NASA

The goal remains the same

In the eyes of many the new NASA exploration plan announced in the FY2011 budget proposal is a massive change, one that abandons the previous goal in the Vision for Space Exploration of returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and, some fear, human space exploration altogether. However, one NASA official said yesterday that the new plan doesn’t change the underlying goal for human space exploration.

The new plan represents “a change in approach and philosophy, but not a change in goal,” said Laurie Leshin, NASA deputy administrator for exploration, in a speech yesterday at a Marshall Institute event on space exploration policy in Washington. “The goal remains the same: to see human explorers out in the solar system.” The new focus on “sustainable and affordable” human space exploration isn’t that new, she said, noting that it was emphasized back in 2004 by the Aldridge Commission that evaluated the Vision for Space Exploration (a committee she served on when she was a professor at Arizona State University.) “We’ve come back to needing to have new and enabling approaches in order to make this a sustainable program for the future.”

To emphasize the need for technology development—one of the cornerstones of the new plan—to enable sustainable human space exploration, she put up a chart showing the mass needed to carry out the latest version of NASA’s Design Reference Mission for human Mars exploration. “If today, with today’s technology, decided we wanted to go to Mars, our mission would have a mass about 12 times of the space station,” she said. “It’s just impossible.” Various technologies, from reducing cryogenic boiloff to in situ resource utilization, can get it down to a more manageable level, she said. “It’s not that these technologies are nice to have, they’re absolutely required if we’re going to have a sustainable path out into the solar system.”

“This is obviously a very different approach to enabling future human spaceflight than we’ve been on,” she said, but added that so far NASA hasn’t been doing as good a job as it should in communicating the benefits of this approach. “I think the challenge before us now is to paint the picture better, frankly, than we have on how these actually feed into future human flights. And I will tell you, that this is the thing that we are working on today.” She said that “very shortly” NASA will be providing some opportunities for the space community to interact with the agency, in the form of requests for information and industry days. “It’s been a little bit frustrating so far, to me and I’m sure to you all as well, that we’ve had to be sort of hunkered down, and we’re coming out of our shell in the next couple of months.”

81 comments to The goal remains the same

  • Oh, there you go telling the truth and speaking common sense.

    If you want to believe the critics of the FY 2011 budget proposal, NASA’s purpose is to provide government jobs, fatten the space-industrial complex and keep doing what we did 45-50 years ago.

  • BAL

    I’m glad that Laurie is speaking some sense. We’ve needed someone to speak sensibly out of exploration for years. Her greatest handicap is that she has few that are capable of supporting her within HQ exploration, and within the JSC Constellation community, she has even less support. In fact JSC tends to the opposite; JSC is not about strategy for success or about speaking up positively; really JSC is just about flying. Some serious changes from the way management was done in Constellation, or is done today in ISS, will be needed if the new program is going to be at all successful.

  • Everything she said was true.. of course, everyone knows the NASA Mars DRM is an over-engineered joke. The proposal that technology development will suddenly make that DRM more realistic is simply wrong. It’s quite possible, and some would say likely, that technology development will just result in bolted on complexity without any elegant synergy. On the other hand, you have the Zubrin’s Mars Direct.. a subtle use of limited technology development to develop a mission architecture which is executable – admittedly at great cost.. as is typical of all “direct” architectures. Finally, the biggest problem with Mars Direct is that the proponents of it, particularly Zubrin himself, refuse to admit that any technology development is necessary.. or write the technology that is needed to be developed of as mere details usually with some appeal to the Apollo Cargo Cult.

    It’d be nice to get something in the middle.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It’s a differing approach in the sense that directionless dithering is a differing approach. Without a destination, time table, or deadline, the “new approach” is meaningless and unsustainable.

  • Mark, do you have any thoughts of your own or do you just repeat others?

  • Major Tom

    “Without a destination, time table, or deadline”

    The Exploration section of NASA’s FY 2011 budget request starts with destinations in the very first paragraph. There are also several deadlines associated with technology demonstration and robotic precursor missions in that section of the budget request.

    NASA’s Deputy Administrator showed roadmaps at the Goddard Symposium with human exploration missions starting before 2025.

    Option 5B in the Augustine report, which Augustine himself has stated that NASA’s FY 2011 budget is based on, also starts human exploration missions before 2025.

    Read and comprehend (or just try to understand simple dates and illustrations) instead of making things up. If you can’t, then don’t waste your time and other posters’ time with erroneous posts.

    Ugh…

  • Al Fansome

    WHITTINGTON: It’s a differing approach in the sense that directionless dithering is a differing approach. Without a destination, time table, or deadline, the “new approach” is meaningless and unsustainable.

    Marc,

    If that is the entire substance of your argument, then you are destined to lose the debate.

    Leshin said the goal — which encapsulates “destinations” — is the same.

    NASA has had exactly two (2) months since the President decided NASA needed a new strategy to achieve the same strategic goal/vision.

    Leshin also stated that NASA is developing the next level of details of the strategy, which you complain about, in the next couple of months.

    Therefore, the details are going to come out in time to start influencing the legislative process.

    In addition, my recollection is that Griffin took nearly 8 months (fact check anyone? When did Griffin arrive on the job, and when was ESAS finally published?) to complete the development of his “ESAS” strategy.

    Thus, the fact that NASA does not have all those details ready, for those few who are pounding the table on this issue, is not a death sentence. The legislators know NASA is developing the details, and there will be a steady roll-out this Summer.

    But much more importantly:

    1) The President is going to speak on this subject in about two weeks, making it clear that this is a Presidential priority (and tying his personal credibility to this change). As a result, the Democratic-controlled Congress is not going to want to undercut and weaken their leader.

    2) The vast majority of Republicans — of those outside of five mostly southern States — are not going to pick a fight with the President on this issue. They understand that doing so will create an opportunity for the President to paint the Republican party as the party of big government, and the President as the leader of “commercial entrepreneurial dynamism”.

    Walking into this trap would totally undercut the Republican political message — which is focused on attracting the part of their base which is small government conservatives. Right now the Republicans are worried about the Tea Party movement, many of whose members used to be in the Republican Party, but which are showing signs of leaving the Republicans because it has lost touch with small government conservatives.

    President Obama, and Rahm Emanuel, understand all of these factors. In fact, considering how Rahm thinks (very aggressively), based on the above factors I think this new bold NASA strategy constitutes a trap for the Republican Party. Shelby, and other southern Republicans, are trying to pull the Republican Party into the trap.

    In conclusion, if all you have is “give me a time table and a deadline”, then you are totally out of touch with the real politics taking place in this country.

    The vast majority of Americans, and their elected leaders, could care less.

    You better find a better argument, soon, or prepare to eat crow.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • Al Fansome

    To clarify, I meant to say:

    In fact, considering how Rahm thinks (very aggressively), based on the above factors I think this new bold NASA strategy constitutes an INTENTIONALLY SET trap for the Republican Party.

    Many are wondering why would the President set up an event, in Florida, to speak on this issue? Why would the President care enough about space to invest so much of his political capital in changing NASA? Why would he risk upsetting Florida voters?

    I give you one potential reason.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • Al Fansome

    Consistent with my argument above, it appears that the President is making multiple policy moves into Republican policy territory. Obama is clearly moving to the Center now, and national space policy is part of that move.

    The Democrats will go along with the President on NASA, and most of the Republicans will be smart and not take the bait.

    From the front page of the Washington Post this morning …

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/31/AR2010033100024.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

    Obama to clear way for offshore drilling for oil and gas, including off Va. coast, sources say

    By Juliet Eilperin
    Wednesday, March 31, 2010; 1:05 AM

    The Obama administration will approve significant oil and gas exploration off America’s coasts, including a possible sale two years from now of leases off Virginia’s coast, administration officials said Wednesday.

    The drilling policy represents the White House’s latest attempt to straddle a middle ground on climate and energy policy …

    FWIW,

    – Al

    PS — I believe history will record that only Nixon could go to China, and only a Democratic President could decisively transform NASA’s relationship with the private sector.

  • Major Tom: “Option 5B in the Augustine report, which Augustine himself has stated that NASA’s FY 2011 budget is based on, also starts human exploration missions before 2025”

    You keep saying this but is just plan wrong.

    First the FY2011 plan ‘delays’ the development of an HLV for at least five years from now. Bolden has stated the delay is at least ten years which you like him justified by using the ‘strawman’ of the PoR thereby simultaneously ignoring significantly better plans in the process.

    2025 for ‘starting’ human missions is political tomorrow land x 10 and I’m sure you know that. I much prefer to have beyond LEO capability (enabled by a Jupiter-130/Orion) less than five years from now using largely in place assets of the PoR and STS. That is time scale of ‘incremental’ improvements we need to working towards. Five year building blocks only, the political cycle will simple not support anything beyond that. Point of fact the PoR.

    Second the whole notion of an “EELV” derived HLV called out in the Augustine report (ie 5B) is fantasy land as well based on technical, budgetary and political fundamentals.

    First approach to an EELV based HLV is to cluster up more of the existing Common Core Boosters of either the Atlas or Delta lines. This fails from basic well ‘understood’ maximum spacecraft density limits. While delivery of LOX to an orbital propellant depot, approximately half the mass needed, will work using this scale up of existing assets, Spacecraft and LH2 simply will not. You get geometric cost increases in spacecraft when ever you push this density limit (JWST, MSL) or require multiple on-orbit assemblies (ISS) and the density of LH2 can’t be changed.

    Second approach, an HLV based on the Delta (RS-68), will require a larger core and some serious first stage thrust augmentation (i.e. SRB). Sound familiar? Yah, something that looks a lot like the Ares-V or Jupiter v2.0. One hitch though (ignored by Augustine despite having MSFC engineers contact them), the base heating issues will need to be fixed with regen nozzle which will make the RS-68 a new engine.

    Third approach, an HLV based on the Atlas, will require a new Kero/LOX engine development and new core which is the clear focus of the FY 2011 HLV proposal. What this would ultimately lead to is a modern day F-1 engine powering a modern day Saturn V. Hey we will even need the J-2 again for the upper stages. Back to the Future.

    Now does anyone on this forum think that we can afford the $30 Billion dollar price tag for a modern day SaturnV ten years from now? Right now we are having a hard enough time convincing people like Major Tom here, in what will seem like the days of milk and honey a decade from now no less, that adding $8 Billion to an ‘existing’ $40 Billion dollar HLV industrial base makes sense.

    Does anyone see the historic irony here? Let’s see we destroyed our first (Kero/LOX+LH2/LOX serial burn) based HLV (i.e. the SaturnV) because it was ‘unaffordable’ in order to develop what was supposed to a new ‘advanced technology’ RLV. Unfortunately along the way in the development of this new ‘advanced technology’ more ‘affordable’ RLV we found out that we needed an HLV in order to put it into orbit. Dang we just destroyed it. Oh well let’s build another one. Now the plan is destroy this existing HLV (SRB+LH2/LOX parallel burn) STS stack so we can pursue a more ‘afforadable’ ‘advanced technology’ HLV that just so happens to have the same specifications as the one we destroyed back in early 1970.

    So in summary the plan that has unfolded in the realm of HLV over the last fifty years is first we spent $30 Billion building then destroying the SaturnV. Then we spent $30 Billion building and destroying our second HLV in order to spend another $30 Billion in to recreate what we destroyed after Apollo ten years from now. In the process we have spent 3x the money we need to in order to have an HLV capability.

    Yah what a great plan option 5B is.

    I know let’s learn from the past, stop chasing ‘low’ cost rainbows and just use what is already paid for to do new things. Gee what a plan.

  • In addition, my recollection is that Griffin took nearly 8 months (fact check anyone? When did Griffin arrive on the job, and when was ESAS finally published?) to complete the development of his “ESAS” strategy.

    Griffin was confirmed mid-April, 2005, and ESAS was published in late September. Though the work was supposedly complete in July (it was ostensibly a sixty-day study).

  • Stephen Metschan, you clearly haven’t read the Augustine Report. Option 5B uses an EELV derived Super Heavy. Those elements do not even go into effect until 2021-2030. Under Cx you weren’t going to have HLV until well beyond the 2020s anyway.

  • MrEarl

    Steve;
    A few questions…..
    What are the development costs for the Jupiter 130?
    What is your estimated time frame to get it operational?
    What are the launch costs for the Jupiter 130?
    Static costs….
    Incremental costs…(i.e. cost per additional flight)

    How did you arrive at these figures?

  • Major Tom

    “You keep saying this but is just plan wrong.”

    No, it’s not. Per Augustine’s letter to Wolf, NASA’s FY 2011 budget request “most closely approximates Option 5B” from the Augustine report.

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

    “First approach to an EELV based HLV… Second approach, an HLV based on the Delta… Third approach, an HLV based on the Atlas, will require a new Kero/LOX engine development and new core which is the clear focus of the FY 2011 HLV proposal.”

    If you understand that the approach in the FY 2011 budget request is the third approach, why did you bother writing about the first and second, other than to spread FUD?

    (And a kerosene/LOX engine is not necessarily limited to an Atlas derivative, anyway.)

    “What this would ultimately lead to is a modern day F-1 engine powering a modern day Saturn V… Back to the Future.”

    What’s wrong with developing a modern version of a proven engine that’s designed to be expendable? Or a domestic version of an advanced and powerful Russian engine that’s designed to be expendable? Especially if it’s used in non-NASA applications?

    I’ll take that over throwing away several expensive SSMEs that were designed to be reused every launch and that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire freight for.

    I’ll also take it over having to maintain an expensive SRB infrastructure — on top of the SSME infrastructure — that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire freight for.

    “Hey we will even need the J-2 again for the upper stages.”

    The budget funds LH2/LOX (and methane/LOX) upper stages, but it remains to be seen if a J-2 derivative wins out.

    DIRECT thought that using J-2 — actually two of them per launch — was fine, so if this is a mark against the FY11 plan, then it’s doubly a mark against DIRECT, too.

    “Right now we are having a hard enough time convincing people like Major Tom here, in what will seem like the days of milk and honey a decade from now no less…”

    If one really cares about what NASA and the federal budget will be able to afford a decade from now, then one would leverage the military and commercial industrial and customer launch base, rather than maintaining a launch infrastructure that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire bill for.

    “that adding $8 Billion”

    But it’s not going to be $8 billion.

    At a minimum, DIRECT also proposes to finish developing Orion, which, based on the FY 2010-2014 budget runout, is going to be at least another $7 billion that isn’t in the FY 2011 budget request. (And that doesn’t account for FY 2015-2017 development costs or ground systems development.)

    And multiple independent reports put the development of an inline Shuttle-derived HLV like Jupiter at significantly to a lot higher than $8 billion.

    “to an ‘existing’ $40 Billion dollar HLV industrial base makes sense”

    I question the use of the term “HLV industrial base” in reference to the Shuttle. It’s a launch infrastructure that in it’s current incarnation can put 24K kg in LEO. That’s no different than a Delta IV Heavy. Both infrastructures would need substantial changes to increase those payloads by a factor of two or more and create an HLV.

    “Unfortunately along the way in the development of this new ‘advanced technology’ more ‘affordable’ RLV we found out that we needed an HLV in order to put it into orbit.”

    It wasn’t “found out” — the laws of physics don’t dictate an ET and two SRBs to launch an orbiter. Rather, compromises were made to fit an overruning development program into the budget.

    “So in summary the plan that has unfolded in the realm of HLV over the last fifty years is first we spent $30 Billion building then destroying the SaturnV. Then we spent $30 Billion building and destroying our second HLV in order to spend another $30 Billion in to recreate what we destroyed after Apollo ten years from now. In the process we have spent 3x the money we need to in order to have an HLV capability.I know let’s learn from the past, stop chasing ‘low’ cost rainbows and just use what is already paid for to do new things.”

    Per the Augustine report, the options that “use what is already paid for” are not as affordable as the option that maximizes NASA’s leveraging of the military and commercial launch infrastructure, industry, and customer base. It’s not a question of sunk costs — it’s a question of what’s the lowest cost option going forward.

    Jobs and parochial politics have tied NASA to an Apollo/Shuttle infrastructure for which the agency has had to foot the entire bill for 40 years now, and despite multiple tries, it’s never created an affordable HLV or sustained enough spare budget to fund actual human space exploration activities. It’s arguably time to learn and break from the past, rather than being weighed down by it. As Augustine wrote in his letter to Wolf:

    “The two primary underlying issues driving the human spaceflight program remain ‘Is our goal a space program or a jobs program?’ and ‘How much can our nation afford for human spaceflight?’ Once these questions have been answered, the options narrow rapidly.”

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    Coming back to the topic at hand. I found the slides from Laurie Leshin ver good once again. The ULA slides were very good too. SpaceX and ATK made selling slides. Those of ATK of course warning of the challenges and emphasizing the use of known system (yawn). I am really glad someone like Laurie with such a global vision is part of NASA Exploration. I hope that NASA will find more like her within or without their ranks.

  • Josh, first you clearly didn’t read my post. Please read again and dispute the points I made since I covered the shear folly of any form of an ‘EELV’ derived or notional non-SDHLV (ie 5B).

    Second, I know a lot of the back story of the goings on with regards to the whole Augustine Commission which in turn makes the actually report that much more interesting to read as it was clearly a product of the political sausage making process in which the actual truth is blend together with half truths and outright falsehoods.

    Mr Earl, I produced a document for the Augustine Commission when it became clear that there was an unfortunate confluence forming between those still within NASA attempting to protect the PoR 1.5 from looking so bad when compared to a 2xSDHLV (what the ESAS Appendix 6a actually favored based on cost, performance, schedule and risk), and those who don’t want any HLV what so ever.

    As a result the cross hairs were clearly being drawn on taking out any form of a SDHLV since it alone could be the basis for a great compromise between these two irrational camps (ie PoR vs Shut down NASA HSF) which unfortunately still define the debate. At least in public anyway, hope springs eternal on our current efforts behind the scenes that saner minds will ultimately prevail, then again this is DC we are talking about. Then again the President has a real opportunity to take the moral high ground in this debate occurring between the extremes on the 15th.

    Below is link to the document on the Commission web site.

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

  • Al, sorry to waste everyone’s time with this — especially given my sometime problematic grammatical skills — but it’s something that bugs me,

    The vast majority of Americans, and their elected leaders, could care less.

    Most likely, you mean they could not care less.

    – Donald

  • richardb

    Here’s the quote I love and it shows why the Admin can’t sell this program shift:

    Leshin characterizes these future deep-space human exploration systems as “only a few years away.” She told Aviation Week she hopes firmer schedule details may emerge by the time NASA’s Fiscal 2012 budget is formulated.

    A few years away is to most people 3 to 5 years. Their plan is 10 to 20 years away to decide what the hardware will be, let alone be able to use it to go to any of many possible places. Exaggerations such as this degrade Leshin’s credibility.

  • A few years away is to most people 3 to 5 years. Their plan is 10 to 20 years away to decide what the hardware will be, let alone be able to use it to go to any of many possible places.

    You don’t know what their plan is.

    Exaggerations such as this degrade Leshin’s credibility.

    [rolling eyes]

  • Major Tom: “What’s wrong with developing a modern version of a proven engine that’s designed to be expendable? Or a domestic version of an advanced and powerful Russian engine that’s designed to be expendable? Especially if it’s used in non-NASA applications? I’ll take that over throwing away several expensive SSMEs that were designed to be reused every launch and that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire freight for. I’ll also take it over having to maintain an expensive SRB infrastructure — on top of the SSME infrastructure — that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire freight for.”

    Surprise Math Quiz, books closed; What is $3.5 Billion dollars (HLV R&D) divide by $35 million (Price per SSME)? Give up. Okay pencils down.

    Answer 100 engines or enough for over sixteen years of Jupiter-130 flights at two per year, not counting the inventory of seventeen SSME you would have us turn into lawn ornaments. More to the point do you understand anything about the concept of the time value of money, does the concept to lifecycle cost ring a bell?

    Second, comparing the Jupiter to anything in the ULA Barn is like comparing an 18 Wheeler to a wheel barrow when it comes to new capabilities the US will have. Since a Jupiter/Orion will start at about $1.8Billion/year at a flight rate of two per year its good deal.

    In fact the Jupiter will actually have lower cost to orbit per kg than ULA even at that low flight rate. Plus the workforce at ULA will likely be the same as for the Jupiter, just on some days they keep driving north instead of taking a left turn. Given the new civilian, military and commercial mission now possible it will be an important strategic asset that will make the US Space Program second to none.

    Major Tom: “If one really cares about what NASA and the federal budget will be able to afford a decade from now, then one would leverage the military and commercial industrial and customer launch base, rather than maintaining a launch infrastructure that only NASA uses and that NASA has to pay the entire bill for.”

    There it is, finally, the moment of clarity in your statement that proves your primary concern thereby showing that your tactic endorsement of the HLV R&D is just that a tactic endorsement to keep NASA quite until its too late for any HLV. Pretty sneaky sis

    The key word in Norm’s letter is ‘mostly’. He wouldn’t have to add that little modifier if we went with option 4B, the only option Norm also said closes the gap BTW. Oh and prevents the distruction of America’s HSF industrial base workforce and capability, so it has that going for it ……..which is nice. Every little bit helps.

  • common sense

    @richardb wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 2:36 pm:

    “Their plan is 10 to 20 years away to decide what the hardware will be, let alone be able to use it to go to any of many possible places.”

    Okay let’s do away with the made up dates. What hardware should we use to go where then according to you? What is available today? In 3 to 5 years?

    Please do not exagerate the capabilities!

  • Mr Engineer

    But, yet we forget that these technologies have not been developed even though they were recognized by von Braun and his team back in the 60s. The problem with technology development for the sake of development is that there is no forcing function. History has shown that technology pulls are MUCH more productive and cost effective than technology pushes. Wasn’t it NASA that sold the concept of build the space station, THEN track down science, werent’ we promised that this $100 billion lab was going to be used to significantly advance science and benefit life here on earth… if so, then why is NASA just now soliciting scientific payloads to hurry up and rush to put up there in the next three years?! Could it be that we built the ISS for the sake of the ISS and not for the “need”.

    Pulling technology is much better than pushing.

  • googaw

    If you want to believe the critics of the FY 2011 budget proposal, NASA’s purpose is to provide government jobs, fatten the space-industrial complex and keep doing what we did 45-50 years ago.

    This is after all a fairly accurate description of what NASA in fact does, regardless of which party is running it. Some folks have just been more honest about it recently.

  • googaw

    Wasn’t it NASA that sold the concept of build the space station, THEN track down science, weren’t we promised that this $100 billion lab was going to be used to significantly advance science and benefit life here on earth… if so, then why is NASA just now soliciting scientific payloads to hurry up and rush to put up there in the next three years?! Could it be that we built the ISS for the sake of the ISS and not for the “need”.

    Alas, an accurate description of NASA “infrastructure” sold under the justification of promoting dubious “science” and fantasy “markets.” It’s really just astronauts for the sake of astronauts, same as Constellation.

  • Bill White

    I have a question about this sentence:

    “It’s been a little bit frustrating so far, to me and I’m sure to you all as well, that we’ve had to be sort of hunkered down, and we’re coming out of our shell in the next couple of months.”

    Why would the NASA Administration need to be “sort hunkered down” concerning the new direction announced February 1st?

    Why will it take another couple of months to come out of their shell concerning the proposal?

  • common sense

    @Bill White wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 5:27 pm:

    I would submit it has to do with the President’s speech in 2 weeks, that they could not do anything in full daylight until then.

  • richardb

    common sense, I advise you to use some. Leshin said “a few years”, I didn’t. Assuming you had common sense, what would “a few years” suggest to you? 3 to 5 or 15? 20? 100?

    10 to 20 wasn’t pulled out of a hat. I take it from Lori Garver herself. See this http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/garver%20timeline.JPG
    Note the date for human exploration, after 2025. That fits well within 10 to 20 years from today.

    Bolden made similar statements, “Bolden said that, NASA will build a heavy lift rocket, but likely not until sometime between 2020 and 2030, which is the same time frame – or later – that the Ares V was projected to be ready. Bolden said the biggest difference is that NASA will likely build a big rocket with international partners.” From
    http://www.universetoday.com/2010/02/06/bolden-heavy-lift-will-be-international-effort-and-not-until-2020-2030/

    Simburg, thanks for pointing out that I don’t know their plans. I like to use Bolden’s, Garvers and any other Nasa officials own words though. Since they should know the plan. The plan is for no Nasa crewed vehicle till 2025 or later, in their own words.

    Ok I’ll rise to your straw man bait, I do know some of “the plan.”
    There is a plan to layoff of 10′s of thousands of Nasa workers and contractors with the demise of all NASA crewed launchers in 2010. Maybe by the time Obama deplanes in Florida in April, he will have come up with something more compelling that his current plan. I’m especially intrigued how Nasa will lay off thousands of rocket engineers, designers, life support engineers, propulsion engineers, etc and then start work in 2025 or 2030 on a brand new Ares V class rocket. With who? Maybe the future President will have a H1-B visa program to import them from India, China and Iran.

  • Vladislaw

    “Wasn’t it NASA that sold the concept of build the space station, THEN track down science, werent’ we promised that this $100 billion lab was going to be used to significantly advance science and benefit life here on earth… if so, then why is NASA just now soliciting scientific payloads ”

    Because the science budget got spent on other items? Didnt there exist a log jam of sorts for science packages that couldnt get sent because of the shuttle accident? The AMS is only going going up now, still no centrifuge etc etc.

  • Coastal Ron

    To date everyone has been focused on national “goals” in space – the moon (U.S. flags, footprints & souvenirs), a space station (U.S., USSR/Russia, & Int’l ISS), and various robotic missions.
    -
    If we can get a commercial market going, then company & organization goals start influencing the publics perceptions. This can already be seen with Virgin Galactic, and to a smaller degree Bigelow’s orbiting rooms. The Google Lunar X-Prize is part of this too.
    -
    Once citizens start having access to space, then there is going to be an increase in the number of companies that are willing to create in-orbit products and services. We’re starting to see the beings of the industry now, and I think within 10 years it will be firmly established. The challenge is keeping the government money flowing enough to keep the current companies moving forward. COTS & CCDev are important parts, and hopefully NASA awards crew launch contracts soon (that should create some good buzz on it’s own if done right).
    -
    From a hardware standpoint, as much as I’d love to see an HLV, we really don’t have a huge need for one yet. Between the three heavy launch variants of Atlas, Delta & Falcon, we can continue to build ISS-type structures in LEO. In fact, I think this actually focuses us on building real multi-purpose/multi-use spaceships in LEO, instead of direct-to-destination special purpose vehicles like Orion & Altair. By the time we need to move from 5 meter wide cargo to 10 meter wide, we’ll have an industry that would want to join in the funding.

  • common sense

    @richardb wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 6:19 pm”

    Ah! The famous common sense attack… Anywho.

    So what if it takes 10 or 20 years or even 50 years? In a hurry?

    I asked you what you think you can achieve in 3 to 5 years? Your own few years and I am still waiting.

  • Mr Engineer, great point on technology push vs technology pull (ie necessity is the mother of invention). We didn’t know how we were going to go to the Moon in under a decade either yet the challenge drove the innovation. The key difference this time around though is that we don’t have deadline that is backed up by a blank check.

    Absent this driving force its going to take a high degree of self-discipline to keep ‘operations’ or ‘technology development’ from eat each others lunch. There are dangers in going to either extreme.

    The PoR is a great example of the ‘operations’ extreme in that it tends take on a life of its own and consume all the technology development dollars. Because you aren’t shifting the cost curve over time you eventually hit an operational capability that consumes the entire budget just doing the same stuff over and over again (ie Jeff Greason’s if Santa Claus delivered the PoR today our first action would be to cancel it).

    We saw the other extreme on Feb 1st where there is no ‘operational’ capability or objective to drive the ‘technology development’ portfolio funding decisions. As such this important initiative eventually turns into a large collection of unrelated science projects. (ie Zubrin’s pile of parts in the back yard that may or may not become a couple’s dream house some day).

    The best solution involves combining the best aspects of both approaches into a strong synergistic whole. Which is why in the NASA Compromise Budget plan we create an organizational firewall between the two activities in which continued progress in operations is enabled by lowering the cost curve of existing operations via technology development. That way operations sees technology development as a key component of its success and technology development see operations as the primary pull and justification for its existence.

    Hopefully, a compromise along these lines will arise that will enable Laurie Leshin to manage this key dynamic towards success.

  • ISSvet

    Mr Engineer,

    It isn’t an issue of technology push or pull when the dominant factor is edifice building. ISS (when it was Freedom) started with plans for “pulled” technology development that was mostly cancelled as the costs of the core edifice overran the budget. Closed cycle life support, solar dynamic power, and many other technology developments were sacrificed to the monster.

    Without these technologies, the monster became even more expensive, especially for M&O, and the deadline pushed farther into the future anyway. This destructive devolution happened even faster with Constellation, with the ironic touch that the new monster ate what was left of the budget to actually make use of the previous monster.

    Herein lies a core fallacy of the “give me a destination with a deadline” argument. The deadline eats the technology you need to make the trip affordable, sustainable, or even worth taking. It seems that the only way to actually get the technology we need is to budget it first and force the destination to wait its turn.

  • googaw

    If we can get a commercial market going

    Back in this galaxy, there already is a thriving commercial space market going.

  • Tom D

    Stephen,

    I have a lot of sympathy for the Direct design effort. I think it has some real merit, but it also has some big problems. It does look like the Jupiter 130 is a straightforward development from the current shuttle hardware. If Constellation had started out developing that vehicle 5 years ago instead of Ares 1 it might well be flying right now, but that ship has left the terminal. As others have said, NASA would be the only customer. It really doesn’t look like they could afford it and still do *anything* else. It really looks like NASA’s PoR was doing just what the Soviets did with Energia: developing a mighty launch vehicle that they cannot afford.

    The biggest problem with Direct are the two SRBs. Those motors are very powerful, but they are also expensive, manpower intensive, and inflexible. They rather brutally constrain the vehicle design space and how it must be operated. Can the Direct launch vehicles be built and operated with a MUCH smaller team than Shuttle?

    You have rather blithely stated that an HLV based on EELV technology would inevitably be as expensive as the Jupiter vehicles (despite the lack of SRBs). Fine. Maybe we can’t afford them either. What can we afford to do that will get tourists into LEO and explorers out of LEO?

    A revolution in how NASA operates is needed and/or a revolution in commercial human access to space. I can’t really see how Direct will be helping commercial access, except by keeping NASA busy. Perhaps, that is reason enough.

  • I heard a pundit say tonight that the Obama Administrations goal with respect to the Iranian nuclear issue is to pretend to be working for sanctions but the real goal is just to avoid any military confrontation with Iran. (His comment) Until they get the bomb and it’s too late. (My expansion)

    So in much the same way the new plan is to end U.S. human space flight while pretending to revolutionize it. All of you sincerely commercial guys are being played. Get smart.

  • Jeff Greason

    Some commetators above seem to be discussing a straw-man path for deriving heavier lift from today’s EELV capabilities. While many paths are possible, and I do not know what path NASA has in mind, I can clarify what options I know about.

    EELV has had for a number of years a growth strategy that they presented to several possible users including NASA; the formation of ULA which brought the Atlas and Delta lines in to the same manufacturing plant opened up others.

    Phase 1 of that upgrade is a larger upper stage, common to both the Delta and Atlas. In addition to lowering production costs by simplifying the production line, that allows increased throw weight from the existing boosters. That uses existing engines, costs in the $1-$1.5B range, and increases throw weight of the heaviest EELV variant to about 45 tonnes if memory serves.

    Phase 2 of that upgrade uses the Delta production tooling to make 5m diameter kerosene tanks and uses two RD-180 (or other hydrocarbon engine of comparable thrust) for the stage. That puts 35 tonnes up single core without strap-ons and 70 tonnes in the 3-core “heavy” variant.

    Both the Phase I and Phase 2 versions can support 7.5m fairings; I’ve discussed the fairing size argument elsewhere and won’t repeat it other than to say that seems sufficient to me for a long time to come. To some that seems larger than needed, others envision a piece or two of hardware (such as the Mars manned entry vehicle) which we might need in the far future and which, assuming NO new technologies are applied between now and then, might require a larger fairing. Personally, I would rather start exploring soon and assess our needs again when we are a little closer to the point of need than contort our launch infrastructure today around this hypothesized future need.

    To say that any of these options “require” a new hydrocarbon engine is a bit misleading — while I fully support development of a U.S. hydrocarbon engine and note with approval that such an engine features in the new NASA budget, there is no technical reason why the future vehicles cannot use the RD-180 engine they are using today. We use those engines for U.S. government payloads today and we can continue to use them until a U.S. source engine is available.

    Of course once we are using kerosene boosters and have kerosene engines, developing a larger booster, once there is need, presents no special technical difficulty. This was called “Phase III” in the EELV briefing to the committee in public hearings. Such a booster will cost more money (as all ultra-large boosters do), and there is limited forseeable market for it (as for all ultra-large boosters), but if it turns out we need it in the future, and are willing to spend money on it in the future, we can do so. There is no need to spend today’s scarce dollars on an ultra-large booster for which we have no near-term need, just in case we will need it someday. Those who have claimed this is an all-or-nothing decision are ignoring alternatives.

  • Tom D

    I like the EELV growth path. That sounds MUCH more sustainable than a shuttle derived HLV. Add in some on-orbit propellant transfer/depot stuff along with a long duration habitat and we can start sending explorers to asteroids and Phobos within 10 years. Tourists could be circling the Moon even sooner. Landing on the Moon and Mars would follow quite naturally.

  • Bill White, Why would the NASA Administration need to be “sort hunkered down” concerning the new direction announced February 1st?

    The same reason parents, after they tell their kids that they’re going to Disneyland because they got a good tax check, hunker down behind the computer screen trying to find the best deals.

    Basically, we had a budget presented without a cohesive plan. They’re making that plan.

    Stephen Metschan, I don’t necessarily agree with the person you were responding to that we would go BEO on 2025. That’d be a very optimistic scenario. I certainly think it’s possible. But I do think that you were misrepresenting 5B because it doesn’t say that we’d be flying BEO at 2021, it could be saying we just start building the SHEELV.

    The problem, I believe, with anything SDLV is that, quite frankly, it comes with too much baggage. SpaceX will be doing everything that the jobs program in FL did but at a cost significantly lower. You make DIRECT/Jupiter, you wind up with all of that baggage, and NASA needs to spend $3 billion a year, keeping said program afloat, until that time we’re ready to utilize it. It’s Cx redux.

    I’d be happy if I could believe the DIRECT cost estimates, but I think they’re pie in the sky, and frankly, not really based in any reality. You’d be looking at STS level budgeting. And until you had the hardware to go BEO that whole program would just be sitting around festering, using valuable taxpayer money, and going no where in particular.

    Have we learned nothing?

    NASA needs a reset. Badly.

  • Murray Anderson

    Jeff Greason,
    The figure given for the Phase II single core is about 27 tons (in the Atlas Mission Planner Guide, revision 10a). The latest version of the guide (version 11, March 2010) doesn’t give any definitive figure, perhaps because the design of the upper stage is in flux, going from 4 to 2 RL-10s.
    I don’t think this affects your general argument.

  • “The goal remains the same”????????????

    How naive does she think we are? Laurie really your comments and cost examples are so one sided and narrowly focused that I find your presentation insulting.

    First off what GOAL? Flex path is a vague goalless plan. It totally reeks with lack of accountability and only a vague statement about going to Mars sometime after 2030. It is mainly focused on and promises little beyond ISS re-supply until 2020 something. Beyond that nothing is defined or focused. 2030 something is so far removed one can not even consider it as a goal.

    I agree Constellation was over reaching mostly due to Griffin wasting 5 years of up-front funding on a dead-end costly Ares, Apollo era concept. So lets take Ares based Constellation off the table. And go back to the original VSE. VSE had worthy incremental goals and millstones within 10-12 year spans. Goals that go beyond the 10-12 year periods like the flex vague mars post 2030 goal are useless as they are to far remove to hold a focused effort.

    Flex, VSE, HLV all have some worthy components. We need a NASA reset to plan “B” not all flex or all Constellation. A logical cost cutting plan “B” that builds off of existing infrastructure. Dump the “look but don’t touch”, vague flex theme, keep the commercial focused component of flex, add some worthy goals (like lunar ice utilization) and milestones from VSE. Congress will demand a HLV. But let’s not do a clean sheet HLV keep the cost as low as possible. Example a low cost shuttle-C derived “cargo only” HLV lite. Goals and milestones do not have to be rigidly defined they can have some flex. However they do need to be worthy and focus the effort, and include some accountability within not to exceed cost and timelines. Timelines and budgets can be more forgiving further out.

  • google

    VSE had worthy incremental goals and millstones

    Inadvertently well said. :-)

  • Interested Observer

    Second, comparing the Jupiter to anything in the ULA Barn is like comparing an 18 Wheeler to a wheel barrow when it comes to new capabilities the US will have. Since a Jupiter/Orion will start at about $1.8Billion/year at a flight rate of two per year its good deal.

    And you were told by the people that build and fly the space shuttle every day that your numbers were low by a wide margin.

    When you responded that these were numbers that the Aerospace companies had quoted to you, you were checked out and it was found that no one had ever told you such numbers. Indeed to give you quotations that are lower than what the contractors sell the same product to the government for is illegal. CEO’s would go to jail for what you are claiming.

    When you then claimed that the Aerospace Corp study had backed you up, it was found that no such thing had happened. When you claimed that senior engineering staff at MSFC was working for you on this, no one would stand up and back you up.

    When you started claiming that existing ET components could be used for your first test flight, those who actually do structural analysis for NASA shook their heads in disbelief.

    When Leroy Chao asked “who are you guys”, you had no answer.

    The efforts of the DIRECT crowd do nothing to further the cause of spaceflight, and indeed detract from trying to solve the difficult problems in getting beyond the defunct and unworkable constellation architecture.

  • [...] was going to write a blog post on this earlier, but Jeff Greason beat me to the punch in comments over on SpacePolitics.com (emphasis mine): Both the Phase I and Phase 2 versions can support 7.5m fairings; I’ve discussed [...]

  • google

    The Super-HLV obsessives really need to get a life. There is no economically rational application for it. There is no money to develop it. It’s just a research project to try to make the astronaut fan lobbyists happy. They are not happy unless they can daydream about ludicrously oversized rockets custom-built for their heavenly heroes. But as daydreamers they are easy to please, they only need some nice computer graphics showing astronauts playing golf on Mars. No actual multi-billion dollar development contracts to see here. Move along and feast at the trough elsewhere.

  • Vladislaw

    “But let’s not do a clean sheet HLV keep the cost as low as possible. Example a low cost shuttle-C derived “cargo only” HLV lite.”

    A “low cost” launch vehicle from NASA? Are we from the same planet? How can NASA do anything low cost when no matter what architecture they choose comes with a standing army of workers and contractors and have to divide it up so 50 states each get their share of the pork pie.

  • Fred

    “I asked you what you think you can achieve in 3 to 5 years? Your own few years and I am still waiting.”

    Can’t resist giving a possible answer to this- and a few years further out.
    1/ 2014-6 While waiting for commercial crew extend ISS with 2xBA330s and a Bigelow core module. That’s about $1B (including 3 EELV launches.
    This triples the size of the ISS. The new space to be used for the Exploration technology demonstrators and assembling BEO missions.
    It means the ISS would expand from 6 to 12 people, 6 of them working for exploration.
    2/ 2017-2019 first sortie beyond LEO using a 3rd BA330 equipped to test radiation shielding technologies. It becomes, in effect a 2nd space station outside the Van Allen Belt. Ideally it would stay out for 6 months at a time before returning to ISS for refueling and refurbishing. As recycling technologies improve it could stay out for longer testing deep space technologies, human factors engineering and so on. e.g. It ought to have the centrifuge.
    3/ After that you can do lunar orbits, NEOs (possible ISRU) and so on. You can state a date if it makes you happy (say 2023) but really it all depends on how quickly the technology develops, and in which order they come on line.

  • red

    Jeff Greason: “Phase 1 of that upgrade is a larger upper stage, common to both the Delta and Atlas. In addition to lowering production costs by simplifying the production line, that allows increased throw weight from the existing boosters. That uses existing engines, costs in the $1-$1.5B range, and increases throw weight of the heaviest EELV variant to about 45 tonnes if memory serves.”

    Already that gives us a heavy lift capability that will keep us busy for a long, long time. It’s affordable to develop (see the cost above), affordable to operate (using similar infrastructure and operations to what we will have anyway), quicker to develop than ideas like Ares V, and plenty for the various exploration tests, technology demonstrations, satellite servicing missions, observatory assembly operations, lunar remote sensing efforts, and various (numerous) other activities we’ll want to do in GEO, lunar orbit, and Earth-Moon Lagrange points.

    It’s also a good operation to have in Florida.

    If other technology plans don’t go as well as we should now expect, we can always fall back to Phase II and even Phase III later. Having the U.S. RD-180 equivalent on hand will only make the Phase II step more palatable.

  • Al Fansome

    FANSOME: The vast majority of Americans, and their elected leaders, could care less.

    ROBERTSON: Most likely, you mean they could not care less.

    Donald,

    Good catch.

    BTW, I am interpreting the silence to my posts above as agreement, or at least non-disagreement (and for some, no opinion) with the strategic political situation.

    I do find it funny that Metschan has suddenly become a technical expert on EELV-derived super-heavy-lift. Nobody in NASA, or the leading industry supporters of alternatives (e.g., ATK, Mike Griffin) have argued that you can’t cost-effectively design/build an Atlas V Phase 2 rocket in the 50-75 metric ton class.

    By inference, Metschan is saying that not only is ULA technically incompetent, but NASA and ATK, and Mike Griffin are technically incompetent too.

    Metschan is suddenly America’s leading expert on super-heavy-lift launch.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • lkjsad

    So another advantage of heavy EELV is that you get engine source redundancy for the cost of developing and supporting only one engine. The soyuz backup option, only this time it is an engine backup

  • Stephen Metschan: “Second, comparing the Jupiter to anything in the ULA Barn is like comparing an 18 Wheeler to a wheel barrow when it comes to new capabilities the US will have. Since a Jupiter/Orion will start at about $1.8Billion/year at a flight rate of two per year its good deal.”
    Interested Observer: “And you were told by the people that build and fly the space shuttle every day that your numbers were low by a wide margin.”

    No you are 110% percent wrong on that one. I have the emails plus dozens of phone conversations backing up those numbers. They just don’t want to get future contracts yanked away from them by those pushing whatever the particular fallacious agenda of the day is. This is the primary reason for their silence. The customer is always right after all and they will sell anything to anyone who will buy. Which I fully understand having been on the receiving end myself on what happens if one stands for the truth one too many times. It’s not easy when a million dollars are at stake let alone billions.

    It was the same under Mike Griffin only in the opposite extreme paradigm of bigger is better. Now its smaller is better. Both extreme positions are wrong and the tactics some use to insure organizational conformity against the truth will always backfire because space, unlike DC, doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

    The primary responsibility of NASA is to make sure the contractors aren’t taking the taxpayer for a ride. When it’s NASA taking the taxpayer for a ride by destroying a perfectly adequate industrial base that will then require the taxpayer to fund its replacement there is very little incentive for a savvy contractor base to stop them. Remember all sales pitches start with convincing you that what you have is inadequate (i.e. PoR) or you absolutely need this brand new thing (i.e. Feb 1st Plan).

    Interested Observer: “When you responded that these were numbers that the Aerospace companies had quoted to you, you were checked out and it was found that no one had ever told you such numbers. Indeed to give you quotations that are lower than what the contractors sell the same product to the government for is illegal. CEO’s would go to jail for what you are claiming.”

    Oh kind-of like how we need to add $300 million dollars to the firm fixed price COTS development contract, ie pay twice for the same stuff? Yep never has happened in the history of government contracting, everything comes right in on time, on spec and on schedule for the promised budget.

    Back to reality, The development and operational cost numbers used for a directly Shuttle Derived HLV are well sourced based on almost thirty years of development and operations experience. Is the actual development cost of Space Shuttle Development compiled by the GAO good enough for you? How about the actual budget amounts used to fly the Space Shuttle over the last thirty years, are those cost numbers good enough for you? How about the CBO estimate for the directly Shuttle Derived HLV which puts the Jupiter-130 at $8 Billion (2010 dollars)? All these sources have one thing in common they agree with our numbers and not the Aerospace Corporations numbers. Look up in the posts above and download the document I submitted the commission and then get back to me.

    Interested Observer: “When you then claimed that the Aerospace Corp study had backed you up, it was found that no such thing had happened. When you claimed that senior engineering staff at MSFC was working for you on this, no one would stand up and back you up. When you started claiming that existing ET components could be used for your first test flight, those who actually do structural analysis for NASA shook their heads in disbelief. When Leroy Chao asked “who are you guys”, you had no answer. The efforts of the DIRECT crowd do nothing to further the cause of spaceflight, and indeed detract from trying to solve the difficult problems in getting beyond the defunct and unworkable constellation architecture.”

    Once again 110% wrong, We never claimed ever that the ET doesn’t need a complete structural redesign for the inline SDHLV configuration. We have only said that the tooling and the launch infrastructure is already in place to supports this option. The key tent pole remains the Orion spacecraft. For the launch system it’s the flight boxes and software as correctly pointed out by John Shannon not the tank redesign.

    When Leroy asked me that question, I told him we would get those within NASA supporting our efforts to contact them ‘directly’. And you know what? once again I have the emails from the actually MSFC, JSC, KSC engineers from the frontlines of the PoR that responded as private citizens to the Commission backing up every single one of these issues.

    I also understand why the Commission held back, despite this knowledge, some of the punches they could have leveled at NASA management concerning the PoR. As Major Tom has correctly pointed out the PoR wasn’t underfunded as was the excuse used to help cover the real reasons for the PoR poor performance. I’m glad the Jeff corrected Bo during the hearings when Bo claimed that all the PoR needed was more money and the problems with the PoR would disappear. Jeff and the Commission knew better but used the lack of money as the crutch to help preserve the organizationally credibility of NASA. I for one think that NASA engineers are fully capable of still doing great things ‘if’ the have great leaders and good plan.

    I agree that the PoR was defunct, a point I have been making now for over five years. The best ESAS option 2xSDHLV is still in fact locked away in ESAS Appendix 6a. But the way to fix a bad plan is not with another bad plan. We need a better plan. Fortunately we have one ready to go, the foundation of which is based on a concept first proposed by NASA engineers before the first Space Shuttle ever flew.

    I have to say your tag line of “Interested Observer” is truth in advertising since you are most clearly out of loop.

  • Jeff, I do like your overall technical and budgetary approach to evolving the EELV industrial base over time into a true HLV capability, but I still think it suffers from politics. DIRECT was always intended to be at the center of gravity of the technical, budgetary and politics. Time will tell if we are correct. If DIRECT is ultimately not selected then the politics was obviously not as strong as we thought and Jeff’s plan would be a perfectly acceptable approach from a technical and budgetary stand point.

    Al Fansome: “By inference, Metschan is saying that not only is ULA technically incompetent, but NASA and ATK, and Mike Griffin are technically incompetent too.”

    Wrong, ULA, NASA, USA, Boeing, Lockheed/Martin, P&W, Northrup/Grumman and ATK are extremely technically competent organizations in fact they are the best in the world at doing very difficult things in space. What got us into this mess was how this talented workforce was managed.

  • Bill White

    I would like to see Jeff Greason and Stephen Metschan appear together in various forums to discuss space policy.

    Miles O’Brien as moderator?

    The Space Show?

    Blogging Heads TV?

  • …..and when I say ‘managed’ I mean NASA, these commercial companies primary customer (actually only) customer for civilian space. I have great confidence in Charlie Bolden to pull together a good team regardless of whether Politics ultimately sends us down the path Jeff described or DIRECT. I think Laurie Leshin appointment is good sign of that given her important contributions to the Aldridge Commissions report, which I also endorse. For what its worth Mike Griffin hated that report, he said it best, what he was after was Apollo on steroids.

    The Aldridge Commission had a much more sustainable evolutionary approach in mind which I also believe is closer to the President’s plan than the PoR by a long shot. My primary frustration with the last administration is they didn’t get Mike back in line when it was clear the PoR was putting self-imposed steroid based performance requirements ahead of the real requirements of limited budget and policy. We were unsuccessful despite multiple attempts to get the attention of either Congress or the Whitehouse. Mike’s NASA not being truthful to Congress both behind the scenes and even if full view of the public was exceedingly unhelpful, exhibit A (ESAS Appendix 6a).

    Once we did finally get the attention of the current administration (though they also had legitimate concerns of their own concerning the PoR), helping to kick off the Augustine Commission, the new powers that be decided to once again go off the rails in the other extreme opposite direction resulting in the politically dead on arrival plan put at doorstep of Congress after nearly zero consultation.

    Bill, I think Jeff and I would have alot more in common than you may think. The more interesting pairing would be Mike or Alan which I think do a great job at supporting the extremes in this debate :) If you really want fireworks just like Mike and Alan go at it :)

  • Bill White

    Bill, I think Jeff and I would have alot more in common than you may think.

    I agree. My thought is to let other people see that as well so we can also focus on areas of agreement in addition to areas of disagreement.

    My sense is that you and Jeff Greason would agree far more than many people suspect.

  • common sense

    I must have comprehension problems. Maybe english is not my primary language as Major Tom would ask ;)

    BUT are you guys sure that Stephene and Jeff have that much in common??? Or maybe if it does not relate to HLV?

    Oh well…

    Jeff Greason wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    “There is no need to spend today’s scarce dollars on an ultra-large booster for which we have no near-term need, just in case we will need it someday. Those who have claimed this is an all-or-nothing decision are ignoring alternatives.”

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    ” Bill, I think Jeff and I would have alot more in common than you may think. ”

    Bill White wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    “My sense is that you and Jeff Greason would agree far more than many people suspect.”

  • Bill White

    @ common sense

    “The goal remains the same” is the title of this thread.

    Space advocacy could benefit from more integrative bargaining

    http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/interest-based_bargaining/

    and less positional bargaining

    http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/positional_bargaining/

    = = =

    For example, the goal of having sufficient up-mass launch capability and down-mass capability to sustain ISS until at least 2020 is something Jeff and Stephen likely agree upon.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “For example, the goal of having sufficient up-mass launch capability and down-mass capability to sustain ISS until at least 2020 is something Jeff and Stephen likely agree upon.”

    May be so but they do not necessarily on the definition of “sufficient”. Don’t you think? Stephen wants a mega monster HLV and Jeff obviously does not. Stephen wants it on the basis that we may need it and some other national security nonsense (that kills his credibility unfortunately) and Jeff obvioulsy does not. But I am not Jeff and I will let him answer or tell me that I am wrong if he cares to do so.

    Space advocacy would really benefit from living in reality and understanding what they are told. Then they may be able to have a united front but I serioulsy doubt it as evidenced by years of “my plan is better than yours” kind of advocacy.

  • common sense

    @Al Fansome wrote @ March 31st, 2010 at 9:54 am:

    “Consistent with my argument above, it appears that the President is making multiple policy moves into Republican policy territory. Obama is clearly moving to the Center now, and national space policy is part of that move.

    The Democrats will go along with the President on NASA, and most of the Republicans will be smart and not take the bait.

    The drilling policy represents the White House’s latest attempt to straddle a middle ground on climate and energy policy …”

    Just for fun: Could it be that, since the Republicans in Congress have opposed most if not all that this WH has done or is trying to do, that this is just not an attempt at making them appear for what they are? That is people with no vision and only ready to oppose every and anything jusst for the sake of it.

    See, the current NASA plan is very close to the VSE, Flex-Path is very close to the spiral approach and commercial is primary. Yet all our Republican friends in Congress, e.g. Sen. Shelby, and elsewhere just oppose it! Now of course those who actually can think don’t oppose it, e.g. Newt Gingrich, and actually support it.

    So what is it going to be for the Republicans? Are they going to oppose the drilling? That’d be so fun that I cannot wait to see. Drill baby drill…

    Oh well…

  • So what is it going to be for the Republicans? Are they going to oppose the drilling? That’d be so fun that I cannot wait to see. Drill baby drill…

    They’re not going to oppose the drilling. They’ll just point out, correctly, that it’s not drilling. It’s just provisional permission to study whether or not they might be able to drill sometime in the future, in limited areas, and it could be held up indefinitely by any of several federal agencies.

    @Jeff (Greason): the problem with a common upper stage is that it provides a new single-point failure possibility, if the system is critical to the architecture.

  • common sense

    @Rand Simberg wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    “They’re not going to oppose the drilling. They’ll just point out, correctly, that it’s not drilling. It’s just provisional permission to study whether or not they might be able to drill sometime in the future, in limited areas, and it could be held up indefinitely by any of several federal agencies.”

    I don’t want to push that much further, BUT so what? Should “they” be given the go ahead without prior study? Is this not the first step in the direction of drilling? But we shall see.

  • Major Tom

    “Surprise Math Quiz, books closed; What is $3.5 Billion dollars (HLV R&D) divide by $35 million (Price per SSME)? Give up. Okay pencils down.”

    Your price for an SSME is off by a factor of 2-3. SSMEs were $80 million a pop several years ago:

    http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=4379

    If production was restarted in a couple years, inflation alone would push the price into the range of $95-100 million per SSME.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Answer 100 engines, or enough for over sixteen years of Jupiter-130 flights at two per year,”

    No, the accurate answer is closer to 30 engines, or only five years of Jupiter-130 flights at two per year.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    But more to the point, the $3.5 billion in the HLV budget isn’t available to to restart SSME production because DIRECT would need that money to develop Jupiter ($8.3 billion according to the DIRECT presentation to the Augustine Committee) and to finish Orion development (at least $7.7 billion over FY 2011-FY 2014 according to the FY 2010 budget).

    “Second, comparing the Jupiter to anything in the ULA Barn is like comparing an 18 Wheeler to a wheel barrow when it comes to new capabilities the US will have.”

    I didn’t compare Jupiter to the “ULA Barn”. I compared Shuttle to Delta IV Heavy in terms of payload to LEO, which are practically identical, and noted that both would require significant changes to create true HLVs that could increase that payload by a factor of two or more.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Since a Jupiter/Orion will start at about $1.8Billion/year at a flight rate of two per year its good deal.”

    $900 million to fly a capsule to and from ISS is not a good deal. That’s more than the average cost of a Shuttle flight to ISS, forget more competitive alternatives.

    Moreover, it’s not even accurate. Per the Augustine report, Orion alone will have a recurring cost of $1 billion. You have to add the launcher costs to that. Even with an imaginary free launcher, an annual flight rate of two Orion missions starts at $2 billion plus.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “More to the point do you understand anything about the concept of the time value of money, does the concept to lifecycle cost ring a bell?”

    I wouldn’t throw around unfounded accusations like this when my costs for major rocket components are off by factors of 2-3, when I havn’t accounted for the costs of developing (or finishing development of) my crew capsule, and when I havn’t accounted for the cost of operating my crew capsule.

    Moreover, if you really care about the time value of money or lifecycle cost, then you shouldn’t be using your most valuable dollars now to pay for developing and carrying an HLV that you won’t need until next decade.

    “In fact the Jupiter will actually have lower cost to orbit per kg than ULA”

    What ULA? What specific vehicle are you comparing against?

    Don’t make stuff up.

    And even if true, it’s not dollars per unit mass that’s critical to this decision. It’s total cost and cost per year, and whether those fit within the budget and leave enough money on the table to do anything useful with the launcher in a reasonable timeframe.

    “Plus the workforce at ULA will likely be the same as for the Jupiter”

    At the Cape, maybe some. Not in other locations.

    “Given the new civilian, military and commercial mission now possible”

    There is no such thing as a “civilian, military and commercial mission”. They’re separate launch sectors with distinct payloads.

    “it will be an important strategic asset that will make the US Space Program second to none.”

    Not if it’s so expensive to develop that NASA can’t afford to finish building Orion or other hardware to launch on it.

    “There it is, finally, the moment of clarity in your statement that proves your primary concern thereby showing that your tactic endorsement of the HLV R&D is just that a tactic endorsement to keep NASA quite until its too late for any HLV. Pretty sneaky sis”

    I wrote nothing of the sort.

    I wrote that if we are really concerned about the federal and NASA budget situation in ten-plus years, then we need to pursue the most affordable HLV option (per the Augustine report) and leverage the military and commercial launch infrastructure and customers to the maximum extent possible instead of carrying a duplicate infrastructure that NASA has to foot the entire bill for.

    Don’t make things up.

    “The key word in Norm’s letter is ‘mostly’. He wouldn’t have to add that little modifier if we went with option 4B, the only option Norm also said…”

    Augustine didn’t use the word “mostly” in that sentence to Wolf. His statement was that Option 5B “most closely approximates” NASA’s FY 2011 budget request. He’s making a observable statement of fact about which option from the Augustine report the budget is based on. He’s not expressing an opinion about which option is better.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Look, I still think DIRECT/Jupiter was a better option than the POR, if for no other reason than it didn’t waste billions of dollars poorly replicating intermediate-lift capabilities in Ares I that already reside in the nation’s military and commercial launch fleet. If the Administration had chosen Option 4B, it may not have been ideal, but I would have supported it over the POR.

    That said, I don’t think DIRECT/Jupiter/Option 4B is better than the option chosen by the Administration, Option 5B. Even without Ares I, building and operating an HLV using a launch infrastructure and workforce that no one else uses besides NASA is almost certainly going to be more expensive than leveraging the military and commercial launch infrastructure and refocusing NASA’s limited resources and workforce on deep space systems. Again, 40 years of history shows that the Apollo/Shuttle infrastructure can’t produce a sustainable HLV or leave enough spare change in a non-Apollo budget to build and operate systems for actual human space exploration beyond LEO.

    Moreover, after several interactions on this forum, it’s apparent to me that DIRECT has (or at least you have) underestimated costs dramatically. Every major cost figure I take a critical look at from your posts or spreadsheetsis off by large factors (SSMEs) or assumes practically free or substantially discounted development and operations (Orion). A program can’t go forward on such unrealistic assumptions, and for that reason alone, I wouldn’t support DIRECT/Jupiter right now, regardless of what option the Administration had chosen. You guys (or you) have to get a handle on some realistic costs for the components going into the Jupiter vehicle and on Orion generally or no one with any real power of the purse is going to take your proposal/lobbying seriously. I’d stop wasting time here and focus on that.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Bill White

    @ common sense

    What you, I or Stephen “wants” is not particularly relevant. What Congress shall appropriate is what is most relevant.

    Anyway,

    (1) NASA already has an HLV — next launch scheduled for Monday,IIRC, and it appears that the actual costs of de-commissioning that HLV program and shutting down Constellation haven’t been fully documented;

    (2) Whether ISS can be adequately supported through 2020 without an HLV of some flavor (enhanced EELV or shuttle derived whether DIRECT or sidemount) remains unknown (at least for the general public);

    If not, then everything fails as the commercial cargo & crew proposals are dependent upon ISS as a destination.

    (3) Whether the postponement of beyond LEO NASA human exploration until after an undefined period of “technology development” has occurred will be acceptable to Congress is doubtful;

    (4) Whether all EELV would actually be cheaper than shuttle derived is another disputed question;

    (5) Whether the FY2011 proposal can be politically sustained over multiple Administrations once the shuttle industrial base is dismantled is another uncertain question;

    (6) Whether NASA’s assimilation of NewSpace will zombie-fy a promising industry is a question that concerns me.

    Discussing these issues from an integrative or interest based perspective rather than a positional bargaining perspective will better assure than whatever ends up getting passed by Congress shall be sustainable.

    For the record, I support commercial crew to ISS, I oppose Ares 1 and the PoR Ares V (10 meter tank, RS-68 etc . . .) and I believe Senators Nelson and Hutchison have offered reasonable suggestions to begin negotiations between the Executive and Legislative branches of our government.

  • Common Sense: “May be so but they do not necessarily on the definition of “sufficient”. Don’t you think? Stephen wants a mega monster HLV and Jeff obviously does not. Stephen wants it on the basis that we may need it and some other national security nonsense (that kills his credibility unfortunately) and Jeff obvioulsy does not. But I am not Jeff and I will let him answer or tell me that I am wrong if he cares to do so.”

    Wrong again, we both think that 75mT is likely sufficient. We both agree that more volume/diameter is good, I think 10m, Jeff is happy right now with 7.5 unless otherwise shown not to be enough. The primary point of debate is what is the best path towards that level of HLV capability.

    DIRECT suggests that Jupiter-130 is a good incrementally capability based on existing Shuttle assets to get to that point in the near future, ie five years. If we need more we can go the next step and fly with an EDS, ie ten years from now. Ideally the EDS arrives in orbit empty with a fully integrated mission above it and is tanked up by the commercially supplied depot. The Jupiter-130 also has distinct political advantages which I don’t think Jeff would disagree with. Under Jeff’s path we gradually achieve a similar capability (though at a lower diameter/volume) over series of more modest upgrades based on the EELV line. The progress of the Advanced Technology program being an important factor on how much HLV and capability we ultimately arrive at.

    To characterize one 75mT HLV as monster HLV and the other 75mT HLV as not a monster HLV is a complete mischaracterization of our perspective positions. BTW the national security thing actual hurts your credibility because it indicates you aren’t in a position to know. Which is certainly good thing since you have already indicated that you would promptly broadcast it far and wide.

  • Major Tom: “You guys (or you) have to get a handle on some realistic costs for the components going into the Jupiter vehicle and on Orion generally or no one with any real power of the purse is going to take your proposal/lobbying seriously. I’d stop wasting time here and focus on that.”

    Please review the linked documents and get back to me.

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

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

    BTW the SSME numbers are directly sourced from P&W based on the lower cost SSME that utilizes channel wall nozzles produced at about six per year. You must always remember it’s the fixed cost that dominates, the cost of additional units doesn’t. It’s the same thing with Atlas and Delta. Which is why I might add that a shutdown of the SSME and SRB production will in fact increase the cost of DOD ULA systems. A dollar saved in the STS shutdown is most definitely not going to be a dollar earned. Important safety tip. And why I might add as well that we could get launch costs down to below $2K/kg if we just stopped forcing commercial users of these launch systems from paying a portion of the Government’s strategic fixed cost. You must remember that when it comes to the cost of space everything is interconnected so cost estimates made in isolation from the overall policy are almost always wrong, both high and low.

    In summary, I place the estimates of USA, P&W, GAO, CBO, NASA, Boeing, Lockheed/Martin, 30 years of actual budgets building the very same or similar hardware in question, above what the Aerospace Corporation did, (on very little sleep over only a two week period). A fact that both they and Augustine Commission admitted to multiple times. I know I was in direct correspondence with them, and you where doing what at the time?

    Look in the end both SDHLV and EELV got shanked in the cost department in order to make sure the PoR didn’t look so bad. The Augustine Commission wisely stayed away from differences in cost, all five options achieved similar technical objectives in roughly the same time frame for the same budget, give or take. A position I obviously disagree with but a position on their part that I understand. Then didn’t want this to destract us from the key policy decisions. So in summary don’t try to read too much into the Aerospace Corp cost numbers. The key is that the options they produced were a boil up of the ‘key’ policy decisions that needed to be made, no more no less.

    My point remains that the only policy option that closes the gap and preserves the existing HLV industrial base is option 4B and to a lesser extent option 5C. All other options don’t do that. It’s really no more complicated than that. Now if you don’t care about the gap and could care less about the decimation of America’s second HLV industrial base and workforce then the clear policy advantages of option 4B are unlikely to sway your opinion.

    Fortunately there are more powerful forces involved in this policy decision than you or I. I know for a fact that there are more than a few members of Congress and within the NASA organization that care a great deal about these two issues. In the end it will come down to whether those poltical forces are more powerful than the poltical forces that advocate the exact opposite.

    Only time will tell.

  • common sense

    “Wrong again, we both think that 75mT is likely sufficient. We both agree that more volume/diameter is good, I think 10m, Jeff is happy right now with 7.5 unless otherwise shown not to be enough. The primary point of debate is what is the best path towards that level of HLV capability. ”

    Hmmm. Funny because here is Jeff’s own words: “There is no need to spend today’s scarce dollars on an ultra-large booster for which we have no near-term need, just in case we will need it someday. Those who have claimed this is an all-or-nothing decision are ignoring alternatives.”

    I assume you don’t see Jupiter as such an “ultra-large booster” then? If not then my apologies I was under the impression that Jupiter was such an “ultra-large” booster.

    “BTW the national security thing actual hurts your credibility because it indicates you aren’t in a position to know. Which is certainly good thing since you have already indicated that you would promptly broadcast it far and wide.”

    Funny again. As I already told you. If you knew something classified and you were to allude to it on a public forum you’d be in violation of the law. So what is it? And who cares about my credibility? I am not selling anything like you are. I only am a taxpayer who may end up purchasing some sort of (H)LV so you probably should worry about your own credibility not mine.

    Oh well… googaw where are you? ;)

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 3:42 pm :

    “What you, I or Stephen “wants” is not particularly relevant. What Congress shall appropriate is what is most relevant.”

    Maybe so according to YOU but that was not the point was it?

    The point was that you said:
    “For example, the goal of having sufficient up-mass launch capability and down-mass capability to sustain ISS until at least 2020 is something Jeff and Stephen likely agree upon.”

    And I said it is not such.

    “(1) NASA already has an HLV — next launch scheduled for Monday,IIRC, and it appears that the actual costs of de-commissioning that HLV program and shutting down Constellation haven’t been fully documented;”

    What is the point? Shuttle termination started n 2004. We are 6 years, six years in it. It is over. Period. constellation is next. Period. Per Bolden, the WH and Congress.

    “(2) Whether ISS can be adequately supported through 2020 without an HLV of some flavor (enhanced EELV or shuttle derived whether DIRECT or sidemount) remains unknown (at least for the general public);”

    ???? Where is this coming from? Any reference you care to share?

    “If not, then everything fails as the commercial cargo & crew proposals are dependent upon ISS as a destination.”

    Absolutely not. Some proposals are for ISS service indeed BUT nowhere nowhen any one said that commercials are limited to the ISS. Any reference?

    “(3) Whether the postponement of beyond LEO NASA human exploration until after an undefined period of “technology development” has occurred will be acceptable to Congress is doubtful;”

    Define postponement. Because the POR was largely postponing everything. Ares V was not funded and Altair was in effect cancelled. So?

    “(4) Whether all EELV would actually be cheaper than shuttle derived is another disputed question;”

    No it is not. See Augustine report and Aerospace Corp report.

    “(5) Whether the FY2011 proposal can be politically sustained over multiple Administrations once the shuttle industrial base is dismantled is another uncertain question;”

    The Shuttle industrial base was supposed to be dismantled under the previous plan. And yet it was sustained until now anyway. So?

    “(6) Whether NASA’s assimilation of NewSpace will zombie-fy a promising industry is a question that concerns me.”

    That is the most pertinent question so far and so far there is nothing that lends us to believe so. that I know anyway.

    “Discussing these issues from an integrative or interest based perspective rather than a positional bargaining perspective will better assure than whatever ends up getting passed by Congress shall be sustainable.”

    Regardless of whether I agree with your statements above (the questions). This is not going to happen I am afraid. It never did and it is not happening now.

    “For the record, I support commercial crew to ISS, I oppose Ares 1 and the PoR Ares V (10 meter tank, RS-68 etc . . .) and I believe Senators Nelson and Hutchison have offered reasonable suggestions to begin negotiations between the Executive and Legislative branches of our government.”

    Both Senators only are playing to their constituents. What matters as Major Tom would tell you is wwhat is actually written in the bill and so far…

  • Jeff Greason

    I respect the position Stephen has expressed above even though I disagree with elements of it. Believe it or not it is possible for people of good will to disagree without ad hominem arguments :-)

    I would characterize the primary arguments between a shuttle derived and EELV-derived growth path for future boosters thusly:

    EELV derived can start immediately (as the boosters are in current use), and grow from there. Future EELV derivative development cost is comparatively low. Keeping the EELV production line open is a roughly $1B annual expense which will be shared with other uses, so NASA cost to keep the line open is likely to be on the order of $0.5B.

    Shuttle derived will start later (as development is required before first launch), and will cost a great deal more in development funding (albeit less than Ares — how much less there is not agreement on). Keeping the production line open will be a roughly $2B annual expense which is unique to NASA, which will therefore bear the entire cost.

    EELV derived, as the lower cost option, has the least benefit to those who develop new boosters. As operations will start sooner, KSC can benefit sooner but as it is a lower cost option, it will not employ as many workers directly as a shuttle-derived booster would do. Shuttle derived may therefore be more politically palatable VIEWED IN ISOLATION.

    Unfortunately, given the budget realities NASA is now facing, the additional annual carrying cost of SDLV may make the difference in whether NASA can or cannot afford an exploration capsule.

    Therefore, there is a reasonably high probability that the options are:
    *SDLV and no exploration spacecraft
    *EELV growth path derivatives and an exploration spacecraft.

    And if that is the situation we face, then I believe the launch rate of EELV derivatives which actually have a spacecraft to do missions will be far higher than that of SDLV’s which don’t. I also believe that an SDLV that slips initial availability increases the chances of a future program cancellation and that is a risk I find unattractive. Since we can start initial missions with current EELV’s that risk is asymmetric.

    Yes there is uncertainty in all cost estimates but that is how the situation is shaping up to me. I would like KSC to have work to do and would like to see exploration happening sooner rather than later — therefore I am not eager to take the risk of a $1.5B annual increase in NASA’s budget to do what is essentially the same job just on the grounds that more existing contractors will like it. I don’t think NASA has the extra $1.5B.

    But this does depend on your opinion on the cost of various system elements, your mileage may vary. I wish I were wrong — I just don’t think I am.

  • Major Tom

    “Please review the linked documents and get back to me.”

    I reviewed the budget spreadsheets in a prior thread. Again, depending on the budget scenario, if Jupiter-130 development still runs $8.3 billion (per your presentation to the Augustine Committee), your budget lines for Jupiter/Orion development assume that Orion is free or substantially discounted (~25-50%) below the $7.7 billion for Orion development over FY 2011-2014 in the FY 2010 budget request. Needless to say, that’s a very unrealistic assumption.

    As for the second document, it appears to rely on GAO figures from the 1970s. Needless to say, that’s not a good, current source of cost data.

    “BTW the SSME numbers are directly sourced from P&W based on the lower cost SSME that utilizes channel wall nozzles produced at about six per year.”

    Channel walls should bring labor down, but I have a hard time believing that they would cut the production cost for an SSME by a factor of 2-3. I think you or the DIRECT team is confusing SSME production costs with SSME refurbishment costs.

    “You must always remember it’s the fixed cost that dominates, the cost of additional units doesn’t… You must remember that when it comes to the cost of space everything is interconnected so cost estimates made in isolation from the overall policy are almost always wrong, both high and low.”

    I don’t disagree with these budgeting/cost estimating lessons for idiots. But what relevance do they have to your SSME cost estimates being off by a factor of 2-3, or your ignoring the costs of Orion development?

    “Which is why I might add that a shutdown of the SSME and SRB production will in fact increase the cost of DOD ULA systems”

    Only if no additional NASA launch business migrates to ULA (a highly unlikely scenario) and if ULA’s rocket motor suppliers don’t shrink their overhead (which DOD is already working). More launch business for ULA’s greatly underutilized capacity will more than offset cited potential 20% increases in rocket costs.

    Moreover, even if DOD does experience such a price increase, the multi-billion dollar costs associated with maintaining the Shuttle infrastructure in the NASA budget far outweigh the tens of millions of dollars that such a price increase would represent to DOD. From a national or taxpayer’s perspective, it makes no sense to pay NASA to maintain a separate, unique launch infrastructure just to save DOD an amount that’s a small fraction of the cost of that NASA launch infrastructure. I wouldn’t buy a second car to save money on my first car’s tires.

    “A dollar saved in the STS shutdown is most definitely not going to be a dollar earned.”

    Even if true, this is not a good reason not to shut Shuttle down. Savings, even 50 cents on the dollar, is still savings.

    “Important safety tip.”

    Huh?

    “And why I might add as well that we could get launch costs down to below $2K/kg if we just stopped forcing commercial users of these launch systems from paying a portion of the Government’s strategic fixed cost.”

    As I mentioned in an earlier thread, this would amount to a government subsidy for commercial users of those launch vehicles. It’s not clear that’s in the taxpayer’s interest.

    “In summary, I place the estimates of USA, P&W, GAO, CBO, NASA, Boeing, Lockheed/Martin, 30 years of actual budgets building the very same or similar hardware in question, above what the Aerospace Corporation did, (on very little sleep over only a two week period)… So in summary don’t try to read too much into the Aerospace Corp cost numbers.”

    My criticism of your (or DIRECT’s) SSME and Orion development cost estimates doesn’t come from Aerospace. My numbers come from articles and NASA budgets in the public domain. Your systemic cost estimating problem isn’t with Aerospace Corp. It’s with reality.

    “My point remains that the only policy option that closes the gap and preserves the existing HLV industrial base is option 4B and to a lesser extent option 5C.”

    Closing the gap has never mattered. The VSE was rolled out with a four-year gap. No one cared then or in any of the ensuing years to try to eliminate it, and no one had even taken steps to stop the gap from growing until the FY 2011 budget request was rolled out.

    And preserving the Shuttle infrastructure doesn’t matter if the nation has another launch infrastructure to turn to that can produce an HLV for less money and time. There’s no reason beyond jobs and how they matter (if at all) to the reelection of a couple dozen congressmen for NASA to maintain a seperate, unique launch infrastructure that it has to pay for entirely on its own dime.

    “Now if you don’t care about the gap and could care less about the decimation of America’s second HLV industrial base and workforce then the clear policy advantages of option 4B are unlikely to sway your opinion.”

    I care, but neither are a good reason to continue saddling the civil human space flight program with a launch infrastructure that leaves it without sufficient remaining resources from which to undertake actual human space exploration — as has happened with that launch infrastructure for the past 40 years.

    “Fortunately there are more powerful forces involved in this policy decision than you or I. I know for a fact that there are more than a few members of Congress and within the NASA organization that care a great deal about these two issues.”

    They only care about federal dollars flowing to certain states and districts, and the jobs and votes associated with those dollars. Everything else is a fig leaf.

    If anyone really cared about the gap, then they would have taken action five years ago (or in any of the ensuing five years) when the VSE was rolled out with a four-year gap. They didn’t.

    And if anyone really cared about HLV flavor, they would dictate such in the draft authorization bills. They haven’t.

    “In the end it will come down to whether those poltical forces are more powerful than the poltical forces that advocate the exact opposite.”

    For better or worse, it won’t. From Apollo start to Apollo shutdown to Shuttle start to Freedom start to bringing Russia into the ISS partnership to VSE/Constellation start to all of the near-irreversible steps already taken in Shuttle shutdown, Congress always follows the White House on major, funded changes in the direction of the civil human space flight program. From this year’s draft authorization bills, to opponents’ inability to unite behind a clear alternative or get legislation into other bills, to last week’s hearing statement from the chair of the House appropriations committee, there’s nothing indicating it will be different this time around.

    FWIW…

  • googaw

    Bill, the most motivated interests at stake here — the ones motivated enough for their ideas to show up in discussions like these — are those of government contractors competing for the currently generous contents of the NASA HSF trough. Since this budget will at best be flat and will more likely be shrinking over the next two decades, due to the sovereign debt crisis and the coming entitlements problems, this is a zero-sum or even negative-sum game. When one little piggie wins a NASA HSF contract, the other little piggies lose it. So there is no common interest on which the “integrative” approach is supposed to work. Combined with the basically theological beliefs about spaceflight which “inform” these discussions, the result is the squealing we see in space politics.

    Perhaps the best strategy in terms of the the interests of taxpayers (as opposed to the contractors at the trough whose ideas we see reflected in these debates) is to go with the stupidest proposal, i.e. Stephen’s proposal, so that it will be the easiest to cancel a few years down the road when any oversized rocket custom-designed for astronauts will need to be canceled anyway. Unfortunately, the common taxpayer who quite wisely could care less about astronauts and would prefer their money be spent in more useful ways, or be refunded to them, is not represented at these “negotiations”: generally only the most immediately interested parties, the contractors and their frontmen, (and in the case of some their cult of dedicated fans), are motivated enough to bother with such arguments.

    For more more information, Google “public choice” and “concentrated interest”.

  • red

    “Surprise Math Quiz, books closed; What is $3.5 Billion dollars (HLV R&D) divide by $35 million (Price per SSME)? Give up. Okay pencils down.”

    If the $3.5B mentioned here is the line in the 2011 budget for HLV R&D, it’s really $3.1B.

    “Oh kind-of like how we need to add $300 million dollars to the firm fixed price COTS development contract, ie pay twice for the same stuff? Yep never has happened in the history of government contracting, everything comes right in on time, on spec and on schedule for the promised budget.”

    This isn’t for the same stuff. The budget outlines a number of possible items for this $300M to be spent on – additional capabilities like new stages, additional tests for risk reduction, etc. NASA is planning to use the ISS more, and for longer, so it needs to bolster this line accordingly. I’ve seen no evidence that the COTS contractors need the $300M to do their original jobs. Orbital, for example, just bought the General Dynamics satellite division (formerly Spectrum Astro). This seems to indicate that they have the money, and that they’re confident in their Taurus II (which can be used to launch this type of satellite).

  • common sense

    @Jeff Greason wrote @ April 1st, 2010 at 9:05 pm:

    “Shuttle derived may therefore be more politically palatable VIEWED IN ISOLATION.”

    And I believe you are right and I stated it several times. And I even used to think DIRECT might be a, the, winner. However considering the language used by Stephen to deride the NASA plan so far I now think it probably is DOA.

  • Joe Melcher

    How about some comic relief about now. I was reading somewhere about the possible development of a space elevator anchored to a space platform that orbits with the Earth. It sounds far fetched but using Bucky balls (carbon Nano tubes) to create the cables the technology is not that far away from reality. Just suppose they could actually make this happen. Launch vehicles assembled in space for long range missions to mars or a platform to launch to the moon base. A launch base into the solar system from the moon would be a real energy saver. All this of course depends on development of many different technologies. I also think the Nano tubes would be a great skin for an aircraft or space vehicle from what I have been reading about these technologies. Ok go on with your debating just wanted to give you a chuckle.

  • Major Tom: “And if anyone really cared about HLV flavor, they would dictate such in the draft authorization bills. They haven’t.”

    Wrong.

    NASA Authorization Act 2005 passed 383-15

    “The Administrator shall, to the fullest extent possible consistent with a successful development program, use the personnel, capabilities, assets, and infrastructure of the Space Shuttle program in developing the Crew Exploration Vehicle, Crew Launch Vehicle, and a heavy-lift launch vehicle.”

    “The Administrator shall ensure that the ISS can have available, if needed, sufficient logistics and on-orbit capabilities to support any potential period during which the Space Shuttle or its follow-on crew and cargo systems are unavailable, and can have available, if needed, sufficient surge delivery capability or prepositioning of spares and other supplies needed to accommodate any such hiatus.”

    The President’s plan violates both of these provisions.

    And it appears Congress hasn’t changed their minds in five years either.

    Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2010

    HEAVY-LIFT VEHICLE DEVELOPMENT.— (1) REVIEW.—As part of the National Space Transportation system required in subsection (b) of this section, the Administrator is directed to conduct a review of alternative heavy lift launch vehicle configurations that may be developed by the United States government to transport crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit and beyond.
    CONTENT.—The review shall—include shuttle-derived vehicles which use existing United States propulsion systems, including liquid fuel engines, external tank, and solid rocket motor technology and related ground-based manufacturing capability, launch and operations infrastructure, and workforce expertise;

    The Administrator may not terminate the Space Shuttle Program as of a scheduled date certain.

    TERMINATION CONDITIONS.—Termination of space shuttle missions operations shall be contingent upon—

    (B) will not cause a degradation of the equipment, logistics, cargo up-mass and downmass delivery capability necessary to provide full utilization of international space station science and research capabilities for both United States National Laboratory and International Partner scientific research and experimentation which the United States is obligated by international agreement to provide.

    Right now the ISS will need to be shut down (ie two man crew) for about three years under the President’s plan. I don’t think that lives up to the ‘full’ utilization requirement or maintains commitments to international partners. So we add five more years of life only to have three years taken away. Yah what a great plan.

    Don’t make stuff up :)

    Stephen Metschan: “And why I might add as well that we could get launch costs down to below $2K/kg if we just stopped forcing commercial users of these launch systems from paying a portion of the Government’s strategic fixed cost.”

    Major Tom: “As I mentioned in an earlier thread, this would amount to a government subsidy for commercial users of those launch vehicles. It’s not clear that’s in the taxpayer’s interest.”

    Actually, what we have now is anti-commercial space subsidy. An actual government subsidy is more like COTS, free money plus a sweet heart premium price CRS contract that actually cost more than Space Shuttle per kg and covers 80% of your launches for five years. Not a bad deal.

    What I’m suggesting is that we stop having commercial companies pay for the fixed costs of the DOD. Call it a neutral subsidy, commercial companies just pay what the incremental cost is to use these strategic assets. That way the commercial utilization will not ‘increase’ the cost to the government will pay with or without commercial flights. In fact if this significantly lower cost to orbit increases the tax base by the expanding the commercial utilization of space the government will actually ‘make’ money under this plan. It’s a win win.

    And for what’s worth it’s American private enterprise and workers that actually generate the wealth that pays for the government not the other way around. All I’m suggesting is that we use a strategic asset to help increase the commercial wealth generation capability from space that many believe is possible if the cost to get to orbit was lower.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom: ‘And if anyone really cared about HLV flavor, they would dictate such in the draft authorization bills. They haven’t.’

    Wrong.

    NASA Authorization Act 2005 passed 383-15″

    That’s not one of the draft authorization bills. It’s an act from five years ago.

    “The President’s plan violates both of these provisions.”

    Says who? It’s all subject to “to the fullest extent possible consistent with a successful development program.” We tried the Shuttle-derived route with Constellation. It was not “a successful development program.”

    “And it appears Congress hasn’t changed their minds in five years either.

    Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2010″

    On the contrary, the draft authorization bills back off from dictating a flavor of HLV, as the authorization act did five years ago. Read the language you quoted. It only asks NASA to include Shuttle-derived systems in a review.

    “Right now the ISS will need to be shut down (ie two man crew) for about three years under the President’s plan.”

    Reference? Evidence?

    “Don’t make stuff up”

    Doctor, heal thyself.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom: “Reference? Evidence?”

    GAO-00-618
    “Commercial Partners Are Making Progress, but Face Aggressive Schedules to Demonstrate Critical Space Station Cargo Transport Capabilities”

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09618.pdf

    The logistics situation at the ISS has gotten a lot worse since the June 2009 release of this GAO assessment, due to more slips on the part of ‘both’ COTS contractor’s schedule plus the policy requirement to fully utilize the ISS (old policy was 50% utilization) plus the new policy to extend the life to 2020 (old policy was 2015).

    Both old policies were the basis of the June 2009 report. So shutting down the Shuttle will result in the shutting down ISS (ie two man crew) thereby violating international agreements.

    Yep the Feb 1st plan just keeps getting better and better the more we look at it, massive layoffs into a swing state no less, destruction of America’s second HLV industrial base and workforce, shutting down the ISS for three years, absolute dependency on Russia for crew access, America HSF is gone, we pay twice the price we are now to get a kg to the ISS via ‘commercial’ low cost? approach.. What deal, where do I sign up?

    Given that each flight of the Space Shuttle delivers half the mass of the entire COTS CRS contract (with free crew rotation at no extra charge) at a significantly lower price than COTS per kg, extending the Shuttle is also a good deal from a life cycle cost basis alone.

    Leave it to the DC lobbyists to find a way to take something that is already too expensive and make it even more expensive in the name of lowering cost no less. Boy these guys are good. But first they need to take out the evil government system that is actually less expensive based on actual operational cost and not unproven wishfull thinking they are peddling.

    As Jeff has correctly pointed out, if your are going to extend the Shuttle then the only HLV that makes sense is a SDHLV.

    Option 4B is still a very good option. This is why the Augustine Commission included it for the policy makers. It is the most consistent with past and current Congressional Authorizations (passed and draft) and is the only one that closes the gap and enables the full utilization of the ISS thereby fulfilling international commitments. All other options fall short with regards to these significant policy requirements. Policy requirements that are supportable by the broader Congress.

    You know the branch of government that can even force the President from office if they have 2/3. Given the Rep Wolf said he could only find one member of Congress (happens to have SpaceX in his backyard) that supports the Feb 1st plan I would say it’s a good bet that we could get 2/3 to support a compromise plan. The danger now is that they are so mad they will just force the PoR back at the Whitehouse just to make a point.

    A compromise plan could still contain all the good ideas that came out on Feb 1st that the President wisely wants in order to fix the serious problems with the PoR. As Senator Nelson pointed out it just needs to be ‘perfected’ which I agree with.

    Again only time will tell.

    I also think that Andy Aldrin (ULA) was spot on:

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100402-commercial-crew-plan–hinge-risk-sharing.html

  • libs0n

    Metschan:

    “COTS costs more than Shuttle”

    You’re not making an honest comparison. The ISS cargo in question is pressurized cargo, while you’re contrasting Shuttle’s unpressurized cargo capacity versus the COTS provider’s pressurized cargo mandate. Shuttle’s pressurized cargo capacity is much reduced from its unpressurized capacity. Your narrow focus on the “per kg” number ignores that other COTS advantage, that one can order as much cargo as one desires or does not desire, rather than having to sustain a program of a high fixed capacity indefinitely. The entire multi mission CRS awards over the course of several years of ISS service is roughly the same as a single year of maintaining the Space Shuttle. If they wanted more cargo they could have ordered it; they didn’t. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the Shuttle’s capacity is the same as ISS needs. With Soyuz/Progress/ATV/HTV and COTS, ISS will be running at 6 crew unless COTS fails dramatically, which was the “bargain with the devil” made and publicly declared at the CRS awards.

    I will state that Griffin didn’t much care for the ISS, and his priority would have been to minimize ISS costs while devoting as much resources to Ares development, so granted the amount purchased may not represent the amount that should have been. I imagine though that after the new admin examines the books they will make adjustments accordingly through increased purchases if more cargo is indeed required.

    You can’t take back the CRS awards, any Shuttle extension will be on top of that, so no “Good Deal” for you, and it wasn’t a good deal in the first place.

  • libsOn, based on the GAO-09-618 “NASA’s COTS Project” report the cost of the COTS-CRS is as follows;

    SpaceX , $1.6 Billion, 12 flights of Dragon x 2,550kg = 30,660kg or $52,287/kg.

    Orbital, $1.9 Billion, 8 flights of Cygnus x 2,700kg = 21,600kg or $87,962/kg

    Total, $3.5 Billion, 20 flights = 52,260kg or $66,972/kg for cargo only capability.

    This number may be conservative since the same GAO report also shows 20 flights for $3.5 Billion that delivers 36,900 kg or $94,850/kg? It’s not clear what the correct price is for COTS is but it must be between $66-94K/kg based on the GAO report.

    The Authorization Bill puts the cost of 2 STS flights per year at $2 Billion dollars. These costs are based on actual quotes from the performing organizations. These two flights can deliver 32,000kg of payload to ISS. Using the MPLM this cargo can be 100% pressurized. There are also unique ISS elements that are needed to extend the life of the ISS to 2020 that only the Space Shuttle can deliver. Plus there are three ISS elements already built but left of the manifest because we didn’t think we could get them flown before 2010. These might be good early missions for the Jupiter-130/Orion.

    Anyway back to cost, based on the lower COTS-CRS price of $66,972/kg the STS extension is worth $2.143 Billion dollars. Using the higher value of $94,850/kg and STS extension is worth $3.035 Billion dollars in future cost avoidance since the ISS is now to extended to 2020 plus the increased ISS utilization policy and life extension (supported by both the President and Congress) has increase the ISS logistics needs.

    Also the Russians have now given us a market price for a crew seat to ISS at around $80 million dollars, with slim assurances that it won’t climb even higher if we get rid of their only competition at this point. So if we rotate four crew members (American + International Partners we are on the hook for) on each Shuttle mission that is worth $640 million dollars in terms of crew rotation cost avoidance per year.

    So a conservative combined ‘value’ of an STS extension based of market prices is at least $2.783 Billion dollars or $231 million dollars per month. Using the higher COTS-CRS price per kg to ISS results in the value of ISS extension growing to $3.675 Billion dollars. If we did four STS flights per year that value doubles to $5.566 – $7.350 Billion dollars while the cost only moves up to $2.4 Billion based on John Shannon said the other day.

    Bottomline, under all scenarios, the money spent on an STS-extension will actually lower the lifecycle cost of ISS support. We will either pay this money now or later regardless of the delivery method used (i.e. STS vs. COTS-CRS/Russians). All things considered the STS is in fact a better deal so it will actually continually lower the lifecycle cost of ISS support every year we fly until Jupiter-130/Orion is available which will lower the cost by a factor of 4. Combined with all the other advantages, technical, strategic and political and a STS-extension is looking better everyday.

    I’m not suggesting that we don’t honor our commitments to the COTS-CRS vendors. What I’m suggesting is that given that they will be late and given that the utilization and required lifetime are now higher and longer respectively an STS extension ‘saves’ money. We have one LWT sitting in inventory at MAF plus parts for three more tanks. In two years we could have a new tank at the pad. Again one year of STS at 2 flights per year is lower in cost than COTS-CRS.

    Sure we could save some money by implementing the Feb 1st plan by shut down ISS ($100 Billion Investment), destroying our existing HLV industrial base and workforce ($40 Billion Investment) and throwing way the progress that has be made on the PoR ($10 Billion Investment). I just think that throwing away $150 Billion dollars is wasteful, but that’s just me, I’m kind-of funny that way, a tens of billions dollars here tens of billions there before you know it your talking real money. Or we could implement option 4B and avoid all the damage above. Plus 50,000 families will thank you.

    Waste not want not.

  • libs0n

    “In December 2008, NASA announced the selection of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) when the Space Shuttle retires. The $1.6 billion contract represents a minimum of 12 flights, with an option to order additional missions for a cumulative total contract value of up to $3.1 billion.”

    I’m afraid that NASA already anticipated the possibility of further cargo perhaps being necessary and thus the CRS program already is expandable to include such demand when it arises. Additional cargo demand on top of what has been purchased can be accommodated. As I said, NASA stated that they intend to stand by their bet on commercial cargo and will live with a reduced crew should its failure necessitate it. 3.1 negative 1.6 equals 1.5. Hard to see how the Shuttle can beat the low low price of 1.5 billion cap to cover further anticipated cargo needs especially when that number can be even lower based upon actual incremental flight price purchased. NASA saves money by not purchasing over capacity.

    A penny saved is a penny earned.

  • Interested Observer

    “Don’t make stuff up”

    The DIRECT crowd has been doing that for quite a while now.

    The problem is that everyone but them knows it.

  • johno Bebipin

    In an open letter, obtained by long-time space reporter Jay Barbree, and first reported on the NBC Nightly News Tuesday evening, three of the Apollo astronauts who embody the dedication, no-nonesense attitude, and commitment that brought this nation to the Moon, attacked President Obama’s proposal to kill NASA’s Constellation program. Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11, which landed the first astronauts on the Moon; James Lovell, the Commander of the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission (NASA’s “finest hour”); and Gene Cernan, Commander of Apollo 17, and the last man to set foot upon the Moon, described the cancellation as “devastating.”

    Reprising the history of the American space program, the three former astronauts state: “World leadership in space was not achieved easily. In the first half-century of the space age, our country made a significant financial investment, thousands of Americans dedicated themselves to the effort, and some gave their lives to achieve the dream of a nation.” No program in modern history, they state, “has been so effective in motivating the young to do ‘what has never been done before.’”

    Nor was the development and design of the Constellation program haphazard or ill-conceived, they state. “The Ares rocket family was patterned after the [Wernher] von Braun Modular concept so essential to the success of the Saturn 1B and the Saturn V” rockets, which took them to the Moon. Although we will have “wasted our current $10-plus billion investment in Constellation,” equally important, “we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have destroyed.” This, for a second time, following the cancellation of the follow-on missions to Apollo, to live on the Moon.

    The timing of this letter is no accident. On Thursday, President Obama makes a whirlwind stop in Florida, at the Kennedy Space Center, to try to sell this destruction of manned space flight. Three days ago, more than 4,000 people rallied nearby in protest, to tell the President what they think of his plan. There has been virtually NO support anywhere for this “outsourcing” of NASA. Out of 435 Representatives and 100 Senators, ONE has backed the President. And he will see, again, the outrage of the American people.

  • @ johno Bebipin
    “The timing of this letter is no accident. On Thursday, President Obama makes a whirlwind stop in Florida, at the Kennedy Space Center, to try to sell this destruction of manned space flight. “

    There is a plan that will indeeed lead to the “destruction of manned space flight” in the U.S. It has the initials SLS and does so just to give a few politicians’ constituents jobs for a few years working on a rocket that is impractical for exploration on a large scale (or any scale since Congress won’t budget enough money to get it done in a reasonable time) while ripping off the American taxpayer at large.

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