Lobbying

ProSpace’s 2010 agenda

ProSpace, which will be holding its March Storm lobbying effort on Capitol Hill next week, has released its agenda of issues it plans to bring up in those meetings. The key items cover topics in export reform, exploration, and commercialization:

ITAR reform

  • Support the addition to the Senate version of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act the authority to remove widely available satellite systems and components from the ITAR list.
  • Make certain that the bill presented to both the House and Senate for final passage retains this provision that is so vital to this nation’s international competitiveness.

Exploration

  • Require NASA to focus its human space flight development programs on technologies and processes designed for travel in space beyond low earth orbit.
  • Support robust funding for space exploration technology demonstration projects.

Commercial Services

  • Support the transition to commercial crew and cargo services for the International Space Station.

ProSpace will be performing training on Sunday the 28th and making Congressional visits on Monday and Tuesday.

18 comments to ProSpace’s 2010 agenda

  • I’ve browsing through a couple of GAO reports and reflecting on a lot o comments about Ares I/Orion. It seems to me the opposition is based on a worst case senario of cost and technical performance. The $49 billion cost is a pessimistic total systems cost through 2020. I will likely be less if the program is put under some strict management. Mean while the COTS advocates use the most optimistic assumptions for the alternative they support.

    There is a very good case for continuing with what we have started. One the investment in money and time already made. Two, it provides a greater political support in the turmoil in the years ahead. Third, it is a step toward longer term goals beyond Earth orbit. For these reasons we should give these Constellation elements a new name (my gift to the administration), reformed management, and stay with it.

  • Christopher

    Good luck with getting NASA to undergo meaningful reform.

  • Major Tom

    Repeating from the prior thread…

    “I’ve browsing through a couple of GAO reports and reflecting on a lot o comments about Ares I/Orion. It seems to me the opposition…”

    GAO is an independent, fact-finding agency for Congress. There’s no “opposition” at GAO. GAO doesn’t have a parochial dog in the fight or a political agenda. Their job is to speak truth to power, providing as unvarnished a truth as possible for congressional decisionmakers about the issue or program at hand. GAO can’t “oppose” anything — they don’t have legislative or executive powers.

    (Unfortunately, some congressional decisionmakers have trouble dealing with the truth from time to time.)

    “is based on a worst case senario of cost and technical performance. The $49 billion cost is a pessimistic total systems cost through 2020.”

    That may be the GAO’s worst-case scenario. But even NASA managers admitted that Ares I/Orion costs were in the several tens of billions of dollars range.

    The prior Ares I manager, Steve Cook, told the Augustine Committee that development costs through first flight were $35 billion.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/18/science/space/18nasa.html

    Constellation manager Jeff Hanley and Associate Administrator Doug Cooke provided estimates of $30 billion and $36 billion, respectively, to the press within a day of each other.

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/07/what-are-the-real-costs-of-nasas-constellation-program.html

    So best case, Ares I/Orion was going to cost $30 billion plus (multiple NASA estimates). Worst case, Ares I/Orion was going to cost almost $50 billion (GAO).

    “I will likely be less if the program is put under some strict management.”

    It’s not an issue of how strict management is. It’s an issue of what technical decisions underpin the program and how hard those decisions have made the Ares I and Orion vehicles to develop. Constellation managers could be draconian and supremely efficient, but they can only squeeze so much water from stone. These designs (any design) simply cost what they cost — in the $30 billion to $50 billion range, in this case. Luckily for NASA, they’re not the only option.

    “Mean while the COTS advocates use the most optimistic assumptions for the alternative they support.”

    We have a conservative, pessimistic estimate for commercial crew from the Augustine Committee, backed by the independent cost estimators at the Aerospace Corporation. Their estimate in the report was $5 billion to get two providers of commercial crew services in place by 2016. NASA’s budget request for commercial crew is $6 billion. (Both of these numbers are much more conservative than industry estimates for commercial crew development, like the $300 million that SpaceX quotes.)

    Even when we add the $9 billion spent on Ares I/Orion to date to the $6 billion for commercial crew ($15 billion total), that’s a huge savings versus the $30 billion to $50 billion that Ares I/Orion was going to cost. We’re talking $15 billion to $35 billion in savings that can be applied to getting actual human space exploration hardware (HLVs, transit stages, landers, etc.) developed, versus having NASA duplicate existing and near-existing commercial and military Earth-to-orbit capabilities.

    It’s a total no-brainer.

    FWIW…

  • David Davenport

    There is a very good case for continuing with what we have started with the modular Delta IV missile. One the investment in money and time already made. Two, it provides a greater political support in the turmoil in the years ahead, since DoD and the Dod contractor and lobbyist communities will share common goals with NASA. Third, the very heavy lift version of the Delta IV is a step toward longer term goals beyond Earth orbit. For these reasons we should give these EELV and accompanying crew vehicle elements a new name (my gift to the administration), reformed management, and stay with it.

  • There are two issues that I see with the EELV option. One if we (opponents of the Garver Plan) go that we we lose the ATK support. Two it doens’t have the promise for a heavy lift vehicle that the Ares I first stage has, i.e. leading to Ares V. At some later stage of the debate that is a compromise if the HLV option is nailed down. I also see the possibility of staying with Ares.

    One the big cost issue I just see $35 billion as a lot to develop the Ares I/Orion combo. This as much as the develop on the whole Space Shuttle until first flight adjusted for inflation. Clearly that was a larger task. I think that some lean messures are in order. I also think that Augustine and the GAO were out to kill Cx as so while grant the expertise there is reason to be mistrustful.

  • googaw

    John:
    we lose the ATK support.

    So what? And please answer my question, why can’t ATK play on a level COTS playing field?

  • “So what?”

    We lose the votes in committee of the ATK advocates and they kill Orion too! Then Garver wins. Therefore we have to join with all of the factions supportive of Cx to support our alternative proposal. Remember the faction that I’m with. David’s post presents an interesting alternative Orion/EELV but we need the votes to win. I think that ULA is really neutral in this to some extent. The ATK supporters in Congress are key to those who want to save Orion. Like Ben Franklin said, “Either we all hang to gether or else we’ll all hang seperately.”

    Now the people are all out to kill all existing NASA HSF and bet everything on COTS won’t agree with me but us should see the politics more my side make since as politics.

  • red

    John: “We lose the votes in committee of the ATK advocates and they kill Orion too!”

    So Ares has all of these huge disadvantages (essentially destroys the rest of NASA because of its expense, leaves us depending on the Russian Soyuz far too long, has no serious test program before putting astronauts on board, etc), but we should stay with Ares to funnel money to ATK and thus get ATK political backing? It’s good to see that we’ve got our eyes on what’s important, what’s truly meaningful and valuable, in this space program.

    John: “Then Garver wins.”

    No, it’s not just Garver that would win, it’s also Aeronautics, Space Station operators and users, Planetary Science, Education, R&D, technology demonstrations, Earth Science, Astrophysics, commercial space (of all sorts), the U.S. university system, Heliophysics, students, science in general, users of commercial space services, other Federal agencies like DoD and NOAA, …

    Those are the interests that Constellation is harming.

    John: “Now the people are all out to kill all existing NASA HSF”

    Out to kill all existing NASA HSF? Do you mean Constellation, which forces us to destroy the ISS in 2016 for lack of funds, leaves us with a huge HSF “gap”, solves the gap too late to be able to do anything because ISS is gone, gets an HLV in the very late 2020′s but still with nothing to put on it due to extreme expense, and because of that extreme expense does not allow a robotic precursor program, U.S. commercial crew transport, or HSF R&D? Constellation that might, if after all of this it’s not stopped somewhere along the way, get us to redo Apollo in 2035?

    John: “bet everything on COTS”

    Why call it “bet everything on COTS”? First of all, right now we are betting everything on Ares. Ares really is a long-shot, single chance gamble. There is only 1 Ares I. If it continues but hits technical, budget, management, or similar roadblocks, NASA HSF is done because there is no alternative in the Ares plan, and there is nothing else in NASA HSF because Ares wipes it all out.

    A COTS-like commercial crew effort, on the other hand, is not a long-shot, single chance gamble. There will be multiple competitors with a COTS-like approach. The 2011 budget talks of 4 competitors. If 1 or 2 competitors fail, as may happen in this business to Ares or commercial vendors, the other competitors can still succeed, and we can always replace the failures with new competitors, just as Orbital stepped in with COTS.

    Not only that, but at a higher level, the whole commercial crew effort considered as a single entity still isn’t an all-eggs-in-1-basket situation like Ares is. With commercial crew, there is funding left for many other NASA efforts. We keep the ISS, use the ISS fully, add to ISS capabilities, send HSF robotic precursor missions, do heavy lift and propulsion R&D, do lots of general space technology work, do lots of exploration technology demonstrations, encourage commercial suborbital RLVs, and with ISS lasting longer and used more we keep the COTS commercial cargo services. Even if every single one of the commercial crew efforts falls flat on its face (eg: an initial 4 and all replacements), with the commercial crew plan the U.S. will still have many world-class HSF activities that would keep us at the forefront of HSF. There are also other new activities funded in the 2011 budget that couldn’t be funded with Constellation that would help keep us at the forefront of other, non-HSF areas of space like military space, commercial space of all sorts (setting aside commercial crew for a second), and robotic science.

    In contrast, because of high costs Ares wipes out all of these things (or in some cases already wiped them out): exploration R&D, technology demos, robotic precursors, commercial crew, general space technology, ISS, etc.

    Ares is truly an all-or-nothing gamble of monstrous proportions.

  • red

    By the way, ProSpace seems to like the 2011 NASA budget: commercial crew and cargo, exploration technology demonstrations, and NASA exploration technology development focused on beyond-LEO activities (as opposed to NASA rockets to LEO).

  • ISS vet

    @red

    Bravo! Very well stated.

    I offer this summation. (While I know calling it the Garver Plan is part of the anti-Obama smear job, lets swing with it just this once to her credit.)

    The Garver Plan would open the space frontier for expansion of the American economy in line with the original Vision for Space Exploration. Constellation would keep the frontier closed to Americans for another generation.

  • Garver is basically a space cadet. She has far less technical qualifications in this field than I do. I think she really believes she will “open the space frontier” and all that. Bolden is the amiable figurehead with command presence to try to sell it. But, behind them are political snakes in the policy making areas of the administration that know that this is doomed to fail. Buy the time it is clear that it won’t work there will be no Shuttle, no Cx, nothing. HSF for America goes away.

    I’m as much for successful commercial space as any of you are but I’m harshly realistic about all of this. The little guys don’t have the skills at this stage and need time to grow. The big guys are too bureaucratic to really pull this off either.

  • Major Tom

    “But, behind them are political snakes in the policy making areas of the administration that know that this is doomed to fail.”

    How do you know? Do you work in the White House? Can you read the minds of OMB and OSTP staffers?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Buy the time it is clear that it won’t work there will be no Shuttle, no Cx, nothing. HSF for America goes away.”

    How can U.S. civil human space flight “go away” when ISS is being extended to 2020?

    How can U.S. civil human space flight “go away” when $6 billion is being spent to put in place at least two commercial providers of ETO crew transport by 2016?

    How can U.S. civil human space flight “go away” when billions are being spent to put in place an operational HLV by the 2020?

    Goofy…

    “The little guys don’t have the skills at this stage and need time to grow. The big guys are too bureaucratic to really pull this off either.”

    So do nothing?

    Oy vey…

  • Freddo

    Interesting in all this discussion that there’s nothing about the political intrigue going on inside ProSpace. Just sayin’…

  • Major Tom

    “There are two issues that I see with the EELV option. One if we (opponents of the Garver Plan) go that we we lose the ATK support.”

    Why would you care? All that ATK lobbying support over the past five years hasn’t given NASA the budget that was promised in the VSE. It didn’t even get NASA a one-time, $1 billion budget boost even when the chair of NASA’s Senate appropriations subcommittee wanted it.

    Whoop-dee-doo.

    “Two it doens’t have the promise for a heavy lift vehicle that the Ares I first stage has, i.e. leading to Ares V.”

    Totally false. There are growth paths for Atlas V to get over 125,000 lbs. to LEO:

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/docs/product_sheet/AtlasProductCardFinal.pdf

    Same goes for Delta IV, up to over 90 mT to LEO:

    http://www.ulalaunch.com/docs/publications/DeltaIVLaunchVehicle%20GrowthOptionstoSupportNASA'sSpaceExplorationVision.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “I think that some lean messures are in order.”

    Ares I/Orion cost what they cost. They involve multiple new engine developments, push design limits in many areas like parachutes and composite rocket nozzles and reentry shielding, have very thin margins necessitating repeated redesigns, and involve untested capabilities for things like mitigating thrust oscillation and launch abort scenarios.

    They were just bad conceptual designs to start with — less capable but harder to develop than the Shuttle in many dimensions. Leanness has nothing to do with it.

    “I also think that Augustine and the GAO were out to kill Cx as so while grant the expertise there is reason to be mistrustful.”

    Think whatever you want, but GAO and Augustine are both highly regarded, independent agents with no parochial interest or political axe to grind. If you can’t trust them, then you can’t trust anyone.

    FWIW…

  • danwithaplan

    I still don’t understand how one can have “truly commercial support” for a single government subsidized customer, the ISS.

    What a bunch of BS

  • Vladislaw

    john wrote:

    “Garver is basically a space cadet.”

    Who isn’t a space cadet that is involved with space, do you want to put those elements in the religious right that are against science to lead the charge?

    “She has far less technical qualifications in this field than I do.”

    Can you provide a link for the official federal guidelines for the technical requirements needed to be appointed to her administrative position?

    “I think she really believes she will “open the space frontier” and all that.”

    I agree with you, she does believe that, but not through her personal efforts as a engineer that bends and cuts medal. More in her ability to remove political and policy road blocks that impedes commercial space access.

    “But, behind them are political snakes in the policy making areas of the administration that know that this is doomed to fail.”

    Could you put names to those snakes? Is it two snakes? Three snakes? 100′s of snakes?

    Could you define “this”? What or who is going to fail? SpaceX? Delta? Atlas? Orbital? Nuclear propulsion? Auto docking? Orbital fuel storage? Orbital fuel transfer? Heavy lift research? et cetera, et cetera.

    The Obama budget is proposing a massive change in spending priorities and research, development, testing and build outs are going to be occuring on multiple fronts, can you specifically name everything that is going to fail under the broadbrush “this”.

    “Buy the time it is clear that it won’t work there will be no Shuttle, no Cx, nothing. HSF for America goes away.”

    Can you define “it” won’t work?

    If your ideas are so set in concrete what would be needed to plastize them a little? What can or should NASA do to MAKE “it” work? What would it take, in your mind, for this to succeed?

    I would much more like to hear thoughts on how America moves foreward and makes this effort just another, in a long list of accomplishments, typical American commercial success story.

    It is strange, but no one seems to take in account what is going to happen the day after the soyuz contract runs out. There is going to be upward pressure on prices, widening the profit margin for providing commercial space access to LEO.

    That is EXTRA normal profits, and capital always flows towards it. Congress will have a hissy fit, sound bites will appear about how much it is costing NASA to send astronauts to the ISS and pressure will mount for the commercials to get to it. Maybe even toss Ares1/orion style money at it.

    I can already hear the ranting about commercial should pay for it themselves. We are talking about the INDUSTRIALIZATION of space. For the federal government to kickstart an industry that America could capture the global market for and dominate for decades is what is important.

    I proposed in 2000 when, Bush took office, and had a 238 billion budget surplus, a commercial “pop & drop” space access program should be funded for rocket/capsule vehicles.

    phase 1 – 12 teams 250 mil
    phase 2 – 6 teams 500 mil
    phase 3 – 4 teams 750 mil

    total cost 9 billion over 4 years. I wrote about this again in 2004 and 2008. Obama finally did it with 6 billion. I would have liked a bigger amount as inflation over a decade has lowered the purchasing power of the dollar.

    With 7000 potential global customers at 20 million a seat this is a commercial market America should have already dominated by the late 70′s early 80′s. Compared to what NASA has been given it would be peanuts for what it would take to get commercial going.

    At this point, I honestly do not care about NASA’s ability to get astronauts into LEO with their own systems. I am concerned about America’s leadership role in commercial space. Either we fund the start up for industrialized commercial space operations or we wait for india or china to start it and try and play catch up.

  • BAL

    Red-
    Excellent post, well-stated.

    But one thing I think you’ve missed relates to ISS usefulness in the next decade.

    Until there is a Shuttle replacement, for both launch and landing, ISS pretty much has its hands tied. Sure we can send crew up there by hitching a ride with the Russians (at a cost which no doubt will be growing considerably in another couple years) but there is little up payload mass capacity, and essentially NO down mass capacity.

    We have to hang on to ISS, not only because of the considerable investment we’ve made in time and money, but because its all we are left with that is real right now.

    Orion-Ares doesn’t solve the up mass down mass problem for another 7-9 years, which when you think about it, is ridiculous given the simplicity of the design. The costs associated with the program are similarly ridiculous. Someone needs to be looking seriously at why the costs and schedule are out of line with anything ever done previously.

    Maybe the best we can hope for is the COTS 2016 solution. But until we have a solution, ISS really can not be used adequately.

  • David Davenport

    But one thing I think you’ve missed relates to ISS usefulness in the next decade.

    But what is the usefulness of the ISS? It seems to be underused and under-subscribed for any scientific research.

    Shuttle system -> General Motors. ISS -> a failing shopping mall.

    Until there is a Oldsmobile … replacement, for both launch and landing, ISS pretty much has its hands tied. Sure we can send crew up there by hitching a ride with the Russians (at a cost which no doubt will be growing considerably in another couple years) but there is little up payload mass capacity, and essentially NO down mass capacity.

    What additional large modules do you propose to deliver to the ISS?

    We have to hang on to and bail out the big New York banks … not only because of the considerable investment we’ve made in time and money, but because its all we are left with that is real right now.

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