Congress, NASA

Who needs a Plan B when you can have a Plan A?

Appearing before the space subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee yesterday, former Lockheed Martin executive Tom Young, a veteran of a number of space-related committees and reviews in the last decade, described his issues with the NASA budget proposal. During his testimony he made several references to a “plan A”. “A plan A is needed which is absent from the proposed fiscal year 2011 budget,” he said. “The availability of a plan A will facilitate informed decisions relative to funding and affordability of a human spaceflight program that will be in place for decades.” This “plan A” would be funded in part from the money in the budget proposal for commercial crew transportation, robotic precursor missions, Constellation closeout, and an unspecified portion of money planned for technology development.

But what exactly would “plan A” be? Young didn’t explicitly describe it, but his testimony suggests it would be a lot like the so-called “program of record” NASA is currently implementing, perhaps with some tweaks. “I believe the most logical path forward is to commit to a transportation system based upon the Ares 1 investment,” he said, with “consideration” given to evolving it into a heavy-lift system, although not explicitly mentioning Ares 5. He also endorsed Orion: “Significant investment has been made in Orion and it should be the basis of a capsule to support space station operations and be the basis for initiating exploration beyond Earth orbit.” Or, to put it bluntly: “Constellation should not be cancelled.” Later, in response to a question by Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), ranking member of the subcommittee, Young said, “No alternative strikes me as being as credible as Ares 1/Orion as the basis for a space transportation system to low Earth orbit and to the space station.” Deviating from that program at this time “would be a mistake.”

Young showed a little more flexibility on where humans should go beyond low Earth orbit. On one hand, he stated that “I believe human exploration must have ‘boots on the ground,’” he said, expressing concerns that the Moon might be bypassed. Later, though, he acknowledged that “deferral of the lunar option may be required depending upon available budget” and that a human asteroid mission “may be less challenging and expensive” than a lunar landing.

Young also made it clear that there was no room in his plan A for commercial crew transportation. “I believe we are a long way from having a commercial industry capable of satisfying human space transportation needs,” he said. “The commercial crew option should not be approved.” He repeated that sentence for emphasis in his opening statement. Instead, he spoke of the need for a “national” system that combines the strengths of government and industry to develop human space transportation systems. He drew parallels to the problems with military space programs in the 1990s when the government took a more hands-off approach to program management, which led to major cost overruns and program failures.

“I do not think there is a sufficiently high probability that commercial crew will be successful,” Young said later in the hearing. “So I think we’re looking at decades with no exploration” under the proposed plan. Young then mentioned his seven-year-old grandson’s interest in space. “How do I tell him, that if this program is implemented, the next time NASA flies in space, he could well be 30 years old?”

68 comments to Who needs a Plan B when you can have a Plan A?

  • G Clark

    Mr Young has obviously either

    A) not read the latest budget projections for the POR, or
    B) doesn’t believe them.

    Sad.

  • Wodun

    This will not please some people who post here.

    The last paragraph pretty much sums it up. No easy options and everything will cost more and take longer to build than expected. We can’t expect NASA to continue what it is doing now in addition to new duties, without spending more money.

    Would be interesting to see if any new heavy lift could be developed before or close to when China completes theirs. The last article I read reported they were shooting for 2014.

  • This is incredibly funny. What don’t they get? No amount of hand waiving will make Constellation executable. Congress can’t just order NASA to do the impossible.. oh wait, I guess they can, I look forward to the comedy value of that.

  • Allen Thomson

    > Would be interesting to see if any new heavy lift could be developed before or close to when China completes theirs. The last article I read reported they were shooting for 2014.

    What China is developing and hopes to fly 2014-2015 is the Long March 5, a Delta IV class vehicle. One of their guys recently talked about the possibility of developing a Saturn V class HLV sometime in the future.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March_5
    http://tinyurl.com/yjtyqc3

  • The study Tom Young refers to is using a Delta IV Heavy. It’s a completely bogus claim. You don’t need to have a man rated heavy launch vehicle to get in to space. Especially since Delta IV Heavy has only launched three times, of course it’s going to be hard to rate.

    This is all the whole clinging to the debacle that was Orion thing.

  • To clarify (sorry for the double post), they don’t look at Atlas V or Delta IV Medium, nor do they look at Falcon 9. Completely bogus all the way around.

  • Major Tom

    “No easy options and everything will cost more and take longer to build than expected.”

    No doubt. But some options cost _a lot_ more and take _a lot_ longer than others.

    From Viking to Martin Marietta R&D to the 2001 Mars mission failure review to his latest NPOESS review, Young has been a great manager and reviewer of robotic programs. (When he was a little younger, I thought he was NASA Administrator material.) But at least in this hearing, he doesn’t seem to grasp the orders of magnitude differences involved in the various options for the human space flight program going forward.

    It’s going to cost between over $30 billion (various NASA managers’ estimates) and nearly $50 billion (GAO estimate) to finish Ares I/Orion. Commercial crew could fail miserably and _quintuple_ in cost versus the Augustine report’s $5 billion estimate and it would still come out $5 billion to $25 billion of dollars ahead of Ares I/Orion. I’d certainly hope that wouldn’t happen, but as a U.S. taxpayer and as somone that hopes there’s some money left over in NASA’s human space flight budget to do something other than service ISS, I’d take that commercial crew “failure” over that Ares I/Orion “success” any day.

    It’s also hard to understand why Young thinks commercial crew is such a leap when he endorses commercial cargo transport to the ISS in the same hearing. For cargo, companies are going to have to launch, rendezvous, and safely dock pressurized capsules to the ISS that ISS astronauts are going to have to safely enter and then bring those pressurized capsules back through reentry and landing intact. The step from that capability to crew — adding launch escape, life support, and controls — is not that great.

    I can only guess that it’s Young’s relative lack of experience with human space flight programs that leads him to these conclusions despite the cost estimates and engineering involved.

    “Would be interesting to see if any new heavy lift could be developed before or close to when China completes theirs. The last article I read reported they were shooting for 2014.”

    That 2014 Long March “heavy lift” is an EELV equivalent. It’s not a Saturn V or Energia class HLV.

    FWIW…

  • It is interesting that for many, the less experience they have with human spaceflight, the harder they think it is.

  • Thomas Young: “Space Shuttle has been the U.S. workhorse for three decades. It has remarkable crew and cargo capabilities. I do not believe Shuttle is the long term solution.”

    Translation: a minor STS extension if specifically tied to enabling the full utilization of ISS until COTS-CRS gets going would be okay.

    Thomas Young: “I believe the most logical path forward is to commit to a transportation system based upon the Ares I investment. Consideration should be given to the ability to evolve the system to a heavy lift capability. NASA should be asked to undertake a study to define the required system.

    Thomas Young: “Human exploration beyond Earth orbit will require a new heavy lift launch vehicle. I do not believe we need a technology program as a prerequisite. Available budget will determine the heavy lift implementation plan. NASA should be directed to develop an integrated space transportation plan that will result in the timely development of a heavy lift launch vehicle.”

    Whether we do a modern day Saturn V or Ares-5 they will both take too long and bust the budget because the require the construction of a America’s third all new HLV industrial base ten years from now.

    It makes a lot more sense to add $8 billion dollars to transform the existing $40 billion dollar operational HLV (better know as the STS or Space Shuttle,ie our existing second HLV industrial base) into a near term SDHLV, i.e. the Jupiter-130 (perhaps Jupiter-130 heavy, budget permitting). This approach sure seems to fit the bill of what Young is suggesting regarding HLV.

    Combine that with restoring the beyond LEO capabilities of Orion, literally shaken out of existence by the Ares-1, capabilities that are now relevant due to the beyond LEO capabilities of the Jupiter and you have an efficient transition of the money already spent on the PoR and already in place in the from of flight proven hardware, tooling, launch infrastructure and workforce experience with the STS.

    My one disagreement (besides continuing to bring up the Ares-1 dead horse, a rocket that at best duplicates many years from now at great expense what we can already buy today) is that a more modest Commercial Crew funding profile, sufficient to get the SpaceX Dragon to full crew capability ASAP, should be maintained.

    Under this scenario, America will have the LEO only SpaceX/Dragon-Crew Capable system for ISS support, with the Jupiter-130/Orion beyond LEO capable system as its back up. All within five years even with a minor STS extension (retirement based on ISS logistics needs + COTS CRS progress), advance tech program, not cuts to Science or other non-HSF related activites, and all fitting within the President’s top line

    What’s not to love?

  • GuessWho

    “It is interesting that for many, the less experience they have with human spaceflight, the harder they think it is.”

    Maybe the right statement should be: “It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft, are the ones telling Congress and NASA that human spaceflight is far more difficult than the SpaceX’s of the world (with no experience) are claiming.”

    I certainly would expect Mr. Young to have a far greater appreciation of this topic than the arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board.

  • Vladislaw

    “Maybe the right statement should be: “It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft, are the ones telling Congress and NASA that human spaceflight is far more difficult than the SpaceX’s of the world (with no experience) are claiming.” ”

    Space X has almost 1000 employees, are you saying, every single person working for them has absolutely NO Experience? EVERY employee is totally new to the aerospace industry? Elon Musk hired ONLY people that were fresh out of college and have never bent or cut metal in their entire life?

    IF that is what your suggesting, then they have did EXTREMELY well for a bunch of rookies. They designed and developed the first commercial engine and the first two launch a satellite. Pretty good for people who have never ever been involved in the aerospace industry.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    why wont you explain the military applications of “Jupter” since you claim to have inside knowledge and yet are free to do so.

    The post you put out on this thread is typical of the handwaving that defines the DIRECT program. Here we have first hand evidence of taking quotes of other people and then morphing them into support for JUPITER.

    you wrote “This approach sure seems to fit the bill of what Young is suggesting regarding HLV.” Young doesnt as best I can tell scanning the trancript mention JUPITER as an HLV.

    what makes you think that he is supporting JUPITER?

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @GuessWho wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    “I certainly would expect Mr. Young to have a far greater appreciation of this topic than the arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board.”

    That you clearly are part of, right?

    Blahblahblah…

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    “why wont you explain the military applications of “Jupter” since you claim to have inside knowledge and yet are free to do so.”

    Stepehn clearly cannot, it’s classified information ;)

  • I certainly would expect Mr. Young to have a far greater appreciation of this topic than the arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board.

    If you’re referring to yourself, you’re probably right. But I have more manned spaceflight experience than Tom Young does.

  • Robert G. Oler

    GuessWho wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I certainly would expect Mr. Young to have a far greater appreciation of this topic than the arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board…

    the trick in any sort of testimony is to try and figure out where the bias is…maybe there is none; but for instance I would certainly expect Culberson from OSC to have a bias…toward OSC and the goals of that company.

    It is clear that Young’s bias is toward continuing unfettered and with little control the standard of human spaceflight that has existed since Apollo was started. His testimony is littered (and I use that word carefully) with “keep the past”.

    Now that is an argument…and he makes it…the JUPITER people make it…the problem is that it has almost no political support in The Republic nor do I think that the past is working very well.

    You might as an “arm chair” argue otherwise. OK fine. But I disagree

    Robert G. Oler

  • googaw

    There is some upside as well as downside to scrapping Commercial Crew and going back to Ares-1. The downside is that we will be wasting far more of the taxpayers’ and and our childrens’ money, as Ares-1 is an economically abominable choice. The silver lining, which is admittedly more parochial to my own wishes for lower launch costs, is that scrapping Commercial Crew would keep SpaceX from becoming more embedded in NASA bureaucracy and dominated by NASA money and politics. Since SpaceX already has several non-NASA satellite customers and prospects for many more, real markets, this wold give it a good shot at becoming a real commercial company, with most of its revenue from customers other than NASA, a company has a strong incentive to deliver on their promise of lower launch costs. Let the make-work jobs live in one galaxy and real commerce live in another and don’t try too hard to mix the two.

  • Major Tom

    “Translation: a minor STS extension if specifically tied to enabling the full utilization of ISS until COTS-CRS gets going would be okay.”

    That’s not what Young said or wrote. If we’re having to “translate” sources to support our arguments, then we’re probably grasping at straws for our arguments, at least with respect to those sources.

    “It makes a lot more sense to add $8 billion dollars to transform the existing $40 billion dollar operational HLV… Combine that with restoring the beyond LEO capabilities of Orion… All within five years even with a minor STS extension (retirement based on ISS logistics needs + COTS CRS progress)… all fitting within the President’s top line.”

    This doesn’t account for the costs of finishing Orion development or STS extension and doesn’t fit within the topline budget at all.

    Jupiter 130 development is $8.3 billion alone (at least according to the DIRECT presentation to the Augustine Committee).

    We havn’t accounted for the costs to finish Orion. Using NASA’s FY 2010 runout budget (FY 2011 – FY 2014) for Orion, that’s at least another $7.7 billion. (Probably more since that budget was phasing Orion development out through 2015-2016 and since I didn’t include a share of Orion’s ground systems development from that Constellation budget line.)

    Per Shannon, STS extension is $170 million to $240 million per month. Even the most optimistic Commercial Crew projection puts the readiness of these vehicles no earlier than 2013 (e.g., three years from award according to SpaceX). So a three-year (36-month) STS extension through Commercial Crew readiness will be $6.1 billion to $8.6 billion

    Adding them up — $8.3 billion for Jupiter 130 development, $7.7 billion to finish Orion development, and $6.1 billion to $8.6 billion for STS extension — we get a total of $22.1 billion to $24.6 billion. Call it $23 billion.

    We have to squeeze $23 billion back into NASA’s FY 2011 budget request to execute this plan, not $8 billion.

    “a more modest Commercial Crew funding profile, sufficient to get the SpaceX Dragon to full crew capability ASAP, should be maintained.”

    Cutting back Commercial Crew to the bare minimum only saves us $5 billion or so. We still have to come up with another $17 billion or so to execute this plan.

    (I’d also note that such an action contradicts the advice given by former NASA Comptroller Mal Peterson and others at last week’s Senate authorization hearing with respect to conservative, full funding of Commercial Crew.)

    “advance tech program, not cuts to Science or other non-HSF related activites”

    Even with Commercial Crew reduced to a billion or less, we’re going to have to radically cut some combination of exploration technology, ISS research, space science, Earth science, and aeronautics to the tune of $17 billion or so to execute a plan consisting of Jupiter 130 development, finishing Orion development, and STS extension through the earliest possible readiness date for Commercial Crew.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Maybe the right statement should be: ‘It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft,’”

    To be clear, Tom Young doesn’t have decades of experience with respect to the design, development, and operations of launch vehicles or spacecraft for human space flight. That’s not a knock against Tom Young — his accomplishments on the Viking program are legendary, and he’s provided invaluable service to the nation reviewing mission and program failures from Mars 2001 to NPOESS. But it’s important to point out that there was no non-NASA witness at this hearing with the kind of experience you describe. (Doug Cooke arguably does have that kind of experience.)

    “‘are the ones telling Congress and NASA that human spaceflight is far more difficult than the SpaceX’s of the world (with no experience) are claiming.’”

    ULA’s parent companies do have decades of experience designing, building, and operating launch vehicles and spacecraft for human space flight, but their estimates are not wildly different from SpaceX for Commercial Crew development. ULA estimates $400 million to develop a human-rated, single-stick Atlas V to launch commercial capsules. They also estimate $1.3 billion to develop a human-rated, triple-stick Delta IV to launch Orion. These estimates, from their presentations to the Augustine Committee, are in the neighborhood of SpaceX’s $300 million to human-rate Falcon 9/Dragon.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom wrote @ March 25th, 2010 at 3:44 pm :

    “Maybe the right statement should be: ‘It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft,’”

    “(Doug Cooke arguably does have that kind of experience.)”

    Not in launch vehicle design, nor in reentry vehicle design according to
    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/about/cooke_bio.html

  • Major Tom

    “Not in launch vehicle design, nor in reentry vehicle design according to
    http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/about/cooke_bio.html

    No, Cooke worked Shuttle reentry during its development and early operations. Per the bio you referenced:

    “Mr. Cooke’s first major challenge began in 1975 when he was tasked with defining and implementing an entry aerodynamic flight test program for the Space Shuttle. This program was successfully implemented during the Approach and Landing Tests in 1977, and early orbital flights of the Space Shuttle beginning in 1981 through 1984.”

    The more telling part of Cooke’s history is his work under Griffin during the massively expensive and failed SEI. Somewhat of a harbinger of things to come under Constellation. History always repeats itself.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Not sure here if we disagree but “Mr. Cooke’s first major challenge began in 1975 when he was tasked with defining and implementing an entry aerodynamic flight test program for the Space Shuttle. ” is nothing like design. It is indeed flight test. Usualy design and test work hand in hand but you eventually test a vehicle that’s aleady designed.

    And his work under Griffin does not span decades of LV/RV design experience. This is not how I understand it anyway.

  • GuessWho

    Vladislaw – “Space X has almost 1000 employees, are you saying, every single person working for them has absolutely NO Experience? EVERY employee …”

    Strawman argument. I never made that claim. To quote Major Tom:

    “Stop making things up”

    Not every employee, of that almost 1000 number by your estimate, is in a key decision-making position. Mr. Young was and oversaw far more employees than the almost 1000 you claim at SpaceX along with an extremely wide and diverse set of missions and customers. His perspective is based upon a far greater experience base with complex systems, including space systems, than most (if not all) of the posters on this discussion board. And that includes me.

    common sense – “… That you clearly are part of, right? Blahblahblah…”

    You know who I am? You know what I do? You can divine that out of thin air? Wow, you are truly amazing. Can you divine what the next major lottery numbers are too? Common sense? Not from you.

    Simberg – “If you’re referring to yourself, you’re probably right. But I have more manned spaceflight experience than Tom Young does.”

    I don’t claim to have manned spaceflight experience and I don’t make the policy proclamations associated with that subject as most here do. I do challenge the concept that a extremely limited experience company like SpaceX has all the answers and can provide manned space flight for a small fraction of what experience aerospace professionals feel is plausible. I remember a time when both Boeing and Lockheed were selling EELV’s in the $50M-$60M a ride when they were competing for market share. That price range wasn’t sustainable. SpaceX is now where BA and LM were 10 years ago. It will be interesting to see if they are able to survive or if prices rise to essentially where the rest of the industry is.

    And BTW, I didn’t claim Mr. Young had “manned spaceflight experience”. Those are your words.

    To quote Major Tom: “Stop making things up”

    I stated “It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft …”. I was referring to the organization that Mr. Young led which does have all of the experience I noted. So Rand, can you you claim this level of leadership with the aerospace industry?

    Oler – “It is clear that Young’s bias is toward continuing unfettered and with little control the standard of human spaceflight that has existed since Apollo was started.”

    That may be your opinion. It is not a fact however, unless you have a direct quote from Mr. Young that you can cite. Do you? Can you share it? If not, then state it as your opinion only and move on.

    Major Tom – “ULA’s parent companies do have decades of experience designing, building, and operating launch vehicles and spacecraft for human space flight, but their estimates are not wildly different from SpaceX for Commercial Crew development. ULA estimates $400 million to develop a human-rated, single-stick Atlas V to launch commercial capsules. They also estimate $1.3 billion to develop a human-rated, triple-stick Delta IV to launch Orion. These estimates, from their presentations to the Augustine Committee, are in the neighborhood of SpaceX’s $300 million to human-rate Falcon 9/Dragon.”

    Agreed, I would put more stock in ULA estimate for the LV portion tha SpaceX. I will point out however that you stated SpaceX at $300M for a human-rated capsule (Dragon) and a human-rated LV (Falcon), neither one of which has successfully flown, let alone demonstrated long-term reliability. I can’t begin to guess what LM or Boeing estimate a Orion-lite sized vehicle, similar to Dragon in terms of crew capacity and crew safety systems, would cost to develop and demonstrate but I suspect it is far more than $300M given that this is the price of a typical communications satellite which can tolerate far higher launch loads, does not need to provide life support, and does not need protect its payload intact and funcional upon a LV failure. Thus the SpaceX estimate of $300M for both is, in my opinion, laughable. Taking the $400M from ULA (based on decades of LV experience) and adding, say $600M for the Orion-lite (just a WAG), means I have a billion dollar system at a minimum and perhaps a two billion doller program if an Orion-lite is really closer a $1.5B (some reasonable percentage of a NASA-directed Orion program without all the overhead associated with NASA) effort from start to finish. Certainly better than NASA’s numbers by a far stretch, but far more than the bill of goods SpaceX, in my opinion, is selling.

    Note to discussion board – no policy statements made here. Now, have fun…

  • I stated “It is interesting to see that those who have decades of experience designing, developing, building, and flying Launch Vehicles and LEO/GEO/BEO spacecraft …”. I was referring to the organization that Mr. Young led which does have all of the experience I noted. So Rand, can you you claim this level of leadership with the aerospace industry?

    No, but the fact remains that neither he, or that organization that he led, had any experience with manned spaceflight. It would appear that his testimony was desired not for his manned spaceflight experience, but because he would bash people in private industry who actually have some. As has consistently been the case with Giffords’ hearings, it was rigged.

  • I can’t begin to guess what LM or Boeing estimate a Orion-lite sized vehicle, similar to Dragon in terms of crew capacity and crew safety systems, would cost to develop and demonstrate but I suspect it is far more than $300M given that this is the price of a typical communications satellite which can tolerate far higher launch loads, does not need to provide life support, and does not need protect its payload intact and funcional upon a LV failure.

    You are comparing apples and eggs.

  • common sense

    “common sense – “… That you clearly are part of, right? Blahblahblah…”

    You know who I am? You know what I do? You can divine that out of thin air? Wow, you are truly amazing. Can you divine what the next major lottery numbers are too? Common sense? Not from you.”

    Almost comical. You are not part of this thread? Of this group? How do you know who the other people are here? So per your own admission, you are an “arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board”. This is called LOGIC. A real tough concept to grasp, right? I cannot care less who you actually are especially in regard with your contempt for the other members of this group.

  • red

    Major Tom: “Even with Commercial Crew reduced to a billion or less, we’re going to have to radically cut some combination of exploration technology, ISS research, space science, Earth science, and aeronautics to the tune of $17 billion or so to execute a plan consisting of Jupiter 130 development, finishing Orion development, and STS extension through the earliest possible readiness date for Commercial Crew.”

    For reference, here are some of the key lines from Stephen’s “Compromise Budget” spreadsheet from a week or 2 ago. Hopefully I cut and pasted it correctly. It’s a lot easier to read in spreadsheet format, of course. These are from the “Compromise – Without Plus Up” scenario; there are others. The other lines are left as in the 2011 budget.

    Columns – FY09 FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15
    Game-Changing Technology
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 14.3 $ 81.2 $ 220.8 $ 287.7 $ 300.0
    Technology Demonstration Missions (Space Technology)
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 14.3 $ 81.2 $ 220.8 $ 287.7 $ 300.0
    Technology Demonstration (Exploration)
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 76.4 $ 433.2 $ 1,177.5 $ 1,534.4 $ 1,600.0
    Jupiter/Orion Development
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 3,139.0 $ 2,914.3 $ 1,882.4 $ 1,273.2 $ 1,031.6
    Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technology
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0
    Robotic Precursor Missions
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 33.4 $ 189.5 $ 515.2 $ 671.3 $ 700.0
    Commerical Crew
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 200.0 $ 200.0 $ 200.0 $ 200.0
    Constellation Transition
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0
    Shuttle Program Integration
    $ 458.5 $ 678.1 $ 440.1 $ 419.4 $ 60.3 $ 0.0 $ 0.0
    Shuttle Flight and Ground Operations
    $ 1,037.4 $ 1,035.1 $ 752.9 $ 717.5 $ 103.2 $ 0.0 $ 0.0
    Shuttle Flight Hardware
    $ 1,483.6 $ 1,426.2 $ 996.1 $ 949.1 $ 136.5 $ 0.0 $ 0.0
    Jupiter/Orion Program
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 1,400.0 $ 1,600.0 $ 1,800.0
    ISS Cargo Crew Services
    $ 465.2 $ 628.0 $ 628.0 $ 628.0 $ 856.8 $ 1,185.7
    $ 1,225.5
    21st Century Space Launch Complex
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0

    Stephen Metschan: “not cuts to Science or other non-HSF related activites”

    It seemed to me that the changes actually do affect non-HSF activities (the Game-Changing Technology and Technology Demonstration lines, which are not specific to HSF). Those are reduced quite a bit.

    The “core” of the new HSF plan is also reduced quite a bit. Obviously as discussed above the Commercial Crew competition is reduced to SpaceX. Those cuts struck me as being too much, and not much of a compromise.

    I think the Shuttle/Jupiter/Orion estimates were more optimistic than Major Tom’s.

    That’s why I wonder what the effect would be to the “Compromise – Without Plus Up” scenario with various compromises (between the 2011 NASA budget and the DIRECT budget). Example scenarios might include removing Orion (i.e. cargo-only Jupiter-130 at least during these years), side-mount (possibly also cargo-only and possibly only block 1 during these years) instead of Jupiter-130, and/or stretching the HLV schedule.

  • GuessWho

    Simberg – “It would appear that his testimony was desired not for his manned spaceflight experience, but because he would bash people in private industry who actually have some.”

    Like himself? Last time I looked, LM is “private industry”. Perhaps he was asked to comment because he has experience with large, complex, aerospace systems (satellites and LV) or because he has experiene with large, complex, manned vehicles that operate under extreme conditions (fighter aircraft).

    “As has consistently been the case with Giffords’ hearings, it was rigged.”

    And you have proof of this? Other than your infallable insight into the workings of Government.

    “You are comparing apples and eggs.”

    You will have to clarify this for me.

    Telecomm spacecraft provide power, propulsion, GN&C, telecom, thermal control, must meet defined launch loads, and must provide autonomous or semi-autonomous operation via avionics and associated software. And they carry a payload that must be delivered to a specific orbital location in a defined period of time.

    Dragon is a spacecraft that provides power, propulsion, GN&C, telecom, thermal control, must meet defined launch loads, and must provide autonomous or semi-autonomous operation via avionics and associated software. And it carries a payload that must be delivered to a specific orbital location in a defined period of time. In addition, it must provide air and water for life support, it must provide the means to safely extract the payload during a launch failure and return it to the Earth’s surface, and it may be required to provide for man-in-the-loop operation. What I see is a greater set of requirements, with greater requirements for system reliability, and a system that is far more operationally complex and thus will require a greater level of ground testing to meet verification and validation requirements. All this for a cost, including a LV, that is comparable to a comm satellite. And you find that reasonable and believable?

  • Last time I looked, LM is “private industry”.

    I didn’t say he was bashing private industry in general, so I’m not sure what your point is. Not to mention that (unlike, for example, SpaceX) LM is primarily a cost-plus government contractor.

    Perhaps he was asked to comment because he has experience with large, complex, aerospace systems (satellites and LV) or because he has experiene with large, complex, manned vehicles that operate under extreme conditions (fighter aircraft).

    Fighter aircraft are awful analogs for human spacecraft. Do I really need to elaborate on this?

    And you have proof of this?

    The proof is in the nature of the witnesses called, and those who weren’t.

    Why call Tom Young, when he has no experience with manned spaceflight? Why not call (for example) a retired exec who does (e.g., Glynn Lunney).

    Telecomm spacecraft provide power, propulsion, GN&C, telecom, thermal control, must meet defined launch loads, and must provide autonomous or semi-autonomous operation via avionics and associated software. And they carry a payload that must be delivered to a specific orbital location in a defined period of time.

    They also have a “payload” (transponders) that are very high tech, and must be highly reliable for years.

    What I see is a greater set of requirements, with greater requirements for system reliability, and a system that is far more operationally complex and thus will require a greater level of ground testing to meet verification and validation requirements.

    They’re not “greater.” They’re just different. This is what I mean about people who don’t understand manned spaceflight dramatically overestimating its difficulty. Thanks for the demo.

  • common sense

    “Fighter aircraft are awful analogs for human spacecraft. Do I really need to elaborate on this?”

    Aboslutely and actually for the sake of some people it’d be interesting to have this somehow somewhere. This misconception is in part responsible for fantasy estimates for the cost of at least Orion.

    Oh well…

  • GuessWho

    Simberg – “They’re not “greater.” They’re just different. This is what I mean about people who don’t understand manned spaceflight dramatically overestimating its difficulty. Thanks for the demo.”

    Next time provide the full comparison I provided and show me where the spacecraft subsytems are different. Ignore the payloads, I never claimed they were the same. Then lay out the design requirements and compare them, lay out the nesessary V&V program including environmental test and off-nominal test program and compare them, lay out the risk management program and quality and safety assurance program and compare them. This is what I mean by people who don’t understand spacecraft development and underestimate its difficulty. Thanks for the demo.

    And honestly, I find the design demands associated with humans as part of the flight system to be far more a design driver than comm payloads. In this respect, fighter aircraft are a perfect analogy as a remotely controlled aircraft can operate over a significantly greater design space than one with a pilot all else being equal (higher G-loads, longer duration, wider temperature extremes, etc.). IMHO.

  • [...] Space Politics » Who needs a Plan B when you can have a Plan A? [...]

  • Kris Ringwood

    I must say these people expend an awful lot of verbeage saying remarkably little, whilst concurrently obsfucating in such a way that any debate spends most it’s time re-interpreting what had actually been said.

    To me this report is saying there was nothing wrong with Constellation: bring it back – especially ARES 1. What for? Why do we insist upon continuing with an LV which has consistently failed to meet payload requirements forcing extensive re-configuration and detail design in both that LV and associated Spacecraft. All while costing us $9billion w/o production hardware to show for it. Why we’re arguing about it to begin with.

    Be it “DIRECT” or “EVOLVED”. an STS in-line or side-mount LV will do the job and with the 5-segment SRB’s coming on-line looks fair to improving on the current performance of 100t to ISS orbit.

    In any case, we seem determined to have balanced spending at the new PC oriented NASA, whereby manned spaceflight no longer has the lion’s share of the budget. On that basis, of course we can’t afford Constellation.
    I’d also like to know why Young doesn’t think CHSF will work. Explain yourself sir.

    Still, this sounds very like the last-ditch stand of the “Old Guard”. After the dog’s dinner they’ve already made of our space program thus far, may they enjoy the same fate as Napoleon’s Imperial Guard – and at point-blank range from the cannon’s mouth as per 195 years ago!

  • Michael Kent

    I certainly would expect Mr. Young to have a far greater appreciation of this topic than the arm-chair policy wannabe’s on this discussion board.

    No doubt. But Mr. Young worked for a company that has never successfully built a manned spacecraft and failed on its only two attempts (VentureStar and Orion). Boeing, on the other hand, has built every manned spacecraft America has ever put into orbit save the LEM (Mercury, Gemini, the Apollo command and service modules, Skylab, the Space Shuttle, the SpaceHab module (McDonnell Douglas was SpaceHab’s prime contractor), and the Space Station). They are building a 7-man capsule under CCDev to compete for NASA’s commercial crew contract, and they think they’ll be ready to fly three years after contract award, not twenty-three.

    It makes a lot more sense to add $8 billion dollars to transform the existing $40 billion dollar operational HLV (better know as the STS or Space Shuttle,ie our existing second HLV industrial base) into a near term SDHLV, i.e. the Jupiter-130 (perhaps Jupiter-130 heavy, budget permitting).

    First of all, the Space Shuttle is not an HLV. It’s payload to LEO is on par with the Delta IV Heavy’s. Second, NASA’s estimate to develop the Shuttle-derived Ares I is $35 billion, yet we are to expect the same organization to be able to develop the larger, more complex Shuttle-derived Jupiter for less than 1/4 the cost? This $8 billion estimate is not credible, IMO. Maybe someone else could do that, but not NASA.

    Mike

  • GuessWho

    Kent – “No doubt. But Mr. Young worked for a company that has never successfully built a manned spacecraft and failed on its only two attempts (VentureStar and Orion).”

    VentureStar never began so not sure how it could’ve failed. X33 was a failure though. Technical challenges were certainly higher than expected. Hard to call Orion a failure given it has only gone through PDR. If I recall correctly, they had a number of key tests slated for this summer/fall timeframe. I think I will wait to see how those tests pan out before I begin to pass judgement. Perhaps you should too. I also have a hard time pinging Orion on cost/design changes given the amount of redesign required to fix ARES performance problems.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Oler – “It is clear that Young’s bias is toward continuing unfettered and with little control the standard of human spaceflight that has existed since Apollo was started.”

    That may be your opinion. It is not a fact however, unless you have a direct quote from Mr. Young that you can cite. Do you? Can you share it? If not, then state it as your opinion only and move on.”

    everyone’s reading of anothers words is their own opinion…and I cannot cut and paste here…but

    at the end of page 4 and start of page 5

    “A detailed exploration plan with destination, dates, and implementation plans is needed”

    thats how it has been done since Apollo

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    The post I am referencing is from Guess Who

    Robert G. Oler

  • Next time provide the full comparison I provided and show me where the spacecraft subsytems are different. Ignore the payloads, I never claimed they were the same.

    In other words, ignore the most critical part of the cost.

    Why would I pay any more attention to anyone so clueless?

  • Major Tom

    “I think the Shuttle/Jupiter/Orion estimates were more optimistic than Major Tom’s.”

    If Red copied it correctly (I had trouble downloading myself), the Jupiter/Orion development line in the DIRECT spreadsheet totals $10.2 billion. But if we add the $8.3 billion in development costs for Jupiter-130 from the DIRECT team’s Augustine Committee presentation to the $7.7 billion in development costs in the Orion FY 2010 runout budget, we get $15 billion for Jupiter/Orion development. Either the estimates in the DIRECT spreadsheet are wrong, or the DIRECT team thinks both Jupiter-130 and Orion are each about one-quarter cheaper than they were last year, or they think either Jupiter-130 or Orion alone is one-half cheaper than it was last year.

    I also understood that the DIRECT team was projecting the start of Jupiter/Orion operations in 2013. If that’s true, then it’s strange that Jupiter/Orion development extends to FY 2015. Either there’s a mistake in the spreadsheet/transcription or the $2.2 billion in FY 2014-15 is for upper-stage development for a Jupiter 24x upgrade. But if the $2.2 billion is for a Jupiter 24x upper-stage, it’s not clear how both Jupiter 130 and Orion could be developed for the $8.0 billion remaining in FY 2011-FY 2013. That’s less than the estimate for Jupiter 130 development in the DIRECT presentation to the Augustine Committee. Either the DIRECT team is assuming that they get remaining Orion development for practically free (a very bad assumption) or Jupiter 130 costs a small fraction of what it did a year ago (very unlikely).

    In summary, assuming development is complete by 2015, the figures for Jupiter/Orion development in the DIRECT spreadsheet assume ~25% savings for both Jupiter and Orion development from what those programs were carrying last year or ~50% savings for either Jupiter or Orion development from what those programs were carrying last year. It’s hard to see where those savings could come from other than a move from Orion to Orion-lite, and if Orion-lite is developed instead of Orion, it strongly begs the question of why a heavy lifter like Jupiter 130 is needed in this timeframe at all (which already had more power than needed to lift Orion).

    Assuming development complete in 2013, the figures for Jupiter/Orion development in the DIRECT spreadsheet assume that Orion development is completed essentially for free or that Jupiter 130 development has dramatically shrunk in cost since last year. These are unrealistic assumptions.

    I’d also note that my Orion figure is for flight hardware development through FY 2014 only. It doesn’t include Orion ground systems development (which is hard to break out of the total Constellation ground systems line) or development costs through FY 2015+ (since the FY 2010 budget only went out through FY 2014). Thus the DIRECT case above is probably worse by several billion more than what I’ve described.

    I added up the Shuttle FY 2012 figures in the DIRECT spreadsheet and they’re in the low end ($2.1 billion total) of the range that Shannon has quoted ($2.0 billion to $3.4 billion). Sporty but within the envelope, and no obvious discrepencies unlike the Jupiter/Orion development figures above.

    Based on the above, I’d take the DIRECT spreadsheet, especially the Jupiter/Orion development line, with a very, very large grain of salt. Doesn’t necessarily mean that the DIRECT spreadsheet is wrong — I may not be aware of or understand one or more important points that would allow these numbers to make better sense. But a lot more reconciliation would be needed before I’d be comfortable using these figures as the basis for a NASA budget.

    FWIW…

  • “Fighter aircraft are awful analogs for human spacecraft. Do I really need to elaborate on this?”

    Aboslutely and actually for the sake of some people it’d be interesting to have this somehow somewhere. This misconception is in part responsible for fantasy estimates for the cost of at least Orion.

    Sigh…

    Manned spacecraft don’t have to operate in high-gee environments on all axes. Manned spacecraft don’t have to carry and deliver ordnance. Manned spacecraft don’t have to be capable of carrying out their mission with people shooting at them. Manned spacecraft (at least so far) don’t have to be capable of having random (but trained) high-school grads maintaining them. Manned spacecraft don’t have to be capable of being cranked out on a high-production assembly line…

    Need I really go on?

  • googaw

    Manned spacecraft don’t have to …. do much of anything useful at all. It’s just astronauts for the sake of astronauts.

  • X33 was a failure though. Technical challenges were certainly higher than expected. Hard to call Orion a failure given it has only gone through PDR. If I recall correctly, they had a number of key tests slated for this summer/fall timeframe.

    Both X-33 and Orion were after Young’s time, so I don’t understand why you even bring them up, other than to demonstrate your lack of grasp of the fundamental issue.

  • red

    Major Tom:

    There are several other scenarios in the DIRECT spreadsheet. I gave the one that I’d looked at most closely before (Compromise without Plus Up). That scenario has an STS extension. There’s another scenario “Compromise WO Plus Up or STS”. I’m not going to go through every line since my (non-standard) spreadsheet to web interface isn’t easy, but this is probably the key difference in the 2 scenarios:

    Jupiter/Orion Development
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 4,231.1 $ 4,813.2 $ 3,848.5 $ 3,058.4 $ 2,602.8

    The changed lines generally have comments; the comment on this line is “Leverages existing PoR progress and STS extension fixed cost to produce a modest SDHLV (ie Jupiter-130 specification) in less than five years.”

    The STS lines quickly fade to 0 in this scenario, and the DIRECT operations are delayed:

    Jupiter/Orion Program
    $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 0.0 $ 300.0 $ 700.0

    The “no STS extension” scenario also cuts deeply into Space Technology, Commercial Crew, and Exploration tech demo and precursor lines, so again I’d tend to look into measures like replacing Orion with cargo, stretching the schedule, boosting the budget, or switching to cargo side-mount rather than going with these scenarios as-is … and I’m still not convinced an HLV is needed, and if one is needed I’m still not convinced that something like a Phase I EELV isn’t the right approach.

  • Fred

    “Guesswho” said;
    “Thus the SpaceX estimate of $300M for both is, in my opinion, laughable. ”

    In fact the actual figure NASA was to put up for COTS-D was $330M This was not the total development cost, of course. just the amount NASA was paying. You can find the contract on the NASA C3PO web site. It’s a public document.
    SpaceX was responsible for finding the balance of the development costs. If it was $1B SpaceX had to find the $1B. Nor did SpaceX get paid till SpaceX met their mile stones, some of which were financial. SpaceX had to prove they had the money to do the job and weren’t just wasting NASA’s time. (It was the financial milestones that evidently tripped RpK up).
    In the end, of course COTS-D was never proceded with as NASA coundn’t find the necessary $330M. Constellation was sucking up all the money.
    No doubt, if the $6B for commercial crew actually materialises SpaceX will recompete.
    Why did SpaceX only want $330 odd million?
    Because by the time they get to start on commercial crew they will have a flying qualified cargo Dragon that was, as SpaceX is fond of telling everybody, designed to carry crew in the first place.

  • I’m wondering where the funds for crew escape Dragon are going to come from.. certainly not as part of COTS-D.

  • Fred, I actually added up the COTS-D rewards from Amendment 2 (on the C3PO website) and it turns out that it was $308 million. Just a small thing.

    Elon Musk has been asking for COTS-D for awhile. Our own Space Politics reported on his efforts in the past. Unfortunately, as you say, Cx sucked it dry.

    Trent Waddington, wasn’t Elon quoted as saying Crew Escape and the necessary modifications to Dragon would cost $300~? That’s just about what they’d get through COTS-D.

  • Major Tom

    “There’s another scenario ‘Compromise WO Plus Up or STS’.”

    The Jupiter/Orion development line in that scenario is $18+ billion, which is much more consistent with the $8.3 billion for Jupiter 130 development and $7.7+ billion for Orion development from DIRECT’s Augustine presentation and the FY 2010 budget request. However, I’m troubled that in the other scenario, it appears that the spreadsheet just assumes remaining Orion development can be completed for free or that massive savings in Jupiter 130 and Orion development can be had versus this spreadsheet. Something does not add up — I may be missing something, but these spreadsheets don’t appear to be internally consistent.

    “DIRECT operations are delayed”

    This also doesn’t make sense. If the spreadsheet dumps more money from Shuttle extension into Jupiter/Orion development, then Jupiter/Orion should come online sooner — and not be delayed. Again, something does not add up — I may be missing something, but these spreadsheets don’t appear to be internally consistent.

    “I’m still not convinced an HLV is needed, and if one is needed I’m still not convinced that something like a Phase I EELV isn’t the right approach.”

    I’m not convinced that an HLV is needed either, especially for early Flexible Path targets. (I could see an HLV argument for launching large heat shields and reactor components in later Flexible Path targets.) But if we’re going to do one, the EELV/commercial path that the FY 2011 budget is on is the best HLV option, for a couple reasons.

    One is that it doesn’t require NASA to commit now to an HLV it doesn’t need until the 2020s. The EELV infrastructure and workforce will still be around in five-odd years when NASA needs to ramp up HLV development. But the STS infrastructure and workforce requires NASA to commit many billions of dollars now to carrying an HLV infrastructure/workforce that’s oversized for ISS capsules and phased too early for exploration missions.

    Two is that the EELV infrastructure and workforce has multiple customers in the military and commercial space sectors. Although there may be no customers besides NASA for an HLV, an EELV-derived HLV allows NASA to leverage some infrastructure and workforce that others have paid for. An STS-derived HLV, by contrast, requires NASA to foot the entire bill for the entire infrastructure and workforce.

    As a side note, contrary to what some folks have argued in this forum, Augustine himself has sent a letter to Rep. Wolf confirming that the President’s FY 2011 budget request for NASA most closely resembles Option 5B from the Augustine report. Option 5B is Flexible Path with an EELV/commercial HLV (vice an STS-derived HLV).

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/Wolf_Hon__Frank_03-25-101.pdf

    FWIW…

  • Oops. I wrote:

    Both X-33 and Orion were after Young’s time, so I don’t understand why you even bring them up, other than to demonstrate your lack of grasp of the fundamental issue.

    I see now that it was Michael Kent who brought up X-33/Orion, not “Guess Who” (why do people feel the need to have dumb screen names?). Sorry ’bout that.

  • common sense

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ March 26th, 2010 at 12:22 am

    “Need I really go on?”

    Not with me you don’t. And there are other specifics that fighter aircraft do not need like for example a Thermal Protection System (a darn BIG deal and very expensive too).

    “Manned spacecraft don’t have to be capable of being cranked out on a high-production assembly line…”

    That though may be arguable. See Soyuz for example. But I agree it is nothing like aircraft.

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom wrote @ March 26th, 2010 at 9:06 am

    “(I could see an HLV argument for launching large heat shields and reactor components in later Flexible Path targets.) ”

    I don’t know about reactor components but it is not clear for heat shield if deployables can be made to work. For example:

    http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/26385/2/122-133-1-PB.pdf

  • Robert G. Oler

    Development of a crewed spacecraft at this point in time is not so much an engineering exercise as it is a management one to develop one that is affordable.

    The “smarts” behind SpaceX (if Falcon works of course) is not the rocket science, but the management. It is to design something that performs but most importantly performs at a price that is affordable.

    If one looks at the Falcon project it is indistinguishable from what Boeing did on the Dash 80 in terms of management.

    The problem with evolving the Shuttle system as opposed to the EELV say is that at least the EELV has some measure of affordability. The shuttle stack has none.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “I don’t know about reactor components but it is not clear for heat shield if deployables can be made to work.”

    You’re right. It’s just a question of reliability and verification. Do you trust a large deployable shield to have deployed properly after a year in transit to Mars? If not, can successful deployment be verified before entry into Mars atmosphere?

    NASA’s new Chief Technology is a reentry expert — he had a hand in designing the entry of various Mars missions at Langley and does research on inflatables/deployables at Georgia Tech. I suspect we’ll see some serious investment in this area in the years ahead (for once). If you can pull off aerocapture, it’s actually the highest leverage technology for mass reduction for a manned Mars mission.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    “Do you trust a large deployable shield to have deployed properly after a year in transit to Mars? If not, can successful deployment be verified before entry into Mars atmosphere?”

    Yep. A lot of issues and also heat transfer through the “fabric” onto the payload may be an issue etc. But it may be the solution for the future. I believe one Earth entry experiment was run by the Europeans and the Russians that “worked” a while ago but I really have no more information.

    “NASA’s new Chief Technology is a reentry expert ”

    Yes I know.

    “If you can pull off aerocapture, it’s actually the highest leverage technology for mass reduction for a manned Mars mission.”

    There are different options: Aerocapture, aerobraking and direct entry. I believe it’ll be a mix of capture and braking. The aerobraking is too long. A direct entry may be huh sporty. Then there are all the issues with heat load/rates. Anyway. I would add that it could be a deployable at “high” altitude that is dropped for a regular heatshield at “lower” altitude. A regular capsule embeded in a deployable if you wish. And then of course there is the landing per se for a crewed vehicle… Unless they use a DC-X like vehicle. But I don’t know if anyone has really looked into those trades just yet.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Major Tom wrote @ March 26th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    “I don’t know about reactor components but it is not clear for heat shield if deployables can be made to work.”

    You’re right. It’s just a question of reliability and verification. Do you trust a large deployable shield to have deployed properly after a year in transit to Mars? ..

    worked ok in 2010 (grin) the movie.

    Robert G. Oler

  • worked ok in 2010 (grin) the movie.

    Another useful contribution by Robert. Maybe I’m only speaking for myself here, but I’d like a little more signal, and a little less noise.

  • Matt Wiser

    Remember, people, that the President proposes, but the Congress disposes. Based on what’s been said so far in the Committee hearings, it looks like this plan, while not DOA, is clearly on life support. Except for Congressman Dana Rorabacher, everyone’s been skeptical at least, and outright hostile at most. If Sen. Bill Nelson has his way, a lot of the Commercial Crew money will go to a capsule (very likely that Orion will be revived) and accelerated HLV development. As far as new technology for BEO missions, by all means, develop whatever you can, such as improved life support, radiation shelding and thermal protection, automated docking (though what pilot is going to trust microchips when he/she can see where to go and dock?), improved propulsion, etc. About the only one I’m skeptical about is on-orbit refueling. Propellant storage in a day-night cycle every 90 min., propellant transfer, safety (triple-redundant at least) and so on. If it can work, fine. If not, then HLV will be absolutely essential. Whatever new plan comes out of this, the companies that were involved in Constellation are going to have to have some pieces of the pie, as it’s essential politically. (UT, AL, TX, LA, FL, and the subcontractors spread all over)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Matt Wiser wrote @ March 26th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Remember, people, that the President proposes, but the Congress disposes. Based on what’s been said so far in the Committee hearings, it looks like this plan, while not DOA, is clearly on life support..;.

    not really. The way things are going it is becoming more and more likely that Obama will get exactly what he wants in spaceflight policy…Obama is gaining power almost every day…the opposition is losing it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ March 26th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    we will have to make sure that man hug happens!

    have a great weekend! Robert

  • Major Tom

    “Remember, people, that the President proposes, but the Congress disposes.”

    A useless refrain for human space flight, where historically — from Apollo to Shuttle to Freedom to ISS to Constellation — the President leads and Congress follows.

    “Based on what’s been said so far in the Committee hearings, it looks like this plan, while not DOA, is clearly on life support.”

    What lawmakers actually write into legislation is much more important that what they blow hard about. Despite all the sturm and drang, both draft authorization bills provide every dollar in every NASA account that the President’s FY 2011 budget request asks for and contain every major human space flight element from the President’s FY 2011 budget request.

    “Except for Congressman Dana Rorabacher, everyone’s been skeptical at least, and outright hostile at most.”

    Not true. For example, Mollohan, the House appropriations chair who is ultimately responsible for originating NASA’s spending bill, gave an opening statement at this week’s hearing that was arguably supportive of the President’s budget request for NASA.

    “If Sen. Bill Nelson has his way, a lot of the Commercial Crew money will go to a capsule (very likely that Orion will be revived) and accelerated HLV development.”

    If Nelson was really serious about this, it would be reflected in the draft Senate authorization bill. It’s not. The bill only asks NASA to study further HLV acceleration and does not dictate the use of Shuttle-derived or Constellation components.

    “Whatever new plan comes out of this, the companies that were involved in Constellation are going to have to have some pieces of the pie, as it’s essential politically.”

    It has little to do with the politics, and everything to do with aerospace industry consolidation over the past couple decades and the limited number of companies in the business. Boeing and LockMart are arguably givens. Even ATK will probably be involved in solid rocket motors for launch escape systems, if nothing else.

    FWIW…

  • googaw

    If you can pull off aerocapture, it’s actually the highest leverage technology for mass reduction for a manned Mars mission.

    I’d give that honor to ISRU.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t know about reactor components but it is not clear for heat shield if deployables can be made to work.

    It’s not clear even if deployables can’t be made to work because it’s not certain large aeroshells for landing large payloads will work. You may need a lot of hypersonic retropropulsion even with a large aeroshell. Both the aeroshell and the hypersonic retropropulsion will require a lot of R&D with uncertain results. The only solution that’s known to work may be supersonic (but not hypersonic) or even subsonic retropropulsion.

  • GuessWho

    Simberg – “In other words, ignore the most critical part of the cost.”

    If you had bothered to read the original post closely, you would have seen that I was not talking about the price of the payloads. I was only discussing the price of the spacecraft (its subsystems, integ. & test, etc.). Any payload related costs are above and beyond the $300M development (non-recurring) and first unit price (recurring) of the spacecraft typical of first-of-a-kind or one-of-a-kind spacecraft, be it a com-sat or a manned spacecraft. Thus if I ignore the payloads costs, the SpaceX numbers are still insufficient to develop and fly a manned spacecraft, let alone the LV mods that go along with it. Next time, read the post carefully and understand the basis of the argument before you reply.

    Simberg – “Manned spacecraft don’t have to operate in high-gee environments on all axes. Manned spacecraft don’t have to carry and deliver ordnance….”

    Perhaps this was directed at Common Sense, but one of your earlier posts also directed a similar comment to me so let me respond, from the viewpoint of the argument I was putting forth. First, I didn’t compare manned spacecraft to fighter aircraft. You made that leap of faith all on your own. What I did put forth was the argument that piloted aircraft compared to unpiloted aircraft, and in a similar fashion manned spacecraft compared to unmanned spacecraft, are more complex, have greater design requirements associated with them, and require a higher level of reliability, fault tolerance, and safety. All of these aspects result in higher cost to the system. Thus the cost numbers put forth by SpaceX are laughable. You couldn’t get an unmanned, first/one-of-a-kind spacecraft, with no payloads, designed, built, tested, and launched for the numbers he is quoting let alone a human-rated spacecraft and its launch vehicle as he claims.

    Simberg – “oops ..” Damn, and here I had another barrel locked and loaded to unload on you a third time for not reading posts closely. Oh well, 2 out of 3 aint bad.

  • GuessWho

    Common Sense – “Anyway. I would add that it could be a deployable at “high” altitude that is dropped for a regular heatshield at “lower” altitude.”

    You will need to elaborate a bit on what you mean by high and low. The surface atmospheric density of Mars is comparable to the Earth’s atmospheric density at 100000 feet. Thus the Mars entry question is more one of shedding entry velocity than of thermal protection. Large shields are needed to get the required surface area and must be small L/D designs to maintain aero-stability. There are no heat loads to the payload through the fabric. Deployable entry shields typically have a conventional “nose-cone” (as it were) where the higher heat loads are experienced and the payloads are behind this region given the need to keep the mass close to the centerline. Thus heat leakage through the fabric to the payloads never occurs.

  • Next time, read the post carefully and understand the basis of the argument before you reply.

    I did.

  • Major Tom, could you please work your numbers from this spreadsheet link below as all these programs need to phased in time as well. Concerning Orion, Lockheed/Martin’s total contract is for $4.5 Billion, of which they have made some significant progress on. How is it that this grows to another $7 billion over and above the progress that has been achieved again?

    http://www.directlauncher.com/documents/NASA-Compromise-Budget-Detailed.xls

    That is not what the Orion contractors are telling me. Their only desire is that they get a little less ‘help’ from NASA which may be a component of the higher number. Their suggestion is to get more of NASA going on the Advanced Technology stuff. Getting rid of the uncertain vibrations environment and mass limitations imposed on them by the Ares-1 will also be a big help as well.

    You might also review the document below that I submitted to the Augustine Committee concern their SDHLV cost numbers. Hint the CBO doesn’t agree with their cost assessment either and for the same reasons I provided. Producing a SDHLV estimate that approaches the cost of what it took to construct the entire Space Shuttle system (Orbiter and STS stack) from scratch should be strong sign that something is not right.

    Unfortunately, at the point in time that these SDHLV cost numbers were being feed to Aerospace the Ares supporters still within NASA where trying desperately to save the PoR. As a result they were desperately trying to dumb down the Jupiter’s performance and increase the cost so that the obvious solution, (i.e. 2xSDHLV approach vs. the 1.5 ESAS, i.e. the best approach that was hidden in ESAS Appendix 6a from the public) didn’t look so obvious in ‘hindsight’.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/383305main_CostEstimates_SDHLV_Rev1.pdf

    To be fair they also shanked the side-mount cost estimate as well so it was an equal opportunity shanking for all SDHLV approaches in order to not make Ares look so bad. Oh and they even managed to convince people on the commission to ignore the little fact, discovered by the induced environments group at MSFC over two years ago, that those RS-68 ablative nozzles would be long gone before we reached orbit due to the exhaust gases coming of the SRB.

    Now, what to do about the performance numbers since the Aerospace Corp confirmed them. Hey I know let’s reset the performance bar to what a 2xAres-5 can do, thereby requiring 3xJupiter, yah that’s the ticket. It’s all right their baked right into the Augustine report for all too see, a fact I point out when I presented at the AIAA conference held November 2nd in one of the Senate Office buildings.

    http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=835

  • common sense

    @ GuessWho wrote @ March 27th, 2010 at 9:50 am:

    Nice to see that you’re into more amicable conversation mode.

    “You will need to elaborate a bit on what you mean by high and low. The surface atmospheric density of Mars is comparable to the Earth’s atmospheric density at 100000 feet. Thus the Mars entry question is more one of shedding entry velocity than of thermal protection. Large shields are needed to get the required surface area and must be small L/D designs to maintain aero-stability.”

    I will not elaborate more than that: Shedding velocity by definition (conservation of energy) will increase heating somewhere. So you will need TPS of one form or another. But it all depends where in the atmosphere you actually decelerate since the convective heat fluxes are dependent on density among other things. Now at this kind of velocity you will also have shock radiation heating wich will be substantial. As for L/D what you should really be concerned with is ballistic coefficient, ie. mass and drag, rather than L/D. We are not talking about cross range, down range and “precision” landing achieved via L/D. What you need is indeed stability but deployables by definition can take different shapes. What is the “best” shape? I don’t know. It’ll depend on what you can loft and what mission you are trying to achieve. You definitely don’t want to fly hypersonic at mountain top levels so to speak. Probes have usually not flown at any L/D, however (in)significant it might be. But humans will need entry forces relief. Anyway this is not a “simple” mission. But you cannot say you need L/D or anything in as much one cannot say we need an HLV to go places. Only mission requirements will tell and so far I have seen none. Another thing to consider is the Knudsen number…

    “There are no heat loads to the payload through the fabric. Deployable entry shields typically have a conventional “nose-cone” (as it were) where the higher heat loads are experienced and the payloads are behind this region given the need to keep the mass close to the centerline. Thus heat leakage through the fabric to the payloads never occurs.”

    I suppose, again, it all depends on the type and location of the deployable. I do not know any “typical” deployable for Mars entry. Even Earth entry does not really have any.

    I’ll steal a line from Major Tom: FWIW…

  • Waste

    Why are people convinced that aircraft and spacecraft have absolutely nothing in common? I agree that they are not similar in operations, but Orion avionics and FSW have a lot of COTS components from aircraft, and may of the new components are build on “tried and true” flight ready systems.

  • common sense

    ” Waste wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 10:50 am ”

    “Why are people convinced that aircraft and spacecraft have absolutely nothing in common?”

    There is a difference between “nothing in common” and “everything in common”. Some of the differences are quite enough to make the cost estimates baseless in certain areas. My favorite being: Thermal Protection System. But the more general point is that the requirements for the design are very very different, some pointed out by Rand Simberg.

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