Congress, NASA

It’s silly season

We don’t know any more details about the NASA FY2011 budget proposal, or its planned changes to NASA’s human spaceflight program, than we did a couple days ago, when unnamed officials offered some details about the plan. That hasn’t stopped, though, some people, including some members of Congress, from weighing in with varying degrees of rhetorical flourishes. Take, for example, these comments from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) to the Ogden Standard-Examiner about what has been reported:

“With this administration, their specific effort is to cut the crap out of the defense program, and what we’re hearing from Florida is that (the NASA cut) will be an item in Monday’s budget,” Bishop said.

“Obviously, I don’t agree this is the right direction. They’ll basically be gutting our space program and coming up with a commercial alternative. It will be devastating.”

Strong stuff, but that’s nothing compared to the invective from one blogger on Blogcritics.org. (Go ahead and read the first paragraph. See?) Or there are the comments by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt on Friday in a speech in Ocala, Florida:

“If it is a commercial effort only to visit the space station, then it is the beginning of the end of human space exploration,” he said.

“Ultimately, you abandon the moon to China, you abandon the space station to Russia, and you abandon liberty to the ages.

“If China and Russia are the dominant space powers, then liberty is at risk because they don’t believe in it.”

So right now, we’re long (really long) on outrage, but short on insight on the exact details of the plan. We could wait until Monday (3 pm EST press conference at NASA Headquarters) to see exactly what is in the plan and base our reactions on that, but where’s the fun in that?

A couple other items of interest:

As you might expect from previous statements, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) isn’t enthused about the apparent reliance on commercial providers. “China, India, and Russia will be putting humans in space while we wait on commercial hobbyists to actually back up their grand promises,” he told Space News, calling the proposed investment in commercial crew transportation “a welfare program for amateur rocket companies”.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wanted development of a heavy-lift rocket, he tells Florida Today, warning that investing in commercial providers would delay development of a heavy-lift booster “well into the next decade, and that just means we get behind China and Russia.”

80 comments to It’s silly season

  • NASA Fan

    Politics is always local, and always about jobs in my state or district; not about China getting to the moon first, or the Ruskies destroying liberty world wide.

    The only thing American’s care about now is jobs jobs jobs; witness the Punter of the United States reference to jobs in his SOTU address.

    I’d like to hear what politicians have to say about Obama’s space budget, who do not have a NASA Center in their state or district.

    Whining in front of the voters is always good theater, and shows you really care; it says noting about your leadership though.

  • Jeff, I agree with you. It is silly season.. I am waiting to see the FY2011 budget request submitted by NASA. Given the amount of partisan rancor surrounding contentious issues such as healthcare reform and reform of financial markets, I am concerned that any major changes for NASA proposed by President Obama will turn NASA into another partisan political fight. While there are a number of Republicans who couldn’t care less about NASA and its budget, those same Republicans will take every opportunity to engage in partisan political attacks on the President. NASA would suffer as a result.

  • Major Tom

    “It will be devastating”

    If SRBs aren’t part of an HLV solution, then Utah is the one place that may get hit hard. So although Bishop’s comments are full of hyperbole, at least in his case, it’s understandable where it’s coming from.

    “Ultimately, you abandon the moon to China…”

    China has a human lunar program? Really, Dr. Schmitt? And their HLV is what? And they’ve been testing a lunar reentry capsule where? And testing their lander where?

    I know Schmitt backed Constellation as Griffin’s handpicked head of the NAC, but a geologist should know better than to make stuff up.

    “China, India, and Russia will be putting humans in space while we wait on commercial”

    Here’s a hint for Shelby — that was going to happen under the old program, anyway. The likely delivery date for Ares I/Orion is 2019, with earliest delivery in 2017 per Augustine.

    If we’re going to feign outrage over the gap, put the blame on the program (Constellation) and managers (Griffin & Co.) that created it.

    “a welfare program for amateur rocket companies”

    Yeah, OSC is an “amateur” rocket company. They’ve only been running Pegasus and Taurus for what, 20 years now?

    And Boeing and LockMart? Which produce dozens of Atlases and Deltas in Decatur? Surely someone on Shelby’s staff knows that Decatur is in Alabama. Right?

    “investing in commercial providers would delay development of a heavy-lift booster ‘well into the next decade’”

    Under the old program, heavy-lift booster (Ares V) operations are delayed until 2030 — after the next decade. Surely someone on Nelson’s staff is capable of comparing dates and figuring out that the White House proposal is an improvement on the old program.

    “and that just means we get behind China and Russia.”

    And China and Russia’s HLV development programs are what?

    Oy vey… when I hear how stupid congressmen are over things I know about, it really makes me wonder how stupid they are about the things I don’t know about.

    FWIW…

  • Dave Cadman

    Well, those Space Senaters and Congress people, who are whinging (good old British term) are in for a shock come Monday/Tuseday, they will either be over joyed they were right for the wrong reasons, or not right enough ;) the smile is because I don’t like politicians (anywhere); they deserve whatever angst they get; but that is another blog;
    right now if you want a bit more heads up, go read Chris Bergin’s latest effort on NASA Space Flight dot com; life in Space is not dead, and neither is Lunar Exploration, but given that Bolden’s press conference in Israel illicited from him a sharp response regarding the thread of Astroids to Earth, there is every likelihood that Lunar Exploration will be on a slow track in comparison;
    this is Chris Bergins’s January 29th article

    “MAF provide positive ET hardware overview for early SD HLV test flight”

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/01/maf-provide-positive-et-hardware-overview-for-early-sd-hlv-test-flight/

    and

    this Popular Mechanics Article with a fairly long comment by Ross Tierny one of the voices of Direct

    Rebel Engineers Sit With NASA to Chart Future of Manned Space

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4344095.html

    for those who don’t go reading, Utah will get it’s SRB production, and Louisiana it’s ET facilities utilized; Constellation, Ares I/V are dead, but the new POR will make up the difference in SUSTAINABILITY; everyone will get a share of the ‘Commerical’ Pie, but don’t expect it to be in the way it was last week; there is a shift coming that will be on the order of the Haitian Earth Quake; and it is about time; with the US having 50+% of the Human Space Exploration Budget, and Capability on the same order, this is a World Wide Concern; we all benefit and lose, accordingly by what happens Monday

  • red

    Harrison Schmitt: “If it is a commercial effort only to visit the space station, then it is the beginning of the end of human space exploration,” he said.

    How can a commercial effort to visit the space station be the beginning of the end of human space exploration? It sounds to me like the end of the beginning, if anything, and the start of the next, greater, phase.

    Schmitt seems to be implying that the whole HSF program is being traded for the commercial ISS crew transportation capabilities. The reports and rumors are actually that the Constellation part of the HSF program is being traded for commercial crew transportatation capabilities, an extended ISS, actual use of the ISS, an exploration technology development program, international participation, and some sort of Flexible Path exploration program (possibly including the Moon but not as a first destination), which may or may not include a commercial or NASA HLV, Orion, and delays greater or less than those of Constellation.

    The POR is nothing like the exploration program centered on commerce, ISRU, and a completely revitalized NASA Schmitt advocated in his book from a couple years ago. I’m not sure why Schmitt would miss it.

    Schmitt: “Ultimately, you abandon the moon to China”

    I don’t think China is about to take over the Moon.

    At any rate, I’ll wait a little bit more to see what lunar plans are in the budget. I suspect that, even if there is no Apollo on Steroids effort towards the lunar surface, the plan will take us on a more sustainable path to the Moon (via commercial space, substantial robotics, space infrastructure, technology development, and international participation) than the POR anyway, even if it’s not centered on the Moon. However, that’s just speculation.

    I certainly don’t see how trading Ares I for more affordable commercial transportation services to the ISS harms lunar exploration or development. Doing this should allow NASA more money to develop exploration capabilities, not less.

    Schmitt: “you abandon the space station to Russia”

    How is starting a commercial space transportation effort for crew to the space station, extending the space station to 2020, and actually using the space station “abandoning the space station to Russia”?

    Constellation and the Ares I rocket with its many schedule, budget, technical, and political problems is what’s causing the gap to the ISS and the lack of funding to support and use the ISS.

    Schmitt: “and you abandon liberty to the ages.”

    How is trading a government rocket for commercial transportation services that can also be applied to free and private transportation services “abandoning liberty to the ages”?

    “If China and Russia are the dominant space powers, then liberty is at risk because they don’t believe in it.”

    How would adding a commercial crew transportation capability with multiple providers to provide access to the ISS (that can also be applied to private business), shrinking the gap with these services compared to Ares I (according to Augustine) and thus relying a bit less on Russia, extending the ISS, using the ISS, making a technology development program, and at least partially reforming the government rocket-building quagmire that is making the Moon and everything else unreachable make China and Russia the dominant space powers?

    Senator Shelby: “calling the proposed investment in commercial crew transportation “a welfare program for amateur rocket companies”

    I wonder what the Shelby constituents in Decatur, Alabama think about that statement.

  • Robert G. Oler

    What has been surprising to me is not the reaction of the politicians who have pork pies in their home district…most of it has been pretty predictable and pretty absurd. As The President pointed out in his well done speech/QA in BAL the rise of overheated rhetoric is something that is just simply amazing. And I would add is a product of a political system on the brink of collapse.

    Shelby illustrates this..”commercial amateurs” or whatever is a statement that someone who was thinking about running against him would/could toss right in his face. It is just overheated.

    It is indicative of what passes for political commentary from people who are simply lost as to the realities of our time.

    What is surprising to me sort of is two things

    1. The first is the various space companies who are on the program of record. I guess that they have feed at the trough for so long they simply cannot imagine another world. the federal government “program” mentality has become so ingrained that the managers there (who are all a product of it) are simply immune to the forces that are actually changing things.

    2. The second is space “advocates”. It is not that far a throw to see space advocates “waving their hands” and wrap drive (or bases on the moon or Mars or wherever) appear and “the world changes”.

    What I find amazing is that they are so naive as to the politics of things.

    Mark Whittington is a contributor to this page…so to quote from his blog “People who suddenly can’t pay their mortgages or doctor bills because of a space policy change are just as angry as those caught in a private corporate downsizing. They are bound to let their ire known. Their Representatives and Senators will be responsive and will act. Indeed, an attempt at a space policy change that will not only end American hopes of returning to the Moon”

    under Whittington’s logic (such as it is) people who lose their jobs from corporate downsizing and government changes in policy are equally angry (OK buy that) …but in Whittington’s world the folks who get shafted because of corporate downsizing can complain to their reps…but really the reps can do nothing…on the other hand the reps will be responsive to government workers (and contractors) who lose their jobs and “will act”.

    there are all sorts of logic bombs here but the fact that Mark and A LOT OF SPACE ADVOCATES place such an overriding importance on a return to the Moon that it is going to cause politicians to “act” is nutty.

    it is sort of a “wow space is important to me so it has to be to everyone else”.

    when in reality if you told most Americans that a 100 billion over 15 year effort to return to the Moon has been canceled…they would say “ok so what”

    Robert G. Oler

  • …when I hear how stupid congressmen are over things I know about, it really makes me wonder how stupid they are about the things I don’t know about.

    Not to mention the news media. Frightening, isn’t it?

  • MoonExploration

    @Major Tom

    You are making fun of Dr Schmitt’s statement of abandon the Moon to China. You ask a couple of questions about the vehicles and hardware that China hasn’t shown us yet.

    Well Major Tom, the Chinese’s aren’t famous for giving the public any detailed information in advance. When they are about to test their hardware it will be a surprise to all of us how long they have reached in their development.

    You know – all space agencies don’t have a website as fancy as NASA with all information reachable.

    And yes – count on that they are about to place humans on the Moon within the next decade.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dave Cadman wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 10:41 am

    maybe.

    I’ll bet you dime to donuts about two things…(OK and they are covering the base here)

    First if there is an HLV it doesnt use shuttle hardware and two if it does (I know laugh) then it will never fly.

    or (3) (more laughing) it will only fly if it can answer the age old question “could the shuttle have been flown cheaper”.

    A SDV no matter what it lifts wont lift enough to justify its use if it has the shuttle cost associated with it. The trick here is figuring out what cost are associated with the orbiter (and hence would not be with “Shuttle C…whatever variant).

    The trick for any “heavy lift” is going to be some sort of heavy lift that has “uses” past simply “exploration” whatever that comes to mean as time goes on. And if it is to expensive the answer will be “it does not”…and hence it wont work.

    Somethings come out of their time. Convair built a version of the B36 that was a hugh troop carrier…it was to expensive even for the military in terms of carrying troops. Today we routinly use 747′s to carry troops.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MoonExploration wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Well Major Tom, the Chinese’s aren’t famous for giving the public any detailed information in advance. When they are about to test their hardware it will be a surprise to all of us how long they have reached in their development…

    if Chinese plans are such a secret (and they are not)…how do YOU know what they are doing?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Freddo

    “Not to mention the news media. Frightening, isn’t it?”

    Oh, yes, yes indeed. How about this interview on Fox News between Bill Hemmer and Michio Kaku:

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/3993991/big-budget-blow-to-nasa?category_id=86861

    What makes Kaku, a theoretical physicist (as the interview reminds us more than once) an expert on human spaceflight? Certainly not his logic: he complains about throwing away $9 billion on Constellation, but doesn’t seem to mind disposing of the $100B ISS. Fox also doesn’t tell us that Kaku is well known for having opposed one of NASA’s most successful scientific missions, Cassini, because it uses an RTG.

    Then there’s this Fox News poll:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/01/28/obama-right-wrong-cut-funds-manned-space-program/

    The choices are laughable at best: either you support Constellation or you want to consign America to second-rate status. No mention that the plan reportedly would *increase* NASA’s budget, or that it would support commercial crew options as opposed to a government-run program that’s usually anathema to conservatives.

    I don’t doubt other TV news networks or other elements of the MSM are covering this poorly, but these struck me as really bad. Silly season indeed.

  • MoonExploration

    @Robert G. Oler

    “if Chinese plans are such a secret (and they are not)…how do YOU know what they are doing?”

    Well, the answer is that neither you, me or anyone else knows for sure what plans China have for space exploration or the moon. What we do know however is that the Chinese so far has surprised us when they took their step into space. If we show our weakness now, we can be sure that the Chinese will not miss the opportunity to take the next giant leap. Is that something we want to risk?

    You often take up in your previous posters that everything we do must be “affordable”.
    Well, if this should always be the criterion for what we as a civilization should perform – then ask yourself what would have been if:

    If the French people would have considered if the Eifel Tower was “affordable” to bulid.

    If the Egyptians would have asked themselves if the pyramids would have been “affordable” to set up.

    If the Chinese’s would have hesitated in the question if the Chinese wall was “affordable”.

    If Columbus in his strive for adventure and exploration would have been stopped with the argue that sailing over the sea wouldn’t bee “affordable”.

    If John F Kenney wouldn’t have said that we should go to the Moon “because it is hard”, but instead cancelled everything “because it is not “affordable””.

    etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc……..

  • NASA Fan

    @ Robert: The reference is ‘dollars to doughnuts”; at least in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical ‘State Fair’. :)

    If I was the POTUS, and I wanted a HLV, I would do the following (and this assumes there is wide spread and deep support among the electorate for such a vehicle , in service to some as yet undefined goal).

    What I would do is offer up, say $4B to anyone who could demonstrate a HLV, placing TBD kgs into Lunar Orbit. Or something like that. And perhaps the $4B could be spread out over a few years, with some payment at key milestones in the development process.

    @ everyone: “…when I hear how stupid congressmen are over things I know about, it really makes me wonder how stupid they are about the things I don’t know about.”

    I am in the space biz, and a few times the work I was doing made the media. Every time, they got it wrong about the problems we faced. Every time.

    Be afraid, be real afraid!

  • Crackpot Alert

    You are making fun of Dr Schmitt’s statement of abandon the Moon to China.

    We haven’t even begun to make fun of Schmitt’s anti-science stance on well understood consensus science either. You want us to mock and ridicule United States government astronauts here too? Not a problem, we’re pissed.

    And for good reason, NASA has literally pissed away another five years and another ten billion dollars in reusable heavy lift launch vehicle development. The classical human space exploration paradigm is dead.

    Get over it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MoonExploration wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 12:50 pm
    What we do know however is that the Chinese so far has surprised us when they took their step into space…………..

    NO WE DONT KNOW THAT

    you might be surprised but I do not see how.

    So far the Chinese human spaceflight program has been nothing but predictable…particularly if one eschews some ridiculous notion of what they are trying to do in human spaceflight.

    They have “so far” with a great deal of effort and taking “a lot” of time gotten to about Gemini IV level in essentially knock offs of Soviet designs.

    There lunar exploration (and that is being kind) is really not all that impressive. They sent a knock off of a communications satellite to the Moon and it took some rather not impressive pictures and that is about it.

    At best what so far they have demonstrated is that they can copy other folks hardware and recreate things that the US and the USSR did what 40 years ago.

    And from that people like you would rush them to the Moon and then once they are there do something “useful” that keeps them there?

    Really?

    The fanatsies of the “chinese are going crowd” (or “The Indians are going” crowd or the “insert some nation here is going to the Moon crowd”) are just astounding.

    First is the assumption that they are going. This means that somehow they are going to almost from scratch and with little imperative develop ALL the hardware that the US did and the USSR failed to do to go to the Moon and somehow surprise us.

    Second is the assumption that this act alone is somehow any more important to “our” future as a nation then the US beating everyone else to the Moon was important to other nations future as a nation (in other words that US beating everyone else to the Moon changed the fate of a lot of other countries so the Chinese getting back there first will somehow “doom” the US to second power status)…

    Third is the assumption that once there…they will stay there and find something useful to do that justifies the effort. What would keep them there? Mining He3 or lunar water (for what) or what?

    The Chinese racing us back to the Moon relies on the fantasy is that somehow they will do something we and the Soviets never figured out a way to do…1) afford the effort as a continuing basis and 2 do something fanatsic that will change the international equation here on earth . It is akin to saying “Saddam might attack us with balsa wood airplanes carrying WMD” and yet that is the stuff that justified the Iraq war.

    IF the Chinese were going back to the Moon to do something that made the effort more then a “flags and footprints” we would have ample time to figure it out, because what they are doing and have done is so far away from being able to execute that effort…it is like my wife and I worrying about the problems of our baby daughter dating…she is two months from being born.

    As for affordable. No the Egyptians didnt ask if the pyramids were affordable. they had slave labor

    Next question

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Freddo wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Fox Polls are stupid. They are nothing more then “does Gretchen have good legs and wow wouldnt you like to see more of them”.

    they are the speed of the people who watch Fox News…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    this is the great unknown as best I can see.

    None of us seem to know what went on behind closed doors in the AC about heavy lift. there is a reason that is being pushed and it isnt space exploration.

    it just isnt

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    MoonExploration

    Lets make this very clear: What, in your mind, is the worst case situation, if the Chinese are engaging in a moon program? What is the actual program, and what is policy implication effect? Is it you are afraid the Chinese are going to suddenly announce that they are taking over the moon, and start moving people in next week? Is it you are afraid that they’ll do a footprints and flags mission on the moon, and suddenly everyone will regard us as the worst country ever? What is it?

  • Ferris Valyn

    BTW, to add one thing: Saying “We don’t know, and therefore should be concerned” does not count as legit arguments.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    This is what comes of pitting space exploration against space commercialization. Do not be surprised if Congress doesn’t choose the one you want them to choose. This is shaping up to be a major political blunder on BO’s part.

  • Mark, before we all start jumping to conclusions and screaming that the US space program as we know it is dead and it is all President Obama’s fault, how about we wait and see what is actually in the FY2011 budget request for NASA? The Orlando Sentinel is not a good source for facts. And all of the other media outlets are citing the OS story. At this point I am skeptical of the news that the OS reported on, especially since the sources are unnamed. Even if there are major changes in NASA’s program of record, Congress will have to approve them and fund them. Given the current political environment that will fairly difficult.

  • Dave Cadman

    Gary, go to my post above, and go and read the links I have provided; you will get a whole new perspective on the developing story; a positive one; Chris only reports what HE knows is happening from his sources at the Space Industry Gate, not what places like OS/WP/WSJ put out; it is news you can trust, without the spin;

  • Allen Thomson

    Er, the PRC does have a bigger SLV in the works, the Long March 5. It’s scheduled to fly in 2014 and billed as being able to put 25 tonnes into LEO or 14 into GTO. An Ares 5 it ain’t.

  • Dave Cadman

    @Allen, and it isn’t a Jupiter 130 HLV, nor a Jupiter 140 SHLV or Jupiter 246 SHLV, at each level, the US is still leagues head; roll on 2012 when the first test flight is expected for a Jupiter 130 HLV;

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    This is what comes of pitting space exploration against space commercialization…

    dont be silly

    the “space exploration” you support is dead.

    It is like the 1970′s in that the political people are going to have to chose between a program (“the vision”) which has little support in The Republic except among pork pies…and will simply consume the agency on the funding that is available.

    or try something new.

    Robert G. Oler

  • craig morford

    Having been an avid reader of this blog for two years (to my detriment at work) I feel i must comment. I two will wait until monday to give a more informed viewpoint. However to me HSF and exploration and science have all one thing in commen, you have to have a viable, afforable, and reliable capability to get there. What I believe most congressmen and some media have not grasped yet is that space is really really really big. It is time to start relying on commercial companies for all kinds of space access, (if you never give them the responsibility they will never do it. parenting 101) As for all the polls that say that americans will not support the space program i have news for them, after 15 years in manufacturing, running machines myself most people say that because they think whats the use i will never be involved. But you give them the job of manufacturing for the space program they will bust their butt to do the best job they can. aNy machinist that works in our faciltiy and had space program experience is looked up to. Don’t tell me that the space program doesn’t mean anything to americans. (sorry about the rant) Lets make KSC a 21st century space port the envy of the world. Go commercial, go NASA and lets add one more thing to our space efforts. we have science, and exploration, lets get on with exploitation. Thank you for listening

  • common sense

    Ah if we could only un-elect people. Well at least California did it. Always at the forefront what can I say? But now how about we un-elect people from other States when what they do actually impacts you in your own State? Or maybe just for fun? Or based on the level of ignorance they actually display in public? Hmmm.

  • Major Tom

    “You are making fun of Dr Schmitt’s statement of abandon the Moon to China. You ask a couple of questions about the vehicles and hardware that China hasn’t shown us yet. Well Major Tom, the Chinese’s aren’t famous for giving the public any detailed information in advance.”

    China doesn’t have to release any public information.

    In the age of Google maps, we’d see if China was building a launch site for a heavy lift vehicle. Or if China was testing a lunar lander.

    In the age of early warning systems, we’d know if China was conducting atmospheric testing on a lunar return capsule. Or practicing docking two human spacecraft together in orbit.

    Schmitt is making claims about a Chinese human lunar program for which there is no evidence. I don’t know if he’s consciously lying or has simply deluded himself, but it’s either irresponsible or foolish to make such claims — especially for an ex-astronaut who should know better.

    “When they are about to test their hardware it will be a surprise to all of us how long they have reached in their development.”

    No, it won’t be a surprise. A launch site can’t be built indoors. A lunar return capsule can’t be flight tested underground.

    No one can hide such a program. Claiming otherwise demonstrates incredible ignorance about what’s involved in such an undertaking.

    “You know – all space agencies don’t have a website as fancy as NASA with all information reachable.”

    Most of us can’t read Mandarin anyway. Of course, we’re not relying on Chinese websites.

    Think before you post.

    “And yes – count on that they are about to place humans on the Moon within the next decade.”

    No, they aren’t.

    China isn’t even going to launch a single human mission this year.

    China has yet to dock two human spacecraft together.

    There is no evidence they have the necessary heavy lift, lander, or lunar return vehicles under development.

    China’s only planned lunar missions are robotic, culminating in a sample return in 2017.

    The head of China’s space program has confirmed that they have no human lunar program under development.

    Chinese officials state that the earliest that they would attempt a human lunar mission is in the 2025-2030 time period.

    It ain’t gonna within the next decade. Don’t make stuff up and make claims you know nothing about.

    Lawdy…

  • It looks like NASA will be ready to test the first shuttle derived HLV by 2012 if they get the go ahead from the administration.

    My question is, why continue to fund the ISS program at $2 billion a year. There is no way we’re getting $2 billion worth of good science every year out of the ISS. No way! In fact, I doubt if we’re even getting $200 million worth of science out of the ISS every year.

    That $2 billion a year could be used to launch customized Skylab-like space stations into orbit with an HLV for NASA, the military, private companies (for research and space tourism), and friendly nations. There’s no logical reason to continue wasting tax payer money on the ISS program! None!

  • [...] Jeff Foust pointed out in his January 30, 2010 Space Politics post – “It’s silly season”.  His well-placed comment was aimed at the “rhetorical [...]

  • Major Tom

    “This is what comes of pitting space exploration against space commercialization.”

    It is terrible that Griffin pitted the development of a new government launch vehicle and capsule (Ares I and Orion) against existing launch vehicle capabilities and planned capsule capabilities in the private sector. Griffin should have done what the VSE told him to do — acquire ISS transport from industry and focus NASA development on exploration. Now, after wasting a half-decade and billions of taxpayer dollars, Augustine and the new Administration have had to come back in and realign NASA’s human space flight programs consistent with the VSE so that they aren’t pitted against space commercialization and the private sector.

    What a waste…

  • MrEarl

    I must say that after reading Chris Bergin’s blog at Nasaspaceflight.com I am more hopeful and will be waiting for the new conference this Monday before passing any final judgment on this new direction. Chris’s information has always been factual and timely.
    For those who missed the link earlyer here it is again.
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/01/maf-provide-positive-et-hardware-overview-for-early-sd-hlv-test-flight/

  • Al Fansome

    MOONEXPLORATION: “Well, the answer is that neither you, me or anyone else knows for sure what plans China have for space exploration or the moon. What we do know however is that the Chinese so far has surprised us when they took their step into space. If we show our weakness now, we can be sure that the Chinese will not miss the opportunity to take the next giant leap. Is that something we want to risk?”

    I agree with Ferris.

    What exactly is the risk to the U.S. the Chinese will put somebody on the Moon?

    Is it the risk that U.S. entrepreneurial firms will have their robots roll up to the doors of the Chinese capsule, say “Welcome to the Moon!”, embarrass the Chinese ego, and hurt international relations?

    Is it the risk that 50 years after the U.S. landed a person on the Moon, China will repeat the feat, and most Americans will let out a big “yawn”, say “Been there, Done That”, and embarrass the Chinese ego, and hurt international relations?

    Griffin repeatedly tried to make a national security argument for “Going back to the Moon before China”. The argument failed. He tried again, and it failed again.

    See the article in AvWeek here on one of Griffin’s speeches in September 2007:
    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/china091807.xml&headline=China%20To%20Explore%20Moon%20Sooner:%20Griffin&channel=space

    Griffin testified before Congress on this subject in March 2007:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4635969.html

    NASA under Griffin had briefings at the White House with National Security Council on the same subject. Griffin was hoping for support. Not happening.

    The argument has failed because it is LUDICROUS. There is no damage to U.S. national security for China to do a flags & footprints on the Moon 50 years after the U.S. did.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    It looks like NASA will be ready to test the first shuttle derived HLV by 2012 if they get the go ahead from the administration.

    My question is, why continue to fund the ISS program at $2 billion a year…

    because it is the anchor for the commercial space market…

    Robert G. oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Marcel Williams

    To add to what Oler is saying – now, I will submit that, if we could go back in time and do an alternative station, there probably would’ve been a better option. BUT, it exists, and it might be worth while to figure out if we can actually use it, before declaring that its totally worthless.

    More to the point, ISS acting as an anchor isn’t about JUST SpaceX and Orbital Science Corp, and providing a delivery market. Right now, I’ve heard from more than one person that there are a number of empty rack space. (In otherwords, we aren’t deriving science from it because its worthless, its because its sitting, unused). There is science that can be done, as well as experimentation. ISS could easily serve as a good place to test prop depot & transfer technology. Right now, there is discussion of VASIMR testing on board ISS. There are companies that are interested in utilizing ISS for other R&D work.

    In short, its a facility that has potential. Lets actually see if it can live up to that potential. Frankly, I’d love there to be a push to try and figure out a mechanism that will allow it to fund itself, by 2020. I think that would be a great way for us to go forward with ISS

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 1:31 pm
    “As for affordable. No the Egyptians didnt ask if the pyramids were affordable. they had slave labor”
    WRONG

    If anything the Pyramid builders were the Rocket Scientists and SSP standing army of their day. Blue and white loin cloth welfare as it were. The Pyramids were a mystical means to allow the Pharaoh to ascend to the Stars!

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/who-built-the-pyramids

    “Lehner currently thinks Egyptian society was organized somewhat like a feudal system, in which almost everyone owed service to a lord. The Egyptians called this “bak.” Everybody owed bak of some kind to people above them in the social hierarchy. “But it doesn’t really work as a word for slavery,” he says. “Even the highest officials owed bak.”

    Just goes to show how far we have come :)

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    because it is the anchor for the commercial space market…

    You mean the corporate welfare program for the commercial market! Although there’s really not enough manned space flight traffic to the ISS for more than just one manned space flight company. So I guess the government will chose the winner and let the others sink into bankruptcy.

    Betting on the government to keep your company afloat is a bad bet. Space tourism is the way to go– not government contracts.

  • Dave Cadman

    @ Marcel,
    Right on, when SpaceX gets the contract to send up the first Bigelow inflatable Space Stations we will begin the next level Space Exploitation; and when the NEW Jupiter 140 SHLV comes online it will lift even bigger Space Stations, not only to LEO but to the L2 and EML points for PD and WayStations to the Moon; how cool will it be to be the first to Honeymoon at L2 with the Moon just a few thousand miles away; of course some of us are way to old to benefit from Zero G Gymnastics with a new spouse LOL

  • Freddo

    “My question is, why continue to fund the ISS program at $2 billion a year. There is no way we’re getting $2 billion worth of good science every year out of the ISS.”

    Two problems with this claim. One, it attempts to put a dollar value on the science without explaining how this calculation is performed. Number of papers? Journal impact factor? Something else? In any event, you tread onto thin ice when you make statements like that: someone can easily argue that you can get “more” results by taking all of NASA’s money and putting it towards targeted research in biotech, nanotech, alternative energy, etc.

    Two, it assumes that science is the only or most important reason for the ISS. Not even close. What we’re learning in technology, ops, and international cooperation that can be applied to future missions could make this a bargain even if it did no science.

  • sc220

    If I were Obama, a key consideration on which course to follow would depend on which NASA constituencies would benefit the most. Alabama, Mississippi and Utah are lost causes. Who cares if they lose jobs and are pissed off. They are the “reddest” states in the Union, and will vote Republican regardless of how much money you dump there. In fact, I’d consider using Shelby as a whipping boy and poster child for what’s wrong with pork-gorging congress. He is philosophically at odds with the new Republican browbeaters, and wouldn’t receive a lot of support from them either.

    Florida, Virginia and Ohio are different stories. These states are vivid purple and need assistance to tip them more over into the blue camp. Pillage the thoroughly red states and give to the purple…a new mantra for NASA budget planning.

    Now, what to do with the folks in Texas? It’s the second biggest state in the Union, so you need to treat them with respect. They’re red, but they’ve been acquiring a bit of a purplish tint of late. Best thing is to keep JSC healthy, which would be quite possible by ditching MSFC, Stennis and Michoud. With MSFC out of the picture, JSC becomes the undisputed lead for human spaceflight within the Agency, and secures this role forever.

    One last thing, you need to keep Maryland and other blue states happy. This will be easy to do by maintaining a robust space science program and moving to a Flexible Path architecture.

    FWIW….

  • Dave Cadman

    well, it is about time for me to sign off; a last remark;

    if the title of this piece were misplaced, it has proven prophetic with regard to the variety of and level of silly in the comments; been a laugh to come here and read some of the tooing and frooing ;0 Cheers gentleman, now to your corners; tomorrow is another day closer to the cold shower of reality for all of us; see you there; Lord willing and the crick don’t raise!!

  • @ Dave Cadman

    Exactly! Multiple space stations customized for science, tourism and simply for shelter are going to be one of the major keys towards creating wealth for the emerging private commercial launch companies. And the demand for tourist flights will lower the cost of rockets, increasing the volume of wealthy tourist and space lotto winners venturing into space.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    You mean the corporate welfare program for the commercial market! Although there’s really not enough manned space flight traffic to the ISS for more than just one manned space flight company..

    could turn out that way…but probably not.

    You dont see the big picture.

    What is at stake at ISS is the space based equivelent of what is going on down on earth…ie which economic/political system is going to be triumphant in this century.

    We are going to watch the Europeans and Japanese try and make a go not just at the science but at some of the infrastructure of spaceflight on ISS…and the US has to as well.

    We have to figure out if we can unleash the power of free enterprise in human spaceflight, not just mindless exploration…and that includes “subsidizing” as the air mail did, lift to space to allow the companies who do the lift to see if they can then use the excess capability to do “other things”.

    Space Tourism is a trivial part of this…it will never pay the freight.

    What the other things are…are space assembly of large geo synch platforms is the first that comes to mind. And using ISS as a platform to launch vehicles which go to geosynch and service stuff (I understand the plane change but there are ways around that)…

    Space tourism is barely going to pay its own freight, much less a profit.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Freddo

    I don’t mind international cooperation as long as it doesn’t trap us at LEO. Unfortunately, the $2 billion a year that we’re spending on the ISS is one of the financial reasons keeping us from developing the Altair lunar lander. An international Moon base would be far more interesting to the world than the ISS which has failed to capture the public’s imagination. In fact, I bet if you polled people around the world, a significant percentage of people on the planet probably don’t even know that there’s any such thing as an ISS– including a lot of Americans.

    However, if there were an international base on the Moon, I’d bet that practically everyone in the world would know it! And people would look up at the Moon not as merely some celestial wonder but as a new continent that maybe their children or grandchildren could one day venture to for work or for pleasure!

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    “Space Tourism is a trivial part of this…it will never pay the freight”

    Polls have indicate the 7% of the wealthy people would be willing to pay at least $20 million to fly into space. There are nearly 100,000 people in in the world worth over $30 million. That’s 7000 people willing to pay big bucks to travel into space. If just 10% of that number traveled into space aboard a rocket capable of carrying 4 tourist ($25 million each), that would require 175 launches to accommodate 700 people. That would dwarf all manned, satellite, and freight launches around the world combined.

    If you started a space lotto system and a billion $1 tickets were sold every year by average Janes and Joes eager to finally get their chance to travel into the New Frontier, that would mean an additional 10 flights per year. If $10 billion were sold annually, that would be 100 flights per year.

    Of course, economies of mass production would probably dramatically reduce the cost of manufacturing rockets which would lower space flight cost, dramatically increasing the volume of tourist being transported into space even more.

  • Fred

    …what would have been if:
    If the French people would have considered if the Eifel Tower was “affordable” to bulid.

    If Columbus in his strive for adventure and exploration would have been stopped with the argue that sailing over the sea wouldn’t bee “affordable”.

    etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…….

    Actually the Eiffel tower didn’t cost very much at all. It was thown up as a temporary structure for the 1889 Paris world fair. It proved so iconic that they just never got around to pulling it down.

    Columbus made a purely economic deal with Queen Izzy.
    “Give us your jewels Queenie”, he said, “And a couple of boats and I’ll sail to China and bring you back twice the value in silk and spices.”
    Trouble is Collie underestimated the distance to China and there was this stupid continent in the way…

    Similar stories apply to all the other examples

    The moral is quoting from history is slippery. The facts are usually way more complicated than you imagine.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Polls have indicate the 7% of the wealthy people would be willing to pay at least $20 million to fly into space. …

    sorry that is not the pool.

    Subtract from that the folks who are actually willing to try it, the folks who can pass a physical to do it and the folks who can get by the “training”.

    Then…one has to take “from the 20 mill” not only the share of launch cost, but at some point someone (or government) on ISS is going to want some “change” for the air, the food, the water, the (consumables) that the person uses while up there.

    Then there is “where do they stay” while up there…there has to be some cost associated with that.

    All of a sudden that 20 mil is not all at the beck and call of some launch provider.

    And who knows how many people would in fact be willing to pony up the cash.

    Plus the American people did not spend 100 billion to launch a rich person visiting area.

    Think a little more…tourism is not the cash crop of the space age.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    An international Moon base would be far more interesting to the world than the ISS which has failed to capture the public’s imagination…..

    why? the American people tuned out the last lunar landings very quickly.

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Carter

    Robert Oler

    Besides pontificating on just about every space-related website, do you actually contribute anything of substance to humanity leaving the planet? I work at JSC, for a contractor, and actually build hardware. Sure NASA has it problems, but many of the people I work with, both CS and contractor, have dedicated their lives to safely sending humans into space.

    Besides being critical of everyone else, what do you do? It appears little of actual value that you can point to. Have your ever had any actual level of responsibility within the program, one that required you to make actual decisions -or are you just good at being critical of others?

    You are excatly what Teddy Roosevelt referred to in his famous quote “it is not the critic that counts….”

    John Carter

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Carter wrote @ January 30th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    ah the old “man in the arena” quote. Where one goes when one cannot attack the message…go after the messenger

    Three points

    First “what” one does is not all that important in terms of the actual policy and politics of things. I bet you have never been to the Mideast, much less Iraq in these times of trouble, but I bet you have a viewpoint on it. Should only people who have “actually” done something be the only ones who have a viewpoint or can voice that viewpoint on it?

    This is even more accurate in evaluating other things at NASA. Yes there were a few astronauts on each of the two panels that gave the agency a big “thumbs down” after Challenger and Columbia, but the vast majority of people had little or nothing to do with space…and they were the people who made the critical findings of the somewhat glaring flaws in corporate NASA.

    And that brings us to point two “have dedicated their lives to safely sending humans into space.” oh sure they have…as are people who build and maintain the nuclear submarines, oil platforms or the folks who keep people safe in (insert technological endeavor here) in the US. The people are never the problem at NASA, it is the system in which they work in…which was fracked up at both Challenger and Columbia in the same way.

    It is NEVER enough in an accident caused by bad procedures and sloppy management to say (as LInda H. did) “we didnt mean it”. No one every does.

    Three. what do I do? Well, you did ask.

    Remember that.

    Big task is becoming a “Dad” all over again…but you meant for a living…OK I’ll endulge you.

    I fly airplanes almost any size…, but now mostly big ones, right now I am helping “make work” the newest big twin so that ordinary pilots (grin) can fly them quite safely. My past has included some with “NA” on the end of the tail number (although that is a bit ago) but even today I have no problem gliding through the various “gates” at JSC. I investigate airplane accidents and am a “subject matter” expert on aviation (particularly aircraft handling) and aerospace safety.

    You should come up on facebook. I post a lot of pictures including from the three years I was overseas…..

    If you are at JSC sometime we can have lunch. My wife and I have a house in both Clear Lake and Santa Fe. The next two months are alittle tight…we are getting ready for the due date in oh say March/April

    Robert G. Oler

  • Commander Keen

    Have to agree regarding the doom and gloom stories and blog entries floating around. Some of them come across like rambling suicide notes. Others come across like intentionally out of context political hatchet jobs.

    Let’s just wait for Monday, then vent.

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    You seem to think that no one really wants to travel into space. Maybe its just you!

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    The Apollo program was not a Moon base program. Once we had landed on the Moon people wondered what was next. And they got no answer since Nixon had already decided to terminate any ideas about setting up a base on the Moon.

    Americans believe in progress– not just stunts!

    Americans don’t want our astronauts to be merely stuntmen risking their lives in space– just for the thrill of it. They want our astronauts to be pioneers so that they can pave the way to the New Frontier so that– eventually– the rest of us can go!

    A moon base is the first step towards colonization the Moon and eventually the rest of the solar system. And Americans love the idea of living and working in space and colonizing other worlds.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Marcel – recent polls seem to back up Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Marcel
    Actually, most Americans care first and foremost about providing the basic necessities for their family. They care about having a fair shot at a good life. They care about the ability of their children to have a decent school to go to, so they can grow up to do as well or even better than their parents. They want to be able to own a home, or at least have a viable quality place to live. They want to be able go to the doctor when sick (or their family members are sick)

    At this point, they really don’t care about astronauts, either as stuntmen or pioneers.

  • Wodun

    This is an exciting time right now in space exploration. Private companies and many nations are poised to be major players and we would be foolish to underestimate any of them.

    While some people may not have been happy with the constellation program, I can not believe that anyone would be in favor of cutting it without having a plan in place to perform the same function.

    Cutting NASA’s budget while wasting so much money on other things makes absolutely no sense. We ran a deficit over $1 trillion and we can’t give NASA an extra $3 billion a year? Maybe take some of the $500 billion in unspent stimulus funds and give it to NASA.

    If Obama was really concerned about science and laying the foundations for economic prosperity in the future, he would be increasing our investment in manned space exploration.

    Lets wait until Monday to see how bad it will be but if the leaks are accurate, this will be a dark decade for NASA and the American people.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 31st, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Americans don’t want our astronauts to be merely stuntmen risking their lives in space– just for the thrill of it. They want our astronauts to be pioneers so that they can pave the way to the New Frontier so that– eventually– the rest of us can go! ..

    there is really little or no data to support that viewpoint.

    There is really little history to support that viewpoint as well.

    Space advocates for the most part have an inflated viewpoint of how the rest of Americans look at space because well space advocates are very very caught up in the whole “going thing”. They want to go to space, they are enraptured by it, for a variety of reasons. Some because of the imagination of it, some because they visualize themselves as modern equivelents of the folks who went west…etc. Few for really valid reasons or reasons which would actually work in real life.

    Now that is OK have those fantasies but for the most part where space advocates go off the track is that they somehow think the rest of America feels like them. You have it and share it with folks like Whittington etc.

    Very few Americans can envision or even cope with a life that is all that much different from what they have right now. The evidence of that is that America is morphing from a regional country to one where cities and towns and even farms everywhere “look alike”.

    Space is harsh. Not all that physcially harsh, but there is little space, everything is regimented, there is micro gee (in space) and very bland scenary on the Moon…if you think you could make it in space, go see if you can last on an oil rig or a nuclear submarine for six months (or six days)…most space groupies couldnt.

    Why we dont settle some of the places on Earth that are FAR EASIER to settle then space is that it is to hard to make them like what almost all people want to live like.

    For Most Americans the fact that the “strows” ride up on the shuttle or will ride up on Dragon will be virtually irrelevant. And it will be. Except for the pilots on the shuttle…(and even them some) the folks on the shuttle are all passengers.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Wodun wrote @ January 31st, 2010 at 4:34 am

    We ran a deficit over $1 trillion and we can’t give NASA an extra $3 billion a year?..

    because we are going to find it by cutting programs that dont work

    something we should do everywhere Robert G. Oler

  • And they got no answer since Nixon had already decided to terminate any ideas about setting up a base on the Moon.

    Lyndon Johnson did that, not Nixon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    After the rounds this Sunday…I am skeptical of the rumors of some sort of “Jupiter” effort as a NASA project. There might be a heavy lift in the works, but I would be surprised if the stuff at NASAspaceflight.com is anything more then musings (and I would love to be surprised).

    among other “entertaining” comments on that article..I cannot imagine that NASA could fly a test flight of a straight stack “shuttle C” in two years.

    There is little or no history in modern NASA to support that sort of rapid prototyping.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dave Cadman

    Hey Robert G. Oler,

    Thanks for that link to the ol’ tune, Bless yer pea pikin’ heart!!! I’ll play it tomorrow night, when I am drinkin’ my moonshine and toasting Chuck’s new SHLV ;)

    or

    drowning my sorrows ;0

    no hard feelin’s, little humour dun’ nevah hert anema’

    Cheers

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dave Cadman wrote @ January 31st, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Many years ago Roy Clark and Dennis Weaver needed a check out in their business jet that they “kind of flew” (they had a professional flight crew) and so I went up to FSI and gave a pilot proficiency check to both of them…that was kind of fun (along with being a transport category plane examiner I am a PPE in a bunch of planes)

    …and afterwards got to do a little “guitar” work with both of them …then we went into FSI’s B737 sim and had a good time…they had never seen a transport category jet “spin”…(the sim itself had an interesting history actually…I got my type rating “in it” when it was at Boeing as one of the first (there were four of them) Level C 737 sims around and was essentially an “engineering simulator”. (as part of the 300 certification which I played a role in)…

    anyway it was a day of good flying and some good picken. Never met Misty R though.

    We can all see what happens Monday!

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Ferris Valyn

    What people don’t like is the government wasting billions of their money so that an elite few can merely explore the universe. Economic growth and individual prosperity is at core of any colonization effort. That’s why our species has always colonized new regions.

    We live on an overpopulated planet of limited natural resources. However, we also live in a solar system of virtually unlimited natural resources.

    What people want is a better tomorrow. And the New Frontier offers that!

  • Doug Lassiter

    The way this is starting to play out is interesting, and actually may show some political cleverness by Obama in protecting space exploration.

    What we’re hearing about in the media is that the new budget will scrap lunar landing plans. That’s getting louder, and legislators representing NASA centers are angry and shedding tears. The implicit message being that NASA and space exploration is taking a big hit in the interest of deficit reduction.

    But what we’re also hearing is that NASA is likely to get a $1B/yr increase in the FY11 budget proposal. If so, it will be one of very few discretionary accounts to see any increase. The mainstream media doesn’t seem as aware of this.

    So given the political realities of federal debt management and bigger national problems (e.g war, health care), what this would point to is a plan that takes a fixed itinerary for lunar return that was never realistic off the table as cover for a budget increase that could, potentially, speed up the progress toward space accomplishment.

    It will be interesting to see, in the political eye, whether NASA comes out looking like a winner or a loser.

  • Dave Cadman

    Doug, what we are hearing over at NSF is that it will be $1.3 B a year over 5 years or 6 billion dollars, that Ares I/V is cancelled, and that the new NASA will be heavy with commercial to ISS and that SMD will be refunded to what it was before Ares I began having it’s problems and needed the money; how true any of this is, is up to intrepretation and politics; it is looking a lot like the team that was working on the Side Mount HLV are transitioning to an inline HLV, and that is where the ideas of utilizing existing surplus (after taking care of the Shuttle manifest fly out) of ET, SRB, and SSME, to do a series of test flights; as I understand it, the tanks that are surplus are for the most part the older, stronger tanks; the Standup report mentions using the Shuttle Avionics with some mods, for the initial flights; they will be more than the Ares I-X flight in that they will be what was originally invisaged as the J-130 HLV, or similar; in other words, while they won’t be stretched tanks or 5 segment SRB’s they will be a closer comparison to the actual J-140 SHLV than the Ares I-X was, to it’s next iteration, the Ares I; if all this is true, and I am not saying it is only reporting what I have heard, then what the Direct Team has worked out over the last 4 years is now in the hands of the NASA Team that will be advising the ET factory, and will have specs to work to, right off the bat; so shortening the development time, and that is where the 2 year from start to flight of the test LV is coming from; The Direct Team didn’t start from scratch either, they were working from studies that were done a decade ago, that went pretty close to actual development, but were shelved by congress, because they didn’t believe that they could afford to develop 2 launch vehicles, the SST and the HLV; and that has always been NASA’s problem, they have never been able to afford to have an operational program while having another in development; I am choosing to believe and hope, that now they have got it right, and will be able to move forward; Live in Hopes, Die in Dispair ;) we shall see in the coming months which outcome is realistic; the big question on NSF right now, is with the development of the SHLV will there be money to afford realistic missions; and that has yet to be answered satisfactorialy;

  • Dave Cadman

    PS they are reporting that Senator Shelby is now on board as supporting the changes, presumably having been briefed on the changes to a SHLV, the only ones they are not sure about is Griffiths, and Nielson;

    I have one question, there have been a couple of posts quoting 2billion a year for the ISS, does anyone have a breakdown of what those cost are covering, ie Launch of crew/cargo, crew costs, sience experiments cost, additional fly out of development costs; SST launch costs; is this continuing costs or will there be a reduction once the ISS is finished development and the Shuttle decomissioned;

  • +-+-+-+-+-+-+ +-+-+
    |m|o|r|o|n|s| |i|n| |s|p|a|c|e|
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+ +-+-+

    The title of new movie.

    Description:
    Watch the systematic dismantling of a once proud space effort by duopolist bankrupt politicians and their crony corporatist friends who have driven the United States space effort into the ground.

    Actors:
    Republican and Democrats

    Now showing in a public theatre near you where Americans continue to vote for the same flawed policies Ad nauseam !

  • Doug Lassiter

    “the big question on NSF right now, is with the development of the SHLV will there be money to afford realistic missions; and that has yet to be answered satisfactorialy”

    Fair question. But with $1.3B extra, why would NASA be less capable of doing any missions? Not sure what you mean by “realistic” missions. Constellation and a lunar return by 2020 was nowhere near realistic.

    The main challenge is deciding what the country really wants to do.

    “he NASA Team that will be advising the ET factory”

    Huh? Who would that be? This isn’t about giving advice. It’s about cutting contracts. Until there is a real plan, no such contracts will be established, and yes, I understand that such contracts might not be able to happen until the ET fab line is kaput.

  • Dave Cadman

    first part, Missions,
    Lunar is unlikly to happen, in the initial plan, as too expensive to develop lander in the US, and no guarantee that EAS or anyone else will pick it up; so what is left, NEO and fly by of the moon (aka Apollo 8 redux) or a polar orbit of the moon, or flights out to L1/2 and other points in space; trips to nowhere; flyby of Venus or Mars; arguements over what science is achieved, and why robots can’t do it better;
    the 1.3B is to go to developing Commercial capabilities for Crew Delivery to ISS; and pay for Cargo Delivery in the meantime;

    Second part, the NASA TEAM that will advise the ET Factory
    it is looking more like the people who were being collected together by John Shannon, for the Side Mount HLV project, will be transitioned over to working out the new Inline SHLV; they will have the fun (satirical) of attaching the SSMEs to the bottom of the ET, develping a Boat Tail, Stretching the ET and strenghtening it; as well as developing the Avionics for a SHLV; the interface for the Orion Block I vehicle, and the development work of the Block II and III variants of Orion; Block I will be the Orion Lite, that is on the drawing boards now and will be ready (hopefully) by 2015/16, and unable to do a real Lunar Mission; ie take a landing crew, or go to NEO etc; Orion II and III will be true BEO space craft; when they will be ready is anyone’s guess, but with the data from Orion I, it should help in accelerating II to an early 2019/20 test launch; and III will be the Mars version;

    Three, Cutting contracts
    from what is being reported, Michoud and ATK are willing to go with the existing contracts, suitably modified; as has been mentioned on NSF, the contractors have seen the writing on the wall, and realize it is beter to have a piece of a pie, than no pie at all; and in the long run, if we can get development out of the way, then there may be money for missions; and infrastructure development that would see flight rates similar to the Shuttle era; 4-5 per year;
    the SSME is a re-usable engin, that is going to end up in the Pacific, burnt up; for the first series of flights, until the contractor develops a disposable one, plans are already on the drawing board; somewhere down the line we will see a reduction in costs per flight there;
    right now for the Second stage, this is rather up in the air, as various options, which are more technical than I want to get into here, are being talked about; different engines are being discussed, some already in use, other’s in development; all having there own good and bad points; as well, who to develop the stage and what to include in it; the second stage is the heart of the architecture, in that while the Core is feet, the variants of the second stage are what will determine the missions; whether to carry an Orion, a ISS module, or Bigelow Module, PD module or Space Telescopes; they will all have various capabilities buit around them; it is conceiable that a horizontal lunar lander similar to Space 1999, could fit in the Payload Faring (PLF) there is more than enough power in this rocket and second stage to launch a Semi Trailer to the LEO if someone wanted it; but that won’t become apparent to the general public until Chuck gets around to describing it; if he decides to go with a 2 stage launch vehicle, and that is the rub, he could conceivably get by with a one stage, for the next decade;

  • MoonExploration

    This is giving me hope: http://www.tgdaily.com/space-features/48246-india-plans-manned-spaceflight-in-2016

    Nota bene the sentence about the Moon.

  • Idiot Alert

    Disposable SSME.

    Wow. Awesome. Who thought that one through?

    Not gonna happen.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Marcel,

    I’d love an answer from you about that, since you are the one arguing for doing that with your Moonbase proposal.

  • Rand Simberg,

    Quit being a revisionist. Here is a quote from HSFR final report Chapter 2 Historical Review concerning Richard Nixon and Apollo program:

    President Richard Nixon did not end the space program, but he did much to scale it back. The trajectory of the NASA budget shifted downward. The Nixon administration was responding not only to the perceived decline in public support for far-reaching human space exploration, but also to the economic decline at the time. When a task group established by the administration presented options that included a lunar return and a program aimed at Mars, the President confined the nation’s crew-carrying space ventures instead to low-
    Earth orbit.

    What most everyone else has already acknowledge, but you continue to live in a state of denial. Richard Nixon was crook. Get over it.

  • SpaceMan

    Dear Idiot,

    Thanks for dropping by and playing. You have zero clues. Time to wise up and allow the pros to do their job. Maybe you should consider something other than FauxNoise for your information source and world view.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “trips to nowhere”

    The lunar surface could credibly be considered one of these, at least for humans in the near term. But we don’t like to talk about that …

    “The NASA TEAM that will advise the ET Factory – it is looking more like the people”

    Who’s “looking”? Shannon & Co. are a self-chartered “team”, and need some formal agency direction to tell the ET fab line where to go and what to do. Who’s making a decision here who’s sitting on money to make it happen? I guess we’ll see in the budget proposal if there is any provision for am SHLV. If not, Shannon & Co. can in-line all they want, and it doesn’t mean anything at all.

    “Michoud and ATK are willing to go with the existing contracts, suitably modified”

    Nice, I guess. The existing contracts are ending right now. Are they willing to keep everyone employed until a decision is make to extend these contracts?

  • BTW, SciFi writer extrodinaire Ben Bova apparently thinks Nixon is responsible for killing Apollo program…

    The Nixon White House killed the Apollo program and pushed the development of the space shuttle — but refused to fund construction of the permanent space station that the vehicle was designed to fly to. That’s why it was called a “shuttle,” after all.

    But, like Bart Sobrel, I doubt any level of authority will ever convince Rand Simberg to simply accept reality.

  • Freddo

    Dave: don’t take the stuff over at NSF too seriously: they tend to confuse what they want to happen with what’s actually going on.

  • Engineering Scientist

    Maybe you should consider something other than FauxNoise for your information source and world view.

    No thanks, I’d rather just publish and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Storm

    NASA’s charter concerning spaceflight should be re-written so as to come around the unifying and overarching goal of achieving eventual star flight, so that humanity can get started with the monumental task of discovering, and then exploring habitable planets around neighboring solar systems.

    The search for microbial life, or nano bacteria on planets and moons in our solar system, while important, dwarf in comparison to the importance of finding habitable planets in neighboring solar systems. Its like we are only studying a pebble on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Sending humans spacecraft to the Moon and Mars, while they lead to fantastic discovery, do not efficiently use our tax dollars to get us to the stars where the most fantastic discoveries wait.

    What the President has wisely done with his budget proposal is that he has given America a second chance to recalibrate a mission that was vastly underfunded, and lacked a unifying goal, that I believe we all have, but know is very far off in the future. That is, as Carl Sagan told us, to eventually set sail for the stars.

    At the same time however, the President’s budget proposal cancels the bedrock of the current plan to take humans into LEO and deep space, which has many worried, especially in Florida.

    I’ve come up with a solution that will abate everyone’s concerns, and one in which will eventually solve our goal of star flight, which could begin toward the end of this century if we play our cards right by not wasting huge amounts of money on human missions that could be accomplished by low cost robotics.

    Here is the formula that I believe NASA needs to pursue:

    Rewrite the NASA spaceflight charter to unify the United States, once and for all, around the goal of achieving eventual star flight.

    The construction, delivery (via Ares V HLV), and human assembly of very large telescopes in the Lagrange points to discover habitable planets in neighboring solar systems around 2025

    Vastly larger investment in commercial rockets to deliver astronauts to LEO by 2015, and cancellation of Ares I – except for use as SRB for Ares V

    Continuing operation of the International Space Station to study space radiation on humans and provide deep space survival studies well beyond 2020

    New kinds of habitable modules and medicines to fight cancer for use in ISS as well as in deep space that will mitigate exposure to cosmic rays to allow for safe operation for the human assembly of large telescopes in the Lagrange points to find habitable planets.

    Deployment of plasma rockets to allow for speedy and efficient space travel for humans and robotic spacecraft.

    Automated refueling and docking to catch up and exceed international partners like Russia and Europe for improving overall effectiveness of space transportation. (Almost none of the missions that I am describing will work without these technologies)

    Development of automated semi autonomous In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) that would take mission cues from Earth like the Spirit and Opportunity, but for the task of landing on low gravity well objects in deep space to mine, extract, and transport water to human crews, or robotic spacecraft to refuel and provide radiation protection anywhere in the solar system. First demonstration of ISRU could take place on Moon to provide quicker relay environment, ensuring successful operation prior to use on asteroids and comets. And the 2016 sample return mission to Phobos and Deimos to demonstrate the ability of robotic ISRU to be able to perform targeting, landing, take-off and transport of resources from deep space to other robotic and human crewed spacecraft.

    First we need to know, where are we going? Well, as I have mentioned, we are going to the stars, so we just need to know which star, or stars we should venture to. Well, we want to go to earth-like planets, but we don’t know where they are, so we need the adequate aperture and clarity to see the actual disk and spectra of orbiting planets around other stars. This means we need to launch a very large telescope(s) into space. These telescopes will be huge, and require a heavy launcher. We don’t have a heavy launcher such as Ares V, and it will be required to take up mirrors big enough to see earth-like planets in nearby solar systems.

    Second we need to know, how will we get there, and how will we survive the trip? We need revolutionary leaps in antimatter and fusion technology, as well as other exotic propulsion devices. Obviously none of these mechanisms is ready to loft into orbit, or we haven’t seriously tried. Solar Sail technology could provide a current capability for a robotic interstellar explorer, but the scale of its size will require a lot of planning and infrastructure, and proposals for such a system seems dead in the water. The National Ignition Facility houses an ICF laser the size of a football stadium, and that would be a little large for an Ares V launch. So we’re not ready to propel ourselves there – we’re still developing the basic skill set to enable interstellar propulsion on the ground under the auspices of the DOE and NSF. As a result NASA can largely brush these issues aside for now.

    In regards to surviving the trip however, there is a lot of work that can get done in space. How will we survive the bombardment of cosmic rays beyond the heliosphere? That will require studies that measure radiation levels, and general threat awareness in interstellar space. We already have spacecraft that are measuring the interstellar medium and its boundaries, like Voyager and IBEX. Next is how will we prevent or mitigate the affects of cosmic ray radiation? This can be most effectively tested in space with human crews. We already have that capability on the International Space Station. All we need to do is put our investment in producing mechanisms, and then study those devices on people in LEO and deep space, such as ways to kill cancer cells, but not healthy cells, as well as new kinds of hydrogen rich plastics, and modules with an inflatable bladder linings for filling with water, which can insulate from radiation, and test these modules on ISS and in deep space. NASA must also test ideas to protect from bone loss through artificial centrifugal gravity machines. To study these radiation mitigation techniques in deep space we can ferry astronauts in test modules to the Lagrange points via plasma rockets for a relatively short duration mission (40 days) to assemble the large telescopes needed to discover habitable planets. Plasma rockets, are ready to be flown, and will be flown on ISS for demonstration shortly. As you probably know they are VLASMR rockets (a type of plasma rocket), as well simpler rockets that utilize water as fuel.

    Thirdly, long term survival and travel in space will be dramatically improved through ISRU, so we need to study ways of doing this. With a limited NASA budget we cannot afford very much human spaceflight, and since deep space flight involves heavy radiation bombardment we should take a step back and ask ourselves why should we subject ourselves to deep space travel unless we are doing very short term flights, mostly for the sake of testing there affects on humans. So instead of sending humans to run ISRU equipment in deep space, why don’t we send the robots and control them remotely from Earth. It is not required that we go to the surface, and it isn’t even required that we orbit the deep space body where the remote operation is taking place. This will ensure NASA budgets don’t get too out of control. Robotics are perfectly able, as Opportunity and Spirit have shown, to autonomously negotiate the landscape on Mars while taking critical decision-making cues from NASA scientists on Earth. A spacecraft is perfectly able to land on a comet, or asteroid, mine the body for water, inflate with water (via inflatable tanks), then use some of that water to fuel its trip back to ISS where it can inflate modules that have inflatable linings with water for protection from deadly cosmic rays and for use as fuel to ferry humans to deep space for short 40 day missions in order to assemble the very large telescopes while testing radiation penetration through those linings, which could be combined with hydrogen rich plastics.

    We need to loft human payloads into orbit. The logical guess would be Ares I, but this is proving to be a dramatic failure in terms of keeping within budget and time constraints, so why don’t we invest vastly more in our commercial infrastructure while we dedicate NASA to building the heavy launcher to launch large space modules and the heavy mirrors to study habitable planets, unless we can design a fail-safe way to launch smaller components on smaller launchers like Delta IV and Atlas. The Ares I development that has been completed would not go to waste since Ares I would serve as the SRB’s on Ares V.

    NASA would also survey the solar system’s low gravity wells like Comets and Asteroids for efficient water/resource extraction and transport by developing the robotics, which will be remote controlled by earth. This ISRU can also take place on the Moon to test equipment in a quicker relay environment to prove artificially intelligent automation can work in combination with remote control via Earth. We also need to demonstrate landing, take-offs, and transport of samples/resources to ISS on deep space objects to replicate how these ISRU spacecraft would perform once developed. The proposed sample/return mission to study Phobos and Deimos would demonstrate some of this capacity, as well as an unprecedented capacity to demonstrate military space defense. All one has to do is imagine how such features would provide military satellites with targeting, approaching, and then going on to other targets, as well as refueling. And all this could be done for the sake of exploration, avoiding escalation of space weapons.

    All these different activities may seem dispirit, but they are not. They are all designed around our eventual voyages to habitable planets in the centuries to come.

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