Congress, NASA

Hanging on to the shuttle

The retirement of the shuttle, which not long ago appeared to be a largely settled issue, seems a little less so now. Last week Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced legislation that would at least study extending the shuttle for up to five more years at up to two missions a year; companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House this week by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL). And yesterday shuttle program manager John Shannon said the agency was studying whether such an extension was possible given the need to restart supply lines for building additional external tanks. Extending the shuttle would cost about $2.4 billion, he said. Shannon’s comments stand in contrast to what NASA deputy administrator said last week, when she said the time for extending the shuttle “had come and gone”. However, both agree that if there was a significant shuttle extension there would be a gap of two years in shuttle flights because of the need to ramp up tank production again.

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) addressed a potential minor shuttle extension, among many other space policy topics. He recommended adding one additional shuttle mission, the “rescue” shuttle that would be held in reserve if there was a problem on the last currently-scheduled shuttle flight, to carry additional equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. “The risk to safety is minimal on a fifth shuttle flight,” he said. “The President should announce he is asking NASA to do that fifth flight.” Nelson didn’t address any further extension of the shuttle.

Nelson also blamed the strong negative reaction to NASA’s new plan in some quarters to poor decisions by White House advisors. “Unfortunately, some of his [President Obama's] advisers have not given him correct information about how to lay out his vision,” he said. And later: “The President let himself be misinterpreted.” In one case, planned heavy-lift launch technology and development, he specifically blamed OMB:

There came the disconnect because people who do not understand the space program were making decisions. I lay it at the feet of some of the folks in OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. If you are going to build a heavy-lift vehicle, the likelihood is you cannot do that entirely with liquid rockets; you need solid rockets to propel that massive weight up into low Earth orbit. The solid rockets are what we are testing now. Thus, the President allowed his administration to be perceived that they were killing the manned space program when, in fact, there was nothing further from what he intended.

One wonders what Wernher von Braun would have thought of the claim that you “need” solid-propellant boosters to do heavy lift.

Nelson added his space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee would hold a hearing in a couple of weeks “to look at the commercial rocket competitors and whether they need the $6 billion the President has recommended over the next 5 years in order for them to get humans to and from the International Space Station.”

106 comments to Hanging on to the shuttle

  • One wonders what Wernher von Braun would have thought of the claim that you “need” solid-propellant boosters to do heavy lift.

    We don’t need any stinking SRBs. Let’s bring back the Saturn V! All liquid…all the way!

    Hutchison and Nelson need to get together on this. It’s crazy to make just ome more tank. If you make one you might as well make ten or more.

  • Ok, first thing I don’t understand.. why does the administration allow Shannon to make *any* public statements? Isn’t that the PAO’s job? I know if I made public statements about my employer I’d get in serious trouble.

    Second, I want to lay to rest the absolutely stupidity of renumbering STS-335 as STS-135 and flying it with no backup. Simply, if there is no need for backup, then STS-335 should not even be prepared.. if backup is required then STS-135 *must* have backup.

  • MrEarl

    I think Shannon proves my point about Garver “miss-stating” what she had been told by all shuttle managers.

    Just sayin’

  • Major Tom

    John: “We don’t need any stinking SRBs. Let’s bring back the Saturn V! All liquid…all the way!”

    Saturn V and Energia are the only two HLVs in the superheavy payload range typically discussed for human space exploration ever built. None of their stages employed solid rockets.

    Most unbuilt HLVs in that class, like the N-1, also don’t employ solid rockets, nevertheless SRB-sized solids.

    Nelson’s statement that “If you are going to build a heavy-lift vehicle… you need solid rockets to propel that massive weight up into low Earth orbit” is just patently wrong. History demonstrates the exact opposite.

    “Hutchison and Nelson need to get together on this. It’s crazy to make just ome more tank. If you make one you might as well make ten or more.”

    There’s no point to additonal ET production if the rest of the Shuttle program is shut down.

    Mr. Waddington: “Ok, first thing I don’t understand.. why does the administration allow Shannon to make *any* public statements? Isn’t that the PAO’s job? I know if I made public statements about my employer I’d get in serious trouble.”

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Shannon’s statements in that space.com article do more to sink Shuttle extension than save it. He quoted a run rate of $200 million per month, or $2.4 billion per year, to keep the Shuttle workforce together and confirmed Garver’s statement that there would be a gap of two years before the last ISS assembly flight on the manifest and any new Shuttle flight. That means U.S. taxpayers would be stuck with a bill of at least $4.8 billion before seeing the first additional Shuttle flight circa 2012. That’s an exorbitant amount, and we havn’t even accounted for the costs of restarting various Shuttle production lines (under study per Shannon in the article) or certification (Shannon thinks this would be minimal in the article).

    “Second, I want to lay to rest the absolutely stupidity of renumbering STS-335 as STS-135 and flying it with no backup. Simply, if there is no need for backup, then STS-335 should not even be prepared.. if backup is required then STS-135 *must* have backup.”

    Agreed. You would think that a former astronaut, Senator or not, would know better than to suggest trading flight safety for jobs/votes.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “I think Shannon proves my point about Garver ‘miss-stating’ what she had been told by all shuttle managers.”

    Actually, it confirms it. Shannon confirmed Garver’s statement that it would take two years to restart various Shuttle production lines. And he confirmed that Shuttle extension would be exorbitantly expensive. Two years at $200 million per month to keep the Shuttle workforce together is $4.8 billion before the first flight. And we havn’t accounted for the costs of bringing back the 2,000-odd USA, ATK, and Boeing Shuttle employees that have already been let go, or the costs of restarting those shutdown Shuttle production lines, or the costs of certifying the fleet for extended operations. We’re probably looking at $6-8 billion before adding one additional Shuttle flight.

    Per the Augustine report, NASA can conservatively buy two commercial crew providers for that kind of money ($5 billion) with a billion or billions to spare.

    Not a good deal.

    FWIW…

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    The decision about extending Shuttle/buying commercial is far more about timing than about money. As a Shuttle guy, I see the bright future that commercial human spaceflight could bring – but see the Dark Ages of The Gap that we need to get past.

    We could fly out the remaining inventory parts while restoring the ability to make External Tanks, with little gap.

  • googaw

    Aside from the discussions about ludicrously oversized rockets, useful for nothing but HSF hallucinations (to use Administrator Bolden’s term), a real concern here is national security: the continuity of our solid rocket skills and tooling now that we are not making ICBMs. Liquids may be best for routine transport to space, but solids are essential for rapid-response missiles.

    Why NASA should be funding this continuity rather than the DoD is I am afraid part of the dreadful euphemistic nature of D.C. politics: pretend be dismantling our missiles while having NASA perpetuate our missile technology. But however twisted the reasoning for having NASA rather than DoD keep our solid rocket industry going, it is by far the most important issue at stake here and we ignore it at our peril.

  • MrEarl

    Wow Tom, I sense a little groping there. My argument goes to the fact that Garver can not be trusted to tell the whole, un-slanted truth.
    As for an extension of the shuttle; when STS133, (last flight) touches down, there will still be one ET at KSC and 2 to 3 near completion at Michoud. Flying out those last tanks on a reduced flight rate of 2 per year while accelerating commercial crew like is already done in the planned FY2011 budget would greatly reduce our HSF gap and reduce our dependance on the Russian Soyuz.

    Just sayin’

  • MrEarl

    Garver said:
    “The first question I asked when I came back to NASA was, ‘Could we extend the shuttle?’” Garver said in response to a question on the subject. “I was told by the entire shuttle NASA folks that, in fact, that time had come and gone. It was not an issue of money at that point”

    “The US space shuttle fleet can continue flying beyond NASA’s September 30 deadline if the money is made available to keep it going, a US space agency official told reporters Tuesday.

    “I think the real issue that the agency and the nation has to address is the expense,” said Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon”

    Seems simple to me.

  • Major Tom

    “My argument goes to the fact that Garver can not be trusted to tell the whole, un-slanted truth.”

    I’m no fan of Garver personally, but what part of her statement on Shuttle extension wasn’t truthful? She claimed that it would be a couple years to restart the production lines supporting Shuttle and that Shuttle extension is too expensive to consider. Shannon’s statements in the space.com article confirm what Garver said.

    “As for an extension of the shuttle; when STS133, (last flight) touches down, there will still be one ET at KSC and 2 to 3 near completion at Michoud.”

    So what? A Shuttle flight requires a lot more than an ET. Per Shannon, there would be a wait of at least two years for production of some of those components to come back online.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    Tom, see my post above yours for why Garver can’t be trusted.

    As for the shuttle, the long pole in tent for the shuttle is ET production and that was what Shannon was referring to. The solids casings are available and a flight rate of 2 per yer would allow one of the shuttles to be retired for parts. It’s a logical way to transition into commercial space.

  • OpsGuy

    It appears we have a growing national crisis on our hands with the gap that has now arrived on our doorstep. There remains no national consensus on a timely, practical, productive replacement for U.S. human space access. Nor will there be a consensus after Obama comes to Florida. Look, it’s a matter of various ulterior motives in this industry that the Adminsitration and Congress need to get to the bottom of to resolve this: is it that this industry can’t affordably extend Shuttle while working on a replacement, or that it won’t?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    This proves that when you blow up the space program, all of those aerospace engineers in the Congress will feel empowered to do what they like as they try to put pieces together again. Let the sausage making begin.

  • googaw

    we have a growing national crisis on our hands with the gap that has now arrived on our doorstep.

    *Yawn*

  • Bill White

    One wonders what Wernher von Braun would have thought of the claim that you “need” solid-propellant boosters to do heavy lift.

    From engineering perspective? Eh, no. Not necessary.

    From the perspective of the 111th United States Congress? Eh, maybe.

    It all depends on how we want to look at the question.

  • Anon

    Garver lied, pure and simple. Who’s paying her off? Fire her for being corrupt.

  • Tom D

    I’d give the conspiracy talk a rest. The proposed plan for NASA sounds shockingly rational to me. I was very surprised to see Constellation canceled entirely. Canceling everything as your first move in negotiation with Congress was extremely bold. I suspect that good parts of Constellation may well survive, but this gives us a very worthwhile chance to rethink the whole HSF approach. My respect for Bolden and Garver has gone up a lot, but the battle has only just begun.

  • ehok

    Nelson loves the srbs because he wants the shuttle derived launcher with 5 segments. Why? I guess b/c it will fly sooner than a fully liquid booster.

    He’s smart to stick to a focused issue though, he’s not simply praying for a do-over.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I find it annoying to defend Lori Garver on so many levels…but sigh one must do it when it is the thing to do.

    Nothing that Garver has said is in accurate and almost everything John Shannon said is a lie masquerading as the truth.

    We could in fact raise and recommission the USS Arizona on the bottom of Pearl Harbor (and that was in fact actively considered until 1943) all it would take is money…and that is what Shannon actually is saying.

    What Garver is saying is what I would be saying about recommissioning the Arizona…we cant do it. (it would be what Nimitz said about her in 43…and he was under both some personal and other pressure to do that…she had been his Flagship).

    The “gap” issue is nutty. If the answer were to be “keeping the shuttle” or the shuttle workforce…if Congress ponies up more money then yeah that could occur. If it is done under the current financing scheme then there is no more money for anything else.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    This proves that when you blow up the space program, all of those aerospace engineers in the Congress will feel empowered to do what they like as they try to put pieces together again. ..

    there are not that many of them actually in Congress just the ones protecting or trying to their pork…and the old Bush era program needed to be blown up. It was a failure just like everything else he did.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Dennis Wingo

    One wonders what Wernher von Braun would have thought of the claim that you “need” solid-propellant boosters to do heavy lift.

    After being harrassed by ATK (or whatever it was called then), LBJ asked Von Braun about using solids for the Lunar missions. Von Braun sent a lengthy reply basically saying that solids were inferior to an all liquid system due to the total impulse of a solid stage. This is at the core of the issue with the Ares 1 in the mismatch between the lower and upper stage.

  • common sense

    Okay not to be harsh… So far on their way out: John Shannon and Mike Coats. Anyone else disputing a plan with giberish or head on with thier boss to the media? U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E

  • MrEarl

    WOW!!!!
    Robert, I know you have connections all the way up to God but I can’t believe you made some of the statements you made!

    “Nothing that Garver has said is in accurate and almost everything John Shannon said is a lie masquerading as the truth.”

    I pointed out in an earlier post how Garver lied, please tell me where Shannon is lying.
    He stated some of the obstacles in the way.

    “We could in fact raise and recommission the USS Arizona on the bottom of Pearl Harbor”
    How dose a 90 year old ship, that’s been on the bottom of Pearl Harbor for almost 70 years after being destroyed by the Japanese navy have any relation in reality to a shuttle program that right now is operating as safely and reliably as it ever has?

    What it seems to me is you think that Garver should say what ever she needs to say, true or not, misleading or not, to further an agenda.
    I know its done all the time but that doesn’t make it right.

  • common sense

    MrEarl:

    Why this blinded trust in John Shannon? Why? Why would Lori Garver lie while John Shannon is speaking the truth? Did John Shannon ever dispute the termination of Shuttle back when announced by GWB? Did he? I don’t know just asking.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    WOW!!!!
    Robert, I know you have connections all the way up to God but I can’t believe you made some of the statements you made!..

    Ahh that is SArah Palin…

    however..

    “I pointed out in an earlier post how Garver lied, please tell me where Shannon is lying.”

    (for creator’s sake I hate defending Lori Garver…). Garver is stating “reality” Shannon is stating what is possible if you want to spend a lot of money and he only gets to that point at the end of the article I saw…and he does that almost every chance he gets ie says it is possible but downplays the cash needed to do it.

    The art of “misstating” has been perfected in politics the last 10 years or so (Mr. Bush was a pro at it but Clinton dabbled in it with Lewinsky)…it is to state something in its narrowest sense (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky”) which is a fact if one view sexual relations as (to be kind since this is a family forum) “going down thunder road”…but what it was implying was that there was no relation.

    What Garver is stating is the practical reality (and that is where the discussion of raising the USS Arizona comes in…they really did want to raise her mostly for the propaganda value Nimitz because of personal reasons). What Shannon is stating is a possibility masquerading as something that is possible…

    Congress people particularly those in space districts love the latter…Shannon is wedded to the shuttle, his “competence” level wouldnt function in any other organization.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    What Shannon is stating is a possibility masquerading as something that is possible..

    should read

    What Shannon is stating is a possibility masquerading as something that is actually probable.

    the editor regrets the error..(doing two things at once)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    to a shuttle program that right now is operating as safely and reliably as it ever has?

    MrEarl…that is part of the problem…the shuttle “operating” as safely and reliably as it ever has doesnt mean much. it is not a very safe system…not safe at all

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    Mr. Earl: “Tom, see my post above yours for why Garver can’t be trusted.”

    You selectively pulled from Garver’s quote in Space News. Here’s the full quote:

    “Garver, however, said March 4 that it is too late to consider extending shuttle operations much beyond this fall. ‘The first question I asked when I came back to NASA was could we extend the shuttle,’ said Garver, adding that she was told “that time had come and gone — that it was not an issue of money at that point, it was an issue of second-tier suppliers, [that] there would be at least a two-year gap between our last flight and the next one, etc.’”

    Again, Garver’s quote from Space News is consistent with Shannon’s quote in space.com, specifically that there would be at least a two-year gap between the last flight on the manifest and the first new Shuttle flight. In fact, it appears Garver repeated what Shannon probably told her when Garver was heading up the NASA transition team.

    Garver and Shannon are consistent — Shuttle can no longer be extended, only restarted a couple years after the last manifested flight.

    Anon: “Garver lied, pure and simple. Who’s paying her off? Fire her for being corrupt.”

    Where did Garver lie? Where has she been corrupt? Why are you making potentially libelous accusations?

    ehok: “Nelson loves the srbs because he wants the shuttle derived launcher with 5 segments. Why? I guess b/c it will fly sooner than a fully liquid booster.”

    The development of an HLV that requires one or two new liquid engines _and_ a new 5-segment solid rocket motor will require more time (and money), not less, than the development of of an HLV that requires _only_ one or two new liquid engines.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    CS wrote:
    MrEarl:

    Why this blinded trust in John Shannon? Why? Why would Lori Garver lie while John Shannon is speaking the truth? Did John Shannon ever dispute the termination of Shuttle back when announced by GWB? Did he? I don’t know just asking.

    CS, Your at a 10 when you really need to be at a 5. :-)

    Garver’s agenda is commercial HSF exclusively and I believe that she thinks that as long as NASA has anything flying, shuttle, Orion, that is imperiled.
    Being Shuttle project manage I realize that John Shannon’s viewpoint is more tword shuttle extension.
    What I have heard from Shannon is what I’ve heard from many other sources when discussing the possibility of extending the shuttle. Garver said that Shuttle management told her an extension can’t be done, it’s not a matter of money anymore.
    Shannon, the Shuttle program manager, said it could be done it’s just a matter of money then went on to say how much it will cost.

    My opinion is that a full shuttle extension, (starting up production facilities again) is not the right course and not in the cards. Flying out the remaining ET’s and parts, approx. 4 more flights, helps us shorten the gap between the shuttle and commercial HSF, reduces our reliance on the Russians, and better equips the ISS to preform as a laboratory.

  • mark valah

    Beyond the various arguments pro and againt the Shuttle extension, it seems odd from all these discussions that Mrs. Garver seems to be the real driver in the dispute/dialog with the space community, while Mr. Bolden’s voice is nowhere to be heard, except maybe in comments to Mrs. Garver’s statements. Mrs. Garver’s resume indicates a very strong bias towards commercial space and very little true technical space program expertise. The radical shift towards commercial may be positive, in fact, however, the risk is too significant for a single point bet. I see the Hutchison bill as a good development, should it pass, and it translates into fact what Augustine report said – in my interpretation.

  • Major Tom

    “This proves that when you blow up the space program,”

    No one has “blown up the space program.” Constellation imploded under the weight of massive cost growth, multi-year delays, and persistant technical issues. As the Augustine report pointed out, an increase of $5 billion per year to maintain the POR was never in the realm of budgetary or political reality, especially if ISS was still going in the drink before Ares I/Orion delivered and if a human lunar mission wasn’t going to be possible until a decade or more after the 2020 goal set by the Bush II Administration.

    Don’t make stuff up…

  • common sense

    “Garver’s agenda is commercial HSF exclusively and I believe that she thinks that as long as NASA has anything flying, shuttle, Orion, that is imperiled.”

    I’d say you speculate but I will abound. So? They devised a new plan for NASA to go forward, it only makes sense they push it. Shutlle is the past and Orion an abominable failure, hence the commercial HSF btw. Had Orion be successful we would not have this conversation. Too late, too bad.

    “Shannon, the Shuttle program manager, said it could be done it’s just a matter of money then went on to say how much it will cost. ”

    But look a matter of money? Anything is a matter of money. Constellation is a matter of money. If you assume endless pockets you can do anything you want. It is not the case. Also Shuttle management is not equal to John Shannon, is it? Otherwise she might have said he said so and she did not. What is going to happen to him once Shuttle is terminated? Again did he fight the termination plans 4/5 years ago? It seems to me he’s trying to stir up a fight long gone. He should rather be trying to find out a new place for him in this brave new world. How he might help transition to commercial providers. How the future is going to be. Shuttle is the past and when people insist in hanging to the past they stay in the past. Time to move on.

    “Flying out the remaining ET’s and parts, approx. 4 more flights, helps us shorten the gap between the shuttle and commercial HSF, reduces our reliance on the Russians, and better equips the ISS to preform as a laboratory.”

    If this is the case then it will probably happen, if you do not have to maintain an idling workforce for 2 years at a cost around at leats $5B, with a B. Otherwise it is just hyperbole. The likelyhood eveen according to Shannon is that wou will need to do that and it will not happen. Do you know any other professional areas where people would be asked to idle for 2 years like this?

    BTW I am always at a 10 I suppose?… Can’t help it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    mark valah wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    attacking Lori Garver (here I go again…gee for creators sake) is really the only thing that opponents of the “change” can do.

    Charlie is almost untouchable. Marine General, a real combat aviator, space shuttle commander…how are you going to say “he is anti space”? Instead the oldest trick in the book is to find a subordinate, one who has little or no technical chops and who is partisan and go after him/her as a surrogate for the attack on the change.

    this is particularly more “entertaining” since “in theory” the new policy should be “GOP friendly”. Go read the GOP rhetoric on everything from health care to well almost everything and you get “privatize”. Privatize everything government…except of course the human space flight program…there it is “premature” or “they are going to kill astronauts”…

    And of course MOST if not all of the people who are supporting the program of record know what they know about the military from watching NCIS, JAG or The Unit or 24 or some other TV show. So they cannot really engage Charlie. Instead well they go after Garver.

    “Mrs. Garver’s resume indicates a very strong bias towards commercial space” there is little or nothing in her “space policy” past which is biased commercial. The current program is a “Saul like” conversion.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    Before you lump me into the POR uber ales folks, let me just say my ONLY allegiance is to see the human species spread through out the solar system as fast as possible. If that means a trip to the moon on gossamer wings, I’m for it.
    My opinion is the best way to do that is to evolve your technology, not start from scratch every time like NASA seems to do. Heavy lift has been studied for years and I don’t see a game changing technology coming anytime soon that’s going to change the equation much.
    ION and VASIMER drives need to be and should be studied and developed but we can do that while we explore as best we can with what we have.
    Also I think we’re throwing a lot of weight on the back of commercial HSF. How long has it been since Space Ship 1 took the Xprize and Virgin Galactic was formed and how far behind are they? That’s only sub-orbital. I don’t what to see expectations crush them before they get a fair chance to grow.
    I know you and Tom and CS disagree with me but I still think those R&D projects will be easy pickings for future cuts.
    I think there is a middle road here and I’m trying to find it.

  • Whether Garver is lying or Shannon is lying is completely irrelevant. What matters is that they are *disagreeing*. Garver should immediately apply the slapdown on Shannon. She should tell him that if he contradicts her again he is fired.. end of story.

    And, as I said, Shannon shouldn’t be talking to the press *anyway*, it’s not his job.

  • common sense

    @MrEarl:

    The middle of the road was unfortunately lost years ago: The CEV program was a “last chance” for NASA to get its act together. And I know it’s not only NASA but also a Congress/WH/industry issue. The current form of NASA HSF does not work. It hasn’t worked in ages. So at this stage we as a nation have to make a choice. Do we keep any of the “former” NASA or do we et on with the “new” NASA? Shuttle, despite all its magnificence, is a product of the past the far past (!) like 40/30 years ago past. Constellation well you know… What is it that is left then? Well the only people who were never ever given a chance, a real chance, are today’s commercial. But commercial is not about Boeing vs. Blue Origin for example, it is about how we go about business. Cost-plus in this particular case has run its course and does not work any more. It only helps lengthen the process for NASA (changing requirements all the time) to the contractor (getting more cash and has little incentive to see it change). “Fixed” cost is the closest to a commercial approach there is. Negotiations are run upfront and may be run again or not (Kistler). It will help the nation not throwign bad money after bad money. Cost-plus has a future so to speak and I can see why a contractor developing a deep space craft will try and get a cost plus contract, since no one, no one, really knows how to do it, including NASA or any one. There is a lot of hysteria going on and it’s true with any change and this one is a big change. It is easy to target Lori Garver (see Robert’s email) rather than Charles Bolden. However some ventured he is a figurehead! A Marine General, combat aviator, astronaut is a figurehead? Please. Even assuming that Shannon and Coats are doing what they do in total sincerity they will most likely have to go because it only means they do not understand the new NASA and the new leadership at NASA. It is not like they have a choice. They may believe that Congress will save them but it is an illusion. Congress will do what is best for Congress. Read again the KBH bill. Remeber the cost effective statement? Bolden already said the new plan is more efficient and he will be asked to show a possible “more effective” version of the old plan? How likely is that to happen?

    As I said the middle of the road has long gone. NASA’s only opportunity today is to make SURE the commercials are successful or there will be no more NASA HSF soon. Even if Palin is President, though it might go on for while for reasons beyond reason. But if a regular Republican, executive type becomes President in 2012 or later and NASA has not figured a way to get HSF right then it’ll be gone.

    As to Virgin Galactic, ask them. I don’t know. But it seems to me that things are happening in that area of suborbital Space:
    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/02/they-like-comme.html
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=33602
    http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/02/video-first-sub.html

  • common sense

    “Whether Garver is lying or Shannon is lying is completely irrelevant. What matters is that they are *disagreeing*. Garver should immediately apply the slapdown on Shannon. She should tell him that if he contradicts her again he is fired.. end of story.

    And, as I said, Shannon shouldn’t be talking to the press *anyway*, it’s not his job.”

    As I said, some people are probably on their way out. No one should talk to the press without approval, especailly at this level of responsibility. Maybe there is no apparent slapdown as there is no Shuttle in the future and hence no job… Who the heck knows what the slapdown may look like?

  • Keith over at NASA Watch says that some in JSC think that Obama is going to announce 1 more flight for Shuttle? Is his characterization wrong? Is that even a possibility? I hope not.

  • common sense

    It maybe disinformation (not Keith) in order to appease those affected or an attempt to twist arm. As Keith says why one? Just because Nelson said he wants one flight?

    The only reason why you’d do that is that the implementation of the new plan may take a little while longer and you do not want to disband the workforce when they will be needed soonafter.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I dont lump you with any real group, because I really cannot stand those who try and “lump” me…and I found your post reasoned…in that spirit I’ll make a few comments.

    First on evolution of technology. I USE to agree with you. I have oh a half dozen or so op eds spattered about from the late 80′s to somewhere in the 90′s where I urge argue for even embrace a lot of the “evolution” theories that came from private individuals or even NASA. GEODE I thought was a pretty good hack by a NASA person to evolve shuttle hardware into a “quick” space station.

    But I would argue that the “window” to evolve shuttle hardware is more or less closed. Closed for a variety of reasons…it tags along the massive shuttle workforce the cost of which is killing human spaceflight, the NASA shuttle bureacracy and a design background that is based from the 1970′s…

    Second…I dont see a “Middle road” for continuing to fly the shuttle. I look for those, but I dont see anything that flying the shuttle two flights a year or whatever does.

    The “gap” cannot be closed by the shuttle. No matter what happens to the shuttle we are going to continue to have to have Soyuz as the CRV hence why not use them for transport. Second flying the shuttle system 2 a year means each flight consumes enormous amounts of money (more the the system does now). There is up and down mass goodies…but they dont strike me as worth it.

    If the Soyuz or Progress are grounded for any length of time because of something…the station will be at their mercy no matter what the shuttle does.

    I find “one more flight” entertaining…but I would have to be convinced as to “why” we would fly it and what we would do if a Columbia like accident happens (rely on Soyuz@!)

    There are times when it is time to go cold turkey and just move on. The only thing that keeping the shuttle and something on Constellation does is preserve the workforce…and we would just be better off paying them unemployment and moving on.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Josh Cryer wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Keith over at NASA Watch says that some in JSC think that Obama is going to announce 1 more flight for Shuttle? Is his characterization wrong? Is that even a possibility? I hope not…

    if that is the “Nelson sweetener” it is a cheap one…but it is one that is more or less fraught with peril.

    The shuttles have a “rescue” craft for a reason…and in this case we would have to somehow figure out how to have Soyuz rescue..

    second I am not sure what it does…

    I could think of things but they wouldnt be ready until several years.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Mr Earl:
    “I still think those R&D projects will be easy pickings for future cuts.”

    “I think there is a middle road here and I’m trying to find it.”

    This is what I’ve been saying for some time now. Of course their is the technical side and the political side. One clear option is to continue the Orion spacecraft and use the Delta IV as the launch vehicle. If I was “space czar” and had Obama OMB limits that would be likely my choice. It would work and work sooner than another options (save in a SpaceX sales pitch). The problem is the powerful interest in the SRB world (DoD, etc.)

    One thought on that would be a HLV using SRBs. There is either the Ares V or the Direct. The is also the Ares-lite which which like the Direct would use the existing and proven Shuttle SRBs. Here in is a middle road. The commercial will still be going ahead with unmanned supply rockets and they evolve into crewed vehicles in time. At any rate they won’t be put out of business.

  • Dave C.

    I have to agree that Shannon has a lot of moxie to be out in the press trying to gin up support for the extension of the Shuttle. And I’m surprised that his management has not told him to stand down…so one would have to wonder to whom is he answering these days.

    Shannon has been trying to extend Shuttle ever since he became Program Manager. When he was told Shuttle would not be extended, he began using taxpayer money to design the Side Mount… imagine how mad the CxP manager was when he heard that someone at NASA…heck in the same building…was designing a competing LEO space vehicle. When he was told side mount was not the safest design (the capsule should really be on top of the rocket if you want any chance of a successful crew abort), he went back to working on extending Shuttle.

    Shannon plays a good political game, but the cost of extending Shuttle flights beyond what the existing hardware will allow, shutting down transition and phase out work, flying to (say) 2015, turning back on transition and phase out work (and in the meantime praying we don’t have another accident) is a little more than most taxpayers will stomach right now. We are shutting down Shuttle because the Columbia Accident Investigation Board recommended that we should. We always had the option to recertify, but what are you going to recertify to. I’m not sure we know how we did it the first time. And are you going to trust someone with such a vested interest to do the certification?

  • We always had the option to recertify, but what are you going to recertify to. I’m not sure we know how we did it the first time.

    We didn’t. But JSC has put together an internal report on how one would “certify” it for further flight now, though I’m not sure that it’s ever been publicly released. Bottom line is that they’ve been doing most of what they need to, anyway, since in reality, to the degree that Shuttle is “certified” at all, it happens every flight.

  • I have to agree that Shannon has a lot of moxie to be out in the press trying to gin up support for the extension of the Shuttle. And I’m surprised that his management has not told him to stand down…so one would have to wonder to whom is he answering these days.

    I say go Shannon go! Extending the Shuttle is the only way to have U.S. sovereign access to LEO in the next five years. We will have a gap but it will only be two years based on most estimates with Shuttle extension. I think we should use a little “stimulus” money to handle this near term extension. It will be a jobs program while using the regular NASA budget to prepare the long-term solutions. If we go with the Direct or Ares V-lite some Shuttle components will transfer to the future system.

    Keith over at NASA Watch says that some in JSC think that Obama is going to announce 1 more flight for Shuttle? Is his characterization wrong? Is that even a possibility?

    One more flight makes no sense. It think a solid five year extension at two to three fights per year makes a lot more sense. President Obama could bring in some “stimulus” money to fund this.

  • Robert G. Oler

    One of the two things I cannot figure out about the various “Musings” of John Shannon…is what “game” he is playing.

    The solution set is binary.

    Either Shannon is a complete dolt and thinks that somehow someway (given the reality of keeping ISS) that the folks in the Congress/Administration are going to find political support to get the money to keep both Constellation and Shuttle…

    or the calculus among the politically challenged folks at JSC NASA is that it has now become every over budget program for itself…and Shannon has gone “rogue” and is trying to save the shuttle as opposed to Constellation.

    there really are no other alternatives…and in the end I suspect that there are groups at JSC et al which are playing each game or some combination thereof.

    My belief is that they have misread the politics of all this. The folks who usually “die” (metaphorically) in federal program endings are the ones who get all genned up based on what the politicans who are from the districts scream at the top of there lungs…and then are sort of left in the lurch when the politicians cannot (as Shelby noted) get to critical mass.

    as for the other “thing”…have to think some more about it and talk to my best political adviser…

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    Robert Oler (on 1 additional Shuttle flight): “if that is the “Nelson sweetener” it is a cheap one…but it is one that is more or less fraught with peril.”

    I agree with that. At least it probably wouldn’t be so expensive as to wreck the rest of NASA like some of the other ideas going around. Maybe this will satisfy some Shuttle advocates who will realize that staying with Constellation or continuing the Shuttle much more will essential destroy U.S. HSF.

    Maybe the rumored mission will help the ISS, too.

    There is a serious risk with every Shuttle flight, though, and opportunity costs.

    Robert: “The shuttles have a “rescue” craft for a reason…and in this case we would have to somehow figure out how to have Soyuz rescue..”

    From what I recall the STS-135 idea is to have 2 Soyuz at ISS in a rescue role. I think the Shuttle crew would be small to accomodate this scenario, too. I’m not sure about the details of how the Soyuz shuffling would work, though. Would the ISS crew need to be small, too?

    John: “One thought on that would be a HLV using SRBs. There is either the Ares V or the Direct. The is also the Ares-lite which which like the Direct would use the existing and proven Shuttle SRBs. Here in is a middle road. The commercial will still be going ahead with unmanned supply rockets and they evolve into crewed vehicles in time.”

    I don’t see Orion with Ares V, Direct, or Ares-lite as much of a middle road. These will all be incredibly expensive. Maybe one of the “cheaper” ones could happen with the full $3B/year increase from 5 of the Augustine options for HSF, but you have to also consider that there is roughly 0% chance that Obama is going to not increase certain of the things that Constellation whacked like Earth observation funding, Aeronautics fuel efficiency, and other practical projects that happen to fit nicely with his general political stance. There is no way NASA would get a $3B/year boost for HSF plus money for all of that. The implication is that all of those “middle road” options are not middle road at all – they will require all of the funding for the HSF things in the 2011 budget like ISS extension, technology demos, HSF robotic precursors, commercial space, etc.

    John: “I say go Shannon go! Extending the Shuttle is the only way to have U.S. sovereign access to LEO in the next five years.”

    That will also be too expensive, unless you can find a surprise funding source like stimulus funding. I really doubt that will happen – it would step on whoever now has that funding, and it will be easily ridiculed during upcoming elections.

    Also, don’t forget that the U.S. already has access to LEO for the most important missions (DoD, intelligence agency, weather satellites, etc) with commercial rockets like the EELVs.

    John: “One more flight makes no sense. It think a solid five year extension at two to three fights per year makes a lot more sense.”

    The problem with a 5 year extension is that it’s too expensive. That’s why such an extension doesn’t make sense. Does 1 more flight make sense? I’m not really for it because of risk and expense, but maybe it will do some good politically in getting buy-in for the 2011 budget, and helping set up the ISS for its new role as a station that will actually be used. The expense should be much less than a 5 year extension because the hardware will already be set up for a crew rescue mission. No new production lines would need to be set up over years. I don’t know if a logical Soyuz crew rescue scenario is available for the rumored mission, but it could possibly make sense (or at least make less nonsense than many other options some in Congress are pushing for) if a reasonable rescue plan can be had.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    there is no chance stimulus money will be used in the manner that you suggest…none

    that is the current JSC “Theory” (I dont know about the other centers)…they have somehow got it in their mind that there is a pot of stim money there…they are wrong as the right wing was about Massa.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Curtis Quick

    Wow! I sure hope Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon is on good terms with NASA Deptuy Administrator Lori Garver, because it sounds like he just contradicted her when he said the shuttle could continue when she said it couldn’t! There might be one more job about to be laid off and somewhat sooner than the rest if this is taken the wrong way.

    But seriously folks, we’re talking big money here that NASA is not going to get. Shannon says that they could start up production in two years time. So that’s 2.4 Billion a year for two years and then 2.4 Billion for the third when the new parts come on line. That’s a total of 7.2 Billion over three years.

    Let’s see, if we stretch out the remaining four shuttle flights over those two years and then fly two more shuttles in the third year using those new parts that adds up to 6 flights. If we suppose that they will fly 6 astronauts on each flight, that’s 36 seats to orbit in six years for 7.2 Billion. That works out to over 208 million per seat. Wow! And I thought Soyuz was pricey at 50 million.

    Now, I have loved the shuttle program as much as the next guy, but if we pay for this extension, we will be going backward, not forward. The monies that would extend the shuttle would be taken from the funding that would have gone to R&D to build the new system.

    If Congress is really concerned about this flight gap, they should set up a system of billion dollar cost incentives for new space to build up the infrastructure to shorten the flight gap. You know, I bet SpaceX could do all this faster, better, and cheaper for a whole lot less $.

    Of course, if Congress wants to waste more money on the shuttle and help further increase our national debt instead of helping to create a new space industry that could help pay off that debt and give the rest of us better access to space, that’s their choice, at least until the next election cycle, that is.

    Curtis Quick

  • Robert:

    I don’t see Orion with Ares V, Direct, or Ares-lite as much of a middle road. These will all be incredibly expensive.

    The Orion comes first with the Delta IV as launcher. It is the stated goal of Bolden to have an HLV. My though it what one of the three type of launchers that I mentioned would be the approaches would the most reasonable. They would come later after the Orion/Delta IV would be operational for ISS missions.

    The HLV would depend on more future funding. At least that is what Bolden says.

  • red

    John: “My though it what one of the three type of launchers that I mentioned would be the approaches would the most reasonable.”

    With the budget problems we have, I think you have to go with a system that is cheap to develop, even if it’s more expensive per pound launched to operate. You just have to accept that with a rocket that’s expensive to operate, you aren’t going to use it much. Since we’re talking about Shannon, I think the Shuttle-derived HLV that was supposed to be the cheapest to develop was the side-mount that he presented.

    Even that is expensive to develop, as Major Tom pointed out in an earlier thread when we were looking into what sort of benefit you might get from existing Shuttle/Constellation components if you could use the portions of the 2011 NASA budget for Constellation transition, Shuttle slip contingency, KSC modernization, and Heavy Lift/Propulsion work. It basically took almost all of the funds even in very optimistic cases of what would be available, and left nothing for Shuttle infrastructure mainenance or developing payloads for the HLV.

    By the way, these Shuttle-derived HLVs become even more difficult if you wait for the Shuttle to be shut down and infrastructure to be left idle or dismantled.

    What would happen if you scaled back your ambitions with the side-mount and didn’t have any plans to support crew on the HLV (contrary to the Augustine suggestion)? Would that make the side-mount development and/or maintenance significantly cheaper? I don’t know. Are there other ways you could scale back development costs for the side-mount?

    It looks to me like the best approach if you want an HLV (I prefer existing rockets, assembly, docking, and depots, due to HLV expense) is to base it on rockets and components you’re going to use anyway so as to share costs, operational knowledge, etc. The 2011 budget approach does that with the RD-180 class engine that could be used for HLVs and existing classes of rockets at the same time. The EELV Phase I 40-50MT HLVs are also highly compatible with existing rocket hardware. There may be similar approaches with other existing or soon-to-exist rockets.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 10th, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Robert:

    I don’t see Orion with Ares V, Direct, or Ares-lite as much of a middle road. These will all be incredibly expensive…

    I dont know that I wrote that…

    I would agree that Ares V, Direct (which is a fanatsy launcher) or Ares “something else” is not only very expensive but not going to happen.

    Orion? I have said plenty of times here that I see “something” from Orion surviving. I agree with common sense and a few others that this survival might be more in systems (and perhaps a name) then anything else.

    But Orion is really to heavy and expensive for the task of servicing and shuttling (grin) people to the Space station.

    Orion/Delta? Hmm maybe although I see Lockmart/Boeing/OSC/SpaceX all giving the resupply/recrew their own “go”.

    As for a heavy. I dont see it using solids at least not a solid that comes from the shuttle. You have then bought the big army that goes with those.

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Shannon

    I would like to address a few of the comments on this forum.

    First of all, it sounds like most of you were unable to see the entire press conference on Tuesday. NASA has a “Program Overview” press conference with the Program Managers prior to each flight. Reporters take this opportunity to ask questions about the future direction of the Space Shuttle and ISS programs. This is followed by mission briefings by the Flight Directors, the EVA team, and finally the Crew. I also understand that the audio of the reporter’s questions was not being aired so you may have missed what was being asked. Bill Harwood has a more complete write-up on SpaceflightNow.com if you are interested in seeing a more complete account of the discussion. This should answer the “Why was Shannon talking to reporters” comments.

    One of the first questions I was asked concerned the proposed Senate Bill from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and whether the proposed shuttle extension was feasible. I explained that we had kicked-off a vendor study to verify that our vendors could support the actions outlined in the bill. This study has shown that bringing vendors back would not be an issue. As you can imagine, at our current flight rate we maintain close contact with current and previous vendors to make sure that they are available in the event of any issues (for testing, manufacturing expertise, replacement parts, etc). So, from a vendor standpoint it is technically feasible to restart production for a shuttle extension.

    However, even though the vendors would be available, I have also been on record as opposing extension for the following three reasons:
    1.) The Space Shuttle is “overqualified” for the task of simply taking logistics and crews to the ISS. The Space Shuttle has unique capabilities and I have said many times that “once the ISS is completed, and the last HST servicing mission is complete, the Space Shuttle has completed its mission”.
    2.) As I said to Dr. Sally Ride during our Augustine discussions – do not make me re-hire workers that have been laid-off in order to work for three years and build six tanks. The production layoffs have been brutal emotional events. Hiring workers back so that we could go through the whole cycle again in two years is completely wrong (In fact- I described it as “having to rip the band-aid off twice). However – if we could use that workforce/contracts/infrastructure in a follow-on Heavy-lift program it would be a reasonable investment. Without that follow-on program I would strongly counsel against extension.
    3.) Money. There is a base cost with flying the shuttle. I described it as $200 million a month, in reality that is for more than two flights a year and we could accomplish the flight rate in the Congressional bill for less than that, but if you only fly two flights per year the “per flight” cost is high. This fiscal year (2010) we are flying six flights for about $2.8B, or a little less than $500 million per flight. A pretty decent deal. However, we are upside down on fixed versus variable costs due to our unique infrastructure requirements (ever try to rent an arcjet?), so taking total budget divided by number of flights is very misleading. I have often said that the first flight of the shuttle in any given year is $3 billion, all of the rest are free. That is about as accurate as any other method.
    I understand completely both sides of the discussion on whether to extend or not. On one hand it is important to reinvigorate the nation’s R&D base, it has been neglected for too long. On the other – we have a significant investment in infrastructure and corporate knowledge that will be very difficult to rebuild/recapture down the road. One of the most compelling arguments to keep ISS was that we had invested a lot to get our current capability, it would be a crime to walk away from it. There is a parallel there…
    The Administration wants to reinvigorate the R&D base and encourage commercial development of Space – how do you argue against that? Congress wants to maintain our current leadership in Space and get the most out of our current investments – also a worthy point of view. I definitely feel caught in the middle…
    As Bill said in his article: “Shannon did not say whether he personally favored an extension, telling reporters “we just provide the data, and we’ll let the nation go off and decide what they would like this team to go do.” This is really true. I feel it is very important to just provide the facts. We were asked by different members of Congress for data, and we provide them to the best of our ability. As you can tell, I have mixed emotions about the pros and cons of this discussion.
    The other comment that struck me as interesting was the “took taxpayer money to start designing sidemount”. This is not true. We were asked during the transition team meetings to provide alternative crewed and uncrewed options that had been studied over the years – and there have been a lot of them. We did update the design, costs and schedules for a modified Shuttle-C to the transition team. When the Augustine committee asked for a similar study – we all debated who would go up and talk about the alternatives. I encourage you to go back and listen to those briefings- Mike Hawes stated that this was a study that we were asked for, and I started out the discussion by stating that I supported Constellation, however we were aware that it had not been funded properly and that we were pulling together previous studies to provide alternatives. (My personal opinion is that we should have done a “Shuttle-C” early in the program, because we could have tested new technologies on an uncrewed vehicle and hence made the entire system safer. We also could have debated the merits of manned vs. unmanned for each mission to make a conscious decision on whether a mission was worth the crew risk).
    So, I will continue to provide requested data while our elected leadership debates options. There has been no discussion of quashing or disciplining anyone over providing this data. I think the NASA leadership has been very open and responsive to all of these requests, and I am proud to be part of the team.
    The last point I would clarify is what we will do as a shuttle team if there is no extension. As I told the reporters Tuesday: “But it’s a money discussion,” he said. “If we don’t have the resources to do that (extend) and to continue to logistically supply the space station (with shuttle), then I understand that, it’s the path we’ve been on and we’ll take this team and try our hardest to seed them out to either the commercial sector or into whatever NASA is going to do next to bring those lessons learned … to try and make the next program as successful as possible.”

  • Thank you Mr. Shannon for your input here.

  • John Shannon

    Call me John, and I really hope I didn’t kill the discussion, there are a lot of good thoughts on this forum.

  • Mr Shannon, as one who tries to never to make comments publicly about a person that I wouldn’t ask in person given the opportunity, allow me to reiterate my claims and my question. I paraphrase by saying that Garver has stated that extending Shuttle operations is not a question of money, it is impractical. You have stated the exact opposite: that Shuttle operations could be extended if desired, it is simply a question of money. Honestly, I don’t care which of you is right, whether or not Garver had read your report before making her comments, and all the other questions that I’m sure other people would love to ask you. My question is, were you aware that you were contradicting Garver and do you think you should be doing that? Do you think that discussing matters of policy – even facts that pertain to the making of that policy – is appropriate? Don’t you think you are making the administration’s job harder by doing so? And can you please relate this to an overall sensible public relations process for NASA?

    Cause it really does seem like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing here, and whether or not that is true is irrelevant, the perception is damaging to the goals and aspirations of the space community as a whole.

  • John Shannon

    What was reported on this blog was the following:
    ‘Could we extend the shuttle?’” Garver said in response to a question on the subject. “I was told by the entire shuttle NASA folks that, in fact, that time had come and gone. It was not an issue of money at that point, it was an issue of second-tier suppliers, there would be at least a two-year gap between our last flight and the next one, et cetera.” That situation, she said, was a result a previous policies: “We inherited what we inherited.”
    I believe if you read this again, Lori was stating that you could not have an uninterrupted extension of the shuttle, which is exactly right.To bring people back on contract, to get the suppliers spooled up will result in a two year delay in getting new hardware to the launch pad. Throwing lots of money at it would not accelerate the hardware delivery. I don’t see the contradiction you see.
    When I was asked if we could support the proposal from Sen. Hutchison, i addressed that there were no technical reasons we could not, however there is no money in the budget for it and we would have a two year gap unless we spread out the flights. Where is the contradiction?

    regarding your last paragraph – I would say that there is disagreement in the space community on those goals and aspirations and that is why all of this data is being requested. I am just trying to stick to the facts…

  • Could you address the perception issue please? Whether you agree with the contradiction or not is irrelevant. Why are you talking about shuttle extension at all? Don’t you think the more appropriate answer would be “I’m sorry, this is an STS-131 briefing, and that’s a policy matter. You’ll have to take that up with Administrator Bolden, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, or an appropriate Public Affairs Officer.”

    Just seems to me that you have your job and they have their job. Their job involves making policy and engaging the public. Your job is managing the space shuttle program. By interfering with their job you’re inviting them to interfere with yours…

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Shannon wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 12:14 am

    “When I was asked if we could support the proposal from Sen. Hutchison, i addressed that there were no technical reasons we could not, however there is no money in the budget for it and we would have a two year gap unless we spread out the flights. Where is the contradiction?”

    I am curious why you felt the need to answer such a question…instead of deferring the answer to either the Administrator (who sets policy) or someone at HQ who would answer the question.

    It is really not a technical question…it is a political one. Surely you saw that?

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Shannon

    The Program manager briefings are not specifically about the mission. NASA makes us available to the press to discuss the “state of the program” – topics range across a wide variety of issues: technical problems, schedules, budget, workforce. It was fully expected that we would be asked questions about ongoing studies requested by policymakers.

  • John Shannon

    It is completely a technical question if you are asking whether vendors are available to support our supply lines.

  • Ahh, I see. Well in that case John I firmly remove the blame from you and assign it to whoever decided to make you available to the press to discuss anything and everything. This is first year public relations stuff.. I know because I only did first year public relations at college :)

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Shannon wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    It is completely a technical question if you are asking whether vendors are available to support our supply lines…

    narrowly I would agree with you and if that had been the question and if the answer had been “yes” or “no” then that would be that.

    But it was “yes” with “and we have to have more money to support what KBH wants and this or that” and with the second part you steamed right into politics. At least in my view.

    But of course it is not my view that matters…you doubtless know whose pleasure you serve at, and he is the guy who is advocating a changed space policy.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Trent:

    Perhaps it’s Garver who doesn’t know what she is doing. She only knows what she’s been briefed after all. It’s possible what Shannon didn’t know what she had said. Anyway I think he should tell it like it is.

    On the Big Picture:

    It clear that what is really need is more money. Since we are spending money at crazy level to stimulate the economy why not spend some of it in a way that will help the space program as well. I think some stimulus money for the shuttle is a good idea.

    I see John Shannon’s point on the hardship of the layoffs and a person who once had my life turn upside down in a mass layoff, I can sympathize with the people. But in this economy they might not mind a few years back given the difficulty of getting another equivalent job.

    What I’ve been feeling around for is a way to keep as much of the capability of what we have in Shuttle and Constellation. Then organize this into some logical plan to get back to a robut space exploration program in the long run. I agree that in isolation Orion is a little bit much for just ISS crew transfers but it can do the mission. The extra expense is save future development costs to make an Orion-like vehicle in the future when we need it. My thought is that we will probably not get into the ramp up for full development of the HLV until Orion is flying on Delta IVs. COTS supply is still on going so we will have Falcon 9 and Taraus II supply rockets. They may be able to develop into low cost crew vehicles in time which will reduce costs to crew ISS and free Orion up for exploration missions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Trent:

    Perhaps it’s Garver who doesn’t know what she is doing…

    there is little or no evidence of that. (The creator almighty defending her is getting annoying). All the evidence so far is that the “save our jobs” people are the ones who are “off the ranch”.

    as for more money.

    Really now what chance do you see of taking stimulus money and putting it at NASA? Do you really think that is a real option?

    If so…I have some land south and east of Fort Crockett in Galveston to sell you

    Robert G. Oler

  • Do you really think that is a real option?

    Possibly if we can create a sense of crisis about it. Obama doesn’t really care about fiscal discipline. Any way it is worth a try from my side of things. Florida is a swing state and once an election was decided by 513 votes.

  • [...] the recently hot topic of shuttle extension, I recommend that people review the comments to yesterday’s post on the topic, where shuttle program manager John Shannon has provided his insights to clarify what’s been [...]

  • red

    John Shannon: “Money. There is a base cost with flying the shuttle. I described it as $200 million a month, in reality that is for more than two flights a year and we could accomplish the flight rate in the Congressional bill for less than that, but if you only fly two flights per year the “per flight” cost is high.”

    It would be interesting to know just how much less than $200M per month flying 2 shuttle missions per year would be. Similarly, it would be interesting to know how much you could scale back or spread out the side-mount development and operations costs (eg: by not using block II for crew transport, only using it a couple times per year) and still have a viable launcher.

    The question is, could reasonable chunks of certain pseudo-relevant lines in the 2011 budget (like Constellation transition, Shuttle slip contingency, HLV and propulsion research (which we might assume continues beyond 2015), KSC upgrades) put a big dent in those minimized development and operations costs?

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    I wonder if part of Lori Garver’s problem was when she asked her question.

    Remember that, up until recently, CxP was the only game in town and anyone who said differently was in trouble. So, the answer given to DA Garver has to be interpreted through the lens of NASA’s policy at the time which was to retire shuttle and splash ISS ASAP so as to afford Constellaton. Because of this, she may have been given an extreme negative spin on the facts, leading to a more pessimistic view of the practicality of a short shuttle extension feeding directly into a D-SDLV (not necessarily ‘heavy’ in the terms people tend to think of it) than was actually the case. In essense: “Extending shuttle will draw funding away from developing Ares-I, which is the all-overriding priority of this agency, so it is impractical to do so.”

  • If we suppose that they will fly 6 astronauts on each flight, that’s 36 seats to orbit in six years for 7.2 Billion. That works out to over 208 million per seat. Wow! And I thought Soyuz was pricey at 50 million.

    Not that I support Shuttle extension, but that’s not really a fair accounting, because in addition to those seats, you’re also getting a lot of upmass, saving you the cost of having to deliver it on other launch vehicles. It’s not really possible to “unbundle” all of the services of the Shuttle for cost accounting, but clearly you can’t charge the entire cost per flight for astronaut tickets.

  • googaw

    It clear that what is really need is more money.

    I could certainly use some, after what the Feds withheld from my paycheck last month.

  • Thank you John for informing the debate, I am sure it is greatly appreciated by the entire community.

    I would however like to know if Mike Suffredini shares this view:

    1.) The Space Shuttle is “overqualified” for the task of simply taking logistics and crews to the ISS. The Space Shuttle has unique capabilities and I have said many times that “once the ISS is completed, and the last HST servicing mission is complete, the Space Shuttle has completed its mission”.

    Would the program not find itself in complete jeopardy should the ISS require something more than “simply taking logistics”? It seems rather irresponsible to me to take the gamble that for the next ten years the only thing ISS will need is some apple’s and toilet paper, is it not?

  • common sense

    Hmm looks like my post did not make it… So I’ll try again. If the original post shows up then you’ll have the extended version.

    @John Shannon:
    Sir, thank you for commenting here and being on the records. I find your comments reassuring but as Robert Oler pointed out you made in my view a big mistake in touching the Shuttle extension proposed in KBH’s bill. These comments maay have been misconstrued by us bloggers but possibly others… It is a political question better left to either Bolden or Garver or both. And I would suggest you defer the answer to them especially when asked by reporters. Also in the Florida today article (see below) your comments really don’t help.

    Note there is no abandon of US HSF leadership! Quite to the contrary. If we do not invest in R&D what are we going to do soon? There may be a gap but if we don’t do this it will be an indefinitely extended gap.

    Good luck to you!

    Sincerely.

    “”From a personal standpoint, I just think it’s amazing that we’re headed down a path where we’re not going to have any vehicles at all to launch from the Kennedy Space Center for an extended period of time. To give up all the lessons learned, the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve expended to get the space shuttle to the point where it is right now, where it’s performing so magnificently,” said NASA shuttle program manager John Shannon.”

  • Pat Bahn

    I am loathe to discuss anything on the internet, but I shall make an exception.

    While I am sure with several billion dollars of investment, one could extend shuttle flights there would be a significant gap between the current manifest and any future manifest. It is extremely difficult to maintain a political equation for such an extension against Administration requests, and it creates tremendous programmatic risks.

    Dan Goldin had numerous safety studies done on the optimum flight rate and it was 6-8 missions per year, that was enough to maintain ops currency without stressing the crews or the vehicles.

    While we have 2 data points indicating that at 10/year loss rate is 100%, I believe we are ignoring the loss rates that are inevitable from 2/year.

    The Fleet is only 3 orbiters and the spares inventory has been thin ever since the loss of Columbia. Loss of an additional orbiter may make the remaining fleet unflyable. I use the word fleet and it troubles me, and group of vehicles under a dozen is a collection of special purpose craft not a fleet, squadron or wing. Flight rules require a rescue orbiter be available. When we lose a third, how do we maintain a flight rate and a rescue capability?

    After Challenger it was determined that there would be no risk to crews that were not NASA unique. Risking Astronauts to deliver Commsats was not seen as a useful exercise for the nation. After Columbia it was determined that it would not be worthwhile to risk crews without a rescue orbiter being available.

    When we lose a third orbiter, will the justification be “Maintenance of Industrial Base”? Will that be a good reason for a President to bury 7 astronauts?

    We risk these people for Exploration, We risk these people to demonstrate the newest capabilities of America. Should we risk them for something we have done numerous times?

    I believe the exact shutdown has to be a technical/management decision, and whether we fly the AMS or perhaps even a last final to maroon a shuttle at ISS, would be up to the program office.

  • Bob

    Pat, every day the US government risks its employees’ lives to do things people have already done numerous times & sometimes the employees are highly qaulified people in high-prestige positions. Why should astronauts be different from lots of other risky government jobs? We all value human life, but it is the expensive spacecraft, not the replaceable astronauts, that makes spaceflight decisions different.

  • common sense

    @Bob:

    “Why should astronauts be different from lots of other risky government jobs? ”

    It is about whether the risk is worthwhile or not. What is it that is valuable in sending astronauts in the Shuttle today that cannot be accomplished with Soyuz?

    “We all value human life, but it is the expensive spacecraft, not the replaceable astronauts, that makes spaceflight decisions different.”

    I am not sure about “we all value…” when you say it is about the “expensive spacecraft”. If this is all there is then we should fly Soyuz. Period. Very inexpensive and safe, much more so than Shuttle.

  • googaw

    Pat Bahn:
    We risk these people for Exploration, We risk these people to demonstrate the newest capabilities of America. Should we risk them for something we have done numerous times?

    Astronauts are such great heroes for risking their lives that we cannot tolerate the risk to their lives.

    Back in this galaxy, we can demonstrate new capabilities with uncrewed machines. And should, because technology demonstrations have to take big risks if we are to put the technology to the test and advance the state of the art. And real exploration takes place all over the solar system, while no astronaut or cosmonaut has gone beyond the very easiest earth orbit in decades despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on them.

    We can rephrase Pat Bahn’s policy statement as follows: our ritual of astronaut worship is to spend lavish sums of other people’s money on these heavenly pilgrims, but we shall not put our precious astronauts at risk by having them actually do something useful, or defile their godlike nature by asking them to do anything routine.

    Astronaut fans have painted themselves into such an absurd corner.

  • Bob

    The Shuttle vs any other vehicle is very worth figuring out, but not because the Shuttle is dangerous to astronauts. Government employees voluntarily accept danger in their jobs, and the nation can learn to accept astronaut deaths (even when doing routine things) just as the nation accepts the deaths of government employees who die either heroically (soldiers, fire fighters), or while doing mundane but risky things (ie roofing and garbage collection — garbage collection is a surprisingly dangerous profession.) The problem with the Shuttle is that it is expensive to run, and expensive to replace. Astronauts are comparatively easy to replace, just a soldier, a fireman, a roofer, or a garbage collector is easy to replace (except to their loved ones, of course, but we don’t stop collecting garbage when a garbage collector is killed, and we don’t spend billions to make garbage collection safer.)

  • common sense

    ” Astronauts are comparatively easy to replace, just a soldier, a fireman, a roofer, or a garbage collector is easy to replace (except to their loved ones, of course, but we don’t stop collecting garbage when a garbage collector is killed, and we don’t spend billions to make garbage collection safer.)”

    What? Any idea of the selection process as it stands today? But this is beyond the point. Again it is not about the risk per se it is about whether the risk is worthwhile and justified or not. Today nothing that I know justifies flying astronauts in the Shuttle once all is said and done for the ISS. I would even argue they do not need to fly Shuttle now and some improvement to the avionics might make the big bird all automated (e.g. Buran) but it is another story.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    in my view (and as I noted to Shannon what does it matter) when Charlie gets his space program he needs to do a very complete house cleaning.

    ““”From a personal standpoint, I just think it’s amazing that we’re headed down a path where we’re not going to have any vehicles at all to launch from the Kennedy Space Center for an extended period of time. To give up all the lessons learned, the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve expended to get the space shuttle to the point where it is right now, where it’s performing so magnificently,” said NASA shuttle program manager John Shannon.”

    this statement goes past bordering on insubordination, it steams right into it. It is the functional equivalent of a General in combat saying ” ONly speaking for myself, I think withdrawing our troops is the dumbest thing I have ever seen”

    Shannon probably has a bullet proof job because there are so few shuttle launches left (although if he loses one they will come at him with tongs) but afterwards Charlie should reassign him to giving speeches at Space Center Houston.

    Robert G. Oler

  • mark valah

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote
    “..attacking Lori Garver (here I go again…gee for creators sake) is really the only thing that opponents of the “change” can do…”

    The assumption in the community seems to be that Mrs. Garver is the one who should be credited with the “change” in the NASA direction. From what I read, that seems to be a plausible assumption. That being said, the major flaw (both of essence and of PR) I see in the “change” plan is the shrugging towards the undefined number of years without human access to space by US-based technology, and the lack of accountability. I agree with you, besides the points above here, a large fraction of the attacks directed at Mrs. Garver come for political reasons.

    Another fact which I didn’t see explained anywhere is the difference between what we call “commercial” and “government” space vehicles. All vehicles and their propulsion plants are commercial, that is, they are products developed by private contractors for NASA. The difference between the present business model and the new “commercial” direction, if it were adopted, would be the fact that NASA technical personnel would no longer be involved in the development program. The commercial supplier would have only the obligation to produce a certified vehicle, and thus free to develop it in any way it sees fit, and with a certain frugality (read efficiency) impossible when NASA engineers review every design decision, and every bolt and nut, essentially driving the contractor’s design.

  • common sense

    @Robert Oler:

    “this statement goes past bordering on insubordination, it steams right into it. It is the functional equivalent of a General in combat saying ” ONly speaking for myself, I think withdrawing our troops is the dumbest thing I have ever seen”

    I agree. And I am very upset at his and Coats’ reactions, especially in an organization that has been priding itself being somewhat para-military (national secutiry and all associated nonsense). My initial reaction was to apologize to Shannon after I said he was on his way out since his initial comments seemed, in this thread, he was supporting the plan. Then I re-read the article and pointed his remarks to him. Let’s see what he wants to say about it…

    “Shannon probably has a bullet proof job because there are so few shuttle launches left (although if he loses one they will come at him with tongs) but afterwards Charlie should reassign him to giving speeches at Space Center Houston.”

    Bullet proof for another year or max two… Then… There is always the melting of the polar cap observation assignment I suppose? But we shall see. At least he does not do a leaked-memo thing… That I know anyway.

  • common sense

    “Another fact which I didn’t see explained anywhere is the difference between what we call “commercial” and “government” space vehicles.”

    Simply put: COTS vs. cost-plus.

  • Robert G. Oler

    mark valah wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I dont have any inside knowledge of how the decision was made…ie who came up with the new direction. I am pleasantly surprised it is about everything I could like in a plan.

    A blind man could see that the POR was in trouble, before the AC but during it, it was clear to me that the commission was given some serious guidelines (all federal commissions are) as to how the POR should be treated…aka dumped. The POR was hosed because it just simply as the years went on had just gotten out of hand.

    I was truly surprised that the AC did not come up with some other goal…but my guess is that what they said is the reason there was no new direction…there is no money and no national support.

    Right now if NASA is going to do X in space there is almost no way that they do it without repeating the problems in “the vision”. ie programs getting out of control spending wise and time line wise.

    Second I dont think that there is national support for any real spending in human spaceflight….or any grand efforts. We have as a nation nearly 20 percent unemployed or underemployed and people want to send astronauts to (insert place here)…nuts

    Finally I think we desperatly need a commercial space industry…we as a country have to take things that cost money and make them things that give the nation money.

    But having said all that…I dont see Garver as the leading light on this…unless she had some conversion on the road to Washington. It is not her rhetoric

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    “the fact that NASA technical personnel would no longer be involved in the development program. The commercial supplier would have only the obligation to produce a certified vehicle, and thus free to develop it in any way it sees fit, and with a certain frugality (read efficiency) impossible when NASA engineers review every design decision, and every bolt and nut, essentially driving the contractor’s design.”

    How does the USAF, Navy, Marines go about it? Why should it be *that* different for NASA? If they were to hold *the* knowledge then sure. But it is not the case. Not anymore. NASA should come up with requirements and let the contractors design then make sure the design meet the requirements. And yes they will be part of the process just as the other DOD branches are doing. What is so bad about that?

  • common sense

    “Finally I think we desperatly need a commercial space industry…we as a country have to take things that cost money and make them things that give the nation money.”

    AND, AND: If there is a blooming of the market it will create jobs, maybe not as secure as those NASA jobs but with enough contractors… Big IF? You bet? What is it about taking risks? AND, AND: If there is a blooming of the market we will never ever need another blue ribbon panel, things will take care of themselves. AND, AND: If it does not work? We’ll wait for better times…

  • Keep the shuttle to cover the gap at two flights per year until we can field a worthy replacement. I know its a white elephant however having lived through the 70′s gap I would not want to repeat it. Even worse we don’t have a viable replacement at this time. How screw ball is that to abandon the world’s premier space machine without having reached a decision on what will replace it????? I must go with the lesser of two evils. Fly the damn thing until the cows come home or “New Space” demonstrates it can field a worthy replacement. And a splash down capsule is not a worthy replacement its an insult.

  • Habitat Hermit

    That was an extremely good and clarifying post by John Shannon, I’m glad RLVnews.com/HobbySpace posted a heads up on it so I could read it (I had already read this discussion up to an earlier point before the comment was made and probably would have missed it).

    Thank you John Shannon, may we all be as fortunate as to have all congressional staffers (and maybe even a few Senators and Representatives) read your post; no matter what they currently believe they should get at least a little bit more enlightened (and maybe then they’ll make a political “sausage” that’s edible).

    Trent Waddington, Robert G. Oler, and Common Sense I understand and support the intent of speaking out against instances that might be perceived as subversion as you continue to do in your later points of criticism but I would argue we should also try to give quite of bit of slack to not only John Shannon but anyone at all at NASA on this kind of issue: that kind of “open battle” is precisely what I would have wanted to happen all the way during Constellation’s numerous difficulties, particularly very early on where it would have made the biggest improvements (and also at a time where I personally and most likely many like me didn’t realize or know better even though we/I was lukewarm to the idea of a solid first stage for a HSF launcher). Better to have any disagreements or arguments out in the open where they can be debated and at least sometimes be put to rest. Minor snafus (and I’m not even all that sure this specific case has really been a snafu at all, not by Shannon or Garver at least) are worth it in order to bring about the kind of clarity that has now been had with John Shannon’s comment.

    The real challenge lies in getting these clarifying pieces of informations as well as opinion out to people at large and particularly without the kind oversimplification that happened “second hand” in this case, a difficult task if one can’t get people to read it in full which would be the best.

  • Habitat Hermit

    “…the idea of a solid first stage…” should read “…the idea of a solid fuel first stage..” for completeness and to avoid misinterpretation, and I left out “of” in what should read “…without the kind of oversimplification…”.

  • common sense

    ” that kind of “open battle” is precisely what I would have wanted to happen all the way during Constellation’s numerous difficulties”

    Yes and No. There are many ways to go about this kind of battle and resorting to the media is the last thing one should use. It is not appropriate to go publicly against anything before due process. I’d also point that the decision to terminate Shuttle was made in 2004 and I did not hear any one actually crying wolf or anything then. It looks to me like a political game as it stands today wrt Shuttle. I reapeat again. I felt better after Shannon’s comments YET there are comments out there in the public that do not befit his position. I feel even worse about the Mike Coats leaked memo thing is that is any consolation.

    A lot of people did not necessarily see the danger of using a solid booster at first. This is understood. However as evidence was piling, some one up there in the chain should have said they needed to change course. They did not. Why is up to them. The result is what it is, cutting slack or not.

    By the way, open battle means you take risks and necessary protection because you may lose the battle. A rock and a hard place. Don’t they say it is why they pay the big bucks. Other people jobs are/were/will be at risk because of some past poor decisions. I don’t know they will cut slack even though today it seems the reponsible party is the new team! We’ll talk again about this when these workers come back to reality.

    Oh well.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Habitat Hermit wrote @ March 11th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    there is no open battle going on…just folks who are trying to protect their jobs…and have forgotten their oath of office

    Robert G. Oler

  • danwithaplan

    There are about 3-4 folks agreeing with each other on this thread.

    common sense, Oler who’s everywhere, Widdington, and some other guy.

    Good fun talking to yourself.

  • there is no open battle going on…just folks who are trying to protect their jobs…and have forgotten their oath of office

    What you are missing is that there is a bigger issue that anyones job and that is the future of space flight. I for one have no financial interest in the outcome of this debate. But I do care deeply about it. I sure that people like John Shannon can find a way to stay employed or get new employment. Also, getting into disagreements with political superiors doesn’t help that so I sure that he is doing what he thinks is best.

  • Dave C.

    Shannon’s comments directly benefit the contractors who work for him at a time when these companies are in a political fight against a democratic president. If that ain’t a Hatch Act violation, I don’t know what is. If Shannon wanted to make his opinion known, he should not have done so in a NASA facility, as a senior NASA manager, to a room full of NASA press. The POTUS has told him that his job is to safely fly out the remaining shuttle flights, and shut down the program. His response was if you give me some more money, we don’t need to shutdown. He sounds like the teenager who you’ve told to bring the car home at midnight that responds by saying if you give me $40 for gas I can drive around until sunrise. USA, ATK, Boeing, etc. have big bucks to lobby congress…that is not the job of the Shuttle Program Manager.

  • John Shannon’s response about extending the Shuttle on NASA TV:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhRj_6gtG0w

  • Habitat Hermit, I don’t know if you’re going to see this thread again but I expect you’re not going to like this… I’m of the strong opinion that Constellation would have achieved a lot more if everyone who disagreed with Griffin’s plan just STFU. What’s more, Griffin should have laid down the law.. everyone who disagreed with him should have been warned and, if they continued to make unauthorized public statements, fired. This isn’t a matter of “transparency”.. this is simple subordination. If you want to do a big project you need a clear chain of command. To get the support of the public you need a single message, and no dissent. Griffin was either unwilling or unable to control his people, and that’s the only reason why anyone was against Constellation.

    People may find my opinion baffling as I’m clearly not a Constellation supporter. But this isn’t about any specific program, this is about management and, although some things can be handled with kid gloves, public dissent is *toxic* and must be met with an iron fist.

  • VSEforward

    That may be so, Trent,

    But shouldn’t George Bush in that case have told Griffin to do what he (Bush) and O’Keefe had written down in the VSE. Griffin clearly wasn’t following orders when he started Constellation.

  • facest watcer

    “public dissent is *toxic*”

    Oh look, another Rand Simberg fa_sist on Jeff Foust’s space policy blog.

  • facest watcer, ummm.. I’m not really a “fan” of anybody. I give everyone what I think they deserve in terms of criticism.. and kudos.

  • [...] been published on the committee web site as of midday Monday, but this appears to be the hearing Sen. Nelson referred to in his floor speech last week “to look at the commercial rocket competitors and whether they need the $6 billion the President [...]

  • Kris Ringwood

    What a tangle! It seems the whole space community has gone through the implosion-trigger phase and now comes the fission part. One wonders if the Obama/Garver team intended this. No HSF-BEO program unless there is rebellion in the ranks. I’m just waiting for OSC to lose it’s contract so that the U.S space program is then reliant upon Elon Musk’s products at a price which makes the Russians’ asking prices seem like a steal!

  • Habitat Hermit

    Trent, sorry for the late reply (I’m set to move temporarily while a bathroom is being fixed, a real pain and I might not even have internet access for a month or so unless I choose to battle the Linux kernel and Ubuntu version I use to get a “ZTE mf636″ usb mobile modem working –I’ve found plenty of good information on making it work but it’s not tempting at all, particularly because I don’t have the time to get it delivered and set up before moving).

    Anyway Griffin’s plan didn’t even survive Griffin:
    the change from using the Shuttle/STS SRBs as the Ares I first stage to using a new five segment solid rocket fuel first stage (except primarily the casings, which is a weird and bizarre choice that only seems justified as a PR sleight of hand) is a larger change than many seem to realize. At that point Ares I should have been scrapped because the professed (but perhaps not sincere) aim of Griffin with Ares I was to utilize STS heritage and that aim was obliterated by that change.

    And the original Ares I should have been killed by the 60-day ESAS study, truly should have. ATK must have known the instant they saw the design but of course they’ll say they’ll provide the SRB (as well as the change they know will be needed somewhere down the line) ^_^ NASA has overall responsibility after all, if NASA wants to build weird things using ATK supplies it’s none of ATK’s concern: they’ll provide as long as the money arrives.

    The fundamental design idea of Ares I “Mark 1″ was like the notion of cutting off a third of a semi-trailer truck engine and putting in your sedan with the expectation that it would be an appropriate and fully working solution for normal sedan use. It just didn’t seem quite as bad as that because the Shuttle Transportation System sort of has three engines (SSMEs and two SRBs all roughly providing a third of the power each) but in reality it was just as stupid in the way it completely ignored the actual workings and design of the STS and how that system was broken when using a single SRB alone in a new launch vehicle.

    Likewise to that mix and match approach the fundamental design idea of Ares I “Mark 2″ (made when at least some of the flaws of the original Ares I were undeniable) was like the notion of trying to make one and a quarter firecrackers into a larger firecracker by taping them together. Same kind of mix and match approach that ignores just about everything about how things actually work. I didn’t realize this either at the time because I didn’t know enough then but it’s hard to believe nobody at all at NASA realized the follies of both Ares I versions fairly early on/almost instantly.

    A side note about management fits in well at this point: as far as I know what Griffin and his HQ did wasn’t that far from what you think is good management advice and so what? Reality didn’t budge and the outcome is exactly the same only at far higher levels of wasted money, wasted effort, wasted years, and wasted employee talents. If you look at the results that’s not good management.

    Wouldn’t it have been better if somebody at NASA was not only allowed but encouraged to demonstrate why the original Ares I couldn’t and wouldn’t work according to know basic solid rocket fuel/engine knowledge? Sure keep it internal if you can but if that wasn’t an option due to for example your recommended management policies then publicly.

    And by the way isn’t “open battle” (maybe a bad choice of words) exactly what happened in Apollo with John Houbolt and LOR? Not to “invoke” Apollo unfairly ^_^

    And facts should never be deemed subversive no matter what or one is in deep trouble (and of course if “facts” are politically defined as seems common in Congress then one is in equally deep trouble).

  • Kris Ringwood

    “And the original Ares I should have been killed by the 60-day ESAS study, truly should have. ATK must have known the instant they saw the design but of course they’ll say they’ll provide the SRB (as well as the change they know will be needed somewhere down the line) ^_^ NASA has overall responsibility after all, if NASA wants to build weird things using ATK supplies it’s none of ATK’s concern: they’ll provide as long as the money arrives.”

    ATK were actually the originators of the whole ARES LV concept:http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/ares.htm.

    It was their upper management that sold the idea to Griffin and Horowitz in 2004, who then ran with it as if it originated from NASA. Ever since it has become clear that this was another “even if we fail, we make pots of money” Aerospace Industry boondoggle that inspired the USAF to bankroll Elon Musk as a way out of the dilemma of which ATK is just another player. I believe the term for it is “Corporate Socialism”!

  • [...] to keep the Space Shuttle flying until 2015 has been introduced in the House. This legislation, plus $2.4 Billion a year, could do [...]

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