the next President. The development of actual human lunar hardware could have been well underway during this Presidency, had Griffin not taken the ESAS requirements and Ares I detours. From a space exploration advocate’s point-of-view, it was a terrible waste of a rare political opportunity.

    “I think NASA could make ESAS work.”

    At what cost?

    That’s the key question that the next President is forced to grapple with as a result of Griffin’s choices and ESAS’s unnecessary costs.

    “I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration. ”

    Exactly. NASA’s human space flight resources are limited, so they need to be spent productively. And ESAS is not doing that, not by a long shot.

    Well put. I obviously can’t say it any better myself.

    FWIW…

  • spector

    It’s kinda obvious, just like the USSR was retreating geopolitically and lost their heavy-lift/shuttle system the USA is doing the same thing today. There must be some kind of global undercurrent eroding such big empires and their pet projects since the 1950s.

    But hey, smarten up, the USA is still a big country with big capabilities, science is still progressing, you’ll be bound to end up on Mars after the babyboomers have gone.

  • Keith your June unique readers was 72,000 so 12,000 downloads half to a NASA.gov domain is pretty good. You also mentioned that I was sticking my neck out which was also true. You sent me an email saying you were taking serious flack from NASA and added this note to defend your posting.

    Editor’s note: Interesting – a thousand people@nasa.gov have downloaded this paper. That is more than just a passing interest – from the real rocket scientists.

    The kool-aid crowd was saying we weren’t real rocket scientist back then which you correctly defended but for some reason you are now aping their falsehoods. Back then it was only one rocket scientist now we have ten which is why the 2007 paper is superior to the 2006 paper. Hence why it would be nice to bring 12,000 of your unique readers up to speed with our best stuff.

    Anyway you have now established in this forum that the answer I gave Mike Puckett question, almost as an aside as to why not contact Keith, is 100% correct.

    Fact:
    You won’t post even so much as an update because I won’t break my promises to the other rocket engineers not count myself and Chuck (somehow that doesn’t matter to you) that helped make a proposal superior to ESAS. If Steve is feeding you the not real rocket scientist line here is two tidbits. First Steve is in the dark when it comes to the rank and file reporting to him for the same reasons Mike is in the dark, they can’t handle the truth. Second Steve will never disagree with Mike which is why he is where he is. If Mike told Steve to use a grand piano stuffed with dynamite as the second stage of Ares-I he would do it as instructed without blinking an eye. There is a lid for every jar.

    Anyway the suggestion to contact you by Mike Puckett was a good one. Because back to the topic of this post;

    This is absolutely positively why our first launch system musts be capable at some point in time to be easily upgradeable to a lunar configuration. This is precisely why the Jupiter-120 (Ares-II) (ISS) and the Jupiter-232 (Ares-III) (Moon,Mars) are configured the way they are.
    http://www.directlauncher.com
    With Mike at the helm the Ares-I will be the end of the road representing a massive step backwards from what we can buy today. After his disastrous approach falls in my generations lap we will be standing there operating a system that cost 10x times more than an EELV while trying to find a way to find the money needed to create a Heavy Lift system equivalent to the Saturn-V all while the demographics and national debt are placing the highest level of pressure on discretionary spending not seen since WW2.
    If anyone can help us get these facts across to the right people now would be a good time.
    I only wish you would figure out that Mike is running NASA into a brick wall and you are not help us prevent this now as you did back in November 2006 for some reason.

    The only reason I can come up, consistent with all the facts, is that your post in Nov 2006 really hit motherload of anger from NASA management. I’m sure your other post tweak them on a regular basis but this one threw them for a loop because it hit at the foundation of everything they are doing. More importantly it resonated with the rank and file which was even worse.

    Either way Mike’s bosses will soon be making their disappointment know in no uncertain terms. Even if he thinks he is a smartest rocket scientist that ever walked the Earth. At which point you will not have a choice about posting our stuff because it will be what NASA is doing. Unless you want to change your web site name to Griffin in retirement Watch.

  • Keith Cowing

    Stephen: “Keith your June unique readers was 72,000 so 12,000 downloads half to a NASA.gov domain is pretty good. You also mentioned that I was sticking my neck out which was also true. You sent me an email saying you were taking serious flack from NASA and added this note to defend your posting.”

    You seem to have a problem with the English language. I never said that 12,000 nasa.gov people downloaded my silly iPhone stuff. Seriously, read things more carefully. As for your web math, I run a dozen other websites which, combined, do more traffic than Nasawatch. Do better research next time before you try and draw conclusions.

    As for the rest of your rant – you take yourself and your ideas far too seriously. You started off rational but you’ve clearly gone off the deep end. This line says it all:

    “At which point you will not have a choice about posting our stuff because it will be what NASA is doing”

    You got a link and some exposure from NASAWatch and SpaceRef and you put on silly manic public tantrums like this hoping to get more?

    I am not going to link to your stuff until/unless someone other than model makers and graphic artists are listed as primary co-authors. Puff your chest up and flap your wings all you wish. All you end up doing is looking desperate.

    Why not bark up some other trees for web visibility like Space.com, Space News, Aviation Week for example. Why aren’t your railing against them?

  • Keith wrote:
    “Why not bark up some other trees for web visibility like Space.com, Space News, Aviation Week for example. Why aren’t your railing against them?”

    Because they have been told by their advertisers not to. I know this for a fact. This is entirely consistent with why I think you won’t run it. Don’t worry I understand the conflict you must have. If you have just 1% of the inside information I do you must know the shaft is doomed at this point but I haven’t seen a peep at NASA Watch since last year.

    Which is why we are working with Mike’s bosses right now because it’s clear that everyone except them is running scared of him. It’s amazing how receptive they are to a plan that doesn’t run their constituency thru a grinder like ESAS does. Seems for politicians it’s all a big popularity contest with their constituency, but then you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

    Why don’t you run it and prove me all wrong? Here is your chance to prove me wrong Keith. That you can’t be bent over by NASA. Besides 17% of your unique viewers at NASA Watch would be interested. So it’s a win win.

    Make that three wins with one more for our Nation’s Space Program.

  • Keith Cowing

    “Because they have been told by their advertisers not to. I know this for a fact. …. Which is why we are working with Mike’s bosses right now because it’s clear that everyone except them is running scared of him.”

    Stephen you have clearly gone off the deep end and now inhabit some conspiracy-driven world where everyone is against you and you are the White Knight who is going to save NASA. Yikes! Based on this post of yours I am certain that I am not going to be featuring you and your “cause” any time soon. It’s also clear that my posts here just feed your manic tendencies.

  • So you are claming that when Mike took over and forced Boeing and Lockheed to pull their Lunar architecture papers at AIAA Space 2005, because horror of horrors they didn’t need the Ares-I, was made up?

    You are claim that there is not one ounce of truth to what you posted below as to the inner workings of NASA? Was this posting a fact or some crazed ravings of yet another “manic” you accidentally passed along?

    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2007/05/petty_politics.html

    Do you honestly believe that working at the upper levels of NASA is just like taking a ride through It’s a Small World at Disneyland?

    Please Keith you must know better?

    Prove me wrong Keith that NASA hasn’t put some serious pressure on you regarding this. If not I understand believe me I understand. Its one of the first thing we need to change or we aren’t leaving Earth anytime soon no matter if its ESAS, DIRECT, or something else.

  • Keith Cowing

    “Prove me wrong Keith that NASA hasn’t put some serious pressure on you regarding this.”

    Why bother? You would not believe anything that I said.

    You are clearly suffering from some sort of odd persecution disorder and I suppose I should just stop posting since it clearly makes you wackier in every post that follows mine. Get a grip.

  • “Time out” for both of you!

    :-)

    JB

  • Jeff Foust

    Hey folks, just a reminder to be civil and to keep your comments on topic. Thanks!

  • Let see, How any civilian space ports in N. America?

    answer: one…

    How many civilian human capable lifters are available in N.America?

    answer: one…

    How long has the practice of lifting humans into space existed?

    answer: 47 years (almost 1/2 century)

    Nope, no matter who’s in the white house it will be business-as-usual.
    The rule will be appeasement toward ‘budget bean counters’ and a well lubricated propaganda machine to extol space-wonders-at-LEO to the masses who are really more interested at the next ‘frivolous idol de jour’

    So where are the next?

    Valentina Tereshkova
    Sally Ride
    Neal Armstrong
    Buzz Aldrin
    James Lovell
    Yuri Gagarin
    etc. etc.

    Yea…right.

  • anonymous.space

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    The VSE’s central element is arguably the human lunar return effort, but it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the VSE White House policy document alone, only five out of 26 bullets address the human lunar return effort. See:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html

    And in the accompanying NASA VSE planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See the PDF links here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    To find the funding to keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 IOC, Griffin has killed off many other elements of the VSE, including half the planned Mars missions, any outer moons mission, extrasolar planet-hunting telescopes, space nuclear reactor power and propulsion, and even all the lunar robotic missions after LRO. But that doesn’t mean the VSE was originally only about building a CEV and finding a booster for it.

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I agree fully, which is part of why I’m so critical of Griffin’s ESAS implementation plan for the VSE. Instead of returning NASA human space flight rapidly and efficiently to actual exploration, ESAS wastes $10 billion or so recreating an intermediate-lift capability that already exists in spades in the nation’s current and near-future stable of launch vehicles, among other arguably unnecessary requirements and activities.

    “For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending.”

    No it’s not. While White House and Congressional increases to NASA’s top-line budget have been somewhat lower than the VSE projected, the primary cause of NASA’s budget crunch is the fact that Griffin’s ESAS implementation plan busted the VSE budget from day one. Just to get Ares I/Orion started, Griffin had to cancel billions of dollars worth of ISS research, nuclear reactor power and propulsion technology development, and other exploration technology development. Even then, Griffin could only afford to budget Constellation at a 65 percent probability of success, meaning that even after busting the VSE budget, there is still a 1-in-3 chance that Ares I/Orion won’t meet its 2015 IOC and/or suffer an overrun. The industry standard is 80 percent (1-in-5 probability of delay/overrun).

    Any halfway intelligent budgeteer could have foreseen that the budgetary good times would inevitably come to an end in an effort that spanned multiple elections, White Houses, and Congresses. Any program manager worth his salt would have would have chosen a technical path that was not so budgetarily precarious from the very beginning, and incorporated adequate margins, disposable elements, and off-ramps to prepare for such an eventuality. But instead of picking a conservative set of requirements and an efficient program approach, Griffin gambled on recreating Apollo in the absence of a Cold War budget, and worse, doubled down by putting the program’s requirements “on steroids” and demanding unnecessary elements.

    The results of Griffin’s bad bet has been more than doubling of the post-Shuttle human space flight gap to five years, the worsening flight safety problems arising from the continued mismatch between Ares I performance and Orion’s mass, and the deferral of the choice to start Ares V/EDS/LSAM development into the latter half of a potential Clinton II presidency.

    “Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.”

    Absolutely. But that’s not the point. To repeat myself from earlier in the thread, the point is that Clinton is confronted with this choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware (Ares V, EDS, LSAM) would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice in FY11 (when the budget for Ares V, EDS, and LSAM start ramping up), if not earlier, between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA program versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or in the federal budget. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    It didn’t have to be this way. These choices did not have to be delivered into the lap of the next President. The development of actual human lunar hardware could have been well underway during this Presidency without big cuts to other NASA programs, had Griffin not taken the ESAS requirements and Ares I detours. From a human space exploration advocate’s point-of-view, it’s been a terrible waste of a rare political opportunity to get human space exploration restarted.

    “I think NASA could make ESAS work.”

    At what cost?

    That’s the key question that the next President is forced to grapple with as a result of Griffin’s choices and ESAS’s unnecessary costs.

    “I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration. ”

    Exactly. NASA’s human space flight resources are limited, so they need to be spent productively. And ESAS is not doing that, not by a long shot.

    Well put. I obviously can’t say it any better myself.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I fully agree. And that’s one of the main reasons why I’m so critical of ESAS. Instead of getting NASA’s human space flight programs rapidly and efficiently back into the business of exploration, ESAS takes a huge detour with Ares I, duplicating an intermediate lift capability that the nation has in spades in its current and near-future launch vehicle stable. To a lesser degree, the same is true of Orion’s unnecessarily oversized requirements.

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    The central element of the VSE is arguably the human lunar return effort. But it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the White House VSE policy document, for example, only five out of 26 bullet points address the human lunar return effort. See here:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html

    And in NASA’s VSE planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See PDF links here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    We should not confuse the greatly truncated VSE activities that Griffin is leaving the agency with versus the VSE program content as originally written and intended. Griffin may have cancelled all of the lunar robotic missions after LRO, half of the robotic Mars missions, any outer planets mission, both extrasolar planet-hunting space telescopes, any space nuclear reactor power and propulsion development, and most other exploration systems technology development just to keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 IOC. But that doesn’t mean that those non-Ares I/Orion elements are not part of the VSE. Or that the VSE is only about building a CEV and finding a booster for it.

    “For one thing most of the current NASA budget crunch is directly tied to recent STS problems and the stalled national budget which froze NASA spending.”

    No it’s not, not by a long shot. While it is true that White House and Congressional budget increases for NASA have been somewhat flatter than the VSE projected, NASA’s current budget crunch is mostly driven by the fact that Griffin’s ESAS implementation plan for the VSE busted the VSE budget from the very beginning. Just to get Ares I/Orion started, Griffin had to cancel billions of dollars worth of ISS research, nuclear reactor power and propulsion development, and other exploration technology development. And even then, Constellation was only budgeted at a 65% chance of success, meaning that there is a 1-in-3 chance that Ares I/Orion won’t meet its 2015 IOC and/or suffer overruns. The industry standard is 80%, or a 1-in-5 chance of delays/overruns.

    Any budgeteer with a lick of sense could have foreseen that the budgetary good times would come to an end at some point in an effort that spanned multiple elections, Congresses, and White Houses. Any program manager worth his salt would have chosen a technical path that was not so budgetarily precarious from the very beginning, and incorporated the necessary margins, disposable elements, and off-ramps to prepare for such eventualities.

    But instead of picking a conservative set of requirements and an efficient and resilient program approach, Griffin gambled on recreating Apollo in the absence of a Cold War budget, and worse, doubled down by putting the program’s requirements “on steroids” and demanding unnecessary elements.

    The results of Griffin’s bad bet to date are a more than doubling of the post-Shuttle human space flight gap to five years, the worsening flight safety problems arising from the continued mismatch between Ares I performance and Orion’s mass, and the deferral of the choice to start Ares V/EDS/LSAM development into the latter half of a potential Clinton II presidency.

    “Nothing ties an incoming administrations hands to the point that requires abandoning VSE or even defering it.”

    Absolutely right. The point is not that Clinton is forced to chose a particular policy option. She’s not. She’s a Presidential candidate — she can choose whatever policy options she wants for her platform.

    The problem is that Clinton is confronted with a choice at all. Griffin and ESAS did not have to pick a Shuttle successor and a human lunar return architecture that was so unaffordable and unsustainable that other NASA programs would get gutted and the decision to start building actual human lunar return hardware would be left up to the next President. But they did, so the next President is going to have to make a choice between starting a very expensive human lunar return effort that will likely require additional mega-bucks and continued gutting of other NASA programs versus spending that human lunar return money elsewhere at NASA or the federal government. And regardless of who sits in the Oval Office come 2009, the human lunar return effort is probably going to suffer from delays, deferrals, or outright termination as a result of confronting the next President with this choice — there are just too many other higher priorities. Clinton is just the first candidate to indicate such.

    It didn’t have to be this way. These choices did not have to be delivered into the lap of the next President. The development of actual human lunar hardware could have been well underway during the Bush I Presidency without major cuts to other NASA programs, had Griffin not taken the ESAS requirements and Ares I detours. From a human space exploration advocate’s point-of-view, it was a terrible waste of a rare political opportunity to get actual human space exploration restarted.

    “I think NASA could make ESAS work.”

    Throw enough money, time, and effort at something and we can get anything to work. The key question is “At what cost?”

    Is a duplicative intermediate-lift launch vehicle and oversized human capsule really worth billions in cancelled aeronautics, Earth science, space science, and exploration technology development? Is it worth major reductions in astronaut flight safety? Or large increases in system operating costs? Is it worth a five-year gap in U.S. civil human space flight? Is it worth years of delays in getting actual human space exploration hardware (heavy lift, EDS, lander) underway, which puts the actual exploration effort at great political risk?

    Other folks may come down differently on these questions, but for me, it’s an emphatic “No!”.

    “I do not support the ESAS architecture and I believe NASA could spend it’s limited resources in ways more productive for manned space exploration.”

    Agreed, wholeheartedly. I couldn’t say it any better myself.

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    A human lunar return effort is central to the VSE, but it is not the “whole point” of the VSE.

    In the White House policy document alone, only five out of 26 bullets deal with the lunar return effort. See:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html.

    And in NASA’s accompanying planning document, only two pages cover “Lunar Testbeds and Missions”. See PDF link here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    Griffin has killed off many of the other elements of the VSE (all the lunar robotic missions after LRO, half the robotic Mars missions, any outer moons missions, both extrasolar planet-hunting space telescopes, space nuclear reactor power and propulsion development, most other exploration technology development, etc.) to get the ESAS implementation plan started and keep Ares I/Orion marginally on track for a 2015 start to operations. But that doesn’t mean that the VSE was originally only about building a CEV and finding a booster for it.

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all?”

    I agree wholeheartedly, which is part of why I’m so critical of ESAS. Instead of returning NASA’s human space flight programs efficiently and rapidly to the development of actual human exploration hardware, ESAS wastes $10 or so billion recreating an intermediate Earth orbit lift capability that’s already exists in spades in the nation’s launch vehicle stable, among other arguably unnecessary activities and requirements.

  • anonymous.space

    “With all due respect, non-human spaceflight elements of VSE?”

    Yes, the VSE, before Griffin started cancelling content left and right to get Ares I/Orion started and keep them marginally on track for a 2015 IOC, included:

    – A series of lunar robotic orbiters, landers, rovers, and testbeds, to be launched at a rate of one per year. Of these, only the LRO and its LCROSS piggyback mission survive.

    – A series of Mars orbiters, landers, rovers, and testbeds, to be launched at a rate of two per Mars launch opportunity (about every two years). This mission rate was cut in half.

    – A nuclear reactor-powered Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO). Although JIMO was a technically and budgetarily questionable mission, even its much more conservative successor, Europa Orbiter, was indefinitely deferred. NASA now has no outer moons missions under development or planned.

    – Two space telescopes for identifying and characterizing extrasolar planets. Both were indefinitely deferred.

    The VSE roadmap on pages 4-5 of NASA’s VSE planning document clearly identify these robotic elements in yellow. If you don’t have the document, see the PDF links in lower right hand corner of this webpage:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/exploration/main/index.html

    “The whole point of VSE is manned space exploration.”

    The central element of the VSE is arguably a human lunar return. But a human lunar return is not the “whole point” of the VSE. The White House VSE policy document has as its very first goal:

    “Implement a sustained and affordable human AND ROBOTIC [emphasis added] program to explore the solar system and beyond.”

    Of the 26 bullet points in the White House VSE policy document, only five address the human lunar return element.

    See the White House VSE policy document here:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/space/renewed_spirit.html

    Even in NASA’s VSE planning document, only the two pages labelled “Lunar Testbeds and Missions” address human lunar return.

    Although Griffin has terminated billions upon billions of dollars of robotic content from the VSE to get Ares I/Orion started and keep them marginally on track for a 2015 IOC, that doesn’t mean that robotic content wasn’t a key, even dominant, part of the VSE. And it sure doesn’t mean that the VSE is only about building an Earth orbit human capsule and finding a booster for it to service ISS, which is what Griffin and ESAS has practically reduced the VSE to.

    “The fact is without manned space exploration what is the point of NASA conducting manned spaceflight at all? Pork? Might as well stop NASA manned ops altogether then.”

    I agree. With the possible exception of some achievements in the diplomatic arena, since Apollo, the past 30-35 years of NASA human space flight has arguably been relatively pointless. Unless NASA and its political masters in the White House and Congress can find a way to conduct actual human space exploration in an effective, efficient, sustainable, and timely manner, NASA’s human space flight programs should be terminated and those billions of taxpayer dollars put to better use elsewhere in the NASA or federal budget.

    “And without manned ops, what is the point of NASA as it was created in 1958?”

    NASA serves functions other than human space flight, usually much more productively. Even if NASA’s human space flight programs continue to cripple themselves with self-inflicted wounds, NASA’s space science and robotic exploration, Earth science, aeronautics, and space technology programs all produce worthwhile products that stand on their own merits, with or without (and often in spite of) the presence of a human space flight program.

    One only needs to read the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the legislation that created and still governs NASA’s purpose, to see that NASA is about much more than human space flight. See the listing in Section 102 here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html

    “Might as well disassemble the whole agency then.”

    No. Although there are legitimate points of debate to be considered in reorganizing NASA in the absence of any substantial human space flight activities, NASA’s other functions, especially its space functions, should arguably remain grouped together, as they are in the European and Japanese space agencies, both of which have small human space flight programs. In fact, Japan moved in recent years to consolidate its civil space functions, which were formerly divided between several different agencies.

    FWIW…

  • Ray

    Mark: “they actually think Hillary cares about the whole Ares vs EELV controversy. Let me clue those of you in. She doesn’t. She doesn’t care.”

    I agree that the next President (whether it’s Clinton or not) isn’t likely to care about the Ares vs. EELV controversy as such, and more broadly they aren’t going to care about the general controversy over what the implementation of the VSE should be (or should have been). However, they will care about the implications of the ESAS implementation that they are presented with, whether it’s Ares, EELV, or whatever. They’ll care about things like how much the manned lunar program is going to cost, how long it’s going to take, how much of an organized scientific community is already working on interesting results from robotic lunar missions and getting the public interested, how much the lunar space transportation system is going to solve other problems (such as sharing costs of EELV launches from other organizations), how much political need there is to start the manned lunar program when the Shuttle workforce is already busy doing Ares I/Orion transportation to ISS, will there be results doing the next 4 or 8 years, and how does the lunar program compare to other alternate uses of the NASA funds.

    I’d suggest that the scenario that the next President is apparently going to be presented with upon Shuttle retirement is not going to make the manned lunar program look at all attractive. If it was so good, why didn’t Bush/Griffin do anything with it, they’ll think.

  • Ray

    Jeff: “She promises to “fully fund” Earth science programs, although she doesn’t say with respect to what (perhaps the National Academies’ decadal survey report published earlier this year).”

    I’d predict something along the lines of the decadal survey report will be a baseline for the serious Presidential contenders, and the more environmentally-inclined will want to go quite a bit farther than that.

    From the survey: “The national strategy outlined here has as its overarching objective a program of scientific discovery and development of applications that will enhance economic competitiveness, protect life and property, and assist in the stewardship of the planet for this and future generations.”

    That’s what the VSE is supposed to do – science, security, and economics. I think it could do it (or could have done it), too … but not the ESAS implementation that took out the robotic precursors (except LRO), whacked various productive parts of NASA, left all of the private enterprise and international cooperation aspects of the plan to the pretty viewgraphs on the post-2020 lunar base, left out Centennial Challenges prizes for years, left only a trickle to fund COTS, and didn’t use EELVs or orbital fuel depots to share costs or give private launchers incentives.

    So, the ESAS VSE implementation didn’t address the “science, security, and economics” foundations or the “private and international participation” aspects. That’s ok, because it probably isn’t going to get far, and the Earth Observation approach will likely be taken instead. It will be really easy to implement a major EO effort that addresses “science, security, and economics” as well as “private and international participation” head on, with results that come in quite quickly compared to ESAS. Here’s just 1 small example from the report:

    “To restore more frequent launch opportunities and to facilitate the demonstration of innovative ideas and higher-risk technologies, NASA should create a new Venture class of low-cost research and application missions (~$100 million to $200 million). … The Venture class could include stand-alone missions that use simple, small instruments, spacecraft, and launch vehicles; more complex instruments of opportunity flown on partner spacecraft and launch vehicles; or complex sets of instruments flown on suitable suborbital platforms to address focused sets of scientific questions.”

    This looks like a great opportunity for the private suborbital and small orbital launch vehicles, as well as the smallsat crowd.

  • A Seeker

    In addition to the other comments about the Ares I vs. EELV controversy, note that the Congressional Budget Office published a report in October 2006 titled, Alternatives for Future U.S. Space-Launch Capabilities. They suggest that a super-heavy derivative of the Atlas family would be more capable and cheaper over the whole Lunar program than the Ares V. We don’t need Ares V any more than we need Ares I.

  • A Seeker wrote:
    “In addition to the other comments about the Ares I vs. EELV controversy, note that the Congressional Budget Office published a report in October 2006 titled, Alternatives for Future U.S. Space-Launch Capabilities. They suggest that a super-heavy derivative of the Atlas family would be more capable and cheaper over the whole Lunar program than the Ares V. We don’t need Ares V any more than we need Ares I.”

    It was still close though and didn’t account for the cleanup cost of decommissioning KSC. Also ‘decommissioning’ and generating the political support needed in the first place don’t go to well together. From an operation cost standpoint the Jupiter-232 (Ares-III) could drop below $10K/kg to orbit at about two launches per year and below $5K/kg to orbit at about eight. I have never seen an EELV price anywhere near $5K/kg.

    But hope springs eternal; maybe SpaceX can beat this so we have a propellant depot in our plan to provide a real commercial opportunity for anyone who can deliver propellant to orbit at a lower cost than the NASA run Jupiter Launch System. Propellant, representing +60% of the mass needed for VSE, is no small business opportunity either. Real COTS as intended not what is currently being done primarily to silence the critics and provide some budget cushion for NASA internal projects. Even international partners could get trips on US spacecraft by providing mission propellant via their nation’s launchers, shoring up another key weakness with ESAS.

    Again the biggest problem with the Ares-I/V is three fold. First the Ares-I is less capable and more expensive to operate what we already have. Second Ares-I and Ares-V are not true ‘direct’ derivative of the STS hence why the development budget is so high. Three the Ares-V has little utility outside of manned exploration.

    The Jupiter-120 (Ares-II) at about 50mT to orbit and +8m diameter fairing would have great utility to number of unmanned and lunar precursor missions. During AIAA Space 2007 it was the payload volume of the Ares-V the unmanned teams wanted not the lift capacity. Also the Jupiter-120 (Ares-II) would replace the Ares-I so this new capability, not seen since the Saturn-V was decommissioned, would occur much sooner and be significantly less expensive than even the most optimistic Ares-V scenarios. The demographic timing of the Ares-V couldn’t be worse. If the Ares-V fails to be funded than defending the Ares-I ultra-high operational cost will be impossible at which point the STS infrastructure is gone and Orion is moved over to an EELV.

    In our plan we only need to fund is a second stage development where as ESAS requires a Saturn V class launch system with a branded new production and launch infrastructure.

    Upgrade the Jupiter-120 to a Jupiter-232 with an upper stage and we will have about 100mT in orbit sufficient in 2 launch architecture to blow ESAS or EELV off the map in terms of capability. All while cutting the number of launch systems we need to develop and operate in half while doubling the launch rate.

    It’s beyond obvious at this point.

  • Brad

    With all due respect anonymous, I am underwhelmed by your slanted reprentation of the VSE and your selective interpretation of the evidence you linked to. Anyone who cares to wade through that information as I did can see how the VSE goal is focused on manned space exploration and spreading human presence into the solar system.

    But the key issue NASA is facing now is not trouble with ESAS, it is trouble with the (likely) incoming Hillary administration. Given how Hillary was quoted in the NYT regarding her space policy, she intends to retreat from VSE and abandon manned space exploration. This Hillary change in space policy is likely to happen regardless of any plan for implementing VSE that NASA might have tried, ESAS or otherwise. It’s telling that not one word from Hillary blamed Griffin or ESAS for her proposed change of policy. For Hillary the problem is manned space exploration period, and not the means of implementing manned space exploration.

    What’s really sad about the Hillary policy is that — it is the worst of all possible worlds. She clearly intends to continue supporting manned spaceflight with all the attendant expense (and pork), it’s just that there will no longer be any hope for manned space exploration. It’s back to the past with Hillary, back to a pre-Columbia policy of endlessly circling in LEO.

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