Congress, NASA, White House

An outline of the new space policy?

Florida Today published today its interpretation of the new space stategy that the White House will unveil in the coming weeks. Here’s what the newspaper thinks the new strategy will contain:

  • An increase in NASA’s budget of at least $1 billion;
  • Extending the ISS through 2020;
  • No extension of the shuttle program (sorry, Congressman Posey)
  • Accelerated development of a “Saturn V-class rocket”
  • NASA-led “international expeditions into interplanetary space”

None of these are terribly surprising, but even if these are all correct there are many details left unanswered. How big of a budget increase will NASA get in 2011 and will is be sustained or grown, as the Augustine committee report suggested? What heavy-lift rocket will be developed? What’s the future of Ares 1? What support will there be for commercial options for crew transportation to low Earth orbit? What missions “beyond Earth orbit” are contemplated, and on what schedule?

45 comments to An outline of the new space policy?

  • NASA Fan

    Some additional thoughts/etc.

    * An increase in NASA’s budget of at least $1 billion;

    To go towards what given the Cx as we knew it is kaput?; and Augustine’s recommendation for more money was targeted at putting your money where you mouth is in support of Cx as we knew it.

    Will this go to climate change research missions? Will this go to developing experiments, etc. to utilize ISS now that it is flying till 2020?

    * Extending the ISS through 2020;

    What is the crew going to do? Where is the money going to come from the new ‘things’ that will fly in, and on the ISS?

    Can’t we sell this thing to someone else?

    * No extension of the shuttle program (sorry, Congressman Posey)

    Good call. And it will be a sad day in America when the last Shuttle goes. I don’t think anyone reading this blog will see a human rated winged orbital vehicle, or single stage to orbit human vehicle, or something that expands on the capabilities of the STS in our life time.

    * Accelerated development of a “Saturn V-class rocket”

    Accelerated for what purpose? Sounds like a ‘keep MSFC open, and fast’ when Ares-1 gets the axe kind of program. And what and when is this new rocket supposed to fly? Will it be manned rated? Look for this to get chopped by Obama’s replacement in 2012 or 2016.

    * NASA-led “international expeditions into interplanetary space”

    This looks like a job for Orion. But what will Orion get launched on? International expeditions translation: Let’s spend about 5 years figuring out where to go, what each international partner can bring to the table, get their governments commitment, write all the MOU’s, …..this one will take some time..

  • John Malkin

    Sometimes I think Florida Today just makes up this stuff. I’ll wait for the real announcement or a press release from a principle.

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    This is just idle speculation – as NASA Fan points out. There is just no good news right now. A 1 billion dollar budget increase will have little impact. Extending the ISS just gives us the chance to watch it go around, as we will have little access to bring new experiments up. And almost no way to bring anything back down. A heavy lift booster will take a decade to develop and has no destination, a comment which applies to the interplanetary space goal. So the strategy really only is a plan to ignore the situation. Sigh.

  • Pretty much of what is in the article is old news and has been repeated several times. As usual no sources provided for story, so again little more than speculation, rumors, an innuendos.

  • The interesting part of making this proposal work will be the $$$ and the schedule.

    Extending the ISS (I don’t think it should be scrapped) will cost $3 billion per year, which will require a further budget increase to not cut into the “accelerated” development of heavy lift.

    And there is a limit to what throwing money around can do to pull forward engineering development schedules. It takes years to design and test new or upgraded hardware. Where time can be saved would be to provide the required budget to be able to work on different modules (heavy lift, landers, surface exploration and habitation modules…)

    However, the biggest time saver will be to no longer have to wait in limbo for a redirection proposal from the White House.

  • First, we don’t need humans to explore the solar system. Robots are a lot cheaper. We didn’t need humans to explore Jupiter and Saturn and its moons. So this would be another huge waste of tax payer dollars!

    Since I also think the ISS is a huge waste of tax payer dollars, extending it would just continue wasting $2 billion a year. That $2 billion a year could be much better spent funding small Skylab like space stations that could be instantly deployed by heavy lift vehicles to a proper orbit for US manned space launches (both government and commercial) and to any of the Lagrange points (L1, L2, L4, & L5). That money could also be used to fund the development of simulated gravity space stations which are probably going to be needed if we ever want to set up permanent human operations in orbit around Mars.

    What we currently don’t know about humans in space is:

    1. Can humans remain healthy for a year or more under a simulated gravity environment

    2. Can humans remain healthy for a year or more under a 1/6 lunar gravity environment

    3. Can oxygen be efficiently extracted from lunar regolith or small asteroids

    4. Can farm animals remain healthy and reproduce under a 1/6 gravity or under a simulated gravity environment

    5. How much mass shielding derived from lunar regolith or from small asteriods is required to efficiently protect humans from galactic radiation and solar storms

    6. How efficiently can agricultural crops be raised on the Moon or in a space station

    If any new space program advocated by the president isn’t utilized to answer these fundamental questions, questions that really should have been answered a few decades ago, then it will be another huge waste of tax payer dollars, IMO!

    The fundamental purpose of a manned space program should be to discover how well humans can survive and even prosper in extraterrestrial environments– not how much we can entertain the public with– scientifically wasteful– space spectaculars that could be done much more cheaply by robotic probes!

  • Mark R. Whittington

    None of this is new, though it has been suggested that this plan is running into opposition in Congress. In fact it is less of a plan than a concept, without a specific lists of destinations, a time table, and hardware to be developed.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    with all due respect we need almost none of these.

    UNLESS we get some inkling in the next four to five years that “space operations by humans” can come anywhere close to paying for itself…then there is almost no reason to keep flying humans in space.

    The fundamental purpose of a crewed space program should be to discover how humans can do things in space which pay for them being in space. If that cannot be done, then there is no more business of humans being in space then there is humans living on the sea floor.

    I think that those things can be done…but right now who cares if O2 can be extracted from the regolith or any of the other things you mention…OK you do…but who cares who is willing to pay for it.

    You may not like ISS, I wish we had not built it…but it is there. If It cannot turn a profit, if it cannot justify humans in space…then for some period of time that is it…

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    Unless you firmly believe that the Earth will never be inflicted with another global catastrophe either natural (asteroid impact, nearby super nova, etc.) or man made (thermal nuclear war or global pandemic) then there should be no reason to expand humans beyond our planet of evolutionary origin.

    But I believe that humans live on an extremely fragile world. And it would be extremely foolish to put all of our eggs (literally) in this one basket called Earth!

  • Robert G. Oler

    As for the article…I guess it being cold in FL the folks at FLToday had to come up with something to write to keep them warm. None of this is new, all of this has been talked about endlessly…and almost none of it seems to take into account the current political “situation” which is almost on a daily basis redefining the balance of power in DC.

    I disagree (oh surprise) with Mark Whittington that the plan is running into Congressional opposition (it isnt)…but what I think that the plan is running into is some discussion in the administration trying to figure out “post health care” (pass or not pass) how Obama’s political people try and get his administration back on track.

    I would suggest that the outcome of the Senate election in MA is going to have a large affect on space policy. Not in specific but in general as the Obama administration tries to figure out what the message is from the election (probably “grim” for them) and where they go to try and blunt it. that entirety of effort will in my view wrap up space policy in some fashion.

    My view right now is that only three things are assured.

    1. the space station keeps flying and 2) there is some version of commercial lift for it. (I would expect that the latter is going to be accelerated.) and 3) the space shuttle is done.

    as for the rest…to quote the character in The Wind and The Lion…”all is drifting on the wind”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    anything is possible. But there are things that are the .1 percent fear and the things which are more 90 percent fear.

    a .1 percent problem is AQ getting a nuclear weapon and putting it on a US city or the Earth being destroyed by a rogue asteriod.

    they are all possible but they are all so remote as to not be something that serious policy makers fixate on everyday.

    real problems…if we dont start making money in human spaceflight…there wont be any real reason to continue it as the economic situation keeps getting worse.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    On the other hand, if Obama follows the pattern of the stimulus bill and health care reform, this may be all there is. Congress will be expected to hash out the details and if you think things are in chaos now, prepared for a wild ride.

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    50 years ago, it looked like communism in Russia might last forever. Now there is no communist Russian just as it was just 100 years ago. So no one has any idea of what the politics of the Earth will be 50 to 100 years from now.

    50 to 100 years from now, a country like Pakistan might have thousands of nuclear weapons. Maybe they’ll have a fanatically religious leader who decides its time to– purify the Earth– in the name of god by launching all of those weapons (the ultimate suicide bomber). Betting on the good nature or rational thinking of other governments in a world of limited resources, crazy religions, and an ever growing global population, is a bad bet, IMO. We came close in 1962 and I wouldn’t be surprised again if we came close again in the political world of 2062.

  • Anon2

    I am sure it will be a vision that will inspire and enlighten. That will give Americans pride in their historical leadership while reminding them we are part of a community of nations. One that will inspire the children while not breaking the budget. In short, a lot of fluff with no substance.

    In short a pure Obama vision.

    Oh well, it will only last until the next administration sends NASA in another new direction….

  • mark valah

    During Shtuttle operation of 30 years, roughly 1980-2010, NASA did a lot o paper studies and no new rocket. This is an entire generation of paper folks. The Bush initial space initiative required 4 flights per year to the Moon, later reduced to 2 flights per year. Simply achieving this rithm of operations would create an enormous pool of skills, technologies and experience in space logistics. Whereas unjustifiable by a direct profit, the indirect diffusion on technologies, materials and expertise in the horizontal industries could be calculated in the billions, in addition to the fact that assured access to space is a military strategic asset. However, as Marcel F. Williams wrote in a different thread, the current political system seems incapable to bite this bullet.

    Mark Valah

  • Ca_selenite

    Canning STS makes sense, but else… NASA doesn’t need more money, NASA needs more spanking, more focus and less pork doling out pressure from the critters. That of course means cancelling Ares-1 and -5 ‘HLV”. And subcontracting EELVs and their derivatives (for which ULM and SpaceX should invest their money in)

    Obviously HSF budget should in no form or manner encroach on the science budget, or we’ll lose not just HSF but everything space related.

    But as’s been noted a new admin in say 2012 (perhaps repubs?) could enforce another plan… So, the ISS and the commercial industry seems to be the only solid anchor with external restraining unilateral US government action (a good think in this case I think) for passing and surviving through the US for political multi-presidential bruahahas, for HSF

  • John Malkin

    I just want to say one thing about robots. They are stupid, the amount of AI they use could fit in the brain of a mouse with room to spare. Robots (more like drones) are very useful but they are just unemotional machines. Humans are more careful with robots and take less chances for fear if the mission fails they will loose their job. Even at space station NASA is careful with humans but if you give an astronaut a chance, they will take risks in the name of exploration. One thing about the Apollo astronauts is they took risks: running low on air to get soil samples, running low on fuel to land close to target and coming home with a crippled ship. How many feature films have they made about real astronauts compared to Voyager, Viking, MER or another robot ship?

    Humans love more than just science and robots just return science and pretty pictures. Everyone that goes up in orbit around earth say earth from space is indescribable and pictures don’t do it justice. Can you imagine a human mind with human eyes orbiting Jupiter? Pictures taken by that astronaut would capture the soul of Jupiter.

    We will have problems on this planet whether we go to space or not. I think most of us are just pissed that a young child at school has move vision and will than anyone in political office. Everyone that reads this blog wants to explore the universe or watch someone else do it. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just me.

  • James SIlver

    Everyone at JSC is just hoping, really praying, that Dragon comes through with launchable vehicles within a couple years. Its the only thing that the US has to maintain support for human space flight.

  • If Obama cancels the shuttle program then NASA gets another $3 billion dollars a year to add to the Constellation’s current $3.4 billion a year budget. If he adds another $1 billion then the Constellation program funding goes up from $3.4 billion a year to $7.4 billion a year.

    The Orion budget was scheduled to go up to nearly $2 billion a year starting in 2011. And Ares 1 is scheduled to go from about $1.5 billion this year up to over $2 billion a year starting next year.

    We need the Orion– but we don’t need the Ares I or the 5 segment boosters right now. And even if you use them only for a HLV, they only gain you about 7 extra tonnes of mass to LEO. Its just not worth the investment right, IMO.

    It would be better to use that Ares I money to develop the Jupiter core booster. Without the SRBs, the Jupiter core booster could replace the Ares 1 as a launch vehicle for the Orion. And with the regular 4-segment SRBs, the Jupiter could function as a heavy lift vehicle capable of placing over 70 tonnes into orbit or 100 tonnes of payload into orbit with an EDS stage.

    If you include the cost of program integration and operations ($1.5 billion a year starting next year), that should leave almost $2 billion a year for EDS and Altair development, development programs that have been estimated to cost less than $7 billion in total. So $2 billion a year would be more than enough to develop the EDS and the Altair starting in 2011.

    But if Obama decides to go the Ares 1 route, then there will probably be no extra money to develop the Altair or the EDS until Ares I and the HLV core stage is developed. And that would probably delay any beyond LEO journeys by 7 to 10 years after the Ares I is developed– if the president at that time decides to fund the Altair!

    So, ironically, the Ares I looks like it may be the killer ap– that could actually kill America’s return to the Moon or delay it by nearly a decade!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 13th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    50 to 100 years from now, a country like Pakistan might have thousands of nuclear weapons.

    so what?

    even if every doom scenario you can come up with were to come true, in 50 years we couldnt have moved enough “people” and infrastructure off the Earth to allow it to survive without the Earth.

    Indeed absent some massive improvements in technology I dont see that there is a chance that in the next 100 or so years any “off world” settlement could survive the loss of earth.

    But I really dont think that most of the “doom” scenarios you come up with have more then Dick Cheney’s “1 percent chance” of even remotly happening.

    We spent 7 years or so under Cheney/Bush (grin) dealing with 1 percent solutions and look where it has gotten us. We really need to deal with things that are “likely” instead of pooping our energies away dealing with things that are “possible” but just barely.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Malkin wrote @ January 13th, 2010 at 5:39 pm
    . Can you imagine a human mind with human eyes orbiting Jupiter?

    No really reallly high radiation..

    “Pictures taken by that astronaut would capture the soul of Jupiter.” and they would differ from Voyager or Galileo or whatever is next how?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Enon

    Over the last 5 years, Constellation goals were very finite and achievable. They needed to define a sustainable architecture and provide the rationale for it. These were paper exercises, and they failed at them.

    Technically, their real job was to get Orion flying. The goal was no more than about a year from now. Orion need not be a complicated vehicle, nor did it need to be as large and heavy as it is. If they were going to stick with the mission as they laid out five years ago, this had to be done.
    The same management team failed to gt us any closer. Orion is still 7 to 9 years away.

    The Florida newspaper left out the information leaked a couple weeks ago that development of the new vehicles will be taken away from exploration, which will be relegated to a technology development role, and moved to Space Operations that will lead development of the new vehicles and support facilities.

    With that, substantial management adjustments need to be made in the Constellation Program.

    Marcel Williams wrote that ‘we need Orion’.

    No we don’t, at least not this Orion.

    We would be better off with a fly-back human carrier. Dragon will come through with the ballistic transport and NASA should not be competing with industry. There is no need for high energy lunar or planetary returns if you do Flex Path correctly with vehicles that can be maintained in space and which cycle from earth orbit to other places and then return.

  • mark valah

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 13th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    ..”So, ironically, the Ares I looks like it may be the killer ap– that could actually kill America’s return to the Moon or delay it by nearly a decade!”

    It seems that most of the leaks published after the Augustine Commission report was submitted to the WH indicate that Ares I may be scrapped. All heavy lift alternative architectures are bassed on SSME’s used as expendable booster engines because the SSME’s are ready and human rated. Except they are expensive. The other alternative is to man-rate the RS-68’s, but this approached has not been recommended by the report. The Direct architecture approach has the advantage of reducing the gap as well. Nevertheless, one should watch for Falcon-9 launch, if successful, it will chage the game to a certain extent.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Whittington of course might be correct. (as the noted talk show host says “Mort you might have stumbled into the truth” …I guess Mort hasnt been on JM’s show for a bit…) sorry couldnt resist.

    Until he mentioned it, it had not struck me that Obama and his political shop with his Presidency deteriorating might continue on the same route…ie very vague and not so good “leadership”. Letting the Congress waltz into the areana.

    But given health care, the stim bill and to some extent the management of the TARP…that has to be considered.

    In that case it strikes me that the shuttle still ends and the only sure winner is commercial access to ISS.

    And the US is in a lot of trouble because of the general situation…more then it is now

    Robert G. Oler

  • SpaceGuy

    Sounds like Option 5A from the Augustine Report has been chosen.


  • @ Enon

    The biggest problem with FlexPath is mass shielding. The FlexPath doesn’t provide any mass shielding for a solar event for any of its destinations: asteroids, Moons of Mars, Venus, etc. This is a problem that NASA is supposed to miraculously figure out later.

    Trying to use chemical rockets for manned interplanetary travel is just a dumb and dangerous idea! If Bolden and NASA seriously want to get to Mars then they’re going to have to start seriously investing in lightsails and nuclear rocket technologies– not super HLVs.

  • The radiation belt surrounding Jupiter is lethal to humans all the way out to Ganymede. Only the Jovian moon Callisto could be visited by humans. I wouldn’t mind seeing a base on Callisto someday.

  • Curtis Quick

    I think we can all read between the lines here and see where this is all headed. There is only a small percentage of the American people with more than a passing interest in space exploration. The administration has never been interested (and the previous administration was not very interested either). Congress is similarly not interested, with the notable, but ineffectual, exception of legislators from areas with aerospace industry and jobs at stake. There is no national crisis that people believe would be solved by a robust human space program (like there was when NASA was created).

    There is however a palpable concern that government is spending money unwisely and at an alarming rate, leading to a fiscally unsupportable situation. There is also the growing sentiment that NASA is a good place to start cutting the budget (even if its budget is less than 1 percent of the problem). With no shuttle program to support, many in congress will argue that NASA’s budget should be slashed downward by more than 50%. The rationale will be that human space flight, while noble and exciting, is an expensive luxury pursued only by strong nations with healthy economies that have the extra cash to spare for such discretionary spending. The argument will be “how can we afford such luxuries when so many of us are out of work?”

    NASA does not help any by its incredible wastefulness. Year after year, and decade after decade, of programs to develop new spacecraft that were finished and never flew will be ample fodder for those critical of such waste. This wastefulness will be paraded before the nation and the world as Falcon 9 launches in the coming months, proving to the nation that it does not take hundreds of billions of dollars to develop and operate a commercial space program as SpaceX is doing. In fact, after Falcon 9 launches I would not be surprised to hear congress calling for NASA to get out of the space transportation business altogether. Initially, I do not think that SpaceX will benefit much with the funding it would like to receive, but NASA will certainly be harmed. Ares 1 and V will be formally scrapped and it’s monies redirected away from NASA. What was once the organization that could do the impossible will be seen by all as the organization that exists to keep itself in existence, regardless of where it says it is heading and not caring that it never gets there.

    The current lack of mission by the administration is no accident. Obama has nothing to gain by supporting NASA with more than words about past achievements and inspiring the youth of America. To make a decision about direction would mean having to put monies where one’s mouth is and that just won’t do. Better to keep studying the problem and put all plans on hold and re-direct NASA funds to some more pressing (and politically valuable) issue. “Tomorrow …” will be the phrase that is repeated over and over again but it will never come.

    Ironically, this might be the best thing that could happen. As NASA is no longer seen as necessary for human space transportation and SpaceX moves closer to it’s claim to actually be able to transport humans to the ISS, the government will be pressured to provide some funding to speed up Falcon 9 and Dragon development so that American astronauts can actually use the ISS before it is decommissioned due to old age. If a gutted (or leaner and meaner) NASA survives, it could perhaps lead the way to explore farther afield and show the potential for new markets where none currently exist, while at the same time commercial interests will have gained the experience to fill in those niches that NASA can show exists.

    What comes out of this might just be the beginning of a space age that is determined by market forces and economic interests. It might mean that spaceflight will finally move from the category of luxury to profitability. It might change everything given enough time (say 50 years). Regardless, the NASA we know will not be there when that happens.

    Curtis Quick

  • NASA can’t get much leaner than it already is. Its budget is nearly half of what it was during the Apollo era in today’s dollars. But I think if NASA’s budget was only a million bucks a year, that would still be too much for some folks:-)

  • Ferris Valyn

    All heavy lift alternative architectures are bassed on SSME’s used as expendable booster engines because the SSME’s are ready and human rated. Except they are expensive. The other alternative is to man-rate the RS-68’s, but this approached has not been recommended by the report.

    Mr. Valah – did you read the Augustine report? Outside of the options using the directly shuttle derived, the RS-68 is the likely engine, at this point.

    RS-68 is currently planned for Ares V (or Ares V-lite). The report also endorsed the idea that using an EELV derived vehicle is entirely doable (which allows for either an Atlas V Phase 2, or a Delta IV Heavy Growth).

    Finally, there is no reason to assume it has to be launched with people in them. After all, if you have a crew taxi going to ISS, you can ride that crew taxi to a waiting deep spacecraft.

  • Bill White


    Perhaps you are not up to date on the base heating issues associated with the RS-68. Currently the RS-68 is ablative rather than regeneratively cooled and there is concern that when clustered together underneath a the large tank, with two RSRMs on either side, the engines will fail.

    Delta IV, in contrast, has far better air flow underneath the rocket, allowing sufficient cooling.

    There are proposals for a regeneratively cooled version of the RS-68 however that adds development cost and schedule delay.

    Also, SSME has a higher isp than RS-68 and that allows using the 8.4 meter tank rather than an all new 10 meter tank needed to provide the less efficient RS-68 more fuel. Also, the higher efficiency SSME allows use of existing RL-10 on the second stage, rather than waiting for J2X, which could remain a Phase II option.

  • John Malkin


    We would obviously need to find a way to protect humans form radiation which in itself would be a great accomplishment. I’m not saying now, I mean in the future but we need to take the first steps sometime even little steps. The pictures would differ because humans can see artistic opportunity. The picture that comes to mind the most is earthrise which wasn’t take for scientific reasons. There are some incredible pictures by robot space craft but any artistic quality is by chance.

    @Anyone that cares

    I hope we develop fuel depots and launch the heavy lift mostly empty of fuel. Also I would hope they would reuse the deep space vehicle. I would think it would be cheaper. I have to say the Ares I looks like a dead end. Could the Delta IV Heavy be developed to the same capacity as Ares V or better?

  • Bill White

    @ John Malkin

    Fuel depots have been an integral component of the proposed Jupiter DIRECT architecture for the last several years.

    Using depots and pre-positioned fuel in LEO, a complete lunar mission (Orion & Altair) could be launched on a single Jupiter two stage vehicle.

  • Ferris Valyn


    I actually know quite well about the problems. BUT, I was under the impression that the CURRENT design assumed using the RS-68, and they were considering the SSME alternative (or at the very least, they hadn’t yet selected which engine, which points to the statement from Mr. Valah still being wrong).

    As for whether to select the RS-68 vs the SSME – It depends on what you are doing and where you are going. I would, however say, that if DIRECT is as good as it claims to be, why can’t it compete on a commercial level?

    Mr. Malkin – If you had to select, between an Ares V size rocket, or fuel depots, which would you select?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Curtis Quick

    WELL SAID. I could not have summarized the situation or the direction things are headed better myself. I dont disagree with a thought you put down.

    I think that the “coming lean years” at NASA are going to be some of the best thing that has happened to it, since Apollo. In many respects the agency is broken…it simply boggles the mind that SpaceX can mount its campaign for around a billion and change…and NASA has spent 9 billion so far on Ares 1 with not a lot to show for it…and it needs billions more.

    That alone is a symptom of how badly the agency is broken…and the only way to fix that is to starve the agency down to lean mass…getting rid of the fat both person wise and organizationally wise.

    In many respects that is what is needed nationally. When the Great Depression hit, what it did financially was clear the decks of companies and managers that didnt deserve to survive because they were simply not well run or had a good product….that allowed an American industrial complex to be born that was the envy of the free world for about 5 decades. Now it has run out of steam as well…and yet instead of letting it go down, we have insisted on propping it up. as a result nothing can get better.

    I think that NASA needs to get out of the exploration mode for a bit. There really are no real places to go…that it can take the American people with it…and instead we need a lean technology group that tries new things (sort of a NACA for space) and does new technologies.

    SpaceX rocks.

    Robert G. Oler

  • mark valah

    Mr. Valyn,

    You are correct, in the current configuration, Ares V will be powered by slightly modified RS-68’s. My comments referred to the fact that in my understanding of the report, the EELV derived concepts (also based on RS-68’s) are possible but not recommended.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr. Valah – With regard to rocket selection – none of them were recommended. Not the Ares V/Ares V-lite, not EELV derived, not directly shuttle derived – none of them were directly recommended. Because that wasn’t the committee’s job – The Augustine report only considered whether they were feesable, and what the resulting implications would be if that particular rocket was selected.

    In the case of the EELV-derived, what they found was that it was likely the most lowest life-time costs. Thats a major find.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Malkin with all due respect.

    Most of the romance you attribute to human spaceflight is not appreciated by the American people. The pictures from human flights only matter because of the moment and the effort that was caught up in the moment they got a lot of PR.

    Most Americans (and you included) could not tell a picture taken by a robotic camera on ISS from one taken by the astronauts…and most Americans really are “picture overloaded”.

    If human spaceflight does not at some point start paying for itself, it is on a short trip to extinction.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 14th, 2010 at 1:24 am

    NASA can’t get much leaner than it already is.

    yes if by lean you mean “actual results”. The NASA of today has lots of people doing lots of things launching not a lot of spacecraft.

    During a recent “SLEP” to the Big E (CVN65) they cut the number of people in the engineering spaces (they run nuclear reactors) by half. how? Automation.

    When was the last time NASA cut any group concerning human spaceflight in “half”.?

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    Jeff: “How big of a budget increase will NASA get in 2011 and will is be sustained or grown, as the Augustine committee report suggested? What heavy-lift rocket will be developed? What’s the future of Ares 1? What support will there be for commercial options for crew transportation to low Earth orbit? What missions “beyond Earth orbit” are contemplated, and on what schedule?”

    To these major outstanding questions, I’d add:

    What sort of technology development program will NASA have – an ambitious one required to meet our long-term goals as suggested by Augustine, a water-down one limited by HLV development, or a near-destroyed one like we’ve been given as a result of ESAS and Shuttle?

    If there is a significant NASA budget increase, how much will be used to at least partially repair losses in recent years in areas like Aeronautics, Earth Observation, and Heliophysics? How much will go towards HSF areas that have had similar post-ESAS experiences like ISS use and robotic precursors and assistants in support of HSF missions?

    Will there be broad participation by commercial space, or will the main partnership be just for ISS cargo, or just for ISS cargo and crew?

    On this excerpt from the article:

    “”I think (Obama) is going to take us exploring. I think he’s going to take us beyond low Earth orbit. And he’s going to allow us to develop an architecture that can go anywhere,” said KSC Director Robert Cabana.”

    We don’t need to go exploring – we need to go exploring and do other things in space that return tangible benefits (economic, security, science, education, disaster preparedness and response, environment, energy, health, etc) to the nation. We don’t need to go beyond low Earth orbit. We need to do things in low Earth orbit and possibly beyond that return benefits to the nation. We don’t need an architecture that can go anywhere. We need an approach (not an architecture) that is affordable, and that allows us to return benefits to the nation. The benefits need to be on a scale that roughly matches or exceeds the taxpayer investment.

    On Jeff’s question on commercial space, the article does say “NASA will invest in commercial means of launching cargo, and ultimately astronauts, to the output.” Of course it would be good to know more details about that.

  • mark valah

    Mr. Valyn,

    Your statement is correct again, however, in my understanding of the report (perhaps this is a personal intepretation), the Direct architectures are presented in the most favorable light, especially through the pespective of reducing the gap. In addition, there are SSME assets already available and paid for.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Mr. Valah,
    It is a personal interpretation. And that should be clear. I will grant, that IF your overriding factor is gap minimization, then what you say is true.

    The Augustine report made no such determination as to that being the overriding factor.

    IMHO, the most important issue is cost, and also the creation of a commercial industry. Under that light, the EELV derived option makes much more sense.

    Either way, whether the overriding factor is gap reduction, or cost, that is a personal judgment call. The Augustine report made no such judgment – it merely offered a variety of important criteria, and said the resulting situations

  • […] An outline of the new space policy? – Space Politics […]

  • Phil Albee

    So, if there isn’t any tangible benefit, why is China going to the moon?

    Everyone’s missing something important: I have yet to see any talk of the economic and national security risks associated with China or Russia mining Helium 3 from the moon, in the absence of U.S. presence, in light of the current race for the moon.

    You will hear it said that H3 will be used for peaceful use of clean nuclear power, but that means Earth will have a far more deadly dual-use nuclear technology to try to control.

    H3 will enable far more compact and powerful nuclear bombs. Not much need for China, or rogue countries, to develop more capable rockets to deliver nuclear warheads to us or our allies, once H3 is used for nuclear bombs.

    There’s a moon resource alternative that would provide electricity to Earth at a cost far lower than today’s rates, beginning in less than ten years, using existing technology, not using nuclear energy, that would make nuclear power generation far too expensive – thereby eliminating the feasibility of any dual-use nuclear technology. It’s called the Lunar Solar Power System, as promulgated by Dr. David Criswell, Director, Institute of Space Systems Operations, University of Houston, and University of Houston Clearlake.


    World Energy Council, 18th Congress, (includes detailed analysis/comparison with all other alternatives)

    China isn’t going to the moon for vanity’s sake.

    China’s power needs outstrip its ability to supply present use and growth – and their options on earth are limited. There’s legitimate need for them to be looking to the moon options. In addition, this week, Google turned over information to the U.S. government, implicating the Chinese government in the hacking of U.S. Financial, Chemical, Technology, and Mobile Communication companies, as well as the theft of Google’s own intellectual property.

    It’s pretty clear that China’s control of resources on the moon would be a huge economic and security threat.

    It should be clear that keeping the Shuttle program in place is of major U.S. economic and national security importance. Couldn’t the shuttle program be used to leverage the International Space Station, in cooperation with our ISS partners, to reach the moon and implement a Lunar Solar Power System? Alternatively, couldn’t the U.S. use the Shuttle within an exclusive national program, as a payload and assembly asset to transfer equipment, supplies and personnel to and from low earth orbit, with moon missions launched from low-earth orbit to the moon on a more appropriate system? We could bootstrap the process considerably, using current infrastructure and assets, saving valuable time and billions of dollars.

    It’s apparent the economic and national security benefits to participants in the LSP program will be significant, and ongoing.

    The alignment of this particular human spaceflight program with U.S. priorities is obvious, but unfortunately, most of our public and elected representatives are still in the dark on this issue. The shuttles must not be grounded.

    Phil Albee

  • […] nova política espacial para os EUA. Interessante discussão sobre o muito esperado plano da administração Obama para a NASA, a ser apresentado dia 1 de […]

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