Congress, NASA

Shelby wins battle on stimulus funding

Earlier this week NASA Watch reported that Sen. Shelby was fighting to redirect stimulus money from commercial crew activities to Constellation, going so far, reportedly, as to threaten to put a hold on the nominations of Charles Bolden and Lori Garver, and had won some kind of compromise on the funding from the administration (which, through NASA, had submitted the spending plan for the $1 billion in overall stimulus funding appropriated to the space agency.) Today’s Orlando Sentinel has a few more details, including that $100 million of the $150 million originally planned for commercial crew work will go to Constellation instead. The exact spending plans, including what NASA will do with the much smaller commercial crew funding apparently remaining, haven’t been released yet, although Sen. Barbara Mikulski tells the Sentinel that she expects “the issue to be resolved” next week.

Shelby’s argument has been that the exploration funding in the bill was intended solely for reducing the Shuttle-Constellation gap, a spokesman for the Alabama Republican told the paper (although there is no specific language dictating that in the bill). And certainly Constellation can use every bit of additional funding it can get. However, would that $100 million have a greater effect towards reducing the gap in US human space access if it’s spent on Constellation (where it might accelerate schedules by on the order of a month), or on commercial efforts that might (but are certainly not guaranteed to) be operational years before Ares 1 and Orion?

One other item: an OMB official tells the Sentinel that Shelby is apparently the only member of Congress that has attempted to block spending of any part of massive stimulus package.

67 comments to Shelby wins battle on stimulus funding

  • Charles In Houston

    Sen Shelby must have decided to stop everything except Ares – the 100 million will not make much of a difference to the Ares program. A few billion might. Even at that, there is no hope of even meeting the current schedule.

  • BillF

    This is unbelievable, and what a sad commentary on the state of the Republican party. Here’s is this pork-a-palooza of spending, most of it just pure pork barrel, very little real stimulus and the one thing that a Republican senator tries to block is funding for a commercial alternative to a government launch program! If this isn’t an argument for term limits, I don’t know what is.

  • Terrestrial muse

    Pick any politician and you can find a reason to show what they do is going to cause the end of the world. Sometimes your point of view wins, sometimes you lose.

    The broader point that keeps getting overlooked is how the White House has dealt with Congress on NASA issues.

    His own party nixed several potential NASA administrators until we have the current Bolden/Garver itteration.

    Congress 1, Obama’s NASA 0

    Now Shelby has applied pressure on around 15 percent of the NASA stimulus funds and is rumored to have won concessions based on what you read, with the truth on the details yet to be revealed.

    Congress 2, Obama’s NASA 0.

    Yet to be seen is whether the House cut to NASA for next year sticks. Not a favorable start from his party. Those funds were probably spent on other priorities that will be difficult to cut back when the Augustine report comes out.

    It looks like it is up to the Senate to bail Obama, and his money to spend on Augustine, out.

    Given the track record with the Senate so far, the White House should be very wary of who they are dealing with.

  • common sense

    I am just waiting for the next Republican to teach us lessons about free market and private enterprise. Not that some Democrats are any better… But those in favor of small business I always thought were supposed to be the Republicans. Good luck Joe-the-plumber! Good luck.

  • common sense

    As I said elsewhere: $100M is about 500 FTEs/yr. What good is that going to do to a program requiring BILLIONS? Can you imagine what this would do to a small business?

    And btw, if you NEVER give the money to do COTS-D then there is no question that it won’t be ready any time soon. The more we delay the further away the capability.

  • Martijn Meijering

    And btw, if you NEVER give the money to do COTS-D then there is no question that it won’t be ready any time soon. The more we delay the further away the capability.

    That’s likely precisely what Shelby wants. From what I’m hearing on online forums Orion will not be ready in time to ‘close the gap’. That means there is no reason to keep Shuttle personnel around in the short run. But if they are fired now, there’s no way NASA or its contractors can get them back later, unless they hire retirees as consultants at high cost. False promises of Orion soon combined with making sure there is no commercial alternative is what’s needed to justify Ares I, which is needed to keep the SRBs alive for Ares V. Similar arguments apply to J-130. If you want to save the Shuttle stack or its workforce, the illusion of Orion on time and the illusion of the inability of the commercial sector to develop alternatives are needed. From the perspective of Shelby and Nelson it would be bad news if COTS-D happened before Ares I + Orion is operational. In other words they want to make sure COTS-D doesn’t happen until many years from now.

  • red

    “Congress 2, Obama’s NASA 0.”

    Actually, I wouldn’t chalk up this victory to Congress, since well over 90% of Congress comes out the losers on it.

    I wouldn’t even chalk up the victory to Constellation. There’s even less chance COTS-D will bail it out by ending the gap, or by lowering ISS transport costs to allow Constellation to work on the lunar mission. It’s also going to tend to make even more enemies for Constellation in the sense of the Space News editorial “Constellation vs. everything else”. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation recently put out a policy document “Commercial Spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit
    is the Key to Affordable and Sustainable Exploration Beyond”

    http://www.commercialspaceflight.org/pressreleases/Commercial%20Spaceflight%20Augustine%20White%20Paper%20-%206-29-09.pdf

    that covers commercial crew transportation for ISS to allow NASA to concentrate on the Moon and beyond. It even says “Government and commercial spaceflight are not a “zero-sum game” – they are complementary and not competitive.” In spite of this, has Shelby added this industry to the other Constellation opponents (NASA Science, EELV, Direct, NASA education, aeronautics, NASA R&D, ISRU advocates, fuel depot advocates, Shuttle, ISS … need I go on)?

    Probably the only winners here are Shelby and the Russian Soyuz.

    Hopefully the Obama Administration will keep in mind that, in the pure local vote-buying sense that we’re talking about, Constellation states like Alabama, Texas, and Utah are irrelevant to their reelection prospects, since if they’re competitive, he’s already won. Only Florida is in play in that sense, and Florida can do quite well with a changed NASA that launches 1 or 2 dozen more EELVs (plus Falcon 9s) from Florida, plus perhaps a few other NASA efforts in Florida to round things out.

    States that are key to Obama (besides Florida) include battlegrounds states like Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, New Mexico, and Arizona. These states are strong in areas like Aeronautics, X planes, commercial spaceflight, and satellites, so Obama would do well to de-emphasize, change, or eliminate Constellation and beef up these areas. Base states like California and Maryland are also useful for Obama, and he can help them by emphasizing areas like commercial spaceflight (Mojave), planetary missions (JPL), and Earth science (GSFC).

  • Angry

    That is totally ridiculous! COTS-D = commercial space and Constellation = socialist space that has already proved to be a failure. That move is from a GOP Senator?! I guess change is not coming to NASA???? Come on! Yet another 30 years of broken promises?!?

    That GOP Senator is as corrupted as Blagojevich – throw both him and Sen. Nelson out on charges of corruption, treason against the U.S., and obstruction of space colonization!

  • Major Tom

    Oink, oink… what a hog… soooiiieee, pig!

    “His own party nixed several potential NASA administrators…”

    A misleading and gross exaggeration. One Democratic Senator (Nelson), not the entire party, appears to have put the kibash on two White House trial balloons (Gration and Isakowitz), one of whom (Isakowitz) was actually supported by another Democratic Senator (Mikulski). And for all we know, Obama actually sought Nelson’s input on candidates for the NASA Administrator post, just as he apparently conferred with Nelson on NASA issues during the campaign. (I personally don’t think Nelson’s advice has been good, but that doesn’t mean that the White House hasn’t sought it.)

    “Yet to be seen is whether the House cut to NASA for next year sticks.”

    The House didn’t make a topline or across-the-board cut to the NASA budget. The cut was targeted to the Constellation program. And unfortunately, it’s not going to stick. We already know that the Senate has restored the funding.

    “It looks like it is up to the Senate to bail Obama, and his money to spend on Augustine, out.”

    Again, the Senate has already restored the Constellation funding cut by the House. C’mon, folks, let’s at least bring our facts up to date before we post.

    Sheesh…

  • Brad

    Okay, I’m really confused about the 150 million dollars at issue.

    As far as I am aware of COTS spending, there has never been any money spent or proposed to be spent for COTS-D, the manned mission development. The only recent new spending I’m aware of was for letting contracts for commercial cargo delivery to the ISS after Shuttle retires. Is that the money that Shelby has diverted 100 million of?

    If so Shelby is a huge fool. He isn’t going to save Constellation but may doom the ISS. I don’t know if Russia is capable of taking up the slack of cargo delivery that the U.S. is supposed to deliver.

  • G Clark

    @Brad,

    This $150m is from the Por…err, Stimulus package speciffically for commercial Spaceflight.

  • GuessWho

    “I am just waiting for the next Republican to teach us lessons about free market and private enterprise.” – Common Sense

    I would say that Shelby just did. He didn’t take over any of the private companies interested in providing commercial access to the ISS, thus they remain a private enterprise. He is, however, telling them to do it without sucking off the Govt. tit to get it done. If it is a good business plan, they are free to pursue investment capital and offer a product to any willing buyer, including the Government. Isn’t that approach central to a free market economy? Compare this to the current administration’s approach to the banking and mortgage industry (now no longer a private enterprise), the US auto industry (now no longer a private enterprise), and the US health-care system (on the path to a fully govt. run (owned) enterprise). Common sense would tell you to stop worrying about the <0.01% of the latest pork bill represented by the $100M Shelby held up and instead focus on the tens of $B’s poured down the rat hole of the US auto industry to keep them from going bankrupt. Oh wait, after PRESBO payed off the unions, GM did that anyway. Socialism at work, from my perspective. BTW, Ayn Rand nailed this in 1957 with “Atlas Shrugged”.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @GuessWho:

    If you are opposed to government-funded manned spaceflight, I’d say that is perfecty consistent with free market thinking. However, if you are going to do it anyway, the most free-market consistent thing to do would be to outsource implementation to the commercial players. They would be subject to competition, unlike a state design bureau (without recent experience I might add) like MSFC.

  • Ferris Valyn

    GuessWho
    I’ve seen you try to pedal that bullshit over at NASAwatch as well. First, TWO of those examples happened before Obama came into office. You wanna complain about the mortgage and banking crisis. As for the auto industry, Obama hardly “paid off the unions”

    And of course, there is the point Martijn said as well.

  • red

    “I am just waiting for the next Republican to teach us lessons about free market and private enterprise.” – Common Sense

    Guess Who: “I would say that Shelby just did.”

    No, Shelby just taught us lessons about how much more lucrative it is to be a cost-plus contractor in a state with a well-placed Senator rather than a fixed-price, skin-in-the-game contractor attempting to develop a commercial system with markets beyond government contracts.

    Guess Who: “they are free to pursue investment capital and offer a product to any willing buyer, including the Government.”

    This sounds nice on a libertarian idealogical level, but it’s not practical in the world we exist in, which is far, far from libertarian.

    Given NASA’s history, who is going to fund a business plan that includes NASA as a major customer, without some kind of NASA buy-in like COTS-D? Look at NASA’s history. How hard was it to get NASA to use a commercial parabolic aircraft service instead of a government one? How far is NASA bending over backwards to use the upcoming commercial suborbital RLVs? What about the NASA “Shuttle National Space Access” history?

    Who is going to fund an undoubtably risky and expensive crew transport business plan that doesn’t include NASA as a major customer, when NASA is so much of the market that’s been demonstrated so far? Don’t forget that such business plans have to survive in a non-libertarian environment that includes ITAR, various other regulations and restrictions, a banking industry that, as you mentioned, is far from ideal, and so on.

    Look at it from the NASA side. NASA has a problem to solve – ISS access for crew. Since NASA is taxpayer-funded, it should try to solve the problem in a way that benefits the taxpayers, i.e. through business with U.S. companies as much as reasonably possible. NASA has $400M of stimulus money burning a hole in its pocket to use to solve this problem. Two ways of spending the money presented themselves, and NASA chose $250M for Constellation and $150M for items related to government-encouraged commercial crew support. Now it seems Shelby finds $100M of the $150M should go to Constellation (as if Constellation hasn’t flushed enough billions already). Which is better for solving NASA’s problem? See the record in the Space Politics history for background on that one. Which is better for commercial spaceflight?

    I’ll also note that the $150M in commercial funds was for various items related to commercial service in some way – not (for better or worse) simply COTS-D. One was for docking, which apparently involved work on the NASA side that would apply to any commercial vendor (including those that don’t seek COTS funds as you described as real commercial vendors). Another involved NASA work to define what commercial human spaceflight rating requirements are, which presumably is a prerequisite for any actual commercial ISS mission, whether COTS-commercial or pure commercial as you described. Another was to accelerate the existing COTS cargo work, which, idealistically commercial or not, already exists, so it would tend to bring those vendors more quickly to something closer to the pure commercial state by getting the COTS work done faster.

    Guess Who: “Common sense would tell you to stop worrying about the <0.01% of the latest pork bill represented by the $100M Shelby held up …”

    Actually it sounds like Shelby was holding up most of the $1B NASA stimulus money. The $100M is just the loot from the hold up.

    Guess Who: “and instead focus on the tens of $B’s poured down the rat hole of the US auto industry to keep them from going bankrupt.”

    Common sense says we should focus on the US auto industry on the Space Politics website?

    It’s interesting that you use the term “rat hole”, because this term was used recently here:

    “Down The Rathole”

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=20151

    Since we’re apparently going to be spending $100M more on Constellation, and we can’t contemplate anything outside Alabama, I’d recommend it be spent on the following (see page 6/slide number 5):

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/361835main_08%20-%20ULA%20%201.0_Augustine_Public_6_17_09_final_R1.pdf

  • Major Tom

    “the current administration’s approach to the banking and mortgage industry (now no longer a private enterprise), the US auto industry (now no longer a private enterprise), and the US health-care system (on the path to a fully govt. run (owned) enterprise)… the tens of $B’s poured down the rat hole of the US auto industry to keep them from going bankrupt. Oh wait, after PRESBO payed off the unions, GM did that anyway. Socialism at work, from my perspective. BTW, Ayn Rand nailed this in 1957 with ‘Atlas Shrugged’.”

    This manic, off-kilter, and just plain weird diatribe has nothing to do with Shelby’s pork barrel politics or space policy in general. If you want to talk about the federal deficit and economic theory, take it elsewhere. And if you can’t focus long enough to stay on topic, don’t bother posting anywhere.

    Take your pills… jeez…

  • common sense

    @GuessWho:

    Okay I won’t add much just this: Go check how COTS money is being awarded then come back and tell us all your thinking again of government vs. private enterprise.

    Ah and yes, all you say is Space politics right?

    As I said, just waiting for the next Republican to teach us private enterprise…

  • common sense

    @GuessWho:

    Sorry guys, I know it is somewhat off topic but I can’t help.

    So, GuessWho, any idea why GM had factories in Canada? Any idea? Just even one?

  • Annon

    Senator Shelby actually did Elon, SpaceX and the entire New Space community a huge favor by not tempting them with more COTS funding.

    Elon will now be able to focus on getting his rockets to work (a 25% success rate is not good…) and to focus on the commercial launch market. One wonders how far back COTS has (will) set SpaceX by forcing Elon to prematurely develop the Falcon 9.

    And firms like RpK won’t have the temptation of easy government money to distract them from their commercial business plans. They would probably be flying suborbital tourists now if COTS hadn’t sucked all their energies into a dead end.

    Yes many here may not realize it but Shelby’s decision actually is a godsend to New Space by preventing them from falling into the same temptation of abandoning commercial markets for government entitlements. That is exactly the trap that destroyed the innovation of old space.

  • common sense

    @Annon:

    Sorry but this is total nonsense. COTS is a pay for performance contract. It means that the companies are only paid WHEN they deliver a certain milestone. Therefore, all development of anything solely is on company’s money. Then if and when they achieve said milestone they get paid. So COTS format allows the government to play a role similar to any private entity, unlike cost-plus. In the end government do get what they pay for. It does not preclude anyone from doing their development the way they like it, not really. Only to provide a product or service. In that way the company gets some sort of a refund on what they did and I believe it is their role to make a profit after award. Price is fixed ahead of time.

  • Annon

    A rose by any other name is still a rose and government money is still government money no matter the minor detail of when the check gets mailed.

    The reality is that SpaceX did rush the Falcon 9 to get in on the government pork. Time will tell if they moved to fast.

    While RpK did throw their suborbital tourism business aside in a similar rush for the money. And they still haven’t recovered.

  • Brad

    Red

    Thank you for the details on the stimulus package spending. I thought there was a lot of smoke being blown around by everyone, including Shelby and the poorly written newspaper article.

    You pretty much confirmed what I suspected, that the money diverted had nothing to do with manned flights by non-Constellation space craft, that the money diverted does harm to resupply of the ISS (though not as much as I originally feared), and that Shelby is a fool for doing so.

  • Dave Huntsman

    If true, Sen. Shelby is taking MSFC down the path of the failed U.S. auto industry.

    Probably the only winners here are Shelby and the Russian Soyuz.

    That’s true; and MSFC is the main long-term loser.

    Let’s keep in mind that the failed auto companies (and the UAW) were protected the last three decades on capitol hill by their powerful (Democratic) congressman, who, even when in the minority (like Shelby is today) managed to ‘protect’ the failing auto industry from having to innovate, modernize, and compete effectively. Shelby is doing the same thing. There is a direct parallel between the failure of the U.S. auto industry,and this situation: and a vision-and duty-challenged member of congress intent on keeping MSFC from entering the 21st century in a way that is truly useful to America and Earth.

    Anyone in Huntspatch happy about Shelby’s actions don’t give a damn about the United States.

  • The reality is that SpaceX did rush the Falcon 9 to get in on the government pork.

    That is not a reality. SpaceX would be getting the Falcon 9 into orbit as fast as they possibly can even in the absence of COTS. They discovered several years ago that there was much more market demand for it than for the Falcon 1, and most of their signed customer base is for that vehicle. The “government pork” simply allowed them to not have to spend as much of their own money on it to do so.

  • Annon

    Rand,

    Yep, the NASA market. That is why he skipped the Falcon 5 as soon as he won COTS. Hopefully he won’t regret it.

  • Major Tom

    “Yep, the NASA market. That is why he skipped the Falcon 5 as soon as he won COTS. Hopefully he won’t regret it.”

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. SpaceX switched from Falcon 5 to Falcon 9 in February 2005, almost a year before NASA even announced COTS in January 2006 (nevertheless selected SpaceX in August 2006). SpaceX made the switch because an unspecified US government customer (i.e., military or intel) was buying Falcon 9 launches. See:

    https://spacex.com/press.php?page=18

    SpaceX’s decision on Falcon 5/9 had nothing to do with COTS, in terms of rationale or timing. Think and research before you type.

    Lawdy…

  • Annon

    There is nothing in the press release stating he was dropping the Falcon 5 as you claimed. In fact it discusses its development with a 2007 flight date which would have still been before the Falcon 9.

    “SpaceX still plans to make Falcon 5 available in late 2007.”

    You should read what you post first before making false claims about what it says.

    Also its curious that the ONLY government flights booked on the Falcon 9 are NASA ones.

    http://www.spacex.com/launch_manifest.php

    So it appears the mystery government agency didn’t follow up with a firm order for it, unless of course the agency was NASA… And if it was another agency they appear to have lost interest which means Elon probably wouldn’t have moved forward as fast without COTS funding.

    In either case true commercial orders for the Falcon 9 only came after the government created a demand for it, my KEY point, so the government still distorted the market forcing Elcon into prematurely developing the Falcon 9 and the skipping the Falcon 5 development stage.

    Sounds like you needed to do a bit more research.

  • Major Tom

    “There is nothing in the press release stating he was dropping the Falcon 5 as you claimed.”

    Where did I write that?

    I wrote that “SpaceX switched from Falcon 5 to Falcon 9 in February 2005″, not that SpaceX was “was dropping the Falcon 5″. The latter are your words, not mine.

    “You should read what you post first before making false claims about what it says.”

    I did and my words accurately reflect the article.

    You’re the one putting words in other posters’ mouths.

    “So it appears the mystery government agency didn’t follow up with a firm order for it, unless of course the agency was NASA”

    C’mon, no one is that clueless. NASA is a civilian agency — only intelligence and certain military payloads are classified. Do you really think that if SpaceX had a NASA customer back in 2005 that they wouldn’t have trumpeted it?

    “In either case true commercial orders for the Falcon 9 only came after the government created a demand for it”

    Totally wrong. Bigelow Aerospace, for example, had a contract for a Falcon 9 flight as early as mid-2005, half a year before COTS was even announced, nevertheless awarded. See the “June 2005 through Sep 2005 Update” at:

    http://www.spacex.com/updates_archive.php?page=0605-1205

    “my KEY point, so the government still distorted the market forcing Elcon into prematurely developing the Falcon 9 and the skipping the Falcon 5 development stage.”

    The facts don’t support your “KEY point”.

    The market was not “distorted” and Falcon 9 development did not start “prematurely”. SpaceX was already developing the Falcon 9 for non-NASA customers well before COTS was even announced, nevertheless awarded.

    “Sounds like you needed to do a bit more research.”

    Stones, glass houses, and all that.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    Forget taking the money away from COTS D precursor efforts. Sen. Shelby (or any other congressman) shouldn’t be steeting taxpayer money to a Constellation Program that:

    – Can’t manage an unmanned Orion crew capsule within schedule, necessitating the first Orion test flights to be manned and throwing lunar operations into doubt;

    – Can’t launch even a four-segment Ares I-X test without acoustic environments that threaten the thrust vector system required to fly straight, the flight termination system required for range safety if it doesn’t fly straight, and even the structural integrity of the dummy (!) upper stage;

    – Ignores warnings from the Chief Engineer about the same;

    – Will still be facing range certification issues on the Ares I-Y test flight due to interactions between the acoustic environment, thrust vector system, and flight termination system (looks like every Ares I flight will require multiple USAF range waivers); and

    – Is still pursuing an overweight Orion crew capsule with a 20-percent mismatch between its power supply and power requirement and likely further crew reductions.

    See:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/07/constellation-top-risks-orion-loses-unmanned-capability/

    Regardless of what good NASA programs suffer for it, a program that is performing this badly should be the subject of congressional termination hearings, not pork.

    Way to root out the garbage when hunting for truffles, Mr. Shelby. Keep oinking it up.

    Ugh…

  • common sense

    “The “government pork” simply allowed them to not have to spend as much of their own money on it to do so”.

    I think “pork” is inappropriate a word in this particular case. Is COTS really not any better than IRAD/cost-plus methods used by major contractors to go through programs? Save for the “no government” approach, is it not better when said government finally tries a rational and cost effective way of doing things? For once in this area! And yet some people try to kill it! Even those who claim an upper hand on capitalist economy. If COTS gets killed, it will remain business as usual, talk about pork! Don’t believe for one minute that business as usual will go away without a fight.

  • I think “pork” is inappropriate a word in this particular case.

    I agree, which is why I had in in quotes (I was simply referencing the nonsensical claim).

  • Ferris Valyn

    This manic, off-kilter, and just plain weird diatribe has nothing to do with Shelby’s pork barrel politics or space policy in general. If you want to talk about the federal deficit and economic theory, take it elsewhere. And if you can’t focus long enough to stay on topic, don’t bother posting anywhere.

    Take your pills… jeez…

    Major Tom, if we ever meet, I have to buy you beer, for that comment alone.
    And I’ll buy you a second one for your comment about congressional termination hearings.

  • Annon

    @Major Tom

    You are the one twisting words. No Where in the press release did it state that Elon was Switching from the Falcon 5 to a Falcon 9, merely that they were accelerating the development of the Falcon 9 based on a mysterious government agency’s interest in it.

    The definition of switch from Merrian-Webster

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/switch

    “2: an act of switching: as a: a blow with a switch b: a shift from one to another c: a change from the usual”

    To make it simple for you Switch is another word for replacement. But as I noted the press release indicated that the Falcon 5 was still under development. Elon didn’t drop Falcon 5 until he started focusing on COTS.

    So the reality is that the promise of government development money did cause him to change his business plans for SpaceX, just as the possibility for a massive government loan for Tesla motors caused him to speed up the development of the Tesla Coupe. Yes, he did plan to develop a “cheap’ version of his electric cars for the masses eventually but the lure of easy government money made that eventually now. Time will also tell if the lure of government money forced him to do too much too soon in his auto venture as well.

    So back to the original point of my post that you keep trying to twist and misdirect with your trivia pursuit, namely that Senator Shelby is doing Elon and the rest of the new space community a huge favor giving the money to NASA in an effort to break their addiction to government funding by forcing them back to finding customers other then NASA for them. In doing so he may well be saving the soul of the new space movement.

    Yes, addicts scream when their supply is cut-off, as many are doing now, but in the long run they will thank the Senator for doing so when a true market driven launch industry emerges.

  • So back to the original point of my post that you keep trying to twist and misdirect with your trivia pursuit, namely that Senator Shelby is doing Elon and the rest of the new space community a huge favor giving the money to NASA in an effort to break their addiction to government funding by forcing them back to finding customers other then NASA for them. In doing so he may well be saving the soul of the new space movement.

    Do you really want to point out that the “original point of your post” is deranged, and completely unhinged from reality?

  • Annon

    @Rand,

    So you favor government bailouts of new space firms? I thought you were for free markets.

  • So you favor government bailouts of new space firms?

    No. Unlike you, I favor describing reality.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Just for clarification, the take your pills was part of Major Tom’s quote.

  • Annon and GuessWho,

    In a purely libertarian world, NASA shouldn’t exist at all–not just investments in commercial crew, but the whole lot of it. In a world where NASA does exist, and does get a large amount of taxpayer dollars from all around the US, the most libertarian position would be to have NASA spend that money in a way that provides the most benefit to the taxpaying public. CxP doesn’t do that. Stuff like COTS actually has the potential to help create new markets and new capabilities beyond NASA. If NASA is going to get $17B+ per year of money from the American public, it darn well ought to be providing value to the American public, and not just to a limited group of people in small parts of Alabama, Utah, Florida and Texas.

    Oh, and I happen to have a pretty good idea of who the initial customer for Falcon 9 was (seeing as how it was someone working for that customer who unintentionally leaked the story of the Falcon 9 in the first place). It wasn’t NASA.

    ~Jon

  • Annon

    Jon,

    If it wasn’t NASA then they appeared to have lost interest as NASA is the only government agency that has booked flights.

    Which supports my statement that without COTS Elon would have probably gone back to his original model of first getting the Falcon 1 working, then develop the Falcon 5, then the Falcon 9 instead of rushing ahead with Falcon 9. I simply don’t see him spending money on a launcher unless there is a signed customer waiting to pay for it.

    I agree in a true free enterprise economy NASA would not exist and hopefully by the time Obama leaves office that will be the case, as least in terms of human spaceflight. I note the Russians are already looking beyond ISS.

    http://www.russianspaceweb.com/opsek.html

    Which will clear the way for NASA getting rid of the ISS, eliminating the need for both COTS and NASA human spaceflight. And New Space will then be free to get back to the free market pacing its development, not the government funding its getting.

  • I simply don’t see him spending money on a launcher unless there is a signed customer waiting to pay for it.

    That can only be because you obviously know nothing about him.

  • Annon,
    If it wasn’t NASA then they appeared to have lost interest as NASA is the only government agency that has booked flights.

    Yeah, I don’t know for sure if the original customer is still interested in F9, but the name of the blog that first leaked news of the Falcon 9 should tell you something about who they were. Hint, I was the second one to blog about it.

    Also, I actually think that COTS has helped more than it has hurt. Sure, Elon may be overreaching, but it wasn’t clear that he was really going to make the F1 profitable enough to make it an F9 class booster anyway. Sure, the free market can probably do this eventually, all by itself. But it’s going to take tons longer than if the government acts as a customer. Call me a hypocrite, but if we’re going to have government spending in space, I’d like to see some of it going to helping speed things up in the commercial sector. Especially since the alternative is just blowing billions doing it themselves less efficiently.

    ~Jon

  • Major Tom

    “@Major Tom

    You are the one twisting words. No Where in the press release did it state that Elon was Switching… ”

    It’s “Nowhere”, not “No Where”. And in the middle of a sentence, it’s “switching”, not “Switching”.

    “… from the Falcon 5 to a Falcon 9, merely that they were accelerating the development of the Falcon 9 based on a mysterious government agency’s interest in it.

    The definition of switch from Merrian-Webster”

    It’s “Merriam”, not “Merrian”.

    “‘…b: a shift from one to another…’

    To make it simple for you Switch is another word for replacement.”

    You can’t be serious with this line of argument. Per your own dictionary reference above, SpaceX _shifting_ priorities from Falcon 5 to Falcon 9 is the very definition of a _switch_.

    I not trying to be mean here, but this is such a silly argument and such a stupid error, that, combined with the grammatical errors and dictionary reference, I can only guess that you’re still in grade school or that English is not your native language.

    If not, and you’re just a troll trying to get a rise out of the posters here with absurd and inane arguments, please, take it elsewhere.

    “So the reality is that the promise of government development money did cause him to change his business plans for SpaceX…”

    Evidence?

    I have provided two references on the SpaceX website — one that the decision to prioritize Falcon 9 development came almost two years before SpaceX had a “promise of government development money” and another that SpaceX was developing Falcon 9 for a commercial customer almost a year before SpaceX had a “promise of government development money”.

    You have provided no evidence to the contrary. Until you do so, this argument is over.

    “… made that eventually now.”

    It’s “eventuality”, not “eventually”.

    “So back to the original point of my post that you keep trying to twist and misdirect with your trivia pursuit”

    How is pointing out that the facts and the historical record do not support your argument a “trivia [sic] pursuit”? How is referencing documents on the SpaceX website an attempt to “twist and misdirect”?

    I recommend that you take a time out, get your dictionary, and look up the words “trivia”, “twist”, and “misdirect”.

    Again, you’re the one who’s putting words in the mouths of other posters, claiming that I stated that SpaceX was “dropping the Falcon 5″ when I never wrote such. That’s an attempt to “twist and misdirect”.

    And if you want to talk trivia, looking up and misreading definitions in a dictionary in a lame attempt to shore up an argument that’s devoid of evidence — well, that’s a “trivia [sic] pursuit”.

    Look, I don’t know if you’re just a kid, a non-English speaker, or a troll, but regardless, if you can’t participate in a debate without putting words in other posters’ mouths or accusing them of actions that you are actually guilty of, then please, don’t bother posting. It’s a waste of your time and other posters’ time.

    “…when a true market driven launch industry emerges.”

    You do realize that there’s an existing world launch market, right? And you do realize that this market is worth several billion dollars annually, right? And you do realize government payloads represent about 50 percent of this existing market, right?

    “@Rand,

    So you favor government bailouts of new space firms?”

    You do realize that governments contract for all kinds of goods and services, from garbage pickup to weapons development, all the time, and that these contracts are not “bailouts”, right? You do realize that companies have to be failing before there can be “bailouts”, right?

    Oy vey…

  • Annon

    Major Tom

    The only troll here is you, constantly hijacking threads with your trivia pursuit instead of focusing on the topic, which in this case was if Shelby’s decision not to give these funds to New Space going to be good or bad for New Space in the long run.

    You are the one the seems to think this is some kind of high school debate society constantly looking for points to score instead of a serious discuss on space policy. Just look how this thread degraded into a discussed of “facts” versus a discussion of what policy is best once you join. But that happens to all the threads you hijack from policy discussion into debates over “facts”. Well you may continue your debate with yourself while others here discuss policy.

  • Annon

    OK, ignoring Major Tom’s debate society lets put this thread to constructive use.

    Given that the President is probably going to do another mega stimulus bill soon given how bad the economy is going. And since new spacers seem to want in on the money give away even if they are philosophically opposed to the prinicple. What should new space advocates do to steer the next pile of money away from NASA and into new space? How could new space advocates avoid another hi-jacking of funds for new space by Congress Critters like Shelby. Any ideas?

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom

    The only troll here is you…”

    Yes, I’m obviously the troll in this thread since multiple other posters have repeatedly corrected your erronenous arguments and even told you that “you obviously know nothing” about the subject at hand.

    Take a hint, kid.

    “constantly hijacking threads with your trivia pursuit…”

    It’s not “trivia pursuit”. It’s “pursuit of trivia” or “trivial pursuits” or “Trivial Pursuit” (the game).

    “instead of focusing on the topic, which in this case was if Shelby’s decision not to give these funds to New Space going to be good or bad for New Space in the long run.”

    I did focus on the consequences of Shelby’s actions, both in my responses to you and in my other posts (see above). You argued that Shelby’s pork barreling was good for SpaceX, but the points that you used to support your argument were not true. In my responses to your posts about Shelby’s pork barreling being good for SpaceX, I stated that out that you didn’t know what you were talking about and proceeded to reference multiple documents showing that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Don’t blame me for your ignorance. Do your homework next time.

    “You are the one the seems to think this is some kind of high school debate society…”

    You must be kidding. High school debate society? You do realize that you’re the one referencing the “Merrian-Webster [sic] dictionary”, not me, right? That has to be the most juvenile debate move possible.

    “Just look how this thread degraded into a discussed of “facts” versus a discussion of what policy is best once you join.”

    Two points:

    1) Once you join what? This sentence isn’t even a complete thought. Again, are you in grade school, a non-native English speaker, or a troll? I’m really not trying to be mean. I just can’t imagine any serious, adult, native English speaker making such erroneous arguments so incoherently.

    2) Policy is not formulated or undertaken in a vacuum. Policy decisions are based on evidence and logic. If a policy position is built without one or the other, it will be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Understanding which potential policy options are best requires an examination of the facts.

    “Given that the President is probably going to do another mega stimulus bill soon given how bad the economy is going.”

    Lordy, this isn’t even a complete sentence. What is your major malfunction?

    ” And since new spacers seem to want in on the money give away even if they are philosophically opposed to the prinicple.

    It’s “principle”, not “prinicple”.

    And who says that “new spacers” (whatever that is) are opposed to government customers, especially when they act like good customers?

    “How could new space advocates avoid another hi-jacking of funds for new space by Congress Critters like Shelby.”

    It’s “hijacking”, not “hi-jacking”.

    “Any ideas?”

    It’s no secret. Lobbying to the right members and staff… early, consistently, and often.

    Sigh…

  • Major Tom

    Surprise, surprise… the Ares I-X test flight is moving at least a couple months to the right due to acoustic issues and range safety. See:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/Stack070609.xml&headline=Vibration%20Analysis%20Delays%20Ares%20I-X%20Stacking&channel=space

    A great investment of $100M in taxpayer dollars by the Senator from Alabama.

    Bleah…

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Thanks! Nice to laugh from time to time. ;)

    On a slightly more serious matter. I hope NASA does not go with the crewed side mount concept they showed JUST TO KEEP Alabama and Florida happy! Whoever reads this I hope they don’t need any analysis to show how bad the concept is. As I said elsewhere and just by inspection:
    1. LAS motor plume impingement on the ET,
    2. uncontrollable dynamics with OBVIOUSLY high ET contact probability on escape (there was a tumbling abort scenario for Apollo and for CEV, y’all guess why!),
    3. Ridiculously tall LAS tower with structural weakness.

    I would even take Ares I or even still fly shuttle for LEO rather than this contraption. Come on guys you can’t be serious?!

  • Major Tom

    “On a slightly more serious matter. I hope NASA does not go with the crewed side mount concept”

    Yes, for crew transport, all other things being equal, it’s hard to see how an analysis could show that a Shuttle sidemount (or any sidemount) is going to be safer than an inline configuration (EELV, DIRECT, etc.). Shuttle sidemount should be safer than the existing Shuttle just by virtue of having some crew escape capability. And lacking the thrust oscillation and margin issues that plague Ares I, and not having to escape a high-thrust solid rocket in case of failure, Shuttle sidemount may also be safer than Ares I. But in general, crew escape functions are almost certainly going to be compromised by the geometry of the sidemount configuration compared to an inline.

    That said, perfect may be the enemy of good enough. If Shuttle sidemount really gets the program to the ~1-in-1,000 loss-of-crew figure that’s being bandied about, and the only other choice is Ares I at the ~1-in-4,000 figure that’s being bandied about, I’d go with Shuttle sidemount. Given all its issues, I wouldn’t necessarily believe such a high Ares I number. Moreover, even if Ares I’s loss-of-crew figure is ~4x better than Shuttle sidemount, NASA pays a very high price (a factor of four in development cost) to get that factor of four improvement in safety — some $28 billion for Ares I development versus the $7 billion touted for Shuttle sidemount. These vehicles aren’t going to launch anywhere near 1,000 crewed flights over their lifetimes, so it’s not worth paying that much to go from 1-in-1,000 to 1-in-4,000. And with Shuttle sidemount, you get heavy lift right out of the blocks, whereas with Ares I, you still have some tens of billions more to spend to get Ares V heavy lift.

    And as Mr. Goff and others have pointed out, those loss-of-crew figures are just for launch. It’s the loss-of-crew figures over the entire mission that are important, and for those, the margins that Shuttle sidemount, DIRECT, or EELV provide to Orion (or whatever the crew capsule is) versus Ares I are probably critical.

    Even more than crew safety — say crew flies on EELVs and Shuttle sidemount or another Shuttle derivative is used for cargo/heavy lift– I’d be worried about the fixed costs associated with Shuttle sidemount (and most Shuttle derivatives). Even without the orbiter and regardless of flight rate, the Shuttle system is very expensive to maintain compared to alternatives like EELV. And unlike EELV and alternatives, its costs can’t be spread as its only customer is NASA. The premium that NASA will pay to keep a Shuttle derivative around over EELV and alternatives is probably on the order of $2-3 billion per year. That heavy lift capability is nice and maybe it begins to make sense if it’s also flying the crew. But were I king, I’d probably push one or more in-space refueling demos before committing to a heavy lift Shuttle derivative. I’d rather have that Shuttle money to spend on in-space exploration hardware.

    Flight rate is also an issue with the Shuttle derivatives. If things really get rocking and you’re doing, say, 1-2 ISS cargo flights and 2-4 ISS crew flights per, that may take up six of Shuttle’s average of eight flights per year (in a good year). The Shuttle system may be capable of higher flight rates without the orbiter, but it’s not clear yet (at least to me) that there will be a lot of margin in the manifest to support ambitious exploration activities. Although less capable individually than a heavy lift Shuttle derivative, EELV and other alternatives have a greater capability to add flights and may actually be capable of greater annual launch mass than what the Shuttle system can bear. Again, though, in-space refueling has to prove out before these smaller launcher surge capabilities can be leveraged for exploration.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    Again, though, in-space refueling has to prove out before these smaller launcher surge capabilities can be leveraged for exploration.

    True if you consider Orion, but not for a Soyuz-sized or Dragon-sized module. It would need a bigger service module to be able to do a TEI. This would allow you to do L1-based missions, perhaps even including lunar landings, though with a smaller lander than Altair. You would have to launch lander and capsule to L1 separately, which means the lander would have to be hypergolic to avoid boil-off problems. You still wouldn’t need in-space refueling.

    In general I’ve become a big fan of hypergolic landers for the short term. Noncryogenic refueling also has less risk than cryogenic refueling, though parallel work on that should start immediately. Elimination of boil-off problems would also allow some nice safety benefits, such as rescue landers/capsules permanently positioned at all Lagrange points so they could quickly reach a stricken capsule at any point in its transfer orbit.

    Hypergolics also make reusable landers easier. This wouldn’t be interesting mass-wise, since it would require enormous amounts of propellant. It could still be competitive cost-wise, since landers may cost anything from $500M to $1B. In any event it shouldn’t be excessively more expensive. In this way there could be a market of something like 80mT-100mT of hypergolic propellant needed at L1 per landing, or something like 160mT-200mT of propellant + transfer stages in LEO.

    And this would be at a similar cost to an expendable cryogenic lander, without requiring cryogenic fluid transfer. It would allow you to do exploration without the Shuttle stack, funelling the $2B fixed costs a year and 2 landers at @1B a piece into the commercial launch industry. Imagine what a boost this would give to commercial space and what this could do for reducing launch costs, especially since it could allow RLV development to become profitable. And once cryogenic depots came online, you could start launching EDS propellant competitively as well, further driving down cost. Cryogenic landers and ISRU could reduce cost even further.

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Then do away with the LAS. It is not a good vehicle as is. Period. I don’t agree with the overall LOC numbers to be “opposed” to those on ascent for the following reason. The LAS is (supposedly) designed to help the crew escape a failure of the LV. In that particular case the LAS WILL NOT WORK save possibly for a few “ideal” scenarios. As a simple example, how do you protect the ET from plume impingement from the LAS motors? Also the SRBs will still be firing on escape with an uncontrolled LV. Also how can you believe that they will get us in those pLOC numbers? The dynamics of the system are very complicated. Now I WILL TAKE ALL THAT BACK when I see some abort trajectory analysis showing me wrong. I’d rather look like a fool now than after a failed abort.

    Use sidemount for cargo and something else for crew. I am not calling for “perfect”, this is NOT a good idea. Perfect definitely is the enemy of good-enough but so is bad.

  • Brad

    Major Tom

    “I’d be worried about the fixed costs associated with Shuttle sidemount (and most Shuttle derivatives). Even without the orbiter and regardless of flight rate, the Shuttle system is very expensive to maintain compared to alternatives like EELV.”

    Isn’t most of the STS cost due to processing and maintaining the Orbiter and the SSME?

    I’m not worried about the flight rate of the Sidemount HLV being too low. Cargo alone will provide plentiful opportunities for use. Depending on architecture two to five launches per year would go just to support lunar missions. And if Mars missions are added on top of that? The Mars DRM 3.0 posited 6 Shuttle C launches per mission.

  • Annon

    FYI Despite all the crying here it looks like its not a done deal that Shelby gets all the money.

    http://www.wacotrib.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/communities/breakingnews/entries/2009/07/08/stimulus_funds_could_boost_spa.html

    SpaceX officials say they believe SpaceX will get at least $50 million.

    U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, said Wednesday he strongly supports efforts by SpaceX to compete for stimulus money. He said he arranged meetings between congressional leaders and SpaceX chairman Elon Musk.

    “This will be a tough fight,” said Edwards, “but we will do everything we can to help SpaceX receive a significant amount of these funds.”

    So are you going to email your congressman and Senator like I am doing now? Or just keep discussing the type of rockets you would design if you ran the world.

  • Major Tom

    “FYI Despite all the crying here it looks like its not a done deal that Shelby gets all the money.”

    No duh. Mr. Foust’s original post from July 3 at the top of this blog stated that:

    “Today’s Orlando Sentinel has a few more details, including that $100 million of the $150 million originally planned for commercial crew work will go to Constellation instead.”

    Are you experiencing amnesia or are you just not able to comprehend that sentence?

    “So are you going to email your congressman and Senator like I am doing now?”

    You wrote multiple posts in this thread arguing that government money was bad for the entrepreneurial space industry generally and that COTS money was bad for SpaceX specifically. And now you want to start lobbying your congressmen to preserve another $50 million for SpaceX or other COTS D-related activities. Are you admitting that you were wrong? Or are you just off your meds?

    “Or just keep discussing the type of rockets you would design if you ran the world.”

    No, we’re going to read for comprehension and not repeat days-old information.

    Geez, Louise…

  • Major Tom

    “@Major Tom:

    Then do away with the LAS. It is not a good vehicle as is. Period… the LAS WILL NOT WORK save possibly for a few “ideal” scenarios.”

    It really depends on how “few” your scenarios are.

    If the LAS for a sidemount (or any other vehicle with a relatively low LOM figure) will only function, say, 10% of the time, then I can’t argue. It won’t have a significant impact on the LOC figure, and the added complexity may actually be making the crew less safe.

    But an LAS that works, say, even 50% of the time will still have a significant impact on the LOC figure, and is much more likely to be worth the added money and complexity.

    “As a simple example, how do you protect the ET from plume impingement from the LAS motors?”

    To be honest, I don’t know if there is a way. But the duration of contact may be so short and occuring at such a distance that it doesn’t matter — there’s just not enough time for the LAS’s cooled exhaust to cut through the ET’s insulation, outer wall, and inner tanks to ignite the LOX or LH2.

    “And the SRBs will still be firing on escape with an uncontrolled LV.”

    While still not ideal (liquid rockets that cutoff would be best), it’s better than Ares I, where the SRB is chasing the crew capsule from directly underneath. At least on the Shuttle sidemount, the SRBs are only thrusting in parallel with the crew capsule’s direction of flight, instead of chasing the same rough trajectory as the crew capsule.

    “Also how can you believe that they will get us in those pLOC numbers?”

    As I said in my earlier post, I certainly don’t believe the ~1-in-4,000 Ares I LOC figure at this point, and am far from certain that the ~1-in- 1,000 Shuttle sidemount LOC figure will stand up to independent scrutiny (e.g., Augustine review committee and their Aerospace Corp. analysts). But if it did, even with some flawed launch abort scenarios, it would be a huge improvement over the Shuttle and very adequate for the relatively limited number of crewed launches over the vehicle’s likely lifetime.

    “Use sidemount for cargo and something else for crew. I am not calling for “perfect”, this is NOT a good idea. Perfect definitely is the enemy of good-enough but so is bad.”

    Agreed. But we have to do our analysis. Just as untested assumptions about acoustic environments, engine efficiencies, margins, and competitors led ESAS and Griffin to erroneously conclude that Ares I was the best option for crew transport, we have to test our LAS assumptions about Shuttle sidemount before concluding that it’s the worst option.

    (Honestly, my gut tells me that a smaller capsule on a single-stick EELV or Falcon 9 when it’s up and running is the safest way to go for crew transport, but that’s just my gut. It doesn’t mean that I’m right. Only hard-nosed analysis delivers confirmation.)

    FWIW…

  • Annon

    Sorry Major Troll, but the Orlando article didn’t say where the other $50 was going. Or who was fighting Shelby. The Waco article and tells what Rep. Edwards is doing to get more for Elon. So it IS new information and important information for those that want to help open up the space frontier rather then hashing over the details of a 30 year old rocket design. And its on topic which the Rocket design discussion isn’t.

    You must be a very sad and lonely person to have to terrorize a website like you do this one.

    Adios. You may have you sandpit. It and the high school debate classes you teach are probably all you have.

  • Major Tom

    “Sorry Major Troll, but the Orlando article didn’t say where the other $50 was going.”

    Neither does the Waco Tribune article. It only states where SpaceX hopes that funding goes.

    Again, read for comprehension.

    “So it IS new information…”

    There was no new information in your prior post.

    “…rather then”

    It’s “than”, not “then”.

    “hashing over the details of a 30 year old rocket design.”

    The design in question was publicly released just a few weeks ago at the first Augustine review committee meeting.

    “The Waco article and tells what Rep. Edwards is doing to get more for Elon.”

    This sentence is incomplete and unintelligible.

    “You may have you sandpit.”

    The second “you” should be “your”.

    “It and the high school debate classes you teach are probably all you have.”

    If only this exchange had been at the level of a high school debate class. I spent most of it correcting grade-school English errors.

    Oy vey…

  • Major Tom

    “Isn’t most of the STS cost due to processing and maintaining the Orbiter and the SSME?”

    Well, since the SSMEs will have to go back into production, the costs of refurbishing the SSMEs after Shuttle flights versus restarting production for sidemount flights is probably a rough wash.

    And although the orbiter costs will be gone, there will be new costs associated with the sidemount stacks. For example, some of the publicly available configurations include an ATV, and last I knew, those were priced at $800 million a pop.

    According to the Astronautix website (which is sometimes wrong), a 1989 Rockwell/Martin Marietta study found that the per flight cost of Shuttle-C (probably the closest analogy to sidemount) was going to be $424 million, which isn’t much lower than the ~$500 million average cost of a Shuttle flight. In fact, they found that Shuttle-C was going to be more expensive than Titan, already a very expensive launch vehicle. See:

    http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/shuttle.htm#Shuttle%20C

    So, although it will be a lot cheaper than Ares to develop and fly much earlier (especially for heavy lift), I don’t necessarily expect Shuttle sidemount to produce savings operationally, and in fact, it’s costs may not be sustainable within the budget if NASA is also going to pursue significant exploration developments. (But we’ll see where Augustine and Co. come out.)

    “I’m not worried about the flight rate of the Sidemount HLV being too low.”

    My concern is the flight rate need might be too high (not too low) for the Shuttle infrastructure to handle, at to support ISS crew and cargo and ambitious exploration.

    FWIW…

  • [...] week it appeared that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) had convinced NASA and the White House to shift $100 million in stimulus … from supporting commercial crew efforts to Constellation. As the Waco Tribune-Herald reports, some [...]

  • I certainly don’t believe the ~1-in-4,000 Ares I LOC figure at this point, and am far from certain that the ~1-in- 1,000 Shuttle sidemount LOC figure will stand up to independent scrutiny (e.g., Augustine review committee and their Aerospace Corp. analysts). But if it did, even with some flawed launch abort scenarios, it would be a huge improvement over the Shuttle and very adequate for the relatively limited number of crewed launches over the vehicle’s likely lifetime.

    I think that it’s entirely possible that the Ares 1/Orion LAS introduces more hazards into the system than it mitigates, and actually makes the crew less safe, but they have to have it for political reasons. Last time I looked at it, there were dozens of ways for it to give you a bad day, and more than half of them on an otherwise nominal mission…

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    “Honestly, my gut tells me that a smaller capsule on a single-stick EELV or Falcon 9 when it’s up and running is the safest way to go for crew transport, but that’s just my gut. It doesn’t mean that I’m right. Only hard-nosed analysis delivers confirmation”: Most likely the truth spoken here. 3 crew a la Apollo with minimum service onboard.

    As to the sidemount analysis this is precisely what I am saying. There is NO analysis. And CEV has a tumbling abort scenario that I seriously doubt this stack can pass. You can read some of my exchange if you’re interested here http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2009/07/sidemount_hlv_n.html

  • Brad

    Major Tom

    Okay I’m a little confused then, since I thought your position was the sidemount shuttle only made sense if it was used a crew launch vehicle as well as a cargo vehicle, to reduce costs by maximizing flight rate.

    As far as the sidemount costs compared to the existing STS, you are making a mistake to use figures from the old Shuttle C concept to judge it. The Shuttle C concept was very different compared to what is being proposed today. The new concept is expendable whereas the Shuttle C was going to recover the SSME/OMS and reuse them via a small pod, in a sense an unmanned mini-orbiter.

    Recovering, and reprocessing that Shuttle C engine pod would have been almost as big a headache as doing so for the STS manned Orbiter, so it’s not surprising the flight costs look similar. That standing army to keep the Orbiter in flying condition is also why the total STS yearly cost is relatively insensitive to the STS yearly flight rate. The STS sucks down 5-6 billion a year whether it flies six times a year or zero times a year.

    The Block I sidemount would use leftover SSME for flights. And though the talk now is making a cheaper non-reusable version of the SSME for the Block II, I don’t know why the even cheaper expedient of using a pair of RS-68 wouldn’t work instead, when using an EDS. I would guess that option would only sacrifice 10% of the payload.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom

    Okay I’m a little confused then, since I thought your position was the sidemount shuttle only made sense if it was used a crew launch vehicle as well as a cargo vehicle, to reduce costs by maximizing flight rate.”

    Sorry if I’m not being clear. I had no position on whether Shuttle sidemount made sense with or without crew launches in the manifest. My only points were:

    1) If Shuttle sidemount is used for crew launches, its LAS will likely be flawed under some number of contingencies due to the geometry of the vehicle but it may also be good

    2) Although likely much less costly to develop than Ares, Shuttle sidemount may not offer much in the way of savings over the current Shuttle budget.

    3) If Shuttle sidemount is used for both ISS crew and cargo, that may eat up a lot of the annual flight rate, potentially not leaving much to support exploration missions.

    “As far as the sidemount costs compared to the existing STS, you are making a mistake to use figures from the old Shuttle C concept to judge it.”

    A fair critique, but I don’t know of cost figures for any closer concept.

    “The new concept is expendable whereas the Shuttle C was going to recover the SSME/OMS and reuse them via a small pod, in a sense an unmanned mini-orbiter.”

    No doubt. but again, like I said in my earlier post, the costs of restarting and maintaining SSME production for Shuttle sidemount may be a rough wash with reusing the existing SSME inventory.

    “And though the talk now is making a cheaper non-reusable version of the SSME for the Block II, I don’t know why the even cheaper expedient of using a pair of RS-68 wouldn’t work instead, when using an EDS. I would guess that option would only sacrifice 10% of the payload.”

    Agreed. You pay a premium for the SSME’s extra performance, and the agency may be better off with the lower cost/lower performance RS-68 for a Shuttle-derived solution (whether inline, sidemount, etc.). Assuming no goofy requirements to “human-rate” RS-68, switching RS-68 for SSME has the added benefit of combining NASA and USAF needs, increasing demand for RS-68, and driving costs even lower.

    FWIW…

  • [...] month ago it appeared that pressure from Sen. Richard Shelby would force NASA to redirect most of the $150 million in stimulus … to Constellation instead, after the Alabama Republican strongly opposed the plan, saying the money [...]

  • Вот что-то похожее у меня уже полгода из головы не выходит!

  • [...] Development Phase 1 (CCDev-1).  Originally, CCDev-1 was to be about $150 million dollars; however, Senator Shelby (R-AL) diverted CCDev-1 funds to the failed $11 billion dollar Constellation [...]

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