NASA

Augustine’s scenarios

Late Sunday the Review of US Human Space Flight Plans (aka the Augustine committee) issued a call for comments for a document called “Exploration Beyond LEO: Process and Progress”. (I had separately heard about this a little earlier Sunday from an alert reader.) The short document—just over two pages—is key because it hints at what the committee, or at least the subcommittee of the overall committee looking at exploration beyond LEO, is considering right now. The document states that the committee is looking at five scenarios, and has asked NASA to document the current program as another scenario. The key paragraph:

The first subcommittee-defined scenario, Lunar Base, is a close derivative of the current program, with some simplifications. Lunar Global is a scenario in which a base or outpost is not assembled on the Moon, but instead the Moon is explored by a coordinated series of extended duration human sorties and robotic exploration. In both these cases, implications for subsequent Mars exploration will be considered. Moon to Mars, or more completely Moon on the way to Mars, is a scenario in which the primary objective is Mars exploration, and all systems are designed for Mars. Only when it is beneficial to use the Moon as a true test bed for these Mars exploration systems will flights to the Moon be conducted. Mars First is a plan to exclusively pursue human exploration of the Mars as fast as possible, without using the Moon as a first destination. Finally, Flexible Path is a scenario that allows humans to visit a wide number of inner solar system bodies, objects and locations, but not go to the surface of those with deep gravity wells. Destinations besides Moon and Mars would include the Earth-Moon and Earth-Sun Lagrange points, near-Earth objects (NEOs) and the moons of Mars. There is nothing implied in this scenario that surface exploration might not follow, simply that exploration would first exploit all that could be done without landing on a planetary surface.

The document also includes a set of questions that need to be answered for each scenario, from how to coordinate human and robotic exploration to the strategy for engaging the commercial sector.

32 comments to Augustine’s scenarios

  • sc220

    In the initial NASA-drafted scenario definitions, Scenario E identified Moon, Mars and Venus orbit as possible destinations for this strategy. Venus requires some explaining, but is certainly a target that would be valuable to planetary scientists. Regardless, Flexible Path offers a fresh approach to human exploration that breaks us from the paradigm that has driven our thinking over the last 50 years.

  • Zach

    I am excited and hopeful that Mars first is even being considered, Mars and NEOs should always have been NASA’s objective, not a return to the moon.

  • Allen Thomson

    IMVHO, (6),

    “What is the role that space technology research and development will play?”

    is a key item because it might force an assessment of the adequacy of our current technology base for doing more ambitious space missions. Again IMO, that base is now far short of doing much more than stunts, but could be greatly improved by a set of serious R&D programs on life support, propulsion, etc.

  • Neil H.

    I really like that they’re asking all the right questions:

    “Specifically, the “Exploration Beyond LEO” subcommittee will examine the following questions: (1) What are the appropriate destinations and sequences of exploration for human exploration beyond LEO; (2) What should be the mode of surface exploration (if any); (3) What is the strategy within the human space flight program for coordinating human and robotic exploration; (4) What are the assumed launch vehicle(s) to LEO (in terms of mass to orbit and shroud diameter); (5) What are the options for in-space fuel/oxidizer storage and transfer; (6) What is the role that space technology research and development will play; (7) What is our strategy for engaging international partners in the development of the program; and (8) What is our strategy for engaging commercial entities?”

  • BMac

    At least it is a step in the right direction. The moon being used as a “truck stop” in relation to a Mars mission sounds more like a politically correct attempt to justify what has already been accomplished through NASA’s endeavors. When will we regain a little business sense regarding the space program and do a better job of selling just how much we gained just through Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo in the techno fields. How many thousands (perhaps millions) of occupations in today’s technology have their roots in what NASA was able to accomplish during the herculean effort of making Kennedy’s promise come true? It is time to rededicate ourselves to the exploration of the final frontier.

  • I saw that this morning and sent them the following feedback:

    “This document represents a nice and simple way to help approach the problem.

    Personally, I believe that any of the destination options must include the following key goals:

    1) They should help to build up a real space infrastructure that we can depend on over time, to avoid the Apollo-style “flags and bootprints” issue. Examples might include in-orbit propellant depots, commercial cargo and human space launchers, etc.
    2) They should provide X-Prize style goals that help bootstrap and iterate a commercial space infrastructure, based on the COTS and XPrize models.
    3) They should work to drastically lower the price of space activities while improving the reliability and safety
    4) They should help to bring ISRU and closed-loop life support systems to a high enough TRL that we can regularly begin using these systems
    5) They should build up our advanced technology base, using the DARPA model; two great examples of this include the Breakthrough Propulsion Program (BPP) and the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, both of which have been gutted unfortunately.

    For me the destination is less important than whether they help to catalyze the above goals. Personally, I find Mars the most exciting goal, but for this to be realistic we must ensure that: 1) the price is much much lower to ensure that it is politically viable and 2) even with a low-price doesn’t just result in an Apollo-style “flags and bootprints” mission but builds up real long-term space and commercial infrastructure.”

  • Rhyolite

    I am glad to see that they are including the Mars First option is being considered. I think Mars is a sufficiently exciting and ambitious objective to get the public generally involved and supporting in a way the going back to the Moon will not.

    The Moon to Mars is probably and acceptable option so long as the Moon does not slow the progress to Mars. Alternately, flights to NEO may be better stepping stones to the Moon and offer equally good, if not better, prospects for future ISRU.

    If it is politically necessary to make the Moon the objective, then Lunar Global seems like a better starting point than Lunar Global. Geologist have done a pretty good job of piecing together the history and resources of Earth, but this has required visiting tens of thousands of locations. It would be incredibly limiting to have only one central base to begin with. A base would be justified when there is some proven resource that requires a fixed infrastructure to exploit, this may happen, but only after a more through exploration.

    The worst option may be Flexible Path. I like the idea of exploring other bodies in the solar system, especially NEOs but I am concerned that without a specific objective the program will dissipate and lose support.

  • I’m very skeptical of scenarios that make Mars more than a place to send robotic explorers — at least in the next several decades.

    The public is not all that interested in space exploration. A few of us do manage to get the public interested. People get strongly interested in something when it can mean a real change in THEIR lives. Why do Americans spend more on pizza than NASA? Because some of them like pizza and they can get it relatively cheaply and easily.

    Airlines — for all their faults — supply a valued service to humans. The development path for airlines was aided by the government via NACA. NACA did not dominate aeronautical companies but worked with them. Remember — if you are old enough — when Boeing, McDonnell, Douglas, Lockheed, Martin, Northrop, Grumman and more were separate companies? It’s easier to get new ideas noticed when there are multiple organizations working in the same general area.

    What do we see today? A few conglomerates selling services and hardware to a government agency. Not Invented Here is a major problem. Wayne Hale has written that not much has changed since Columbia in an essay titled Stifling Dissent.

    Space settlement is centuries in the future. We haven’t even settled Antarctica — and that continent is far more Earth like than Mars. As well as being much easier to reach. Adventure travelers take trips there.

    Sorry to be such a cold blanket. But I want to see real efforts to get humanity to a better tomorrow, not more stunts.

  • Launch pad
    Home of single, swinging, astronauts.

    Spacesuit
    Cut to accommodate one’s space-helmet.

    Launch window
    Important to make sure this is shut.

    Retro rockets
    They’re slightly flared.

    Solid-fuel booster
    “You’re much better than that liquid fuel, you really are.”

    Module
    Part of the course: “How To Be An Astronaut”.

  • sc220

    @Chuck Divine

    I agree completely. Somehow many space enthusiasts cannot understand these realities. They were emotionally swept away by Apollo and the early space program (the prior NASA Administrator among these). It is very difficult for them to understand why most of the people in the world care little about this area. Using your reference to Antarctica, people think it’s a cool place (no pun intended), but it is still pretty much the purview of a few scientists, adventure travelers and penguins. And this is a tropical paradise compared to Mars.

  • Kevin Parkin

    100% what Allen Thomson said above.

  • I like the play on “Augustine’s Laws”

    This paper gives me a good vibe that they’re looking at the right things.

  • anon

    Flexible path seems to be what NASA’s planetary science division is already doing. NEAR, Pathfinder, Mars Orbiter, Venus Magellan, Lunar Orbiter/LCROSS,
    if you aren’t oing to land there is no value to sending people.

    I’m surprised the Augustine panel isn’t looking at ISS extension.
    Can NASA conduct R&D on cheap access to ISS, and continue expanding ISS,
    roles and missions. Add a centrifuge, add a telescope.

  • Major Tom

    “I’m surprised the Augustine panel isn’t looking at ISS extension.
    Can NASA conduct R&D on cheap access to ISS, and continue expanding ISS, roles and missions. Add a centrifuge, add a telescope.”

    The Augustine Committee will examine optinos for ISS extension, but it’s the work of a different subcommittee. Just follow the links in Mr. Foust’s original post above.

    FWIW…

  • NavyFlyBoy

    can anyone please explain the point of going to Mars, or the Moon, or any NEO for that matter if we aren’t going to stay there, exploit the resources, and turn a profit? i love exploration for explorations sake, but if we’re on a quest for projects which the federal government can fling money at, space simply isn’t going to win out. the idealists, romantics, and exploration purists may not like hearing this reality, but has anyone looked at the budget lately? if we cannot commercialize near Earth space, and within the current generation, why do any of you think our broader goals will be realized?

  • Major Tom

    “Flexible Path offers a fresh approach to human exploration that breaks us from the paradigm that has driven our thinking over the last 50 years.”

    I tend to agree, with some parallel unmanned activities and critical research and technology development to inform decisions on whether to pursue extended human lunar surface activities and/or human Mars missions. If lunar or Martian activities are going to be more than just short-duration, flags-and-footprints missions, there’s a lot that must be learned before multi-hundred billion commitments to extended human lunar surface activities and/or human Mars missions can be made intelligently.

    The compelling reason to undertake extended lunar surface activities is resources. (Unlike Mars, the Moon not a priority for the broad science community — like it or not — and the applicability of lunar systems and operations to Mars missions is pretty marginal.) But we have yet to confirm whether key lunar resources even exist (e.g., polar water ice), nevertheless demonstrate that those resources can be extracted and utilized in a way that could compete well with the costs of terrestrial alternatives. A focused program of unmanned missions — telerobotic rovers and subscale ISRU demos — would need to follow LRO before a smart decision could be made on whether invest tens or hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in a human lunar base or its equivalent.

    For Mars, there’s strong science interest coupled with resources. But the presence of humans and all the microorganisms we bring with us could contaminate Martian environments and make the most compelling science — the discovery and study of extant lifeforms — very difficult to achieve. Worse, astronauts could back-contaminate Earth with Martian microorganisms with unknown consequences for the terrestrial biosphere. A much more aggressive unmanned Mars program is needed to greatly narrow the huge error bars surrounding the questions of habitable environments and life on Mars. Until then, it would be foolhardy to commit hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to human Mars missions.

    There are also substantial research and technology issues associated with human Mars missions or extended lunar activities, including: cosmic ray exposure countermeasures, research on the effects of long-term exposure to 1/3rd and 1/6th g-environments on the human body and potential countermeasures, lunar dust protection, Martian hexavalent chromium protection, closed loop life support in either environment, and development of likely in-space (Mars) and surface (Mars and lunar) nuclear systems. Most of these challenges would need to be overcome at least at the testbed or labrat level before making intelligent, multi-hundred billion decisions on whether to commit to a lunar base or human Mars trips. Unfortunately, research and technology development in all of these areas has been woefully underfunded for decades.

    So, based on all the above, I would argue that the most logical path forward is to develop a robust ETO (preferably commercial) and in-space transportation system (preferably propellant depots with heavy lift as the fallback if in-space propellant management technologies do not pan out) over, say, the next decade, in parallel with aggressive lunar and Mars unmanned activities and research and technology development in critical areas. That would provide decisionmakers with the intelligence they need to develop a rational sequence of lunar and/or Mars activities, with the transportation systems needed to execute those activities in fairly short order already in place.

    Even if lunar or Martian surface activities do not appear promising, the transportation infrastructure would still be useful for deep-space observatory deployment and servicing (successors to HST and JWST) missions and asteroid research missions. Unlike extended human lunar activities or human Mars missions, observatory and asteroid missions do not require so much in the way of additional research to justify on the grounds of science or planetary protection, or additional technology development to pull off.

    My 2 cents… your mileage may vary.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Someone suggested on NASAWatch that a Mars mission may not actually land on Mars but teleoperate robotic equipments from a moon or space. That could potentially avoid some of the issues you talk about and yet provide much greater reactivity to discovery. We wouldn’t have to worry about the several minute signal delay for example. So we could somehow blend robotics and crewed missions. At the same time it might help for missions to NEOs.

    I am not saying it’s the way to go BUT I think it ought to be given a serious look at.

  • I’m an advocate for a lunar base, not least because i think it could help drive a “lunar COTS”-like program, but I must say the final “flex” proposal is interesting. It fits in with my keep it small and simpleand the rockets we have (EELV and maybe Falcon-9) preferences for human spaceflight. Expand on the things we know how to do, before we develop something new and “better.” It also feeds into resource utilization and the ultimate development of Solar System trade.

    – Donald

  • Al Fansome

    Donald,

    Propellant depots will have a greater stimulative effect on commercial than a Lunar COTS. Propellant is a wonderful demand-based market.

    I too am a fan of the “Flexible Path” option.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • red

    Like Donald, although I’m not against starting at the Moon, I do see a lot of advantages to the “Flexible Path”. sc220, who started the comments here, has a good description of an approach similar to “Flexible Path” in the comments at this NASA Watch post that I think is worth reading (just search several times for “sc220″ in the comments):

    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2009/01/griffin_begatho

    This variant on “Flexible Path” seems to offer a big benefit in the form of teleoperations for robotic precursors like the ones Major Tom describes.

  • Major Tom

    “@Major Tom:

    Someone suggested on NASAWatch that a Mars mission may not actually land on Mars but teleoperate robotic equipments from a moon or space. That could potentially avoid some of the issues you talk about and yet provide much greater reactivity to discovery.”

    I’d go further and say that’s probably the only option until/unless we conduct more extensive robotic missions (teleoperated from orbit or autononous) that rule out the presence of liquid water near the surface of Mars (increasingly hard to rule out given Mars Phoenix observations) or find no evidence for extant life in these environments.

    “We wouldn’t have to worry about the several minute signal delay for example.”

    The median Earth/Mars delay is about 12 minutes one-way, or 24 minutes roundtrip. It will be measured in tens of seconds from orbit.

    “So we could somehow blend robotics and crewed missions.”

    That’s what the VSE envisioned all-along, and it’s certainly what oceanographers practice in deep sea exploration today — a blend of suited divers (suited astronauts), researchers in diving bells (astronauts in transit vehicles, landers, and rovers) and teleoperated robotic divers (teleoperated or autonomous spacecraft).

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “sc220, who started the comments here, has a good description of an approach similar to ‘Flexible Path’ in the comments at this NASA Watch post that I think is worth reading”

    The IRHAX justification is pretty good. The old NASA Exploration Team (NExT) had similar thinking, now on display in the history office files here:

    http://history.nasa.gov/DPT/Architectures/NExT%20DRM%20Summaries%20Jul_02%20(Advanced%20Draft).pdf

    FWIW…

  • DD

    I am glad to see some sense of realism here. During Apollo the country had a budget surplus and was the world’s largest lender. Today we have a huge deficit and are the world’s largest debtor. Americans will not pay additional taxes; most of them want cuts in what they pay now. Does human spaceflight really have the economic and scientific benefits we claim, in comparison to R&D in fields with more direct applications? Where will we get the money to pay for this huge new program? Borrow it from China? Cut schools and health care further? We are going to emigrate to the planets when we already have the largest homeless population in the industrialized world?

    I’ve worked in the space field most of my life, but finally getting involved with important medical research that could really save many lives here on earth, and finding just how hard it is to get even a tiny amount of funding, has made me wonder.

  • common sense

    @DD:

    You do make a good point.

    The trick is to not dissociate NASA’s exploration mission from anything else, unlike what appeared to have happened recently. A correctly done exploration program MUST help solve problems we have here on Earth, until the time we choose to go live elsewhere.

    The disconnect between exploration’s message and the rest of what is important to the public does result in a poor exploration program with limited, unambitous, if at all attainable goals. If this old way does not actuallly change soon then exploration will evetually disappear as a major endeavor.

  • sc220

    The final Flexible Path package that was presented to Crawley’s Exploration Beyond LEO subcommittee a few days ago looks very good. It outlines a very doable evolution in capability, starting with Orion and Centaur combo (lunar orbital missions) and ultimately leading to a slimmed down Mars Transit Vehicle, which could ultimately be used for missions to Venus Orbit. Missing, of course, are all the landers, ascent vehicles and human-rated infrastructure needed for the conventional exploration approaches.

    There are some additional points that need to be emphasized. One is enhancement of science return. There needs to be a thorough evaluation of whether the reduction in communications latency translates into real improvement in scientific return, at least compared to the autonomous methods in use today. Some of us suspect that this is the case, but it needs to be evaluated more thoroughly before we start committing to this on a grand scale.

    Another is that the Flexible Path/IHRAX/HERRO approach does not rule out eventual surface missions by human crews. In fact, by facilitating development of a deep-space transportation capability, it would offer more opportunities for landings led by a commercial entity, international effort or by NASA. All this approach does is focus the NASA effort on an in-space bent that simplifies overall development.

    I should also mention that this approach is also similar to the one that Buzz Aldrin has been advocating. His plan, however, concludes with crewed missions to the Mars surface. I feel that it is best to leave this open for now, and focus instead on the in-space elements.

  • E.P. Grondine

    CAPS –

    When there’s a small fragmenting comet headed your way not too much else really matters.

  • richardb

    Its nice to see an academic exercise of all the viable missions for Nasa. The only mission that counts is mission to cut the costs of Nasa in my opinion. As I see it any Mars mission with humans leaving LEO is just nonsense due to no political support nor financial but it gives Obama cover that at least he took a look. The moon is also nonsense at this point since the money isn’t there now even though political support does exist. Flexible Path is so vacuous that it would never get sustained funding from Congress whatever its price. What is left is the ISS mission. It is here and now with requirements that Congress has supported. Plus its a National Lab and those never close.
    Given this mission, LEO, it helps everyone decide the means for getting there.

    It boils down to Soyuz forever
    or
    EELV
    or
    CLV
    and it excludes Ares V, Direct or NSC(Not Shuttle C).

    I’ve always felt, since 2005, that Griffin wanted CLV as it was designed because he wanted to hedge his bets that the VSE would be discarded in later years. Any seasoned Washington insider, such as Mr. Griffin sure is, would know that funding in DC is never foreordained.

    He designed the CLV to be a building block for heavy lifter. With a CLV flying, all the costs to keep Michoud building Li-Al tanks is paid for; so is J2-X; so is SRB. Then should times change a Ares V class could be built in around 7-10 years using those critical CLV workforce and components.
    Of course the bad news in all of this, should ISS be the driving requirement for selecting a launcher, in time the ISS will be as decrepit as MIR was in the last century. Because that is all we have for Nasa to do for its human space program, the US will be keeping it together with spit and bailing wire just to have something to do….like the broken down, bankrupt Russians of the the 1990′s.

  • Major Tom

    “The moon is also nonsense at this point since the money isn’t there now”

    There was never enough in the budget to execute the existing Constellation plan. Constellation costs through first landing have nearly doubled, far exceeding the original VSE budget.

    Just because ESAS screwed up and Constellation was poorly managed doesn’t mean that an affordable manned lunar program can’t be mounted.

    “Flexible Path is so vacuous”

    Manned deployment and servicing of deep space telescopes capable of resolving Earth-like planets in other solar systems is vacuous?

    Manned spacewalks to conduct research on near-Earth asteroids that pose existential threats to civilization is vacuous?

    Manned missions to the moons of Mars is vacuous?

    Telerobotic surface operations from lunar or Mars orbit is vacuous?

    Commercial resupply of propellant depots at points throughout the inner solar system is vacuous?

    “Plus its a National Lab”

    Which means nothing. No substantial funding or activities have been added to the ISS since Congress made the designation.

    “and those never close.”

    Whether it happens sooner or later, deorbiting will certainly close this national laboratory.

    “I’ve always felt, since 2005, that Griffin wanted CLV as it was designed because he wanted to hedge his bets that the VSE would be discarded in later years.”

    No, exactly the opposite. Griffin pursued Ares I to lock-in Ares V. Ares I makes no technical or financial sense unless Ares V gets built. But Griffin didn’t consider the possibility that problems with Ares I would stand in the way of either vehicle getting built.

    “Any seasoned Washington insider, such as Mr. Griffin sure is,”

    Most of Griffin’s career was spent outside the federal government, in industry, FFRDCs, or academia. The couple of government jobs he had were as a technical manager in the civil service. He was never a political appointee or interface prior to becoming NASA Administrator.

    Moreover, this is the same NASA Administrator that:

    – Argued that it is “arrogant” to view climate change as a threat, causing White House Science Advisor Jack Marburger to disown Griffin’s statement as not “attempting to represent the [Bush] Administration’s views or broader policy.”

    – Claimed that a research database of airline crew safety complaints contained nothing that the “traveling public would care about”, despite obvious implications for airline passenger safety.

    – Sent an email to top NASA officials complaining that the Bush White House was on a “jihad” to shut down the Space Shuttle.

    – Told the lead for the NASA transition team that “If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar.”

    Griffin was not a Beltway insider, and even if he was, he was certainly not politically savvy.

    “would know that funding in DC is never foreordained.”

    But you just said that national labs never get shut down because Congress always funds them. Which is it? Is federal funding a constant or not?

    “He designed the CLV”

    CLV is the generic term. Griffin didn’t design “the CLV”. (EELVs, DIRECT, Falcon 9, etc. can all be CLVs.) Ares I was ESAS and Griffin’s choice for CLV.

    “With a CLV flying, all the costs to keep Michoud building Li-Al tanks is paid for; so is J2-X; so is SRB.”

    Unless Ares V is also built (and actually uses the same engines as Ares I, which appears unlikely), the costs of these systems will be spread over a very small number of Ares I flight components, driving Ares I per flight costs through the roof.

    “Of course the bad news in all of this, should ISS be the driving requirement for selecting a launcher, in time the ISS will be as decrepit as MIR was in the last century.”

    This sentence makes no sense. If a launch vehicle is developed with the ISS as the driver, why would that harm the ISS? If anything, the ISS would benefit from a vehicle designed specifically for its needs.

    “Because that is all we have for Nasa to do for its human space program, the US will be keeping it together with spit and bailing wire just to have something to do”

    There’s no logic here. If NASA’s human space flight program has only one mission, logically it will be able to focus on doing that mission well, rather than spreading its efforts across multiple projects.

    “….like the broken down, bankrupt Russians of the the 1990’s.”

    The state of the Russian space program last decade had everything to do with the collapse of the Soviet economy, and nothing to do with their lack of any program to send humans beyond LEO. By that logic, NASA’s human space flight program should have been in the same state.

    FWIW…

  • richardb

    Major Tom took issue with my statement that the delays in the CLV are due, in part, to lack of funds. His world view is its due to incompetent technical design.
    Sally Ride had this to say:
    “Ride blamed the Constellation delay on a gap between the goals laid out for the program by former President George W. Bush, and the budget allocated to NASA by Congress to achieve them.

    “NASA has not been given the resources to support this vision,” she said. “You can’t expect the agency to achieve grand and glorious goals” and then not provide the necessary funding, she said.”

    Sally Ride quoted me better than I quoted myself.

  • Major Tom

    “Sally Ride quoted me better than I quoted myself.”

    Unfortunately, Sally Ride is wrong. Between FY 2004 (the first fiscal year for the VSE) and FY 2009 (the last budget of the Bush II Administration), NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD — the division within NASA responsible for building Constellation) received almost $2.5 billion more than than what the Bush II Administration promised in the FY 2004 budget.

    Here’s what was promised in the FY 2004 budget:

    FY 2004 $1,646.0M
    FY 2005 $1,782.0M
    FY 2006 $2,579.0M
    FY 2007 $2,941.0M
    FY 2008 $2,809.0M
    FY 2009 $3,313.0M

    Total $15,070.0M

    And here’s what ESMD actually received in each fiscal year:

    FY 2004 $2684.5M
    FY 2005 $2209.3M
    FY 2006 $3050.1M
    FY 2007 $2869.8M
    FY 2008 $3299.4M
    FY 2009 $3505.5M

    Total $17,618.6M

    The total difference is $2,458.6 million. So the Bush II Administration and prior Congresses provided almost $2.5 billion more for ESMD than what the Bush II Administration promised to develop systems and technologies to return to the Moon. This doesn’t include the $400 million that ESMD received in the Recovery Act (passed after the Bush II Administration), which would increase the total difference to $3 billion.

    There is no way that budget reductions or deferments are the cause of the schedule slips in Constellation/Ares I/Orion because there have been none. Other parts of the NASA budget have been cut, but not ESMD. In fact, ESMD’s budget has been larger than the Bush II Administration’s original VSE budget commitments.

    The reasons that Constellation/Ares I/Orion have slipped so much are both technical (PDR deferrels) and cost growth (near doubling in costs to first lunar landing in CBO documents).

    You should check your facts before accepting what others say at face value. Even former astronauts and blue-ribbon panel members can be wrong.

    FWIW…

  • Even former astronauts and blue-ribbon panel members can be wrong.

    In the case of Dr. Ride, that’s a better bet than with most former astronauts.

  • common sense

    Ares I is a technical mistake. Sidemount-crew promises to be an even greater one.

    We can all whine all we can about budget but if and when major technical mistakes are made there is no cure. Sidemount cargo will be difficult but possibly feasible. Sidemount crew is a total nightmare in the making especially with a LAS: Increased complexity is NOT EQUAL TO increased safety. It just is increased complexity.

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