Congress

ULA finds it hard to get some local love

One of the interesting aspects of the reaction to NASA’s new human spaceflight plans is the strong opposition to it from Alabama’s congressional delegation, in particular Sen. Richard Shelby: while plans to end Constellation will have impacts on the Marshall Space Flight Center, that will be partially, if not completely, offset by other work there, not to mention additional for United Launch Alliance, which builds Atlas and Delta rockets at a plant in Decatur. Among the puzzled is the head of a competitor to ULA.

“I don’t really understand why Senator Shelby is so opposed to commercial crew,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told the Huntsville Times in a recent interview, “given that Atlas and Delta are right there in Alabama, because no one’s going to be a bigger winner in commercial crew than United Launch Alliance.” Musk said it was a “certainty” that ULA would win contracts to launch crewed spacecraft until the proposed plan, while “it’s much more a question mark” for SpaceX.

Musk also said he doesn’t know why his company in particular has been on the receiving end of so much criticism (by name or implied) by Shelby. “I just don’t understand what his beef is,” he told the Times. “I’ve tried to meet with him,” he added. “He refuses to meet.” A spokesman for Shelby said the two had in fact met at some point in the past but the two “have fundamental differences in their vision for successful space policy that will not be overcome in a meet and greet.”

Meanwhile, Mo Brooks, a Republican challenging incumbent Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL), told the Decatur Daily that he also opposed the administration’s plan even though it would benefit hometown ULA. “I don’t want the private sector being in charge of what is national security information,” he said, not specifying what “national security information” would be put in jeopardy by having commercial providers carrying out crew launches.

Brooks also criticized Griffith for alienating fellow members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that criticism made it impossible for him to win support for NASA, and Constellation in particular, on Capitol Hill. “I believe Parker Griffith’s inability to work with members of Congress is a major factor in our potential loss of the (NASA) Constellation program,” Brooks said of the first-term congressman who switched parties last December.

83 comments to ULA finds it hard to get some local love

  • Robert G. Oler

    Obama’s plan sails on into reality. None of these statements are not predictable.

    BTW I hope that the races were good

    Robert G. Oler

  • If we had a press worth its salt, someone would have asked this idiot what “national security” he was referring to.

  • Jeff, it doesn’t appear to be online yet, but there’s an article in today’s Florida Today that says the same thing. ULA should have a big lead on SpaceX in winning the human flight contract because Delta and Atlas are proven whereas SpaceX is not.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The national security argument is number 1 on the list of five things one uses when one has nothing else to use to support or be oppossed to a program. It is generic boilerplate that is actually quite useless in politics and means nothing UNLESS there is some other overriding goal for the effort. We might as well adopt Whittington’s “the chinese will take over the Moon”.

    The irony of course is that in my view the shuttle and eventually Constellation are DRAGS on national security.

    No platform should have improved the operation of military assets in space more then the shuttle. Problem is that even the military with pockets quite deep couldnt tolerate the bureaucracy, the cost, the time span almost everything associated with the shuttle.

    Indeed if one looks at the X37 the only role that the shuttle might have actually played has been to define to the USAF what it does not want in a reusable vehicle.

    Constellation (Ares/Orion) continue the tradition of the shuttle by simply being unaffordable and not very flexible.

    On the other hand…if one sits down and thinks about the X37 and some other things one can see how the current stable of boosters (atlas and delta) along with the Falcon 9 evolving into a bit heavier lift…do wonders for national security.

    Whittington et al will of course have the Chinese checking American passports on the Moon, but serious people know there are serious task ahead in the future and they are almost all GEO and inward.

    These are exciting times (finally)
    Robert G. Oler

  • Derrick

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 12:13 pm …

    Yeah I honestly don’t know what the hell Griffith is talking about. The private sector is already in charge of plenty of national security information (who does he think is building our bombs and fighter jets??), and the Air Force is taking care of the military space needs. Most of congress just seems to be misinformed…watch the recent hearing with Bolden, which by the way I thought some of his answers were pretty good…

  • Duh, duh, and duh re ULA’s potential, and it’s good to see Elon laying this out.

    But there’s always been a thread of Republican opinion that sees NASA as an extension of DoD. This goes hand-in-hand with not wanting to overthrow the _particulars_ of NASA largesse if it exists in their areas.

    They forget, of course, that building national security required building an aircraft _industry_ rather than a national aircraft program, via NACA.

    Sorry, ‘forget’ is not the word regarding either this or anything else appropriate to space. They never bother to pay attention to it unless an entirely ignorant trope is useful in some other context. See Krauthammer, Limbaugh and other ‘conservative opinion’ for the universal lunacy of condemning the free-market essentials in the Obama plan.

    At this point, I’m putting less than 50-50 odds of that, in particular, surviving. Minimally, I just hope that we don’t end up with NASA being made the uber-supervisor of human commercial flight _for any purpose_ vs. FAA/AST. That sort of thing sounds very possible when Mikulski lectures people who know very well that “launching people is not launching tang” and Nelson utters similar nonsense about his ‘original intent’ for the commercial space act. Uh, senator, you missed the CSLAA.

  • I continue to be astonished by the apparently limitless hypocrisy of many Republicans in Congress. It’s apparently okay to trust the nation’s collective health solely to the tender mercies of profit-first private companies, but it is not okay to trust the nation’s civilian space exploration to private industry. Give me a break.

    In his space policy, Mr. Obama has given Republicans everything they have always claimed to be for. They should sign on the dotted line, or shut up and let the nation’s business move forward. . . .

    – Donald

  • SpaceMan

    Mr. Obama has given Republicans everything they have always claimed to be for.

    Just goes to show that, as a group, republicans are, plain and simple, liars. Their entire philosophy is, and always has been, built on lies. Narcissistic greed is all they stand for.

    nar·cis·sism   [nahr-suh-siz-em] –noun
    1.
    inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.

    2.
    Psychoanalysis . erotic gratification derived from admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, being a normal condition at the infantile level of personality development.

  • Just goes to show that, as a group, republicans are, plain and simple, liars.

    [rolling eyes]

    Republicans in Congress are politicians, just like Democrats. Lunacy like the above doesn’t contribute to discussion of space policy.

  • amightywind

    “I just don’t understand what his beef is,” he told the Times. “I’ve tried to meet with him,” he added. “He refuses to meet.”

    Musk is triangulating like any sleazy politician. Having curried favor with Obama’s leftists he wants to pick off some GOP to cement his crony funding. It won’t happen. He is screwing with the wrong guy in Senator Shelby.

    “nar·cis·sism   [nahr-suh-siz-em] –noun”

    I invite you to compare a picture of Obama speaking with Mussolini. It is as if Obama studied him.

  • Musk is triangulating like any sleazy politician.

    Musk is trying to talk some sense into an unprincipled politician who isn’t even acting in the best interests of his own state.

  • Grenville Wilson

    amightywind is a troll, guys. Don’t feed him.

    So, Musk wants to meet with Shelby while Shelby’s aide claims they’ve already met? What’s with that?

    I don’t really think a meeting would accomplish much – Shelby’s dug himself too deep to back out now. It’d be entertaining though.

  • I have seen few developments or statements to support Musk predictions concerning ULA. On the other hand it seems SpaceX has been overwhelmingly and undeservingly thrust to the forefront and has become the “poster boy” of the commercial space program. To date SpaceX has received the lion share of NASA funding. It seems as if the “fix” is in for SpaceX no matter of the level of experience or innovative vision. One area Musk is correct is that ULA’s technology base and capabilities are decades ahead of his fledgling effort in both experience and innovative creativity. Shelby and others are capable of seeing beyond the commercial façade that Flex Path presents. The lack of focus and free market oriented derived technology development coupled with the total disregard for the economical and technological consequences associated with the Flex Path are deserving of severe critics and skeptics. We know a true logical free market business oriented program when we see it and Flex doesn’t make the cut. So give ‘em hell Shelby.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind blows again…

    First of all, does anyone think that a CEO is not going to promote their company? The surprise should be when they promote a competitor, but Elon recognizes that in order for SpaceX to succeed in the future (post COTS), they need ULA to be paving the path ahead of them.

    This is also related to having multiple competitors, since we already know what happens when you only have one way into space (Challenger & Columbia stand downs), and Elon knows that having competitors (i.e. other providers) helps to reduce their overall risk while they get established.

    SpaceX has a lower cost launcher solution, with no near-term competition (no one building cheaper launchers), so promoting a more expensive competitor in the near-term does not hurt their long-term prospects.

    Regarding Obama speaking with Mussolini, I can imagine them having a spirited discourse, whereas Bush 43′ probably would have looked him in the eye and stated “I was able to get a sense of his soul”… :-)

  • Doug: I have seen few developments or statements to support Musk predictions concerning ULA. On the other hand it seems SpaceX has been overwhelmingly and undeservingly thrust to the forefront and has become the “poster boy” of the commercial space program.

    I agree, but it was also inevitable. Here’s my analysis from Space News.

    http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/100405-gathering-storms-spring.html

    – Donald

  • Aerospace Engineer

    “partially, if not completely, offset by other work there…..”

    I highly doubt that. Must be that game changing not actually building any spacecraft we’ll take 5 years to think about a possible HLV design and make a decision then about if we’ll actually go ahead with an HLV kind of offset work

    still waiting for the first Falcon 9 launch – a demo flight.
    and then maybe two more demos
    and then maybe an actual cargo flight
    and then maybe a man rated flight
    maybe
    someday
    a 1965 Gemini capability

    The New Frontier!

  • That’s a good piece, Donald, but you neglected to point out how horrifically expensive Constellation was going to be to operate — a point that was made by the Augustine panel.

  • sc220

    I invite you to compare a picture of Obama speaking with Mussolini. It is as if Obama studied him.

    Dude…WTF does this have to do with space policy? You got to get a grip!

  • someday
    a 1965 Gemini capability

    Gemini only carried two people. Dragon carries seven. And that “someday” will be a lot sooner (and cheaper) than it would be with Ares/Orion.

  • There is no private manned commercial spaceflight company in the US. There is one in Russia (Energia) but not in the US. And there won’t be one in the US until a private American company finally starts sending people into space. So folks like Musk need to stop trashing NASA and bragging about what their company could do until they finally do it!

    When Space X finally places people into orbit and brings them back safely to Earth, they probably won’t have any trouble getting support from Congress.

  • Bennett

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I second Rand’s sentiments, well done. I also like how you brought in the Orion spacecraft’s Pad Abort 1 test, and how this is really a two way street regarding success or failure.

  • Bennett

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    “…folks like Musk need to stop trashing NASA ”

    Musk has never trashed NASA, in fact he is open in his admiration and gratitude for their support.

    Please don’t make stuff up.

  • Habitat Hermit

    Grenville Wilson raises a salient point, is Soviet Shelby’s staff making things up? Would be nice to know the details. And why can’t the staff of Soviet Shelby arrange a meeting that’s more than a superficial handshake? Is there some kind of mentally or physically debilitating virus in the offices of Soviet Shelby? Should we call a HAZMAT team or would there be nothing left afterwards? I hate the use of the expression but it just seems to fit perfectly: “TOOLS!”

    It doesn’t seem like one can do much with politicians in the US since they have no shame at all, can one sue them out of office?

    I’d also like to bring to attention that Soviet Shelby derided Obama’s NASA plan as faith-based. That’s right, Soviet Shelby used faith-based as a dirty word. It’s on page two of this The Huntsville Times article at al.com.

    Page two, second paragraph, start of the sentence:
    “Shelby called Obama’s plan “a faith-based initiative” …”

    One would think that kind of derogatory use of words would strike a sour tone with his “base”.

    One would think his fiscal promiscuity (i.e. Soviet Shelby is a whore for spending money) would strike a sour tone with his “base”.

    All said Soviet Shelby is more of a communist than Obama when he acts as if he hates capitalism and private commerce in his own home state (ULA), while some of the activity is in LEO and above the money is spent right here down on Earth and stays here and then for good measure emulates the most militant atheist by deriding faith-based initiatives as if his party hasn’t championed just such as an unmitigated good.

    Condolences to all those in the US who wanted something else than two leftist political parties competing in idiocy. Hook up Ronald Reagan to a dynamo and you’ve gained energy independence, could fuel the entire world forever, and shoot massive payloads to Pluto on laser beams.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Grenville Wilson wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    amightywind is a troll, guys. Don’t feed him…

    yes he is but sadly he is correct in this case. Musk is triangulating hence…

    “So, Musk wants to meet with Shelby while Shelby’s aide claims they’ve already met? What’s with that?”

    Musk probably does want to meet with Shelby but I am quite certain Shelby does not want to meet with Musk…and really for Musk that is the best of all worlds.

    Musk is “triangulating”. It is a technique that I first saw (although it has been used before) by Herb K. with Southwest Airlines. When Herb was trying to start up out of Love Field his PR was that the airline was very small (three then two planes) and Brannif (flying out of DFW) had the name and the clientele and Herb was going after “the bus riders” when Brannif already had the business people…and now you read about Branniff in the history books and Big Orange prowls the skies.

    ULA should have the upper edge…they are full of people who know how to talk to NASA, they have a working product (the rockets) and they probably have “how to fly the rockets” down pretty solid. Plus they have lots of cash and can gin up the PR machine as well as lobby people.

    the thing that I wonder is “can they make the numbers work”? Branniff could not. They flew the exact same airplanes, tried to do business the same way SWA had and never ever pulled it off…they even at one point tried it out of Love Field. United tried it a couple of times…but in each instant what caused the effort to flounder was not the product but the people running it. The people who ran “TED” were the same people who ran the same airplanes when they were United and ran them the same way.

    There is a culture in organizations which determine success or failure of the product.

    What is unknown is if Musk and his group can pull off their product for the numbers that they claim, can ULA provide a more dynamic product at lower cost…or does the thing simply revert to ULA style business (NASA would feel more comfortable with that) and all we have done is trade a NASA operated “thing” for a contractor operated thing.

    What Shelby wants is what every pol wants…a cushy government contract in his district (state) that really doesnt have to perform at all…its just wealth transfer from one group (the taxpayers) to the next. NASA has sunk so low in its ability to accomplish things…thats all it wants.

    Musk is wise to try this effort. If he can pop a surprise or two as things go on, is successful…then he will roll over ULA much like Herb ran over everyone else.

    See how this works

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    well done on the op ed

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “Gemini only carried two people. Dragon carries seven.”

    Well, there are seven people in the drawing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spacexdragon.jpg

    They cannot be serious. Perhaps they plan to launch midgets. You plan to pin US HSL on this? And sooner, huh? NASA won’t even release commercial manned spacecraft requirements until the end of 2011 at the earliest, at which point commercial detailed design might begin. You can thank the current NSSA administration for that delay. Compare this to Orion which has already passed a priliminary design review, and its carrier rocket test launched. You cannot argue that there is any schedule benefit in this madness.

  • abreakingwind ignorantly blathered:

    Perhaps they plan to launch midgets.

    It’s quite a large vehicle. I assume that it’s designed for 95th percentile men and women.

    NASA won’t even release commercial manned spacecraft requirements until the end of 2011 at the earliest, at which point commercial detailed design might begin.

    Dragon design is essentially complete, and it was designed to existing NASA human-rating standards. Ken Bowersox (astronaut) is head of Safety and Mission Assurance for the company. All that need be done is to develop the escape system, and add life support, which Paragon is working on.

    Compare this to Orion which has already passed a priliminary design review, and its carrier rocket test launched.

    Ares I has not been test launched, and is not expected to be for years. It hasn’t even passed PDR. Please stop broadcasting your ignorance.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    there are three possibilities

    the first is that Musk will make use of the people who were going to ride on the “midgetman” vehicle. So called because it used “midgets” (the preferred term now is “small people”. T his would be great because everything else (life support etc) go down.

    The second is that Whittington is correct and the Chinese are every where, indeed Musk is acting as a stand in for them and is REALLY designing the vehicle to help the Creator foresaken Reds take over the ISS (Imagine docking with 7 on board “SURPRISE” wow the guys/gals on the station are overwhelmed in an instant)

    The third is that Simberg is correct and the seats are set up for average American body types and you dont know what you are talking about.

    As much as Simberg is off to lunch with is birther and other things…he is frankly most likely correct here (well he actually is because I have sat in one of the seats)…

    but the first two are there for the conspiracy angle.

    (sorry couldnt resist, nice Sunday afternoon, took the youngest daughter out for an afternoon in the sun! )

    Robert G. Oler

  • As much as Simberg is off to lunch with is birther

    I’m not a birther. Stop making stuff up about me.

    This kind of thing is why you are one of the undistinguished tiny number of people who have been banned from commenting at my blog.

  • I have no respect for Shelby, whatsoever, but find it curious no one is treating his voiced concerns as genuine. He says he distrusts commercial providers here because they don’t have the capability to safely launch our astronauts. However, we all suspect — correctly, I believe — that his real motivation is MSFC jobs and funding.

    It seems all of the politicians in this game are pandering to someone or something, instead of expressing their true opinions on these issues. It would be nice to hear some straight talking for a change.

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://discover.sonystyle.com/rocket/?XID=O:ProjectReport:Gawker_Gawker_corp_display

    this is how you get kids excited about space…

    Thanks to Keith C and his On Orbit

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    man hug

    Robert

  • amightywind

    My point is Dragon’s close pack arrangement seems inappropriate for even a space station crew rotation. Orion is a much more serious design with more volume supporting a crew for weeks or months at a time. If SpaceX has a more serious design I’d like to see it. The clock is ticking.

    As for birthers, Obama could clear the whole matter up by publishing a decent, notorised birth certificate.

  • abreakingwind wrote: My point is Dragon’s close pack arrangement seems inappropriate for even a space station crew rotation. Orion is a much more serious design with more volume supporting a crew for weeks or months at a time.

    There is no requirement for Dragon to support a crew for weeks or months at a time. It only has to deliver crew to ISS, and that can be done in a day or so. Orion would have no realistic capability to do that, either. It would require a separate large inflatable habitat for deep space missions. Orion would be able to get crew to the moon and back, which was its only requirement. But please, continue to flaunt your ignorance.

    Robert, I don’t want a hug. I want you to stop spinning fantasies about me.

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “It would require a separate large inflatable habitat for deep space missions.”

    Hmm. Instructing the ignorant is enjoyable, particularly when they are arrogant as well.

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/Orion/OrionToolKit/

    Read the white paper. There is no mention of an inflatable habitat. Perhaps you are one of those who dotes on Bigelow as well as SpaceX. The Orion seems to be a versatile craft. It is too bad Obama will trash more than 5 years of work to repay a political donor.

  • abreakingwind had more brain flatulence:

    Read the white paper. There is no mention of an inflatable habitat.

    That’s a marketing web site, not a technical paper. Not that you’d know the difference. No one is going to live in an Orion capsule for months. Even if it gets built. Even ignoring the lack of facilities, and the lack of elbow room (the crew would kill each other), it has no radiation protection for that duration in deep space.

    Perhaps you are one of those who dotes on Bigelow as well as SpaceX.

    I don’t care who builds it. I’m just describing technical reality, something with which you are obviously unacquainted. Not to mention a conspiracy loon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    As for birthers, Obama could clear the whole matter up by publishing a decent, notorised birth certificate.

    this is so easy. Obama doesnt have to. He has satisfied the only people who have standing in this…the appropriate people in the US Senate and the US Secretary of State.

    After that he has no responsibilities to show his birth certificate or anything else but the “bird” to the rest of you people who demand to see it because he is black.

    now back to space.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Habitat Hermit wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    It doesn’t seem like one can do much with politicians in the US since they have no shame at all, can one sue them out of office?..

    with much more viciousness and amplified by Fox News mindless drones the GOP is acting much as the Dems did in the 1981-85 era. They could not believe that Reagan (who they thought horrible things about) had beaten them, continued to beat them and the party had no leaders and no ideas.

    the GOP is there now. Shelby is just being a drone.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Marcell, the company name is SpaceX.. please, what’s your problem? If we all start calling you Mar-cell would you like it?

  • Bennett

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 25th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    That’s the perfect response.

    Thanks.

  • Coastal Ron

    For those that think of the Orion as an interplanetary spacecraft, you are sorely lacking in imagination.

    Orion and the Constellation program represent the concept of “disposable space systems”, in which for each new mission, you have to launch everything you’ll need for that mission, and they are only used once. Also, in trying to be multi-talented, compromises have to be accommodated, and you end up with systems that don’t do anything very well.

    I like the new NASA space plan because it starts us on the path to reusable space systems – true spacecraft that work only in space, and are specialized for the task they perform. To do this requires infrastructure to be built, which takes a while, but in the end you have the potential to do more, with less planning, for a lower mission cost.

    Today NASA is viewed as a series of “Programs”. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Constellation are good examples. Programs are nice from the standpoint of being focused on a result, but they are also focused on specialized systems that pass along few common parts to the next generation.

    The Space Shuttle and the ISS are multipurpose space systems. The last Hubble servicing mission is a good example of how a reusable asset can be re-tasked – we didn’t have to a new Space Shuttle, we just put together the needed tools and sent a reusable Space Shuttle to a different place in space. If you want new capabilities on the ISS, you send it up in the next supply mission, or if need be, build a new module – no need to build a whole new ISS.

    With multiple crew launch companies, fuel depots, space tugs, and modular spacecraft systems, doing exploration in our local area (Earth, Moon, etc.) doesn’t need to be a 10 year project, and we can do more of them at the same time. This also gives us a good starting point for building spacecraft that go BEO.

    Some people have pointed out that “If you don’t like the new NASA space plan, just wait until the next President”. As long as we are dependent on “Programs”, they are right. “Programs” can be cancelled for good reasons or political whim, but industries are more durable, especially if there are multiple sources of revenue. Right now the commercial space industry is trying to evolve to a higher level of capability, and NASA (with COTS like contracts) is in a great position to help.

    I think we all want a large and vibrant commercial space industry (I would love to stay in a Bigelow lunar hotel), so why not now?

  • Aggelos

    the first humans to the moon will go again with Apollo like capsule…more modern ofcourse

  • Aggelos, or by transporter in 2081.

  • amightywind

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “the GOP is there now. Shelby is just being a drone.”

    I guess you don’t look at the polls. You might well be calling him Chairman Shelby in January. He is not a drone, he is one who believes like many of us that President Bush’s plan gives us ‘Apollo on steroids’, Garver/Holdren/Obama would give us ‘Gemini on a hunger strike’.

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote

    “That’s a marketing web site, not a technical paper. Not that you’d know the difference.”

    Yes, you’re right this

    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/ssc/Orion/Toolkit/LMOrionWhitePaperforAugustineCommittee6.25.09.pdf

    was just some marketing literature for those simpletons on the Augustine committee. (Rolls eyes) If ya want the real technical stuff, head over to spacex.com.

  • Edward Ellegood wrote:

    It seems all of the politicians in this game are pandering to someone or something, instead of expressing their true opinions on these issues. It would be nice to hear some straight talking for a change.

    Which has been my frequent criticism, both here and on SpaceKSC.com.

    It’s all about pandering for votes. What’s best for the country doesn’t seem to be an issue for them.

    Right now I’m reading Challenger: A Major Malfunction by Malcolm McConnell. A golden oldie, to be sure, but it certainly reveals just how much politics has poisoned NASA.

    The idea of scattering space centers across the country to get Congressional support for NASA was a good idea in the 1960s when ludicrous funding was needed for the holy war against the Russians. But now it’s the big albatross around NASA’s neck.

    If nothing else, Obama’s proposal to commercialize LEO access might help with the narcissistic attitude of Congress.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Aggelos wrote @ April 26th, 2010 at 6:49 am

    the first humans to the moon will go again ..

    what? The first humans…go again..

    sorry doesnt work for me Robert G. Oler

  • Aggelos

    I mean the next humans to the moon will go probably by chemical fuels..and probably by a orion style vehicle.. with vasimr etc its too much time and the other alternative is with a stop to a langrange station to catch a lander previously put there..

    anyone believe that we will go with nuclear power or electric to the moon for some decades ahead?

  • Almightywind:

    “Compare this to Orion which has already passed a priliminary design review, and its carrier rocket test launched. You cannot argue that there is any schedule benefit in this madness.”

    Orion passed a partial PDR that has had it’s scope limited over and over again. It’s easy to pass a test when everytime you get something wrong, they cut it out of the exam. As for a full PDR, that hasn’t happened yet. Falcon 9/Dragon, on the other hand actually have passed a PDR some time ago, and they didn’t need to ask for exemptions to do it. As for Ares I-X, I feel like a broken record, but Ares I-X is not Ares-I. We no more tested Orion’s carrier rocket that day than Musk has tested Falcon 9 by launching Falcon 1. The difference is the last estimate I saw for Ares 1 full up test was sometime in 2015 at the earliest. Falcon 9 will be launching a full vehicle with a largely complete capsule in just a few weeks. Sucess or not, we’ll see Falcon 9 tested before the next shuttle mission.

    “The Orion seems to be a versatile craft.”

    Versatile enough to be capable of repeatedly downgrading to meet the needs of the increasingly anemic Ares I, sure. That said, Orion has never been the problem. I’d love to see it used as a full crew transport. And I’d love to see multiple versions, Lite, Lunar and Deep Space. But if it’s on top of Ares I, we won’t see it at all.

    “He is not a drone, he is one who believes like many of us that President Bush’s plan gives us ‘Apollo on steroids’, Garver/Holdren/Obama would give us ‘Gemini on a hunger strike’.”

    Bush underfunded the heck out of Cx. Steroids were the only thing they were feeding it. And it showed. The once inspiring VSE with bases on the moon and six month missions by 2015 was successively reduced to maybe 2-week sorties in 2025 at the earliest. We were all willing to wait when we were told they were building sustainable infrastructure to stay on the Moon long-term. But as of January 2010 we were repeating Apollo almost exactly and were on a trajectory to faling short of even that. Suddenly even Bush’s rosy 8-year promise seems uninspiring. 22+ years for the same ‘ol same ‘ol is just absurdity. Obama’s proposing we actually fund the plan. But even then I have my doubts, which is why I’m all for handing it over to commercial. I’m sick of grand propositions that suffer from budget attrition until they fade away.

  • Bennett

    It’s eye opening to look at a delta-v chart. Once you get something up to GEO or GTO the amount of thrust required to achieve lunar orbit or the lagrangian points is relatively small. Since drag isn’t an issue a Bigelow Hab (or 2) could easily serve as a tourist “cruise ship” from the ISS to where ever.

  • And for the Shelby defenders out there, I’d like some evidence that he’s ever backed up anything he’s said. I see a lot of “the Chinese are coming” and doom and gloom about the prospects of commercial flight, but I’ve never seen anything substantive from him. Flag-waving is great for those already on your team, but it doesn’t win new converts.

  • amightywind

    Bennet wrote:

    “It’s eye opening to look at a delta-v chart. Once you get something up to GEO or GTO ”

    Thanks the trick isn’t it.?There is a fair difference in energy required to launch to GTO or TLI. The Ares V high energy second stage is just what is required. We could be building it now. Obama wants to wait until unicorns can do it.

  • abreakingwind foolishly opined:

    The Ares V high energy second stage is just what is required.

    There are much more cost effective ways to do it. The new plan starts to develop them.

  • headscratcher

    “while plans to end Constellation will have impacts on the Marshall Space Flight Center, that will be partially, if not completely, offset by other work there”

    I must have missed the offset part in the budget request, where did that happen for MSFC? Last I looked at the numbers MSFC was taking a major cut even with the new programs.

    Neither Delta nor Atlas are at MSFC.

    Cancelling large contracts of any kind and re-competing new contracts is typically an 18-24 month process in my experience. How is that partially offsetting? It may be offset by the next administration, but very few of us can put our lives on hold for that long.

  • amightywind

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “There are much more cost effective ways to do it. The new plan starts to develop them.”

    Really? What would they be? Lay some of that Obamamagic on me.

  • abreakingwind flatulated:

    Really? What would they be? Lay some of that Obamamagic on me.

    It’s not “Obamamagic.” It’s on-orbit infrastructure, refueling, storage, and a competitive market in propellant delivery. These ideas were around long before Obama, and being worked on. Unfortunately, they got derailed by ESAS and Constellation.

  • mark valah

    @ Donald F. Robertson

    Excellent article. I would add an additional detail w.r.t Orbital/Aerojet versus SpaceX: both corporations should be thinking long term, which they do, however, long term implies a more complex restart of production for the NK-33 engine or an updated US or Ru/US or Ru version whereas Elon can build as many engines as he desires (although there was talk about building a larger one as well).

  • Vladislaw

    “Bush underfunded the heck out of Cx. Steroids were the only thing they were feeding it. And it showed. The once inspiring VSE with bases on the moon and six month missions by 2015″

    I agree, President Bush did not provide enough to fund the Cx, but he DID provide enough funds for the VSE. Griffin just chose to totally ignore the VSE.

    NASA was not supposed to builf an ARES I to begin with. They were specifically ordered not to and were supposed to build a small CEV and launch it on commercial rockets. The gap already would have been closed if Griffin would have upgraded the Atlas V (3 1/2 years) and went with a different Capsule design. The first Block CEV was to do cargo, Block II manned to LEO and the ISS. Block III lunar, Block IV mars.

  • Good catch Vlad. I really try not to confuse VSE with Cx, but every now and again I cross the wires.

    I was inspired by the VSE. I was moderately satisfied with Cx and I defended it while it looked like we weren’t going to be rid of it. Make the best of a bad situation, and all. And I found myself greatly relieved to no longer have to play advocate for it when Obama actually cut it loose. I never thought I’d see the day, but I’m glad I have.

    There are a number of architectures that can do the job better than the Ares I/V system. Some of those are still viable even on a 5 year schedule. Commercial’s on the list as are numerous variants of SD systems. But the make-work jobs program Cx was shaping up to be was just running in place.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    :with much more viciousness and amplified by Fox News mindless drones the GOP is acting much as the Dems did in the 1981-85 era. They could not believe that Reagan (who they thought horrible things about) had beaten them, continued to beat them and the party had no leaders and no ideas.

    the GOP is there now. Shelby is just being a drone.”

    I beg to differ, slightly:

    http://100days.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/filibusters-the-senates-self-inflicted-wound/

    “In the entire 19th century, including the struggle against slavery, fewer than two dozen filibusters were mounted. In F.D.R.’s time, the device was employed exclusively by Southerners to block passage of federal anti-lynching legislation. Between 1933 and the coming of the war, it was attempted only twice. Under Eisenhower and J.F.K., the pattern continued. In the eight years of the Eisenhower administration, only two filibusters were mounted. Under Kennedy there were four. The number more than doubled under Lyndon Johnson, but the primary issue continued to be civil rights. Except for exhibitionists, buffoons and white southerners determined to salvage racial segregation, the filibuster was considered off limits.

    But with the enactment of major civil rights legislation in the 1960s and ’70s, the issue of equality for African-Americans faded from the Senate’s agenda, and the filibuster shed its racist image. Increasingly senators of all ideological persuasions began to consider the filibuster an acceptable weapon. By the time of the Carter and Reagan administrations, the frequency of filibusters had increased to 20 per year. “Filibusters are a necessary evil,” said Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia said in 1988. “They must be tolerated lest the Senate lose its special strength and become a mere appendage to the House of Representatives.” …

    It was during the Clinton years that the dam broke. In the 103rd Congress (1993-1994), 32 filibusters were employed to kill a variety of presidential initiatives ranging from campaign finance reform to grazing fees on federal land. Between 1999 and 2007, the number of Senate filibusters varied between 20 and 37 per session, a bipartisan effort.

    So ingrained has the filibuster become, that in 2005 when Senate Majority Leader William Frist talked about amending the Senate’s rules to ban filibusters on judicial nominations, the move was universally dubbed the “nuclear option,” evoking images of Armageddon and total destruction.

    The routine use of the filibuster as a matter of everyday politics has transformed the Senate’s legislative process from majority rule into minority tyranny. Leaving party affiliation aside, it is now possible for the senators representing the 34 million people who live in the 21 least populous states — a little more than 11 percent of the nation’s population — to nullify the wishes of the representatives of the remaining 88 percent of Americans.” …

    “In 1917, with two-thirds of the Senate having been elected by popular vote, the first dilution of the absolute authority of the filibuster was achieved. The Senate adopted Rule 22 to permit cloture to be imposed (limiting debate) if two-thirds of the Senate agreed. The Times wrote, “It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the new rule, both in measures of immediate interest and on the general course of legislation.”

    But invoking cloture proved difficult. Between 1919 and 1960, 23 attempts to close off debate were mounted, and only four were successful. In 1975, Rule 22 was amended to allow 60 senators, three-fifths of the Senate, to close off debate. The results have been better, but not markedly so. In the 108th Congress (2003-2004), cloture was attempted 49 times and was successful only12. What is more disheartening is the growing frequency with which the filibuster has been resorted to. In the most recent Congress, 112 filibusters were mounted, and 51 were successful.”

    ————-

    Sorry for the extensive quotes but was rather a large article. The point is, comparing 20 filibusters per year against Reagan to 112 per year by the republicans against Obama is a paradigm shift and is taking the “party of no” into totally uncharted waters.

    I honestly wonder if the Republicans remember that “pay back is a bitch”. do they not understand the ground they are sowing? The next time they gain power, they believe they are going to get anything done?

  • amightywind

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “taking the “party of no” ”

    That would be the party of “hell no!”. Seeing that the liberals would need 67 votes to change the Senate rules we all can look forward to the filibuster for another 200 years. With Obama assaulting the constitution like a spider monkey on acid, it is a blessing to have some built in institutional restraint.

  • I honestly wonder if the Republicans remember that “pay back is a bitch”. do they not understand the ground they are sowing?

    This is getting OT, but I honestly wonder why you ignore the filibusters against George W. Bush.

    The Founders didn’t want to make it easy to pass legislation. The Senate was always viewed as the saucer into which the hot tea of the House would be poured to allow to cool.

  • Vladislaw

    Rand, I do not ignore the peak fillibusters against President Bush, I believe it was 56 over a session/year or maybe 28 per year, I do not recall offhand. Still not anywhere close to what President Obama has had to deal with.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Vladislaw wrote @ April 26th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I dont disagree with anything you wrote. In my evaluation I was trying to be “kind” and not start a political back and forth on something other then space. I’ll tie this to that.

    The failure of the GOP since Reagan (or bush the old) is to recognize that the world is changing, things which worked in the cold war environment (where the GOP prevailed in doctrine) no longer work or even make sense today. The space effort to simply go back to the Moon is one such flaw in thinking.

    Indeed what has happened with the GOP is that it has slowly but surely been captured by people who dont want ANY change in response to circumstances other then what was tried in the 80′s (or earlier) and some dont even want that.

    This is why slowly but surely the party has become the voice of the older white more rural then not folks with the only serious “youth” being the Bible bangers who are sort of longing for some theocracy form of government. To these people (Mark Whittington) it is very important that a few NASA astronauts go back to the Moon. Oh Whittington claims “I want to settle the Moon” but his rhetoric here is self informing. That might be what he wants, but the vehicle to demonstrate that is a big government chest thumping program.

    This is why the GOP has almost no membership from any minority group, why it is strongest in rural less educated areas and is growing old.

    The politicians in power have responded to this, by their actions. It is just simply to obstruct. The ones who have ideas (like Rubio in FL) have them so extreme that they couldnt get to 50.1 percent of public opinion if they had to.

    The Dems have their own problems; but there is a reason why since Mr. Carter the only President to actually balance the budget was a Dem..and it was not the GOP congress. If it had been a “GOP congress” then Mr. Bush’s spending would not have gone out of control.

    The “cow” that use to sustain all this was free enterprise. The problem is that under the last eight years of the GOP free enterprise on a large scale lost all sense of its responsibility to the nation; it was “get it while you can” and the federal government could nt seem to try and stop that. Both the GOP and Dems have had this nutty trade aspect with China that is killing us…

    We are I think coming to an interesting series of elections where we are going to see as a nation where the hard choices are and which way we want to go to face them. My guess is that the GOP’s presentations are going to be more of “Make the nation more like Mississippi” and the Dems are going to be “make the nation more like Mass”. see how this works out

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    “Between 1999 and 2007, the number of Senate filibusters varied between 20 and 37 per session, a bipartisan effort. “

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 26th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    The Founders didn’t want to make it easy to pass legislation. The Senate was always viewed as the saucer into which the hot tea of the House would be poured to allow to cool…..

    The last sentence is correct, the first is not.

    the Founders did not have super majorities in mind for passing simple legislation. They did not have the filibuster. The founders envisioned simple majorities for passing legislation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Still not anywhere close to what President Obama has had to deal with.

    So what is the right number? Maybe President Obama has had to deal with a lot more because he has a much more aggressive, radical agenda and (unlike Bush) he’s been unwilling to reach across the aisle?

  • amightywind

    http://dvice.com/archives/2010/04/rogue-nasa-mana.php

    The insurrection has started. The rank and file at NASA can sense weakness and lack of political support for Garver’s program as they fight to keep Ares alive! Fight fiercely Jeff Hanley.

  • The Dems have their own problems; but there is a reason why since Mr. Carter the only President to actually balance the budget was a Dem..and it was not the GOP congress. If it had been a “GOP congress” then Mr. Bush’s spending would not have gone out of control.

    It’s the combination of a GOP congress with a Dem president. Off topic again, though.

  • amightywind, let the purges begin.

  • Grenville Wilson

    amighywind: Stop trolling.

    Getting back to space – someone mentioned using a Bigelow inflatable to cruise to the moon. I once read something about how doing the same with the ISS would be impossible as the structure couldn’t handle it. A BA-330 wouldn’t have that problem due to its relatively simple shape, right?

  • I spent quite some time today in the local library looking through editions of Florida Today published in the days before and after President Bush’s January 14, 2004 speech in which he cancelled Shuttle and proposed what we’ve come to know as Constellation.

    Click here to read the article on SpaceKSC.com.

    My main interest was to see if anyone whined or complained about the potential job loss, and whether anyone complained about relying on the Russians to get to ISS.

    The answer, as I suspected, was no.

    But I did find one interesting revelation.

    NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe appeared on January 28, 2004 before a Senate committee to discuss Bush’s proposal. The criticisms he received were eerily similar to what Charlie Bolden faced in the first days after releasing Obama’s proposal. The main complaint was the lack of detail.

    I found this passage:

    Lawmakers … asked O’Keefe to explain what would happen to thousands of government and civilian workers dedicated to the shuttle program once the reusable space planes are retired in 2010, as called for in the Bush initiative.

    “We’ll have to work out those challenges at that time,” he said.

    And there it was. The job meter had started running, everyone knew it, yet no one was willing to do anything about it.

    Another article reported that O’Keefe had met with U.S. astronauts in Houston the week before, and informed them he was considering shifting over ISS crew flights from Shuttle to Soyuz. The article cited astronaut Michael Foale, at the time the ISS commander, as saying he preferred Soyuz to Shuttle because the Russian craft had an escape system.

    Keep in mind this was one year after the loss of Columbia.

    Several articles warned that Bush’s proposal would wind up siphoning money from other NASA programs to pay for Constellation, and that also turned out to be true.

  • Vladislaw

    Rand wrote:

    “So what is the right number? Maybe President Obama has had to deal with a lot more because he has a much more aggressive, radical agenda and (unlike Bush) he’s been unwilling to reach across the aisle?”

    Okay Rand you win, the republicans are the saints and guardians and it is all the fault of the devil incarnate liberals and their policies as led by President Obama.

  • Bennett

    Picked up on Twitter, the Presentations from the Presidential Space Summit at Kennedy Space Center.

    Some great flow charts. This is what maybe should have been released in a big way around the time of the event. I’ve given some thought to the idea (submitted by one of the regular folks here) that a power point video with lots swooping space ships and impressive vistas showing astronauts fishing on Mars or some such, THAT video should have been playing on a HUGE screen behind the President while he gave his talk.

    What I think is that it would have been just another sharp object thrown back at him by naysayers and political enemies. “What a socialist load of balderdash this is, what utter crap! It’s unrealistic and reeks of Obamanitiative. And although it’s wonderful to think that we could extend humanity’s reach in our solar system, I have to tear these videos a new a-hole because it’s in my short term interest to do so.”

    So, he went with words instead. I can understand the decision.

  • Okay Rand you win, the republicans are the saints and guardians and it is all the fault of the devil incarnate liberals and their policies as led by President Obama.

    How can I “win” when that’s not what I said?

    Answer my question. What is the right number of filibusters, beyond which they are somehow a threat to the polity?

    I think that it’s useful, whichever party is in power, to allow debate on a bill until the issues have been resolved, and if that requires a supermajority to allow (again, for whichever party is in power) that’s AOK with me.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 26th, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I think that it’s useful, whichever party is in power, to allow debate on a bill until the issues have been resolved, and if that requires a supermajority to allow (again, for whichever party is in power) that’s AOK with me…

    that is not the model the founders had in mind.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    That is not the model the founders had in mind.

    The filibuster isn’t in the Constitution.

    Neither side, unfortunately, will eliminate it because they fear one day they’ll be in the minority and will want it to block legislation they don’t like.

  • Neither side, unfortunately, will eliminate it because they fear one day they’ll be in the minority and will want it to block legislation they don’t like.

    Yes, and since most legislation is awful (particularly the stuff passed this session) that’s fine with me.

  • googaw

    As astronaut fans and pork barrel trollers continue to lobby for preposterously expensive bridges to vacuum that will never be funded to completion, the government debt crisis continues to grow. Greece’s debt rating has been reduced to junk bond status and Portugal may follow. Even the United States’ credit rating may be reduced, Moody’s has warned. U.S. federal debt used to be called the “risk free” investment.

  • Grenville Wilson

    Debts an issue, but we’re nowhere near as bad off as our East Asian and European protectorates. And, if worst comes to worst, the country in charge of enforcing debt payment is…us.

    However, if you’re interested in reducing the debt/deficit, NASA should be nowhere near the top. Social Security + Healthcare are the things we need to cut before we even begin to consider looking at NASA.

  • googaw

    That’s what every bureaucrat and contractor says: my budget is small, cut the other guy’s. At the end of the day, Congress has to decide, and nothing makes a more visible target for proving fiscal responsibility than canceling a NASA gigabridge to nowhere.

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