Congress, NASA

Shelby seeks a critical mass

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) hasn’t changed his mind about NASA’s new direction, one that cancels Constellation and seeks to develop commercial systems to transport crews to and from low Earth orbit. He does realize, though, that he has a challenge in front of him: convincing fellow members of Congress that don’t think much about space to join him in blocking the plan. “Of course we have that with delegations from the five or so states that have an interest in NASA, but it is getting the other 45 states to care that’s the trick,” he told the Huntsville Times. And in a separate Monday in Huntsville, he said, “We’ve got to create critical mass.” How he plans to create that “critical mass” among members who don’t think much about space wasn’t discussed.

In his meeting with the Times Shelby reiterated his opposition to supporting commercial ventures to launch astronauts. “We have a space industry already. We build rockets right here in North Alabama. It makes no sense to enter into business with unproven companies.” That statement is a little odd since United Launch Alliance, a company that does build rockets in North Alabama, is one company that has expressed an interest in launching crewed spacecraft.

Shelby also confirmed that he met briefly last week with NASA administrator Charles Bolden, a courtesy call that lasted only 10-12 minutes, Shelby said. “He came up to sell me on a program to dismantle Constellation,” Shelby said. “I respect General Bolden as a military leader and an astronaut, but we disagree fundamentally on NASA.”

Elsewhere in the Senate, Jon Cornyn (R-TX) expressed optimism that the proposed plan would be defeated. “I think we’re going to have the votes to beat” the plan, he told the Houston Chronicle. “This is an area where the president is going to receive a substantial bipartisan pushback.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) hopes President Obama tweaks his new plan for NASA at the April 15 space conference planned for Florida. That includes making the plan look a little more traditional, specifying a specific goal and deadline for human exploration, as well as continuing heavy-lift launch vehicle development, according to Florida Today. Nelson, though, isn’t supportive of proposals to extend the life of the shuttle by more than a modest amount, noting there would be downtime of two years or more in order to build additional components needed for those missions. “If you had to wait around for another two-and-a-half years to assemble those parts, and you’re spending $2 billion a year sitting on the ground that’s not going into the development of the new heavy lift rocket to go to Mars, is that a wise use of resources by NASA?”

105 comments to Shelby seeks a critical mass

  • The shuttle shouldn’t even be an option anymore, we have four more launches to go. After STS-131, the three space shuttles will both have only one missions left before retirement. Its too late to be trying to extend the shuttle’s life, too costly and insures there will be no money for any future development between an extended shuttle/ISS.

    It is not reasonable to continue with the Space Shuttle, at least not just to ferry astronauts to ISS.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    I think Shelby, et al will find it easier to get his “critical mass” than many believe. Remember that the Congress has voted to approve Constellation multiple times. Now the Obama administration, in a rather secretive and high handed manner, proposes to cancel Constellation without any consultation with Congress whatsoever. There are likely a lot of members in non space states who will join against the space policy on that basis alone.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I think Shelby, et al will find it easier to get his “critical mass” than many believe. ..

    lol Shelby should start with KBH who has more or less accepted the POTUS plan and is pursuing it in legislation…

    Shelby is plowing the ground to explain why he wont get his way. Yet another data point that Obama’s plan is gonna go Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    The “critical mass” in the Senate is Nelson(FL) and Hutchinson(TX)…both of them more or less accepting the plan “as is” with some minor tweaks are the pathway that other Senators will follow. Shelby is unliked in the Dem caucus and is viewed as the person who more or less killed NG slim chance of getting the tanker contract by POing Gates off.

    Nelson and KBH can read the handwriting on the wall (not on Sarah Palin’s palm) and recognize where this is going…

    Robert G. Oler

  • MoonExploration

    http://bit.ly/bdzMvh

    An article (see link) gives the essence of why we should aim at the moon again. Not because we are using old technique again, but because we will encounter problems that are forcing us to develop new technologies.

    Bao Weimin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is quoted below from the article:

    “A moon landing program is very necessary, because it could drive the country’s scientific and technological development,” the China Daily quotes Bao Weimin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying.

  • MoonExploration

    the Chinese understand the drive of development – a clear goal! just like the US under Kennedy.

  • googaw

    a clear goal! just like the US under Kennedy.

    Huh? What are you referring to?

    I did see the following interesting text:

    The Long March 5 has a core diameter of 5 meters (16 feet) with boosters of either 3.35 meters or 2.25 meters, officials say. The 3.35 meter diameter, the same as that of the original Long March series (Long March 1, 2, 3 and 4) was chosen as the largest that would fit within the loading gauge of the Chinese railways, one program executive told Aviation Week last year. Established tooling could also be used with the 3.35 diameter booster.

    and

    Long March 5 will serve for 30 to 50 years

  • The “critical mass” in the Senate is Nelson(FL) and Hutchinson(TX)…both of them more or less accepting the plan “as is” with some minor tweaks are the pathway that other Senators will follow.

    This is nonsense. Hutchinsion is for extending the Shuttle. Nelson seems to be for keeping much of Constellaiton. Hardly anyone is for the Obama Plan. It’s DOA.

  • common sense

    Yep sure. Let’s follow China to the Moon (if they actually go but probably not)! That would be a great sign of leadership!

    What the Chinese understand is that they need to develop cutting edge technology, a technology that has existed in the West and in the US for the past 40 years. They also understand prestige and they want to be seen as a superpower. And that is probably all there is to it.

  • MrEarl

    Ok, let’s stop with the; ” we have to beat China, Russia, India, Iran, Bangladesh, etc. to the moon!” craziness. There are plenty of reason to explore the moon and space in general than beating some other nation. That only leads to flags and boot prints with no long lasting exploration.

    “Go peddle crazy someplace else, we’re all full up here!”

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    The “critical mass” in the Senate is Nelson(FL) and Hutchinson(TX)…both of them more or less accepting the plan “as is” with some minor tweaks are the pathway that other Senators will follow.

    This is nonsense. Hutchinsion is for extending the Shuttle. ..

    not really.

    Read the bill…I mean just sit down and read it. The final move on the way to shut down federal programs is the “study to tell us if it is useful” with people appointed for the study by the people who have already made a conclusion of what is worthwhile.

    A reasonable (and most likely take) on both KBH and Nelson (FL) is that both of them recognize two things 1) that the shuttle cannot be extended much (there is a flight or maybe tow) unless far more money is spent and 2) that Constellation (or more correctly Ares) wont survive. I suspect (as I noted yesterday) that some elements of what is now “Orion” will survive. Nothing of Ares is going to survive because it is essentially unaffordable.

    But two final acts are needed to shut them down. The shuttle needs another study (and that is going to occur) and then there is going to be some morph to a Heavy lift vehicle but that was going to happen anyway it just isnt going to be anything like Ares.

    The crazies will follow Shelby the rest of hte Senate will take their bipartisan lead from KBH and Nelson (FL)

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    “Go peddle crazy someplace else, we’re all full up here!”

    Ah ;)

  • common sense

    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/03/a-hotfire-for-f.html
    Keith’s 9 March note: The static test firing is planned for 1:00 pm EST today.

    Crossing fingers now! If it works, Alabama will fell the temblor from the Cape. If not, oh well, they’ll try again I suppose.

  • Major Tom

    “Remember that the Congress has voted to approve Constellation multiple times.”

    This congress hasn’t voted on Constellation.

    Two past congresses passed authorization bills endorsing the VSE, but they repeatedly failed to fund NASA at the levels in the VSE budget. Those endorsements were worthless.

    “Now the Obama administration, in a rather secretive… manner, proposes to cancel Constellation”

    How is rolling out seven budget documents and holding two press conferences on the day of the President’s budget release “rather secretive”?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “without any consultation with Congress whatsoever.”

    Aside from 14 members of Congress who appeared before and sent letters to the White House-appointed Augustine Committee.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “There are likely a lot of members in non space states who will join against the space policy on that basis alone.”

    Are you kidding? Congressmen from non-NASA states smell blood in the water on Constellation. They could care less if they’re consulted. They want that money for their states and programs.

    Duh…

  • Major Tom

    “Hutchinsion is for extending the Shuttle.”

    Which is funded as an add-on to the President’s FY 2011 budget request in the draft Senate FY 2011 authorization bill.

    “Nelson seems to be for keeping much of Constellaiton.”

    Per Mr. Foust’s original post, Nelson wants HLV acceleration, which is already in the President’s FY 2011 budget request and the draft FY 2011 authorization bill, and a date for Mars. He opposes Shuttle extension.

    Congress won’t be able to agree on and pass an alternative to the President’s FY 2011 budget request for NASA if two key NASA senators on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee can’t even agree on Shuttle extension versus HLV.

    “Hardly anyone is for the Obama Plan. It’s DOA.”

    The draft Senate FY 2011 authorization bill provide every dollar in every NASA account that the White House asked for.

    The draft Senate FY 2011 authorization bill also supports every human space flight element of the President’s FY 2011 budget request for NASA. The bill endorses commercial crew and cargo as the preferred means of ETO transport, extends ISS to 2020, and seeks HLV acceleration over Ares I/Orion.

    Your DOA patient is alive and walking around in the Senate’s draft authorization bill for NASA.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    Falcon 9 engines did not ignite.
    Let the debate begin!

  • Major Tom

    “’A moon landing program is very necessary, because it could drive the country’s scientific and technological development,’” the China Daily quotes Bao Weimin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying.”

    It may be true for China or another developing nation that a human lunar landing could drive technical development (although there are lots of alternatives that would probably be more effective). It’s no so true for a nation like the U.S. that achieved human lunar landings 40-odd years ago.

    Different countries have different needs from their space programs and thus different goals for their space programs. Repeating multi-decade old, flag-and-footprint achievements that are theoretically even within the grasp of developing nations is not a good used of a developed nation’s space program and resources.

    “the Chinese understand the drive of development – a clear goal! just like the US under Kennedy.”

    Kennedy didn’t set the human lunar landing challenge because it was a clear goal. He set the human lunar landing challenge because his advisors told him that it was a space achievement that the U.S. stood a good chance of beating the Soviets at during the height of the Cold War.

    There is no such rationale for a human lunar landing today.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    Standing by again………
    Must have been a bad battery…………

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Remember that the Congress has voted to approve Constellation multiple times.”

    As Major Tom points out, that’s actually not true. By a long shot. In fact, if you look back at the last Authorization bill, what what endorsed there was an “Exploration Initiative”, not Constellation. Actually, Constellation was barely mentioned in this bill. One would gather that the authorizers took some care not to saddle the “sense of Congress” that they were describing with any particular architecture. That bill is not even conspicuously inconsistent with the new proposed policy. That is, Constellation was never explicitly authorized by Congress. No, having money allocated for it doesn’t constitute authorization.

    In fact, the only reference to Constellation in the FY10 appropriations bill was in the infamous words about not taking money away from it without congressional permission. That’s hardly an endorsement of the architecture.

  • Robert G. Oler

    There was some sort of “Ignition” at the base of the Falcon 9 but I’ll be darned if it was 3.5 seconds…

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Tom and Doug:
    You’re splitting semantic hairs. When the last authorization was approved “Exploration Initiative” and “Constellation” were synonymous.

    Also considering the low turnover rates in both the house and senate the majority of this congress voted for “Constellation” or Exploration Initiative at some time in the past.

  • Major Tom

    Based on Falcon I, I’m guessing they’re refilling with warmer RP-1, but that’s just a guess.

    FWIW…

  • ISSvet

    SpaceX hot-fired its Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:41 p.m. for 3.5-seconds.

  • Major Tom

    “You’re splitting semantic hairs. When the last authorization was approved ‘Exploration Initiative’ and ‘Constellation’ were synonymous.”

    Writing legislation is all about splitting semantic hairs. There’s almost always a reason or compromise behind every word in a bill.

    I’m not pretending that I’m in the heads of those congressmen and their staffs and know the reason. But the word “Constellation” was not used and there’s almost certainly a reason for that.

    “Also considering the low turnover rates in both the house and senate the majority of this congress voted for “Constellation” or Exploration Initiative at some time in the past.”

    To confirm, we’d have to go back and see who did and did not vote for those authorization bills and then compare that to the composition of the current Congress. Votes for an old bill may not line up with those who won elections. For example, Republicans who voted for the last bill are likely considerably smaller in number due to the last election. (Not a knock against Republicans.)

    And again, even if a majority of the current Congress did vote for one of the past authorization bills, it’s a worthless endorsement of the VSE as multiple past congresses ignored those authorization bills and passed appropriations bills that fell billions of dollars short of funding NASA at the levels in the VSE.

    And regardless, when it comes to funding, one congress does not like to have its hands tied by a prior congress. There are even laws, like the Anti-Deficiency Act, designed to prevent departments and agencies from inadvertently doing so.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    Still a weak argument. The fact that it was specifically stated that no changes were to be made to Constellation without congressional approval speake to the support that program has.

  • MrEarl

    IISVet: ??????????
    The test was scrubbed for today.

  • common sense

    “IISVet: ??????????
    The test was scrubbed for today.”

    I don’t know if there is much to debate here. They performed this test in the past http://spacex.com/press.php?page=20091021 And they will do it again until it works.

    It’d be very surprising they did not have any glitch whatsoever. But the abort sequence did work. How would that work for a solid booster?

    Too bad. Oh well…

  • MrEarl

    Wow… CS, taking this a little too personal. I was just wondering where ISSVet got his info. I’m a little bummed about the abort but it’s not surprising with any new system. I know they’ll get it fixed soon.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The fact that it was specifically stated that no changes were to be made to Constellation without congressional approval speake to the support that program has.”

    Sorry but, as I said, these words are not an endorsement of an architecture. You can’t read them that way. The only way to read these words is that Congress wants their hands firmly on the wheel as the exploration ship moves out. You could say these same words about a plan that is marginally palatable.

    If that’s how Congress offered “support” to Constellation, then I guess it’s consistent with their gross underfunding of it. I wouldn’t want to be standing on support like that!

  • C’mon what’s the hold up ! Shuttle fly 4-5 more times done, over with stick a fork in it. Maybe in future a private outfit can play around with another side saddle winged orbiter (virgin spaceship). Bolden is a capable NASA administrator and great guy. Problem is the Obama Administration and the party in power in Washington controls NASA budget now more so than at anytime. Ares I-X continues and Ares Heavy lift should already be tested. Also include a nuclear component to Ares heavy lift 3rd stage.

    At some point people need to realize 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 ??

  • common sense

    “CS, taking this a little too personal”

    Nope not at all.

    “I’m a little bummed about the abort but it’s not surprising with any new system. I know they’ll get it fixed soon”

    We are in sync it seems on that one.

    Cut and paste madness… I was trying to answer your post:
    “Falcon 9 engines did not ignite.
    Let the debate begin!”

  • Ferris Valyn

    Hey Guys,

    Is anyone else as confused as I am about Bruce Behrhorst comment? Ares I-X continues? Ares Heavy? Ares heavy lift 3rd stage?

  • MrEarl

    Ok, Doug,
    Congress approved funding at the amount asked for by the president. Congress said don’t change Constellation (mentioning the program by name) without consulting them.
    That’s some kind of an endorsement.
    Spin it anyway you like, but congress has interest in the Constellation program.

  • common sense

    “Problem is the Obama Administration and the party in power in Washington controls NASA budget now more so than at anytime. ”

    Funny I thought that Charles Bolden was appointed by the WH and as such a member of the WH team…

    “Ares I-X continues and Ares Heavy lift should already be tested. Also include a nuclear component to Ares heavy lift 3rd stage.”

    ???? Talk about alternate Universe…

    “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.”

    How about they cannot do it? Not as simply as you seem to imply anyway.

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

    Nope, I am afraid no one can.

  • MrEarl

    Thanks Bruce for proving my point…..

    “Go peddle crazy someplace else, we’re all full up here!”

    :-)

  • Major Tom

    “Still a weak argument.”

    How?

    If a legislative body strongly supports a program, they’ll call that program out by its name. There’s no reason not to. Prior congresses didn’t.

    If a legislative body strongly supports a program, they’ll provide full funding. Prior congresses didn’t (repeatedly).

    To theorize that these past congresses expressed strong and widespread support for Constellation, we have to come up with a good explanation for why, despite this strong and widespread support, these past congresses preferred not to call the program out by name or provide full funding.

    You may be able to think of a good explanation, but personally, I don’t know of a good explanation for that other than the support was not strong and widespread.

    “The fact that it was specifically stated that no changes were to be made to Constellation without congressional approval speake to the support that program has.”

    That language was inserted by Shelby in the last omnibus appropriations bill (not either of these NASA authorization bills) very late in the process. It’s unclear how much support it had outside his office.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    “Spin it anyway you like, but congress has interest in the Constellation program.”

    Nope, not Congress. A few Senators in Congress obviously do. But it’s as far as you can go for now. KBH proposed bill actually kills Constellation:

    “•The bill would require NASA to develop a plan for creating a “National Space Transportation System” with 90 days of the bill’s enactment. This would include “an architecture of government developed and operated space transportation systems”, which could include elements of Constellation “to the extent that such elements are determined to be cost effective and operationally effective”. ”

    NASA already said Ares I/V & Orion are neither cost nor operationally effective!!!

  • common sense

    “Ok, let’s stop with the; ” we have to beat China, Russia, India, Iran, Bangladesh, etc. to the moon!” craziness.”

    Bangladesh has a human space program?!?! Arrghhh And we don’t have anything to show for??? Are they going for the Moon or some unknown asteroid? Nuclear propulsion or solar sails? Any idea?

  • Major Tom

    “Problem is the Obama Administration and the party in power in Washington controls NASA budget now more so than at anytime. Ares I-X continues”

    Huh? Regardless of what one thinks of its value or lack thereof, the Ares I-X test was over five to six months ago.

    “and Ares Heavy lift should already be tested.”

    If one thinks that heavy lift is critical to human exploration of deep space, yes, Ares V or some other HLV should have had a higher priority in the Constellation plan. It didn’t and was anemically funded at a level of $25 million per year through FY 2014.

    The President’s FY 2011 budget request accelerates HLV development, providing $3.1 billion through FY 2015. This is consistent with the draft Senate authorization bill’s emphasis on HLV acceleration.

    “At some point people need to realize you ain’t gonna get to Mars with chemical rocket power.”

    Although to my knowledge he hasn’t used the n-word, reading between the lines, I can’t imagine Bolden doesn’t understand this as has placed a lot of emphasis on in-space propulsion and Mars in his statements and testimony.

    With the President’s presence at the opening of the nation’s first new nuclear reactor in decades, there’s arguably an opportunity here to restore the critical path Prometheus work that Griffin & Co. terminated.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    Interestingly though:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Research_and_Remote_Sensing_Organization

    “The government also stressed that the country seeks an entirely “peaceful and commercial” role in space.”

  • MrEarl

    Ok, this is really what it comes down to……..
    Constellation has some support in congress. Is it enough to save the program? Probably not.
    Dose it have enough support to save pieces of it like Orion and an Aries V lite?
    I think it dose, but will see in the coming month and we’ll have a better idiea when the senate starts hearings latter this month.

    Just curious, when did NASA say that Aries1, Aries V and Orion, were not cost or operationally effective?

  • MrEarl

    CS:
    ““Ok, let’s stop with the; ” we have to beat China, Russia, India, Iran, Bangladesh, etc. to the moon!” craziness.”

    Bangladesh has a human space program?!?! Arrghhh And we don’t have anything to show for??? Are they going for the Moon or some unknown asteroid? Nuclear propulsion or solar sails? Any idea?”

    It was a joke….. meant to add a little levity to the debate. Like I hope yours was to?

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Spin it anyway you like, but congress has interest in the Constellation program.”

    No spin necessary from where I sit. Congress obviously “has interest” in the Constellation program. Up until a few months ago, it was the only game in town.

    The spinning is being done, perhaps wishfully, by people who are reading things into words that the words don’t say. You know, the folks who write these bills are very careful with words. If they wanted to wholeheartedly endorse Constellation (or even half-heartedly endorse it), why wouldn’t they have done so? They could have done that in a single sentence.

    I hadn’t realized it, but even in the FY10 conference report, which is not legally binding but an opportunity to be a little more verbose about the “sense of Congress’, the word Constellation comes up exactly twice. Once in the section on not reallocating money without permission, and another in an earmark! Ares isn’t mentioned at all, nor is Orion. Congressional endorsement of an architecture? LOL.

    Again, the provision against redirection of Constellation funds is probably more a mistrust of how NASA might want to redirect those funds than an expression of satisfaction with Constellation. We’re left with some unarguable ambiguity, which doesn’t make for an endorsement.

  • common sense

    Some pieces of Orion might be saved, not Orion and there is a lot of ifs with that statement because of procurement/bidding/competition issues. Whatever was already developed with NASA money may be made available to new competing bidders I would assume but that would possibly place SpaceX and OSC in a bad situation. So it is not that clear.

    Ares V. Make it a real CaLV and it may have a chance, but it will not be the Ares V we all know and love. It might be something like Ares V, just don’t put a crew on top of it.

    “Just curious, when did NASA say that Aries1, Aries V and Orion, were not cost or operationally effective?”

    Is that not clear enough?

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=33643
    “As I have said in all hands meetings, Congressional testimony, and interviews, I advised the President on our budget for FY11 and it is MY budget.”
    “I fully believe in the plan that this budget has allowed us to set out for NASA’s road ahead, and unlike many of our detractors, I do believe it will very likely allow us to reach exploration destinations sooner and more efficiently than we would have been able to while we were struggling to develop the Constellation Program.

  • common sense

    “Like I hope yours was to?”

    Yes it was, a bad one though I think as I did not mean any disrespect to any one actually attempting anything in Space, Bangladesh included.

    Oh well…

  • Major Tom

    “Ok, this is really what it comes down to……..
    Constellation has some support in congress. Is it enough to save the program? Probably not.
    Dose it have enough support to save pieces of it like Orion and an Aries V lite?
    I think it dose, but will see in the coming month and we’ll have a better idiea when the senate starts hearings latter this month.”

    Fair enough.

    Personally, if the draft Senate authorization bill isn’t calling out funding for Constellation or any elements thereof and Senator Mikulski is looking to that bill for guidance on appropriations (as she wrote Senator Nelson), it’s hard for me to see it happening. But that’s just me.

    “Just curious, when did NASA say that Aries1, Aries V and Orion, were not cost or operationally effective?”

    I think common sense is referring to the Augustine report, which Garver referenced in a recent WIA speech. Per the report, restoring the POR would require an annual increase in NASA’s budget of $5 billion or so. Whether you consider that cost-effective or not, an increase of that size for NASA’s budget is not in the realm of political or budgetary reality.

    Given that the new NASA budget plan is basically the Augustine Flexible Path option with the commercial HLV, even if this Senate authorization language makes it into law, it’s hard to see NASA coming back with a study contradicting the Augustine report.

    As an aside, the Augustine report also expressed serious reservations about Orion’s size and costs. Although some folks argue that Orion is the obvious Constellation element to retain going forward (and that Congress will do so), I think that’s another reason why, on top of the President’s budget and the Senate authorization bill, that Orion will not survive.

    FWIW…

  • ISSvet

    In answer to a question back a ways, Florida Today had a blog posting that the test took place and I forwarded the info. Silly me for trusting the local media.

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    MrEarl wanted an actual NASA reference and I think Charels Bolden statement bold faced above is it. I cannot see how else to interpret it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Given that the new NASA budget plan is basically the Augustine Flexible Path option with the commercial HLV …”

    Just picking a nit, the FY11 budget plan is generally oriented in the same direction as the Augustine committee’s Flexible Path, but it isn’t basically that. Flexible Path was specific about destinations that were of value, and gave rationale for each. The FY11 budget proposal very conspicuously doesn’t. Now, I don’t need a Moon-or-bust-by-20xx, and I think the thrust for technology and commercial is highly defensible. But I am disappointed that, unlike the Flexible Path strategy as outlined by the Augustine committee, the FY11 budget proposal is basically technology development to let us go wherever we want to go, without being specific about where that might be. The “destination” is “wherever we might want to go” which is hard to attach any rationale to.

  • MrEarl

    There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. I’ve been acquainted with Senator Mikulski since she was stopping highways from going through Fells Point in Baltimore and she is old school about bringing home the pork for her district/state. After talking with John Karas at LM it seemed to me that LM was very interested in seeing Orion continue.
    Lockheed Martin is looking to relocate their headquarters to the DC area, Virginia or Maryland. It seems to me that the senator’s support for keeping the Orion contract going could help Maryland land the LM headquarters.
    Just speculation on my part.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Dose it have enough support to save pieces of it like Orion and an Aries V lite?..

    I agree with Common sense on Orion, he seems to know what he is talking about htere and it matches with everything I have heard from my friends on CH.

    Ares…V or V light. There is going to be a heavy or at least a heavy development. If I had to bet money it would go on this reality. I think that the Ares 1X test taught NASA that they do not want to rely on a solid for the primary thrust on a booster. Plus they need more thrust for longer at a sustained g rate on a first stage…what they are having to get out of the J2X is really not a good thing.

    But in any event what will kill Ares or any derivation there of is the cost of the solids…The shuttle infrastructure has to go away or they will never afford whatever booster comes out of it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    CS,
    I read your post and followed the link and read the full message.

    As Indigo said to Cassini; (bad Spanish accent) “I do not thin that men what you thin it men.”

    I read that as difficulties with development.

  • Major Tom

    Getting back to Mr. Foust’s original post and thinking through the new budget plan’s impact on a couple states, it’s hard to see why the Alabama or Florida delegations have any heartburn from a jobs perspective.

    In Florida, Constellation was supposed to create/retain 7,000 jobs.

    miamiherald.com/2010/02/02/1458052/florida-feels-heat-of-nasa-cutback.html

    But those jobs wouldn’t have ramped up until Ares I/Orion became operational circa 2017-2019. And the Constellation workforce wouldn’t have reached the full 7,000 until Ares V and Altair started operations in the 2030s (if they ever did).

    Contrast that with the NASA FY 2011 budget request, which includes funding to turn KSC into a “21st Century Launch Complex”.

    nasa.gov/pdf/420990main_FY_201_%20Budget_Overview_1_Feb_2010.pdf

    That funding peaks in FY 2012 at $500 million, which, assuming fully loaded salary and benefits of $100K each, would require fund a construction workforce in the neighborhood of 5,000 workers in just a couple years.

    That’s on top of an estimated 1,700 jobs associated with commercial space flight, the vehicles for which will be available sooner (no later than 2016 according to the Augustine report) than Ares I/Orion/Ares V:

    commercialspaceflight.org/pressreleases/CSF%20Press%20Release%20-%20Commercial%20Crew%20Would%20Create%20Over%205000%20Direct%20Jobs,%20Industry%20Survey%20Reveals%20-%209-15-09.pdf

    And on top of that, the new budget includes at least one major exploration technology demonstration mission for in-space cryo management. Cryo management is a core capability at KSC, and KSC experts will likely play a key role in that mission.

    If I was a member of the Florida delegation, I’d take 6,700 workers early this decade plus a tech demo mission over some fraction of 7,000 workers late this decade, with the rest coming in the next two decades. More workers earlier results in a much softer impact to the local economy after Shuttle retirement and should be a no-brainer for Florida congressmen.

    I don’t have numbers for Alabama, but repeating myself from an earlier thread, the new budget contains one major new first-stage engine development that will likely take place at MSFC, one to two upper-stage/in-space engine developments that could take place at MSFC, and commercial crew and cargo development and services that ULA is almost certain to win a big piece of and generate work at Decatur. That’s more engine development actually taking place at Huntsville than under the POR with more at Decatur work to boot. The POR only had J-2X development, Ares I project management, and nothing else for MSFC or Alabama.

    If I was a member of the Alabama delegation, I’d take two to three engine developments at MSFC and increased Decatur production and development over one engine development at MSFC and some MSFC project management. Again, this should be a no-brainer for the Alabama delegation.

    I don’t know if it’s ignorance or stubborness, but to turn a phrase on its head, it appears that some Florida and Alabama congressmen want to trade two birds in the hand for one in the bush. It’s hard to imagine worse representation for the parochial interests of their districts and states.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    “I do believe it will very likely allow us to reach exploration destinations sooner and more efficiently than we would have been able to while we were struggling to develop the Constellation Program.“

    I read that the Constellation program is late and not efficient to go anywhere.

    I am “sure” LMT would like to see Orion go on if anything so that they don’t have to reassign all their employees to other programs or worse lay them off. Believe me it is not a fun thing. But if I remember correctly when NGC lost CEV their stock went up and LMT went down (don’t remember for BA). I assume the shareholders sent a message (verified today btw). And the LMT CEO answers to shareholders, not Congress, not the public in general, not NASA. So if it is good for LMT they will push, I mean really push, otherwise…

  • SpaceX had hoped to perform a 3.5-second live-fire test of all nine engines of its Falcon 9 rocket today, but the firing was aborted and the test was scrubbed shortly after 2 p.m. today, according to the website SpaceflightNow.com.

    “A flash of fire and smoke was just observed at the base of the Falcon 9 rocket, possibly indicating ignition. But there is no confirmation the engines fired for the full expected duration of 3.5 seconds,” the website reported at 1:42 p.m. At 2:10, it added, SpaceX called off the test.

    At this point, there’s no statement about what happened. Stay tuned.

  • ISSvet

    MrEarl, your basic point about Sen. Mikulski is accurate, but note that Goddard is in her state and Goddard wins in the new budget. She will support other initiatives only to the extent that they don’t put Goddard’s increase at risk. While we’re at it, let’s note that Virginia and California are also winners, and Ohio, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, and West Virginia are also either natural winners or can easily be made winners if you control the budget.

  • common sense

    “I don’t know if it’s ignorance or stubborness, but to turn a phrase on its head, it appears that some Florida and Alabama congressmen want to trade two birds in the hand for one in the bush. It’s hard to imagine worse representation for the parochial interests of their districts and states.”

    Just a question that probably has no relation right? Mike Griffin went to UAH in a top position. How does someone get this kind of position, save for expertise? What is the relationship between Mike Griffin and Sen. Shelby?

    Another one: It’s been said that the reason to go for an SRB was to not loose an experise needed at the USAF. Any significant understanding, relationship between the USAF and Sen. Shelby?

    Just asking.

  • @Major Tom

    “I don’t know if it’s ignorance or stubborness, but to turn a phrase on its head, it appears that some Florida and Alabama congressmen want to trade two birds in the hand for one in the bush. It’s hard to imagine worse representation for the parochial interests of their districts and states.”

    I would suggest that the many concerned Delegations, including Alabama’s, are looking beyond the jobs and pork rhetoric that is being directed at them and are actually concerned about U.S. capability.

    Yes, MSFC is slated to get new engine development work under the FY11 budget, and yes ULA could potentially benefit through the FY 11 budget. Also, Huntsville companies have engaged with current entrepreneurial space efforts. There is no doubt Shelby understands this. He is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA — he has staff that follow these issues on a daily basis. Also, he has supported funding for Constellation as well as COTS.

    This is an issue of philosophy. Shelby believes that it is not best for the Nation to place its entire capability for human spaceflight into the hands of the commercial market. He believes the government should retain the ability to launch humans into space as a matter of public policy. That capability does not preclude commercial companies from pursuing human launch capability, but at the same time, it does not require us to arbitrarily shut down a government/industry partnership that has served our Nation well.

  • common sense

    “Also, he has supported funding for Constellation as well as COTS. ”

    You are kidding right?

    “it does not require us to arbitrarily shut down a government/industry partnership that has served our Nation well.”

    You mean like bankrupting NASA HSF and NASA as a whole?

  • @ common sense,

    Shelby has shown some tough love for COTS, but he has ultimately voted for bills that contain COTS funding. So yes, Shelby has supported COTS.

  • common sense

    @Jim D.:

    Remember this http://www.spacepolitics.com/2009/08/06/nasa-offers-50-million-for-commercial-crew-development/ ?

    “A month ago it appeared that pressure from Sen. Richard Shelby would force NASA to redirect most of the $150 million in stimulus funds planned for commercial crew work to Constellation instead”

    What progress has Constellation made since?

    Support does not mean “lip service”. It means facts. Mike Griffin also supported COTS. I am sure I can find a neighbor who supported COTS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim D. wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    This is an issue of philosophy. Shelby believes that it is not best for the Nation to place its entire capability for human spaceflight into the hands of the commercial market. He believes the government should retain the ability to launch humans into space as a matter of public policy. ..

    that is an interesting and if accurate legitimate read on how philosophy can differ…the problem is however that I have never heard Shelby discuss that issue…and why he thinks it is important for the government to maintain that capability and why he thinks Constellation (mostly Ares 1/Orion) is the focus point of this.

    A reality check here.

    What the issue boils down to is NOT going to the Moon. The entire “program” to go to the Moon (Ares 5 and the lunar lander) is essentially a non funded item right now. there is really no indication when either of those vehicles are going to be started much less ready…

    What we are dealing with when all the babble about save our jobs is done…do we have a vehicle that by 2017 (or 18) will be ready to service the ISS for the (at least now) remainder of its two year lifetime or do we try some other means to get to ISS before the bulk of its at least stated lifetime is over.

    That is to me at least a key point because what is at issue is if we are even going to pretend to get something over the next 10 years out of the ISS investment…or is it just going to go the way of keeping a couple of Americans and some foreign folks…on orbit.

    If Shelby’s motives were as you describe then it strikes me that about two years ago when the first hints of Ares/Orion problems started going public…he would have said something about it and pushed a GOP NASA to fix those issues.

    why in your view…did he not do that?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    From space daily apparantly the PRC is doomed in their lunar plans…there is no timetable…Mark Whittington and all the other “Chinese bangers” are aghast

    “Although there is no official timetable yet for China’s moon landing, scientists are researching a new powerful carrier rocket with a lift-off thrust of 3,000 tons”

    doomed

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2010/03/space_shuttle_program_manager_we_can_accommodate_a.html

    according to this the shuttle burn rate is 200 million (gasp) a month if it is flying or not…just that number buys a lot of EELV’s and Well even more Falcons

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    So basically if the $200M is accurate, I doubt it but if it is, NASA only needs $4.8B over 2 years with NO flight to keep the Shuttle going. That would be what 2013? So in essence KBH’s proposal amounts to ask for $5B more for NASA. Then there is the cost of the flights which probably is “marginal” when compared with the $5B but nonetheless will have to be added. Any chance of that to happen? Save for national pride what is the benefit of doing so? How many Soyuz flights can we buy with $5B? Shenzhou flights?

    Also is it fair to say that if the Shuttle has an accident KBH would take “full” responsibility as well?

  • Coastal Ron

    Ares I was underfunded and over budget, under-powered, and unproven safety-wise. SRB’s may seem like an elegant solution, but it’s clear that the solid fuel and inability to turn off the motor was causing lots of weight & safety issues. For instance, the LAS that Orbital has been building for the Ares I/Orion is a technical marvel, but massive and wasteful from a useful payload standpoint.

    Constellation was also underfunded and over budget. The only payload for this paper rocket was for the moon program, which meant the U.S. taxpayer was responsible for a launcher that would never get out of it infant-mortality phase, and who knows what the costs/launch were going to be.

    The best way to lower the cost to space is to use the same launchers for cargo as you do crew. The Atlas & Delta are good examples of what we should start with, as they are already proven. SpaceX already had plans to launch crew, so all the more reason that NASA should pursue a common crew capsule. Frequent launches (cargo + crew) means safer and cheaper access to space. There is no reason we can’t go to the moon using current launchers – maybe it takes more launches, but we can do it quicker, and most likely less expensively.

    If an HLV is deemed needed, multiple companies build launcher bodies, but it’s the engines which are missing for future HLV. NASA should take the lead to define a configuration that industry can build, and then use a COTS like program to fund it. This frees up NASA funds to concentrate on the future technologies that will be needed for us to leave Earth orbit, and survive long journeys within our solar system.

  • Major Tom

    “Yes, MSFC is slated to get new engine development work under the FY11 budget, and yes ULA could potentially benefit through the FY 11 budget. Also, Huntsville companies have engaged with current entrepreneurial space efforts. There is no doubt Shelby understands this.”

    Maybe, but I don’t know of any evidence for such.

    “Also, he has supported funding for Constellation as well as COTS.”

    Shelby has voted for appropriations bills that contain COTS funding, but that doesn’t mean he supports commercial solutions or even COTS per se. When the issue is specific to commercial space flight (as opposed to a broad appropriations bill funding NASA and other departments and agencies), Shelby has opposed it. For example, Shelby obstructed and steered NASA funding in the Recovery Act for commercial space flight development towards Constellation.

    “This is an issue of philosophy. Shelby believes that it is not best for the Nation to place its entire capability for human spaceflight into the hands of the commercial market. He believes the government should retain the ability to launch humans into space as a matter of public policy.”

    Shelby’s remarks on this topic are too over-the-top and antagonistic to interpret as a reasoned debate about philosphical approaches. He uses terms like “welfare” to describe government purchases of needed goods and services and “amateur” to describe companies with decades of launch experience. That kind of incendiary language is not a discussion of public policy. It’s a fierce defense of parochial interests in Ares I by painting the competition in a very false light. (I’m not saying that’s good or bad — just that it is.)

    A public policy debate takes the tone that Hutchison has taken on Shuttle extension or Nelson on HLV acceleration.

    “That capability does not preclude commercial companies from pursuing human launch capability, but at the same time, it does not require us to arbitrarily shut down a government/industry partnership that has served our Nation well.”

    It does if the government solution bankrupts the civil human space flight program and leaves no budget for commercial industry partnerships (or ISS or exploration, for that matter) and/or is irrelevant because it can’t deliver before the commercial solutions, anyway.

    It would be one thing if we were talking about few billion dollars for a modest government-run capsule on an EELV by 2014-2016. But instead we’re talking about $20-40 billion needed to finish Ares I/Orion by 2017-2019.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    So basically if the $200M is accurate, I doubt it but if it is, ..

    I dont think it is accurate either…it is just the number Shannon is babbling…and so I thought I would go with that to make the same point you are (Grin).

    I think that it is somewhere between 300 and 400 million then one gets into the marginal cost of flying the vehicle.

    Robert G. Oler

  • OK, let’s try to understand the Bolden/Garver space plan. We scrap everything we have spend all this money on. We throw $6 billion to stimulate COTS to develop basic Soyuz-type LEO crewed space capability. Hard to know how that will turn out. Included in the cancellations is the Orion spacecraft. But, we do want to develop a HLV vehicle. We do want to go to Mars. Are going to Mars before we go back to the moon? What is the use of the HLV? What are going to travel in beyond LEO and why is the going to be better than just using the Orion?
    About the only thing in this plan that make sense is to keep the ISS!

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    OK, let’s try to understand the Bolden/Garver space plan. We scrap everything we have spend all this money on. We throw $6 billion to stimulate COTS to develop basic Soyuz-type LEO crewed space capability. ..

    if you want to put it that way then the alternative is to spend another 10-20 billion on Ares 1 and Orion to develop basic Soyuz type LEO crewed space capability.

    6 to 20 billion wow what a choice.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “if you want to put it that way then the alternative is to spend another 10-20 billion on Ares 1 and Orion to develop basic Soyuz type LEO crewed space capability.”

    You’re underestimating by a factor of two. Finishing Ares I/Orion costs another $20-40 billion, not $10-20 billion.

    Schedule is also an issue. Per Augustine, commercial crew has a high probability of meeting 2016 with a $5 billion budget (and the Administration is proposing $6 billion). Ares I/Orion can’t deliver before 2017 and has only a slim chance of meeting that. Most likely date for Ares I/Orion is 2019.

    FWIW…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Major Tom,
    A question, and it may be that I am remember from the committee hearings, and not the report, but I thought they found that for a viable 2 company Commercial crew, they needed something aroudn 2.5-3 Billion, not 5 B.

    Or am I remembering this from the committee hearings?

  • common sense

    “if you want to put it that way then the alternative is to spend another 10-20 billion on Ares 1 and Orion to develop basic Soyuz type LEO crewed space capability.”

    And that would bring us where? ISS would be gone by then…

  • The alternative is always cheaper and better then the existing program until it is put to the test. We should be able to get the Ares 1/Orion flying earlier then the alternatives by using the original J-2 engine design. The delta v of the Orion can finish the boost to orbit for ISS missions. Later we can incorporate the J-2X when it become available.

    “I think that the Ares 1X test taught NASA that they do not want to rely on a solid for the primary thrust on a booster.”

    I heard that it showed that there was no problem and that we wasted time an money on false fears generated by a design bureaucracy. We need to selectively cut back on the NASA bureaucracy in order get things going.

    “But in any event what will kill Ares or any derivation there of is the cost of the solids”

    So liquid fueled rockets are cheaper? Hardly. Do you think Saturn V’s would be less expensive?

    “At some point people need to realize you ain’t gonna get to Mars with chemical rocket power.”

    I agree that nuclear power needs to be part of any real Mars program.

  • Oler,

    From the Augustine Report [50], the Shuttle budget is $3B/year with $1.5B for fixed costs, 90% of which goes to supporting KSC, JSC’s MCC, Stennis’ test engine facility, and Michoud.

    We need to keep in mind that Ares I development is not just for Ares I, but also Ares V, something the Augustine Committee repeatedly points out.

    Garver, Bolden and other commercial fanboys have bandied about that an extra $6B – $7B annually is needed each year for Constellation. Here is why that’s misleading. $6B annually is needed to continue Constellation only if you’re working off the Obama Administration’s FY 2010 Budget static-to-declining budget for Constellation as well as have Constellation pay for…

    1. Extend ISS to 2020
    2. 2011 Shuttle flight
    3. Shuttle shutdown

    Here’s where you can find this in the Augustine Final Report:

    In 6.2.3, second paragraph [81], the Committee discusses the difference between the Constrained, or the FY 2010 Budget Case, and Less-Constrained budget approaches. The Less-Constrained budget ramps up to $3B/yr from 2011 to 2014 at which point it grows at a 2.4% rate to account for inflation. According to 6.3.1, first paragraph, the Administration’s FY 2010 Budget declines or is flat until 2014 after which it grows 1.4%. The Less-Constrained Budget is meant to get Constellation back on track from previous budgetary path deviations in order to provide “meaningful exploration”, as noted on p. 96.

    6.2.4 referes to two additional items to the Less-Constrained Case, flying the Shuttle into 2011 and de-orbiting the ISS in 2016/extending it to 2020. Those two costs add to the Less-Constrained Case, growing from $2B/$3B in FY 2010 to $3B/$6B by 2019.

    The ongoing debate is whether to terminate Constellation, not to extend ISS to 2020 or retire the Shuttle in 2011, which are settled issue for most. And meaningfully continuing Constellation, according to Augustine’s Less-Constrained budget that gets Constellation back on track, will cost $3B plus a 2.4% growth from 2016 through the 2020’s over the President’s FY 2010 Budget.

    If the commercial launchers ever do develop their own human-rated spacecraft and a means for launching them, the door for commercial human launches can be opened. But they are not there yet. In the meantime, yes, we should pay what we need to in order to maintain our nation’s independent means for launching astronauts.

    And before anyone talks about SpaceX’s Dragon, reflect on this–according to Bolden in his Feb. 25th testimony before the House Science Committee, SpaceX does not have an launch abort system designed, which means Dragon is not human-rated. Getting a launch abort system on Dragon is going to be a tad more involved than just bolting the thing on. And it will involve a mass penalty. Now SpaceX is looking at NASA’s MLAS. But that will mean a redesign as well not only of Dragon but of whatever it is using for a service module. With the Falcon 9′s payload for 28.5° LEO of 10.45 mt and an estimated mass (without LAS) of 8 mt, that doesn’t offer a whole lot of room for an MLAS or LAS.

    Which is why SpaceX has proposed a Falcon 9 HLV that will use 27 engines total to lift 29.65 mt into LEO. But the last time anyone launched a rocket with nearly that many engines, the Soviets with their N-1, it kept exploding. Something to do with instability.

  • red

    Major Tom: “If I was a member of the Florida delegation, I’d take 6,700 workers early this decade plus a tech demo mission over some fraction of 7,000 workers late this decade, with the rest coming in the next two decades. More workers earlier results in a much softer impact to the local economy after Shuttle retirement and should be a no-brainer for Florida congressmen.”

    The 2011 budget request also includes that new line of HSF robotic precursors that will have to be launched from somewhere. I’d say Florida has a good chance of getting a lot of that business with the EELVs and Falcon 9. The same goes for additional Earth science mission funding, additional and longer-term ISS use and capabilities, and technology demonstrators. How many additional launches that will be, which ones will be in Florida, and how much they translates into Florida jobs, I don’t know, but together they seem to be fairly significant.

    Doug Cooke’s Constellation presentation to the Augustine Committee included a map of the “Constellation Economic Impact”. This map listed KSC as the “lead for lunar surface in-situ resource utilization systems”. I don’t know how much the rest of Constellation left for KSC activity in this area, but maybe there’s enough to build on. If so, the 2011 exploration budget’s ISRU technology demonstrator and research work, as well as that budget’s robotic HSF precursors that could do ISRU work, could result in Florida jobs in that field.

    The increased Earth science budget should allow missions with relevance to hurricane prediction to advance along with the whole NASA part of the Earth Science Decadal Survey queue. Hurricanes are relevant to Florida as a whole, and this sort of mission could also have Florida job potential (eg: NOAA’s National Hurricane Center would have new types of data to process).

    Florida should also be able to get its share of general space technology work, academic and commercial participation in the new NASA efforts, and so on. Example academic contenders might include the University of Miami School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (using NASA Earth science mission data), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, etc.

    None of this would be possible with budget pressure from Constellation.

    If I were getting ready for the Florida space summit, I’d be making lots of maps and graphs showing how much better Florida can expect to do with the new budget than with Constellation. I might also tweak a few things here and there in favor of Florida … maybe push a hurricane satellite to the front of the queue or add that last Shuttle mission … maybe announce a few pro-Florida tweaks like that at the summit … but nothing like Nelson’s idea of keeping a zombie Ares-I program going.

  • red

    Ferris: “A question, and it may be that I am remember from the committee hearings, and not the report, but I thought they found that for a viable 2 company Commercial crew, they needed something aroudn 2.5-3 Billion, not 5 B.”

    I could be mis-remembering this (and I’m not looking it up), but I think they started with a $3B or so estimate for commercial crew. Then they added a big contingency in the final report to get $5B. I don’t remember if this was just to keep an equal amount of skepticism about schedules across the board, or if this was an additional penalty on commercial crew.

  • Vladislaw

    Major Tom wrote:

    “it’s a worthless endorsement of the VSE as multiple past congresses ignored those authorization bills and passed appropriations bills that fell billions of dollars short of funding NASA at the levels in the VSE.”

    How short was the funding for VSE, versus ESAS and the Constellation program? The only funding mentioned in the VSE was on page 19, a sand chart and two paragraphs:

    Vision for Space Exploration

    “The President’s Vision for solar system exploration is affordable in both the short-term and the longterm. NASA’s budget will increase by five percent per year over the next three years and at about one percent for the following two years.

    Although the budget increases are modest, NASA will be able to carry out a robust exploration program. NASA will free up resources in its budget in three ways: holding down growth in existing programs that do not support the vision; retiring the Space Shuttle to free up billions of dollars in the next decade; and focusing on innovations that reduce the cost of sustained space operations. The chart above reflects the shift in funding that will occur over time as the new vision for human and robotic exploration of the solar system and beyond is implemented.”

    The NASA overall budget didnt seem to get the 5% per year for three years and two years of 1% increase:

    NASA Budget:

    2004 15.152
    2005 15.602
    2006 15.125
    2007 15.861
    2008 17.318
    2009 17.2

    When you look at what the ESAS said costs were going to be it was really vague but when I read it and it says it had built in 20% cushion, and with the funding that was taken from other NASA programs to fund Constellation, for me I do not see this HUGE rate of underfunding:

    ESAS section 12 Cost

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 9th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    The alternative is always cheaper and better then the existing program until it is put to the test…

    that is easy to do. Atlas and Delta Are flying in all the configurations that crew cargo would need and could be modified far cheaper for any human rating standards then the 10-20-40 billion (thanks Major Tom) that Ares 1 would need to come to flight status.

    I’ll have to work the numbers to see if the unmodified J-2 with a substantial burn of the Orion “service module” (acting as a third stage) could do the job and what is left after that is done…but I dont even think that the J-2 as built for Apollo can meet the Ares human rating standards…indeed the unmodified J2 is not even in production.

    In addition the Ares 1 first stage has not flown or done anything other then burn horizontal and little of it is tested.

    To go with Ares 1 ignoring Delta/Atlas we would have to accept a rocket with paper safety statistics (stats that are as much fiction as Gone With the Wind) as oppossed to something that has flight history.

    So I am not for sure which program “is in hand” (my quote) and which one is still a paper rocket. (I wont even go into Falcon 9 which is more of a real rocket then Ares 1…it is at least standing on the pad).

    “I heard that it showed that there was no problem ” might check your sources anyone saying that is an idiot. The results from Ares 1X have nothing to do with a five segment solid using a nozzle that has not flown. and there were substantial issues with the flight.

    It is bad engineering and management standards to draw conclusions from a test flight which in no real fashion was like the actual vehicle…

    “So liquid fueled rockets are cheaper? ” I dont feel like I need to address that since I did not make that statement or draw that conclusion or state anything that even in the weird world of politics could be made to “context” like that. It is almost like the Congressman who said he was forced out due to his vote, he gets on Glenn Beck and even Beck thinks that he (Beck) has been made a fool of.

    If you want to view an underperforming rocket that your “fix” would make underperform even more (as it was with the J2 new it only gets to 85nm orbit…seesh) which has consumed more money then Atlas/Delta/and Falcon 1/9 combined and needs about 10-20-40 billion more to make work…as the program that all others should be measured against.

    Pretty low bar to me.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    “It’s bad for the country,” Schmitt says. “This administration really does not believe in American exceptionalism.”

    Harrison Schmitt is babbling again.

    to equate American exceptionalism with a rocket, Ares 1 that has cost far more then Atlas/Delta/Falcon 9/1 combined and will take another 10-20-40 billion dollars to bring to completion…and even so can not even put its payload in anything other then an 85nm orbit…is

    well weak.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Are going to Mars before we go back to the moon?”

    Per the Flexible Path options in the Augustine report, lunar orbit occurs before Mars flyby and Mars flyby occurs before lunar landing.

    “What is the use of the HLV?”

    Primarily putting lots of propellant in space for deep space stages, like any HLV supporting human space exploration.

    “What are going to travel in beyond LEO and why is the going to be better than just using the Orion?”

    Orion is an oversized and expensive means of ETO transport (per the Augustine report) and undersized for exploration missions beyond the Moon. NASA is better off with a basic capsule for ETO transport that’s augmented with habitation modules of various sizes and capabilities for different exploration missions.

    FWIW…

  • red

    John: “OK, let’s try to understand the Bolden/Garver space plan. We scrap everything we have spend all this money on. We throw $6 billion to stimulate COTS to develop basic Soyuz-type LEO crewed space capability. Hard to know how that will turn out.”

    It’s not hard to understand. The Aerospace Corporation and the Augustine Committee thought it would work fine. They said there would be risk, but they said that about just about everything.

    The COTS cargo version seems to be going much better than Constellation, even though each company got a truly tiny fraction (like 1/200th) of what Ares I/Orion would need.

    With 4 competitors expected, I’d give it a lot better prospects than the “all eggs in 1 basket” Ares/Orion.

    John: “Included in the cancellations is the Orion spacecraft.”

    Yes. We can’t afford it.

    John: “But, we do want to develop a HLV vehicle.”

    Yes, but only one that we can afford. That’s why there will be R&D into more affordable heavy lift technology, and possibly (if I understand the intent of the budget) shared use of a U.S. version of the Russian RD-180 engine we now use on Atlas V. Cheaper operations, shared use across multiple U.S. rockets, and domestic production where we now use Russian engines … it’s starting to make sense to me.

    John: “We do want to go to Mars. Are going to Mars before we go back to the moon?”

    Probably not, but we aren’t ready to do either right now, so why worry about it? Let them make those decisions when we have the right information from technology demos and robotic precursors, or at least when they have a chance to do some planning and studies. Bolden said he will have more details when the time is right.

    John: “What is the use of the HLV?”

    There is no use for an HLV if it isn’t affordable. Hence the effort to make them affordable. Personally I’d rather use the regular classes of rockets a lot and only get to HLVs if and when the market needs them, but who knows? Maybe this way will work. Even if it doesn’t, we will still get a lot of use and shared costs out of the regular class of rockets, and thus be way ahead in the really important areas (military space, traditional commercial space like comsats, weather satellites, etc).

    John: “What are going to travel in beyond LEO and why is the going to be better than just using the Orion?”

    We don’t know yet. All we know is that we can’t afford Orion. We aren’t going anywhere until we establish LEO access and make some beyond-LEO system that’s affordable. We are going multiple routes to attempt this (commercial space, international participation, technology demos, etc).

    John: “About the only thing in this plan that make sense is to keep the ISS!”

    Per the Augustine Committee, if you keep ISS, you have to get rid of the POR. If you keep ISS and keep the budget the same, and want a technology program, you are going to have to go slow with exploration. Not as slow as Constellation … but still very slow. We have an increased budget, but we also have increased ambitions in areas like Earth observations and general space technology (I’m not taking about the Exploration technology lines here), so exploration will be going slow.

  • Coastal Ron

    A big assumption in all the Ares I talk is that it would have been safe to use. That has not been established yet, and it’s a big IF. I haven’t heard any public data on the vibration issue, but even if it was positive, it was only a 4-segment SRB, and not the full-size version. The other issue is what happens if the crew capsule has to escape – if range safety blows the SRB, then there is lots of solid fuel spraying around that could impact the crew capsule. So many unknowns with SRB launchers, I’d hate to hitch the fate of our space program to such a big bet, especially with known alternatives available.

    To me the Ares I question boils down to safety and cost, and existing liquid-fueled launchers already have a proven record to start from, and they already have a known cost.

    For Orion, I’d be OK with continuing it if they can build a version for LEO, but otherwise they should clean sheet a common launcher version.

  • Major Tom

    “A question, and it may be that I am remember from the committee hearings, and not the report, but I thought they found that for a viable 2 company Commercial crew, they needed something aroudn 2.5-3 Billion, not 5 B.

    Or am I remembering this from the committee hearings?”

    No, you’re remembering right. My bad — I wasn’t specific enough in my earlier post. The Augustine report estimates $5 billion to bring _two_ commercial crew providers to operational status by 2016. So theoretically that’s $2.5 billion each, although the split wouldn’t be so even and the Augustine report actually assumes that three providers are selected initially and carried for a while, with a later downselect to two (probably $2 billion each for the two final providers).

    FWIW…

  • googaw

    What SpaceX says about its test:

    We encountered a problem with the spin start system and aborted nominally…[upon abort we] isolate the engines from the propellant tank and purge the residual propellants. The brief flames seen on the video are burn off of LOX and kerosene on the pad. The engines did not ignite and there was no engine fire.”

    http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

  • @common sense wrote:

    [ How about they cannot do it? Not as simply as you seem to imply anyway.

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

    Nope, I am afraid no one can. ]

    Denial of nuclear rocket technology isn’t going to build a robust space program. And refusing to acknowledge the capability of American and/or international ingenuity is a big mistake.

  • Major Tom

    “The alternative is always cheaper and better then the existing program until it is put to the test.”

    I’d agree if we were talking about differences of a few or even 50 percent. But we’re not. We’re talking about factors of five or more difference between the costs of commercial crew and the costs of finishing Ares I/Orion. Commercial crew may overrun, but it would have to overrun 500 percent or more before Ares I/Orion becomes competitive.

    “We should be able to get the Ares 1/Orion flying earlier then the alternatives by using the original J-2 engine design.”

    Unclear. Although the J-2 specs are set unlike J-2X, the J-2 castings and tooling are gone. Recreating those castings and tooling, and getting the J-2 specs into a modern CAM system, would probably take a half-decade (circa 2015). That might save a year versus the Augustine report’s 2016 date for commercial crew, but that’s a conservative date for commercial crew and it may deliver earlier.

    “The delta v of the Orion can finish the boost to orbit for ISS missions.”

    Source? J-2X delivers about 30 percent greater thrust and 6 percent better Isp than J-2. Those are huge improvements, and it’s not clear that an extended Orion burn could make up the difference, especially given the thin margins on both Ares I and Orion.

    “I heard that it showed that there was no problem and that we wasted time an money on false fears generated by a design bureaucracy. We need to selectively cut back on the NASA bureaucracy in order get things going.”

    Ares I-X raised more questions than it answered. Because Ares I-X was 4-segment SRB with a dummy upper stage, it’s unclear whether the thrust mitigation options that were under design for Ares I will protect a 5-segment SRB or especially the J-2X upper stage and Orion hardware riding atop that 5-segment SRB. Two Ares I-X parachutes failed and the Ares I-X 4-segment SRB was damaged on landing. Because Ares I is already pushing the limits of parachute size, it’s unclear whether Ares I 5-segment SRBs would be recoverable, which was key to the cost and safety claims of Ares I. The Ares I-X dummy upper stage also went into a flat tumble after separation. Although the test upper stage was unpowered, the test added questions about the flight stability of the operational upper stage.

    It’s not a question of the bureaucracy generating false fears. It’s a question of whether Ares I-X, and the Ares I test program in general, was well-designed to answer critical questions early enough in the Ares I design process to prevent costly and time-consuming redesigns later on.

    “So liquid fueled rockets are cheaper?”

    When NASA is carrying the entire costs associated with a particular solid rocket booster infrastructure, yes, apples-to-apples, the liquid-fueled alternative will be cheaper.

    The same is true of an HLV, like Saturn, where NASA is carrying the entire costs of that system’s infrastructure. Per Augustine, the new budget plan’s HLV approach is to leverage the infrastructure of military and commercial boosters so that NASA is not the only customer for all the components and the entire workforce needed to build the HLV.

    FWIW…

  • [...] Patricia Murphy wrote a very interesting post today.   Here’s a quick excerpt:Space Politics. Because sometimes the most important orbit is the Beltway… Shelby seeks a critical mass. March 9, 2010 at 7:28 am · Filed under Congress, NASA. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) hasn’t changed his mind about NASA’s new … [...]

  • Vladislaw

    John wrote:

    “OK, let’s try to understand the Bolden/Garver space plan. We scrap everything we have spend all this money on.”

    As Bolden said in his committee meetings, we don’t scrap everything, you should actually listen to what he said. There are things that can be utilized, like thermal protection and the launch abort system.

    Don’t make things up.

    “We throw $6 billion to stimulate COTS to develop basic Soyuz-type LEO crewed space capability. Hard to know how that will turn out.”

    No we do not “throw” six billion, the nation INVESTS that money to help create commercial space infrastructure and to start industrializing low earth orbit. America’s strength has always been when the federal government funds development and it gets pushed into the private sector so the government can then buy those goods and services off the shelf.

    “Included in the cancellations is the Orion spacecraft.”

    You seem stuck in a 1960′s model that the only way to explore space is launching your return capsule from the surface of the earth, drag it with you to your destination, drag it back and then do a ballista return to the earth’s surface.

    Welcome to the 21st century. Space exploration STARTS in low earth orbit and you move out from there. Your space craft does an aero capture return to earth and moves to low earth orbit. The crew leaves the space based, reusable vehicle and takes a ride back to the surface of the earth in a commercial carrier like SpaceX.

    “What are going to travel in beyond LEO and why is the going to be better than just using the Orion?”

    Inflatable habitats, they are better because they do not have to be designed to do a ballistic return and lighter so more hardware can go on voyages.

    http://www.nuclearspace.com/PWrussview_fin.aspx

    the bottom two images shows examples of using an inflatable habitat instead of a capsule.

  • Fred

    “John: “What are going to travel in beyond LEO and why is the going to be better than just using the Orion?”

    red: We don’t know yet.”

    Actually we can make an educated guess. The point of the new path is technological development. Particularly fuel depots as an early development.
    With fuel depots you don’t need to take your re-entry vehicle all the way to the moon or Mars with you. (As Apollo did, and Constellation proposed) You start your voyage at the ISS using a dedicated in space vehicle, and end up back at the ISS from where you catch a taxi service back to the ground.
    You don’t even have to carry all your fuel with you.
    By pre-positioning fuel depots in LEO, Mars orbit and lunar orbit the need for exotic orbits like aero capture are also removed.
    Buzz Aldrin gave a recent plan for an large exploration vehicle that could be deployed on an extra shuttle flight and reused multiple times.
    Personally I wouldn’t do that. Just use a Bigelow BA330 as an exploration vehicle. It’s bigger and can be launched on an EELV. Push it along with a modified ACES upper stage refueled at your local in space fuel depot.
    We could be doing trips to lunar orbit by 2017.

  • danwithaplan

    Vladislaw: “America’s strength has always been when the federal government funds development and it gets pushed into the private sector so the government can then buy those goods and services off the shelf.”

    No. There have always been existing markets (thousands of years of history) like transporation across the US landmass and the US Gov capitalized on their existence which was prudent.

    None exist in the manned space flight case. COTS is akin to building a “bridge to nowhere”. Except no one will come.

    The federal nose (and consequently taxpayer money) should be kept as far from commercial space development as possible. So as not to spoil the development of an actual commercial HSF market.

  • danwithaplan: seriously? the “there’s no market for human spaceflight” argument AGAIN?

    Do you know who’s website you’re on? This Jeff Foust’s website. You know Jeff Foust? He did the Futron studies that surveyed the market for suborbital space tourism which spurred the dozen or so companies now scrambling to offer seats for it? Have you heard of Space Adventures? At $30M+ a seat, they have more customers than they have seats available. If the Russians offered Space Adventures their own Soyuz every year they’d be able to fill it.. that includes full pilot training for at least one of the participants, and if that cost more it wouldn’t be a problem. Space Adventures needs more providers, not just to drive the price down, but to fulfill the demand they already have. Richard Garriott recently did a TED talk where he repeated what I’ve already heard twice: there is work that private astronauts can do on-orbit which will pay for their seat. Pretty soon it will be *profitable* to fly to orbit and do medical and other research..

    So shut up about this “there’s no market” bullshit. I’m totally sick of hearing NASA employees *lying* that they went searching for a market for commercial crew to orbit and didn’t find one. Where’d they look? Did they call Space Adventures? Did they call Bigelow? And then the politicians repeat the lies…. and then people like you repeat it.

  • googaw

    danwithaplan:
    COTS is akin to building a “bridge to nowhere”. Except no one will come.

    Another way to put it: ISS is a $100 billion bridge to nowhere, and COTS is an attempt to pretend that somebody actually wants to drive on that bridge. Have NASA keep funneling the money into trips to the ISS but call it “commercial”, and there are plenty of rubes who will think that this represents real market demand for the ISS. Even though NASA a few months ago was happy to plan to let the ISS burn up over the Pacific Ocean in 2016 so that they could funnel more money into the next HSF boondoggle.

    Trent, the orbital tourism hype you are obsessed with does not convince rational people that we should be putting billions per year into ISS/COTS/CRS. The HSF “market” is over 99% government space agencies. That 99% is not the private sector, it is not even government agencies like the DoD that serve practical needs, it is simply taxpayer-funded space agencies launching astronauts for the sake of launching astronauts.

    Real commerce lies elsewhere.

  • Vladislaw

    “Trent, the orbital tourism hype you are obsessed with does not convince rational people that we should be putting billions per year into ISS/COTS/CRS. The HSF “market” is over 99% government space agencies. That 99% is not the private sector,”

    At 20 million a seat all 190 countries on the planet can afford to have a space program. Personally I dont care if those countries want to send up an astronaut for national pride or prestige or just to take pictures and float M&M’s in zero g. It increases flight rate, lowering prices for everyone. If every country sent a pair of people to a Bigelow station for 2 weeks would be 6 times more than NASA has did in it’s best year.

    Spending 100 billion for Ares 1 and Ares V to launch 4-8 people per year will NOT open up space for all, will not open up a frontier, will not increase flight rates lower costs. Until LEO gets industrialized and opened up to commercial enterprises the nation will once again be stuck with a NASA monopoly.

  • googaw

    all 190 countries on the planet can afford to have a space program. Personally I dont care if those countries want to send up an astronaut for national pride or prestige or just to take pictures and float M&M’s in zero g.

    Where’s the national prestige or pride when they are just along for the ride on a foreign service with foreign technology? What happens to this “market” when their nationals have already flown and further flights become boring and pointless? And where is the evidence for this supposed “market” in the first place?

    Spending 100 billion for Ares 1 and Ares V to launch 4-8 people per year will NOT open up space for all, will not open up a frontier, will not increase flight rates lower costs.

    I certainly don’t dispute any of this. What I dispute is the idea that NASA’s problems are simply one of costs: that all we have to do are the same things NASA is doing, but cheaper. NASA’s costs are too high but that is hardly its biggest problem. Its biggest problem when it comes to economics is that it is doing the wrong things.

    We can’t privatize an economic fantasy. We can only shut it down when people get tired of subsidizing it.

  • Vladislaw

    “that all we have to do are the same things NASA is doing, but cheaper. NASA’s costs are too high but that is hardly its biggest problem. Its biggest problem when it comes to economics is that it is doing the wrong things.”

    That is the entire point. It is not that NASA does ONLY the wrong things, it is that NASA is not a business and not driven by the same things that other people will be driven by. NASA is not about raising advertising revenue, or is it about doing reality television shows in space, or doing tourism, or trying to do any of the 100′s of commercial things that can be tried in space.

    For me, this is nothing more than a transportation issue and not a NASA issue at all. We can not even begin to imagine what will develop from routine, lower cost, access to space.

  • common sense

    “Denial of nuclear rocket technology isn’t going to build a robust space program. And refusing to acknowledge the capability of American and/or international ingenuity is a big mistake.”

    It is not about denial it about armwaving. Instead of saying we must/should do this and that in particular with nuclear technologies, please show us even simply how you bring the country and possibly the rest of the world together to build and send a nuclear reactor to space. Don’t just say we will do this. We won’t! Provide us with a path forward. Not the gibberish about Ares I and Ares V third stage stuff… If you really think it’s the way then work it out!

    Darn!

  • common sense

    Vladislaw wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    “As Bolden said in his committee meetings, we don’t scrap everything, you should actually listen to what he said. There are things that can be utilized, like thermal protection and the launch abort system. ”

    I have said that all along and I am glad Charles Bolden says it as well. Do you have by any chance a link to his statements about LAS and TPS (and more)? Just for my own benefit ;)

    Thanks.

  • Nuclear space propulsion is the way forward in space in the near term!

    …without a doubt.

    I’m not going to pretend to know exactly why NASA chooses to mute the technology which seems like an weak ban on NTP use. My suspicions are it complicates the political side of this debate for NASA and DOE.

    NTP has it’s detractors and it proponents, it has a history of development and it has demonstrated this tool successfully it’s key to future space access and development one need only search the documentation to see my point. Leaving the duopolistic nature of U.S. politics aside there are leaders in both the Republican and Democratic parties that have a eye to future space in this period of heated debate under economic stress. Mr. Shelby is the obvious most vocal. Any space mission begins at the launch pad without a clear and committed system most future HSF efforts will be in doubt.
    Even NASA’s partner RSA and it’s Russian political leaders have expressed keen interest in NTP development for civil space use.

    The elephant is in the space capsule and eventually people need to acknowledge its potential in space for both private and public investment ventures.

    If you want to get a reference frame courtesy of NASA/Glenn and FJ&A visuals view here:

    http://www.frassanito.com/work/animations/animation_pages/Mars/Mars.html

    Look… all I’m saying is; people are working behind the scenes in NASA, ESA and RSA on this tech. To claim that no one can do this stuff is unfair.

    Unfortunately none of this nuclear space technology is simple I have to spend time self educating so I can article.

    So stay tuned…

  • common sense

    ” To claim that no one can do this stuff is unfair.

    I am not saying no one can do it. I am saying today with what it would take to do it it is near impossible. Politically. Too many unknowns and fears associated with nukes. Some one has to show there is a way to do it and so far as I know no one did. Only armwaving stuff about it’s what we need etc. I don’t know how you go around or modify international treaties, how you woo the environmentalists, how you build a system that’d be safe to launch. I have some foolish idea of what we might be able to do, possibly to alleviate those issues. For example: Assume the Moon base so many people would love to see built, bring centrifuges and other stuff there to make your necessary fuel and start building the nuke there away from Earth, or build a deep space station far off in space and do the same. But the cost??! The COST???

    I can be “crazy” too despite common sense…

  • common sense

    BTW: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/428356main_Exploration.pdf

    “Advanced In-Space Propulsion: NASA will work with partners in industry as appropriate, to conduct foundational research to study the requirements and potential designs for advanced high-energy in-space propulsion systems to support deep-space human exploration, and to reduce travel time between Earth’s orbit and future destinations for human activity. These technologies could include nuclear thermal propulsion, solar and nuclear electric propulsion, plasma propulsion, and other high-energy and/or high-efficiency propulsion concepts. One or more concepts may mature to the level of a demonstration on a robotic precursor or Flagship mission.”

  • @common sense

    “Too many unknowns and fears associated with nukes.”

    Excuse me, there’s ready historical in-space use in one form or another of nuclear use.

    If you’re looking for a ‘politically correct’ propulsion system of increasing space access, I don’t think in the near term that’s gonna work out. You end up with a limited space program beholden to only a small interest group.

    In order to demonstrate effective, efficient, affordable and safe usage
    you have to commit to develop and mission the technology either fish-or- cut-bait .

  • common sense

    Bruce Behrhorst wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Read my post above about the plan by NASA. You should be happy?

  • danwithaplan

    Trent Waddington, you are quite rude and self congratulating. I think the person running this site is quite reasonable (unlike you), and I can post my opinions openly.

    “Market Studies” you refered to don’t mean jack shit. I’ve read “studies” on HSF markets for more than 20 years. They all have resulted in either NASA contracts, or the compost. Mostly the later.

    Still, I contest – there is no market for HSF. Spit, or swallow. Put up or shut up.

  • Major Tom

    “there is no market for HSF”

    Yes, there is. Space Adventures has sold eight Soyuz seats to private individuals at a price of $20-35 million each. That’s something in the neighborhood of $240 million in revenue. On top of that, an unknown number (at least to me) of individuals have provided Space Adventures with $5 million reservations to have priority on future flight opportunities.

    There’s both a market and unmet market demand for private human space flight. It’s certainly arguable whether that market is large enough to support multiple providers and at what price points and whether the market will be sustainable going forward. But it’s no longer factually correct to claim that there is no private human space flight market.

    FWIW…

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