Congress

Congress, shuttle, and the ISS

The Huntsville Times reports this morning that Alabama’s two senators agree with the proposal by three colleagues to preserve shuttle infrastructure—provided that there is more money appropriated to NASA to cover any additional shuttle missions. “If the Bush administration intends to propose additional shuttle flights, then we must have a corresponding increase in the NASA budget request,” said Sen. Richard Shelby. “Otherwise, I would oppose any such effort that will undercut our research and development of America’s next generation of space flight.” Shelby and Jeff Sessions were responding to a letter earlier this week by Sens. John McCain, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and David Vitter, asking the president to direct NASA not to take any steps that would prevent additional shuttle flights beyond 2010.

Meanwhile, at least one member of Congress is concerned about reports that a Russian cosmonaut took images of Georgia from the ISS earlier this month just after Russian troops entered the country. The images were taken for “humanitarian” uses, an explanation that satisfies NASA, but not necessarily Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL). “It is a concern when any of our international space partners use the station… for what could be used for strategy or tactics,” he told the Washington Times.

100 comments to Congress, shuttle, and the ISS

  • Chance

    I’d be pretty skeptical that the pictures were of much value, military or otherwise. Another tempest in a teapot.

  • spectator

    Of course that would very much depend upon the size and speed of the lens. Do you know what they used? If not, I’d give the Russians the benefit of doubt that they knew what they were doing.

  • Al Fansome

    Wayne Hale, until recently NASA’s Space Shuttle program manager, and currently NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for strategic partnerships, makes some pretty good points.

    See:

    http://wiki.nasa.gov/cm/blog/waynehalesblog/posts/post_1219932905350.html

    It is nice to have eloquent oratory and high flown philosophical statements, but the real way that real programs are really controlled is through the money. When the logistics and supply budget is stopped, the program is over. Momentum and warehoused supplies can carry on for a short period, but when those are exhausted, its time for the museum.

    Starting four years ago, the shuttle program in its various projects made “lifetime buys”. That is, we bought enough piece parts to fly all the flights on the manifest plus a prudent margin of reserves. Then we started sending out termination letters. About two years ago, we terminated 95% of the vendors for parts for the external tank project, for example. Smaller, but still significant, percentages of vendors for SSME, Orbiter, and RSRB have also been terminated.

    We started shutting down the shuttle four years ago. That horse has left the barn.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Spacer

    Which means that NASA slows the flight rate until the logistics catches up again. Yes, it will cost a lot, but that is what happens when people don’t keep their options open.

  • Chance

    Of course that would very much depend upon the size and speed of the lens. Do you know what they used? If not, I’d give the Russians the benefit of doubt that they knew what they were doing.

    According to the article, an 800mm telephoto lens was used. While I don’t what kind of cm per pixal that gives you, from what I’ve found online you’d need something quite a bit bigger to get useful info. Of course, this may depend on what the Russians would consider useful. Perhaps one of our imagery experts would care t comment?

  • If the President and Congress decide that the Shuttle program must be continued, and the funds to do that are appropriated, vendors will start their lines up again. However, everyone from the President to Congress to the public should understand that it will neither be cheap nor quick and decisions need to be made now.

    The flip-side of the coin is no manned access to Space, much less to the ISS, for which the U.S. paid the vast majority. In the past, Congress has shown reluctance to waive the Iran, North Korean and Syria Nonproliferation Act so that NASA could purchase rides on Soyuz spacecraft from Russia, who is a major enabler for these states. After Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Georgia on August 6th, those waivers are simply unacceptable.

    So, the question boils down to this. Is the cost of restarting the Shuttle equipment lines, for keeping the Shuttle running, and moving up Orion/Ares so much larger than paying Russia for rides on Soyuz that the U.S. Government, and Congress specifically, will swallow its indignance over Russia’s invasion a U.S. ally? I think, and I hope, that the answer is no.

  • Adrian

    TOM FEENEY, R-District 24 – anyone have an opinion on this fella? Has he made shrinking the gap a priority, or reducing shuttle-retirement induced job losses?

    his opponent is soliciting funds from the law firm im employed in; when I asked her these same questions her answers were unsatisying and quite generic, but she was quick to discuss Congressman Feeney’s links to Jack Abramoff, as if that had any relevancy. im wondering if Mr. Feeney has done a good job in supporting our interests.

  • gm

    .

    then, it seems the Shuttles are dead from 2006… no, not true, the parts’ vendors haven’t lost their know how, and, build again that parts can’t cost so much if compared with the advantage for USA and NASA to have an independent cargo/crew vehicle from 2010 to 2016

    but, most important, did you have realized that USA and NASA (the country and the space agency that landed the first man on the Moon!) will be the ONLY big country of the world unable to carry anything in space for (at least) SIX YEARS ???

    in the mean time, Russia, China, Europe, Japan and (maybe) some private companies will be able to carry a cargo payload to ISS and (at least) two of them (Russia and China) a crew in Space or to the ISS !!!

    make a gift to yourself: save the Shuttles!

    .

  • Me

    gm,

    You are such a fool. The following is complete nonsense:

    “but, most important, did you have realized that USA and NASA (the country and the space agency that landed the first man on the Moon!) will be the ONLY big country of the world unable to carry anything in space for (at least) SIX YEARS ???”

    The USA has Delta, Altas, Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur, Falcon,etc. The USA does not lack access to space.

  • MrEarl

    Seems we have quite a few on this blog who would like to keep the shuttle flying until the Aries is ready to take over. I also would hate to give up the capabilities that the shuttle gives us not the least of witch is manned access to space for the next 8 years.
    The only way I can see this happening is to retire Atlantis and fly the other orbiters twice a year (one time each) until COTS-D or Aries is ready. Atlantis can be used for spare parts, the workforce will be smaller than today and also gives the added advantage of retaining some experienced technicians, something we lost during the last switch from Apollo to the shuttle. The most important part of the whole thing is funding. Nasa should be asked to report back by the end of the year with cost estimates on keeping the shuttles flying 6 more years. Then the new president and congress can make the decision of fly till Aries or COTS-D is ready or hope for the best with the Russians. The most important this is the funding. We don’t want to sacrifice Aries to fly the shuttle.

  • We don’t want to sacrifice Aries [sic] to fly the shuttle.

    Some of us don’t think that Ares (if that’s what you mean) is worth building.

  • gm

    “Me” said… “The USA has Delta, Altas, Pegasus, Taurus, Minotaur, Falcon,etc. The USA does not lack access to space.”

    ALL THEM launch SMALLER payloads, NO manned capsules and ONLY a “DUMB” kind of payloads… absolutely NOTHING compared with the Shuttles, Soyuz, Shenzhou, ATV, HTV and Progress!!!

    as clearly explained in my posts here: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2008/08/26/mccain-senators-preserve-option-to-extend-shuttle-life/#comments

  • sc220

    Some of us don’t think that Ares (if that’s what you mean) is worth building.

    Amen to that, brother. The sooner we can shelve Ares, the sooner we can revector toward fielding a viable Shuttle replacement. More and more folks are realizing that the Ares is simply undoable. BTW, they are now considering the use of small strap-on boosters on the first stage to offset the additional mass needed to offset the SRB thrust oscillations. Unbelievable.

  • red

    MrEarl: “Seems we have quite a few on this blog who would like to keep the shuttle flying until the Aries is ready to take over.”

    Well, since you put it that way, I’ll have to vote for neither. Let’s shut the Shuttle down on schedule, and let’s replace Ares with COTS D. Even with a very well-funded COTS D for 2 or more winners, we should still have money left over to do other useful things we don’t have the money to do now, like adequately funding robotic lunar precursors, Sun and Earth observations, planetary science, use of commercial suborbital vehicles, space infrastructure demos like tugs and refueling, etc.

    Once we have COTS D commercial crew transportation working, and a decent number of robotic lunar precursors fielded, and some space infrastructure capabilities like refueling demonstrated, we can refocus our attention and decided whether or not, and how, to get the big masses to the Moon.

  • spectator

    You guys that harp on COTS-XYZ are delusional. COTS has delivered squat.
    Until someone can pull it off, no policy maker at the national level will give it the more than seed money. Space-X is about as well funded as any COTS program could hope and they are 0-3 with small payloads. Years from manned orbiter capability.

    I’m not a rocket scientist, just a lowly computer guy with a dusty math degree, so I won’t pretend to know if Ares I is right wrong or impossible. But I do know that many people with valuable reputations have staked it to Ares. You’d think they would be the first to call halt back in 2005-2006 if Ares was unworkable.

  • Space-X is about as well funded as any COTS program could hope and they are 0-3 with small payloads.

    Why would COTS have to “hope” for a couple hundred millions when the current Charlie Foxtrot that NASA is developing is getting billions?

  • gm

    “Why would COTS have to “hope” for a couple hundred millions when the current Charlie Foxtrot that NASA is developing is getting billions?”

    (simply) because the Falcon-1 (that, so far, haven’t flown once…) is just a toy compared with the rockets a lunar mission needs

    NO, also in the most optimistic dreams, COTS can’t replace the Shuttles NOR the ESAS rockets!

  • gm

    post edit: …haven’t SUCCESSFULLY flown once…

  • red

    If NASA is worried about the development risks of using a new rocket like the Falcon for COTS D, they could always select an EELV or Shuttle-derived winner. I’d be much more inclined to bet on a well-funded COTS competition where investors have done their homework and decided to put in their money than a government-run program like Ares. I’d be even more inclined to bet on it if 2-4 competitors (maybe some using existing rockets, some using new ones) were funded than the single Ares effort. Add in the absence of the need for Ares 1/V compatibility, and the decision just gets easier.

    I agree with 1 thing, though – the current COTS is just “seed money” (a couple hundred million and change per competitor) compared to Ares, or Shuttle – let alone bringing Ares earlier, or extending the Shuttle’s life. I’m not suggesting that COTS D should be a $500M competition like the original COTS – but it needn’t bust the budget like these other options, either.

  • Me

    gm is wrong as usual, Delta and Atlas can carry more than the shuttle

  • Al Fansome

    RED: Well, since you put it that way, I’ll have to vote for neither. Let’s shut the Shuttle down on schedule, and let’s replace Ares with COTS D. Even with a very well-funded COTS D for 2 or more winners, we should still have money left over to do other useful things we don’t have the money to do now

    RED: If NASA is worried about the development risks of using a new rocket like the Falcon for COTS D, they could always select an EELV or Shuttle-derived winner.

    Red,

    A friendly amendment.

    1) We should cancel Ares 1 and put the Orion on an EELV.

    2) We should fund 4+ winners for COTS D.

    3) At least one of them should be an EELV with a simple capsule (like Boeing proposed during the second round of COTS).

    4) All of them must have skin in the game.

    5) Only companies that put “skin in the game” under COTS D should be allowed to compete for NASA’s business for “ISS crew/cargo” transportation. (e.g., the Orion must be focused on “beyond LEO” missions).

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • anonymous.space

    “Space-X is about as well funded as any COTS program could hope and they are 0-3 with small payloads.”

    There are no “small payloads” or small launchers in the COTS program (they’re all medium-lift or bigger) and there have been no COTS launches, by Space-X or any other company. This statement appears to confuse and conflate Air Force ORS dollars for Falcon I with NASA COTS dollars for Falcon V/Dragon.

    “But I do know that many people with valuable reputations have staked it to Ares. You’d think they would be the first to call halt back in 2005-2006 if Ares was unworkable.”"

    A more detailed and independent study than ESAS would likely have uncovered Ares I’s more glaringly obvious issues like thrust oscillation as early as mid-2005. Regardless, three years have passed and Ares I/Orion is clearly unworkable from the standpoint of performance and mass. Key managers have left the program voluntarily (Doc Horowitz) and involuntarily (Skip Hatfield) over the past year.

    For ISS missions, Orion’s mass margin based on total gross life-off mass (GLOM) is down to 286 kg or 1.06% of its not-to-exceed (NTE) mass. There’s little hope that will hold as Orion’s major mass threats (1009 kg) outweigh that margin by more than 3:1 and outweigh its major mass opportunities (589 kg) by almost 2:1. Put another way, when the 90th percentile mass threats/opportunities are added up, Orion’s mass is expected to grow another 910 kg, easily busting through the NTE mass. See p. 25 and 33 in the presentation at (add http://www.):

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=28633

    It’s even worse for the lunar mission, where Orion’s mass margin based on total GLOM is already (and has been since last November) negative, standing at -859 kg or -2.85% of it NTE for lunar missions. There’s little hope for a return to positive margin, as Orion’s major mass threats (1,081 kg) outweigh its major mass opportunities (701 kg) for the lunar mission. And again, when the 90th percentile mass threats/opportunities are added up, Orion’s mass is expected to grow another 885 kg for the lunar mission. See p. 25 and 37 in the above presentation.

    The real kicker in all these mass calculations is that, as noted in the double asterisk at the bottom of those pages, they don’t yet take into account the mass of any options for mitigating the thrust oscillation from Ares I. Even if the total GLOM margins weren’t on the ragged edge or negative, we’d still have no solid mass estimates because we won’t know the actual acoustic environment until after the Ares I-Y test flight in 2013.

    In terms of performance and mass, Ares I/Orion does not close.

    Even if Ares I/Orion could close, in terms of mission success and crew safety, Ares I/Orion are ridiculously risky. The crew and mission risk charts show that about 1-in-20 Orion missions to ISS will be lost (more than an order of magnitude less than the 1-in-250 requirement for the ISS missions) and show that about 1-in-10 Orion lunar missions will be lost (five times less than the 1-in-50 requirement for the lunar missions). See p. 63 and 65 in the above presentation.

    I won’t bother going into the 5×5 programmatic risks, budget overruns, and year-long schedule slippage.

    She’s dead. The coroner just can’t get to the body because Griffin & Co. are still performing CPR.

    FWIW…

  • gm

    “Me” said… “Delta and Atlas can carry more than the shuttle”

    YOU are wrong as usual…

    today’s Delta and Atlas can’t carry more than 24 mT of DUMB payload (read my posts about the difference between a “DUMB” and a “SMART” payload) to LEO, while, the max (“SMART”) payload of a Shuttle is 28.5 mT that may grow to 31-33 mT in a CREWLESS version/launch

    looking at the best real “smart-cargo” vehicle, the ATV, 10 mT of “dumb” paylaods equals less than 4 mT of “smart” payload, then, a 24 mT “dumb payload” Delta or Atlas, may carry (about) 10 mT of “smart” payload (but never be able to accomplish any kind of assembly, disassembly, repair, maintenance, cargo-return, like the, standard or crewless, Shuttles CAN DO) that’s 40% the payload of a standard Shuttle or 30% the payload of a crewless Shuttle!!!

    last, the Ares-1 should carry (if it works…) around 26-28 mT of cargo to LEO (now, it’s unclear how much the LAS weight will be and how it will influence the max payload in a cargo-only launch… after 2016…)

    .

  • spectator

    anonymous.space, you seem to conflate word count with enhanced common sense.

    Space X is well funded under any standard with deep pocket investors. Ever hear Mr. Musk beg for more money as Boeing or LockMart do? He can handle development of a launcher, Falcon I, that aims to put either 420 kg or 1010 kg in LEO. The fact that a well funded COTS bidder can’t get small payloads into orbit ought to suggest he’d have even bigger problems getting much larger, order of magnitude, payloads into orbit on a booster that just finished testing 5 of its 9 engines and is probably 2-3 years from its first test flight.

    Of course once he can loft heavy payloads, then he has to do manned rating. I’m not saying Space X is a flop, they might still meet their goals on price and reliability, but they have a long road ahead of them just to get 400 kg into LEO on time and budget.

    As for the rest of your arguments on why Ares is a bad launcher, save it. I have read it for years. Persuade those that count, Congressman and women, President of US, etc. Fact is 100′s of Nasa employees, many with advanced degrees, long careers in public service or private business, are laying their reputations on the line in developing Ares. If Ares is such an obvious boondoggle as you say, why are they throwing their careers and reputations away?

  • Me

    “Fact is 100’s of Nasa employees, many with advanced degrees, long careers in public service or private business, are laying their reputations on the line in developing Ares. If Ares is such an obvious boondoggle as you say, why are they throwing their careers and reputations away?”

    Because they are towing the company line. Since they are civil service, they aren’t throwing away their careers. Since they are mostly from MSFC, their reputations are already tainted by X-33, X-34, SLI, etc. MSFC hasn’t designed a rocket in 40 years.

  • Of course once he can loft heavy payloads, then he has to do manned rating.

    I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. Whenever someone wants to look like they know what they’re talking about with crewed space vehicles, they use the phrase “manned rating,” without really understanding what it means, and why it’s inappropriate.

  • anonymous.space

    “on a booster that just finished testing 5 of its 9 engines and is probably 2-3 years from its first test flight.”

    Incorrect again — on two counts:

    The nine-engine test firing on July 31-August 1 of this year.

    And the Falcon 9 maiden flight is scheduled for late this year/early next year.

    (They’re actually two months ahead of schedule due to the success of the nine-engine test firing.)

    It’s fine to criticize programs, but we should at least do a little research and get our facts straight before commenting.

    “Fact is 100’s of Nasa employees, many with advanced degrees, long careers in public service or private business, are laying their reputations on the line in developing Ares. If Ares is such an obvious boondoggle as you say, why are they throwing their careers and reputations away?”

    Again, folks have left the program at both the senior management and line engineer levels. Doc “Scotty Rocket” Horowitz left his position as ESMD AA last year, for example.

    And just this week, an MSFC engineer left the program because of, as his farewell email noted, “catastrophic risk levels accumulating across the program”. See (add http://www):

    .nasawatch.com/archives/2008/08/a_farewell_mess.html

    The argument that Ares I/Orion must be workable because people aren’t leaving the program doesn’t hold water. People _are_ leaving the program, precisely because the program is not workable.

    “anonymous.space, you seem to conflate word count with enhanced common sense… As for the rest of your arguments on why Ares is a bad launcher, save it. I have read it for years.”

    It doesn’t even take common sense — just basic math skills — to read NASA’s own documentation, add up the mass threats and compare them the the remaining mass margin, and translate LOM/LOC graphs into figures. Instead of making up generic arguments about the workforce that aren’t even true, I’d urge you to do your homework and assess the actual data on the program.

    And certainly don’t shoot the messenger — I’m just repeating figures straight out of NASA’s own documentation. If you don’t like what you hear, blame ESAS, Griffin, and Constellation management, not me.

    FWIW…

  • Chuck2200

    I am totally behind Space-X, 100%. But I have to tell you that I would not buy their stock yet, if they were offering. They are just finding out – the hard way – that space is hard to do, a LOT harder than it looks. I do give them credit though, they don’t look like they will quit and because of that they will probably be successful. But NOT soon enough to make an impact on the gap. The only way to eliminate the gap is to work out a way to retain the use of our current asset, the Shuttle. There are two ways to do that.

    One: We can totally fund Shuttle operations in addition to the CxP budget, so that Ares-I and Orion development may continue on schedule while Shuttle is flying. I don’t think this option is likely.

    Two: We can totally divert Ares-I development funding to developing Orion and man rating both EELV’s. Freed from the ever restrictive requirements of the Ares-I, both the EELVs and Orion could well be ready to enter service before the current exemption expires in 2011, or possibly no more than 6 months afterward (spring 2012). This would allow an American crew to remain on station at all times, with no interruptions. This option is attractive.

    Once access to our own orbital assets is assured, we can turn our attention back again to the VSE launchers. By that time the Ares family will likely be dead, and Mike Griffin’s tenure long over. There will be a new administrator who would probably be directed to come up with a new architecture and recommendations for implementing the VSE. At that point it’s anybody’s guess what the launch family will look like, but because the Shuttle workforce will still be somewhat intact, there is a strong possibility that the VSE launcher will still be some type of Shuttle-derived launch vehicle. Maybe they will have enough sense to finish the RS-84 and give us a hydrocarbon core stage. One can only hope.

  • anonymous.space

    “One: We can totally fund Shuttle operations in addition to the CxP budget, so that Ares-I and Orion development may continue on schedule while Shuttle is flying. I don’t think this option is likely.”

    Not only is it highly unlikely from a budgetary perspective, technically it just won’t work. Ares I/Orion uses the Shuttle infrastructure. Ares I/Orion has to modify the Shuttle pads, mobile launcher platform, and crawler and can’t if Shuttle is still flying and using them. And Ares I U/S engine development will crawl to a standstill if it has to compete with SSMEs for time on Stennis test-stands. Absent a switch to a non-Shuttle-derived launcher (aforementioned EELVs, more COTs, or something else), it won’t work, even if the $4 billion per year ($20 billion through 2015) necessary to keep Shuttle flying comes from someplace other than the Constellation budget (overall NASA budget increase, wipe out science, etc.).

    FWIW…

  • spectator

    Anonymous.space:
    “Incorrect again — on two counts:

    The nine-engine test firing on July 31-August 1 of this year.

    And the Falcon 9 maiden flight is scheduled for late this year/early next year.”
    I’m wrong on the number of engines in the last test, check. I had heard Space-X’s schedule but doubt they will come close. Again because of their persistent difficulties getting a rocket with just 1 engine on its first stage to orbit. I am guessing that 2-3 years is more likely for them.

    Rand Simberg
    Of course once he can loft heavy payloads, then he has to do manned rating.

    “I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean. Whenever someone wants to look like they know what they’re talking about with crewed space vehicles, they use the phrase “manned rating,” without really understanding what it means, and why it’s inappropriate.”

    My meaning was this. Going from Falcon 1 to Falcon 9 and the Dragon capsule is such a long road and Falcon 1 is proving to be a very difficult engineering challenge for that well funded company. Falcon 9 and Dragon would have to satisfy Nasa’s defnition of “manned rating” and obviously it will add to the complexity Space X is already encountering.

    This is also why I don’t buy Musk’s schedule for its COTS offering. He’ll be late by years, just my guess.

  • Falcon 9 and Dragon would have to satisfy Nasa’s defnition of “manned rating” and obviously it will add to the complexity Space X is already encountering.

    Even NASA has never satisfied NASA’s definition of “manned rating.” People make way too big a deal of “manned rating.” With an expendable, the key thing is to have failure on-set detection, and a means of abort. There’s nothing magical about it.

    obviously it will add to the complexity Space X is already encountering.

    Not really, since he has always planned for it to be a manned vehicle.

  • spectator

    Rand, you really like to split blades of grass don’t you. Are you really trying to say that a manned rated Falcon 9 + Dragon is no more complex than Falcon 1? My statement was that Falcon 1 was far less complex than man rating the other beast they are trying to build. Yet they can’t do the simple things. Even when well funded.

    But hey, on a different tack, check this out
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2008/08/exclusive-nasa.html

    Its about Mike Griffin talking out loud on something I raised here on this very board. Extending shuttles till 2015. Retiring one and running two. Still bring Orion + CLV online in 2015.

    I do believe a few frequent posters said it was stupid, never happen, silly, etc.

  • red

    On the Shuttle 2015 extension investigation that spectator brings up:

    Extending the Shuttle to 2015 strikes me as an idea with a lot of potential ways of turning into a disaster:

    - This would give the Shuttle many more chances to have a third accident.

    - It wouldn’t do a whole lot to increase independence from Russian vehicles, since the Soyuz is needed for emergency crew return when the Shuttle isn’t docked.

    - The Wayne Hale post demonstrates just how expensive this would be. Think about the current enormous Shuttle costs, and then add CAIB-recommended flight recertification and restarting production for items that have already been cancelled.

    - At least now the Shuttle flights are bringing up major pieces of the ISS. What would the Shuttle do through 2015? It would be a great waste to go to that expense to just fly a couple times per year.

    - Related to the last point, it would also be a great waste to just fly crew. So … would the Shuttle be used to send lots of supplies and parts to the ISS? It seems like this would compete with, and possibly kill, the commercial COTS ISS cargo efforts, as well as kill any U.S. commercial crew transport to ISS capabilities that might be forming. That would be a true policy disaster – what’s the point of going to all of this effort and expense with Shuttle and ISS and Constellation if commercial suppliers don’t take over eventually? Even going through the exercise of planning a 2015 extension for the Shuttle must have a chilling effect on SpaceX, Orbital, and any COTS-D (or similar, like Orion on EELV) efforts.

    - A Shuttle extension is likely to cost a lot of money, and it’s likely to have to come mainly from other parts of NASA. That would be a disaster if it came from productive parts of NASA, like Science, COTS, etc. If it came from Ares, and forced Constellation to come up with a better plan that serves U.S. interests rather than NASA interests, it might be all for the best. However, it seems like the idea is to continue Constellation while flying the Shuttle, so it seems like a bad scenario is much more likely than a good one.

    If any money can be scraped together to help solve the ISS gap problem, it should be invested in some kind of incentives to get U.S. commercial vendors (perhaps using some foreign components, perhaps not) to pitch in their money and capabilities to get crew access to the ISS. The latest model of that is COTS, but generally something along those lines should be done. This would bring the benefits of technical and business competition, open the “gap” solution space to everything available (EELV, SpaceX, Orbital, Shuttle-derived … everything), bring in additional effort in the form of commercial investment, bring in the additional incentive of potential non-NASA business, and bring the added chance of success that comes with more than 1 attempt (assuming there’s more than 1 winner like in COTS-cargo).

    Now … if some compromise can be found, where the Shuttle does productive work that helps open LEO to commercial space, like bringing commercial Bigelow modules to the ISS, that might cancel at least one negative part of the plan. One part of the U.S. commercial space industry gets crushed by NASA, but another one starts, and maybe in this probably unrealistic example the Bigelow-type industry eventually becomes a customer for the commercial launchers. However, I doubt that such activity would be part of the Shuttle plan.

  • Rand, you really like to split blades of grass don’t you.

    No, I really like people to stop using terms of which they have no understanding.

    Are you really trying to say that a manned rated Falcon 9 + Dragon is no more complex than Falcon 1?

    I’m not “trying” to say anything. I am pointing out that there is no such thing as a “man-rated” Falcon 9. Falcon 9 is designed to carry crew by definition. That is one of its planned missions. “Man rating” only applies to vehicles that were originally designed to deliver warheads, but someone later decided to make into crew transports. The phrase is completely meaningless in the context of modern launch systems, other than the possible addition of a failure on-set detection system.

    You have already admitted that you’re not a “rocket scientist.” There is no need to persistently prove it.

  • anonymous.space

    “Its about Mike Griffin talking out loud on something I raised here on this very board. Extending shuttles till 2015. Retiring one and running two. Still bring Orion + CLV online in 2015.

    I do believe a few frequent posters said it was stupid, never happen, silly, etc.”

    I don’t know if I was one of those “frequent posters”, but it’s still arguably stupid and can’t happen, budgetarily or technically.

    Even Griffin admits that Shuttle operations run $4 billion per year. That’s a 20% plus increase to NASA’s topline budget in an era when most other federal departments and agencies are lucky to get inflation. It’s also $20 billion over five years to extend Shuttle operations to 2015 in an era when Congress can’t pass a lousy one-time, $1 billion, “Mikulski miracle” to pay for Columbia and Katrina recovery costs.

    But even if we ignore the budgetary absurdities of such a proposal, the technical reality is that Ares I/Orion competes with Shuttle for the Shuttle infrastructure. Ares I/Orion development requires modifications to the Shuttle pads, mobile launcher platform, and crawler. Those modifications can’t happen if Shuttle is still flying and using that infrastructure. Ares I U/S engine development (the long pole in the Ares I/Orion schedule) also requires SSME test stands at Stennis, and will get delayed even longer if SSMEs are still flying and testing.

    Extending Shuttle operations only defers the gap — it cannot close the gap budgetarily within NASA’s relatively fixed budget and it certainly cannot close the gap technically as long as the successor vehicles use and require modifications to the Shuttle infrastucture.

    FWIW…

  • Chuck2200

    ”Even Griffin admits that Shuttle operations run $4 billion per year. That’s a 20% plus increase to NASA’s topline budget in an era when most other federal departments and agencies are lucky to get inflation. It’s also $20 billion over five years to extend Shuttle operations to 2015 in an era when Congress can’t pass a lousy one-time, $1 billion, “Mikulski miracle” to pay for Columbia and Katrina recovery costs.
    But even if we ignore the budgetary absurdities of such a proposal, the technical reality is that Ares I/Orion competes with Shuttle for the Shuttle infrastructure. Ares I/Orion development requires modifications to the Shuttle pads, mobile launcher platform, and crawler. Those modifications can’t happen if Shuttle is still flying and using that infrastructure. Ares I U/S engine development (the long pole in the Ares I/Orion schedule) also requires SSME test stands at Stennis, and will get delayed even longer if SSMEs are still flying and testing.
    Extending Shuttle operations only defers the gap — it cannot close the gap budgetarily within NASA’s relatively fixed budget and it certainly cannot close the gap technically as long as the successor vehicles use and require modifications to the Shuttle infrastructure.”

    You are assuming that Ares-I development continues. That’s what Mike Griffin would want, and he is probably hoping that Congress will choke on the price so that he can continue to gut and dismantle Shuttle, which he hates. But believe it or not, the Subcommittee members responsible for advising the Congressional legislators are a lot smarter than that. If Congress approves this, it will likely be without Ares. The reason for that is, as has been pointed out many times, simply extending Shuttle does not close the gap; it only pushes the start of the gap to the right. Sense the goal of extending Shuttle would be to close or eliminate the gap, the funding that went to Ares will likely be poured instead into Orion, and getting it flying on both EELV’s. That option has the very distinct possibility to completely eliminate the gap altogether.

    Personally, I would like nothing better than to see the Ares-I flushed. It’s a terd and it belongs in the sewer. We’re spending billion$ to polish the terd, but that doesn’t hide the fact that it’s still a terd. Almost from the beginning it began to become clear that rocket was an unforgivable waste of resources and time, and would spell nothing but trouble for us. Orion has paid the biggest price for that flying piece of crap. It has been gutted from its ‘generational spaceship” beginnings to little more than a tin can that has limited ability to keep its crew alive in the event of any kind of anomaly at all. In the beginning it was a true step forward. Now it doesn’t even meet the status qou and may even be considered a giant leap backwards; all in the name of dumbing it down so that Griffin’s pet project might lift it. I always thought the purpose of a rocket was to put the best spacecraft we could design into orbit. But in this program, it’s the other way around. It seems that the purpose of Orion is to give the bottle rocket an excuse to fly. If they scrap Ares-I, I will throw a party! You-all will be invited.

    Scrap Ares! Develop Orion & fly it on an EELV to ISS. Then think about how to implement the 2005 Space Authorization Act (it’s still the law) and develop a true shuttle derived CLV and HLLV for the VSE.

  • gm

    the best, fastest, simplest and cheaper way is to build a new fleet of Shuttles (three-four) with the same Space Shuttles’ design, but using new technologies and several improvements: better computers, a new TPS, rechargeable batteries + solar cells (rather than fuel cells) for very long time stay in orbit, ejectble seats (or crew cabin) to add very much safety from lift-off to 20-50 km. of altitude, a rescue capsule (that could be the modified crew cabin) stronger and lighter structures made with modern alloys and carbon fibers to allow the launch of bigger (maybe, 35+ mT) payloads and longer (30+ days) life support, etc. etc. etc. that choice may allow to save (at least) the 10+ YEARS of time and $20+ BILLION of R&D costs a brand new shuttle could need

  • gm

    of course, a further improvement for the new Shuttles’ fleet should be a better and safer (redundant ECO sensors and no foam’s loss…) ET

  • spectator

    Rand:
    “You have already admitted that you’re not a “rocket scientist.” There is no need to persistently prove it.”

    Kind of more effort than I need, considering I didn’t masquerade as something I’m not. But if it makes you feel good to belabor the obvious, I’m glad you’ve found your niche.

  • Me

    “tthe best, fastest, simplest and cheaper way is to build a new fleet of Shuttles” is totally unfounded.
    1. gm, you neither have the experience nor the knowledge make any judgement of the merits of any concept, proposal or idea with respect to spaceflight. You wouldn’t know if a concept or proposal is good, bad or viable. Proof of this is your website. Most of yours are physically impossible.

    2. It wouldn’t be simple. The shuttle construction hardware has been scrapped and the design team has been long disbanded.

    3. It wouldn’t be fastest because a new shuttle would be starting from scratch

    4. It wouldn’t be cheaper since it is a whole new development. It would cost more than Orion and Ares because it would be more complex. But then again, you wouldn’t understand the concept that complexity is more expensive

    Also there is no need for an shuttle which can carry more or to have a longer on orbit duration. the ISS will be finished by the current shuttle. ISS logistics can be done by smaller vehicles. Even if there was no project Constellation (Orion or Ares), NASA doesn’t need the shuttle or a Shuttle 2. ELV’s can deliver any thing NASA needs.

    The best, fastest, simplest and cheaper idea has been stated on forums over and over. It is a capsule on an EELV. The launch vehicles exist. The work on Orion can still be used and it can be designed to work on the EELV’s.

  • gm

    it’s clear that “Me” don’t like the Shuttles… :)

  • Kind of more effort than I need, considering I didn’t masquerade as something I’m not.

    Actually, when you ignorantly throw around phrases like “manned rating” and argue with professionals in the field who actually understand what it means, you pretty much are.

  • Alex

    As completely ridiculous as building a new batch of shuttles would be time, money, and design-wise, it’s not an idea that’s totally beyond the pale. Boeing floated a brief offer in early 2003 post-Columbia to restart Shuttle production lines and do what the above-poster mentioned: Build next-gen shuttles with composites and next-gen power systems and avionics and whatnot.

  • gm

    Alex said… “Boeing floated a brief offer in early 2003 post-Columbia to restart Shuttle production lines and do what the above-poster mentioned: Build next-gen shuttles with composites and next-gen power systems and avionics and whatnot.”

    then, soon, “Me” will claim that… [Boeing] “…neither have the experience nor the knowledge [to] make any judgement of the merits of any concept, proposal or idea with respect to spaceflight…” and that [Boeing] “…wouldn’t know if a concept or proposal is good, bad or viable…” :) :) :)

  • spectator

    Rand Simberg:
    “ind of more effort than I need, considering I didn’t masquerade as something I’m not.

    Actually, when you ignorantly throw around phrases like “manned rating” and argue with professionals in the field who actually understand what it means, you pretty much are.”

    The arguing seems to be all from you, plus the vitriol, plus the holier than thou pose.

    This is a blog, with comments open to all. If the all knowing Simberg can’t stand opinions, some right, some wrong, some annoying, why in the world do you post?

  • gm

    \\\\\\\\\\
    in the mean time… ESA and EADS-Astrium show an European Lunar Exploration Architecture based on a new 50 mT payload Ariane5 Heavy… reviewed here: http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts/036euroesas.html
    //////////

  • gm

    \\\\\\\\\\
    in the mean time… ESA and EADS-Astrium show an European Lunar Exploration Architecture based on a new 50 mT payload Ariane5 Heavy… reviewed here:
    ghos
    tnasa
    .co
    m/
    posts/
    036eu
    roesas
    .ht
    ml
    //////////

  • MrEarl

    Well some people at NASA have already started a “large scale study” relating to the possibility of extending the shuttles mission to 2015 or until a temporary solution (most likely COTS-D) comes on line, in support of the ISS.
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=5504

    It seems that everyone on this site have their own biases and pet projects. Living in the real world, if the US cannot count on using the Russian’s Soyuz, and the Orion capsule will not be ready till early 2015, no matter what launch vehicle is used, and the Falcon 1 (much less Falcon 9) not even having a fully successful launch yet, it would seem a prudent undertaking and the only option left to us if we want to have access to the space station.

  • This is a blog, with comments open to all. If the all knowing Simberg can’t stand opinions, some right, some wrong, some annoying, why in the world do you post?]

    I can “stand” opinions (whatever that means). But when they’re ignorant opinions, dressed up as knowledgeable opinions, expect to be corrected by people who know better, lest they influence people who aren’t familiar with reality.

  • me

    “Then, soon, “Me” will claim that… [Boeing] “…neither have the experience nor the knowledge [to] make any judgement of the merits of any concept,”

    gm, wrong as usual. Boeing proposed that back in 2003. It is 2008 and the conditions are different. The orbiter production tooling is being or has been destroyed. Back then, the shuttle was was a long term program with upgrades and now, it has less than 10 flights and people have and are leaving the program. Boeing’s proposal is no longer valid. The need for the shuttle is only to bridge the gap, there is no long term need for the shuttle.

  • gm

    companies and engineers don’t lose their know how in a few days, restart the Shuttle program is ONLY a matter of MONEY

  • me

    Also, gm, you couldn’t resist posting a link to your site about a subject that has nothing to do to this thread. Do you really need that much attention? What is the point of it? The topic of your post has nothing to do with this thread or politics. Is it because you have been banned from other sites and this one of the few remaining that allow you post? Why do you insist on posting links to your site about irrelevant topics? Are you neglected and need for some validation/attention?

    Also, your post is a lie. You are not “reviewing” the European Lunar Exploration Architecture. You are trying to claim credit for it, as usual.

    Enhanced Ariane V’s and lunar orbital stations is old news (older than 2006). You aren’t the first to think of it and proof doesn’t have to be on the internet.

  • me

    “companies and engineers don’t lose their know how in a few days, restart the Shuttle program is ONLY a matter of MONEY”

    It is not days, it is 5 years ago for the proposal. Building an orbiter is not the same as flying one. Operators are not designers.
    That isn’t the point, you said “faster, simpler and cheaper” If it is a matter of money, then it isn’t cheaper

  • gm

    “banned”… CENSORED is the right word for that… internet is not the “free place” that many believe is… and not all on the web like freedom and democracy… :(

    “claim credit”… it’s really curious that ALL these “developed internally” proiects ALWAYS came out months or years AFTER my articles and looks PRETTY CLOSE to them… :)

    “then it isn’t cheaper”… cheaper or not, NASA and USA must face the REALITY of facts:

    1. the Shuttles will be retired in 2010

    2. the Orion will fly in 2016 or LATER (if further, possible, delays will happen)

    3. the ONLY manned vehicles available for NASA/USA astronauts will be the russian Soyuz and the chinese Shenzhou

    4. if NASA must PAY lots of money to have some seats aboard them

    5. after 2010 and for OVER SIX YEARS the country that landed the first man on the Moon will be the ONLY big country of the world UNABLE to launch its astronauts with its own spacectaft, that looks like a BIG HUMILIATION

    6. in the mean time, many other “small” countries will be able to develop manned vehicles, like Europe (see the link to my article) India (also with reusable vehicles) and IRAN (read the press releases about the Iran’s goal to launch manned vehicles within 10 years!!!)

    7. avoid this VERY BAD scenario (saving the Shuttles and leaving it to fly 5 more years) and saving 7000+ jobs needs a very small amount of money for the US economy and Federal Budget: about $3Bn per year

    8. assuming some “tools” and “experiences” are no more available now, they can be restored spending enough funds

    9. keep the Shuttle program alive 5+ more years. doesn’t mean that you MUST launch four+ Shuttle every year, but, just, that USA and NASA still have the ABILITY to launch their astronauts with an US spacecrafts… it’ mainly a matter of prestige and independence!

    10. just imagine that you decide to scrap all your B-52s or aircraft carriers to save money… then, in the 6+ years gap, you may need to rent some russian or chinese airplanes and ships to defend your country…

  • me

    ““banned”… CENSORED is the right word for that… internet is not the “free place” that many believe is… and not all on the web like freedom and democracy…”

    wrong. The internet is a free place. You can do anything on your own site. But once you go on someone else’s website, it is their ‘property” and it is their right to have rules and their right to allow only those people they want. These websites are not “public” or gov’t provide sites. They are “private” in that they are owned by individuals or companies

  • gm

    “Me”,
    YOUR use of space forums and blogs to post personal attacks, actually IS the only right reason for banning (and I hope that, someday, someone will ban you)

  • Jeff Foust

    A reminder to please keep discussions on topic to the subject of the post. If you are unable to do so, please go elsewhere.

    Thanks,
    The Management

  • Lecter

    To try to return this thread to the subject of the post — a couple points:

    –>To those who want to extend the shuttle lifetime until 2015, you need to remember that the shuttles will get a big vote on that. Their history has shown them to be quite unreliable due to their complexity. We occasionally get lucky and string five launches together in a year, and then we hit an engineering obstacle and we’re down for months. This will only get worse as the orbiters age. At some point, spending $B to fix a problem for a handful of flights would be seen as wasteful and we’re back where we started, only poorer and further behind.

    –>Be very careful when advocating that NASA fit Orion onto an EELV. We are finally seeing venture capital move into the entrepreneurial launch companies, due to COTS and the ISS resupply contracts. An Orion on an EELV would be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as yet another government-subsidized system that would compete with the commercial sector. It would be a very effective way to damage the emerging commercial providers, and ensure that NASA would be stuck in the ISS resupply business for the duration.

  • Spacer

    Lecter,

    One good argument for extending the Shuttle past 2010 is that you are no longer under pressure to launch 4-5 missions in a year. You could drop to a more comfortable 2-3 missions. Indeed, based on that you may well have enough ET’s etc to fly into 2013 or 2014 without starting up the ET line again or replacing any of the vendors already shut down. And enough time to get the Orion on an EELV.

    As for the Orion EELV competing with the COTS competitors. Please that has been the same argument used for the last two decades to kill replacements for the Shuttle. We shouldn’t keep NASA hostage to new space dreams. If companies like SpaceX are so much smarter then Boeing or Lockheed they will have no problem beating the Orion in commercial markets. And if they are not then at least we finally have a Shuttle replacement.

  • Lecter

    Spacer –

    A lower flight rate is not necessarily a good thing. Vehicles that are not flown regularly are more likely to break, as you are not exercising the systems. The first flight of a vehicle after a long down time is always an interesting experience. The best and most reliable way to utilize any system is in a steady pull. Fly it less and it seems to break more. The problem is, the shuttle has been shown to be unreliable in its “steady pull” mode, and would probably be worse if only flown twice / year. And due to the fixed cost / marginal cost structure of the shuttle, you’re certainly not going to save much money that can be used to develop the replacement.

    In the second issue, you bring up a valid point — why bet on the come with the New Spacers if the government can do it? — but we need to think long term. It is apparently less risk to go with a government solution because that is the model that we saw work when we were kids and there is a lot of institutional push (e.g., full employment for all NASA centers) for it. But what do we want the nation’s (not just NASA’s) space effort to look like in ten or fifteen years? The same it’s looked for the last thirty years, with the US stuck in LEO? Private industry has been burned badly by the agency before and they have a long memory. If they get burned again, there will be no private space transportation industry, and NASA will once again be unable to progress beyond LEO transportation as it does not have enough resources to do both that and exploration. And this is even given that NASA succeeds in the development of the LEO transportation system, which may or may not be the case.

  • Al Fansome

    BOTH of the following conflicting viewpoints are valid.

    LECTER: –>Be very careful when advocating that NASA fit Orion onto an EELV. We are finally seeing venture capital move into the entrepreneurial launch companies, due to COTS and the ISS resupply contracts. An Orion on an EELV would be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as yet another government-subsidized system that would compete with the commercial sector. It would be a very effective way to damage the emerging commercial providers,

    SPACER: As for the Orion EELV competing with the COTS competitors. Please that has been the same argument used for the last two decades to kill replacements for the Shuttle. We shouldn’t keep NASA hostage to new space dreams.

    The way to solve this conundrum is to mandate that the government-financed Orion+EELV can not compete with privately financed systems for ISS crew/cargo services.

    The easy way to do this is to solely design the Orion+EELV for missions beyond LEO, which is already its primary mission, and to not allow the Orion to dock at the ISS.

    Next, you finance at least 4 more COTS competitors under COTS to mitigate the risk of any one or two companies not showing up at ISS>

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Chuck2200

    Lecter: “… the shuttle … Their history has shown them to be quite unreliable due to their complexity.

    Not so. You are sensationalizing the two accidents they have had, both of which were caused by bad NASA management, not by the complexity of the spacecraft. We have been flying Shuttle for more than 30 years and it has proven itself to be the safest American manned spacecraft, better than any previous American manned spacecraft; on a safety par with Soyuz.

    Just because a system is complex has absolutely no bearing what-so-ever on the safety of that system. Shuttle is an extremely complex system and when managed properly is about as safe as any spacecraft ever built can be, bar none. Shuttle has never let us down; we (management) have let Shuttle down by ignoring the builders flight specifications (Chalenger) and our own rules of flight (Columbia).

  • gm

    in the early Shuttle flights there was ejectable seats
    the Shuttles’ crew could be reduced to four-five (all them can sit on the upper “deck” of the “ship”) and the ejectable seats could be restored
    also, since the (planned) number of Orion to ISS flights should be one-two per year (between 2016 and 2020) the Shuttles won’t need to fly 4, 5, 6 times per year, but just ONE or TWO (like the planned Orion flights) with no more than two Shuttles in service (that means less costs) and, thanks to the Shuttles’ 24 mT payload cargo-bay, two launches per year will EXCEED the Orion to ISS specs for crew rotation, and (also) may allow NASA to save several billion$ to buy ATVs, HTVs, Progress and cargo-COTS for every cargo-to-ISS needs!
    last, with just two Shuttle launches per year, every (ET, weather, ECO sensors, etc.) launch delays, will be no longer a problem!
    I see LOTS of advantages (and only a few, small, problems) in the evaluated 5+ years shift of the Shuttles’ retirement deadline

  • Spacer

    LECTER,

    I would note that BOTH Shuttle accidents occurred when NASA was pushing to meet an agressive launch schedules. One good thing about an extension to 2015 is you would eliminate the current aggressive launch schedule to get everything finished by 2010. So the mere decision to allow a lower flight rate and fly beyond 2010 will eliminate one historic cause of Shuttle risk, the need to fly NOW!

  • gm

    .

    just some comparisons of costs to support my (THREE YEARS OLD) proposals to save the Shuttle and fly them 5+ more years…

    - the annual Space Shuttle budget is around $3.2 Bn, that means each Shuttle flight may cost (about) $800M if launched four times a year

    - with only two Shuttles in services and two-three flights per year, the annual global costs may fall to $2-2.5 Bn, with each launch priced around $800-1200M

    - if we consider that EACH Orion launch (capsule + ares1 + shared annual support costs + shared orion/ares1 R&D costs) may cost $1.2-1.8 Bn, then (only for crew rotation) two-three Shuttle launches will cost 30-50% LESS than two Orion launches!

    - but the BIG SAVING is on the cargo launch value (since each Shuttle mission won’t carry only a crew!)

    - without the Shuttles, NASA could buy some ATV or HTV for its cargo to ISS needs

    - well, one ATV launch costs is extimated around $1.34 Bn to carry 7.6 mT of cargo to the ISS

    - of course, they need to buy three ATVs to carry to the ISS the SAME cargo mass of just ONE Shuttle mission!!!

    - then, the “price” to carry with ATVs the same cargo mass launched with ONE Shuttle, should be OVER $ 4 Bn !!!!

    - and, if NASA wants to carry (every year) with ATVs the full cargo mass of TWO Shuttle cargo-bay, that “price” will grow to $ 8 billion!!!!

    - in other words, the launch of two ATVs per year will EQUALS the ENTIRE Space Shuttles annual budget!!!!

    - or… if they want to launch the SAME crews and cargo per year with two Orion and six ATVs, the total annual costs may grow to $10-12 billion!!!

    - just add the loss of prestige and independence that come from the use of Soyuz, ATV, etc.

    .

  • One good thing about an extension to 2015 is you would eliminate the current aggressive launch schedule to get everything finished by 2010. So the mere decision to allow a lower flight rate and fly beyond 2010 will eliminate one historic cause of Shuttle risk, the need to fly NOW!

    The current launch schedule is not particularly aggressive. Lowering the flight rate can actually increase risk, because the processing crew spend much of their time sitting around, and get out of practice. There is an optimal flight rate for the Shuttle, in terms of both cost and safety. Arbitrarily minimizing it won’t be helpful.

  • spectator

    One can criticize Nasa for many things but they do have better than 98% flight success with shuttle. If it turns out that fewer flights to a 2015 end date is what Nasa thinks is the best way to assure American access to the ISS, I think they have the bona fides to figure out how to do it safely and as economically as possible, in fact who know better?

  • gm

    @spectator
    agree 100%

  • me

    gm.

    Another clueless post. When the shuttle had ejection seats, it was for only the commander and pilot. There is no room on the flight deck for more ejection seats.

  • me

    gm,

    a second clueless post. NASA already has plans to take cargo to the ISS without the Shuttle or ATV’s. It is called CRS. The budget is around 1.5 billion for 5 years.

    Also your numbers for the ATV’s are wrong. The ATV’s also supply propellant and provide reboosts for the ISS.

  • gm

    “Me”,
    to be exact, the ejection seats was used for a few flights on the Columbia, then, was no longer available on the lost Columbia and Challenger nor on the three Shuttles in service
    however, I’m sure that, the early two ejection seats and two new seats, could be EASY to design and implement, in LESS time than wait the Orion flights (in 2016 or LATER) and with a FRACTION of the price than buy two dozens Soyuz seats or a just four ATV (at $1.34Bn each…) in the next 6-8 years
    of course, the “last word” must come only from NASA, not from me (nor “Me)

  • me

    gm,

    Just stop with your clueless posts. You don’t know anything about what you are talking about. There is no room on the flight deck of the orbiter for more ejections seats, period. Also if NASA were to only install two ejection seats, it would take 2-4 years, since the current orbiters were never intended to have them.

    Your “I’m sure” doesn’t carry any weight or validation. You don’t have the knowledge or education to make such a claim.

    And again, NASA doesn’t have to buy ATV’s, it has CRS.

  • gm

    “The budget is around 1.5 billion for 5 years.”

    hard to believe that a NASA project may cost only $1.5 billion… :)

    probably, it’s the budget for the press conferences’ slide shows of the new project… :)

    also, it’s hard to believe that this “CRS” (if funded) will be ready to fly in “5 years” (why did they spend money for COTS if they alrady have a cargo vehicle developed internally?) and hard to believe that each cargo-mission will cost less than an ATV launch (probably it will cost more!)

    do you have any link of this “CRS” so we can better evaluate it?

    “ATV’s also supply propellant”

    true, and the total cargo mass is 7.6 mT

    however, also assuming it will be able to carry 10 mT or more, its price per launch will always be very high, over $1Bn each, since we must calculate the cost of the ATV, the Ariane5, etc.

    .

  • me

    gm,

    CRS is fully funded and it will be ready in 2011. You are the “expert” who posts on every forum. You should know what CRS is and that it isn’t an internal program.

    Just stop posting since you clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

  • gm

    “no room on the flight deck of the orbiter for more ejections seats”

    if your next President will decide to keep the Shuttles in service for 5, 10 years or more, the Shuttles will fly 5, 10 years or more

    and if HE (not “Me”) wants the Shuttles to be safer than now, NASA will find “room” for the ejection seats or another safety system, PERIOD :)

  • gm

    its should be easy for you (as “superexpert”) to post a link for us, about this “CRS” (if it exists…)

  • me

    “and if HE (not “Me”) wants the Shuttles to be safer than now, NASA will find “room” for the ejection seats or another safety system, PERIOD”

    Wrong. The President can’t order the impossible or tell NASA to change the laws of physics. Also congress can say no to the president.

    So gm, just stop posting PERIOD

  • gm

    “impossible”

    I feel… that, the aerospace company you work(*) for… is not one of the Space Shuttle contractors… :)

    (*) that, assuming you really work for an aerospace company, of course… :)

  • gm

    and… put the ejection seats on a vehicle, doesn’t break the laws of physics

  • Lecter

    Trying to cut thru the gm chaff –

    Al — I’m in total agreement with your point on restricting Orion / EELV to exploration missions. You’d have to construct the restrictions carefully in order for them to be credible to both NASA and the commercial markets, but that probably could be done.

    As for the shuttle’s complexity, please don’t think that I’m predicting that there’d be another major mishap. There are thousands of very smart, very dedicated Americans working now to avoid exactly that, and if anybody could prevent such an occurrence, they could. What is more likely is “not a bang, but a whimper” — those very dedicated maintainers will find something majorly wrong, with a huge price tag (such as airframe fatigue issues, etc.). The shuttle has gone down for months at a time for things such as fuel flow liners that never caused a mishap because they were discovered early. This sort of thing has a major impact on whether you can stick to even an abbreviated flight schedule. Sooner or later, we need to ask if this is how we think we should be doing business.

  • gm

    @Lecter
    I just suggest to keep the Shuttles in services and alive, every changes in the vehicle is an evaluation that come after this main decision
    of course, I can claim that I suggested that three years ago (since that is true) but, now, there are peoples like the PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES that wants that! and NASA (not me or you or “Me”) is evaluating IF is possible to keep the Shuttle alive five more years, how that can be done and how much it may costs (of course, if it’s possible but costs “n” billion, the politics MUST give to NASA the extra-funds to do that)

  • [...] Congress, shuttle, and the ISS – Space Politics [...]

  • Spacer

    Lecter,

    The shuttle has gone down for months at a time for things such as fuel flow liners that never caused a mishap because they were discovered early. This sort of thing has a major impact on whether you can stick to even an abbreviated flight schedule. Sooner or later, we need to ask if this is how we think we should be doing business.

    This is how NASA has been forced into doing business since attempts to replace the Shuttle with programs like X-33 and OSP were killed by New Space activitis pressuring the Congress to “not create competition” for their viewgraph space planes. Building a Shuttle replacement is hard enough without have to worry about the economic impact on firms that have yet to get anything into orbit. We need to untied NASA hands and simply let NASA do what they should have been allowed to do 15 years ago when New Space started ruining space policy and that is just build a replacement system.

    Its sad that thousands of jobs in Flordia are now at risk, and the ISS at risk to being held hostahge by the Russians, just to enable a handful of billionaires will be able to make more money off of servicing the ISS – someday if they ever get their rockets to reach orbit….

  • This is how NASA has been forced into doing business since attempts to replace the Shuttle with programs like X-33 and OSP were killed by New Space activitis pressuring the Congress to “not create competition” for their viewgraph space planes.

    X-33 was “killed by New Space Activists”?

    On what bizarro world did this occur?

  • gm

    READ THIS!!!
    concrete-jet ‘printers’ to build houses, Moonbases in hours:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/01/concrete_building_printers/

  • Spacer

    I recall getting tons of email from new space advocates on how X-33/X-34/VentureStar was bad and NASA was picking winners. Most of the stuff has been scrubbed from the net since it was years ago, but here is a sample.

    http://www.asi.org/adb/06/09/07/2000/fs-20000331.html.

    I also recall the rejoicing by groups like the SFF when X-33 was killed by NASA.

    http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/x33_cancel_010301.html

    In a statement, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), chairman of the House Science Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, applauded NASA’s decision to terminate the X-33 and X-34 programs..

    Rep. Rograbacher is generally a bellweather for what the New Space community is advocating.

    I guess given the Ares I program New Spacers probably think now that X-33/VentureStar wasn’t so bad after all.

  • gm

    the X-33/Venture Star project was INCREDIBLY BAD since, in its early design, based on very inefficient (then very expensive) SSTO concept!
    a single stage vehicle that start from earth surface and come back landing on a runway (then, with the added weight of wings and wheels) without staging, jettisonable tanks, etc. to reduce its mass after launch!
    and it was NOT a “new.space” project, but an project designed by NASA engineers!
    they based their “dream” on the J-2 derived aerospike engines that NEVER worked and never flown ONCE!
    the SSTO is the IMPOSSIBLE “dream” of all rocket engineers, and it will always remains a dream, NOT since it can’t work, but since the payload an SSTO can carry to LEO is minimal (then VERY VERY expensive) compared with the (already VERY expensive) price-per-kg. of payload of a (ways more efficient) two-three stages rocket!!!
    there’s just ONE way to have an SSTO payload-efficient like a TSTO: delete the Earth’s gravity!!!
    in other words, they have spent over $1Bn (probably $3+ Bn at today’s value) to FOLLOW AN IMPOSSIBLE ROCKETS-ENGINEEERS’ DREAM !!!
    a few years later, when the X-33 project was already gone to its end, they had a “flash of rationality” and, in some concepts drawings, they suggested to air-launch a smaller X-33-like SSTO from an airplane… unfortutely, a subsonic airplane (as 1st stage) doesn’t add enough acceleration, speed or altitude to make the difference and transform a crazy and inefficient SSTO to a payload-efficient TSTO !
    the ONLY good idea they had in the X-33 project was to DELETE it! :)

  • I recall getting tons of email from new space advocates on how X-33/X-34/VentureStar was bad and NASA was picking winners.

    It was, and they were. But it’s historically ignorant on a grand scale to think that they were responsible for its death. That was completely self inflicted.

    Just how much power do you, in your fevered delusions, fantasize that “new space advocates” have?

    I guess given the Ares I program New Spacers probably think now that X-33/VentureStar wasn’t so bad after all.

    A stupid guess.

  • Sorry, Jeff, I messed up tags on the last post. Here it is properly attributed:

    I recall getting tons of email from new space advocates on how X-33/X-34/VentureStar was bad and NASA was picking winners.

    It was, and they were. But it’s historically ignorant on a grand scale to think that they were responsible for its death. That was completely self inflicted.

    Just how much power do you, in your fevered delusions, fantasize that “new space advocates” have?

    I guess given the Ares I program New Spacers probably think now that X-33/VentureStar wasn’t so bad after all.

    A stupid guess.

  • gm

    sorry, but, it sound a nonsense to talk about WHO was the “X-33 killers” since the X-33 was a vehicle unable to fly!
    I’m not american, then, I haven’t paid a cent for the X-33 development, but, for the american taxpayers, the “guy who killed” the X-33″ (and other bad projects like the, never flown, $5 Bn HL-20) should only be an HERO for them!

  • Spacer

    Rand,

    So you are claiming that the New Space advocate groups had no influence on NASA’s X-33 decision? That the various groups have no impact on national space policy? Despite of all the money they keep spending for their various campaigns in Washington? And the testimony at Congressional hearings their leaders are always bragging about?

    Makes you wonder why bother giving then money if they have no impact… Or worry about their views when forming space policy…

    I suspect the opposite is true. The New Space advocates did have an impact on NASA’s decision to kill the X-33 instead of giving Lockhheed the additional funds to finish it (about 20% more then budgeted if I recall, to replace the composite H2 tank). And now they are sorry they did so and are looking to blame NASA for doing what they advocated.

  • So you are claiming that the New Space advocate groups had no influence on NASA’s X-33 decision?

    They had influence on the decision to initiate the program. They had none on the decision to kill it. None was needed. The program committed suicide.

    I suspect the opposite is true.

    That’s because you’re ignorant of space history, and live in a fantasy world. I know of no one in the New Space movement who regrets that the LM X-33 concept died, but they didn’t have to do anything to make it happen. They only regret that the X-33 program was so screwed up by NASA’s foolish selection of LM’s concept.

  • Spacer

    I see, the campiagn against the X-33/VentureStar, and against NASA providing additional funds to fix the H2 Tank problem, had no impact on the decision to end the program. So are you saying that New Space groups efforts in that direction was just a waste of member’s money and weren’t needed?

  • Al Fansome

    SPACER: the campiagn against the X-33/VentureStar, and against NASA providing additional funds to fix the H2 Tank problem, had no impact on the decision to end the program.

    Spacer,

    There is a pretty good story about how the X-33 finally ended here:
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4180

    It is a reasonably accurate story, from one perspective, of the final days of the X-33.

    The “New Space” advocacy community did NOT kill the X-33, unless (of course) you are suggesting it was their lack of support and interest in the X-33 that killed the program.

    You do have a case in the following respect — IF the “New Space” community had supported the X-33 at the levels they had supported it in the mid-1990s, it almost certainly would have lived.

    OK, you convinced me.

    Yes, there is no question that the “New Space” community killed the X-33. They killed it with their lack of advocacy and support.

    - Al

  • Lecter

    Spacer -

    If we are to discuss history, NASA has tried on many different occasions to “replace” the space shuttle. Nothing has ever come of any of those attempts. Attributing this record to “new space” partisans probably overstates their influence. X-33 had serious issues (both technical and financial) that led to its demise, and they had nothing to do with “new space”.

  • gm

    rational and serious (X-33-like) discussion proposal #2: “WHO killed the (ready to work and fly soon) NASA’s warp-speed engine project?”

  • me

    “rational and serious (X-33-like) discussion proposal #2: “WHO killed the (ready to work and fly soon) NASA’s warp-speed engine project?””

    Move out of the way, little boy, you are interrupting the grownups.

  • gm

    “Me”, no lessons to your elementary school today?

    Jeff, the best way to stop this kind of “comments” is to delete all off-topic and insults-only posts

  • gm

    X-33 is a dead and buried project
    know the “exact” story of its death don’t helps to solve today’s problems
    however, my view is that no one has blame of its end because it was a wrong project that would be dead anyway

  • Jeff Foust

    Actually, what I’m going to do is turn off comments for this post since neither “gm” nor “me” show any indication with cooperating with my request to remain on topic, and/or be courteous. My apologies to anyone inconvenienced by this.