Congress, NASA, Pentagon

Nelson makes a move for heavy-lift

After President Obama spoke at the Kennedy Space Center last week, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said that while he supported the president’s plan in general, “we’ll change some things” in Congress, suggesting that accelerating development of a heavy-lift vehicle would be one of them. “I think we can make the decision much sooner” than 2015, he said. Wednesday, he took a step to do just that.

Nelson announced that he had won an extra $726 million for NASA in the FY2011 budget resolution that was marked up Wednesday by the Senate Budget Committee, on which Nelson serves. The additional money, he said, would be used for continued work on a heavy-lift vehicle. “If we’re going to Mars, as the president has said, then let’s get going,” he said in a statement. “We shouldn’t wait five years.”

In comments during the markup (which can be viewed in this video clip), Nelson elaborated on this, suggesting that such a heavy-lift vehicle would be derived from the Ares family of vehicles that would be canceled under the president’s plan. The additional funding, he said, would be used because “as we are confronting a program of testing a large-diameter solid rocket motor, which is critical to the Department of Defense, and of which is a good example of one hand of the federal government not knowing what the other hand was doing – Defense Department and NASA – and NASA goes in and cancels this test.”

Nelson, in comments directed to committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), played up the connection between this NASA development and national security. “You have allowed in this the flexibility of continuing the testing for that big solid rocket motor called the Ares 1-X, which will not only be important to the future of us getting out of low Earth orbit by building a heavy-lift vehicle for NASA, but is going to be critical to the solid rocket motors that protect this country’s national security.”

Nelson’s comments are somewhat puzzling since the Ares 1-X was a specific test that took place last year, and is not itself a “big solid rocket motor”. The statement from his office makes no mention of Ares or solid rocket motors, but does mention that “The Pentagon is worried about delaying this decision and the effect it might have on the rocket industry”, an apparent reference to previous concerns about the solid rocket motor industrial base.

Conrad, who could be seen in the video nodding as Nelson spoke, concurred in his own comments. “There are classified discussions that we can’t go into here with respect to this initiative, but I would say to my colleagues, this is absolutely essential for the national security that this go forward,” Conrad said. “And I think every member of this committee understands what I’m talking about. So I hope very much that this will be retained and we’re going to have to fight for this.”

Conrad is referring to the fact that the budget resolution is just that—a non-binding resolution that plays a role in the later appropriations process, but does not constrain appropriators to fund a specific program.

106 comments to Nelson makes a move for heavy-lift

  • Casual Observer

    You’re going to need more than simple rhetoric and a mere $726M shot in the arm. You’re going to need about $10B more than is funded currently as a simple starting point. I know, I know, it’s such big beans, particularly with all the deficits… but somehow there is likewise no problem giving hundreds of billions of dollars to a bunch of financial firms and auto firms, while running a $1,500 billion dollar deficit in one year alone.

    People in America deserve a worthwhile goal to accomplish something as a people, but alas they are all too tied up in picking sides in some insane political debate in which both sides take them absolutely nowhere of consequence. Perhaps a space goal might actually unite people towards a common apolitical cause. But then again, it is too much in the politicians’ interests to make even that a politically charged issue.

    Used to be that government did those things that the people could not do singularly… security of the nation, protection of the people, and other goals national in scope. Today each individual is too busy trying to see how they can get into each other’s pocketbooks through the means of a ballot box: individuals, politicians, corporations, and special interests alike. It’s practically left no room for those national goals and achievements that used to make Americans proud to be American.

    Does Nelson believe in the space program? Insofar as it will help him get re-elected I’m sure he’s all for it.

  • Major Tom

    Spending $726 million on continued Ares testing is an idiotically wasteful way maintain the solid rocket motor industrial base for defense purposes. There are other options for spending that money that would maintain the industrial just as well or better and provide the nation with much better value for the taxpayers’ dollars.

    For example, $225 million will refurbish all three stages on 75 Minuteman IIIs:

    defenseindustrydaily.com/2252m-to-remanufacture-minuteman-iii-rocket-motors-02760/

    There are 450 Minuteman IIIs in the U.S. ICBM arsenal, and it’s our only ICBM. $726 million would refurbish nearly half of this inventory.

    By comparison, the Ares I-X test cost $450 million. $726 million would cover one such test and a fraction of another.

    So Nelson’s $726 million could refurbish half of the entire U.S. land-based ICBM arsenal (over 200 Minuteman IIIs), or it could fund a second Ares I-X test that will never lead to an operational Ares I vehicle or contribute to NASA’s LOX/kerosene HLV planning.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb… here’s hoping the appropriators and their staff have better critical reasoning skills.

  • Robert G. Oler

    this will go nowhere…the money isnt there Robert

  • Vladislaw

    It was 450 for the ares1, they are probably going to test the full up 5 segment with the new propelant design, so 700 million for the new one.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    And so the sausage making begins. How do you like that hope and change?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 21st, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    And so the sausage making begins. How do you like that hope and change?..

    doing great in space policy. This will change nothing. You use to be political astute enough to recognize that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    I hope that everyone had a nice San Jacinto day…Robert G. Oler

  • …Oink, oink, oink … More pork…

    Fill the hog trough…

    NASA = High tech WPA

  • red

    I can’t imagine why, if Nelson wants some sort of heavy lift acceleration, he’d push for the Ares I route. I assume he’s thinking about something like Ares V or Ares V Lite. Those are unaffordable and would take a long time to do even if they could be afforded. If he wants SDHL, why not push for something that’s unaffordable, but on a somewhat less dramatic scale, like a sidemount, which might start to be affordable if he could repeat the $726M miracle every year. If he just wants any heavy lift, why not put his $726M towards the sort of heavy lift that’s in the budget? If he just wants Shuttle jobs, why not push for an extended Shuttle? Any of those would seem to be easier for him to achieve than what he’s trying.

  • Major Tom

    “And so the sausage making begins. How do you like that hope and change?”

    Why are you blaming the White House for Congressional pork? You did take middle school civics and understand that they are separate branches of government, right?

    Oy vey…

  • Ready

    Well the continuation of ares whether it is one or five will save jobs at KSC. It might not be shuttle jobs but it would save most all of the Constellation jobs. So it benefits KSC hugely! The shuttle has had it’s time and the production is shut down . It’s too late to save shuttle and the workers have known this for many years now. The money that KSC is getting for 21st century launch complex was all based around Ares and that work is happening now. It only makes sense to continue down that path with Ares and not shuttle side mount…

  • Major Tom

    “If he wants SDHL, why not push for something that’s unaffordable, but on a somewhat less dramatic scale, like a sidemount, which might start to be affordable if he could repeat the $726M miracle every year.”

    IIRC from the Augstine presentations, sidemount has a $6 billion plus development cost. So Nelson would have to repeat that $726 million miracle for eight or so years straight to produce a sidemount SDHLV. (And that doesn’t include the costs of keeping the Shuttle workforce intact while that sidemount HLV is developed.) I’d argue that’s essentially as unlikely (or impossible) a legislative feat as repeating that miracle for 30-odd years straight to produce Ares V.

    “If he just wants Shuttle jobs, why not push for an extended Shuttle?”

    $726 million would only pay for three or four months of Shuttle extension. If a congressman was shooting for a multiyear Shuttle extension, he’d have to find $2 billion or so to get the Shuttle program through FY 2011. Again, I’d argue that sustaining multiple $2 billion plus-ups over multiple years is essentially an impossible legislative feat.

    “If he just wants any heavy lift, why not put his $726M towards the sort of heavy lift that’s in the budget?

    That, or investing in low-cost HLV alternatives/backups, would be the programmatically right thing to do and would be achievable within those amounts of money. (A gun-launch, low-cost dumb launch, or propellant depot demonstrator are all within the $500 million range.) But Nelson doesn’t want a more efficient heavy lift capability that leverages military/commercial infrastructure, investment, and customers. He wants to maintain Constellation/Shuttle jobs despite the cost to NASA and future civil human space exploration.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Well the continuation of ares whether it is one or five will save jobs at KSC. It might not be shuttle jobs but it would save most all of the Constellation jobs. So it benefits KSC hugely!”

    No, it doesn’t. It just defers the pain. After one or two more additional Ares test flights in early-mid 2011, that workforce is still going to have to be laid off in late 2011 or early 2012.

    I sympathize, but it’s better to rip the band-aid off in one clean swipe than delay, defer, and drag out the pain over multiple years and demoralize the remaining workforce.

    “It only makes sense to continue down that path with Ares and not shuttle side mount…”

    No, it doesn’t. If you have to have a Shuttle-derived system, sidemount is much cheaper than Ares. Sidemount is a $6 billion development versus $30-50 billion for Ares I/Orion development (and tens and tens of billions more for Ares V).

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    Lets see, Orion-lite is back. Expect more features to creep in so expands back to Orion-classic. Now we need a way to loft it. Hey, the Ares-I is handy. Now Nelson, who risks his political career backing the madman Obama, wants to bring back the Ares-V. Can we please reinstate Constellation and have it done? I have decided that Obama and his cronies are not really idealogical, they are just chaotic decision makers.

  • For Rand … You and I don’t usually agree but I gave you some love in today’s Space KSC blog:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/04/articles-of-interest_22.html

    Partisan stripes aside, I agree with a lot of what you said. I’ve already written about the JFK myth. If you go back and look at his Moon speech to Congress, it really wasn’t. It was mostly about a number of governmental spending programs to pull the economy out of a recession. The Moon proposal was near the end, and he acknowledged it would take too long to affect the recession. It was a very brief part of the speech.

    As for the Rice speech, that was during the 1962 Congressional election and JFK was in Houston to support the local Congressman for re-election. Albert Thomas was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee and was influential in NASA spending decisions. So the Rice speech was pretty much to give Thomas some love, not any “vision thing.”

  • amightywind

    Major Tom wrote:

    “Sidemount is a $6 billion development versus $30-50 billion for Ares I/Orion development”

    All of you love to cite the Augustine report, fraudulent though it is. What about the Columbia report? Parallel staging is a little dangerous for manned cryogenic boosters. Ares-I is designed to mitigate these safety issues.

  • Major Tom

    “Lets see, Orion-lite is back. Expect more features to creep in so expands back to Orion-classic.”

    Why? They’re not needed for the CRV function.

    “Now we need a way to loft it. Hey, the Ares-I is handy.”

    No, it’s not. Ares I/Orion are $30-50 billion and 7-9 years away.

    “Can we please reinstate Constellation and have it done?”

    Do you have $5 billion per year ad infinitum to spare?

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    Major Tom wrote:

    “Do you have $5 billion per year ad infinitum to spare?”

    Please. Has this ever stopped Obama? Take it out of NASA’s earth sciences effort. That function belongs under NOAA/NSF anyway. The last thing NASA should be is a safe haven for global warming hysterics.

  • Major Tom

    “All of you love to cite the Augustine report, fraudulent though it is.”

    I didn’t cite the final report of the Augustine Committee. I cited a presentation by John Shannon to the Augustine Committee on sidemount SDHLV.

    Read, comprehend, and think before you post.

    “What about the Columbia report? Parallel staging is a little dangerous for manned cryogenic boosters.”

    No duh. Who here said that they wanted to use a sidemount to launch crews? It’s an HLV alternative.

    And if you’re so worried about parallel staging, why were you advocating Shuttle extension in prior threads?

    Don’t you think at all before you post?

    “Ares-I is designed to mitigate these safety issues.”

    Whoop-dee-freaking-doo. So is every other LV/capsule combination out there.

    Oy vey…

  • Major Tom

    “Take it out of NASA’s earth sciences effort.”

    NASA’s entire Earth Science budget is only $1.4 billion in FY 2010. That’s less than a third of the increase that Constellation needs on an annual basis going forward.

    “That function belongs under NOAA/NSF anyway.”

    NOAA is an operational forecasting agency — it’s not a R&D agency. NASA has performed Earth Science research years longer than NOAA (and longer than NASA has performed human space flight).

    “The last thing NASA should be is a safe haven for global warming hysterics.

    You do realize that there is more to Earth science than global warming, right?

    Geez…

  • amightywind

    Major Tom wrote:

    “And if you’re so worried about parallel staging, why were you advocating Shuttle extension in prior threads?”

    The shuttle is what it is, a 1 in 100 failure vehicle. NASA has done a fine job reducing the debris strike risk. If 7 astronauts who understand the risk want to climb aboard, so be it. They have my admiration. It makes for thrilling video either way 7;^)

  • MrEarl

    Tom:
    Your childish behavior and “debate” style shows a true lack of intelligence and reasoning capability. The same thing you accuse everyone else who disagrees with you.
    I know, you’re just defending the “facts”, but that’s the facts as you interpret them. Others can come to different conclusions from the same set of facts. Your mental capacity is obviously too limited to entertain other ideas.
    By trying to belittle your opponent you are really belittling yourself and your argument.

  • amightywind

    MrEarl, let me defend Major Tom. Somehow a lot of people got into there head that insults have no place in legitimate debate. Ever watch the House of Commons? What you call insults are just a rhetorical technique. Obama commonly demonizes his opponents. The GOP often label theirs (socialist, big government liberal, …). It is all about exaggerating your point to get it across. Done the wrong way it has the opposite effect. Tom is revealing himself to be more of a loon by every post. Let him.

  • FWIW, the Bolden HLV study (the same one that Administrator Bolden refuses to release to Congress because it’s considered pre-decisional information between NASA and the Whitehouse) shows that Jupiter is less expensive than Side-mount, safer for the crew than Side-mount, easier/less expensive to build and fly out of KSC than the Side-mount and has greater lift and volume capability initially with greater expandability latter than Side-mount. In summary if the policy is to pursue a SDHLV approach, NASA choice will be Jupiter.

    NASA cost estimate for the Jupiter is also only slightly higher than what the CBO found. I know for fact the Jupiter configuration is what NASA submitted to the Whitehouse for consideration as its lowest cost choice for future HLV. The Kero/LOX booster was next in line terms of expense ($30 Billion) and the Ares-V was even more expensive than that. In Congress this was going to be spun as an Ares-V classic (ie Jupiter-251 Heavy-Stretch) but the budget reality was going to force a more incremental approach starting with the Jupiter-130.

    I agree with Jeff Greason that while the case can be made for more volume and lift capacity over existing communication satellite launchers, 75mT and 10m should be enough to launch full up beyond LEO spacecraft if they are launched dry and then provisioned with fluids in orbit.

    The Jupiter-130 achieves that nominal basis while protecting for up to 150mT in the Juptier-251 Heavy-Stretch configuration. Again I think the robust tech/pre-cursor mission programs funded under the compromise plan, to the tune of over $3 Billion/year by FY15, should be more than sufficient to support all the game changing developments needed before we can determine how far above if any we need to go above the base capabilities of the Jupiter-130.

  • Major Tom

    “Your childish behavior and “debate” style shows a true lack of intelligence and reasoning capability. The same thing you accuse everyone else who disagrees with you..”

    I didn’t accuse the other poster of a “lack of intelligence”. I told them to read, comprehend, and think before they post and asked whether they think at all before they post.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    Moreover, the other poster accused me of citing the Augustine report when in fact I had cited a presentation to the Augustine Committee. They also accused me and other posters in this thread of advocating sidemount for crew launch, which none of us did. I don’t need to make any accusations. The other poster is repeatedly not reading, comprehending, and thinking before they post.

    “I know, you’re just defending the ‘facts’, but that’s the facts as you interpret them.”

    There’s no interpretation involved. It’s a fact that I cited a presentation by John Shannon to the Augustine Committee on sidemount SDHLV. It’s a fact that no one in this thread wrote that they wanted to use a sidemount to launch crews. It’s a fact that the other poster was advocating Shuttle extension in prior threads. It’s a fact that NASA’s entire Earth Science budget is less than a third of what’s needed to keep Constellation going on an annual basis. It’s a fact that NASA has performed Earth Science research years longer than NOAA and longer than NASA has performed human space flight, and that Earth science is about more than global warming.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “Your mental capacity is obviously too limited to entertain other ideas.”

    Why are you resorting to insults in your very first post ? No one has insulted you in this thread.

    Grow up.

    Ugh…

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Oler, “Major Tom”, et al. I have been warning for months that the certain result of Obamaspace, with all of its flaws and contradictions, that real space policy was going to be a monster made in the Congressional sausage factory. And sure enough, the process has begun. If you think for one minute this is going nowhere, remember what committee Nelson chairs.

  • Major Tom

    “The shuttle is what it is, a 1 in 100 failure vehicle. NASA has done a fine job reducing the debris strike risk. If 7 astronauts who understand the risk want to climb aboard, so be it. They have my admiration.”

    But seven astronauts who made the same risk-based decision with respect to a capsule-launching sidemount HLV wouldn’t have your admiration? Why, in your parallel universe, is one parallel-staging LV okay for crew but another one is not?

    Again, don’t you think at all before you post?

    “Tom is revealing himself to be more of a loon by every post. Let him.”

    This from a poster who doesn’t know the difference (or can’t differentiate) between the final report of the Augustine Committee and the multiple presentations that served as inputs to the Committee? From a poster who accuses multiple other posters of statements they never made? From a poster who thinks the Earth science budget is big enough to fund Constellation?

    Really?

    “more of a loon”

    Why are you resorting to namecalling? No one has thrown names at you in this thread.

    Grow up.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “If you think for one minute this is going nowhere,”

    It’s likely not. Often, Congress fails to even pass a budget resolution, and when it does, it’s not binding on the appropriators.

    Mr. Foust already made this point in the original post. Didn’t you read it?

    “remember what committee Nelson chairs.”

    Yeah, NASA’s Senate authorization committee, which often fails to pass an authorization bill and which is also not binding on the appropriators when it does.

    Again, didn’t you pass middle school civics?

    Oy vey…

  • Christopher

    I would say that the shuttle is demonstrably a 1 in 50 failure vehicle.

    not a 1 in 100, or a 1 in 250, or whatever else has made it into powerpoint slides.

  • Derrick

    amightywind wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 9:51 am

    “Lets see, Orion-lite is back. Expect more features to creep in so expands back to Orion-classic.”

    Don’t forget to consider Orion with lime, Cherry Orion, or Orion Zero.

  • mark valah

    Funding for solids would make ATK happy and that’s Utah, why is Florida-Nelson pushing for it? From the technical point of view, Ares I configuration was supposed to carry 1-ton (950 kg, yes) worth of a vibration damper so the end of the burn vibration of the 5 segment solid would not kill the astronauts and damage the upper stage …

    Keystone cops…

  • richardb

    The fact Obama is losing control of Space Policy is what happens when a big change is introduced without the concurrence of the major stake holders in Congress, Nasa and industry. Little things like industrial base implications seemed to have escaped Obama leaving a clear field for Congress to assert itself. Maybe Nelson is over blowing the industrial base issue, maybe not, but the point is Obama didn’t do his homework and doesn’t have an answer to Nelson.

    Last week it was Obama offering up a stripped down Orion to the space lobby.
    This week it’s Nelson suggesting continued funding for the Ares I first stage.
    What will next week unveil? Perhaps some of that mythical Obama R&D be spent on upper stage demonstrations using the J2X?
    The week after that how about Orion fully tricked out as an ascent/descent capsule?
    With a shortened Congressional season due to those November elections, I could see Congress saying continue with the programs of record for this year, use a continuing resolution for Nasa and deal with it next year.

  • amightywind

    richardb wrote

    “The fact Obama is losing control of Space Policy is what happens when a big change is introduced without the concurrence of the major stake holders in Congress, Nasa and industry.”

    Agreed. After the Augustine report was delivered there might have been an effort to hammer out an agreement on HSF among the major stakeholders. One would have expected such deliberation based on Obama’s campaign rhetoric. Instead his minions Holdren and Garver ran roughshod.

    “With a shortened Congressional season due to those November elections, I could see Congress saying continue with the programs of record for this year, use a continuing resolution for Nasa and deal with it next year.”

    Yes. And in January Obama will face a much less friendly congress, his power to transform NASA gone.

  • Major Tom

    “Little things like industrial base implications seemed to have escaped Obama”

    I have no clue whether industrial base considerations were part of any specific discussion that the President had. But it would be a mischaracterization to claim that the White House didn’t consider industrial base issues. They appear repeatedly in the final report of the Augustine Committee. In fact, the solid rocket motor industrial base (among others) is described in some detail:

    “The health and viability of the large solid-rocket motor industrial base rests in part on the choice of future crew transport and heavy-lift cargo launch system designs. Those that are all-liquid obviously present the most negative impact on the SRM industrial base and those that either launch crew with an SRM or support heavy-lift with SRMs provide the
    most benefit to the SRM industrial base. If the choice is to pursue all-liquid launch systems for both crew and cargo, there is no perceived future need for large segmented SRMs in support of civil space activities.”

    Jeff Greason, who was a member of the Augustine Committee, has commented in several forums on how shocked the committee was as the state of the space industrial base in general.

    “Maybe Nelson is over blowing the industrial base issue”

    From a defense perspective, there is no solid rocket motor industrial base issue arising from the Shuttle SRBs. As the NASA Administrator stated in today’s hearing, no one else uses segmented solid rocket motors, especially SRB-sized ones, besides NASA. If we want to bolster the solid rocket motor industry for ICBMs, SLBMs, missile defense, and smaller defense applications, then we need to spend solid rocket motor dollars on ICBMs, SLBMs, missile defense, and smaller defense applications — not on Space Shuttle SRBs that no one else, especially the military, uses. Even Gary Payton, Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space, has stated that ending Shuttle SRB production will have negligible impact on solid rocket motor costs for EELV boosters.

    The only solid rocket motor industrial issue that arises from discontinuing Shuttle SRB production is Shuttle SRB production. NASA is no longer pursuing any launch vehicle that needs them.

    “Last week it was Obama offering up a stripped down Orion to the space lobby.
    This week it’s Nelson suggesting continued funding for the Ares I first stage.
    What will next week unveil?”

    Why are you blaming the White House for what a Senator has suggested? You do realize that the White House and Congress are two independent branches of government, right? You did learn about separation of powers in civics class, right?

    “Perhaps some of that mythical Obama R&D be spent on upper stage demonstrations…”

    If you had bothered to actually read NASA’s FY 2011 budget request, you’d know that NASA does plan to demonstrate better LH2 and CH4 upper stage engines.

    C’mon people, read and comprehend policy and budget documents before you comment on them.

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    mark valah wrote:

    “From the technical point of view, Ares I configuration was supposed to carry 1-ton (950 kg, yes) worth of a vibration damper so the end of the burn vibration of the 5 segment solid would not kill the astronauts and damage the upper stage”

    I had heard the vibration damper weighted 6000 lbs. Who cares? The empty weight of the 5 segment motor is 175,000lbs. Fueled nearly 2 million. Compare it to the weight of turbo machinery on a conventional rocket. The SRM is simple, reliable, and proven on man rated launchers. It is a logical building block of any large manned US booster.

  • Major Tom

    “I had heard the vibration damper weighted 6000 lbs. Who cares?”

    The Ares I managers, who weren’t meeting their performance and margin targets. And the Orion managers, who were having to throw mass off the capsule to meet reduced Ares I performance.

    Duh…

  • The SRM is simple, reliable, and proven on man rated launchers.

    No human-rated launcher has ever used a solid motor.

    And no, the Shuttle was never human rated. This is why people who don’t know what they’re talking about (and even people who do) should stop using the useless phrase.

  • richardb

    This is like watching alligators wrestle under a thick berber carpet for those of us on the outside of DC power politics.

    New Space vs Old Space.
    Southern and Western states vs everybody else.
    Obama vs Democrats
    Obama vs Reps
    Obama vs Grey beards
    Defense Dept vs ????
    Nasa on a short leash tightly tied to a tree far from the fight.

    Since the sums are so small, less than .06% of Federal expenditures, it’s hard to believe so much energy is being expended for so little.

  • You and I don’t usually agree but I gave you some love in today’s Space KSC blog

    Thanks. Regardless of my other political views, I try to take an objective nonpartisan approach to space policy, particularly because it is such an intrinsically non-partisan thing (or alternately, it’s generally horrible on a bipartisan basis).

  • Since the sums are so small, less than .06% of Federal expenditures, it’s hard to believe so much energy is being expended for so little.

    The sums are very large for the few people actually seeking rent, and concentrated in a few areas. It might be a trivial portion of the overall budget, but several billion dollars is real money to a congressional district or state.

    But it’s also a variation on Sayre’s Law: “Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.”

  • amightywind

    Major Tom wrote:

    “who were having to throw mass off the capsule to meet reduced Ares I performance.”

    Do the math idiot. The mass to orbit penalty for weight on the first stage is minuscule. You can make the same reflexive argument about slosh baffles or other essential structure within a liquid stage.

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “And no, the Shuttle was never human rated. This is why people who don’t know what they’re talking about (and even people who do) should stop using the useless phrase.”

    Yeah, 262 uses, over 600 astronauts launched, 1 failure 25 years ago. It may be another century before they are really ready to launch humans. (Rolls eyes)

  • Yeah, 262 uses, over 600 astronauts launched, 1 failure 25 years ago. It may be another century before they are really ready to launch humans. (Rolls eyes)

    And our eyes are rolling at your ignorance of the meaning of “human rated.”

  • richardb

    Rand, I take the point that a few billion dollars support many thousands of jobs, many of those people who’ve spent their professional lives solving complex engineering problems.

    So why didn’t Obama give them the forethought they deserve?

  • amightywind

    In other news it looks like Mikulski’s Senate committee torn Bolden a new one.

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/04/nasas-bolden-battered-by-senate-.html

    For once I agree with the Senator.

  • amightywind

    The good Senator Shelby’s comments…

    http://www.wtvm.com/Global/story.asp?S=12356078

    Wow!

  • For the record:

    Human-Rating Requirements for Space Systems — published May 6, 2008, long after Shuttle was built, after Challenger, after Columbia

    ULA publication discussing what it would take for Atlas V / Delta IV to comply with the directive.

    General Wiki page on the subject.

  • Ferris Valyn

    For once I agree with the Senator.

    The difference is that the Senator has an open mind, and willing to listen to arguments.

    The same cannot be said about you (or Shelby)

  • Grandstanding politician:

    “Where are we going, when will we get there, and what will it take?”

    Me if I’d been in Charlie Bolden’s position:

    “I dunno, how much are you willing to blow the federal budget to get there?”

  • Fred Cink

    Major Tom, your response to Mark Whittington’s “sausage making” comment asked why he was blaming the White House for Congressional pork. YOU seem to have no problem what so ever with blaming the Bush White House (and former NASA managers) for the Congressional pork (or “un pork”) of inadequate funding of Ares1/5 (or other programs you FAVOR) You did take middle school civics and understand they are separate branches of government, right? Oy vey

  • If we end up with a continuing resolution and no NASA budget until after the 2010 elections (and perhaps not until after the new Congress is sworn in January 2011) how long thereafter will it take for commercial crew and additional commercial cargo flights to ISS get get off the ground (pun intended)?

    Won’t the clock be ticking on ISS logistics as soon as the last Orbiter returns from LEO?

  • mark valah

    Nice analysis on SRB’s and the problems associated with their operation with human crews, see link below. Still can’t understand why is Nelson pushing for this one.

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/07/death-knell-for-nasas-ares-roc.html

    On a different topic, it’ll be interesting to follow the Chinese deployment – see link below. At what point during this development – if accomplished – will we experience a Sputnik/Gagarin effect when the politicians may be rushing to catch up? If the CNN keeps the same news formatting the chance is small…

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100414-path-china-space-station.html

    Cheers.

  • At what point during this development – if accomplished – will we experience a Sputnik/Gagarin effect when the politicians may be rushing to catch up?

    It’s hard to imagine one. That was a “funny once.”

  • richardb

    Bill White wrote “…how long thereafter will it take for commercial crew and additional commercial cargo flights to ISS get get off the ground (pun intended)?”

    Good question. Let me try to answer, and fire for effect.

    I first start with the best case assumption that Obama’s plan will be passed as is(whatever that is) in the current Congress.

    Nasa would have to write an RFP and that would take a few months after the budget is approved. Lets say the Budget is approved in October 2010 again best case.
    In February, 2011 Nasa publishes its RFP and expects all bidders to have their responses back to Nasa in 6 months. In August 2011 Nasa then takes 3 months evaluating them. In November 2011 Nasa awards its first contracts. Since we’re best case, lets assume 3 years later alt-Space is ready for a crew taxi in early 2015.

    If you throw in a delay in approving Obama’s plan till next year once a new Congress is seated, the delays in awarding a contract could drag out deep into 2012 pushing IOC into 2016. If you throw in normal delays either in funding or due to technical challenges, the date could easily be pushed out past 2017.

    I have always thought that at the end of the day, alt-Space will get Americans to the ISS no sooner than Ares I.

  • Nasa would have to write an RFP and that would take a few months after the budget is approved.

    NASA doesn’t have to wait for the budget to be approved to write an RFP, or even release one. I would expect, at the least some Broad Area Announcement in the next few weeks.

  • Robert G. Oler

    richardb wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Rand, I take the point that a few billion dollars support many thousands of jobs, many of those people who’ve spent their professional lives solving complex engineering problems. ..

    this argument is all theoretical because Obama is going to get his space program. The folks who think otherwise remind me of all the people who on Fox kept saying “the health care bill is dead”.

    Having said that why should the people who you talk about get any special treatment from anyone else in The Republic?

    I know a lot of Marine and Navy reservist who were called to active duty, fought in Iraq came home, their jobs are gone…and their lives have been completely blown of pace. I know people who worked at John Deere a good chunk of their professional lives and were given two weeks severance pay.

    I dont get why everyone says “all the shuttle people are special just because they worked on the shuttle”.

    would you care to explain that?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 11:05 am

    still beating that drum. Jupiter is deader then Saddam Hussain

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “NASA doesn’t have to wait for the budget to be approved to write an RFP, or even release one.”

    Is that in fact the case? I would have thought there would be some provision in the FAR about that. In any case, a compliant RFP response would involve substantial investment by the proposer, and the decision to make that investment might be substantially colored by the fact that Congress wasn’t yet on board. I’m not familiar with RFP’s that preceded funding, but I may just not have been paying close enough attention. The risk also is that Congress will add language to the appropriations bill that conflicts with something in the RFP.

  • Robert G. Oler

    richardb wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    The fact Obama is losing control of Space Policy is what happens when a big change is introduced without the concurrence of the major stake holders in Congress, Nasa and industry. Little things like industrial base implications seemed to have escaped Obama leaving a clear field for Congress to assert itself. ..

    there is no political trends in work that indicate Obama is losing control of the debate on Space Policy.

    Indeed the data you cite shows he is not. One only loses control of the debate when viable alternatives start to appear that people are rallying to (a fact the GOP forgot in the health care debate). What you have are a lot of people proposing things in their own self interest which have little or no critical mass.

    Of course we can differ on the politics and timewill prove one of us correct or not. I’m pretty comfortable with the political judgements that I have made on this forum. In fact I dont think I have made a major one incorrect.

    Moving on to the industrial base.

    Preserving ATK’s ability to make large solids preserves nothing of value. Dont look now but you are going to see with X-37 the first step off of nuclear weapons as the prime instruments of global detterent power.

    Expanding the industrial base is doing things like well growing new companies like SpaceX

    Robert G. Oler

  • richardb

    Robert G, I assume you’re addressing that question to me?
    You ask if I would care to explain “all the shuttle people are special just because they worked on the shuttle”?

    No because I never posited that statement. You did however, so maybe you can explain why you put words in quote that I never said?

    Bored today? Feeling the need to make junk up? Check out the NFL draft that is starting in a few. Get yourself right, maybe with a cold beer, then come back and chat.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Is anyone else watching the X-37 launch process?

    Curious…at T minus 17 a command came up “Fuel Cell sequence start” and at T minus 5 a female (ie different voice reported) “Fuel cell sequence complete nominal”.

    The X-37 does not have fuel cells.

    Does the Centaur? Curious

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    You and I don’t usually agree but I gave you some love in today’s Space KSC blog

    Thanks. Regardless of my other political views, I try to take an objective nonpartisan approach to space policy,..

    yes..that you do. You might be a crazy right winger on other issues (grin) but on space policy you put the effort into squaring the reality with politics.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    richardb wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Robert G, I assume you’re addressing that question to me?
    You ask if I would care to explain “all the shuttle people are special just because they worked on the shuttle”?

    No because I never posited that statement…

    OK then I made a mistake. thought I had tracked the thread back but if you say you did not post those sentiments or they dont reflect your thoughts then I apologize for the error.

    Words and thoughts are important and if I pushed the ones you said or didnt say incorrectly then I beg your pardon

    Robert G. Oler

  • Is that in fact the case? I would have thought there would be some provision in the FAR about that.

    I’ve never read an RFP that didn’t have a clause that said the government had no obligation whatsoever to actually award a contract…

    In any case, a compliant RFP response would involve substantial investment by the proposer, and the decision to make that investment might be substantially colored by the fact that Congress wasn’t yet on board.

    Sure. That’s part of the gamble of responding to any RFP. You might lose to a competitor, the contract might be awarded to no one, there might not be money for the contract. Every contractor weighs those risks in deciding how to allocate discretionary IR&D and B&P funds. All of which, of course, are reimbursable.

    Except for New Spacers, who don’t have huge existing contracts against which to charge them.

    But don’t say the game is rigged…

    But nonetheless, NASA is as aware of the schedule as anyone else, and they know that if they don’t get BAAs or RFPs or RFQs, or whatever, out soon, it will only delay things later.

  • You might be a crazy right winger on other issues (grin) but on space policy you put the effort into squaring the reality with politics.

    I am no more a “crazy right winger” on other issues than I am on space. This is just a symptom of your “right-wing/Fox-News” derangement.

  • Fred Cink

    Mr Oler, Centaur does not have a fuel cell(s) Check out http://www.ulalaunch... its a pdf with incredible amounts of background/info. Why might the x37 not have been modified by USAF (since it took over the project years ago) to support long duration on orbit ops?

  • Robert G. Oler

    I think that there is one salient and important feature here.

    A while back in various hearings Nelson seemed to view that the money was coming from the “pot” (my word) that commercial space was drawing on. I went back and read the questions he fired off at Gwen S and a bunch of others and some of the rambling comments he made…and that was where he was going.

    Now Nelson is looking for more money to get his test.

    The conclusions are clear..

    First someone told Nelson that the commercial money stayed intact.

    My guess (and rumor in DC) is that he got that word from Obama through someone outside of NASA.

    Second I suspect Nelson was told that if he can get more money he can have it for his project…but there probably is no more money.

    This makes me think even more that Obama gets his space plan

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I said that in a spirit of humor…but since that was to much for you.

    I read your blog. On most non space issues you are as right wing as Whittington and most of the other people at Fox News. I am impressed that you have summoned the ability to deviate in space policy, but am not really surprised.

    You have always been quite astute when it comes to seeing trends in human spaceflight.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Fred Cink wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I concur that is what made the call(s) so well standoutish. If the X 37 did not have fuel cells…what did? thats my question (it is possible I have missed some other meaning of that phrase but …)

    Why is the military playing with X37?

    The military has fully embraced UAV’s and it would be wise to take Gary P at his word here and consider the X37 the newest UAV. There are a plethora of missions that come to mind…just think of what UAV’s do…but they are all concerned with reusability of the vehicle.

    the military is busily developing a plethora of small on demand launch vehicles (the small solids) that are far more designed for “store and launch” then the X 37 and its boosters are.

    No, there is something in the X37 (including its cross range) that are mission key. I have some theories…still trying to sort those out

    Robert G. Oler

  • Home video of the X-37B launch from my neighborhood in north Merritt Island is now on SpaceKSC.com.

    But the launch was classified, so don’t tell anyone.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Robert & Rand

    I suggest the embracement of the concept of “Agree to disagree”

    It works well for Rand & Me

  • red

    richardb: “I have always thought that at the end of the day, alt-Space will get Americans to the ISS no sooner than Ares I.”

    I wouldn’t say “alt-Space” is necessarily going to be the winners of the commercial crew competition. For instance, Boeing and ULA already did well in CCDEV. Let’s wait and see how the competition goes before calling it “alt-Space”. If I had to guess, I’d guess that there will be a mixture of new and old/big and small.

    Even if your 2017 scenario held out, that’s on the very optimistic end of the expected Ares I/Orion date, according to the Augustine Committee evaluation.

    Also, keep in mind that Augustine thought 2017-2019 for Ares I/Orion (most likely 2019), and 2016 at the latest for commercial crew. That was with less funding that NASA is actually giving for commercial crew in the budget proposal, and without the Orion super-lite CRV taking off requirements from commercial crew.

    Not only that, but even if the operational start dates were the same, the Ares I option has a lot of disadvantages, such as:

    - there would be no funding left for a technology development program
    - there would only be 1 system (i.e. with Ares I/Orion, all eggs are in 1 fragile basket)

    and my favorite

    - the ISS would already be gone to allow funding for Ares I/Orion

  • red

    Major Tom: “IIRC from the Augstine presentations, sidemount has a $6 billion plus development cost. So Nelson would have to repeat that $726 million miracle for eight or so years straight to produce a sidemount SDHLV. (And that doesn’t include the costs of keeping the Shuttle workforce intact while that sidemount HLV is developed.) I’d argue that’s essentially as unlikely (or impossible) a legislative feat as repeating that miracle for 30-odd years straight to produce Ares V.”

    Yes, I’m pretty sure (from playing with the numbers a while ago) it was 2.6B for Phase I and 4.0B for Phase II … plus the money to restart Shuttle lines and to keep them running … plus the money to put something on the sidemount.

    I didn’t mean to imply the $726M would be enough for the sidemount or a long Shuttle extension, even if done on a yearly basis – just that those options are a lot less absurd than the Ares I -> Ares V option that Nelson is talking about. At least with the others, he’d be within some sort of conceivable striking range of being able to fund it, given a few budget raids into other parts of the budget. Hoping for Ares I tests as a foot in the Ares V door amounts to hoping that Obama gives up all of the new budget items (technology, Earth science, Aeronautics, commercial space, ISS … all of it) and more, which isn’t at all credible.

    In other words, Sidemount and Shuttle extension would still be unaffordable, but not quite in such an over-the-top way as Ares I -> Ares V.

  • red

    Stephen Metschan: “FWIW, the Bolden HLV study (the same one that Administrator Bolden refuses to release to Congress because it’s considered pre-decisional information between NASA and the Whitehouse) shows that Jupiter is less expensive than Side-mount, safer for the crew than Side-mount, easier/less expensive to build and fly out of KSC than the Side-mount and has greater lift and volume capability initially with greater expandability latter than Side-mount. In summary if the policy is to pursue a SDHLV approach, NASA choice will be Jupiter.”

    The greater lift, volume, and expandability make sense to me. Safer for crew makes sense, too. Having not seen this HLV study, I’m skeptical about less expensive to develop and less expensive to fly. Let’s assume we don’t support crew with the sidemount, since we have a commercial crew program and Soyuz to do that. How does that make the development and operations comparison go? What if the objective is only to launch a “small HLV’s” worth of payload, since we may not need any more than that?

    The reason I’m asking is that it seems to me like cost to develop and cost to operate are probably going to trump all other considerations (especially if we don’t support crew on the HLV). (That’s also why a month or 2 ago I was suggesting that you take Orion off the DIRECT compromise spreadsheet in favor of something like uncrewed tech demos, robotic precursors, or robotic science missions, since the Orion costs are forcing your spreadsheet to dig deeply into the technology, robotic precursor, and commercial crew budgets, making it difficult for the Administration side to want to agree with the compromise.)

    Stephen Metschan: “I know for fact the Jupiter configuration is what NASA submitted to the Whitehouse for consideration as its lowest cost choice for future HLV. The Kero/LOX booster was next in line terms of expense ($30 Billion)”

    I’m skeptical about that $30B, too. Is that for development? Of course there are all sorts of options for doing this. Would you be looking at something in the 40-50MT range, 75 or so, or 100 or so? I recall Jeff Greason in comments here citing some figures that were dramatically lower than this (was it just $1B or $2B?) for a Phase I EELV, for example … and that may be all that we need, if we need an HLV at all … and it would share quite a lot with the EELVs we’re flying anyway. Of course if NASA is looking for a monster-sized rocket to fit its Mars ambitions (personally I think it’s a bit early to get too concerned with HSF Mars missions), it’s probably going to get a monster-sized development bill, operations bill, and schedule.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I WAS trying but will try harder. I have suggested a “man hug” sometime…ok I’ll give up

    Robert G. Oler

  • I wouldn’t say “alt-Space” is necessarily going to be the winners of the commercial crew competition. For instance, Boeing and ULA already did well in CCDEV. Let’s wait and see how the competition goes before calling it “alt-Space”. If I had to guess, I’d guess that there will be a mixture of new and old/big and small.

    I agree, except it appears unlikely these players will spend much of their own money preparing for NASA RFPs that have not been given Congressional blessing.

    Another question — how time critical is the proposed COTS supplement? $300 million, right?

    Would delaying that (due to a continuing resolution) delay COTS in achieving its actual payload delivery goals?

  • On most non space issues you are as right wing as Whittington and most of the other people at Fox News.

    And thus you confirm my comment about your “right wing” derangement syndrome. And I’m insulted by being put in the same category as Mark Whittington. But that’s all part of your inability to make any kind of nuanced distinctions about political positions, and your mindless “right wing/left wing” simplistic mentality.

    Ferris writes: I suggest the embracement of the concept of “Agree to disagree”

    Robert is not capable of that, due to his “right-wing” derangement syndrome.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    and you do not know how much that annoyed me. The John McCain of 2000 seemed to completely morph after the 2000 defeat…his embrace of Bush really really annoyed me…and I was able at some point to tell him that! His behavior now makes me quite happy he is not POTUS.

    As for space.

    My view is that SpaceX might not wait for NASA. Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Do the math idiot.”

    Again with the namecalling?

    Really?

    “The mass to orbit penalty for weight on the first stage is minuscule.”

    It depends on the characteristics of the stages. But looking at the stage masses for Ares I, every unit of mass added to the first stage reduces by 60% the mass available to second stage. So adding 6,000 lb. TMA on the first-stage will reduce the mass available to the second stage by 3,600 lb.

    Of course, the interstage and upper stage were already more than 3,500 lb. in the hole (including residual propellant mass) as of April a couple years ago when TO mitigation options were being studied:

    nasaspaceflight.com/2008/04/ares-i-thrust-oscillation-mitigation-options-head-into-trade-study/

    So going back to your original question about “Who cares?”, I’m sure the Constellation, Orion, and Ares I managers cared — and cared deeply — about a 3,600 lb. hit to the Ares I second stage when that stage was already in the hole by more than 3,500 lb.

    Again, for the umpteenth time, think before you post.

    Ugh…

  • John McCain then: I am a maverick

    John McCain now: I was never a maverick.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom, your response to Mark Whittington’s “sausage making” comment asked why he was blaming the White House for Congressional pork. YOU seem to have no problem what so ever with blaming the Bush White House (and former NASA managers) for the Congressional pork (or “un pork”) of inadequate funding of Ares1/5″

    First, Constellation received more funding, by billions of dollars, than was promised in the VSE. It was NASA’s overall budget projection in the VSE that both the Bush II Administration and multiple congresses (both Republican- and Democrat-controlled) failed to meet from FY 2005 onward.

    Don’t make things up.

    Second, where have I ever blamed the Bush II White House for a congress (Republican- or Democrat-controlled) failing to meet VSE budget projections (for Constellation or NASA overall)? Which specific post?

    Just because the Bush II White House failed to meet its own VSE commitments in its annual budget submissions to Congress doesn’t mean that Congress was off the hook. Congress always had the option of passing appropriations bills at amounts higher than that requested by the President.

    “You did take middle school civics and understand they are separate branches of government, right? Oy vey”

    You should really come up with your own witty comebacks and catch phrases.

    Lame…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 22nd, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    yeah.

    My aim in Presidential candidates is not so much ideology…as it is someone who is dedicated to the complete shakeup/reformation/major shake up of the institutions of government.

    It is my view that the ideology of what government does is just about been completely compromised by the interaction of “big money” and corporate influence on those decisions. And I think that the last year of Bush and his economic policies prove it.

    In the end when push came to Bush, he and all his “free market capitalist” were quite ready to abandon the notion of “no interference in industry” to salavage the folks who had gotten us into this mess and were(are) sending the country down the tubes.

    This goes even into defense policy. As Marines and Sailors were dying in Anbar to IED the notion among the “corporate ribbon holders” (the uniforms in the Pentagon) was that we could all hold out for the Lockheed combat vehicle…(which wont be anywhere until 2012 or so)…

    One can see the same notion in human spaceflight. The dolts who are supporting the POR are people whose jobs depend on it…but they are used by the companies whose access to federal dollars (the only sure source of revenue around) to advocate an agenda.

    At somepoint in the aftermath of the 2000 campaign something happened to McCain. Winning became more important then what he stood for.

    I cannot tell you how disappointing he has become to those of us who knew him in the 00 campaign.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “Nasa would have to write an RFP and that would take a few months after the budget is approved.”

    NASA doesn’t have to wait for budget approval to write an RFP. It can be ready to release as soon as the President signs the relevant appropriations bill into law.

    FWIW…

  • John McCain then: I am a maverick
    John McCain now: I was never a maverick.

    Is there some relevance of this to either the present discussion, or the topic of space policy in general?

  • NASA doesn’t have to wait for budget approval to write an RFP. It can be ready to release as soon as the President signs the relevant appropriations bill into law.

    True, if the draft RFP matches the final budget language.

  • It can be ready to release as soon as the President signs the relevant appropriations bill into law.

    I could be wrong (it happens occasionally), but I don’t think that even that is a necessary condition. It’s just a matter of whether or not the contractors are willing to bet on the eventual outcome.

    In the end when push came to Bush, he and all his “free market capitalist”

    Bush never had much in the way of those. This is of a piece with your “right wing” derangement fevers.

  • Vladislaw

    In the Senate meeting Bolden tossed ATK under the bus. In no uncertain terms. He related how the shuttle was supposed to fly 50 times a year and ATK had geared up the infrastructure and are way over inflated. He said they should be down sizing. Also he pointed out no one is using that production capabilty but NASA as no one is using large segemented rockets.

    He basically said it would be insane to fund it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 12:06 am

    there really is no reason for SRB sized solids they are a creature of the fiction of the shuttle Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “‘It can be ready to release as soon as the President signs the relevant appropriations bill into law.’

    I could be wrong (it happens occasionally), but I don’t think that even that is a necessary condition. It’s just a matter of whether or not the contractors are willing to bet on the eventual outcome.”

    Yes, you’re right. Even short of final RFPs, NASA and contractors can iterate on draft RFPs. I was just reacting to the other poster’s statement about taking several months to prepare an RFP after the budget is signed into law. Smart managers will have them through legal and ready to go, even if they’re waiting until the appropriations process is over.

    “‘In the end when push came to Bush, he and all his ‘free market capitalist””

    Bush never had much in the way of those. This is of a piece with your ‘right wing’ derangement fevers.”

    Just to be clear, I’m not a party to this part of the discussion.

    FWIW…

  • Yes, you’re right. Even short of final RFPs, NASA and contractors can iterate on draft RFPs.

    I’m not even sure about that (but again, am willing to be corrected). NASA could actually legally release an RFP for which it didn’t have funds in the budget, betting on the come. It would be up to the contractors to decide whether or not to respond (again, on the basis of their assessment of the eventual budget). It’s not Vegas, but there are elements of it…

    Just to be clear, I’m not a party to this part of the discussion.

    Sorry, I should be more clear to whom I’m responding when I respond to multiple people in a single comment. I certainly had no intention of conflating your remarks with…his.

  • @ Robert Oler

    There really is no reason for SRB sized solids they are a creature of the fiction of the shuttle

    To be frank, I am impressed with the audacity of Bolden/Obama is directly challenging ATK on this manner. One of the reasons I have supported shuttle derived is my skepticism that NASA could win a head-to-head fight with ATK lobbyists in the halls of Congress. And as Machiavelli teaches, do not aim at a Prince unless you are assured of a kill.

    If Obama/Bolden do win this fight, they will definitely deserve a tip of my hat.

  • PS — I also do not believe that EELV (at least Delta IV EELV) would prove less expensive than DIRECT although Atlas V might be (unless we decide to make those Russians engines here). Lets see, $10M for engines made in Russia or $80M for engines made here.

    In theory, true NewSpace could be cheaper however I also am not confident that we can stop SpaceX from being smothered in its crib via a thousand and one regulations and requirements imposed by NASA.

    Impose enough regulation on SpaceX (such as Mikulski’s safety concerns) and they won’t be all that cheap, either.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 12:38 am

    in my view they are going to win it.

    There are some things that one ask “why is it happening this way” (ie the process) and in my belief structure, it becomes clear why something happened (the process) as it did, as the old is washed away by the new. What I am saying in other words is that “how” one gets to a new way is probably as important as the new way.

    In a general sense as things have developed it strikes me that this is the entirety of the Obama administration. He is slowly but surely getting his “sea legs ” in terms of dealing with The Congress to get things done (the financial reform bill…the politics have been quite good ) and eventually I predict if he can turn the economy around it will make him and his Presidency a pretty big success.

    Space is a part of that. Look carefully and what one can see of how the changes are occurring is that Obama is trying to do in human spaceflight what he has tried to do in health care…and I think in financial reform…and that is make the corporate system far more responsible to the needs of the people and by virtue of that to The Republic…all while trying to preserve the notion of a free enterprise system.

    Obama is winning on this and in my view (as noted above) the latest measure of that is the change of tact of Nelson on trying to preserve something of Ares. Nelson was all gung ho to gut the commercial part of the bill to pay for his demo projects and he got his hat handed to them.

    I bet it was on AF 1 where Nelson had his moment.

    the collolary to Machiavelli is that if cannot strike at a King, do not imagine that you can sit on the throne. If Bolden wants to retune the agency they was HE wants to do it…and it is Charlie calling the shots. What has to die is ATK and their solids.

    Charlie is use to slaying “Kings”. that is his history.

    I agree when they win a tip of the hat is in order. Actually I suspect Obama is going to win in his presidency. That is subject to change, but right now he is slowly but surely killing his opposition.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 12:47 am

    In theory, true NewSpace could be cheaper however I also am not confident that we can stop SpaceX from being smothered in its crib via a thousand and one regulations and requirements imposed by NASA. …

    Maybe, but if I had to bet I would imagine that Musk is a little to smart for that.

    Look there is not much difference (other then a LAS) from a vehicle that is carrying pressurized cargo and one carrying people. Musk has got a bit of showmanship in him…and I imagine that this is going to play something in the mix.

    Plus the rumor is that Obama was pretty impressed with what he saw.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Yes, you’re right. Even short of final RFPs, NASA and contractors can iterate on draft RFPs.

    I should elaborate on this a little as well. I’m not a lawyer, but I used to be advised by them in such matters. You can iterate on draft statements of work, but not RFPs. It’s a subtle, but important distinction.

  • Vladislaw

    I believe if Musk is successful with cargo and starts hauling people in 2015-2017 he will be charging about 50 million a seat to undercut the Soyuz then we might get a price war and more of a market based price.

  • Red “I’m skeptical about that $30B, too. Is that for development?”

    The specification was for basically a modern day Saturn V. You are correct that we could get a more modest Kero/LOX HLV via upgrades to the Atlas for less. The issue though is we need to increase the payload volume as we increase lift capacity. So we need a core diameter increase to effectively utilize any significant increase in lift capacity over Atlas. It’s a bit of slippery slope in which NASA basically end up at a modern day Saturn V. So it depends. The cost breakout was $17 billion for the Core/Main Engines, $6 Billion for the Upperstage/Engine, $4.5 Billion launch transport/launch facilities.

    This is why the Jupiter-130 makes so much sense, for about $8 Billion we get a good HLV foundation that may be good enough for the next three decades if Jeff is right. If not we can grow it latter on an as needed basis decades from now upto about 150mT. We don’t need to over commit (ie Modern day Saturn V) or run the risk of under committing either (upgraded EELV).

    Keep in mind DIRECT was our best guess at where the center of gravity was based on a combination of budget, technical, and political forces. Change those forces and you arrive at different HLV futures like Ares-V or no HLV at all. I would also suggest that if we can’t find the where with all to add $8 Billion to an existing $40 Billion dollar SDHLV industrial base we are not going to have $30 Billion five years from now to build from scratch what would effectively be America’s third HLV system. So I see those advocating beginning the construction of any 100mT class HLV five years from now as attempting to sell us true HLV supporters, like Norm Augustine, a Trojan horse.

    So I think it’s safe to say that if there is a 100mT class capable HLV in our future it will be a SDHLV.

  • @ Almighty Wind: You are SO right, with your April 22nd comment! WE SHOULD JUST BRING BACK THE ARIES 5!! It was all slated to be our prime heavy-lift vehicle anyway! Why Mr. Obama wants it scrapped has less to do with “unsustainability” than with him disliking the Moon as its first destination. I’ve been laying that point really thick on these message boards, because I really want all the space interest people out there to realize what is actually going on here. Buzz Aldrin, the Planetary Society, and a host of other Anti-Moon people & entities have gotten the upper hand, with being able to advise the President. Mr. Obama doesn’t give a hoot about the space program in reality. He’s completely indifferent as to whether or not a manned space program even continues. So this ill-conceived collusion of leader and lobby results in the President moving to terminate the Constellation Project. Obama soon realizes that there is strong Congressional opposition to his plan. So, to secure solider support among the “Anywhere-but-the-Moon” lobby, and to make it SEEM like he’s doing something grand & innovative, he creates this new “Let’s-abandon-the-Moon-in-favor-of-reaching-an-asteroid-instead” goal. Nevermind that visiting an asteroid IS INFINITELY HARDER TO DO than a Lunar Return, let’s just wrecking ball the entire fleet of vehicles, because of the Lunar re-visit connection, he thinks & says! So, instead of just fully funding the Aries 5, which IS a heavy-lift rocket, and which, oddly enough, COULD be used for an asteroid jaunt, at some later date—he destroys the Project, rather than allow a Lunar Return to take place first. Why, WHY should the U.S. wait until 2015 just to re-select a heavy-lift design, when we could’ve had a trans-lunar/ trans-planetary launcher up & running with Constellation on track?? It doesn’t make an ounce of sense, even from a Mars & Asteroid enthusiast point of view—unless your ultra-objective is to bypass the Moon entirely.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 1:24 am

    The issue though is we need to increase the payload volume as we increase lift capacity….

    aside from the numerous flawed assumptions about the cost to develop “Direct” the above is a statement with out any justification.

    There is no real data to suggest that the US needs a heavy lifter above that of EELV evolution, nor that it needs a “wider” one or one with increased volume…There is no real concept of what a lunar base would look like (other then what NASA has for its now failed Orion/Altair thing) nor what uses a lifter that can toss more then an Evolved (grin) EELV can.

    That is the problem…there is no mission for Jupiter. The apostles of it have tried to morph it into something that can resupply the station but even that is not a good fit economically.

    What you have done is come up with a concept that is nothing more then the XC-99. An airplane that was to expensive to operate and generated a cargo capability that no one needed.

    that is why DIRECT will always remain little more then a photoshop

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 12:59 am

    In my view they are going to win it.

    I am more persuaded of this after April 15th than I was before. Obama’s spinal fortitude surprised me (and I would be pleased to see this extended to other issues).

    However, Obama’s personal spinal fortitude will be necessary to carry this through to completion and therefore NewSpacers who work against him in 2012 are working against their own interests.

    A delightful irony. ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 23rd, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Re: DIRECT and EELV, although I am not an engineer, I find credible the arguments made by others that a Delta IVH based lunar campaign would be more expensive than a comparable campaign done with the proposed Jupiter launch vehicle.

    Therefore, it will not happen using EELV and thus if we scrap shuttle derived America’s space future (at least BEO) will be entrusted (almost entirely) to SpaceX and U.S. users of Russian technology.

    As for doing the Moon with EELV class (or Proton class) remember that I have written a novel about lunar return using Proton (and Long March) as the heaviest lifter, blended with EML rendezvous.

    And in a commercial setting, EELV cannot possibly compete with Proton (and later Long March) in the arena of price.

  • mark valah

    @ R.G. Oler: “I think that there is one salient and important feature here…”

    Thank you for the comments. They’re playing the money game, obviously, and the devil is in the details…

    W.r.t the X-37B, a lot of press attention. The vehicle itself is nothing new, a refinement of the shuttle airframe. as you correctly assume, it is the series of tests done in space that are critical, probably.

    Interestingly, the simultanous launch of Falcon has received less attention, at least to my browsing. The critical technology there is the feasibility of hypersonic airbreathing propulsion, where the physics of fluids are extremely complex, surfaces must be actively cooled, etc.

  • I find credible the arguments made by others that a Delta IVH based lunar campaign would be more expensive than a comparable campaign done with the proposed Jupiter launch vehicle.

    Not that I agree that it would be more expensive, but when has something being more expensive ever stopped NASA from doing it?

  • Fred Cink

    Mr Oler, ref the x-37…my belief is a much cheaper/sooner way of getting a limited blackswift-like urgent global strike capability. Winged space plane alows adequate crossrange to hit almost any target and onboard engine allows reboost to get home after strike. Payload bay could handle a limited rods from the gods weapon. Would like to see armor penetration stats on kinetic weapon doing mach 8-10

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