NASA, White House

Report: White House considering NASA budget increase

The Augustine committee’s final report is now expected out next week (something the committee confirmed in a Twitter posting Friday morning) but a draft version of that report is already at NASA and the White House, Space News reported. The article, citing “sources both within the administration and close to it”, states that the administration is considering proposing a budget increase along the lines of what the Augustine committee considers necessary to enable human exploration beyond LEO: a gradual increase that leads to the $3-billion increase by 2014 widely reported. That’s different from efforts in Congress to give NASA an immediate, but one-time, $3-billion increase by taking money from unspent stimulus funds.

As for what option the agency and White House are considering, the Space News article indicates that the so-called “flexible path” option, which defers lunar landings for lunar flybys, NEO missions, and other destinations, is “an attractive option” within the space agency. The White House, an unnamed administration official states, considered a human return to the Moon “not sellable to the public or to the president”.

66 comments to Report: White House considering NASA budget increase

  • Robert Oler

    LOL the current program is (thankfully) doomed

    Robert G. Oler

  • mike shupp

    So we’re in for another 30 year stretch of sending astronauts up to circle the earth basically, with a _possible_ goal of reaching Deimos and Phobos by 2040. How exciting! I’m sure we’ll see science and engineering enrollments in American universities doubling and redoubling any moment now as public enthusiasm for this bold course of exploration mounts.

    Pehaps we should abandon talk of a “space program” and start referring to HSF as “the punt program.”

  • Doug Lassier

    If true, this is a politically smart move. The administration gets to say that they are increasing the NASA budget, by the amount recommended by the Augustine panel, while doing so on a timeline that allows for some very careful thinking about the direction that should be taken. As noted, that means that the baseline program would be tanked. It would say that the administration strongly supports NASA, but with a mandate for it that is pretty much TBD.

    That careful thinking would ideally provide a lot of useful roadmapping, both technology and policy-wise, that the very short Augustine effort could not provide. By 2014, we might actually have a credible and well thought out plan.

    The comment by the unnamed official, that the White House considers a human return to the Moon not sellable to the public seems to clearly mean that the White House sees no liability in in being beaten back to the Moon, if there were a chance that was going to happen. In fact, if the flexible path option is developed by the U.S., it can be strongly suspected that the Chinese are going to start talking about the same thing, and drop their alleged plans for putting their footprints on the Moon entirely. Thud. The Chinese want to compete with us at what we want to do, not at what we decide we don’t want to do.

  • sc220

    So we’re in for another 30 year stretch of sending astronauts up to circle the earth basically, with a _possible_ goal of reaching Deimos and Phobos by 2040. How exciting! I’m sure we’ll see science and engineering enrollments in American universities doubling and redoubling any moment now as public enthusiasm for this bold course of exploration mounts.

    If you are trying to be facetious, which I am almost sure you are, then I have to tell you that the “traditional” approaches of sending people to the lunar and/or Mars surface will have even more challenges in terms of motivating young engineers. I have been at the front lines in discussions with the younger generation regarding our exploration vision for the future, and believe me, the Grandfather Griffin model of Apollo on Steroids/Apollo Redux has had little appeal to the younger demographic. I can understand an old guy like Griffin embracing these views, but the younger leaders can’t afford costly boondogles that merely recapture glories of the past.

    Flexible Path offers a truly new approach to space exploration. It appeals to a broader set of interests and makes human spaceflight beyond LEO a viable enterprise.

  • Race to the Moon

    sees no liability in in being beaten back to the Moon,

    I think we should have a race to the Moon.

    The Chinese Government versus the U.S. Private Industry (via the Google Lunar Xprize plus some U.S. industry incentives from the US Government).

    Now, that would be an interesting race.

    FWIW,

    – The Right Kind of Race to the Moon

  • Major Tom

    “So we’re in for another 30 year stretch of sending astronauts up to circle the earth basically, with a _possible_ goal of reaching Deimos and Phobos by 2040.”

    No, the Augustine Committee’s Summary Report states:

    “All variants of Option 5 [Flexible Path] begin exploration along the flexible path in the early 2020s, with lunar fly-bys, visits to Lagrange points and near-Earth objects and Mars fly-bys occurring at a rate of about one major event per year, and possible rendezvous with Mars’s moons or human lunar return by the mid to late 2020s.”

    Let’s try to get our facts straight before we post next time.

    FWIW…

  • Mark R. Whittington

    If the last bit quoted is true, we’re not so much going to explore as we are going to sight see. We’ll send an Orion to an asteroid, admire it, then return. The only reason to visit asteroids would be to learn how to divert them.

    Going back to the Moon, on the other hand, would teach us how to live and work in space. But that may not be part of this administration’s agenda.

  • Ferris Valyn

    (I may regret this)

    Mark,

    How is going back to the moon going to teach us how to live and work in space? Yes, I can see a case that it would teach us how to live and work on the moon, but space? I don’t quite see it. We have gravity on the moon (something we don’t have in space), less radiation (attractive yes, but with the dirt, you don’t have to try and innovate), no weather patterns (which means how useful it is for places like mars is open for quesiton), just to name a few of the differences between the moon, and the rest of “space”

    So, please, explain that to me

  • Robert Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ October 18th, 2009 at 2:33 am

    If the last bit quoted is true, we’re not so much going to explore as we are going to sight see. We’ll send an Orion to an asteroid, admire it, then return. The only reason to visit asteroids would be to learn how to divert them….

    That is ridiculous It is just anti Obama stuff.

    Going to a near earth object does a “lot” of things.

    at a reasonable cost and with some modest risk it give The Republic experience in “deep space” flights. It allows us to test equipment, work through crew issues, and most important learn autonomous flight (which will be essential for a Mars or something else trip).

    It also allows very in depth study of an NEO and if we are clever allows us to learn to use robotics with humans in the loop…ie to explore the asteroid we should bring a variety of sub vehicles that the humans nearby can use to do “task”.

    who knows what we will find. It should be easy (well as easy as an EVA) to explore an asteroid…the vehicle would “berth” more then land…and we should be able to leave behind a cornucopia of instruments which would turn the asteroid into “ice stations” allowing long term study. In other words it will help us learn HOW TO EXPLORE THE MOON and other places. Which we clearly do not now know how to do.

    “Going back to the Moon, on the other hand, would teach us how to live and work in space”

    no more or less then staying on ISS will teach us to do that. I dont know what anticipations you have for what a Moon base would do…but for the most part the folks on a Moon base will be stuck inside doing what they are doing on the ISS…ie trying to keep the thing going.

    There wont be massive exploration of the Moon, there is 1) not the supply train to do that and 2) inadequate ability to use the local resources assuming we knew what and where they were…which it seems we dont.

    Going back to the Moon for our technology right now, is like Vikings trying to hang on to North America. we dont have the technological horsepower

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    What would put the icing on the cake…is to rethink the Orion program…and turn it into the first real deep space vehicle the US has.

    Why leave the earth for each trip (or at least a sizeable majority of the mass). ISS has proven that we can assemble things in space and that those things can be made to “run” for good periods of time.

    Why not design a vehicle that is assembled in orbit for deep space trips…aerobrakes back into orbit and then is refurbished for reuse at the space station with perhaps a new logistics or whatever module? The vehicle could be “tanked” at Simberg’s propellant depots…or a new propulsion stage launched…although the RL:-10′s and J-2′s which would be used or kind of reusable…

    why is Orion a capsule?

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    Mark: “If the last bit quoted is true, we’re not so much going to explore as we are going to sight see. We’ll send an Orion to an asteroid, admire it, then return. … Going back to the Moon, on the other hand, would teach us how to live and work in space.”

    I’m not against a Moon-first approach, but I think the Flexible Path offers a lot of potential advantages. I’m convinced that there are ways to do Flexible Path that are a lot better than the Ares approach to Moon-first, an approach Mark has defended.

    Even before all of the Flexible Path attention, NASA was considering limiting the Moon surface work to sorties using (and possibly because of the expense of) the current NASA rocket plan:

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2009/04/a-shift-in-policy-moon-base-axed.html

    How would lunar sorties be less “sight seeing” than missions to Mars moons and asteroids?

    Also consider that Lagrange point missions are typically portrayed as being either satellite/observatory servicing missions or infrastructure development missions (for satellite servicing nodes, space stations, depots, assembly areas, etc). How would lunar sorties of the “Apollo on Steroids” sort teach us more about how to work in space than this type of mission? How could those servicing and infrastructure missions be depicted more as “sight seeing” than lunar sorties? Not only that, but Lagrange point servicing missions may give us an opportunity to establish affordable satellite servicing capabilities that would apply to satellites orbiting Earth, allowing even more opportunity for space activity that is far from sight-seeing. I don’t see any such opportunity with a Moon-first sortie program of the Ares sort.

    Flexible Path is also known for a strong robotic component. Part of this would be robots controlled by astronauts via telerobotics. The ESAS approach, on the other hand, allows funding for lunar robotics to be “siphoned off” (in the words of Jeff Hanley) by the rocket development programs. How would a stronger robotics program that is well-integrated with the astronaut program be more “sight seeing”, and teach us less about work in space, than a lunar sortie program with little funding available for robotic help?

    Finally, it appears that the Flexible Path approach is better from the point of view of schedule to actually start accomplishing things, and from the point of view of budget/sustainability, and from the point of view of incremental development. With those advantages, it may even be better than the Ares approach at astronaut work on the lunar surface. Flexible Path allows earlier, more affordable Earth-Moon Lagrange point and lunar orbit missions. These missions can help with the survey of the Moon, allowing us a better chance to know what to do when astronauts eventually get on the lunar surface. They also allow construction of lunar space infrastructure at Earth-Moon Lagrange points and in lunar orbit, which can make the transportation path to the lunar surface more affordable and robust than the Ares approach.

    The argument I’m making is against the specific “Apollo on steroids” Moon-first approach taken by ESAS/Ares. That doesn’t mean I think a strong focus on the Moon would be bad. In fact, I think a good Moon-first or Moon-early program with “boots on the lunar surface” consistent with the Vision for Space Exploration could be designed. However, such a program would probably look a lot more like Flexible Path and other Augustine Committee points on R&D, commercial space, international participation, and ISS than Apollo on Steroids.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Robert – you have, in my mind, hit the nail on the head. Its time for a deep space spacecraft – one that has no intention of returning to the surface of the earth.

    Of course, getting NASA to do that is not gonna be easy.

  • Robert Oler

    Ferris…thank you.

    In my view flexible path and things associated with it offer a unqiue oppurtunity to change completly “how” things are done in human and robotic exploration, indeed a chance to marry the two.

    NASA and “exploration” should be freed from the requirement of sending “people” into low earth orbit. That is a task which can easily transfer to private companies (OK maybe not easy but the point is there)

    Once that is done NASA and its exploration designs can remove the “get out and back onto Earth” from the design criteria…and start to design vehicles (to some extent based on ISS) for serious spaceflight.

    This includes things like Geo synch and L point servicing, NEO study, one can even look at using the vehicle as a temporary lunar space station whose design is to allow extensive investigation of the lunar surface with humans in the loop uncrewed vehicles. Investigation of tethers for surface work etc.

    Eventually with a modular design you can see implementation of the VASIMR drive which would include in my view the adaption of nuclear power sources…

    I really do not see any reason why “Orion” has anything to do with “going up or getting down”

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Re; Deep space aerobraking vehicle.

    There are a lot of issues to be solved here and that would be a very long term vehicle. Just keep that in mind. For example one very important issue that was facing CEV, at least originally (no idea what the heck it is today though), was abort anytime. Indeed, say an astronaut is hurt and need urgent care you’d have to bring him back to Earth ASAP. On such a deep space aerobraking contraption one might argue there’d be a hospital of sorts. Also there might be “escape pods” to return to Earth in a hurry. In any case that’d be anything but easy to build. There are a lot of issue with the TPS system. Heat rates might be “low” but heat load will be large, hence a pretty thick heat shield which means mass and all kinds of system issues. Then you might say, okay, let’s use a deployable (see LaRC for an example). But there are issues as well that are far from trivial. Anyway. All that to say that we might be able to build such a vehicle and Flexible Path may lead to something like that BUT I’d be surprised if it happens with the next 50 years. On the other hand you never know if NASA gets its act together and go for innovation rather than Apollo type things, leave LEO to Commercial, if, if if…

  • Ferris Valyn

    common sense

    I do agree that there are substantial issues to deal with in building such a vehicle. And fully realized, I think you are right it would take a few years. OTOH, I think its worth pointing out the old T/Space proposal embodied a good chunk of this, and if we were to do a modular design, it would allow for expansion and testing.

    There might even be a way to bring in the private sector – suppose NASA were to develop a system a propulsion/supply system that could dock with a Bigelow (or other) commercial station, and would maintain a small Earth to LEO transport (one designed for independent survival for only a few days or so, IE Dragon/Dreamchaser/Orion-lite/Cygnus) – I do think we are a ways from something that is ISS sized, but say something the size of the old Saylut station size, I think thats entirely doable as a deep space craft.

  • Ferris Valyn

    And of course, doing it this way, would really give us a push to develop in-space cryo-fuel transfer

  • Interesting tidbits about what might be happening in Washington.

    Whatever decisions are made over the next few months and years will quite possibly be reversed again by the next administrations or in response to future space events (military, political, commercial).

    What is really sad to me is that we appear to be a nation that will only put out when it looks like we might be left behind, rather than offering true leadership.

    After scoring a big win with all the German rocket engineers, we proceeded to sit on our rear ends in the 1950 until the Soviets space advancements (a byproduct of their overweight nuclear warheads) woke us up. As soon as we reached the Moon we returned back home and discarded all of our Apollo technology.

    And then a few years ago AFTER China announced their intentions to put men on the Moon, we all of a sudden decided that it was so important to stride on the Moon again, and by the way, Mars, too.

    I think that the Vision for Space Exploration is VERY good idea, and should not be only becase we want to keep up with the Joneses.

    I don’t think that mankind’s expansion of the universe should be held back because of “humanitarian” concerns such as a few irresponsible parents who do not provide adequately for their children.

    NASA needs a reasonable, consistent budget.

  • “he White House, an unnamed administration official states, considered a human return to the Moon “not sellable to the public or to the president”.”

    I don’t know who that official is but actually continuing to spend $10 billion a year just to stay at LEO is actually not sellable to the public nor to the Congress. A lunar flyby mission not quickly followed by a lunar landing or settlement program would be an expensive stunt that would absolutely outrage the taxpayers and breed resentment from NASA personal. And a manned NEO mission would be extremely dangerous without considerable amounts of mass shielding to protect astronauts from a potential solar storm.

    That official must have been polling Barney Franks who is hardly representative of most Democrats and the American people.

  • mike shupp

    Major Tom: “Let’s try to get our facts straight before we post next time.”

    Well, I’d be pleased if my dour interpretation of our forthcoming future in space is made invalid by actual events, but we’ll have to wait a bit — 12 years at least — to see what transpires. Until then, lacking “facts”, we’ll have to get by on history, which supports my cynicism.

    Have a nice day. Have a nice quarter century.

  • The White House, an unnamed administration official states, considered a human return to the Moon “not sellable to the public or to the president”.

    Unnamed White House officials are always useful in an article aren’t they? Given the bipartisan vote by Congress on two different occasions in support of the Constellation program or “the program of record”, any attempts to change current NASA policy resulting in cancellation of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 is going to run into a brick wall in Congress. Especially if the White House is planning on asking for a funding increase. President Obama can ill afford to alienate the Florida delegation considering the state will be crucial to his reelection.

    The ‘flexible option’ is not realistic when there is simply no existing market to support its development. The ISS establishes a market for human space travel specifically because the space station enables human presence in LEO. Thus, the increase in investments into commercial LEO launch systems. That is why the ISS is worth keeping in LEO orbit beyond 2015, so that it can continue to provide a market.

    Furthermore, it is the market that should determine in large part to what kind of infrastructure is built and utilized. But first in foremost that market has to exist. Establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon with an initial means of transporting humans there would create a new market for space travel which will in turn drive greater commercial investments into an infrastructure to support and build that market. Any space policy must be geared toward a specific destination with plans to establish permanent human presence.

  • eng

    Just like Apollo did nothing to establish any meaningful presence on the Moon, neither will the current NASA plan.

    The current NASA plan will lead to a short lived series of sorties at best, with a couple of astros kicking dust in front of a camera and departing shortly.

    Then the whole circus will be shut down. Again. Isn’t there a saying “the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”?

    And no, 3 billion more per year will not change this in any meaningful way. Once again it’s not the money that is the problem.

    p.s. it is sad and telling to me as an american taxpayer that 3 billion dollars is now considered so trivial (I know a few biotech firms that could do much more than NASA with that money for much worthier to the taxpayer causes), *regardless* of how badly the other gazillions are misspent by our irresponsible federal gobment

  • Major Tom

    “any attempts to change current NASA policy resulting in cancellation of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 is going to run into a brick wall in Congress”

    Unlikely. The House appropriators already cut $566 million out of the FY 2010 budget for Constellation, and the bill passed by a floor vote of 259-157 earlier this summer — months before the Augustine Committee’s Summary Report was out. See:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/content/blogs/space/2009/06/nasa-budget-bill-retains-constellation.shtml

    That brick wall is arguably paper thin, and it’s already been punched through.

    “That is why the ISS is worth keeping in LEO orbit beyond 2015, so that it can continue to provide a market.”

    This is a somewhat crazy argument. COTS and CRS are good moves in the right direction, but the ISS has to provide worth independent of how it gets crewed and resupplied. It’s like saying that you or I should exist so we can eat and sleep. Our worth is not measured by our inputs, but by our outputs. The same goes for ISS (or any other research facility).

    And in the specific case of ISS, even if the transport supporting the ISS could be measured as some kind of output, it’s far out of scale with the dollars that have been put into ISS. Depending on what you count, total ISS costs are in the $60-100 billion range. There’s no way that level of investment can be justified based on the $0.5 billion in COTS agreements and $3.5 billion in contracts that Space-X and OSC have won. We could double or triple that amount, and it’s still off by 2-3 orders of magnitude — it’s crazy to justify spending $60-100 billion by saying that taxpayers can spend another $4, 8 , or 12 billion.

    “But first in foremost that market has to exist. Establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon… would create a new market for space travel… Any space policy must be geared toward a specific destination with plans to establish permanent human presence.”

    This argument lacks logic. There’s no difference between a market to put crew, supplies, or propellant in space to support missions to Lagrange Points, NEOs, or Phobos and a market to put crew, supplies, or propellant in space to support missions to the Moon. In fact, some of the former are going to have greater demands for supplies and propellant and will represent larger markets than the latter.

    This is not a knock against human space flight to the Moon — there are good reasons to go there. But this is not one of them.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Until then, lacking “facts”, we’ll have to get by on history, which supports my cynicism.”

    I won’t argue the history — you’re right that there’s plenty of opportunity for this opportunity to get screwed up the way that the post-Apollo transition, SEI, and Constellation were.

    But your first post wasn’t based on history. You were reacting to Mr. Foust’s original post about the White House showing interest in the Flexible Path option and providing funding to support it. And contrary to your original post, that option is clearly not a “30 year stretch of sending astronauts up to circle the earth basically, with a _possible_ goal of reaching Deimos and Phobos by 2040″, and we shouldn’t portray it as such.

    FWIW…

  • Robert Oler

    Gary Miles wrote @ October 18th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Unnamed White House officials are always useful in an article aren’t they? Given the bipartisan vote by Congress on two different occasions in support of the Constellation program or “the program of record”, any attempts to change current NASA policy resulting in cancellation of the Ares 1 and Ares 5 is going to run into a brick wall in Congress. Especially if the White House is planning on asking for a funding increase. President Obama can ill afford to alienate the Florida delegation considering the state will be crucial to his reelection.

    in order of the sentences; Yes they are, no it wont be, the funding increase will be easy, and the space decision wont matter.

    to expand.

    there is no brick wall in Congress. There are two sides of the political spectrum, right now there is a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress and after the Dem President proposes a change in space policy, the Dem Congress will go along cheering all the way…particularl if given the fig leaf of 3 billion more dollars ramped up over 4 years or so (that is the “wimpy” explanation…I will take a hamburger today and pay you Tuesday).

    The politics of this are quit deft.

    Going back to the Moon is “old”…doing something different, like tagging a NEO or something like that is “new”…doing a “new vehicle” is new (and it will be new even if it is similar)…and It will place the GOP nicely in the position of supporting increased spending from a stimulus package they did not vote for for a program that everyone except the true diehards recognize is in trouble.

    As I havesaid here for sometime, commercial lift to the station puts Obama in a clever position of creating “new” private sector jobs…while the GOP toadies argue to maintain government dole jobs that are not very useful.

    There will be no resistance to this in Congress ie it will easily pass, the GOP minority will make its noises but in the end it will be Obama’s program.

    The “Obama needs FL” so he has to cater to the space coast has been debunked so many times…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “I don’t know who that official is but actually continuing to spend $10 billion a year just to stay at LEO is actually not sellable to the public nor to the Congress.”

    That’s not what the Administration official said. They said that a human lunar return is not sellable to the public or the President. They didn’t say that staying in LEO is sellable (at any dollar figure).

    We shouldn’t put words in other people’s mouths.

    “And a manned NEO mission would be extremely dangerous without considerable amounts of mass shielding to protect astronauts from a potential solar storm.”

    This problem exists outside the Van Allen Belts regardless of destination. For example, p. 63-64 of this NRC report discusses radiation storm shelter options that were considered for the lunar variant of the Orion crew capsule and the Altair lunar lander.

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12045

    A human crew on a lunar mission has to shelter from a solar storm the same as a human crew on a NEO mission.

    “A lunar flyby mission not quickly followed by a… settlement program would be an expensive stunt that would absolutely outrage the taxpayers ”

    This makes no sense given the radiation dangers referenced earlier. If multi-month missions to deep space destinations are too dangerous to undertake because of solar storm and cosmic ray radiation, then settlement — spending an entire lifetime in a space environment and reproducing there — is positively impossible.

    “and breed resentment from NASA personal [sic].”

    First, NASA personnel are just as divided about destinations for human space flight as we space cadets are here.

    Second, even if the NASA workforce had a favorite destination, why does it matter? Working at NASA is a job — you support the mission you’re given. It’s not an entitlement — you don’t get to pick the mission just because you draw a paycheck on the taxpayer’s dime.

    FWIW…

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    a crewed mission to the Moon is as dangerous from a radiation standpoint as one to an NEO…both are on the “other side of the belt”…be caught on the other side and not have shielding…one could do a “SPACE” ending very easily

    This is one reason the military wants a heavy lifter…so it can assemble things in bigger bites then ISS was (ie quicker) on this side of the belt then move them to geosynch

    As for outrage…why not just save the 3 billion dollars…it is all borrowed money.

    Robert G. Oler

  • GuessWho

    How is going back to the moon going to teach us how to live and work in space? … We have gravity on the moon, less radiation (attractive yes, but with the dirt, you don’t have to try and innovate), no weather patterns (which means how useful it is for places like mars is open for quesiton), just to name a few of the differences between the moon, and the rest of “space”

    I am no fan of the current “return to the moon” plan associated with ESAS and VSE. And I won’t make the honest mistake of equating living in “space” versus living on the surface of the moon which is a vacuum (like space) and has similar temperature swings as open space (actually more severe). But Valyn’s comments don’t offer much of a rebuttal. Consider the following: No astronaut has fully experienced a zero-g environment, particularly on ISS. Both the ISS, and the shuttle to a lesser degree, experience very low drag forces, solar pressure forces, and gravity gradient forces that require thruster actuation to mitigate. But in this environ, astronauts suffer loss of bone density and muscle strength. Yes, current exercise programs on the ISS counter this to some degree but do not eliminate it. Thus long-term survival in a near zero-g environ still represents a significant challenge that will take time and dollars to understand and mitigate for the flexible path option.

    Radiation shielding is a key issue that NASA has not solved. At least with the lunar approach, use of regolith as a shielding material, particularly via a true manufactured product approach using in-situ resources, would be a key development for long-term human habitation for either the moon or for Mars. And if I read Valyn’s comment correctly, it isn’t just a matter of piling up “dirt”, whatever that means. Lunar regolith, and Martian soil for that matter, is a very different beast than what we have experience using in construction.

    You also have to look at the overall environmental challenges you will face. While the Moon may not have wind, it does have extremely severe temperature variations (as does Mars) which present significant engineering challenges to materials, lubricants, electronics, etc. Most (all?) spacecraft go to great lengths to keep their avionics within a relatively narrow operating range with respect to temperature and have to rely on heaters to maintain operational limits. MSL has learned this in spades. They (JPL) were convinced, based on all the other Mars surface missions to date, that a dry lubricant was the right solution for the robotics and the drive train. They missed it by a mile and had to redesign with wet lubricants at a huge cost and schedule hit. The moon also presents similar dust problems that any Martian mission will have to solve, thus technologies developed there can carry forward. “Space” doesn’t pose that problem and thus there is no impetus to solve it.

    From Oler -

    “Going to a near earth object does a “lot” of stuff”

    Such as…….?

    We already “test equipment” in space and certainly don’t need to go to a NEO to do this. What will you test at a NEO that you can’t test floating around in LEO?

    I am not sure what he means by “crew issues”. This is so vague, I can’t even begin to offer a serious comparison of what can be accomplished in space versus a lunar surface approach.

    “and most important, learn autonomous flight…”

    Apparently this is for a Mars or something else trip. Having interacted with several astronauts over the last couple of years, the last thing they want is a trip to Mars that is so long as to need “autonomous flight”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The Shuttle flies “autonomously” during much of its flight profile as most mission sequences are pre-programmed. Further, all deep-space science missions fly “autonomously” for days/weeks/months/years. Take MRO for example, even during the highly complicated and risky aerobreaking phase, the spacecraft flew autonomously for up to a week. And I will ask the question again, how does going to a NEO significantly change the end-product?

    An in-depth study of a NEO is a very good science goal. The last thing you need is to have to support a human crew along the way. They tend to tire sooner, require food and watering, get bored and thus make mistakes, can’t take significant mechanical loads, etc. Just send a robot and study it for as long as the solar arrays and batteries hold out. Besides, given that you currently know nothing about the structure of the asteroid, what varieties of sub-vehicles (I suspect you really mean small, special purpose vehicles that are each fully capable of operating within the “space” environ and not a partial (i.e., sub-set of a full vehicle) would you bring a priori? Or do you just bring the kitchen sink and fashion something once you get there?

    Since you skewer Whittington for improper vernacular (space and Lunar surface not really being the same thing), I want to make sure you don’t suffer the same fate and we are clear as to exactly what you mean by “sub-vehicles”. Can you define these please?

    Since you ask “who knows what we will find”, I can only surmise you are going there with the hopes that something interesting might be found and really don’t have a clue what might actually be there. What happens when there is nothing there?

    “It should be easy (well as easy as an EVA) to explore an asteroid…the vehicle would “berth” more then land…”

    Based on what evidence? Since it is likely a very low-g body, exactly how would you land without just bouncing off the surface? Are you going to harpoon it? What happens if that fails? What happens if you can’t get off? What are you going to berth to? A rock or spire? Is that rock or spire solid or just a loosely held conglomerate similar to a comet?

    “In other words it will help us learn HOW TO EXPLORE THE MOON and other places.”

    Why practice on an asteroid if you really want to learn how to explore the moon? Just go to the moon, its closer, we’ve been there before (heck we’ve even driven around on the thing), we know we can land on it without bouncing off, etc, etc. How does exploring a rock in space teach us anything about the moon? Or Mars? Now, THAT, just doesn’t make sense to me.

    “no more or less then staying on ISS will teach us to do that. I dont know what anticipations you have for what a Moon base would do…but for the most part the folks on a Moon base will be stuck inside doing what they are doing on the ISS…ie trying to keep the thing going.”

    And keeping an asteroid fairing spacecraft going will be sooooo much easier. LOL.

    If we have to go to the moon, then I would hope that those habitants will learn how to create structures from the local materials. Learn how to survive in a closed environment under extreme external conditions and not only survive, but expand and flourish. Learn how to maximize the use of what they take with them and what they find locally to produce food, water, energy, etc. They will never live off the land (yeah, never is a long time so I will back off from never a little) and thus will need supplies from Earth but at least they should be looking at how to minimize this aspect and develop things of value that can offset those resupply costs. Doing this with a NEO is a far longer shot in my opinion.

    “There wont be massive exploration of the Moon, “ – Based on what information?

    “there is 1) not the supply train to do that..”

    Wouldn’t that be a goal of establishing a long-term lunar presence? I recall the Antarctic Research Station being in the same boat initially as well. They have slowly built up capability over many years including establishing a more robust supply chain.

    “ and 2) inadequate ability to use the local resources assuming we knew what and where they were…”

    I refer to previous comment. This should be a long-term goal. But based on your earlier post, this should be far easier on an asteroid given all of deep understanding of these objects.

    “What would put the icing on the cake…is to rethink the Orion program…and turn it into the first real deep space vehicle the US has.”

    You need to define deep space. Outside of Mars orbit (traditional SMD definition)? Exactly what beyond Mars would an astronaut actually explore, other than looking out the window, perhaps with camera in hand? And what does running “for a good period of time” really mean? One year, two years? A “deep space” round trip? What happens when it fails halfway through the “deep space” mission? Do you send someone out to rescue them? Will they survive the one, two, three, years required to catch up to them (if that is even possible)? What happens if they can’t get back to the ISS for refurb or refuel? BTW, where is that refuel depot? I haven’t seen any real design work performed, no PDR/CDR/FRR? Who is under contract to build it? Who operates it? Who pays for it? If we can’t afford to get to the closest object to the Earth there is, what makes you think we can afford to go “deep space” with manned systems? And add all the additional infrastructure at the ISS to refurb it and a depot to refuel it? Where is this money? You imply (at least this is my impression) that all this is possible if we just kill off ARES/ESAS and refocus on yet another undefined conceptual mission architecture. What data do you possess that proves NEOs are a greener pasture than the Lunar mission architecture? Have you performed an in-depth study that identifies all of the technical, financial, and schedule risks along with a clear path to mitigating these risks and the cost/resources needed to accomplish this? It is easy to criticize others when you do nothing yourself. So prove me wrong and publish your data that makes your case.

    Sheesh!

  • eng

    Do we really need humans *on site* for exploration? Teleoperated machines are much more precise, durable and orders of magnitude cheaper. And there is nothing misanthropic about this – humans still build, program, control and utilize these machines.

    The Moon, Mars, NEOs – doesn’t matter. Even if NASA builds Ares5 and launches an ‘Apollo on steroids’ mission every now and then it won’t help us any in exploration or – God Bless, colonization. More probes for the same money, on the other hand, would. ‘Colonization’ such as even a generation of humans living on an extraterrestrial body is such a pipe dream it is not even worth discussing outside science fiction boards.

  • Ferris Valyn

    GuessWho

    1. My point wasn’t intended as a point by point rebuttal of Whittington. Rather, what I was getting at is that the idea that if we just learn to live on the moon, we’ll have solved all of our issues for living in space, which is a bullcrap argument. Will we learn some lessons on the moon that translate to Mars, or other places? Yes. Is there no way we can learn many of those lessons by utilizing the deep space option (which includes lunar orbit, NEOs, Lagrange Points, Mars Orbit, and yes, lunar surface although slightly later on)? I am not convinced that we can’t. And learning how to do things like deep space refueling would be hugely beneficial, as would considering things like can we actually capture and utilize asteroids (and yes, I could see the NEO mission as being along those lines)

    Further, lets look at the real options (and I am sorry, but the idea that we can somehow return the Program of record to the original timeframe is crap, so leave that out).

    Pure Lunar extra $3 Billion
    Orion first flight- 2016
    Human Lunar Return – 2025

    Deep Space (Commercial Booster)
    Orion first flight – 2021
    Lunar orbit – 2024
    NEO mission – 2026
    Mars flyby – 2028
    Human Lunar Return – 2029

    Deep Space – Shuttle Derived
    Orion first flight – 2022
    Lunar Orbit – 2023
    NEO mission – 2027
    Mars Flyby – 2029
    Human Lunar Landing – 2030

    Deep Space Dual Ares V
    Orion first flight – 2023
    Lunar Orbit – 2025
    NEO mission – 2030
    Mars Flyby – 2034
    Human Lunar Return – 2035

    Of the options that Augustine reviewed, only those get out of LEO. And unless someone can give me a valid reason to consider a suggestion not reviewed by Augustine, thats what we have to look at.

    Let us first look at the Deep Space/Dual Ares, ad compare it to Pure Lunar – well, I grant that the time frame for Deep Space/Dual Ares V is much longer, much more spread out, than the Pure Lunar. So I will agree that in comparing those 2 options, Pure Lunar is preferable.

    However, if we compare the other 2 deep space to the Pure Lunar, we are only looking at a gap of 4-5 years when boots are on the ground – mind you, we aren’t talking about a lunar base in that time frame – merely have boots on the ground is the major point. So what is the convincing case that those 4-5 years make that much difference? I have seen no one actually lay out why 4-5 years makes a difference. I have seen no reason to think that, if we do human lunar return by 2025, we somehow get a lunar base by 2029. If that were the case, I might be more inclined, but right now, no one has made the case that those 4-5 years actually make a difference somehow.

    Further, lets look at the dates for the Pure lunar option – we really have 2 – First flight of Orion, and human boots on the lunar surface. Between 2016, and 2025, what are we doing? This is, in essence, a bit of Mr. Augustine’s point about “you can’t go halfway to Mars.” In that time frame, we can probably include a lunar orbit, but what else? Well, nothing is given. Obviously we’ll have earth orbit, but not to the space station, since thats gone in 2016. In otherwords, we have nothing to show to the American public between those dates. If we can point to something we are doing, that is either new, or exciting, it might get there interests, but with a pure lunar system, we don’t have anything to offer them. Deep space does. And having something cool happening that an elected official can point to and say “isn’t that cool – thats your tax dollars at work” always makes it easier to sell something like this to the public.

    Further, one last point – if you go back, and look at the charts Dr. Ride presented during the last DC meeting, in both the Pure Lunar and the Deep space, you get a lunar lander (which is why you get boots on the ground of the moon in the Deep space option) – one is Altair, and the other is a lander based on the COTS/CRS model. Someone during the meeting, I don’t remember who, specifically said that Deep space doesn’t not get us to the moon – it just gets us there on a different vehicle. And this would be a hell of a way to encourage the commercial spaceflight industry (which we should be looking at doing for the foreseeable future). And if you consider some of the vehicles that companies are working on, there are more than a few that might very well translate to a lunar lander.

  • Robert Oler

    GuessWho I wont even try

    as one of my professors on the river use to say, just point out one of the failed points of your opposition, the rest collapse of their own weight

    “Since you skewer Whittington for improper vernacular (space and Lunar surface not really being the same thing),”

    you need to pay closer attention. I dont think “skewer” Whittington for improper vernacular. Or at least provide an example.

    My take downs of Mark usually center on his ability to separate his intense right wing partisan ship from logical thought.

    the rest of your thought have an equally flawed tenor

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    eng wrote @ October 19th, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Do we really need humans *on site* for exploration?..

    on a cost benefit ratio probably not…but there probably does come a moment when the things you are really interested are cheaper to get with humans.

    The argument is that we are going to fly humans in space anyway..might as well figure out some method of making them sort of useful…and that would in my view be to maximize the performance of the robotic tools that we have

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Well people I think we are again mixing the “why” and the “how/what” of the program.

    So we have 2 different approaches, I will submit two point but first look at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ogc/about/space_act1.html#NASA:

    Sec. 203. (a) The Administration, in order to carry out the purpose of this Act, shall–

    (1) plan, direct, and conduct aeronautical and space activities;
    (2) arrange for participation by the scientific community in planning scientific measurements and observations to be made through use of aeronautical and space vehicles, and conduct or arrange for the conduct of such measurements and observations;
    (3) provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof;
    (4) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space; and
    (5) encourage and provide for Federal Government use of commercially provided space services and hardware, consistent with the requirements of the Federal Government.

    1. NASA exists to “explore” space: Not limited to but since $10B go to HSF and only $7B go to the rest I will even push further and say for humans to explore space. So if this stays the same (if not see point #2 below) then we have to figure a way of how to best do it. We now know (have known since the 70s actually) that the Apollo approach does not work, not effciently anyway since it is not sustainable. We could keep on or try something else.

    2. Redirect the funds at NASA to satisfy other than HSF mandates.

    So I think the “why” is being addressed, more or less clumsily, by the various WHs. Therefore, and even though we can submit our thoughts on that, I kind of believe that we, the space enthusiasts/professionals, ought to focus more on the how/what. BECAUSE if we can finally show that for a given mandate we can finally do it well then there is a very thin chance that the why will be less in the middle and hamper our efforts. So long we do the how/what as poorly as we do today, other people, and I mean even people among us, will keeep asking why and more specifically: “Why in heck do we waste all that cash?”

  • common sense

    Re (again): Deep space aerobraking vehicle.

    Look at the price tag of Constellation for a capsule and a couple of LVs. How much do you think the infrastrucutre associated with a deep space vehicle and the vehicles will cost? Want to try a guess?

    NASA and the space program (and all the stake holders including Congress and the contarctors) would have to dramatically change their approach(es) before we can start anything like that. But it’s good to dream. I agree.

    And I mean D.R.A.M.A.T.I.C.A.L.L.Y.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The ‘flexible option’ is not realistic when there is simply no existing market to support its development.”

    That’s simplistic. The Apollo program never had an existing market. At the time of it’s inception, the ISS didn’t either. What’s more, “flexible path” isn’t a single destination, the existence of which in the form of a rocky body with serious gravity seems to be, for some, the litmus test for exploration. As I understand it, flex path is really a technology thrust that gets us to the point that unique, new, and exciting voyages can be made real. There are actually many destinations, but the development path that is taken depends on how our capabilities evolve. What’s more, it’s a truly go-as-you-pay precept, the abandonment of which essentially killed Constellation.

    As to going to the Moon to “learn how to live and work in space”, that’s simplistic as well. The ISS has been vastly, VASTLY more important to that than any lunar outpost would be. We live and work in space right now. OK, we don’t pick up rocks and extract He3 or oxygen from them at ISS, but that’s just a supply chain issue that is pretty much irrelevant to “living and working”. Is ISS not sellable to the public? I dunno. If the public wants us to learn how to live and work in space, ISS isn’t a bad choice.

  • common sense

    “Is ISS not sellable to the public?”

    ISS? Maybe not. Who in the public would like to stay in a National Lab?

    BUT Bigelow hotels/resorts/stations with transportation(s) to get there I would certainly think so!

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Who in the public would like to stay in a National Lab?”

    Dennis Tito
    Mark Shuttleworth
    Greg Olsen
    Anousheh Ansari
    Charles Simonyi (twice)
    Richard Garriott
    Guy Laliberté

    not than anyone else would ever want to do that …

  • common sense

    “not than anyone else would ever want to do that …”

    I am not disputing that some including me would love to go there. BUT what do you think any regular joe-public would do there? That is all I meant. If you go visit, say, LANL or LLNL, it’s nice for someone who is not a scientist BUT for how long? ISS is a working habitat dedicated to “science”. Short duration yes sure. Long duration? If you have to pay a hefty price to get there you want it to be worth the price don’t you? Maybe only millionaires will go next so $20M may be hmm expensive…

    Anyway I am not (completely) disagreeing with you. Just trying to show there may be a lot more for a lot less for the public (e.g. Bigelow’s hotels).

  • Doug Lassiter

    “BUT what do you think any regular joe-public would do there?”

    Goodness knows. Maybe look out the window and wear clown noses?

    So what will a regular joe-public is going to do in a Bigelow hotel/resort/station? Probably the same thing, though perhaps while drinking cocktails and getting foot massages.

    The dedication of ISS to science came quite a while after its original development. But of course, not long after that, most of the bioscience money for it was pulled, and an entire scientific discipline pretty much collapsed. With all due respect, ISS is now a working habitat that is now dedicated mostly to people surviving in LEO and looking out the window. Now, at least the former has national value. Rich tourists seem to love to contribute to both of those efforts, and I strongly suspect less wealthy ones would as well.

  • common sense

    “Probably the same thing, though perhaps while drinking cocktails and getting foot massages.”

    I’d say that it would help, now would it not? You know entertainment…

    “With all due respect, ISS is now a working habitat that is now dedicated mostly to people surviving in LEO and looking out the window.”

    Hopefully (I know hope is kind of inexpensive) the ISS will get back its grove, otherwise then we ought to turn it into a resort right now!

    Oh well…

  • Doug Lassiter

    I actually see the ISS as a triumph of space engineering, but one without footprints and flags. We did the Apollo program because we wanted to show the world how good we were, and that’s pretty much why we did ISS. We succeeded overwhelmingly in both cases.

    The ISS has allowed us to demonstrat our expertise in building, deploying, and servicing large facilities in space. One of these days, that expertise will actually come in handy! In that sense, ISS is very much in it’s groove, though NASA is terrified at the idea of trying to sell it as having value if it doesn’t get us somewhere big and spherical. We may thank Mike Griffin for that terror. That is part of his legacy.

    The idea that when ISS is “complete” there will be nothing more to build, deploy, and service there is the real tragedy. A waste of our hard-won skills.

    Sure, go ahead an attach a Bigelow hotel to ISS. ISS astronauts can be invited in for cocktails and foot massages. There they can schmooze with the rich, famous, and influential people who are enjoying them as well, along with the view.

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    “a crewed mission to the Moon is as dangerous from a radiation standpoint as one to an NEO…both are on the “other side of the belt”…be caught on the other side and not have shielding…one could do a “SPACE” ending very easily”

    Going to the Moon is not as dangerous as going to an asteroid since its pretty easy to cover a habitat module on the Moon with a few meters of lunar soil for protection from solar and galactic radiation. And a trip to the Moon only takes a few days to reach the safety of a shielded habitat. A trip to a NEO, however, could take several months.

    The best source for shielding interplanetary vehicles will probably come from small asteroids or the moons of Mars.

  • Doug Lassiter

    None of the early lunar outpost scenarios have any provision for large scale regolith moving or burrowing. It is not “pretty easy” to cover a hab module on the Moon with a few meters of lunar soil. Well, perhaps it’s just as easy as large scale He3 extraction from that soil! Bulldozers on the Moon are not something that we’re going to see for a while. So the bottom line is, in the near term, going to the lunar surface for an extended period of time is not much safer than going to a NEO.

  • That’s why I’m against returning to the Moon– simply to explore! We did that already. It was called Apollo! And extended periods of lunar exploration without proper shielding would be unnecessarily dangerous. NASA keeps saying ‘This time we’re going to the Moon to stay!” Well exploring the Moon a little longer is not staying on the Moon!

    That’s why the next lunar program should be a– lunar base– program. Humans should be going to the Moon to settle and to live off the land, not simply to explore.

    At least a few habitat modules (a lunar shack) should be placed on the lunar surface and covered with regolith shielding before the first astronauts even arrive, IMO. And this can be easily done by simply using teleoperated robots and machines (Something that NASA is quite familiar with). So digging and dumping lunar dirt should actually be pretty easy.

    All you have to do is surround the habitat modules with a strong but light sheet metal fence and dump lunar soil within the fence’s interior. The Altair should be able to transport small bulldozers to the lunar surface that weigh as much as 10 to 15 tonnes. And NASA could remotely operate these machines 24 hours a day until they’ve completed their task of dumping enough lunar dirt to appropriately protect humans from radiation, micrometeorites, and extreme temperature fluctuations. We could even watch it all on TV or the internet just the way we stop and watch construction sites on Earth. It would probably be the most watched construction site in human history.

    All the astronauts would have to do is land, get out of the spacecraft, and open the door to their first new home on the Moon!

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel…nice vaporware you have invented. Do you have a clue what is the largest “machine” operated on the Moon…and how little dirt it can move?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 19th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Going to the Moon is not as dangerous as going to an asteroid since its pretty easy to cover a habitat module on the Moon with a few meters of lunar soil for protection from solar and galactic radiation…

    It is easy when you are doing it on the keyboard…but it is quite difficult in real life…at least if one is to believe the Apollo experience.

    No one has a clue how hard it is going to be to “have bull dozers” on the Moon…nor even how such machines would operate in the various temperature extremes…

    what powers them?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Anonymous

    Once again Mr. Oler demonstrates his total ignorance as to what NASA and the space community is actually doing. In this case with regard to surface operations on the Moon, Mars and elsewhere – much of it being done down the street from where he lives in Houston.

  • Top Dog

    What surface operations? All I see is a couple of rovers on Mars. One is stuck.

    Plenty of surface operations on Earth, though. Bulldozers clearing the thin layer of organic material that sustains the biosphere, replacing it with concrete and asphalt, subsistence farmers burning the rain forests.

    Heckava job, space man, just a heckava job. U ra.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Re “total ignorance as to what NASA and the space community is actually doing”, I find that remark perplexing. Does that refer to lunar regolith shielding? No question that NASA has long range concept studies about using lunar regolith as shielding for outposts, but there are not, to my knowledge, any such plans for such shielding in early versions of the outpost hab facilities. The design, layout and buildup strategies for these early outposts have been worked in considerable detail, but pushing large quantities of regolith around hasn’t been featured. In fact, at a Shackleton rim site, there isn’t a whole lot of useful real estate to pull this off with.

    Lunar exploration afficionados are remarkably confident about our ability to process and move huge quantities of regolith for all manner of ISRU. That calls for large equipment and a lot of power, neither of which are easy to come by on the lunar surface.

    The point is that space radiation is important, but not really a discriminator about optimal destinations outside of LEO. Mitigation strategies are going to have to be worked out in all cases.

  • Robert Oler

    Anonymous wrote @ October 20th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Once again Mr. Oler demonstrates his total ignorance as to what NASA and the space community is actually doing. In this case with regard to surface operations on the Moon, Mars and elsewhere – much of it being done down the street from where he lives in Houston…

    yeah in the cool morning I can hear the hard work going on, the memos being emailed, the viewgraphs worked on, the reports being prepared and yes those endless meetings being had. All advancing the space frontier.

    I am sure in viewgraphs and animation the landers are landing the bulldozers getting off, covering the already positioned habitats with regolith and its ALL UNDER BUDGET.

    ZOUNDS

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    Top Dog maybe the work on NASA Parkway is what he was referring to..but it is almost done. right outside the farm in Santa Fe they are working pretty hard on 646

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    Speaking of the hard work being done at NASA on our space future…Mark Whittington has one of the prize animations up about the 1-X flight on his web site.

    Wow to paraphrase John Adams from “1776″ we are on our way to the Moon and the vehicle hasnt even flown yet!” LOL

    http://www.examiner.com/x-21670-Houston-Space-News-Examiner~y2009m10d20-Ares-1X-Emerges-From-Vehicle-Assembly-Building-Rolling-toward-Pad-39B

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Yeah digging and dumping dirt that weighs six times less than it does on Earth is real hard:-)”

    That’s what they say about sending people back to the Moon! But it turns out to be real hard. Fancy that.

    As I said, there is no shortage of long range concept studies on all kinds of cool stuff, but these things just aren’t part of the current outpost plan. This isn’t a matter of whether you can build a lunar bulldozer. I have no doubt that they are technologically feasible. It’s just a matter of whether it is an affordable part of a real plan. The decision right now is that it isn’t.

    I mean, for the cost of putting one of these things on the Moon, you might as well send up a load of bricks to hide behind on the way to a NEO.

    I like the science fiction news reference!

  • jyoung

    As is always the case, Mr. Oler is against everything but for nothing. He is also blissfully ignorant of the work on rovers and bulldozers JSC is doing. I guess he missed that rover in the inaugural parade. This is all sadly hilarious given that Mr. Oler crows about all of the parties he claims that he attends here in Houston – parties where NASA folks are supposedly in attendance. More imaginary friends, it would seem.

  • Robert Oler

    jyoung wrote @ October 20th, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    LOL

    the rover in the inaugural parade had about as much in common with one that would work on the Moon as the Ares 1-X has with something that can go to orbit

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ October 20th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Yeah digging and dumping dirt that weighs six times less than it does on Earth is real hard:-)..

    if that was the sum of it…but now for reality…no bulldozer in the world works at the temperature extremes on the Moon…now for the power source…show me something that can equal a cat diesel and we can talk

    Robert G. Oler

  • jyoung

    Have you been inside that rover, Oler? Your “strow” pals would disagree with you – oh wait, you do not actually know any astronauts – or people who actually work at NASA – they are just your imaginary friends.

  • Top Dog

    Fake rover in a parade, huh? That’s totally awesome!

    How much did that baby cost do ya think?

  • Robert Oler

    jyoung wrote @ October 20th, 2009 at 9:26 pm what I have seen in pictures was “clever”…a rover that rides in the inaugural parade has as much in common with one that works on the Moon as the Ares 1X does with a real launch vehicle. and in any form it is not a bulldozer…

    It is rather tragic that you keep trying to insinuate that it is a functional vehicle.

    Two great passes of Oscar 7 tonight.

    Robert G. oler

  • @ Doug Lassiter

    Sorry, its not hard to send people back to the Moon. But it is hard to send people back to the Moon while also:

    1. Trying to fund the replacement for the shuttle program
    2. Continuing to fund the current shuttle program
    3. Funding an international space station

    NASA had a budget during the Apollo era that was almost twice as much as the NASA budget is in today’s dollars and they only had to do one thing– go to the Moon!

  • common sense

    “Sorry, its not hard to send people back to the Moon. But it is hard to send people back to the Moon while also:

    1. Trying to fund the replacement for the shuttle program
    2. Continuing to fund the current shuttle program
    3. Funding an international space station ”

    When Constellation came online, NASA was supposed to find a way how to do exactly this. O’Keefe’s spiral was the BEST approach. Griffin’s ESAS was a suicidal gamble. NASA chose. That is a FACT. Period.

    “NASA had a budget during the Apollo era that was almost twice as much as the NASA budget is in today’s dollars and they only had to do one thing– go to the Moon!”

    Irrelevant and it’s not coming back. Nor would it make any difference. Cash is not the answer to every and any thing. Get over it.

  • common sense

    Oh and by the way: “its not hard to send people back to the Moon”. Are you sure of that? Ever worked on such program? It is very hard to send people to the Moon especially if you want them back alive…

  • Top Dog

    If it’s that easy to get back to the moon, then what is the problem getting to low Earth orbit and the international space stationby in a post shuttle world?

    Clearly the United States Government and the US Military, in particular NASA, have been actively obstructing civilian and commercial space flight for years.

  • @ common sense

    “When Constellation came online, NASA was supposed to find a way how to do exactly this.”

    They did! They were going to cancel the current shuttle program in 2011 (saving them $3 billion a year) and cancel the ISS program in 2016 (saving them $2 billion a year). But all of a sudden, no politician or space veteran wants to cancel anything! So if they want NASA to do it all then they have to give NASA some– do it all money!

    NASA’s big mistake was taking the risky chance of trying to put a manned space capsule on top of a brand new solid rocket booster. Both ideas were totally unnecessary expenditures.

    After Bush canceled the X-33 program in 2011, NASA should have gone immediately with a Shuttle C or DIRECT type of shuttle derived concept. If we had, we’d probably already have our new heavy lift vehicle to return to the Moon and our replacement shuttle.

  • @ common sense “Oh and by the way: “its not hard to send people back to the Moon”. Are you sure of that? Ever worked on such program? It is very hard to send people to the Moon especially if you want them back alive…”

    Its kind of difficult to develop the Altair lunar lander with– no money! And its kind of difficult to develop a heavy lift vehicle to take you to lunar orbit with– no money! If you check the NASA budget, you’ll see that there’s been no serious funding for the development of the Altair or the Ares V. Its all gone to the Ares 1 and to the Orion and continuing to fund the current space shuttle and ISS programs. So NASA has been pretty much funding its return to the Moon program with high hopes– but with hardly any cash.

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