Congress, NASA

Mikulski: NASA should be “mission driven”

One of the ongoing debates about the White House’s new plan for NASA is whether the agency’s human spaceflight plans be focused on going to specific destinations (Moon, Mars, etc.), often by a certain deadline, or instead developing the capabilities and infrastructure needed for future exploration without a specific destination or schedule in mind. The new plan right now is squarely in the latter category: there’s funding for commercial crew development, heavy-lift launch vehicle technology development, and other technology R&D, all without (for now) the earlier destinations and deadlines of the Vision for Space Exploration—much to the consternation of some.

It appears that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee responsible for NASA, is one of those in favor of a more destination-drive approach to human spaceflight. In a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) excerpted in Space News, Mikulski said any new program must have a specific destination or destinations in mind:

“Since NASA’s creation, it has been a mission driven agency, and I believe having a clear direction and destination has contributed to NASA’s many successes,” she wrote. “NASA must continue to have a mission driven focus. To the maximum extent practicable, we should engage our international partners in formulating common destinations for human and robotic missions.”

Mikulski also said her other priorities include astronaut safety and the need for human spaceflight to be “appropriately balanced” with science, aeronautics, and other technology development. Also on her radar: workforce concerns, particularly if the new NASA approach is to “scrap everything and start over”. She’s not in an hurry to take up this issue, though: an aide to Mikulski told Space News that her subcommittee’s first hearing on the NASA budget would not be until late March.

31 comments to Mikulski: NASA should be “mission driven”

  • Mark R. Whittington

    More push back from Congress against the Obama space policy. Clearly the administration has not thought a lot of things through.

  • But what would be the point of setting yet another target and date, then scramble with the current technology to somehow make it happen – and then either fail big-time, like Constellation, or perhaps somehow someday get there but with little new to show for in terms of really innovative technology? Look, a mission to Mars with current technology would have been possible ten years ago, space engineers have told me already in the 1990s, at huge cost and great health risk to the crew (as we’ve learnt since) – but what for?

    Isn’t it much smarter to just wait a few years and concentrate on advancing our spaceflight capabilities significantly beyond the current state – and then fly to Mars in a few weeks instead of many months? Incidentally, during the chat with the ISS crew tonight Prez. Obama actually asked the astronauts what they could do to advance such “transformational technologies”. But then he didn’t wait for an answer but handed the phone to a student. Let’s hope the hearings in a few days are more productive …

  • “Isn’t it much smarter to just wait a few years and concentrate on advancing our spaceflight capabilities significantly beyond the current state – and then fly to Mars in a few weeks instead of many months?”

    The problem with that is that support for the HSF as a whole along with funding would likely decline in the meantime. Also have you considered exactly what the technologies that would allow flights to Mars in a few weeks are? This would require a nuclear powered plasma or ion propulsion system. It is a big techology push in both the thrusters and a space nuclear propulsion system. I just wonder if we can make that leap in time to keep program momentum intact.

    “More push back from Congress against the Obama space policy. Clearly the administration has not thought a lot of things through.”

    I agree with you. Congress isn’t going for it.

  • common sense

    “But what would be the point of setting yet another target and date, then scramble with the current technology to somehow make it happen – and then either fail big-time, like Constellation, or perhaps somehow someday get there but with little new to show for in terms of really innovative technology? ”

    Except to satisfy the Constellation huggers, nothing, zip, nada!

    “Look, a mission to Mars with current technology would have been possible ten years ago, space engineers have told me already in the 1990s, at huge cost and great health risk to the crew (as we’ve learnt since) – but what for?”

    See above.

    The current astronauts are bound to lose their jobs as it exists today. They will not stand in awe at the transition to commercial crews. Some will make it as crew there and some will not. Some will become passengers on their way to the ISS. I assume some are not too happy about it – lost of prestige, responsibility, etc. BUT if NASA does the smart thing by actually working on exploration then there will be a new breed of explorers, some NASA others not NASA possibly… There is a lot of options at hands. Keeping the existing system is an assurance for no change and limited at best public participation.

  • common sense

    “. I just wonder if we can make that leap in time to keep program momentum intact.”

    In time for what? It may take 10 years or 1000 years, so again in time for what? For us to see it? Leonardo did not see the flying “machines” he dreamed of, yet he worked towards them…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ February 17th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    More push back from Congress against the Obama space policy. Clearly the administration has not thought a lot of things through…

    goofy.

    really goofy

    Babs is on with this. it is straight out of Sir Humphrey’s playbook…postpone hearings let things (like program stoppages) settle out…then go the inevitable way.

    The administration is playing this quite well. To bad that they are playing the rest of it poorly

    Robert G. Oler

  • Its not hard to get to the Moon! But it is hard trying to get back to the Moon on the cheap– especially if you’re also trying to fund a shuttle program plus a replacement shuttle program while also funding an international space station program– all at the same time! And to add insult to injury, Griffin chose the most expensive space architecture (Ares I/V) to attempt to achieve these goals.

    The politicians wanted NASA to do all of these things all at once with half the relative budget of the Apollo program. And when NASA couldn’t do it, some folks started calling NASA a failure. NASA has been attempting to simultaneously fund four major space programs for half the price of one, yet they still get no respect.

  • Nonymouse

    “NASA has been attempting to simultaneously fund four major space programs for half the price of one, yet they still get no respect.” Marcel

    This is why not having a goal or destination is a problem. EVEN WITH ONE, you won’t get full funding. With no goal, how will anyone be able to tell that the money is well spent?

    and for all those commercial crew… exactly where are they going, and what are they doing? There is no reason for commerce in space, except for transport, at the moment. You don’t need a crew for transport anyway. So? The tech has to be drawn forward, before it finds a commercial need. Show me an asteroid to go mine, and I’ll show you a goldrush to go get there, IFF the tech exists. You don’t accidentally discover the new world in a long boat, you need a sailing ship, AND the interest of the King and Queen. For this same reason you push forward with technology testbeds and such, when you have a goal. Ferrying parts to the ISS may be a goal, as long as you have mad your design such that you can use parts of it to go beyond that. Then? Because you are going beyond that, you need to improve some of the tech. Because you are improving that tech, you discover a way to shield radiation better, and now you can go farther… and so it goes.

    Without the goal, you won’t get there. If nobody wanted to drive faster, you wouldn’t have fuel injection, because who would use it? Tech is driven by need, we have to ask ourselves what we need.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ February 17th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    anyone who proposes a trip to Mars will be laughed at to near extinction in today’s environment Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “There is no reason for commerce in space, except for transport, at the moment.”

    There already is commerce in space with the commercial satellite business. Who is to say that commercial satellite producers, once they have commercial astrotechs in space and a space facility wont want to try satellite maintence, large orbital space platforms, a multi sat platform where routine maintence could occur.

    Why forms of commercial activities take place is immaterial, if someone wants to show a reality show or television commercials, material science, medical manufacturing etc. And do not even begin to say that can be handled at the ISS. The commercial sector have made so many complaints about the how long it takes to actually get anything to the ISS and returned and with an almost impossible task of getting a second follow up experiement to the first one.

    “exactly where are they going”

    Commercial space facilities like Bigelow Aerospace is in the process of building to put into orbit.

    “Show me an asteroid to go mine, and I’ll show you a goldrush to go get there,”

    Show me your mineral rights claim to any asteroid that a bank or investors will accept as an asset or collateral for any loans.

    “You don’t accidentally discover the new world in a long boat, you need a sailing ship, AND the interest of the King and Queen.”

    You don’t accidently discover a new world with just a ship either, you search old maps and sailing tales about land other sailors have claimed exist. You then ‘sell the sizzle not the steak’ and tell the king and Queen that there is land and gold for the stealing if they finance the trip.

  • NASA Fan

    Couple observations.

    1) NASA has a long history of saying ‘yes we can’ when funding from Congress clearly would not support ‘yes we can’. So in some sense, NASA, by always adopting the ‘can do attitude’ in the face of ‘can’t do budgets’, has cooked its own goose.

    And Congress and the WH has been a willing partner in this game. They don’t have the money to begin with, so they only fund enough to sustain what is important to them; jobs in their districts; and avoid international embarrassment (The real reason ISS was funded at $2.5B/year for years)

    2) There is no alignment on what NASA HSF purpose is. Read any blog on ‘space’ and the ‘space community’ is divided amongst itself as to what should be happening with HSF. A house divided will not stand. If you were a neutral pol, and scanning the environment for some ideas about what HSF should be about, you wouldn’t find any.

    3) The POR , from Obama’s point of view, which is influenced by where his interests lie, his desire to be a ‘I”m not like the rest of them politician’ , the state of the economy, as well as the Augustine ‘suggestions’, was a no win situation; Congress as a whole would not stand for a $3B per year mark up to keep it going (though clearly Alabama, Texas and Florida pols will argue otherwise); so throwing more money at it was not possible. Keeping it going as presently funded was a loser as well – the moon by 2050..yeah, right.

    This opened the door for him view NASA as a means for other ends which are more important to him; a) Education/STEM b) going international – Obama’s view of himself as an internationalist (Hey I just won the Noble Peace Prize!) c) Science and technology development.

    The door was open for Obama to take this action. Everyone, NASA, Congress, WH, and the HSF Communities, are all responsible in their own way for his ‘proposal’

    Now, before Major Tom does a line by line rebuttal on ‘where are my facts’ ( a role he plays very well on this blog), all of the above is IMHO, as a long time observer and participant in NASA space programs – human and robotic.

    Okay, have at it!

  • NASA Fan

    Correction to my post:

    WAS:
    “If you were a neutral pol, and scanning the environment for some ideas about what HSF should be about, you wouldn’t find any.

    :IS:
    If you were a neutral pol, and scanning the environment for an idea that the HSF space community was aligned behind, you wouldn’t find one.

  • Oler,

    Your political analysis is flawed. Congress is clearly not going along with this so called plan. The main reason is that there is no plan. And, really there is nothing to spend $19 billion on either if they don’t do something like I’ve been advocating. She is delaying because there is nothing to budget for if they don’t have a plan.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ February 17th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Oler,

    Your political analysis is flawed. Congress is clearly not going along with this so called plan. The main reason is that there is no plan…

    nope.

    Congress will go along with this…you dont understand how “change of courses” go.

    There are two components of “changing course” in the federal system (or any government system).

    The first is to kill what is difficult. Bolden is doing that mercilessly.

    The second is to get buy in from the main players in the political system by making them think (and in fact letting them) have a handle in where the “new show” is going.

    If Bolden had “killed” the programs and at the same time said “this is where we are going” then all the people whose parochial interest were in the old program would 1) shoot at killing the old program and 2) the new program.

    As it stands now bolden is killing the old programs and getting “buy in” on the new programs from the folks like “Babs” who matter.

    If Babs was going to try and Stop the change…she would schedule hearings right now this instant while it is at its weakest, before Bolden can move to get “the program” as you put it set up with the people who need to buy in to make it happen.

    Charlie is an experienced operator in DC…he knows how to make changes and he is about five steps ahead of the Ares huggers.

    Watch…annoying but you will find that I am correct.

    Robert G. Oler

  • vze3gz45

    I always thought that all the Shuttles should have been retired one year after Bush announced the Constellation plan. This would have allowed NASA to pool the money necessary to develop the new systems in a shorter amount of time. We waisted time finishing up the space station. We should of looked into using private rockets or Energia to finish taking parts up to the space station. I think it would have been better to focus on building one heavy lift vehicle like Ares 5 for human and cargo launch from the beginning instead of 1 rocket for humans and one HLV for cargo.

    vze3gz45

  • “More push back from Congress against the Obama space policy. Clearly the administration has not thought a lot of things through.”

    “I agree with you. Congress isn’t going for it.”

    Really? A half dozen of the usual suspects saying the usual things about space and we’re concluding that congress won’t go for it? If that were the case, Mikulski’s push for more money for NASA a few years back would have been called a groundswell of support.

    What’s more, Mikulski here is showing serious restraint and some thoughtful criticism. This is hardly the sort of petty lash out we saw from Shelby. And Nelson has gone from against it to reluctantly on board. So far it seems to me that opposition has moved past the initial knee-jerk bluster and posturing and is starting to see what they can make of the situation.

    “If Babs was going to try and Stop the change…she would schedule hearings right now this instant while it is at its weakest, before Bolden can move to get “the program” as you put it set up with the people who need to buy in to make it happen.”

    Dead on. This thing could be turned into a circus pretty quickly if they so chose. I’m glad they aren’t going that direction. I want to see where the new plan is headed and all statements from Bolden thus far suggest that it’s exactly what he plans to do. The big change here is that we’ve gone from “We’re going to Mars and in a few years we’ll tell you how” to “We’re going to figure out what tools we have on hand and in a few months we’ll tell you where those tools will get us.” The latter approach doesn’t have the “sizzle” mentioned in a previous post, but it’s less likely to end up as an albatross around NASA’s neck like Constellation has.

  • “We waisted time finishing up the space station. We should of looked into using private rockets or Energia to finish taking parts up to the space station.”

    That would have been a good plan in the 90′s. By the time VSE rolled out most of the modules had been built to fly on shuttle and would have taken significant rework to fly by any other means if it was possible at all. Case in point, the AMS that’s set to go up shortly. It was built and ready to go, then mothballed because shuttle was getting sundowned. With all the money that went into it and all the great science that could be had, if there were a cheaper way to fly it, we’d have done it. But instead it took some divine congressional intervention to get it back on the shuttle manifest.

    “I think it would have been better to focus on building one heavy lift vehicle like Ares 5 for human and cargo launch from the beginning instead of 1 rocket for humans and one HLV for cargo.”

    Ares V might have worked as a one-stop-shop for lunar missions, but anything at all in LEO would have been so ridiculously expensive it never would have worked. So in short we’d be flying Soyuz to the ISS from now until it sank into the Pacific. Ares I was the right choice for the architecture, and given that SpaceX, et al really were just paper rockets at the time, going commercial would have truly been laughable. Now it’s still shaky, but at least feasible.

  • Robert Oler, John’s right. Your analysis is off.

    Of course, only time will tell. But Mikulski’s letter to Nelson is not very supportive of the President’s current budget proposal.

    “Barb”–as you like to call Sen. Mikulski–may do as she did last year and side with Shelby and Cochran so long as NASA’s science budget gets what she wants. After all, what is so different this year over last? Nothing.

  • Omi

    If they really cared about access to space, I wish they would’ve got the ball rolling on a serious proper Space Elevator research project. A longer wait on that I guess and even longer before we get out of LEO….

    Hopefully in the meantime congress compromises & we can get a proper heavy lift going in some form at least and I would like to see at least some set targets so NASA doesn’t stagnate & the decline of NASA further accelerates.

  • Brad

    NASA fan

    Your post was a calm, reasoned, and reasonable opinion. Good job.

  • Storm

    Omi,

    Didn’t Bolden make remarks to the affect that he wanted an HLV in the 2020-2030 time frame?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Hiilhouse wrote @ February 18th, 2010 at 1:05 am

    “Barb”–as you like to call Sen. Mikulski–may do as she did last year and side with Shelby and Cochran so long as NASA’s science budget gets what she wants. After all, what is so different this year over last? Nothing…

    everything is different. everything.

    what people who support “the vision” gloss over are two salient facts.

    First to continue the “vision” the agency needs 3 billion dollars more a year OR the thing gets stretched out past the second coming. anyone who tells you (or who thinks) that the Agency is going to get 3 billion more dollars in this environment period, but in a time when deficit reduction is about to become the premier national issue…has been doing to many drugs.

    Second. The project is essentially being shut down. A great line in the Corps is “do what is right, ask forgiveness later”. Shuttle and Constellation are at the death panels right now (Sorry Mark cant miss mocking Palin now that bush is gone) with their plug being pulled

    I should add third…Babs and Nelson are actually two bright lights in the Senate they can see where the thing is going and that is why they are getting on board.

    This time next year Constellation and “the vision” will, as they say in the TV business be “dark”. the end times are near

    Robert G. Oler

  • First, Robert, you need to take a hard look at the Appropriations Committee membership. Mikulski isn’t the only person on it.

    Everything has changed? Last I checked, the engineering behind rocketry hasn’t changed, SpaceX is still two years behind on its Falcon 9 launch, the Air Force still yanked its TSat-1 launch because Falcon 1 was also 2 years late–TSat-2 beat it to orbit! Here’s more non-change; Orion will be IOC by 2013, Falcon 9, if it ever gets off the ground, can’t carry it but can carry the Dragon, which if you use the time-delay of SpaceX’s promise-to-reality, won’t be ready til 2016, and none of the EELV’s are any closer to human-rating than they were 2 years ago. Yes, change you can work with…

    Here’s what’s changed. We’re in a recession, and just as Nero played the flute while Rome burned, the President is going to blow out the door over 15,000 highly skilled aerospace industrial base jobs, never mind Ashton Carter’s, DoD’s Acquisition chief, concerns about this nation’s shrinking aerospace industrial base. Further, Holdren and Bolden write some partisan screed about how “Bush” space policy is this or that. If this is the best the White House can do, then this lil’ chicken is cooked.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ February 18th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    a few points and I’ll start at the “rear”

    I didnt like the policy when it was announced, but the reason it is unhinging is not that it was “Bush’s”…but it was the fact that the Bush managers and people like Jeff Hanely took the program and turned it into a pigs breakfast of excessive cost and ridiculous program management.

    If they had had any sense…the shuttle replacement would have been flying by “now” and none of this would be happening. It isnt Bolden’s fault that they system picked (Ares) for the booster was far to much engineering for the abilities of the people who were managing the program. Where as both Boeing and Lockmart were able to finish complete operational systems with 2 billion a some years…NASA has consumed 5-6 billion on Ares 1 and has really nothing to show for it.

    15000 jobs. We can lose them.

    Those are all personal tragedies and it really isnt any of those people’s fault, and sadly the people like Jeff Hanley and others who cocked the program up will skate…but then thats the system. Those jobs really contribute very little for the dollars they eat.

    Take 100 (just to pick a number) “skilled” workers and put them on say rebuilding the ATC system or put the same workers on launching a space shuttle…at the end of both projects the space shuttle launch is done and we will still have the ATC system which gives us value for the cost.

    to be fair to Obama if he were trulyl Nero while Rome burned, he would keep the jobs doing nothing of value (since that is what most of the stimulus package does)…the folks working on 646 in front of the house in Santa Fe are doing more “value for cost” then the highest paid shuttle worker.

    As for your diatribe against spacex..

    YOu obviously are either very biased or have no real clue about project management.

    Ares was being worked on by a very mature industrial base (ATK etc) which were doing nothing but building derivative vehicles (albiet dervatives in the last ounce of performance but that is a NASA trait) and they have constantly fallen behind and cost far more money then advertised OR then any other booster system that has been built.

    SpaceX took a team from scratch, took developed but non integrated technology and is putting together a team and management process and SURPRISE has had some setbacks…

    but if I have to have a choice of a private company which has invested a lot of its own money falling behind or a government run organization that has fallen farther behind and consumed a whole lot more tax payer money…I’ll chose the former.

    Rome is burning in large measure because we have to many programs like Shuttle/Ares

    none of this of course changes the political reality. The Vision is quite dead. We are going another direction. Watch

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    cost far more money then advertised OR then any other booster system that has been built…

    should add to that “…has been built since Saturn”

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    It is funny how people easily target SpaceX. They use to mock them that they will never achieve what they started… Blahblahblah… The fatc of the matter is that today, TODAY, SpaceX, at their current status may very well become the US HSF. So I understand why so many fear for their nice couchy jobs in the industry and elsewhere where they were used to constant infusion of USG cash. Well if, IF, SpaceX, and OSC for that matter – but somehow OSC has a waiver from the critics – are successful it will most likely be the end of an era… For a little while at least. Be afraid!!! Booh!!! Be very afraid!

  • Hillhouse,

    Your so-called analysis is inane.

    Ares was supposed to be ready in 2012. At best, with more money than anyone will give NASA, it could be ready in 2017. And that would require splashing the ISS that demands “safe simple soon” in the first place.

    If you and your denialists try really hard, you can steer the boat back and hit the iceberg a few more times to convince yourself it was really there in the first place.

    Me I’d rather save the passengers and build a new boat.

    – Jim

  • Vladislaw

    “I always thought that all the Shuttles should have been retired one year after Bush announced the Constellation plan. This would have allowed NASA to pool the money necessary to develop the new systems in a shorter amount of time.”

    From the Feb. 2004 Vision for Space exploration:
    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration2.pdf

    “Goal and Objectives
    The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, the United States will:

    • Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond;

    • Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;

    • Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration; and

    • Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security,
    and economic interests.”

    page 15

    “For cargo transport to the Space Station after 2010, NASA will rely on existing or new commercial cargo transport systems, as well as international partner cargo transport systems. NASA does not plan to
    develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.
    Depending on future human mission designs, NASA could decide to develop or acquire a heavy lift vehicle later this decade. Such a vehicle could be derived from elements of the Space Shuttle, existing
    commercial launch vehicles, or new designs.”

    NASA was expressly told, as far as U.S. public space policy was concerned, NOT to build ANY new launch capability EXCEPT for heavy lift, from the space shuttle or new.

    Actually, President Bush called for commercial funding of cargo and crew in the vision for Exloration. The President expected commercial handling everything but heavy lift and lunar exloration.

    Also NASA was directed to:

    “In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring. For future, sustainable exploration programs,
    NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused, have systems that could be applied to more than one destination, and are highly reliable
    and need only small ground crews. NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly, that could enable these kinds of vehicles. These technologies will be demonstrated on the ground, at the Space Station and other locations in Earth orbit, and on the Moon starting this decade and into the next. Other breakthrough technologies, such as nuclear power and propulsion, optical communications, and potential
    use of space resources, will be demonstrated as part of robotic exploration missions.”

    Now call me crazy, but President Bush is CLEARLY calling for in space assembly of space based vehicles, with in space refueling and advanced propulsion.

    It should be obvious that President Bush was expecting commercial space to be offering crew and cargo services, and some kind of down and dirty 10 year “direct type mission” to the moon with 3-4 crew and at the same time funding R&D for a reusable space based vehicle, assemblied in space to replace it after they used up the junk from the shuttle program used for HLV to launch the parts to build it.

    There was like 70+ shuttle main engines, enough for 23 heavt lift launches. More than enough to put a few people on the moon and the parts for a reusable nuclear powered mars vessel.

    Is this what is laid out in the, thrown together in 60 days, ESAS report proposed by Griffin? That gutted programs like promethus? JIMO?

    Where is commercial crew or a commercially launched, smaller, CEV?

    A shuttle sidemount or stacked HLV ? President Bush called for a lunar landing as early as 2015! He wanted something cobbled together as absolutely fast and as cheap as possible to show results so that funding would continue for the assembly of the space based ship.

    This was feb 04, on the moon in 11 years with a commercial launch of a CEV, dock with the reusable EDS, fuel it from a fuel depot. Land on the moon a few times before you pick the spot you are going to set up a base camp. In the mean time you have funded commercial crew and cargo so even if the lunar doesnt take off in time, you will still have orbital assembly, refueling and testing going on at the ISS until 2016.

    I just do not see any of this happening under the program of record.

    Final thought

    “NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.”

    No Ares1 at all. Commercial or ULA for a lunar CEV. How much in total has NASA burned through since 2005 for the Ares 1 the J2, and the oversized CEV orion?

    Would we be close to launching a CEV from a Delta IV or Atlas V or a heavy lift sidemount shuttle by now? Would commercial be closer to launching a crew by now?

  • [...] including the Ares 1 and 5 rockets. She has been quiet about the plan so far other than a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) last month saying that any new NASA plan should be “mission driven” and expressing [...]

  • You ain’t gonna get to Mars with chemical rocket power.

    It’s a study in diminished returns technically, costly and above all risky.
    If the gov’t is going to be complicit in pumping up dollars on ‘make work projects’ why not balance dollars on space technology advancement with laying asphalt ???

    Why not include states like Alabama, Florida, Idaho, California, New Mexico, Ohio, Arizona and Nevada to develop and test nuclear rocket engines 80% of which is technology off the shelf reactivated that can develop the type of quality thrust that would make any mission planner and flight dynamics officers happy.

    Can anyone tell me how many young and old engineers and workers would love to be involved with a project like this ??

  • [...] decision “to end all funding for manned missions to the moon”, Mikulski reiterated previous statements that her top concern was astronaut safety. She also said that “we need a lot more fact finding” about the plan, including the [...]

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