NASA, White House

Reports: NASA to get extra funding, extend ISS, cancel Ares

The Orlando Sentinel and Florida Today got some confirmation late today about the White House’s plans for NASA. In a telecon, an unnamed NASA official and unnamed administration official, along with former astronaut and Augustine committee member Sally Ride, provided these details:

  • NASA would get an average of $1.3 billion a year in additional funding over the next five years;
  • The ISS would be extended to 2020;
  • A $6-billion program to develop commercial crew transportation would be started;
  • Money would be set aside for technology R&D programs and infrastructure upgrades at the Kennedy Space Center;
  • Ares 1 and 5 would be cancelled; and
  • There was no discussion of a replacement heavy-lift vehicle.

A quote from Sally Ride: “For NASA to be getting new money over the projections is to me is an indication of how seriously this administration takes NASA and our goal of future innovations in this country.”

And from the unidentified NASA official: “As you know the current program of record did not hold water… The fact that we would have had a program where the space station didn’t ever again have any humans launching from the United States to it until it was driven into the Pacific Ocean.. we felt very, very strongly that this was not a program to be adopted.”

One other item of interest: the Florida Today account notes that “All told, the budget would provide $100 billion to NASA over five years and create an estimated 1,700 jobs in Florida in the commercial space industry and 5,000 nationwide.” If those job numbers sound familiar, they’re identical to those in a Commercial Spaceflight Federation press release in September. Hmmm…

34 comments to Reports: NASA to get extra funding, extend ISS, cancel Ares

  • Robert G. Oler

    If this is what the program is…HURRAH.

    It is the end of the Bush era in human spaceflight (suck it up Bush toadys) and the start of ONE GIANT LEAP for mankind in commercial spaceflight.

    An American commercial spaceflight industry is essential to our future in space.

    This starts it

    I think it is a big win

    Robert G. Oler

  • Still holding my breath until all the details are on the table, but if this rumor is the more accurate one, it sounds like a pretty bold approach. Also, probably the most clever way I’ve heard for handling KSC workforce issues while actually producing something of benefit in the process…

    ~Jon

  • David Davenport

    Nobody inside NASA seems to be fighting hard to keep Ares/Constellation.

    Maybe Gen B. and his minions are all Obama toadies.

    And/or perhaps peepul inside NASA have realized that Ares/Constellation is a bad architecture not worth pursuing.

  • David Davenport

    <i?It is the end of the Bush era in human spaceflight (suck it up Bush toadys) and the start of ONE GIANT LEAP for mankind in commercial spaceflight.

    Make that ONE GIANT LEAP for minority-owned commercial spaceflight firms staffed with diverse, unionized workers. Straight white men need not apply.

  • This is a plan?

    Last I checked 7000 jobs lost in Florida does not mean 1500 jobs are gained. Nor can they say 5000 are gained.

    All of us want to see commercial be successful, but not at the cost of giving up our nations’ space program. That’s like the military quitting on having their own aircraft because we now have United Airlines.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I’d be really, really surprised (and thrilled!) if the plan was to drop HLV altogether. What else would the infrastructure upgrades at KSC be for?

    An alternative explanation is that frantic negotiations/machinations are underway behind the scenes and the Obama administration just isn’t prepared to say much more. There are strong rumours some sort of inline SDLV development will continue, at the very least for a while and only after a new study of all the options. The intention may well be to cancel HLV development later, probably not before the end of Obama’s first term, but to cancel it now would be a major development. Silence would be odd if the decision had been made already.

  • NASA Fan

    * NASA would get an average of $1.3 billion a year in additional funding over the next five years;

    To be used for what? With no Ares 1, or V, no HLV, with STS ending, with Cx ending, what is the money for? I thought the idea was to augment, not pay for, Space X and others spending of their own nickel? Could it be for Earth Space Missions? Asteroid NEO detection?.

    * The ISS would be extended to 2020;

    No surprise. Perhaps the extra $1.3 B will be used for ISS utilization..

    * A $6-billion program to develop commercial crew transportation would be started;

    Corporate welfare.

    * Money would be set aside for technology R&D programs and infrastructure upgrades at the Kennedy Space Center;

    Not sure why you would upgrade KSC; it’s going to be a place where exciting stuff used to happen. Maybe its to safe facilities for the tourists?

    * Ares 1 and 5 would be cancelled;

    No surprise.

    and

    There was no discussion of a replacement heavy-lift vehicle.

    Safe, very safe.

    There will be no hardware development, so NASA can never complain about not having enough money to build something. R&D is experimental by nature, with no real time limits on it’s activities or schedule pressures.

    The Punter of the United States sure know’s how to kick the can down the road. Flexi-punt here we come!

    Clearly, as I have said before, Obama would take a decision that sets him apart from ‘other presidents’; In this case, he has.

  • Major Tom

    “With no Ares 1, or V, no HLV, with STS ending, with Cx ending, what is the money for?”

    You might try reading the articles before commenting. Although there was no HLV discussion on the press telecon, the Florida Today article still expects, for better or worse, an HLV:

    “The Obama administration is expected to direct NASA to invest accordingly and to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle – a Saturn V-class rocket – for missions beyond Earth orbit.”

    “Corporate welfare.”

    How is contracting for the development and purchase of a transportation service “welfare”? Do you really consider plane tickets and taxi fares “welfare”?

    Goofy…

  • Major Tom

    “I’d be really, really surprised (and thrilled!) if the plan was to drop HLV altogether.”

    Me too, but although there was no mention on the press telecon, the Florida Today article makes clear that an HLV is expected (from other sources, apparently).

    “What else would the infrastructure upgrades at KSC be for?”

    Even in the absence of an HLV, the agency may try to railroad any new commercial launchers onto KSC pads and facilities. I think that would be unfortunate — if it’s really going to be a service purchase, then the choice should be left to the companies as it was for OSC — but I wouldn’t be surprised given the emphasis on Florida jobs in this press telecon and Sen. Nelson’s potential influence.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Make that ONE GIANT LEAP for minority-owned commercial spaceflight firms staffed with diverse, unionized workers. Straight white men need not apply.”

    What’s with the racially motivated comments? None of the companies involved in COTS to date (SpaceX, Kistler, and OSC) were or are minority owed.

    Take it elsewhere.

    Yuck…

  • David Davenport

    None of the companies involved in COTS to date (SpaceX, Kistler, and OSC) were or are minority owed.

    But the Obama admin. is just getting started with respect to space.

  • Alex

    If all of this comes to pass, it’s the best thing to happen to NASA since the moon landing. It’d be an incredible haul. It would also do wonders for unmanned science in ways Constellation never could. More money for asteroid detection and climate change, maybe even seed money for better space telescope tech — this stuff isn’t super sexy, but it’s essential and has been put off for too long.

  • mike shupp

    What comes across to me is that NASA is being rather forcefully steered away from even the idea of designing launch vehicles of any description. Commercial suppliers will do all the heavy lifting — they might also do the flying, with NASA “astronauts” basically passengers. And the US will keep manned space flight in LEO for the next 10 years, maybe the next 20 years. The Augustine report is dead as a dodo.

    Expect a whole lot of retirements at NASA this year. Also, don’t be surprised if FOR SALE signs go up at Stennis, Marshall, Dryden, and maybe Glenn.

    I’m aware most people here will be dancing in the streets at this splendid news. I’m less enthused.

  • Martijn Meijering

    First of all: seeing is believing.

    Also, don’t be surprised if FOR SALE signs go up at Stennis, Marshall, Dryden, and maybe Glenn.

    Marshall yes, but why the rest? Isn’t Stennis used for testing RS-68s? Wouldn’t Dryden be useful in connection with already announced plans to stimulate suborbital spaceflight? And especially why Glenn? The research they do is useful and backup mission control has to move somewhere if MSFC is shut down.

  • Robert G. Oler

    David Davenport wrote @ January 27th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Make that ONE GIANT LEAP for minority-owned commercial spaceflight firms staffed with diverse, unionized workers. Straight white men need not apply..

    that statement is both racist and illinformed. Otherwise it does not deserve any comment Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “What comes across to me is that NASA is being rather forcefully steered away from even the idea of designing launch vehicles of any description. Commercial suppliers will do all the heavy lifting — they might also do the flying… The Augustine report is dead as a dodo.”

    An all-commercial solution — including an EELV-derived HLV — was Option 5B from the final Augustine Committee report. If you’re reading the tea leaves correctly (and I’m not saying whether you are or not), then the Augustine report is alive and well.

    “And the US will keep manned space flight in LEO for the next 10 years,”

    Constellation hasn’t been planning for a human lunar return any earlier than 2020 for years now. In the respect, nothing has changed on the “beyond LEO” front.

    Moreover, Constellation wasn’t even going to maintain a U.S. civil human LEO launch capability over the next decade anyway. The most-likely operational date for Ares I/Orion was 2019.

    FWIW…

  • Mark R. Whittington

    While I certainly like the big push for commercial space flight, the fact remains that any exploration program that might replace the one of record is vaguely defined, with no sense of when, where, or how astronauts will travel beyond LEO. The reports change nothing for anyone skeptical of the Obama administration’s long term space plans.

  • [...] dettagliati della teleconferenza li trovate qui e qui, e Space Politics ne offre un’utile sintesi.  Traducendone in velocità i punti cruciali, il futuro della Nasa secondo Obama (o meglio, [...]

  • mike shupp

    martiin meijering–

    My thought was that with NASA firmly outside the rocket building business, it would be difficult to continue funding rocket building and testing facilities, so Marshall and Stennis and Dryden could be sold or otherwise eliminated. Possibly one or more COTS providers would be the purchaser(s). Marshall actually presents a bit of a challenge, since it’s officially enclosed by the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal, but that’s a lawyers’ problem. Glenn I wasn’t certain about, thus the “maybe.”

    Major Tom –

    You’re right, option 5B of the Augustine commission called for a 75 metric-tonne EELV-derived launcher, the commercial counterpart of Ares V. Said launcher not being in existence, it might well figure as the poorly defined Heavy Lift Vehicle that NASA is to be investigating for future use. However, it doesn’t seem that putative HLV is going to fly under after 2020 (or even start development until after 2020), so the notion that we’re going to use to push manned capsules hither and thither about the solar system during the 2020′s, as envisioned by Augustine, is invalidated.

    I conclude, the Augustine commission report is a dead letter. We’ll have ISS to amuse us in LEO until 2020; we’ll reach it with COTS-C and COTS-D vehicles; and maybe maybe maybe after Obama is out of office we can find 25-40 billion bucks to build that heavy launcher.

  • Fred

    This is great news.
    It opens up space.
    Heavy lift sucks up all the money.
    More money available (no HLV) means more flights of EELV’s (Atlas V Delta IV and Falcon 9)
    More flights mean lower costs.
    Lower costs mean we get to do more in space.
    More money for research means more space infrastructure.
    Fuel depots.
    Telescopes at Lagrange points.
    In-space servicing.
    Tugs.
    Possibly ULA’s cheap EELV lunar settlement architecture, which could give us lunar bases (and permanent ones at that) by 2020.
    All this will eventually lead up to the day when we really need (and can afford) HLV. Earlier perhaps for dropping the option now.

  • Major Tom

    “Said launcher not being in existence, it might well figure as the poorly defined Heavy Lift Vehicle that NASA is to be investigating for future use.”

    The HLV options, and leading candidate, are pretty well-defined:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/10/bolden-directs-msfc-special-team-to-evaluate-hlv-alternatives/

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/01/bolden-review-hlv-friday-sidemount-doubt-in-linessme-boost/

    “However, it doesn’t seem that putative HLV is going to fly under [sic] after 2020 (or even start development until after 2020),”

    Look at the Augustine report. Ares V wasn’t going to ramp up operations until 2030 under the program of record anyway. It may still not be fast enough for you (which is okay), but an HLV in development or flying in the 2020 decade is a substantial improvement over Constellation.

    “so the notion that we’re going to use to push manned capsules hither and thither about the solar system during the 2020’s, as envisioned by Augustine, is invalidated.”

    It’s only invalidated under the program of record. The HLVs in the other options in the Augustine report all ramp up operations and missions by the mid-2020s.

    Look, if you want to be negative, it’s not my place to play Pollyanna and tell you to think positively. But I would urge you to base your negativity on the facts as they exist, rather than dismissing a report by mischaracterizing it.

    For example, I would argue that waiting until the mid-2020s to undertake human exploration missions seems like an unnecessarily long wait. I’d rather NASA explore less expensive and faster means of putting the large amounts of propellant and other consumables that dominate mission mass in orbit. But I can express that opinion without mischaracterizing the Augustine report.

    “we can find 25-40 billion bucks to build that heavy launcher.”

    This is a fundamental problem with HLVs. They’re damned expensive, and as a result, in a non-Apollo budget environment, they take a damned long time to develop. Personally, I’d explore some lower-cost alternatives for a few years first before resorting to HLV development.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “…the fact remains that any exploration program that might replace the one of record is vaguely defined, with no sense of when, where, or how astronauts will travel beyond LEO.”

    How do you know? Do you work at the White House? Have you seen the President’s budget request for NASA?

    FWIW…

  • “* A $6-billion program to develop commercial crew transportation would be started;

    Corporate welfare.”

    And the current arrangement with LockMart, et al is?

    why do people think NASA’s building these things. They aren’t and they never have been. NASA doesn’t even own the blueprints to the shuttle. Honestly, what COTS is, is a switching gears from the ‘We’ll pay you anything you ask and delay it as long as necessary’ model of spaceflight to a ‘meet your budget and timeline targets or get canned (a la Kistler)’ model. And while SpaceX has fallen a good bit behind on many things, they are way closer to their targets than Ares I/V have ever been. They are also cheaper.

    What I’m hoping is that Bigelow ramps up Orion Lite and once more revives a great NASA idea torpedoed by budget limitations.

  • common sense

    “What I’m hoping is that Bigelow ramps up Orion Lite and once more revives a great NASA idea torpedoed by budget limitations.”

    Prediction: Orion Lite will NOT come to be due to legal issues.

  • John Malkin

    Wait – I”m confused. NASA would get 6 billion to DEVELOP a commercial crew transportation system. Why does NASA need to develop anything and why would they need a $6 billion program. Especially if SpaceX is 2 to 3 year out.

    COTS on Steroids? This is cheaper?

  • common sense

    “Why does NASA need to develop anything and why would they need a $6 billion program. Especially if SpaceX is 2 to 3 year out.”

    Maybe they want to promote competition and get more players in the field. Maybe they want more than a capsule, how would that be for a change? Maybe they want to create jobs ($6B / $200K ~ 30K jobs for 1 year or 3K jobs over 10 years)? Who knows?

  • John Malkin

    Shouldn’t we know. Yea throwing money at something will generate jobs (sarcastic).

  • frotski

    Here is the real question…….

    When he “cancels” Constellation will he let everyone go or will he keep everyone on the job and transfer them to the new program (whatever that is).

    So, will the people working “Constellation” today building Ares and the support pieces like redoing pads/firing rooms at say KSC, be given pink slips as in it’s cancelled and we don’t need you — go home.

    Or, will those people be moved from “Constellation” to “the new HLV program” (Whatever Obama calls it).

    That could be huge across the country. Because assuming you will need a HLV and the support for that HLV and we already employ people on Constellation it would seem foolish to get rid of all those people and then try to hire them back in the near future, especially with jobs being such a big part of his concern lately.

    So, if the NASA budget supports those jobs today and the budget increases somewhat this year then those jobs SHOULD be there tomorrow.

    That is what everyone is worried about… How will the transfer from one program to the next be done ?

  • John Malkin wrote
    “Shouldn’t we know.”

    Yes, and we will when the budget comes out and further talks happen. I’ll note the excellent point made on Space.com that everything that has been said is rumored information about a budget that hasn’t been released yet. We don’t even know what the Constellation cancellation looks like or if it will be a repeat of the Freedom–>ISS transition. In short, we don’t know a thing for sure, and we shouldn’t, because it’s not actually out yet.

  • red

    This is a plan?: “All of us want to see commercial be successful, but not at the cost of giving up our nations’ space program. That’s like the military quitting on having their own aircraft because we now have United Airlines.”

    Compare how NASA HSF and the military get their payloads into space. The military uses commercial rockets like Atlas and Delta, but that doesn’t cause us to say we’ve given up on our nation’s military space program. If commercial launch procurements work for nation-critical launches like those for GPS, spy satellites, missile warning satellites, and so on, they should work for NASA HSF.

    The space program should not be merely NASA rocket-building.

  • Major Tom

    “NASA would get 6 billion to DEVELOP a commercial crew transportation system.”

    No, the commercial crew investment over the next five years has been quoted at $3 billion and change and that’s presumably for multiple systems.

    “COTS on Steroids? This is cheaper?”

    Even at $6 billion, it would be a fraction of the projected development costs for Ares I/Orion.

    FWIW…

  • mike shupp

    My recollection is that NASA’s share of COTS-C (a cargo-only launcher, a la SpaceX’s Falcon) was to be 3.5 billion dollars. 6 billion bucks extra is to pay NASA’s share of development for a crew carrier, presumably on a different launcher. This might be a beefed up Falcon, or an Atlas or a Delta modified to meet NASA’s crew-safety desires. In any event, 6 billion is about enough to pay most of the costs of developing _one_ new launch vehicle,

    Developing an even larger HLV for post-ISS operations, whether Ares V or Ares-V-lite or some EELV-derived launcher might cost 25 to 40 billion dollars; this money is not in the White House proposal. (Do a web search on “NASA launcher cost Congress” or somthing of that ilk — there’s a Congressional Research Service paper from a couple years back comparing costs of different possible NASA programs.)

  • Major Tom

    “My recollection is that NASA’s share of COTS-C (a cargo-only launcher, a la SpaceX’s Falcon) was to be 3.5 billion dollars.”

    Huh? The total SpaceX COTS award was only $278 million. The total OSC COTS award was only $170 million.

    The total COTS budget was $500 million. (The rest went to NASA and Kistler.)

    “6 billion bucks extra is to pay NASA’s share of development for a crew carrier, presumably on a different launcher.”

    No. The Augustine Committee estimated $2-2.5B for three crew taxi awards with one falling out partway through development — or two final providers.

    “6 billion is about enough to pay most of the costs of developing _one_ new launch vehicle”

    No. The Augustine Committee estimated $3B for man-rating an existing LV.

    “Developing an even larger HLV — this money is not in the White House proposal”

    There is HLV money in the 2011 proposal. But no HLV is going to be finished in five years. (Any White House budget only goes out five years.)

    FWIW…

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