NASA

NASA’s exploration plans: heavy-lift yes, EELV no?

While the Augustine committee wraps up its final report, NASA hasn’t been standing still waiting for it. In an article in Monday’s issue of The Space Review, I wrote about Bolden’s statements in his Space Transportation Association speech on Thursday about what NASA’s internal planning:

While the Augustine committee did its work this summer, Bolden said that a NASA “leadership team” has also been studying exploration, focusing initially more on “why” rather than “how”. That team, including associate administrators and center directors, has been meeting by telecon for the last couple of months, three days a week for up to three hours at a time. “We started with asking the question ‘why’: why do we do this?” he said. “Why do we risk human life in the exploration of space?”

Bolden didn’t say what answers the team came up with during the meetings, but did state that the team has moved on to the question of how to carry out human space exploration. That, he said, was a different approach from the Augustine committee, which he felt focused more on technical architectures than on the reasons why (although the committee did take up the question internally, as Jeff Greason, a committee member, recently noted.) “When you get stuck with architecture, you can do bad things,” Bolden said. “You really want to find out why you want to do something, and then ask yourself if this is what we want to do, how do we best accomplish it?”

Bolden said the team has been “migrating to a position that we want to recommend to the president,” without offering any specifics about what that might be.

While Bolden didn’t mention any specifics in Washington, he did let slip a few details about what might be included on Monday at the IAC in Daejon, South Korea, Flightglobal.com reports. Bolden was clearly interested in developing a heavy-lift vehicle, saying that NASA was “costing” such a launcher, which the report believes is the Ares 5 “Lite” vehicle mentioned in the Augustine committee report instead of a shuttle-derived alternative or even simply re-estimating the development cost of the Ares 5 itself. He was also cool to using EELV-derived vehicles, saying that they “are not man-rated [and] they are middle class”, according to the Flightglobal.com report.

38 comments to NASA’s exploration plans: heavy-lift yes, EELV no?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    I predict that many of the people who praised Charles Bolden as just the leader NASA needed will soon be reevaluating that assessment. The folks who regard heavy lift an anathema will not be pleased.

  • What does “middle class” mean?

  • eng

    Again, they are out there with that “EELV is not man-rated” canard and ‘the need for heavy lift’ (that they themselves can’t even define – hence the stupid moniker ‘Ares 5 *Lite*’!) Just when I thought rational thought process might prevail at NASA. Good god, it’s so frustrating and hopeless! It looks like NASA enjoys to be perpetually hitting their collective heads against the wall they themselves constructed… And somebody is making noises about $3/bn more per year for this circus?! You’ve got to be kidding me… I’d cut NASA’s HSF by that much and transfer the funds to something more useful.

  • Robert Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    What does “middle class” mean?..

    …..

    if one looks at Jim Chestek’s theories on a big dumb booster…the EELV’s are “Middle class” in terms of mass.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 13th, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I predict that many of the people who praised Charles Bolden as just the leader NASA needed will soon be reevaluating that assessment….

    what do you base that on? As best I can see General Bolden has done nothing …oK he has not bent over and kissed the ring of “the vision” and its goofy structure….but then again for my taste he has not said “this was the dumbest thing I have ever seen”…of course that is why he is Administrator…

    The problem that every actor in this administration has, and this includes Bolden, is that when they walked on the deck nothing that they were left was “going good”. Eight years of troglodytes and ideological nut cakes, and just plain incompetents has soured the milk of the entire product of The Federal Government…and that includes human spaceflight.

    The worst thing that Smith did on RMS Titanic was probably not hit the iceberg. There is an argument to make that he made some serious errors, like steaming faster then his lookouts could see and the “boat” (I know its a ship) could respond to her helm….but in reality where he really toasted is that after the ship hit the berg he seems to have lost complete control of the lifeboats…and most went out substantially empty. IE he could have saved more people with some thought and planning.

    Bolden’s own little world parrots the rest of the government. Money is running out as deficits rise and income shrinks…all due to things that were not the fault of this group…a lot of money has been spent on things for almost nothing to show for it (Ares 1) and American patience is running out.

    One can argue that they might have already made mistakes (and they have) and that Bolden doesnt have a clue how to get it together (that has yet to be seen)…but one can hardly fault him for putting heads together and trying to figure out 1) how to get out of this mess and 2) who on the center level is capable of helping him get out of this mess.

    Bolden may make the worse decisions since Mike Griffin…

    But it is classical Marine leadership doctrine coming on a failing organization to conduct excersizes that have as their core some value in making plans, but also some value in trying to figure out who should stay on the team and who should leave it.

    This is just what he did at Canoe U.

    As for predictions…how about we compare some of mine about “the vision” from 2004 and some of the ones you made

    Robert G. Oler

  • I have to say, I’m curious to hear more of the context. Rob wrote a multi-paragraph blog post with only one or two sentences worth of actual quotations in them, and no context of what question was asked or not. For instance, even the A-com was suggesting upgraded EELVs (Phase 1 or 2), not stock EELVs for the deep space missions. I can see many questions Rob could’ve asked that could have elicited that response without meaning what he’s been spinning it to mean. Seeing his trackrecord and previous bias, I’m waiting for more data and more quotes, not just off-the-cuff stuff. Especially with how tight-lipped Bolden has been about stuff, I really doubt that he let slip with anything near as juicy as Rob thinks he got out of him.

    ~Jon

  • Dave Salt

    If the Flightglobal article is correct that…
    1) Shuttle will be retired by 2011
    2) HLV will not be available until the late 2020s
    3) commercial launch services will be used for ISS cargo and crew transport
    4) EELVs are ruled out for crew transport
    …then either…
    a) NASA accepts that the “gap” will now be almost 20 years, or
    b) Bolden plans to fund COTS-D.

    Actually, I suspect it’s neither of the above but, instead, think that the reporter got a bit “confused” in his enthusiasm to pronounce the death of the EELV options.

  • Eight years of troglodytes and ideological nut cakes, and just plain incompetents has soured the milk of the entire product of The Federal Government

    Yes, fortunately, this administration would never hire anyone like that in the federal government now.

    This kind of thing is why it’s hard to take anything you write seriously, Robert.

  • Anon

    Looks like a clear win for new space because without Ares I and EELV the only option is COTS-D or 20 years of Soyuz, if the ISS lasts that long. I would bet on COTS-D. Even without it Falcon 9/Dragon and Bigelow will be in operation.

    So as for Ares V. By the time they start to fly hardware on it, it will be a moot point.

    And this sad 20 year GAP is supposed to get the President’s daughters interested in science….

  • Al Fansome

    Rand,

    I agree with Jon, and would like to hear more data, before leaping to conclusions.

    That said, I suspect that — if the data is accurate — that Bolden meant Atlas V Phase 2 as being “middle class”.

    The status quo at NASA is scared to death by the one option being considered by Augustine the 75 MT version of the EELV for NASA’s heavy-lift needs as a suboption of the Deep Space/Flexibility option.

    The Augustine committee saw huge potential savings, which would go a long ways to keep NASA exploring beyond LEO with the current budget. The reason is that — as Jeff Greason pointed out — a huge part of NASA’s budget is fixed costs. Even after the Shuttle retires, there is still a huge Shuttle infrastructure and engineering knowledge base. These people are desperate to make sure that some part of NASA’s budget is designed to keep them working.

    While Augustine pointed out the huge potential savings from Atlas V Phase II for super-heavy-lift, NASA’s manned spaceflight centers only saw huge lay-offs, well beyond those now being contemplated by Shuttle retirement.

    While I think that the Atlas V Phase 2 makes a lot of sense from a purist point of view, I can also see a pragmatic case to be made to give the current bureaucracy something to work on, so that they leave the mammals alone.

    FWIW,

    - Al

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ October 13th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Yes, fortunately, this administration would never hire anyone like that/a> in the federal government now….

    Rand.

    If I had stated, implied, or infered such a sentiment then I could in fact see why you would write the sentence that comes after the above statement…but since I did not imply, nor infer, nor state anything remotely resembling that thought of yours….then I am just left amused at the workings of you’re thought process.

    Every administration has in its midst what most political savy folks call “spear chuckers” ….ie the ones that go out and throw red (or blue) meat to the true believers. These are the folks who in a Republican administration one sends out to address the right to life crowd and who in a Dem administration one sends out to address the global warming folks. These are all people who are ideologically “good” and who speak “the sacred words” (apologies to The Omega Glory) to rev up the true believers.

    The current administration is no different. Nor was say Reagan’s. What separated both Reagan and Obama’s administration from the last one is that the “spear chuckers” were (at least so far in Obama’s) no where near serious policy making.

    I stand by my statement that the spear chuckers were up to their eyebrows in policy making with the last administration with the results that have left policy making from foreign policy to space policy adrift.

    You (and perhaps I) might not like the policies of the current administration, but they are well within the mainstream of the Democratic party and American political thought…so far

    Please respond to what I write, not what you think I wrote or what you wish I had wrote, doing the later makes one think you might be an extremist

    congrats on the move back to CA

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Well. I’d say, as I said before, that the most politically expedient option would include Shuttle hardware. Ares “lite” may be it as it’d keep busy the people who are at risk today (I seriously doubt the sidemount would work and one might argue Jupiter is near the same as Ares “lite” or even Ares V). EELVs would probably be the most bang for the buck BUT it may lack the required political support. And maybe, just maybe, NASA will get the $3B/yr and it’ll keep the workforce happy. See sometimes the best solution is not the best solution, it is the solution that works. Political logic is not equal to technical (or otherwise financial) logic as we all know. It is not a matter of budget at this stage if you can show that whatever LV, however expensive, will fit into the predicted budget asopposed to blowing the budget.

    Side note: Charles Bolden saying he is not political is kind of “weird”, playing to “his” base at NASA maybe? How do you reach the rank of General or CEO without being political. Kind of a “joke” to me. With all due respect of course!

  • A Sidemount-HLV with an EDS stage capable of sending up to 100 tonnes to LEO or nearly 48 tonnes of net payload into lunar orbit could be ready in less than 6 years, according to NASA. This is the fastest and the cheapest way to develop a heavy lift vehicle capable of replacing the space shuttle and returning us to the Moon.

    Marcel F. Wiliams

  • I agree with Jon, and would like to hear more data, before leaping to conclusions.

    So do I, particularly considering the source. I’d like to hear what Bolden has to say, rather than Rob’s interpretation of it. I was just wondering what that phrase meant.

  • common sense

    “This is the fastest and the cheapest way to develop a heavy lift vehicle capable of replacing the space shuttle and returning us to the Moon. ”

    No one is saying that I know, so far anyway, we are going back to the Moon or Mars for that matter. So?

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    I am not for sure that a return to the Moon or Mars or the like is the goal of an HLV. I think that there is a different agenda afoot

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    The Coalition for Space Exploration (I think that is its name) has produced two PSA’s.

    Not only are the cliche ridden and chocked full of droll…but they are far to long…30 seconds folks..

    they will never see life past the internet

    F minus

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kevin Parkin

    LOL having burned through so much money not producing Ares I, a direct jump to Ares V would of course be the next logical step for NASA. Ah, the beauty of watching modern day politicians try build a rocket…

  • Robert Oler

    Kevin Parkin wrote @ October 14th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    would of course be the next logical step for NASA..

    great comment

    everytime I hear “the next logical step” I am reminded of the line in 2010 the book where hearing HAL say “I have the greatest enthusiasm for this mission” Heywood Floyd said he regretted ever writing that line to be included in HAL’s programming. I think that Tom Paine was the first to popularize it, trying to sell the shuttle…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Any rocket is man rated if the spacecraft has an escape tower system or equivalent.

  • [...] ASI Saggese, e pare si siano detti un sacco di belle cose sulle future collaborazioni), e i rumors che stanno girando negli Stati Uniti a proposito di quello che avrebbe (o forse non avrebbe?) detto Bolden in merito al rapporto di un [...]

  • Major Tom

    “Bolden was clearly interested in developing a heavy-lift vehicle, saying that NASA was “costing” such a launcher, which the report believes is the Ares 5 “Lite” vehicle mentioned in the Augustine committee report instead of a shuttle-derived alternative or even simply re-estimating the development cost of the Ares 5 itself. He was also cool to using EELV-derived vehicles, saying that they “are not man-rated [and] they are middle class”, according to the Flightglobal.com report.”

    The Flight Global article is not consistent with the presentations that are making the rounds in Washington on the response being formulated by NASA to the Augustine Committee. For example, Laurie Leshin, a Deputy Director at Goddard, has been leading an effort to develop a technology/innovation initiative in response to the Summary Report’s recommendation that “NASA to reassume its crucial role of developing new technologies for space”. One of her briefings can be found here:

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/ASEB_Leshin_Innovation_1.pdf

    Contrary to the Flight Global article, there’s no mention of heavy lift in this document, but propellant depots and commercial capabilities make repeated appearances. This is also consistent with what NASAWatch is reporting with respect to senior NASA management interest in commercial crew transport on EELVs:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2009/10/eelvs-are-not-d.html

    And there’s also the recent announcement on the RLV technology roadmap partnership between NASA and AFRL:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=29390

    Unless Bolden is totally out of bed with what his agency is actually pursuing, it appears that the Flight Global article misquoted Bolden or took his comments out of context.

    FWIW…

  • Nobody loves the poor EELVs. Looks like the whole project is going to turn into a near-total waste of money, at least from a commercial space perspective.

    As I understand it, it looks like the Ares-light, if built, would be relatively easily uprated to the full Ares-V. While I still prefer the EELVs as the lowest cost government option, and view “heavy lift” as not a good way to go if your goal is long-term operations in deep space — especially after the remarkably successful ISS contruction — if you plan to develop an Ares-V, it may make sense to build a less challenging version first. Also, replacing Ares-1 with Ares-light reduces the number of vehicles we have to maintain and solves Orion’s mass issues.

    Thus, it’s not my preferred option, but I can think of a lot worse.

    – Donald

  • Major Tom

    “Nobody loves the poor EELVs. Looks like the whole project is going to turn into a near-total waste of money, at least from a commercial space perspective.”

    See my post directly above yours and investigate the links. The Flight Global article doesn’t match reality on the ground.

    “As I understand it, it looks like the Ares-light, if built, would be relatively easily uprated to the full Ares-V.”

    Not really. Ares V Lite uses 5-segment SRBs, the existing RS-68A engine, and the J-2X upper stage from Ares I. The Ares V uses 5.5-segment SRBs, an upgraded RS-68B engine, and a new upper stage based on the J-2X. So to move from Ares V Lite to Ares V, a new SRB would have to be qualified, a liquid engine upgraded, and a new upper stage built. With only 20mT of performance difference between these two vehicles, it’s probably not worth it.

    Honestly, spending billions of taxpayer dollars and waiting 7+ years for 5-segment SRBs and the long-lead J-2X are probably not worth even the 140mT capabilities of Ares V Lite. If NASA has to develop a heavy lift vehicle other than an EELV derivative, it’s probably better off with a heavy lifter that, while lower performing, can immediately and efficiently leverage existing Shuttle hardware.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/ASEB_Leshin_Innovation_1.pdf

    Slightly off topic but I went through this link really quickly and yet I have to say it’s a very nice piece of work. It seems to address the national interests (even though not quite clearly stated as such and maybe it was not the point) and to project the effects of a smart R&D work at NASA on the NASA mission.

    However, I did not see any mention of a NASC revival which, in my mind, would be tremendously important to achieve her goals. Maybe a more political issue but an essential one nonetheless. I realize how difficult it might be for her to introduce the political aspect of things but that is what a NASC might be used for.

    NIAC-2, sure, great! Need s a real budget though.

    And here is another thing that needs to be addressed (by her?): How do we get the budget to do this? That is how do we get Congress to by into this? Again a NASC might be it.

    Anyway, if Dr. Laurie Leshin reads this, congrats!

    FWIW.

  • Robert Oler

    Anyway, if Dr. Laurie Leshin reads this, congrats! ..

    yes Fine business…a very good job.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1354

    probably seen this via NasaWatch…KC is to be congratulated for getting this letter from the writer.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “However, I did not see any mention of a NASC revival which, in my mind, would be tremendously important to achieve her goals. Maybe a more political issue but an essential one nonetheless. I realize how difficult it might be for her to introduce the political aspect of things but that is what a NASC might be used for.”

    That’s a White House decision. The National Aeronautics and Space Council was (and would be) a body that coordinates aerospace issues between the relevant departments and agencies (NASA, DOD, etc.). It’s the President’s call as to whether he needs/wants such a body. It’s not NASA’s call (Laurie Leshin or otherwise).

    This is an aside, but we space cadets tend to put a lot of weight on resurrecting NASC (or the National Space Council from Bush I), thinking that it will provide a inside voice on space issues at the White House. But that’s not what the NASC or NSC did. And even if that is what the NASC or NSC did, the President isn’t going to listen to such a voice unless he’s interested.

    Where a NASC or NSC could prove crucial is making better use of resources across departments and agencies. NASA use of DOD EELVs would be a prime example. But even here, it’s not clear that a NASC or NSC would provide a function to the President, White House, NASA, or DOD that the existing National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Office of Management and Budget don’t already provide. (For example, the Augustine Committee originated with OSTP — it didn’t require the creation of a NASC or NSC.)

    “How do we get the budget to do this?”

    An embargoed but more detailed version of Leshin’s slides that includes program options, budgets, etc. has been/is being presented to the White House this fall as part of the FY11 budget process. Whether the White House funds it (likely given Augustine), at what level, and whether the funding is added to NASA’s budget or comes from Ares I termination (probably some combination) remains to be seen.

    There’s a write-up here:

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/pages/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=474:new-focus-on-nasas-technology-development-programs&catid=67:news&Itemid=27

    on one of Leshin’s presentations where she and the head of Advanced Capabilities in ESMD “indicated that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and NASA leadership have a very strong interest in rejuvenating NASA’s technology development portfolio to enable long-term capabilities rather than focusing only on the near-term.”

    “That is how do we get Congress to by into this?”

    As long as large budget increases are not involved (e.g., SEI), Congress usually follows the White House’s lead on major changes in NASA budget priorities. Even when work between NASA’s field centers gets shifted around as a result of such changes, the winners and losers in Congress effectively cancel each other out and the White House gets its way. Because it’s NASA decisionmakers represent many, competing, parochial fiefdoms, Congress is effectively paralyzed when it comes to having a major influence on large changes in NASA’s direction. They can earmark or cancel at the margins, but as long as non-NASA priorities aren’t threatened, NASA’s supporters in Congress can do little but rubber stamp the bulk of the White House’s plans for NASA or risk losing whatever work and jobs the White House’s plans provide to the NASA field centers they represent.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    More news regarding ongoing budget discussions/options/changes:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/6668434.html

    FWIW…

  • eng

    Bolden here is ascribed [EELVs]“are not man-rated [and] they are middle class” At the very least that thing between the quotation marks was taken down verbatim, no? Or was he going against his own conictions to please someone inside Constellation?

    What does the context that some in this thread ask for matter in such case? The quoted string standing on its own is silly in *any* context.

    He basically brought up 2 made-up issues that NASA used in the past to avoid being responsible with tax dollars – the man-rating crap and the ‘need for heavy lift’ folly (a loose notion that NASA can’t define itself – hence Ares5 “lite”)

  • eng

    Meanwhile… another ‘middle class, not man-rated’ Soyuz took flight with supplies for a peice of infrastructure (not perfect, granted! But miles better than one off sorties of ‘heavy lift’ vehicles)

    No one even keeps track of the humble ‘primitive’ ‘middle class’ *non* ‘man-rated’ R7′s derivatives nowdays, they just get assembled, rolled out, and launched to keep a 400+ tonne outpost in LEO going.

  • eng

    …Correction. Wouldn’t the Soyuz Progress/Soyuz be even below ‘middle class’ in Bolden’s ‘definition’?

  • A NASA Engineer

    Interpreting Bolden etc news should take into account the real thinking and motivations behind these statements.

    For example, when hearing about “savings” in a recent article one should ask how, under what initiative, and at what expected output? “Savings” are often a misnomer in NASA for (1) a promised cost by a contractor that never materializes once the award is let and the work is underway and (2) a budget cut to an assortment of civil servant areas that results in buy-outs, hiring freezes for years, fewer support contracts, and transfers from peter to pay paul that usually leave peter telling other programs “…sorry, I don’t have the people to go any faster supporting you…”

    When hearing about “costing” an Ares V lite, yet a meeting focus being about “why”, before how, it’s a quick follow-up question to ask if this is consistent?

    NASA Human Space Flight has explored the Moon, developed a Shuttle, and then an Outpost, the ISS, all in political, fiscal and tactical environments that are extremely different from this next step we are in. For one, information flow on “costing” will be an affair more rigorously scrutinized than ever before, and in certain ways disruptively different in it’s sharing, visibility and transparency across all stakeholders.

    I’d propose that budgeting is an input, with variability, given the unpredictable decade (or more?) ahead. This calls for a strategic exercise that gets away from performance as an input, something clearly visible in singling out Ares V lite, or debates about design.

    Given an assortment of budget scenarios, an assortment of factors – such as COTS/crew funding levels, years, etc, success, failure, continuity or not on low-cost initiatives, a larger picture of HSF, such as amounts to restore for R&D, and still further ranges on variables such as when Shuttle resources become available to any new development – what develops quickly is a picture where a “heavy” is a set of actions or reactions (not decisions) near and far. Mindful of any gap, this becomes a burn-rate driven decision yielding some time to completion in balance with some performance. More of a “good enuf” system defined principally for adaptability to programmatic factors in years ahead (which will be mostly about funds availability).

    So ultimately “costing” will have to do Ares V, Side-mount, Direct, etc on balance to gap, amidst “budget scenarios”. Sensitivities, trending and margin analysis will be part of the costing, yielding a preferred direction, albeit within the uncertainties involved. Optimizing either the architecture (“I want this performance, what’s best”) or the assumptions (“I assume this budget, it’s been promised”) will both be counter productive.

    So when seeing “costing” and “savings” think – “show me”.

    We have to learn from the past, from ESAS and mistakes there, as well as by observing the current environment demanding change.

  • Robert Oler

    The story in the HOU Chron that Major Tim links to is pretty interesting.

    Garver and I have had our differences but she is fairly good politician (she is where she is) and it is clear that she is playing that game pretty well now.

    She is clearly ploughing the ground for some major changes that are going to occur. The sweetner i n the article is the linkage of the changes to “down payments” on various projects…but it is clear that 1) all the “save our pork” plans have not moved the administration all that much and 2)several major projects seem on their way either out the door or to a massive “reorg”.

    who knows what the future holds but so far for not saying a lot…Bolden seems to be moving in a fairly unique manner.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    eng wrote @ October 15th, 2009 at 5:16 am

    No one even keeps track of the humble ‘primitive’ ‘middle class’ *non* ‘man-rated’ R7’s derivatives nowdays, they just get assembled, rolled out, and launched to keep a 400+ tonne outpost in LEO going….

    we should all be impressed with what the Russians/Soviets have done with the Soyuz/Progress/R7 derivatives.

    Having said that…I would not be overwhelmed by it.

    The Closest thing that the US has to the “R7″ is in my view the B-52. (OK space/aviation but follow me here).

    Both vehicles have done some modest evolution, but actually not all that much (I would reengine Buffy if I were SecDef)…why? The mission has not changed all that much.

    With some “enhancements” both vehicles do more or less today what they did in the 1960′s…in Soyuz/Progress case they carry people and supplies…but on the other hand they were no where near taking those vehicles to the Moon and had they tried to build ISS while they might have come up with some functional equivelent using their launch vehicles…they could not have either put together ISS or even Option C.

    US space policy (and its vehicles) has suffered from two sorts of problems…the first is no constant direction in policy and the second is every launch vehicle effort NASA has done has tried to accomplish task which are to far of a leap in terms of capability.

    Soyuz/ the chinese version of it/if India makes a version of it…are all impressive and as long as the drill is a government run space program sending people somewhere to orbit …they will do fine.

    We need better

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    “That’s a White House decision. The National Aeronautics and Space Council was (and would be) a body that coordinates aerospace issues between the relevant departments and agencies (NASA, DOD, etc.). It’s the President’s call as to whether he needs/wants such a body. It’s not NASA’s call (Laurie Leshin or otherwise).”

    Yes I agree hence my comment about it’d be difficult for her to talk about it. Yet we need a far reaching, encompassing strategy here. It cannot be NIAC for example as a stand alone. NIAC’s mission MUST be thought in a broader sense than just technological. For example, what technologies related to aeronautics and space need NASA to develop that would serve not only NASA’s mission but the national interests? In my mind NASC would serve policy and NIAC would serve NASC/NASA, all under one (two?) roofs, not in all the different offices (re: your comment below).

    “This is an aside, but we space cadets tend to put a lot of weight on resurrecting NASC (or the National Space Council from Bush I), thinking that it will provide a inside voice on space issues at the White House. But that’s not what the NASC or NSC did. And even if that is what the NASC or NSC did, the President isn’t going to listen to such a voice unless he’s interested.

    Where a NASC or NSC could prove crucial is making better use of resources across departments and agencies. NASA use of DOD EELVs would be a prime example. But even here, it’s not clear that a NASC or NSC would provide a function to the President, White House, NASA, or DOD that the existing National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Office of Management and Budget don’t already provide. (For example, the Augustine Committee originated with OSTP — it didn’t require the creation of a NASC or NSC.)”

    In my mind the NASC would be there precisley to help harmonize the policy to satisfy the national interests through the different organizations and how they relate to NASA. And it seems to me it was the intent back then (http://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html). I would submit that, and this is total speculation, that back then the idea might have been to see what the different orgs would provide to NASA while nowadays I think it would have to be the other way around. Indeed, national priorities have changed and for example DoE might take a more important role as well as Commerce than DoD say. I can see the relationship NASA might want to keep with DoD BUT NASA’s mission has evolved quite a bit away from national security alone (the old cold war argument is over). So we need to revamp the whole thing, NASA cannot survive on the premises of the cold war as we all can see.

    “As long as large budget increases are not involved (e.g., SEI), Congress usually follows the White House’s lead on major changes in NASA budget priorities. Even when work between NASA’s field centers gets shifted around as a result of such changes, the winners and losers in Congress effectively cancel each other out and the White House gets its way. Because it’s NASA decisionmakers represent many, competing, parochial fiefdoms, Congress is effectively paralyzed when it comes to having a major influence on large changes in NASA’s direction. They can earmark or cancel at the margins, but as long as non-NASA priorities aren’t threatened, NASA’s supporters in Congress can do little but rubber stamp the bulk of the White House’s plans for NASA or risk losing whatever work and jobs the White House’s plans provide to the NASA field centers they represent.”

    How abot having key member(s) of Congress in the new NASC?

    FWIW

  • common sense

    “NASA Human Space Flight has explored the Moon, developed a Shuttle, and then an Outpost, the ISS, all in political, fiscal and tactical environments that are extremely different from this next step we are in. ”

    All of these programs were/are related to the Cold War, ISS being the last more peaceful installment of it all. This is over and we do need to go beyond this reasoning or HSF will disappear.

    “We have to learn from the past, from ESAS and mistakes there, as well as by observing the current environment demanding change.”

    You would hope so and I guess we’ll know next when we hear what the policy of this WH will be. Not the Augustine report which only is a “tiny” input towards possibly renewing the policy to make it relevant to the times we live in.

  • common sense

    “Soyuz/ the chinese version of it/if India makes a version of it…are all impressive and as long as the drill is a government run space program sending people somewhere to orbit …they will do fine.”

    The Soyuz capsules are very good and very reliable vehicles. Despite the most recent incidents the crews made it back ALIVE each time. Never forget it.

    “We need better”

    First we need a mission. Then “better” might come. But for the same mission “better” will be very difficult to do.

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