NASA, White House

The speech and some “instant analysis”

While a few hundred people got to see President Obama speak in person about NASA and his new plan for the agency at the Kennedy Space Center, I sat in a far larger audience at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs to watch a video of the speech. Some highlights:

  • For those who wanted destinations and deadlines, you got ‘em. Obama called for a human mission to an asteroid by 2025 and a mission to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s, and “a landing on Mars will follow”.
  • The Moon, on the other hand, is old news to the president. “But the simple fact is, we have been there before. There is a lot more space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do.”
  • In addition to the Orion CRV and HLV design announcements, Obama announced a $40-million initiative led by the White House and NASA, with other government agencies, “to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation” due by August 15. It wasn’t clear if this would be a job just for Florida or nationwide.
  • In one sentence in the speech, Obama seemed to endorse the idea of space settlement: “Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn, operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite.”
  • Obama emphasized throughout his speech his support for NASA and human spaceflight, keeping US as a leader. “I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future,” he said. Later, regarding canceling Constellation: “But we will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan, in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs, which are both essential for the long-term sustainability of space flight.”
  • Notably absent from the speech: any mention of a shuttle extension, even by a single flight.

Immediately (within a minute) after the end of the speech, the Space Foundation hosted an “instant analysis” panel featuring former congressman Bob Walker and Lon Levin, best known as a cofounder of XM Satellite Radio. A few highlights there:

  • Both Walker and Levin appeared to like the plan. Walker said the speech will cause the political establishment to “take a deep breath” and reexamine their interest in or opposition to the plan, while Levin called it a good speech that recognized the need to match goals and resources.
  • Walker noted a problem with the original rollout of the plan in February was that it was done as a budget proposal. Members of Congress scrutinize them to see what they would lose, rather than what we can gain.
  • Moving forward in Congress, Walker said that while the most logical path for building support would be in the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, that committee has a number of members with NASA centers in their districts and thus may not be as receptive. A better alternative may be the Senate Appropriations Committee, through Sen. Mikulski (and her subcommittee is holding a hearing on the NASA budget next week.)
  • One concern Walker had is that he believes NASA will operate under a continuing resolution for several months because the appropriations bill would not be done in time. (He also seemed to indicate the possibility of a year-long CR.) Such a move would restrict NASA’s ability to start new programs or wind down Constellation.
  • Asked at the end if the speech “changed hearts and minds”, Levin said he thought so, because the president did a good job delivering the speech, including discussing why we do space exploration. Walker said it will take some time to see how the public reacts. If the public believes that this enhances our leadership position in space, he said, they will support it.

103 comments to The speech and some “instant analysis”

  • The Orion CRV, while possibly a political necessity, strikes me as a waste of money, unless it retains all or most of the deep space capabilities of the original Orion. An Orion CRV picks the “low hanging fruit” that would be easiest for a commercial company to do, while also not creating the deep space craft that NASA is probably uniquely capable of working on.

    – Donald

  • Doug Lassiter

    True. But an Orion rescue vehicle is probably just a peacemaker for Lockheed and for KSC. Actually, though, the development of a modern generation lagre area heat shield would have long term value. A reentry vehicle would be noteworthy especially if a deep-space craft, as has been suggested, is not one that would endure reentry. Not a lot of sense in taking a big heat shield wherever you go in deep space.

    I found the speech OK, though the rationale for human space flight, beyond the “inspiration” thing, was not particularly well laid out. I’m not too moved by the argument that giving up on human space flight we’d be “ceding an element of American character”, nor was I particularly impressed with the significance of the fact that Obama actually likes Tang. I guess Obama views the American character as something weightless and unpressurized.

  • So the president says:

    1. We shouldn’t return to the Moon.

    2. We could have a manned space adventure to an asteroid by 2025.

    3. We could have a manned space adventure to Mars– orbit– sometime in the 2030s.

    So he wants to spend $300 billion in tax payer money over the next 15 years to remain at LEO and finally visit an asteroid in 2025. Wow!

  • John Malkin

    Deep Space Orion is a long way from definition. It needed to be stronger to withstand direct entry during a return trip from the moon or further out. The interplanetary ship could beak (using various methods) and drop off the Orion Deep near Earth at slower speeds, so Orion CRV doesn’t to be as strong.

    Keeping Orion is smart for many reasons.

  • •”Asked at the end if the speech “changed hearts and minds”, Levin said he thought so, because the president did a good job delivering the speech, including discussing why we do space exploration. Walker said it will take some time to see how the public reacts. If the public believes that this enhances our leadership position in space, he said, they will support it”

    What a frippin’ bowl of mush. This entire speech was nothing but the same rejected pig with new lipstick and platform shoes stuck on it to make it look nicer. BARRRRRRF!

    And this crowd of Obama droids at the Space Foundation sat there and drooled over it. “Wow, we’re going someplace someday some way… thank you Obama, yes we can…. yes we can….”

    He’s all about HSF, but of course he’s Gutting NASA’s HSF and tossing cash over the fence to a bunch of commercial operators who will get us no place any faster than the PoR. Wait… what’s that sound? That sliding noise… why it’s another Falcon 9 Space-X launch date slipping!

  • John Malkin

    Well considering NASA’s record on due dates, it’s a good idea setting a date 15 yrs in the future. It would be cool if they were actually early for once. Remember we can’t even get to LEO, how are we going to get to a NEAR object?

  • I pretty much support Obama’s proposal, but I doubt it changed many minds. We’re looking at many different audiences, most of whom are operating out of self-interest:

    * The space center workers only care about keeping their jobs. If they keep their jobs under the proposal, they’re happy. If they don’t, they’re not.

    * The Congresscritters similarly are happy only if it brings a boatload of money to their districts, otherwise they’re not.

    * The space-industrial complex won’t be happy because it opens the door to smaller and more nimble competitors like SpaceX and Orbital. Obama went out to see the Falcon 9 before delivering his speech. That sent a message. I’m sure the space-industrial complex didn’t like that message.

    * The space libertarians are happy because we move towards commercialization, meaning more money for their programs.

    * The rest of the public, and the rest of Congress, doesn’t really care much.

  • John Malkin

    Ares I has already gutted NASA’s HSF. Lockheed and ATK can compete in the open market place and Lockheed is already making plans because they know they can do it cheaper.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “So he wants to spend $300 billion in tax payer money over the next 15 years to remain at LEO and finally visit an asteroid in 2025. Wow!”

    GEO, Lagrange points, lunar orbit? All of value to future space efforts. But hey, to get rock dust between your toes (and in your eyes, ear, and nose …)!

    Actually, a goodly part of the $300B will be spent understanding what, if anything, really needs humans on the Moon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    A few points:

    First there is no Plan B from the administration. Obama bought into “his” plan hook and line so those who are claiming something else is coming from the administration dont have much to hang on to.

    Second. There really is no coherent Plan B from any one else. Nelson was on Hardball and he more or less bought into the plan…the reality is that there is no real way to organize the opposition into a coherent plan because all the opposition plans are driven by mostly pork

    Third. absent the savor our jobs save our pork or the real pieces of work “we must explore”…there is no national outrage or opposition to the plan.

    Fourth…look carefully and you can start to see the outlines of a BHO reelect campaign.

    Like most of BHO’s opposition it is “old and bitter”. appropriate music for the opposition is The Doors “This is the end”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Doug Lassiter

    The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel. And now it looks like there’s plenty of water at the poles. We need to set up a base. And we need to start exploiting the Moon’s oxygen and water resources.

    But instead Obama says ” Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”

    Wow!

  • [...] a caldo. Avremo modo nei prossimi giorni di rifletterci, commentare e sentire altri commenti (trovate i primissimi qui). Se tutto questo ha tirato su il morale della gente della NASA, e se aiuterà a far passare il [...]

  • eh

    His position on having been to the moon before seemed to reflect his personal excitement level (or lack thereof) which is exactly what Miles O’Brian and others have noted about the lack of public enthusiasm for CxP. It didnt get people fired up. Will exploration in deep space do it? Beats me.

  • Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel. And now it looks like there’s plenty of water at the poles. We need to set up a base. And we need to start exploiting the Moon’s oxygen and water resources.

    If it’s so valuable and so critical, then hasn’t anyone else bothered to go in the 38 years since we left?

    Despite hysterical claims to the contrary, the Chinese aren’t going either, at least yet. All they have is a study. As our blogger host reported earlier from the National Space Symposium, the Chinese are focused on launching their own space station sometime in the early 2020s.

    So, again, what’s the rush?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    With any luck I suspect we will be back on the Moon by the early 2020′s and this time to stay.

    What I see happening with ever increasing frequency over the next 10 years is that the “parts” are going to come together to go back to the Moon by subtly modifying things that have uses someplace else…and then it wont be all that expensive to go back…and some future President will just glue the parts together and go.

    The US went to the South Pole in a big way when the “parts” were there from other efforts and the cost itself was not that high. It is when we have to develop every thing associated with the effort from scratch that the cost just explode

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bill

    I am listening to the NASA TV feed, and it seems like a lot of Kool-Aid drinking going on over there. Reality is a hard teacher. The next President will change Obama’s priorities.

  • @ Stephen C. Smith If it’s so valuable and so critical, then hasn’t anyone else bothered to go in the 38 years since we left?

    Despite hysterical claims to the contrary, the Chinese aren’t going either, at least yet. All they have is a study. As our blogger host reported earlier from the National Space Symposium, the Chinese are focused on launching their own space station sometime in the early 2020s.

    So, again, what’s the rush?

    Why hasn’t this country built a new nuclear power plant in decades instead of spending $30 to $40 billion a year trying to protect the petroleum routes of the Persian Gulf. Now the military is finally coming to the realization that they could use nuclear power to manufacture jet fuel and diesel fuel which will eventually make our armed forces independent of petroleum resources.

    Sometimes seemingly rational nations act irrationally. And wasting hundreds of billions of dollars just circling the Earth for the last 40 years instead of investing that money in the colonization and commercialization of the Moon is one of those mistakes.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel.”

    Nice. The Earth has an ocean of oxygen as well. Breath deeply.

    Let’s see, how much is that oxygen going to cost once you send a factory up there, and trolls to run it? And let’s see, we’re thereby going to reduce the cost of space travel … from the Moon, right? Those trolls will have it good.

    I agree that ISRU propellant on the Moon could *eventually* make an impact on space exploration. But it ain’t gonna happen for a century.

    Obama’s comment on the Moon is exactly right. We’ve been there before, (and we didn’t pick up any oxygen while we were there). His point is about exploration, or at least going new places. His justification weighed heavily on inspiration. Trolls mining oxygen on the Moon won’t inspire anyone.

  • josh

    it was a good speech. and the plan is brilliant anyway. i seriously can’t wait for all those selfish whiners at ksc, jsc etc. to lose their jobs. they failed so many times, it’s just pathetic. get out of the way and let spacex do the job already. they obviously have the smarter, more qualified people.

    the por was a sorry excuse of a space program, the new plan is a breath of fresh air and offers the best chance of breaking out of leo the united states will ever get.

  • josh

    and i’m pretty sure this will pass now. the opposition to the plan is scattered and unorganized, they will fail.

  • Loki

    Keeping the Orion around as a CRV allows NASA to “off-load” the life boat requirements from whatever “commercial” companies provide the crew transport. Basically they won’t have to design the vehicle to survive in the space environment in a powered down quiescent mode for 6+ months at a time or be capable of a quick power-up and emergency undocking, etc. That could be the technical justification for it. The political justification being a small bone thrown to LM and CO and FL legislators.

    On a more personal note, I for one didn’t “sign on” to build a glorified escape pod for the ISS (not that CxP was going anywhere, considering the clusterf— that it is/was). I think I’ll continue looking for another job post-haste. Preferably something that doesn’t involve NASA.

  • Vladislaw

    “So he wants to spend $300 billion in tax payer money over the next 15 years to remain at LEO and finally visit an asteroid in 2025. Wow!”

    It was great the way you take the ENTIRE Nasa budget and try and make the claim it is all used for only a part of what NASA spends money on.

    Human space flight is about half the budget, or 10 billion a year. So it would be 150 billion over 15 years .. oops .. you would also have to take off the 2 billion a year for the ISS. so 120 billion over 15 years. You would still have to x out even more but I am only going off the top of my head.

  • Coastal Ron

    We went to the Moon already, so what’s the big deal about going back?

    For Constellation supporters, it’s the dream of exploration, regardless the cost. They have to have a firm destination, and only the government can take them there. They’re willing to sacrifice a working outpost in space (the ISS) in return for a few privileged astronauts that plant flags & footprints on a place that already has flags & footprints. They don’t see a need for a robust commercial space program, and they are not concerned with lowering the cost to access space. It’s only taxpayers money…

    For supporters of the new budget/plan, it’s the dream of becoming a space faring nation, one where multiple paths to space are created, and the costs of going to space starts to come within the grasp of more people, companies and organizations. The number of people that go into space is also significantly higher, and the continuous population in space drives the demand for more commercial services, and thus keeping costs as competitive as possible. As a bonus, the Moon becomes a cheaper destination, and with lower launch costs, contests like the Google Lunar X Prize will have a chance to actually try their hand at landing on the Moon. Though not an official destination, the Moon becomes a necessary part of the logistics supply line for future trips beyond Earth.

    I don’t care whose name you put on it, but I’ve always thought we needed to become a space faring nation. This new plan puts us along that path, and is more likely to create a larger and more robust aerospace industry than NASA could ever pay for.

  • z-Bob

    This administration has pushed through an almost $900 billion dollar stimulus bill with nothing to show for it and Mr. Obama personally voted for the $700 billion TARP bill of which a couple of hundred billion dollars remains unspent, and people on this blog still prattle on about the cost of various space proposals and concepts. There is simply no reason why NASA’s budget could not be increased to a meager $25 billion a year or more and we could maintain ISS, go to an asteroid and return to the moon. Obama is killing the prospect of a manned deep space capability, and making vague, far off promises he won’t have to keep because he won’t be in office.
    As for Stephen Smith saying the space center workers ONLY care about their jobs…how do YOU know, pal? What makes you think you are entitled to paint such dedicated people with such a broad brush? You don’t know all the people who have worked, some their entire life, bringing us the ISS, Hubble and spectacular shuttle missions, as well as unmanned missions. Of course, they value their jobs. They have spouses and children, mortgages like everyone else. How do YOU pay for your groceries?
    Who gives a damn about the cost in such a spending climate? Do you want America to explore space, or do you just want to talk about it for the rest of your life? Talk is cheap, especially on the internet.

  • @Doug Lassiter

    “Nice. The Earth has an ocean of oxygen as well. Breath deeply.

    Let’s see, how much is that oxygen going to cost once you send a factory up there, and trolls to run it? And let’s see, we’re thereby going to reduce the cost of space travel … from the Moon, right? Those trolls will have it good.

    I agree that ISRU propellant on the Moon could *eventually* make an impact on space exploration. But it ain’t gonna happen for a century.

    Obama’s comment on the Moon is exactly right. We’ve been there before, (and we didn’t pick up any oxygen while we were there). His point is about exploration, or at least going new places. His justification weighed heavily on inspiration. Trolls mining oxygen on the Moon won’t inspire anyone.”

    Yeah right! All that money we invested in space technology has had little impact on our economy and the economy of the world:-)

    Lunar oxygen and lunar water means that people on the moon won’t need our resources. In fact, a colony on the Moon will eventually dominate satellite manufacturing and launching and will eventually put any nation that is not there out of the satellite business. A colony on the Moon could beam laser energy to solar power plants anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day/7 days a week– dramatically increasing the output of energy from solar power facilities with no carbon dioxide pollution at all. And wealthy tourist are eventually going to travel to the Moon by the thousands.

    The 21st century is going to be the century of space. And the Moon is the first major step towards commercializing and industrializing the new frontier. And those who are left behind or too slow to take advantage of opportunities will suffer the consequences.

  • amightywind

    Where’s the beef? A SpaceX dragon will not get us to an asteroid or anyone else. Seems like a recipe to blow $16G and feel good about it. As for our wonderful KSC workforce, the good president empathizes. They will get extended unemployment benefits. Perhaps they can find a ‘green collar’ job.

  • sc220

    @Bill

    I am listening to the NASA TV feed, and it seems like a lot of Kool-Aid drinking going on over there. Reality is a hard teacher. The next President will change Obama’s priorities.

    And I’m pretty sure if NASA doesn’t deliver anything, that will be it. Game over, as far as government-funded civil space flight. You’ve already heard the rumblings from the non-NASA constituent republicans. If Gingrich likes Obama’s plan, which he does, then it’s pretty obvious what a Republican administration will do. Whether Obama goes in 2012 or 2016, the writing is on the wall. NASA has one last chance.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The speech was a big nothing, a lot of airy words, but the substance was rather lacking.

    Three voyages of discovery in twenty plus years. By contrast Apollo did six lunar missions in about three years. Even the much maligned Constellation was going to do two a year as a start.

    Also, by avoiding the Moon, the closest place where people can live, Obamaspace 3.0 simply becomes Deep Space Apollo, with no real notion about going to space to live and work.

    All in all, not so much a disappointment (this is Obama after all), but nothing to get excited about.

    And this being Obama, expect a new plan either late this year or early the next when the GOP takes over Congress.

  • First there is no Plan B from the administration. Obama bought into “his” plan hook and line so those who are claiming something else is coming from the administration dont have much to hang on to.

    Actually this is the “Plan B” if you think ahead. By saving the Orion in a scaled back form it leave open the door for Congress to change its mission from lifeboat to spacecraft. The EELVs are far more viable than Falcon 9 has a launch vehicle. Don’t forget that the Orion escape tower is one of the Constellation technologies that is to be save as well.

    You didn’t think Obama would just say I screwed up, do you?

  • SpaceMan

    “This is the end”

    Of the first phase and the beginning of the next phase.

    Of course there are always those fixated on only looking in the rear view mirror, instead of at the path ahead. To them I suggest they relax and enjoy stumbling around while the rest of us move on to bigger and better things.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington said “Even the much maligned Constellation was going to do two a year as a start.”

    And then what? When Constellation is done, what will we have? How many Billions of dollars will we have spent to do what robotic explorers can do almost as well? Will there be any infrastructure left in space after Constellation is done?

    The problem with the Constellation program is that none of the supporters can provide an inspirational answer to any of these questions. Can you?

    Please Mark, enlighten us…

  • Doug Lassiter

    Wow. Where to start?

    “All that money we invested in space technology has had little impact on our economy and the economy of the world”

    Who’s talking “space technology”? We’re talking humans on the Moon. We’ve put a bunch up there already, and our economy has been unaffected by their footprints.

    “Lunar oxygen and lunar water means that people on the moon won’t need our resources.”

    Oh sure. As if to say they build the oxygen and water refineries out of lunar dust. (Or maybe they get resources from Mercury or Europa??) ISRU to advance space exploration is one thing. Materiel independence for lunar civilizations is orders of magnitude harder.

    “A colony on the Moon could beam laser energy to solar power plants anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day/7 days a week– dramatically increasing the output of energy from solar power facilities with no carbon dioxide pollution at all.”

    A colony on the Moon? Huh? How about an array of solar concentrators in Earth GEO? Why in the *world* would you put something like that on the Moon? The lack of CO2 pollution has nothing to do with lunar basing. Nothing. 24/7, eh? It would be quite a trick doing that beaming at New Moon.

    “And wealthy tourist are eventually going to travel to the Moon by the thousands. ”

    Ah, well then, by all means let’s shovel money at lunar bases to make pretty hotels for them.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Also, by avoiding the Moon, the closest place where people can live, Obamaspace 3.0 simply becomes Deep Space Apollo, with no real notion about going to space to live and work.”

    There is no consensus on a national need about going to space to live and work. Sorry, but no one with any measure of political authority has ever expressed that. It certainly isn’t part of the charter for our space agency.

    A Deep Space Apollo isn’t that bad. Apollo was pretty fantastic, as a national challenge and for that “inspiration” thing. It sure wasn’t about going to space to live and work. Maybe the Commerce Department should take responsibility for that?

    Obama certainly never said anything about “avoiding the Moon”. Where do you get that? He did seem to be saying that in the spirit of a national challenge, putting a seventh flag on the Moon shouldn’t be a high priority. I’ll gladly take one human trip at least into Mars orbit instead of a dozen more flags on the Moon.

  • People still don’t grasp that under Cx with the budget constraints NASA faced we would not have had a significant manned space presence for at least 15 years. 15 years! Fifteen years! ISS scuttled, Ares V mid to late 2020s. No American flights on an American built ship for 15 years. How is this acceptable to anyone?

  • Lunar resources will be utilized by *robotic* programs, not human. It makes no sense to build a human rated vehicle to land on the Moon and operate mining equipment.. we can do that from home or the station.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 7:40 pm ..

    as someone who has been more “correct” on how this whole thing is playing out then a lot of people…I dont agree all that much with your analysis.

    I have consistently said that Orion survived in some fashion, it just surprises me that it is in this fashion, which I think is superb.

    Ed Beach who wrote “Run Silent Run Deep” and had some experience in WW2 counter destroyer tactics wrote that to do the “down the throat” shot (ie bow on) you had to have a target that would drive the Destroyer to come “bows on”. To my mind this is that target.

    Orion “lite” as a CRV/propulsion system to the station (with some cargo on the side which I bet will mostly be water) as a more or less government effort is great. It shifts that difficult to afford and not very useful in private ops to government…and Keeps Lockmart pretty well fixed on the government trough.

    I think we need one or more (I would have two) American CRV’s at the station with “two week” transfers of crew by private vehicles.

    What is going to stop Orion from competing with Dragon (and other vehicles) is the cost to human rate Atlas and Delta which I am sure the folks who built those vehicles will want done on the government dole. In the meantime Dragon/Falcon9 just keeps on trucking.

    What most dont understand is the primary difference between the old aerospace companies and say Musk (or Blue Origin) is that the later companies (new space) are run by people to whom “the deal” “the buck” is the game. These are people who would strangle under a typical government contract because thats not how they function…but the old aerospace companies are quite uncomfortable with that notion…they can get that way, and might…but right now what gives Musk and BO the advantage is the same thing that made their initial fortunes.

    Fortune favors the brave.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    z-Bob wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    you are suggesting something that is not going to happen.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Doug Lassiter

    I guess you don’t know much about geology. Lunar regolith is composed of about 40% oxygen.

    If you want an array of solar concentrators at LEO then you’d have to launch them there from a factory on the Moon since its substantially cheaper to launch solar arrays from the lunar surface than from the Earths surface. Of course, you don’t to go through the expense of launching anything have if you manufacture your solar array on the Moon. And since the Moon has its own uranium resources, nuclear energy could also be used to beam infrared energy to solar power plants on Earth.

    The Moon could provide the Earth with all of the energy that it needs without worrying about global warming.

  • Doug Lassiter wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    “There is no consensus on a national need about going to space to live and work. Sorry, but no one with any measure of political authority has ever expressed that. It certainly isn’t part of the charter for our space agency.”

    It would be extremely foolish to continue to confine all of human civilization solely to our planet of evolutionary origin– especially in an age where more and more nations will have nuclear arsenals capable of destroying all life on the planet. And, of course, we already know from our geological past about the destruction extraterrestrial impacts have done to our world.

  • Coastal Ron

    The new space plan really boils down to whether we treat space as a bunch of projects we want to accomplish, or if we want to create a space industry that lowers the cost, and expands access to space.

    The two COTS participants are good examples of New Space thinking:

    Orbital Sciences, which has not been getting much press, is a good example of repurposing existing technology. Their Taurus II launcher is using leftover NK-33 Soviet rocket engines, and their Cygnus spacecraft is based on their STAR spacecraft bus. The space industry has lots of proven hardware, and Orbital is developing a service quicker & cheaper by using this approach.

    SpaceX uses vertical integration as much as possible (building everything themselves), and has a huge incentive to control costs while meeting their customers needs (successful launches, on-time).

    These two companies epitomize how competition can allow you to create innovative products without program killing costs. But the only way to encourage these types of companies is to open up more products & services to competition. I like ULA and their launchers, but if they want to be in the launch business in 10 years, they are going to have to start changing their business model. Competition is good!

  • The Obama budget only gives private commercial companies a tiny portion of money, $1.2 billion a year.

    The problem with the NASA budget is not the tiny amount of money being given to the emerging private manned spaceflight companies, which I approve of, its what the president is failing to do with the rest of the $19 billion a year the tax payers are supplying to NASA!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    And this being Obama, expect a new plan either late this year or early the next when the GOP takes over Congress…

    lol a few weeks ago you were predicting the thing was dead on arrival.

    And it is fantasy to think that the GOP would do something different…even if they do retake The Congress which seems “not likely”

    Robert G. Oler

  • NASA Fan

    So where is the money going to come from to transform Orion into Orion Lite/CRV? How long will it take to do that? Will there be test flights with humans aboard? Boy is this going to be expensive! And if it is folded inside the same program as Human rated COTS , you bet there will be plenty of fights for that money.

    So the soonest we’ll have a BEO mission is what,,,2025? Has anyone added up the projected HSF funding for development available for such a mission and compared that to the expected costs of such a mission? Where is that sand chart when I need it!

    Obama gives good speech. Clearly. In the end he did not articulate or distinguish any fundamental concern of the American public that requires a HSF program to satisfy. To my way of thinking, HSF in this country will end when ISS is de orbited. No one can think of any good reason beyond ‘inspiration’ and the promise of technology breakthroughs

  • Bennett

    NASA Fan wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    As I understand it, it’s not so much a “promise of technology breakthroughs” as it is a real need for technology breakthroughs. Until we solve the radiation issue, either through magnetic field shielding or sheer mass, we can’t do much more than short stays BEO. That goes for anything long term on the moon’s surface as well, I’m pretty sure.

    Taking a few years to work this out before going “on a jaunt” is rational, no?

    Please keep in mind that President Obama’s plan gets us more “man hours” in space sooner than with no change. It’s important to stress this to doom-spreaders whenever possible. WE ARE DOING MORE SOONER THIS WAY.

    I think he articulated just fine. Some people weren’t listening, I was.

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ April 15th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Obama gives good speech. Clearly. In the end he did not articulate or distinguish any fundamental concern of the American public that requires a HSF program to satisfy. …

    is there one? Robert G. Oler

  • Paul D.

    Eh, this is all pretty much irrelevant. The US is facing unprecedented fiscal headwinds. I expect very little of this, or NASA, will survive them.

  • Bennett wrote:

    I think he articulated just fine. Some people weren’t listening, I was.

    As I watched the speech, I had this mental image of thousands of government space contractors jumping up and down screaming at the top of their lungs covering their eyes and ears so they wouldn’t hear a word being said. Quite simply, nothing he said would interest them unless it was a continuation of the status quo.

    I think the speech was to placate the wavering Democratic members of the Congressional committees who will vote on his proposal. We know the Republicans will vote no as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, because they’re not allowed to think for themselves. The Democrats are allow to vote as they wish, but those representing space center districts (like Kosmas) are only interested in keeping their pork. The speech gave them enough face-saving should they move yes.

    But as I’ve said many times before, no Congresscritters outside of space center districts particularly care. So Obama will have his votes.

    At least I hope these people who’ve been in denial are starting to realize this is going to happen, despite all their lies, smears, obfuscations and tea parties. Reality is a wonderful thing once you choose to embrace it.

  • Major Tom

    “The Orion CRV, while possibly a political necessity, strikes me as a waste of money, unless it retains all or most of the deep space capabilities of the original Orion. ”

    Before its cancellation, Orion had lost its deep space capabilities. An Orion-lite CRV will have to restore some of those capabilities to serve in the CRV role.

    “An Orion CRV picks the “low hanging fruit” that would be easiest for a commercial company to do,”

    No, the high autonomy, high restart reliability, and long-stay capabilities of a CRV are unnecessary and relatively difficult requirements to add to a Gemini-class crew taxi (commercial or not). You don’t want to burden your crew taxi with them. Separating the CRV requirements from the crew taxi requirements actually simplifies the job of, and lowers the ISS space taxi entry bar, for Dragon, Orion-lite/CTV, Dreamchaser, etc.

    “while also not creating the deep space craft that NASA is probably uniquely capable of working on.”

    Those capabilities — high autonomy, high restart reliability, and long-duration — are part and parcel of what a deep space crew transport does. Unlike a LEO crew taxi, a CRV and a deep space crew transport can’t be piloted 24/7, have to endure long exposure to space environments, and have to be able to restart engines and other systems after months of drifting through space. A working CRV is a significant step towards a deep space crew transport.

    FWIW…

  • Rhyolite

    “People still don’t grasp that under Cx with the budget constraints NASA faced we would not have had a significant manned space presence for at least 15 years. 15 years! Fifteen years! ISS scuttled, Ares V mid to late 2020s. No American flights on an American built ship for 15 years. How is this acceptable to anyone?”

    I get a laugh every time someone says that new plan is ending US HSF when the POR does that much more effectively. Shuttle gets retired, ISS goes in the drink, then we have 10 years starting around 2017 we can put Orions into LEO but have no where for them to go. That’s 10 years where we can’t do anything more than repeat the Gemini missions. With cost over runs and schedule slides inevitable for Ares V and Altair, it will be increasingly difficult to justify HSF.

  • I am not persuaded FY2011 is the best road forward for NASA and America, however, if Obama prevails, I can at least take ironic solace in the dilemma many right leaning NewSpacers will face in 2012.

    If FY2011 prevails it shall be because of Barack Obama’s spinal fortitude and only because of Obama’s spinal fortitude. If Obama loses his re-election bid, everything NewSpace may soon win could easily be lost as there shall be many in Congress eager for revenge.

    Fascinating. Very fascinating . . .

  • Rhyolite

    “The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel.”

    Any resource you can get off of the moon, you can also get off of a C-type asteroid. And an asteroid has the advantage that you don’t have to pay to propulsive drop your ISRU equipment down the moon’s gravity well nor do you have to haul you ISRU products back up the moon’s gravity well.

  • red

    Mark: “Three voyages of discovery in twenty plus years. By contrast Apollo did six lunar missions in about three years. Even the much maligned Constellation was going to do two a year as a start.”

    You have to realize that we have to dig ourselves out of the big mess that Constellation put us in first.

    Also, the content of those Flexible Path missions could easily change between now and then. I wouldn’t put too much weight on those destinations and schedules. That won’t be up to the current Administration. Also, it will depend on results from technology demonstrations, commercial space, robotic precursors, and international agreements.

    I’d be surprised if we start beyond-LEO astronaut missions at an asteroid, for example. We’d probably build up to that with easier earlier missions to places like Lagrange points and lunar orbit, as per the Augustine Committee Flexible Path. Those can be extremely useful missions. However, it probably doesn’t make a good speech to talk about going to Lagrange points, since a lot of listeners won’t know what you’re talking about or why they’re so useful. It’s just asking for air-headed late-night TV jokes.

    Also, the approach that’s being used lends itself to a lot more than 3 beyond-LEO missions over the span of years described from the asteroid mission to the Mars mission … assuming we succeed in getting to the asteroid. I would consider the 3 destinations listed as “destinations or destination types reached” rather than a count of missions.

    You also have to consider that the “much maligned Constellation” wouldn’t be doing any beyond-LEO missions at all in this time frame (i.e. before about 2035), according to the independent evaluation.

    Not only that, but the new plan delivers a lot more than just beyond-LEO astronaut missions. For example, compared to Constellation’s Orion, Ares I, and Ares V, which I admit per Augustine we could expect with Constellation in the same timeframe (even though we wouldn’t have Altair or lunar surface hardware yet, and thus wouldn’t be actually using Ares I, Ares V, or Orion by then), we have:

    - improved commerial cargo
    - commercial crew
    - Orion Lite CRV
    - a new line of large robotic HSF precursors to look for resources, assess hazards, and demonstration HSF techniques at the Moon, Mars, Mars moons, asteroids, and Lagrange points
    - a similar new line of “Scout-class” robotic HSF precursors
    - ISS to 2020+
    - actual use of ISS
    - added capabilities on ISS
    - additional Shuttle budget to ensure ISS is completed
    - modernization of KSC and the Florida launch range
    - improved Earth observation budget, including Venture-class missions
    - improved NEO detection
    - U.S. plutonium-238 production
    - cost-effective RD-180 equivalent engine
    - cost-effective HLV
    - propulsion research
    - exploration technology demonstrations for propellant depots, automated rendezvous and docking, inflatable habitats, landing, ISRU, in-space propulsion, closed-loop life support, EVAs/servicing, radiation shielding, human-robot interactivity, space power, materials and structures, and participatory exploration
    - improved Aeronautics budget
    - 42% increase in human research exploration budget
    - huge increase in general space technology research, development, and demonstration budget

    I’m not sure how much Orion Lite CRV will eat into all of that, but it sounds like a lot of useful stuff, quite aside from the actual beyond-LEO astronaut missions. All of that is just in the first 5 years. We’ll have to wait to see what else we can get now that Constellation isn’t devouring the NASA budget.

  • Major Tom

    “So the president says:

    1. We shouldn’t return to the Moon.”

    No. Per the transcript from the speech, the President said that we shouldn’t “attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned.” He didn’t say that we shouldn’t return to the Moon. He said that a lunar return should come after we “ramp up our capabilities to reach — and operate at — a series of increasingly demanding targets.”

    Try listening, reading, and comprehending, instead of making stuff up.

    “2. We could have a manned space adventure to an asteroid by 2025.

    3. We could have a manned space adventure to Mars– orbit– sometime in the 2030s.”

    The Flexible Path options that NASA’s FY 2011 budget plan are built upon include more than just one asteroid mission and one Mars flyby mission. They include a lunar flyby; Earth-Moon L1, Earth-Sun L2, and Sun-Earth L1 missions; at least two asteroid missions (to the asteroids 2007 UN12 and 2008 EA9, specifically), at least four lunar sortie flights, and at least one extended lunar stay. Just because the President didn’t enumerate every single mission doesn’t mean that there will only be two missions. Kennedy didn’t dictate the number of Apollo missions in his State of the Union or Rice U. address.

    “The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel. And now it looks like there’s plenty of water at the poles. We need to set up a base. And we need to start exploiting the Moon’s oxygen and water resources.”

    Do you know where the base should be located, specifically? Do you know how much regolith you’re going to have to process to extract the LOX and LH2? How deep you’re going to have to dig? How much area you’re going to have to cover? What the resulting mining equipment and crew needs are?

    How much is this base going to cost to build, maintain, and operate? How much LOX and LH2 is it going to produce? What will the resulting price per unit of LOX and LH2 be? How will that price compare with just launching LOX and LH2 from Earth?

    Until enough groundwork is completed via robotic precursor missions, human sorties, and technology demonstrations to answer these questions with a business-case level of detail and accuracy, committing to a base on the Moon (or anywhere else) for resource extraction is a foolhardy plan.

    Incidentally, in his speech today, the President stated that one of the major “scientific and technological challenges” of the goals being set is “how to harness resources on distant worlds”. And for the first time in NASA’s history, the FY 2011 budget request includes funding for the robotic precursor missions and technology demonstrations necessary to answer that challenge.

    “Why hasn’t this country built a new nuclear power plant in decades”

    Three Mile Island.

    Duh…

    “Lunar oxygen and lunar water means that people on the moon won’t need our resources.”

    Are you kidding? “People on the moon” are going to need equipment and catalysts from Earth just to mine and process all the regolith necessary to create that lunar oxygen and water, not to mention all the other things that human beings need to survive.

    What are you smoking?

    “In fact, a colony on the Moon will eventually dominate satellite manufacturing and launching and will eventually put any nation that is not there out of the satellite business.”

    Are you kidding? Worldwide satellite industry forecasts predict something under 1,200 satellites to be built at an average cost of something under $100 million per satellite over the next decade.

    space.com/news/090615-satellite-futures.html

    Even if your hypothetical lunar satellite manufacturing base captured the worldwide satellite market (which wouldn’t happen), it would generate less than $120 billion in revenue over a decade. The decade-long Apollo program alone — just putting a couple guys on the lunar surface for a few days at a time, forget a lunar base — cost that much. You’re going to lose hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. No sane government or investor would back such a goofy scheme.

    “A colony on the Moon could beam laser energy to solar power plants anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day/7 days a week– dramatically increasing the output of energy from solar power facilities with no carbon dioxide pollution at all.”

    It’s unclear whether space solar power will work from Earth orbit. Look up the inverse-square law for light to see how ridiculously goofy such a proposal becomes when discussing transmitting energy to the Earth from lunar distances.

    “And wealthy tourist are eventually going to travel to the Moon by the thousands.”

    And you think they’re going to get there by repeating Apollo on steroids?

    Really?

    Sigh…

  • Vladislaw

    You can find the Breakout Sessions Videos here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/spaceconf.html

    › Jumpstarting the New Technologies to Take Us Beyond (40 Mb MP4)
    › International Space Station Access, Utilization (40 Mb MP4)
    › Expanding Our Reach Into the Solar System (40 Mb MP4)
    › Harnessing Space to Expand Economic Opportunity (40 Mb MP4)

  • Major Tom

    “What a frippin’ bowl of mush. This entire speech was nothing but the same rejected pig with new lipstick and platform shoes stuck on it to make it look nicer. BARRRRRRF!”

    What intelligent and brilliant insights.

    [rolls eyes]

    “He’s all about HSF, but of course he’s Gutting NASA’s HSF and tossing cash over the fence to a bunch of commercial operators who will get us no place any faster than the PoR.

    Not according to the Augustine Committee. 2016 for two commercial crew providers versus 2017 at the earliest and 2019 most likely for Ares I/Orion.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    And even if their schedules were identical, $6 billion for two commercial crew providers beats the pants off another $30-50 billion to finish Ares I/Orion.

    “Wait… what’s that sound? That sliding noise… why it’s another Falcon 9 Space-X launch date slipping!”

    Anyone who bothers to engage their brain would take a few months of Falcon 9 slips over years of Ares slippage, any day.

    Duh…

  • Major Tom

    “Where’s the beef? A SpaceX dragon will not get us to an asteroid”

    No duh. That’s why the President stated that “by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space.”

    Think before you post.

    “or anyone else.”

    Yes, a Dragon capsule won’t get us to “anyone” else.

    Oy vey…

  • Rhyolite

    “A colony on the Moon could beam laser energy to solar power plants anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day/7 days a week”

    The Moon is only above the horizon for about half the day at most points on the Earth.

    A colony at most points on Moon is going to be in total darkness for 14 out of every 28 days.

  • Major Tom

    “The speech was a big nothing, a lot of airy words, but the substance was rather lacking.”

    Yes, realigning the private/public relationship for the first time in a half-century of civil human space flight is a “big nothing”.

    Yes, setting dates for the first human space exploration missions in over a half-century and identifying targets for some of those missions is just a lot of “airy words”.

    And articulating the technology investments necessary to enable those missions demonstrates a total lack of “substance”.

    [rolls eyes]

    “Three voyages of discovery in twenty plus years.”

    The Flexible Path options that NASA’s FY 2011 budget plan are built upon include more than just one asteroid mission, one Mars flyby mission, and a Mars landing. They include a lunar flyby; Earth-Moon L1, Earth-Sun L2, and Sun-Earth L1 missions; at least two asteroid missions (to the asteroids 2007 UN12 and 2008 EA9, specifically), at least four lunar sortie flights, and at least one extended lunar stay. Just because the President didn’t enumerate every single mission doesn’t mean that there will only be two missions. Kennedy didn’t dictate the number of Apollo missions in his State of the Union or Rice U. address.

    Think before you post.

    “Even the much maligned Constellation was going to do two a year as a start.”

    No it wasn’t. Per the Augustine Committee, the only exploration mission Constellation could deliver was an HLV in 2028 at the earliest (if ever) with an empty payload shroud.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Also, by avoiding the Moon, the closest place where people can live,”

    The Moon isn’t “the closest place where people can live” in space. LEO is.

    Duh…

    “Obamaspace 3.0 simply becomes Deep Space Apollo, with no real notion about going to space to live and work.”

    The President said, “Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite.”

    What part of “people to work… and live safely beyond Earth for extended periods of time” don’t you understand? Is English not your first langauge? Were you struck deaf during the speech? Are you too blind to read the transcript? Do you need the talk provided to you in the form of a child’s puppet show so you can understand it?

    Sigh…

  • Rhyolite

    The Orion CRV may be a reasonable technical and political hedge against the potential failure of the commercial crew vehicle providers.

    I suspect that the cost trade between building a dedicated and buying more commercial crew vehicles and/or modifying a commercial crew vehicle for the CRV role would favor a derivative of commercial vehicle.

    On the other hand, if the commercial providers cannot meet their contractual obligations, then the Orion CRV could be modified into a crew launch vehicle very quickly with the addition of a launch abort system.

    The administration can say it is betting on the development of commercial crew launch providers but, also, that it has a ready fall back if that doesn’t work out.

    It also encourages Lockheed develop the Orion CRV into a crew launch vehicle, which would provide some healthy competition to the new space companies.

  • Rhyolite

    Second sentence should read:

    I suspect that the cost trade between building a dedicated CRV and…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rhyolite wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:24 am

    I like the Orion CRV for a wide variety of reasons.

    The first is that it makes DRagon and other vehicles easier…but also because it will give the station not only a “safe haven” but also some independent propulsion capability. Since there should be a lot of “mass” left on the up one should be able to transport a lot of things such as Water and other consumables …

    I am really quite excited about the entire affair.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    NASA youtube has a new video of a rundown on the confrences.

    “space confrence called constructive”

    http://www.youtube.com/NASATelevision#p/a/u/0/9WeCUJHwaB0

    There is also one:

    “A New Era of Innovation and Discovery”

  • DCSCA

    Well, it was a logical and intellectually candid presentation– which will be instantly vilified and vaporized in the heat of hysteria some week in 2019 or so when China and/or India lands on the moon, claiming the high ground for the 21st century, with the difference being that they will most decidely want to stay. Emotions like pride– and fear, usually triumph over logic.

    Six short trips to the moon in the head of the increasingly eccentric and egocentric Buzz Aldrin does not constitute ‘exploring’ it. The ‘been there, done that’ bravado is absurd and smacks of ol’Buzz wanting to keep that exclusive club closed to new members for a long time to come. Keeping two guys alive on the moon in the lunar day for a few Earth days six different times does not constitute much experience at exploring the moon, Buzz.

    Washington technocrats don’t understand that a Chinese on the moon presents the impression of commanding the heavens that matter most to the people of Earth- the place right close by over their heads. A probe to some distant asteroid out of sight or orbiting the far off Mars will appear second rate to Chinese astronauts picking through the relics of Apollo live on TV.

    The smart move it to fast track Orion, adapt it to the existing LVs in the U.S. and Russian inventories, plan a lander and establish a lunar base by 2025. Then extrapolate the techniques and hardware for a trip to Mars. Anything less is as Armstrong and his Apollo era colleagues have said.

  • googaw

    An unintended benefit of the new plan is that it leaves the moon to real commerce.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Well, it was a logical and intellectually candid presentation– which will be instantly vilified and vaporized in the heat of hysteria some week in 2019 or so when China and/or India lands on the moon, claiming the high ground for the 21st century,..

    LOL really just a joke. The Moon is not the high ground (even that term is useless) and the Indians nor Chinese are going to be anywhere near it with humans 9 years from now.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “Chinese astronauts picking through the relics of Apollo live on TV.”

    You begin by crediting the Chinese as being smarter than us on a way foreward, then you have the chinese doing equatorial landings on the moon when the water and close to permanant sunlight is at the poles.

    That is just plain stupid.

  • @Rhyolite

    “The moon has a ocean of oxygen contained in its regolith that could be used to dramatically lower the cost of space travel.”

    Any resource you can get off of the moon, you can also get off of a C-type asteroid. And an asteroid has the advantage that you don’t have to pay to propulsive drop your ISRU equipment down the moon’s gravity well nor do you have to haul you ISRU products back up the moon’s gravity well.”

    That’s why I’m strong advocate of the Asterant lightsail asteroid capture concept. But once lunar catapults are developed, lunar material should be competitive with small asteroid material.

  • @Rhyolite

    “A colony on the Moon could beam laser energy to solar power plants anywhere on Earth 24 hours a day/7 days a week”

    The Moon is only above the horizon for about half the day at most points on the Earth.

    A colony at most points on Moon is going to be in total darkness for 14 out of every 28 days.”

    If you wanted to use only solar energy (I prefer nuclear) on the Moon for laser power sent to Earth, you’d probably have at least two solar power plants located at each equatorial corner of the Moon where it faces the Earth. Almost all of the infrared laser light would be intercepted by aluminum reflectors, maybe light sails, orbiting high above the Earth to distribute the energy practically anywhere on the Earth’s surface. The beam spread should be less than 2 kilometers from the Moon to the Earth’s surface.

  • storm

    I stumbled upon some good points from reading the thread.

    1. That HSF isn’t ultimately needed to mine asteroids, and, or Moon. Remotely piloted vehicles can be developed to do these mundane things if the best locations are found.

    2. That leads me to Major Tom’s point that we don’t know enough detail about the Moon to do a proper comparison with the cost of other locations that are even more richly laden with the particular resources we need. And don’t think that our current needs for various kinds of resources will not change over time. For example the eventual production of space elevators might allow us to pipe down much more heavy resources like iron, which would force us to focus on iron-rich resources. And we must not forget that asteroids don’t have that gravity well, which makes them extremely attractive.

    3. And finally, the President did say we should go to the Moon. He was only emphasizing that he was interested in a an asteroid mission in particular in 2025. He didn’t have particular comments on what new HSF lunar or L1/L2 missions might be coming down the pipe. That could certainly evolve depending on the political climate in the future. And I think if we’re going to be working toward long term goals the plan needs some flexibility.

  • DCSCA wrote:

    “Well, it was a logical and intellectually candid presentation– which will be instantly vilified and vaporized in the heat of hysteria some week in 2019 or so when China and/or India lands on the moon, claiming the high ground for the 21st century …”

    Talk about hysteria.

    India hasn’t even launched, they’re just talking about a program.

    China has Gemini-era technology, and is planning to launch a space station in the early 2020s, their lunar program is only a study and is unlikely to happen until 2030 if ever.

    If you have to make things up, obviously your opinion hasn’t much merit to it.

  • @Major Tom
    This is exactly what the President said:

    “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”

    It can’t get much clearer than that! So stop making things up!

    There is no Flexible Path under the Obama plan. He doesn’t even chose a heavy lift vehicle to even have a possible flexible path until 2015– almost the end of his administration– if he’s still in office. If he really believed in this plan, he’d chose one heavy lift vehicle during his first term not during a second term that he may never have.

    The regolith on the Moon is about 40% oxygen. So yes! I know how much regolith I’m going to have to process.

    Three Mile Island killed how many people Major Tom? Duh!

    And why would a future lunar colony with the capacity to manufacture satellites out of lunar material import catalyst from Earth?

    As on Earth, there are probably going to be multiple lucrative industries on the Moon: tourism, oxygen export to low Earth orbit for satellite transfers to GEO, lunar funeral and burial services for those who’d like their ashes buried on the Moon, laser energy companies selling energy from the Moon to solar power stations on Earth, satellite manufacturing and launching companies.

    Once the demand for space launches increases due to space tourism, the cost of traveling into space will fall dramatically. Rocket fuel is very cheap but rocket engines are extremely expensive because they are not mass produced. Once the demand is high enough then rocket engines will finally begin to be mass produced by automated factories– and the cost of space travel will fall dramatically.

  • DCSCA

    @R. Oler- The moon is the ‘high ground’ to the average folks who pay the freight for the space program. Look down your nose at them and they’ll keep cutting it off along with the budgets like they have for decades. @Stephen C. Smith- Rest easy. You’ll get sputniked in time.

    Bear in mind that President Obama was all of 8 years old when Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface. He has no real personal connection to the decade long march to the moon and by the time he was 12, the Apollo program was over. Anybody 45 years old or younger doesn’t in the general public and most are unfamiliar with the particulars of space policy. But they do remember big numbers- like $100 billion for the ISS and NASA was originally planning to deep six it in five years with Constellation ramping up. Incredibly shortsighted. So a China moon hanging in the night sky carries more visual weight to average people than abstract imagery of U.S. astronauts clinging to some asteroid far out of sight.

    The benchmarks for the taxpayer today are Challenger– and Columbia. The technocrats managed to grab some satellites, launch some, place a broken Hubble in orbit then have to go fix it and kill 14 people and two orbiters in 30 years. Mediocre managers in NASA abounded and eliminating some layers of management would be refreshing. The perception for the public is of astronauts in diapers chasing down spurned lovers or old moonwalkers making dancing fools of themselves on national television. (Ever see Lindbergh do a game show?) Not really the rightest of stuff. Furthermore, the people President Obama has to depend on for recommendations- his staffers- were in diapers or not even born to have witnessed the golden age of American manned spaceflight. It’s literally the stuff of museums to them, collecting dust down the street at the Smithsonian.

    The true culprits in this downer decision lay squarely at NASA itself and the turf wars between bureaucrats in the aerospace industry like Michael Griffin and former lobbiest Lori Garver. What NASA really needs is another Von Braun and Jim Webb to push through Orion as a new generation of general purpose spacecraft. Similar to the 40 year old Soyuz, a space vehicle that has been flying basicly unchanged atop a rocket that’s similar to the one that lofted Vostok and Sputnik with a base design sold to China. Cernan once said of it, borrowing from an old VW ad, “It’s ugly, but it gets you there.” The privatization bug is quaint and verty Reaganesque but not practical for massive space projects in this era.

    So in the short term, fast track Orion (which makes for a compromise concession for the administration), man-rate and launch it atop existing liquid LVs and get it flying in five years. In the midterm years, perfect a lander and plan a lunar base. Make a return to the moon the ‘Gemini’ program of a long term plan to head for Mars. Again, keeping two guys alive for a couple of days at a time over six different moon landings isn’t much experience to make the jump to Mars. No sir. Perfect a long term lunar facility then extrapolate that experience for a trip to Mars. That’s a whole lot of manned space program for the next 30 years. Otherwise, it’s going to be difficult to attract young engineers into the space industry.

    Then sell the U.S. stake in the $100 billion ISS to China. There already was a ’space station’ in orbit– the moon. That aerospace works project should not have been built to orbit the Earth but been assembled and firmly anchored to the Ocean of Storms.

  • Will

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 4:52 am

    “This is exactly what the President said:

    “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”

    It can’t get much clearer than that! So stop making things up!”

    It’s about that small word ‘first’, Marcel. Major Tom isn’t making things up.

  • José

    First, excuse me for my poor english.

    Manned orbit around Mars in the mid 2030th, and landing following that…Obama says.

    It is the earliest years and it is so far away, its like 5 president-terms ahead. So much in the world will be changed until 25+ years ahead,
    that Obamas goal is not worth anything …(yet)..

    1.) Should military- or civilian-project developing major future technologies?
    2.) What will encurage young people of America to become engineers and
    scientist in the future?
    3.) The population of the world has always increased, never decresed. For how long in the future will the planet be able to feed all? Will there come a day when we need to establish human settlements on Mars? Or will goverments in the future say to their population to have just one kid…like China? Or what?

  • NASA Fan

    By taking a trip to the moon FIRST off the table, Obama purposely has put off the next NASA led HSF mission to well into the mid 2020′s, maybe someday. This guarantees there won’t be another ‘Challenger/Columbia” disaster for the next 20 years. (this does not rule out a SPACE X dissaster by the way). This is a good thing, because I do not believe there is any point to HSF. (I agree with Robert O on this). And if there is no point, then failures like Challenger and Columbia make it hard to fund HSF. Americans will want there money going to solve problems here on earth (that won’t be solved anyway, but that is another story).. So this Obama plan keeps NASA HSF funded for research, which Obama wants. Imagine if his research was going full steam, and we were flying missions, and there was another Disaster. The plug would be pulled so fast (see sc220 post) and that would be it for NASA and its’ research.

    This is a very clever move by the president to protect his committment to spend taxpayer dollars in science and technology research. by not accompanying it with risky manned missions.

  • Nasa Fan, the name of the company is SpaceX. Please note the capitalization.

  • Artemus

    NASA will go off in this new direction, and after ten years of anemic funding, when the program is going nowhere, some other group will advocate a complete change of direction, saying we should abandon the flexible path and build a station at L1 by 2058, using an international partnership with Russian engines, or tethers, or whatnot. The newly elected Change-itarian president, not really understanding space, but recognizing it as a way to appear decisive and visionary, will go along with this new idea, and propose canceling flexible path. By then, SpaceX will be ensconced in the establishment, and will of course lobby vigorously against it, with ads in Space News and online petitions, but being too closely identified with the losing Liberaltarian party, will be unable to stem the tide of change. The new guys in town will accuse them of self-serving politics and call the old program pork for Southern California, which by that time will be in a deep depression brought on by the collapse of the VR sex bubble. Falcon 9 and the Merlin engine will be put out with the trash, and we’ll start all over again. In a final flourish, an aging but unaccountably still popular Paris Hilton will be appointed head of the NASA PAO, appearing at photo ops all over the country to say her catchphrase: “Space is sexy!”

    Yes, I can’t wait to see what the future brings. Instead of a telescope to see where the US is going, you’ll need a microscope.

  • stargazer

    No doubt the President gives a good speech. But, putting that aside, his proposal — and it is just a proposal — still leaves us with a gutted space program with no where to go beyond low earth orbit and no way to get there. All these intermediate objectives set by the President. How are we going to get there? Apparently we are going to have to swim, because all the rockets and spacecraft we were designing will have been scrapped under the President’s proposal. Does anyone seriously think that SpaceX, Boeing and Lockheed can replace Constellation for pennies on the dollar — as the President’s proposal apparently assumes? The concept of relying exclusively on the commerical sector is throughly and admirably deflated by the article in Aviation Week. Major commercial space firms — who have actually done this before — aren’t going to walk out on that limb without a serious commitment of Federal funds. And remember, thus far we (the US government) are the only customer — so it is hard to make a business caee for spreading the expenses of developing these rockets and other vehicles among consumers in the market. What the President’t policy fails to grasp — or more likely simply decides to ignore — is that NASA has been depended on to be the ice breaker/trail blazer for rockets and other vehicles in expanding the frontier. The market follows us, not the other way around. Commerical companies will build them, but only if we pay up front. Clearly, you would have to be drinking some pretty powerful Koolaid to believe otherwise.

    Finally, remember that the President proposes but the Congress disposes. Congress still has the final say on Constellation and I urge them to continue with this program. Some of the President’s proposed additional initiatives — in-space refueling, better and faster rockets for deep space exploration among others — are excellent and should be pursued, but not to the degree that the rest of the manned space exploration program (Constellation) should be allowed to be sacrificed.

  • Bennett

    stargazer wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I wish folks like you would take the time to read the other comments before spewing the same job-motivated talking points that have already been addressed, in detail, here and on other posts.

    How many times will Robert Oler, Major Tom, Vladislaw, Stephen Smith, et al have to respond before you understand the reality of the situation?

    And you may think the koolaid reference is fresh and funny (or deep and thoughtful), but it’s not. It’s lame and tired.

  • Artemus

    <>

    This is why the new plan is too good to be true. When it comes time to actually sign the contracts for commercial HSF, the contractors are going to say, “Sure, NASA, we’ll be happy to launch astronauts to the ISS for a low, low price that fits within your budget profile. But of course, you, NASA, will guarantee us 10 seats a year for the next 10 years, you’ll cover us in the event of any disasters or public damage claims, you’ll hold us harmless if our capsule punches a hole in the side of the ISS,and you’ll pay us even if we can’t quite meet your performance and safety requirements.” And NASA will say, gee, we’d like to be able to provide that kind of backstop, but when we look at the total cost of doing that, it is disturbingly close to what Ares I would have cost.

  • Artemus

    Bennett: I suppose Musk’s public letter supporting Obama’s plan counts as a humanitarian gesture, and not “job-motivated talking points”.

  • Vladislaw

    NASA fan wrote:

    “This is a very clever move by the president to protect his committment to spend taxpayer dollars in science and technology research. by not accompanying it with risky manned missions.”

    Tell me, what risky manned mission could President Obama plan over the next 2 years of his administration? On re-election what risky manned missions could he do in 6 years?

  • Bennett

    Artemus wrote:

    “I suppose Musk’s public letter supporting Obama’s plan counts as a humanitarian gesture”

    I see it as being supportive. Obviously Musk believes in HSF, in a way that truly matters.

    Which is quite different from writing “…his proposal…leaves us with a gutted space program with no where to go beyond low earth orbit and no way to get there. ” despite all of the documentation to the contrary.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 5:57 am

    @R. Oler- The moon is the ‘high ground’ to the average folks who pay the freight for the space program. Look down your nose at them and they’ll keep cutting it off along with the budgets like they have for decades..

    you are entitled to your own beliefs, but to pass them off as facts or even as informed evaluation is quite another.

    First to your original post the Chinese and the INdians will have their country men no where near the Moon in 2019. Anything is possible and I assume that if those countries threw unlimited talent and money at it they “might” pull it off. The Indians for instance just recently found out how really hard a LH burner was to get to work (they will make it work but they dont have it now) and the PRC has barely managed Gemini style operations and at this rate wont get to the Moon until sometime in the 2050′s …

    but who knows maybe you know what they are going to do better then they do.

    As for the Moon being “the high ground” if fact or perception. To the former, the odd thing for your claim is that in terms of weapon systems so far the most lethal ones that leave the atmosphere are the ones that stay closest to it. At some point we might come up with a weapon that works well 240,000 or so miles away on the Earth, again anything is possible…but unless you have more information then anything else; all our sensors and weapons work better “close up”.

    As for perception. I see no real hint of the American people rising up and saying “go back to the Moon”. You might have missed it on April 15th but there were lots of “right wing” rallys all around The Republic…they nashed Obama on almost every subject possible…but none seemed to say “he should be spending billions and billions of dollars to go back to the Moon”.

    But you are welcome to your beliefs. We have people on this board who think that the WMD went to Syria (hence we couldnt find it…sneaky “Saaadam” ) at least one person who gets all excited watching a video tape where right wingers claim Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster…and some folks who think that Constellation was going to take us to the Moon.

    Good thing its a free country

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    stargazer wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    No doubt the President gives a good speech. But, putting that aside, his proposal — and it is just a proposal — still leaves us with a gutted space program with no where to go beyond low earth orbit and no way to get there…

    ah got it. you are one of those people who think that Constellation was actually going to get the US back to the Moon…

    ok.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Tell me, what risky manned mission could President Obama plan over the next 2 years of his administration? On re-election what risky manned missions could he do in 6 years?..

    continuing to fly the shuttle or going down that fools road called DIRECT (sorry you did ask! )

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    stargazer: “his proposal — and it is just a proposal — still leaves us with a gutted space program with no where to go beyond low earth orbit and no way to get there.”

    If you check my post way above, you’ll see that the space program will be in much better shape than it was under Constellation. Constellation really left us with a gutted space program. We might not get astronauts beyond LEO for a long time, but that’s been true for decades, and it was expected in the various Augustine Committee options. Constellation leaves us in a deep hole we have to dig out of, so it’s not easy to get astronauts beyond LEO at the moment. At least the new budget gets astronauts beyond LEO sooner than Constellation, and it does a lot of other good things, too.

    “All these intermediate objectives set by the President. How are we going to get there? Apparently we are going to have to swim, because all the rockets and spacecraft we were designing will have been scrapped under the President’s proposal.”

    Those rockets and spacecraft weren’t going to be getting us anywhere any time soon. Remember the mid-2030′s date (if ever) for the start of productive operations under Constellation. It’s a good thing that they’re scrapped (or in the case of Orion, significantly changed and trimmed).

    “Does anyone seriously think that SpaceX, Boeing and Lockheed can replace Constellation for pennies on the dollar — as the President’s proposal apparently assumes?”

    For ISS crew transport, independent assessments, the potential commercial vendors themselves, and NASA all think they can. Even Mike Griffin said Ares I/Orion was an extremely expensive way to transport crew to ISS. He just never followed up with commercial crew funding like he was supposed to according to the VSE.

    “Major commercial space firms — who have actually done this before — aren’t going to walk out on that limb without a serious commitment of Federal funds.”

    The 2011 budget has $5.8B for commercial crew. That’s a serious commitment of Federal funds, even if it’s tiny compared to the Constellation budget. It’s over 10 times the COTS cargo budget of $500M.

    The 2011 budget has $312M for enhanced commercial cargo. That might also be helpful for some commercial crew efforts.

    We’ve already had a $50M jump-start for commercial crew with CCDEV.

    We will have the work of the COTS commercial cargo vendors to build on.

    We will have the work of the existing space industry, including EELVs, Constellation, and others to build on.

    The 2011 budget funds various upgrades to KSC and the Cape that may help commercial crew vendors that launch from there.

    The new Orion Lite CRV makes it easier for commercial crew vendors to meet commercial crew requirements by reducing those requirements.

    We have the visible progress of the commercial cargo vendors, compared to the slow progress on Ares I/Orion, in spite of the later commercial crew start and the much greater level of funding for Ares I/Orion.

    So … there are a lot of things working in favor of commercial crew.

    Plus … even if commercial crew fails, we will still be ahead in all of those numerous areas I mentioned above. It’s not as if Ares I/Orion were going to be finished soon, or have anywhere to go or anything productive to do given that they would start after ISS was in the ocean.

    “And remember, thus far we (the US government) are the only customer — so it is hard to make a business caee for spreading the expenses of developing these rockets and other vehicles among consumers in the market.”

    I would let the commercial crew vendors worry about their business cases. They seem to be willing to step up to the plate anyway – given a reasonable amount of Federal “skin in the game”. There are lots of markets beyond NASA ISS crew transportation they can go after:

    - ISS cargo transportation
    - DragonLab style work
    - the existing and demonstrated ISS space tourism market that Soyuz currently controls
    - other variants of space tourism
    - transportation to Bigelow style stations (note that with commercial crew available, Bigelow and others will now have an opportunity to go after the market. With NASA looking for a flagship technology demonstration of inflatable or light-weight modules, things might get even easier for this market to start).
    - non-NASA, non-tourism ISS crew transportation (eg: commercial, other government agencies, international)
    - satellite or similar launches (for new rockets or rockets that would be enhanced for commercial crew)
    - satellite assembly, inspection, or servicing
    - NASA crew transportation to LEO for future exploration missions or other missions
    - etc

    “What the President’t policy fails to grasp — or more likely simply decides to ignore — is that NASA has been depended on to be the ice breaker/trail blazer for rockets and other vehicles in expanding the frontier. The market follows us, not the other way around.”

    That may be true in many cases. However, NASA already served as the ice breaker/trail blazer in these markets many decades ago. Now it’s time for the market to follow NASA’s earlier work, and for NASA to move to newer and better things.

    “Some of the President’s proposed additional initiatives — in-space refueling, better and faster rockets for deep space exploration among others — are excellent and should be pursued, but not to the degree that the rest of the manned space exploration program (Constellation) should be allowed to be sacrificed.”

    There is no way we can afford in-space refueling, better and faster rockets for deep space exploration, or just about anything else if Constellation is kept. Constellation is the program that would force huge chunks of the rest of NASA, and the rest of NASA manned space in particular, to be sacrificed. We have to get rid of it. It’s far too expensive to develop, far too expensive to operate, and far too slow. As the Augustine Committe report says about Constellation:

    “this program … offers little or no apparent value.”

  • Vladislaw

    And in other news, another shuttle accident has blown up, more news at 11:00 … back to you Bob.

  • common sense

    @Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:28 am
    @Rhyolite wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Re: I like the Orion CRV for a wide variety of reasons.

    I can appreciate some of your arguments here but I think this only possibly is a bone to LMT to calm them down but more likely to try and salvage whatever good came out of Constellation. It may have been done in a different fashion though but it looks like it is the easy way.

    My concern is that so far we haven’t needed a CRV to operate the ISS. We’ll still be reliant on Soyuz to go up and down until a commercial vehicle is fielded. The resources dedicated to this CRV might have beetter use in helping the commercials get their vehicle out of the barn quicker.

    BUT: Nothing has transpired yet as to how they will procure the commercial crew vehicle beyond CCDev. So I will somehow hold my breath a little while longer.

    It’s comical though that people see that as a “compromise”. This ain’t no compromise at all… And I like that there is no compromise. There should be no compromise, at least not of the scale some have hinted to… SD-HLV anyone?

  • Bob Mahoney

    The singular impression that one gets reading all these posts (from ALL sides) is that EVERY person here (and on other blogs) firmly maintains their own unique mental constructs of

    a) what history has taught us about spaceflight;

    b) what is needed politically, economically, and technically to advance spaceflight;

    and

    c) what is or is not possible politically, economically, and technically in the realm of spaceflight.

    And it all amounts to a whole bunch of nothing, just wispy tendrils of vapor. Claims, counter-claims, assertions, denials… It’s like a room full of folks each sitting around rambling on about their own dreams while ignoring what the others are saying about theirs…but meanwhile never actually accomplishing ANYTHING concrete or useful.

    How sad. Especially for the future of HSF.

  • Major Tom

    “meanwhile never actually accomplishing ANYTHING concrete or useful.”

    And how exactly are you accomplishing something concrete and useful by reading the very same “wispy tendrils of vapor”?

    If you think these posts are such a waste of time, then you shouldn’t read them and you certainly shouldn’t be commenting on them. Obviously, you have much better things to do with your self-important time.

    Duh…

  • storm

    How about this for being useful.

    Why don’t we look for the highest concentration of resources we need. Lets take water as an example. Where can we find the highest concentration of water? We don’t have a definitive answer on that yet, but all indications point to asteroids and comets as having that high concentration we are looking for, and they have very little gravity well – how convenient! 40% concentration of oxygen in lunar regolith is just one resource we might or might not want. If we’re looking for high concentrations of water for efficient extraction, then we need to look around a little bit. For starters why don’t we send some robotic explorers to far fund destination including the Moon to find our where these high concentrations of particular resources are before we begin a gargantuan operation to send people there! And when we do send humans to the Moon lets know where on the Moon to send them. And when we find whatever place in the inner solar system we’re going to take them lets have the hardware to complete the goal of sending humans there and extracting those resources. Then we can work on complete automation so that humans can get on with exploration and leave these mundane tasks to R2. But is the Moon going to have nickel, iron, water, and all the other resources we might need – perhaps, but I strongly doubt the Moon will end up as our most fruitful resource destination. It will make a good base close to home, but I strongly believe there is an asteroid that caters to any resource we might need in the future. Particular asteroids have high concentrations of different things. Some have lots of water while others have lots of nickel and iron. In this kind of environment we need to have open eyes to the situation.

    Well I don’t know about you guys, but I think I completely solved the whole problem at least in terms of the logic that is required. Oh wow, maybe I didn’t solve the problem because I see our President has already solved it. His plan is an extensive outline of the “tendrils of vapor” I just muttered.

  • common sense

    @ Bob Mahoney wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    “The singular impression that one gets reading all these posts (from ALL sides) is that EVERY person here (and on other blogs) firmly maintains their own unique mental constructs of..”

    Do you include yourself in that bunch? Come on Bob you can do better than that.

    “…but meanwhile never actually accomplishing ANYTHING concrete or useful. ”

    About that you really have no idea, now do you?

  • googaw

    For starters why don’t we send some robotic explorers to far [flung] destination including the Moon to find our where these high concentrations of particular resources are before we begin a gargantuan operation to send people there!

    Oh my, some common sense has wafted into the comments on this blog. We can’t allow that! Stop straying off the subject of astronauts you robot hugger! :-)

  • storm

    googaw – Sorry I didn’t mean to offend those people sitting at home spewing air from their lips to imitate the roar of the space shuttle main engine as they they slowly pass their toy space shuttle in front of their face, dreaming of zero gravity dodge ball and the likes.

    I am a huge proponent of HSF – its just that I want to do it in a smart way . . .Where did I just hear that?

  • [...] The speech and some “instant analysis” – Space Politics [...]

  • googaw

    Storm, on the subject of resources, many small spacecraft that do large amounts of spectroscopy of the surfaces of the moon, asteroids, etc. are one good way to go. Alas resources will often be hidden in the interiors of bodies. To solve this problem we’ve had good results at a comet and the Moon by using the high kinetic energy of orbits to excavate into the interiors and take a good look at them.

    The following is napkinware guestimation but gives an idea of what could be done with Storm’s approach. The ISS budget could be cut by $500 million per year without impacting anything terribly valuable by reducing the crew size and lengthening crew stays, and the HLV $3 billion could be put to better use. Alternatively we could cancel the pointless Orion-lite and free up many billions. I propose taking this money, $8 billion over 10 years, and produce a series of mass-produced deep space craft. 100 machines to study in detail the surfaces of over 400 bodies (mostly asteroids, but also all of the lunar and Martian surfaces in new ways). Plus 60 machines to excavate craters in the most promising asteroids or lunar surface locations and analyze the contents of the resulting plumes and craters. All of this assisted by ground and space-based telescopes. Most of these spacecraft would be powered by electric propulsion, like Dawn, so they could keep hopping from orbit around one asteroid to orbit around another. Average cost of the missions when mass-produced like this, I estimate $50 million each including dual or piggyback launch costs.

    (Somebody should of course analyze any potential space debris problem from excavating NEAs. I strongly doubt it will be a problem from this small scale of operations, but it should be studied).

    One can get far more creative and varied in the prospecting missions than this, but this gives an idea of the scope of what we can do in the way of real exploration for a tiny fraction of the cost of sending astronauts to a tiny fraction of these places.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “It would be extremely foolish to continue to confine all of human civilization solely to our planet of evolutionary origin– especially in an age where more and more nations will have nuclear arsenals capable of destroying all life on the planet. And, of course, we already know from our geological past about the destruction extraterrestrial impacts have done to our world.”

    I didn’t say it was foolish. What I said was that no one in power is talking about it.

    So if you’re going to get on your horse to lecture us about the destruction of civilization, you might ride it to Congress and find yourself a seat there.

  • Rhyolite

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:28 am
    common sense wrote @ April 16th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I am ambivalent about whether the Orion CRV makes sense. I can see arguments either way. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has had time to do a cost and risk trade at this point.

    It also occurs to me that the termination liabilities in the current Lockheed contract may have a large influence on the trade. If the liabilities are large, then it may make more sense to descope the requirements and use the contract as a vehicle for producing a CRV rather than terminating the contract outright.

  • [...] NASA’s white elephant known as “Ares I” rocket. (See Jeff Foust’s analysis here and here.) I was sorry to see the Administration decide to preserve the Orion capsule as a [...]

  • common sense

    @ Rhyolite wrote @ April 17th, 2010 at 1:55 am

    ” If the liabilities are large, then it may make more sense to descope the requirements and use the contract as a vehicle for producing a CRV rather than terminating the contract outright.”

    Yes I thought about that too. But I also don’t know how the government can just redirect a “cancelled” program without re-procuring. But I am not a lawyer so…

  • [...] NASA’s white elephant known as “Ares I” rocket. (See Jeff Foust’s analysis here and here.) I was sorry to see the Administration decide to preserve the Orion capsule as a [...]

  • [...] from: Space Politics » The speech and some “instant analysis” Share and [...]

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