Congress, NASA

Krafting an alternative plan

Scott Spencer is something of an underdog running for the Democratic nomination for Delaware’s sole House seat against former lieutenant governor John Carney. And Delaware isn’t known for its space industry outside of perhaps ILC Dover. Those items alone, though, aren’t the only things that make curious a letter to President Obama from the candidate about the administration’s space policy. What’s also interesting is who Spencer recruited as a coauthor: Chris Kraft, the legendary former flight director and head of the Johnson Space Center.

In the two-page letter, the two argue that the White House’s new plan for NASA “fails to consider the two principals that have been essential to successful U.S. manned space flight for nearly 50 years – proficiency and redundancy.” They argue that NASA should instead fly the shuttle at least three times a year for an unspecified period, and that “a specific schedule of manned moon missions resume by 2020″. (The letter does not mention Constellation, Ares, or Orion by name.) How much extra it would cost to continue flying the shuttle while also ramping up the development of Constellation (or some other system) to permit human lunar missions in ten years, and where that money should come from given heightened concerns about budget deficits, isn’t addressed in the letter.

119 comments to Krafting an alternative plan

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is the problem with most of the “alternative” plans….they never have much specificity in terms of money or plans attached to them…and the ones that have had that dont have much in terms of being attached to reality.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Let the real debate NASA now begin, and leave Obama’s leftists out of it. But the endless thrashing of ideas every 4 years is damaging. President Bush laid out the golden path to righteousness in 2004. Everything else is just quibbling.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Well, I’ve always thought it might be the case, but now we have proof

    President Bush laid out the golden path to righteousness in 2004.

    Constellation is a religion.

    BTW, if you ignore the “Obama leftists” – you are ignoring more than half of the population. Obama is gonna get re-elected in 2012.

  • John

    It would be very difficult to extend the shuttle manifest since there are won’t be any assembled external tanks following STS-134 (not counting LON STS-335). I understand that there are partially assembled tanks at Michoud, however the lead time required to complete their assembly is approximately two years.

  • Izuki Nomura

    Putting space plans in terms of left and right is not only laughable but just plain stupid.

  • MrEarl

    Ok, where do I start with this?……
    Jeff, it could be that Scott Spencer is someone who is very interested in NASA and human space flight who just happens to be running for congress. I have no idea how he got Craft involved.

    Robert, you just dismissed ALL alternative plans out of hand. Your one of the few rational people on here but you are just as blind to all other opinions and alternatives as you accuse others to be of the president’s proposal.

    Wind, Your really not helping your cause with posts like that. “the golden path of righteousness”? Get a grip.

    There are a lot of people, well respected in there fields of engineering, astronomy and space flight, that are lined up against this proposal. To completely dismiss their concerns and ignore their advice is exactly what the previous occupant of the White House did on Iraq. Robert, this may be your “WMD sent to Syria” moment that you like to beat “what’s his name” over the head with.

    Just the other day Bolden had to go to JSC to try to put down rebellion from the rank and file, supervisors and project leaders and stifle the media from reporting on it.

    If this team really cared about US human space flight, they would listen to those with much more experience and start to formulate a real plan to move the US beyond low Earth orbit.

  • amightywind wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Leave the Obama leftists out of it?

    What about Alan Grayson? Isn’t he much further left than Obama?

    Anyway, check out this April 15th video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtbgfthlKCM

    I am not saying I agree with Alan Grayson, however, I am saying he certainly qualifies as being on the left.

    = = =

    The big picture remains the same. No one in the Senate and no one in the House (except Dana Rohrabacher) is willing to vocally advocate in favor of the President’s position.

  • Gee… how many letters to the president have we seen in favor of this Obama space disaster? Of course- Obama doesn’t read any of these… his way is the only way, his way is the best way, he knows what is best for us… let us now all sing the Obama song…. what?…. they don’t have a song yet? Doesn’t every great dictator have a song? They’d better get on that one. Oh, and don’t worry about the 2012 election either… Obama will proclaim himself “president for life” later this summer- I’m sure Oler and Valyn along with most of the mainstream media will happily go along with that.

  • amightywind

    Izuki Nomura wrote

    “Putting space plans in terms of left and right is not only laughable but just plain stupid.”

    What planet are you from? Seems to me a place site called ‘space politics’ is entirely appropriate for a partisan debate. Allocating budget resources is necessarily political. Think of NASA as a branch of the military and Obamaspace as unilateral disarmament,

  • amightywind

    Max Peck wrote

    “…they don’t have a song yet?”

    They do!

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80760932/

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/24/lyrics-songs-president-obama/

    Song 1:
    Mm, mmm, mm!
    Barack Hussein Obama

    He said that all must lend a hand
    To make this country strong again
    Mmm, mmm, mm!
    Barack Hussein Obama

    He said we must be fair today
    Equal work means equal pay
    Mmm, mmm, mm!
    Barack Hussein Obama

    He said that we must take a stand
    To make sure everyone gets a chance
    Mmm, mmm, mm!
    Barack Hussein Obama

    He said red, yellow, black or white
    All are equal in his sight
    Mmm, mmm, mm!
    Barack Hussein Obama

    Yes!
    Mmm, mmm, mm
    Barack Hussein Obama

  • @ Max Peck

    I predict Obama will go along with whatever plan emerges from Congress, if that plan has solid support within Congress.

    April 15th made it clear Obama won’t alter his original FY2011 proposal. Therefore, the burden is now on Capitol Hill to draft a NASA funding bill that can win solid support on both sides of the aisle and then inform the President as to what has been decided.

    Perhaps NASA will be the venue for a rare display of Congressional bi-partisanship.

    And that would be good for NASA, as a plan that emerges from Congress rather than is imposed on Congress has a far better chance of being politically sustainable over multiple Presidential Administrations.

  • I am not saying I agree with Alan Grayson, however, I am saying he certainly qualifies as being on the left.

    I don’t know about that, but he certainly qualifies as a major league sphincter.

  • Bennett

    Max Peck wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    —- crickets —–

  • Kerns Valero

    So what if there is a two year lead time for external tanks – keep the shuttles flight ready untill then. This would at least create a backup until a new lauch system is available – if ever.

  • Here is a link to the budget details that implements the compromise plan called out in this letter.

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

    The fundamental policy achievements of which are described in this Space Review article.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1571/1

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “How much extra it would cost to continue flying the shuttle while also ramping up the development of Constellation (or some other system) to permit human lunar missions in ten years, and where that money should come from given heightened concerns about budget deficits, isn’t addressed in the letter.”

    Repealing health care reform would free up several trillion dollars. Just a thought.

    I also wonder what universe Ferris is living in. Has he not seen the polls? True, Obama could turn things around by heading for the center, but will he?

  • Vladislaw

    “If this team really cared about US human space flight, they would listen to those with much more experience and start to formulate a real plan to move the US beyond low Earth orbit.”

    They are trying to break the status quo and tear DOWN the way NASA does things. Some of that “experience” is what we are fighting against. A plan HAS been formulated. NASA is no longer in the launch business … period. Now it is time for management to be part of the solution and not a continued part of the problem.

  • Vladislaw

    I really do not understand all the surprise about this direction. It was exactly what President Bush called for to happen.

    “NASA will rely on existing or new commercial cargo transport systems, as well as international partner cargo transport systems. NASA does not plan to develop new launch vehicle capabilities except where critical NASA needs—such as heavy lift—are not met by commercial or military systems.

    Depending on future human mission designs, NASA could decide to develop or acquire a heavy lift vehicle later this decade. Such a vehicle could be derived from elements of the Space Shuttle, existing commercial launch vehicles, or new designs.

    In the days of the Apollo program, human exploration systems employed expendable, single-use vehicles requiring large ground crews and careful monitoring. For future, sustainable exploration programs, NASA requires cost-effective vehicles that may be reused, have systems that could be applied to more than one destination, and are highly reliable and need only small ground crews.”

    SMALL ground crews, no more standing army waiting to launch. It was always the plan for NASA to down size on the launch side and move to reusable, space based vehicles that can be “applied to more than one destination”. Sure sounds like it was supposed to be commercial and a flexible path to me. Exactly what we have now, except for not doing the lunar landing. Something the POR has not been funding anyway.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Robert, you just dismissed ALL alternative plans out of hand. Your one of the few rational people on here but you are just as blind to all other opinions and alternatives as you accuse others to be of the president’s proposal. ..

    I do dismiss all the proposals I have heard so far. I always listen to alternatives…but for any alternate plan I have the same three criteria as I have for the “main plan”.

    The first is “what is the purpose of it”
    The second is “is that purpose something that moves The Republic forward in its ability to operate in space”
    The third is “are the numbers sound”.

    A subpart of “three” is “do they fit in any sort of budget”

    We could have Whittington’s theory of repealing health care and freeing up trillions which is just fantasy land…Nelson has a theory that there is another 1 billion (or so) out there that can be appropriate (much more in the real world then Mark) but Nelson’s plan doesnt have a clue what we would do with more Ares test other then to test.

    You may not like Obama’s plan; but at least in its outline form it meets all three goals. No it doesnt say “we are on the Moon by 20XX or 2XXX take your pick) but it does have a focus, that focus changes space travel in The Republic and it works on the numbers.

    Come up with an alternative plan that does that and we can debate.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    a plan which has completely faded from discussion

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Stephen Metschan wrote:

    “Here is a link to the budget details that implements the compromise plan called out in this letter.”

    One of the things that opened the door to the Obamaspace visigoths was the damaging civil war between Ares and Direct. The insurrection was managed poorly by MIke Griffin. Had a compromise on Ares I design been made and NASA engineers were unified in the approach, Garver and Holdren would have had less of a wedge to propose their unicorns.

  • Vladislaw

    breaking wind wrote:

    “Had a compromise on Ares I design been”

    Yes, if Griffin would have went back to the VSE and put a capsule on an a commercial EELV it would have closed the gap and freed up a ton of money.

  • Coastal Ron

    Since we’re on the Space Politics website, this is how I interpret the two sides of the new space plan debate:

    Constellation advocates like big government programs, and do not believe the free market (aka commercial space) is capable of doing anything as good as the government. They are also OK with not having a permanent destination in space (like the ISS), and are content with “Just Visiting” being the U.S. Space Program motto. Low cost access to space is not important to them.

    Advocates for the new NASA plan think that Constellation as a program did not promote the permanent expansion of people into space. They want the ISS to stay in orbit as a destination, which keeps our astronaut corp active. Finally, they believe that U.S. taxpayers can afford more activity in space by transitioning routine activities like LEO launch to the commercial sector – low cost access to space is a high priority, as is redundancy.

  • Bennett

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks! I’ve copied that to notepad for pasting into other debates on this topic. I’ll give you credit.

  • John Malkin

    @Ron Said

    “Constellation advocates like big government programs, and do not believe the free market (aka commercial space) is capable of doing anything as good as the government.”

    (Isn’t that Communism? I think I actually miss Ronald Reagan.)

    What is stopping Lockheed and ATK from competing in the “Free” market for NASA/US Taxpayer dollars?

  • Vladislaw -

    It is very far from clear whether an EELV based lunar program would be less expensive than a Jupiter (DIRECT) based lunar program.

    Especially if both architectures used depots to leverage their missions.

    Also — IIRC — there are detailed trade studies of EELV & DIRECT done by qualified contractors that can answer this question however such documents are not in the public domain.

  • Q: Griffin’s Constellation or FY 2011 as presented February 1st?

    A: Neither

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    There are a lot of people, well respected in there fields of engineering, astronomy and space flight, that are lined up against this proposal. To completely dismiss their concerns and ignore their advice is exactly what the previous occupant of the White House did on Iraq. Robert, this may be your “WMD sent to Syria” moment that you like to beat “what’s his name” over the head with. ..

    The question is, and I think that this is good fodder for debate…is what should a human spaceflight effort accomplish?

    The Apollo model strikes me as goal oriented, robust and yet a singularity only valid while the external (from space) reason for it existed.

    There is an argument by many that this model should continue and yet it is hard to understand why or how it continues when there is no external Apollo reason for it.

    What we were dealing with with the WMD Was an absolute fact. IE a claim that Saddam was going to use the WMD against our friends and enemies if we did not do regime change. That should have been a claim that could be evaluated against the known evidence (Ie he either had the WMD or did not)

    I dont see such a stark division of events here. The best that can be evaluated is “feelings” about which direction the program should go

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Malkin

    Didn’t George Walker Bush indirectly “invent/endorse” Commercial Space via COTS? I would say X Prize and COTS has been more successful than Constellation to date. Oh yea, the Air Force and China has been more successful than Constellation too. If we are only counting newly developed orbital spacecraft.

    IBM had to change their business model after Dell, Bill Gates and Jobs changed the playing field so will big Aerospace after the likes of Bigelow, SpaceX, Scaled Composites and others.

  • MrEarl

    I wrote:
    “If this team really cared about US human space flight, they would listen to those with much more experience and start to formulate a real plan to move the US beyond low Earth orbit.”
    Vlad Responded:
    “They are trying to break the status quo and tear DOWN the way NASA does things. Some of that “experience” is what we are fighting against. A plan HAS been formulated. NASA is no longer in the launch business … period.”

    Tearing down what took this nation 50 years to build to take NASA out of the launch business may be a plan but it’s ill-conceived and dose nothing to move the nation beyond LEO.

    Robert:
    You want to see NASA turned into a strictly R&D agency.
    The first two “criteria” are very subjective. It’s ironic that in your next post you dismiss the Direct proposal out of hand.
    I would be interested if you would explain how the president’s budget fits your three criteria.

  • Kraft and Spencer are exactly right. We were already spending $8.4 billion a year in manned spaceflight related activities in 2009 ($3 billion for the space shuttle, $2 billion for the ISS, and $3.4 billion for the Constellation program). So it would be easy to continue to operate the space shuttle at $3 billion a year. The President raised NASA spending an additional $2 billion a year above the 2009 level on average over the next 5 years. And it looks like Congress may add an additional $700 million a year to that number.

    Even if you subtract the $2 billion a year for the ISS , the $1.2 billion a year in money for private commercial manned spaceflight development and the $600 million a year for the robotic precursor program, that would still leave NASA with $4.3 billion a year in extra funds for new spacecraft development ($21.5 billion over the next 5 years and $41 billion over the next 10 years). That’s plenty of money to fund the development of a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle, EDS stage, a Dreamchaser type of space plane and single stage lunar lander before the end of the decade. Plenty!

    And an extended space shuttle program could be used to help prepare for beyond LEO missions by deploying cheap Bigelow space stations in an orbit more appropriate for manned space launches from American soil. This would be mutually beneficial for both NASA and a private US space station building company.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    The best that can be evaluated is “feelings” about which direction the program should go

    I agree that form should follow function and therefore we need to state WHY we wish to fund human spaceflight with US tax dollars. I see the following alternatives being argued for:

    (1) Some advocates of FY2011 believe this proposal will facilitate radical reductions in the cost of LEO access. I support that objective but I do not believe FY2011 will do much, if anything, to get us from point A to point B.

    IMHO, FY2011 will not lead us to radically low cost LEO access no matter how much NewSpace advocates wish that it would.

    (2) Some advocates of FY2011 believe we are currently spending too much on human spaceflight and need to re-prioritize to robotic exploration and Earth observation.

    I do not agree with this however it is not an unreasonable position to present to Congress.

    (3) Some want Constellation to continue.

    Not fiscally feasible, IMHO.

    (4) Some want shuttle derived (sidemount or inline)

    That would be me. Sidemount or inline? Administrator Bolden has an HLV study (not fully released IIRC) that provides insight on that.

    (5) Shuttle extension?

    Maybe, especially if NASA cannot credibly demonstrate that there are other assured avenues for providing ISS sufficient logistical support until at least 2020.

  • Why do I support DIRECT?

    Because I believe Ross Tierney is spot on, here, and I desire that the United States maintain a robust program of human spaceflight:

    If I were you, gentle reader, I would seriously spend some time asking yourself the question “WHY” the President is trying to ignore this option [DIRECT] so vociferously. This is a shell game IMHO. To me it appears to start with the removal of NASA’s existing political support base by burning all the Senators and House reps who fight for NASA’s budget every year.

    Where will that leave us?

    If you deliberately remove all reason (jobs) for the key dozen-or-so members of Congress to continue to fight for NASA’s budget in both Authorizations and Appropriations rounds, next year’s budget fight — in a really tough economy — isn’t just going to be difficult…

    If this is allowed to continue, I expect a $5 billion cut to NASA’s top-line budget within 2 years — and that will really scr*w everyone — including Space-X & OSC.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I would be interested if you would explain how the president’s budget fits your three criteria…..

    So I wrote:

    The first is “what is the purpose of it”
    The second is “is that purpose something that moves The Republic forward in its ability to operate in space”
    The third is “are the numbers sound”….

    The purpose of the new plan is to engage in R&D in technologies which can change substantially how spaceflight is done in the US. It is very unlikely that on their own commercial space providers will develop space refueling depots…or the VASIMER

    and yet some versions of those and others are like thinking about turbojets when everyone else is designing airplanes with props.

    Unless astronauts return to the Moon and stumble on TMA-1 it is unlikely that anything that they will do (if the station is any guide) will have value above those two technologies.

    Are the numbers sound…? They seem to be in terms of cost.

    I dont see the purpose of continued “human” exploration

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I ignore DIRECT for two reasons

    First I dont see that DIRECT has valid numbers and two I dont see that exploration with human spaceflight has a lot of value.

    as for the money going away…I agree that we are in tough budget environments and it is going to get worse, but I dont see a program (Constellation or DIRECT) that have no reason for existence as surviving in it.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Well, there you are.
    I would think that the president’s plan is supported mostly be people that, “dont see that exploration with human spaceflight has a lot of value.”
    That would be the only way I see that people would support such a budget.

  • Robert G. Oler wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    First, I don’t see that DIRECT has valid numbers

    I am not in a position to argue this point myself.

    However, others claim credible sources have independently verified DIRECT’S numbers and therefore I must rely upon OMB, GAO, Congress and NASA to judge.

    Thus far (as far as I can tell) NASA has dodged answering directly whether the DIRECT numbers add up.

    Two, I don’t see that exploration with human spaceflight has a lot of value.

    Fair enough.

    As I written before, I believe this is a credible and arguable position I simply disagree with. For now, I am willing to support spending ~$8 billion or ~$9 billion or ~$10 billion in tax dollars per year on human spaceflight. Maybe even more. Provided we actually go somewhere.

    However, I also desire that we (as a species) seek non-taxpayer sourced revenue streams for human spaceflight. I believe this will necessarily include two components:

    1) Media, marketing/advertising, sponsorships and tourism shall constitute the close to all of the potential non-taxpayer sourced revenue for human spaceflight for the immediate future; and

    2) This must be done for a global market as I do not believe the U.S. economy – by itself – is large enough to support robust privately funded humans spaceflight.

    My novel and my L2 Cup idea (Dragon, Soyuz & Shenzou race to/from EML-2 NASCAR style) are intended to illustrate these points.

    = = =

    Also, I am now reading Jeffrey Manber’s new book, Selling Peace, and it is very interesting.

    http://jeffreymanber.com/?page_id=15

  • Derrick

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 11:35 am …

    You forgot to use the term “Obamaspace” somewhere in there Mark.

  • common sense

    I think some here ought to go to Congress or even say on TV and chant their desire to stop the health care reform or to increase funding for a failed HSF plan just so that they can dream, yes dream or rather fantasize about some lunar landing someday. And that the VSE came out of righteousness?!?! This is “partisan” politics??? Really? What kind of political party adheres to any of that rumbling nonsensical rethoric? Oh wait don’t answer. I think I know. Still it’d be fun to watch. Please do it we all need a little fun these days.

  • Vladislaw

    MrEarl wrote:

    “Tearing down what took this nation 50 years to build to take NASA out of the launch business may be a plan but it’s ill-conceived and dose nothing to move the nation beyond LEO. ”

    Not tearing down, taking out, just like NASA utilizes all forms of transportation and is not involved with designing, developing, building, operating of trains, planes and automobiles. NASA proves the concept then pushes it into the private sector then buys the service as a turn key, off the shelf product. You know, like we buy seats from Russia now.

    Then it is ill conceived that NASA astronauts are allowed to drive cars that NASA has not designed and developed? Trains? Planes?

    It is a TRANSPORTATION issue. If NASA gets to cut 10,000 launch operation jobs and frees up a billion
    + dollars. How many astronuats can get to LEO at 20 million a seat?

    Bill White wrote:

    “(1) Some advocates of FY2011 believe this proposal will facilitate radical reductions in the cost of LEO access. I support that objective but I do not believe FY2011 will do much, if anything, to get us from point A to point B.

    IMHO, FY2011 will not lead us to radically low cost LEO access no matter how much NewSpace advocates wish that it would.”

    I agree, it will depend on Russia and whoever domestically starts launching humans that NASA will accept riding with. If it is SpaceX or LM/Boeing I would imagine they would price their seats at just under what Russia is selling for. So 50-54 million a seat.

    I believe Russia will increase to 60 million+ per seat in 2012 trying to maximize their monopoly returns until a domestic provider comes online.

    After that I believe Russia’s government will subsidize their 30% stake in soyuz so they can undercut the U.S. domestic provider. You will need 2-3 domestic providers to see it come down. Unless the first provider drops their price down to marginal costs to help restrict another entry into the market.

    We have went around on Direct, I still think it boils down to which launch system will use a work force most productively. Would NASA run the same amount of employees or would they pad it to save jobs? Will it cost NASA 200 million a month for Direct if they launch or not?

  • We have went around on Direct, I still think it boils down to which launch system will use a work force most productively.

    Agreed.

    However Vlad neither you nor I have access to the people and analytic tools needed to answer this question with rigor. NASA does have access to the people who can analyze such questions with rigor and as far as I can tell, NASA has never directly rejected or refuted the numbers being touted by the DIRECT team. Administrator Bolden is also refusing to give that data to Congress calling it “pre-decisional” materials.

    I also submit that reliance on a “gut sense” that EELV would be cheaper than DIRECT would be faith based engineering.

    That being said, including COTS and commercial crew to ISS as a component of a balanced NASA plan is something I strongly support. Give commercial a seat (or two or three) at the table? Absolutely yes. Just not the entire table.

  • I also submit that reliance on a “gut sense” that EELV would be cheaper than DIRECT would be faith based engineering.

    EELV is developed. DIRECT is not. EELV is cheaper.

  • Perhaps, Rand, perhaps.

    All I am saying is that EELV advocates and DIRECT advocates need to let Congress (and OMB and GAO) look under those respective hoods.

    Do you have a problem with that?

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Cost numbers for EELV came out of the Aerospace Corp. for the Augustine Committee at the very leas, not to mention earlier studies by the contractors on CEV Phase I. Jupiter would have to beat these costs to be competitive or would have to provide a unique capability based on sound requirements.

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/361835main_08%20-%20ULA%20%201.0_Augustine_Public_6_17_09_final_R1.pdf

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/361836main_09%20-%20EELV%20Considerations%20c%20Aerospace%20HSF.pdf

  • My understanding is that the Augustine Commission did not evaluate the Jupiter 130 and while the Bolden HLV study did evaluate the Jupiter 130 that study is being called “pre-decisional” and is not being released.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I did not say they evaluated it, I said that DIRECT would have to beat the costs of EELV and/or have a unique capability based on sound requirements. Ability to bring xyz mT to orbit is not a sound requirement. A sound requirement is based on a mission statement that does not exist today.

  • All that matters now is what Congress does.

    If Congress coalesces around an alternative to FY2011 (as presented on February 1st and confirmed on April 15th) and that alternative wins a large number of votes, I predict Obama will acquiesce. Why would he fight?

    If Congress fails to coalesce around an alternative, then FY2011 (as presented on February 1st and confirmed on April 15th) will likely become law.

    However, a plan that is imposed on Congress rather than emerges from Congress will be less politically sustainable over time and under that scenario, Robert Oler’s suggestion that human spaceflight be significantly curtailed will be the probable result.

  • PS — Many in Congress seem to desire that lunar return be included in NASA’s current mission statement.

  • common sense

    @Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:49 pm:

    And by Congress you mean all of Congress I assume? Not TX, FL, and AL only. There is a simple result if Congress asks to go the current Constellation route: HSF will disappear. I know doom and gloom. There already is a compromise somehow and it is to keep Orion as a CRV, that will keep the workforce going for a while. Note that Orion as a CRV will eventually be replaced with something else AND will never make it beyond the docking port of the ISS.

    Also, if Congress “fails” to coalesce then they cannot claim the plan was “imposed” on Congress. All they can claim is that they yet again failed at something. And that regardless of my opinion on what should be done.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Lunar return is included in the Flex-Path option that this plan is currently following… As an option. Lunar return is a fantasy today and tomorrow. But Congress is well know for funding fantasies so…

  • common sense wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Yes, all of Congress. :-)

    The question may be how much deference is shown to Congress-critters from FL, TX, AL plus CO & CA & others by Congress-critters from elsewhere.

    Anyway, my continuing position remains that for our species to become spacefaring we must locate and harness revenue streams that are not dependent upon fickle governments.

    I do support the facilitation of privately owned Bigelow LEO facilities sooner rather than later and I would like to see Dragons race Soyuz and Shenzou to and from EML-2 funded by beer commercials and sports energy drinks and clothing with hoity-toity logos and I am skeptical about FY2011 helping us achieve this vision.

    I am fearful that FY2011 (as it currently exists) would also cause our more promising NewSpace companies to be assimilated into the NASA-Borg collective.

    Also, putting SpaceX center stage isn’t the wisest course since the occasional failure is simultaneously normal and hard to explain to FOX News anchors looking for scalps.

  • amightywind

    Bill White wrote:

    Also, putting SpaceX center stage isn’t the wisest course since the occasional failure is simultaneously normal and hard to explain to FOX News anchors looking for scalps.

    Like ‘em or hate ‘em, next months launch of Falcon 9 will be high stakes. A catastrophic failure will be the end of Obamaspace. Success, and the Obamaspace junta (Musk, Garver, Holdren) will have more credibility and in a better position to fight the grizzlies in the Senate .

  • It’s insane to expect the first flight of a brand new launch vehicle to be successful. One can hope for it, but it shouldn’t be expected.

  • ISSvet

    Of the space states, CA, VA, MD, and OH are all winners under the new budget. CO has been bought off and FL will be once they run the numbers. MS is probably a winner. NM will line up with the new plan. The only real holdouts may be UT, TX, and AL. In the end, TX will probably cut a deal. AL will too if they are smart – a big if. UT is hopeless. The nay sayers make a lot of noise, but when Congress considers the numbers, the nay sayers will be out gunned.

    The hidden assumption in this is that Congress gives more credence to actual numbers than to lies and paranoid fantasies. Time will tell.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Like ‘em or hate ‘em, next months launch of Falcon 9 will be high stakes. A catastrophic failure will be the end of Obamaspace.”

    That’s a really simplistic view of things. Actually, a catastrophic failure of Falcon 9 will focus public attention on commercial spaceflight as it has never been focused before. One might expect that commercial spaceflight could well benefit from that attention, and the need for public support of it could well be underscored by a spectacular failure.

    Not saying I want a failure to happen, but if the launch is perfectly successful, some might question the need to shovel public money at it. Validation of such public investment will come after the money is invested. Not before. If you’re just buying commercial launch capability, then I guess you’d like to throw money at a proven system. But if you’re nurturing the development of commercial launch capability, then a single failure means rather little.

    By the same token, the first launches of Delta III and Ariane V were high stakes too. Those were marked by spectacular failures that led to those launch systems (well, Delta III evolved into Delta IV) being huge elements of modern launch capabilities.

  • common sense

    @ Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    “Also, putting SpaceX center stage isn’t the wisest course since the occasional failure is simultaneously normal and hard to explain to FOX News anchors looking for scalps.”

    See in this particular case, only the blogs and the media have put SpaceX center stage. Nobody seems to believe that ULA, Boeing, Orbital, etc are private companies! Yet they all are running after the same prize.

    As for the rest. The reason why we came up with FY2011 for lack of a better name, even though I like Flex-Path, is because Constellation failed, miserably so. It was not supposed to fail. And under O’Keefe there was a private sector role for the whole VSE. It was a much more humble approach than Griffin’s. A spiral approach where you use the technology as it comes online. So to put it bluntly NASA failed on 2 major counts: 1. to make their own system work and 2. to bring in the private sector. The only people that have not yet failed (yet?) so to speak are in the private sector. Therefore the logical course is to give them a chance NOW. And see what happens.

    The NASA Borg issue as you put it is the result of decades of doing nothing. Today we need to start somewhere. I, personnally, hope that NASA will trigger something of a larger than ISS market with COTS/CRS. I also think that Virgin Galactic and the likes are paramount to the success of a viable private space sector. But this is some distance off in the future. How far off depends on how much we want to promote it. If we put $B in a NASA system then we cannot try the private route in a way that makes any sense. NASA just showed it to us, right? And the “not funded enough” argument is moot. NASA will never, NEVER see enough cash to run an ESAS like program. Or our frind in Congress rather than whining and crying should give the cash to NASA for crying out loud! And since they will not this whole Congress thing is only theatrics.

  • Kelly

    The 3 billion a year from the shuttle should go to something greater. I never thought I’d have to disagree with Chris Kraft, but I know I definitely agree with the Kraft Spencer letter on the disatrous scrapping of the moon 2020 goal. Obama had promised to support America’s hsf return to the moon as our nation’s “orderly” next step in space exploration.

    Instead of the ethereal and dangerous mishmash of drawn out flexible path complexities, we’ve got to demand the restoration of the twice Congressionally approved “orderly” moon 2020 goal, the more reachable, great next step that will revolutionize America’s and the world’s view of space exploration.

    A new website is coming up related to that subject.

    http://www.wechoosethemoon.info

  • common sense

    Wow. What the heck is that “Obama had promised to support America’s hsf return to the moon as our nation’s “orderly” next step in space exploration.” and “Congressionally approved “orderly” moon 2020 goal”? Orderly? Please enunciate the various milestones in the “orderly plan. Please provide a budget to match.

    “Instead of the ethereal and dangerous mishmash of drawn out flexible path complexities”

    Instead of the ethereal and dangerous mismash of rethorics we should demand clarity of mind and financial soundness.

  • Ben Joshua

    First, I am an outsider. I remember May 5, 1961 vividly, and designed and flew Estes rockets as a kid. But my life took me in non-space directions. I remain a space enthusiast. As an outsider, should I be commenting on this site?

    Second, thank you to all who maintain and post on this site. It is a unique combination of informed debate on space exploration and its political tie-ins. I gain more insight here (and great links) than from either mainstream space coverage (pretty thin stuff) or sites that are geared toward a single point of view. Even the snark and assertions are thought provoking, and useful.

    Third, when I read alternatives to the FY 2011 plan being discussed, I am sympathetic to those in great pain over big changes – both the changes coming down the pike and those set in motion years ago.

    Fourth, I admit to a bias. I think alternatives should indeed be brought forward, as the FY 2011 plan could certainly be improved upon. But politically and budgetarily, I think alternative proposals should be based on the FY 2011 plan, and build on its baseline.

    Alternatives that start by deleting the FY 2011 plan and starting over, or by harking back to a blank check era with the Soviets breathing down our necks, might feel good to talk about, but really won’t resonate with congressmen and senators from non-HSF districts and states, especially those from states with non-HSF NASA centers and contractors, who have seen their own space activities delayed, de-funded and diverted to pay for HSF.

    Fifth, when the space station first made its bumpy way through congress, I felt there were more effective and elegant station designs out there. But now that it is approaching full capability, I think it is a great resource, and a step forward to utilize it and learn from it through 2020 or 2028, if possible. Dumping it in the ocean would not escape public notice (I can see the editorial cartoons and late night talk show jokes now) and like skylab in an earlier era, its destruction would result in an marked erosion of public support for NASA.

    I do have more pointed views on risk management and on improving the FY 2011 plan, but I will hold those aside for now. I urge folks to consider the possibilities of the plan and how to maximize them, because that is the plan on the table, and is a result not only of current politics and budgets, but of decisions made years ago.

    Thank you again for this great site.

  • red

    amightywind: “President Bush laid out the golden path to righteousness in 2004. Everything else is just quibbling.”

    Well, “golden path to righteousness” is a bit over the top, but I agree with amightywind that Bush did have some good ideas in 2004′s Vision for Space Exploration. It’s too bad that he let Griffin completely ignore and destroy the VSE in 2005, leading straight to the need to put it back in place in 2010 after several wasted years. Some of the parts of the VSE that are being put back in the 2011 NASA budget include (cutting and pasting from the VSE document – you can also see more VSE quotes that show how the 2011 budget follows most of the VSE from Vladislaw):

    “The space missions in this plan require advanced systems and capabilities that will accelerate the development of many critical technologies, including power, computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, communications, networking, robotics, and materials. These technologies underpin and advance the U.S. economy and help ensure national security. NASA plans to work with other government agencies and the private sector to develop space systems that can address national and commercial needs.”

    “NASA plans to invest in a number of new approaches to exploration, such as robotic networks, modular systems, pre-positioned propellants, advanced power and propulsion, and in-space assembly … Other breakthrough technologies, such as nuclear power and propulsion, optical communications, and potential use of space resources, will be demonstrated as part of robotic exploration missions. The challenges of designing these systems will accelerate the development of fundamental technologies that are critical not only to NASA, but also to the Nation’s economic and national security.”

    “NASA will begin its lunar testbed program with a series of robotic missions. The first, an orbiter to confirm and map lunar resources in detail, will launch in 2008. A robotic landing will follow in 2009 to begin demonstrating capabilities for sustainable exploration of the solar system. Additional missions, potentially up to one a year, are planned to demonstrate new capabilities such as robotic networks, reusable planetary landing and launch systems, pre-positioned propellants, and resource extraction.”

    “Pursue commercial opportunities for providing transportation and other services supporting the International Space Station and exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.”

    “Acquire crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, as required, after the Space Shuttle is retired from service”

    “Develop and demonstrate power generation, propulsion, life support, and other key capabilities required to support more distant, more capable, and/or longer duration human and robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations”

    “Implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond”

    “Promote international and commercial participation in exploration to further U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests.”

    “Develop the innovative technologies, knowledge, and infrastructures both to explore and to support decisions about the destinations for human exploration”

  • Strange rhetorics is what Obama’s polished up FP is all about. It was interesting that his great summit merely restated the distressing dates of maybe 2015 for an asterois. It reaffirmed that he wants a shutdown of any major hsf for NASA for 15 years.

    By the way, what sense does this make. There were glitches on the way to the moon, so let’s scrap the whole thing and go to an asteroid and Mars?

    The 6 billion increase mostly for global warming research and the 3 billion from the shuttle can get us back on the path to a powerful goal for our nation’s space program.

  • common sense

    @Kelly wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Man oh man. Constellation is put to rest because it is not financially sound. It cannot be done within budget and schedule. It is put to rest because it serves no, NO, purpose. No “colony” on the Moon, no ISRU, nothing, NOTHING! Why is this so hard to understand. It does not even have a HLV budgetted! how do you plan to go to the Moon twith the POR? When do you plan to go?

    If I have to choose between living on the Moon or here on Earth, I and billions others with me prefer the Earth. This is why there is a budget for “global warming”. Because if everything goes bonkers here on Earth in say the next 50 years, where do you think you will be living? On the Moon? And we’ll move billions of people there too!?

    GET REAL!

  • Ben Joshua, that’s kind of funny wondering if an outsider should comment, if it’s still part of your passion. This is about all of our futures. Its about a nation. And one can’t always trust the “loftiest,” “insider” minds to steer a policy! Look at Weisner’s refusal to ever stop fighting the moon goal for the first hsf program to the moon. ( That’s the only thing that myself and the group here is supporting, restoring the moon goal, as Kraft and Spencer advocated. See the coming website, http://www.wechoosethemoon.info )

    @commonsense April 30th 5:58

    By the way, common, quoting the Obama position paper:

    “Human spaceflight is important to America…Barack Obama will support renewed human exploration beyond low earth orbit. He endorses the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars.”

  • That is, it’s the only thing that I and my colleagues support. Obama’s statement supporting the moon goal are in his position paper is at this link: fladems.com/page/-/Obama_Space.pdf

  • Bennett

    Kelly wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Yeah, but then he got himself elected and had to make some tough decisions. One of them was what to do with the boondoggle called Constellation. So he convened an expert panel, and then took their advice. We, as a nation, are still going to the moon, but not as a one-off grandstand mission in 2030. Please understand, you’re surrounded by folks that want exploration and hsf advancement, and we’ll get that sooner and better with flex path.

    Ben Joshua wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Sir, please stick around and comment whenever you like. I too am an outsider (many here are), and like you I would like to see “the future” of our childhoods become reality.

  • common sense

    @Kelly wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 6:48 pm:

    Kelly, look I “support” a lunar landing, I truly do, I used to work for it, believe it or not. But the POR is not working. NASA cannot do it, not anymore, not with an enormous amount of cash that Congress refuses to give, despite the theatrics. So beyond your support we need you to provide the help necessary to achieve your goal. It is dificult to figure something that might work but first and foremost it must be something that fits within the budget current and future. The several people who looked at the various options (see Augustine Committee) showed that there is no way we can do it with the current budget. Nope. Not the “usual” way anyway. So what do we do now? What is the choice? Forget for a minute the left vs. right rethoric and downright gibberish we read and hear. The problem is “simple”. You have about $10B per year for HSF. The CEV bid by LMT for Orion alone was in the $10B range. That is 1 full year of NASA HSF budget. What is the budget left for everything else? Now you may want to look at historical budget increases for aeronautical programs. I do not have a link and someone may correct me but I believe it ranges anywhere between 50% to 200/300%. Constellation has already flown by those numbers. Today I truly think that we either find a new way to do it or it’ll die. The only (?) new way today again is to promote private entrepreneurs. See if they can come up with something that works within a decent budget. But what does it mean? It means less congressional cash to the usual suspects. It means fixed costs rather than cost-plus. It means to try and live within our means. Why don’t you get a group of supporters to make things right at last? The result will either be a total failure sending HSF to anonimity or success sending anonymous people to space. But success may be longer to achieve. And with this incessant barrage of ill informed people success may in the end never come.

    What do you want?

  • Bennett

    “the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020″

    First, Constellation would never have made this goal. Second, with FY2011 we WILL be close to that goal, just not landing humans at first.

    So which would you prefer? Nothing until maybe 2030, or something by early in the next decade?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I dont see that human exploration in spaceflight has much value…I guess I wish I had added “right now”.

    Exploration unless it is just “because it is there” kind of stuff has to have some connection to the people who pay for it.

    The ultimate “exploration” that this country has done…was Lewis and Clark. If you look at L&C however what you see is exploration that was intimatly connected to The Republic.

    L&C went to explore lands that were under the soverign control of the US. The lands were explored by L&C using off the shelf or almost off the shelf materials which were then available to the American people to follow in their footsteps. The lands were explored to allow the American people to go in their footsteps.

    None of that criteria is met by human exploration of space right now. If we spent 100-200 billion on Constellation we would be in a position when we had spent it where NO ONE or NO GROUP other then NASA could repeat the effort.

    I dont worry much about the sovereignty issue because I think that this can be resolved…but the rest of it. We have spent what 200-300 billion (when all the cost are cranked in) and 30 years trying to put the ISS together…and as it stands right now NO ONE other then the governments that put it together can make any use of it.

    I dont know what L&C cost in current terms (it was expensive) but it was more then paid back by the American expansion west. South Pole exploration cost almost nothing in terms of other major programs (it cost less then Hubble does) so it is almost in the noise of the entire federal budget.

    But not human spaceflight. We spend billions to do it and there should in my view be some return from it. I think eventually Human spaceflight can do that with exploration…but not now

    Robert G. Oler

  • Interesting.

    There’s a question of how much Wallops Island might benefit from the new policy. If it grows into a major launch complex hosting Taurus II for station and Atlas launches for Bigelow, then you would likely have regional benefits the Delmarva Peninsula – Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, probably in that order of value.

  • red

    Marcel: “Even if you subtract the $2 billion a year for the ISS , the $1.2 billion a year in money for private commercial manned spaceflight development and the $600 million a year for the robotic precursor program, that would still leave NASA with $4.3 billion a year in extra funds for new spacecraft development ($21.5 billion over the next 5 years and $41 billion over the next 10 years). That’s plenty of money to fund the development of a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle, EDS stage, a Dreamchaser type of space plane and single stage lunar lander before the end of the decade. Plenty!”

    For argument’s sake, let’s say we have $4.3B/year to work with, and robotic precursors, commercial crew/cargo, and non-HSF items are covered.

    Even the old budget that hardly used the ISS was more than $2B/year — more like $2.5B/year. So … you now have $3.8B/year or so. If we take off another $0.5B/year to actually use the ISS at a reasonable level and add to its capabilities, we’re now down to $3.3B/year. That’s $3B/year for ISS; less than the 2011 budget allocates once Constellation Transition is done. Is the ISS expensive to operate and use? Sure. Nevertheless, I think you’ll have a hard time convincing Congress or the Administration that we should dump it per the Constellation plan, or to hardly use it. If we can get some commercial stations or NASA servicing or exploration assembly nodes up, we might be in better shape to either gradually replace the ISS (after many years) or at least have more affordable support for it. That’s a discussion for far in the future, though. So, we’re down to $3.3B/year.

    We already had a human research program even under Constellation; the new budget boosts spending on it considerably. Let’s say we keep that at $0.2B/year. Now we’re down to $3.1B/year.

    The budget funds Space Communication and Navigation (TDRS, etc). That’s almost $500M/year. Now we’re down to $2.6B/year. There are also other miscellaneous support items. Let’s suppose we keep $0.2B/year of those – a cut. Now we have $2.4B/year.

    The new budget proposes a serious exploration technology demonstration program for capabilities like ISRU, propellant depots, inflatable modules, closed-loop life support, landing technologies, automated rendezvous and docking, EVAs/servicing, and much more. These areas are crucial to our future ability to work in space affordably. I’d prioritize them above the HLV and other items until we succeed with at least some of them, but let’s set aside my prioritization. Let’s suppose we decide we need some of that, but we also need to fund the items you listed. The unfunded exploration technology demonstrations would have to wait for later years, or the demos would have to be scaled down. Let’s cut the out-year exploration technology demonstration budget from over $2B/year to $1B/year. Now you’re down to $1.4B/year.

    Could you do all of the things you listed for $1.4B/year? Even the lowest-cost Shuttle infrastructure maintenance with 2 flights/per year described in recent talks was over $2B/year. That leaves no money to fund any of the exploration items you mentioned, and not enough money to even fly the Shuttle.

    If you’re counting on an extra $700M/year from Congress … well, I wouldn’t count on it. If it comes in, I supposed we could take another look. If you’re counting on the 2011 budget increase, realize that lots of other areas were wiped out or damaged by Constellation, and are put back together in the 2011 budget (for example, there’s a healthy general space technology budget there). I wouldn’t count on “Constellation damage repair” money at all.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bill White wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    However, a plan that is imposed on Congress rather than emerges from Congress will be less politically sustainable over time and under that scenario, Robert Oler’s suggestion that human spaceflight be significantly curtailed will be the probable result…

    I dont agree with your premise on The Congress. Plans which come from the executive have a history of surviving until they simply are non doable. Constellation is a poster child for that.

    Plans which come from The Congress tend to flounder as time goes on.

    I dont suggest that human spaceflight be curtailed. I see a robust future for it. I dont see one for exploration that has no connection with The Republic

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    So which would you prefer? Nothing until maybe 2030, or something by early in the next decade?

    Bennett, neither is acceptable, they’re both too distant subject to collapse. In the collapse everything would be left to commercial. That may indeed may be the ulterior meaning of all the new proposals, but that is definitely unacceptable as well. We need a powerful and more immediate national goal that will have major national stimulation in it’s end. Lovers of space exploration always have dreamt of some form of outpost, of settlement. moon2020 gets it underway, a goal Obama endorsed when he said the moon was the orderly next step. Another reason your options are unacceptable is because many of the ones who sacrificed to bring us the human space exploration age have been waiting to see that same dream I mentioned fulfilled, and the dream fulfilled of America capitalizing on their work that reached the moon, of a NASA lab on the moon. Burt Rutan used the words, “in my lifetime” as well. In the current proposals, many of those who sacrificed will be gone and will never see America return to the moon.

    common sense wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    “…I “support” a lunar landing…
    “The only (?) new way today again is to promote private entrepreneurs

    I agree, Commonsense. Despite various commenters thoughts, I never said PoR or Constellation. We’re beleiving that Spacex will eventually be able to swing it, right? (though they should probably get a lot more funding). I am beleiving it. If it happens, there you go. The NASA/commercial partnership for moon2020 is ready. But with the inexplicable desire to suddely strike down the entire moon2020 language, the Administration would damn the whole thing. President Obama put in the heavy lift program. Now just, please, please just put back moon2020. (p.s. not all of this reflects all the views & opinions of the linked website, http://www.wechoosethemoon.info , though the main points do! )

  • Bennett

    Kelly, I guess I don’t get it. Within the budget parameters and without sacrificing all the future exploration, there isn’t a way to get there.

    That has been laid out in detail in many comments here tonight. SDHLV is only powerpoint, and the cost of the workforce is too expensive to sustain, especially since we don’t need it yet. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we really NEED to do the science and tech development before we spend taxpayer funds to establish a lunar base.

    I vote with the folks who propose using the Augustine Report as a basis for which direction to take, in order to get where we all want to go.

  • ISS funding in 2008 was $1.6 billion and for 2009 it was $2.06 billion. The Obama administration would like to raise ISS spending up to $3.2 billion a year by 2015. But I would cap ISS funding at $2 billion a year. There’s no logical reason to increase funding for the ISS above the $2 billion a year level.

    Developing propellant depots really don’t make economic sense for just one trip to an asteroid 15 years from now and an orbit of Mars 25 years from now. They do, however, make sense if we plan to establish a permanent presence on the Moon. But the Obama administration is against that!

    Manned space travel is never going to be cheap if there are less than ten manned space flights per year. Promoting space tourism is the way to dramatically increase demand. And permanent bases on the Moon would make space tourism even more attractive. But, again, the Obama administration is against establishing bases on the Moon.

    Solar sails are the key to cheaply opening up the rest of the solar system for manned and unmanned space travel for both NASA and commercial industries. If they were launched from the Earth’s Lagrange points (L1, L2, L4, L5), the low delta v requirements would allow multi-kilometer in diameter sails to transport hundreds and even thousands of tonnes of payloads to or from Mars orbit and to the NEO asteroids in less than a year. This would also allow reusable manned interplanetary space craft to be properly shielded from galactic radiation since large light sails would allow us to add the hundreds of tonnes liquid hydrogen or water required to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation.

  • Well okay, Bennett. With the 6 billion increase and more and the retiring of the shuttle and Ares, with other things that could be cut to bring totally world-stopping, world-changing acheivements, with Spacex growing and bringing us us more affordable manned flight. You’re just saying its totally impossible, there’s no way to do it, it can never be done. I’m joining Kraft and others and saying let’s do it by whatever means possible.

    On a nicer note, Bennett, watching the full moon rise Wednesday night I got just transfixed. It brings back such youthful feelings when that happens. And Tuesday night we had a very hazy sky. (jf, not like yesterday, if you’re in town, whew, lot of blowing goin on! i want to write you soon about a couple questions). Also, the hazy sky here on Tuesday night made a huge halo around the near full moon, I had to just pause and take in the sight. Yes, those moments bring back young feelings, feelings of so many young moonlit nights, feelings of one’s first looks through telescopes, and of more moon exploring through the telescope thereafter, and yes, of romance from that moon above. But even better feelings come from gazing at the beautiful moon, like tonight, and thinking of the amazing future there that waits for us to kick start it.

    So c’mon, come over to this side! Let’s go with some of those youthful feelings. Lets start building to one day see that NASA Bigelow mod and then the Bigelow mega dome with the Davinci wing flying. Lets get back to moon2020.

  • Bennett

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    You had me going for a few paragraphs, other than a need to point out that:

    1) “just one trip to an asteroid 15 years from now and an orbit of Mars 25 years from now” is so totally misrepresenting Flex Path and the proposed destinations that one wonders why you would deliberately do so. I know you’re not stupid, so again, why are you misrepresenting the proposed budget?

    2) the Obama administration is NOT against a lunar colony, and no matter how many times you repeat it, it still won’t be true. Despite plans to visit many points of interest before establishing a lunar base, we still get the lunar base, and well before the current PoR would.

    But you really lost me with the light sail stuff. Do you know how many HLV launches it would take to get enough anything up to GTO in order to be in a position to “transport hundreds and even thousands of tonnes of payloads” ???

    Seriously man, even at 50 tonnes at $450 million per launch (that’s from Earth, Mars surface to Mars orbit is a whole ‘nuther challenge!) that’s 9 billion dollars worth of cargo for a what, a small lightsail craft that doesn’t freaking exist yet!!!

    Jesus, let’s just pass the damn budget and watch something actually happen for once.

  • I know you’re not stupid, so again, why are you misrepresenting the proposed budget?

    Well, you sure know something I don’t know, and have never seen any evidence of. The evidence mostly goes the other way.

  • 1. President Obama hasn’t committed himself to building anything in the near future.

    2. In Obama’s own words on April 15th “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”

    3. First off all, under my light sail scenario, we probably won’t be ready to go to Mars until about 15 or 20 years from now (2025 to 2030). But that’s still a lot earlier than Obama’s Mars orbital mission in 2035.

    Secondly, if we want people to travel several months through through interplanetary space, that’s going to require several hundred tonnes of mass shielding even for the smallest vehicles. Liquid hydrogen would be the lightest of all radiation shielding materials. Shipping it from Earth to a Lagrange point using an SD-HLV would probably require at least 20 launches. Water shielding might require three times as many launches! However, the light sails themselves needed to transport such heavy payloads through interplanetary space might weigh less than 100 tonnes if the latest nanocarbon materials are used.

    Of course, since I advocate a philosophy of using extraterrestrial resources, hydrogen or water shielding could always come from the lunar poles and cheaply transported into orbit via hydrogen space cannons or from small NEO asteroids transported to a Lagrange point via small or large light sails (asteroids are about 20% water).

    Under my scenario, light sails destined for Mars would only travel from the Lagrange points to high Mars orbit, minimizing the light sail’s total delta v requirements for a Hohmann transfer. Once in high Mars orbit, simple LOX/LH2 fueled orbital transfer vehicles could transport a Mars landing craft to low Mars orbit for a manned landing on Mars. However, I’d probably establish a permanent space station in Mars orbit first along with oxygen and hydrogen production facilities on Phobos and Deimos before I’d begin placing humans and habitat modules on the surface of Mars.

    So unlike the Obama-Bolden philosophy of briefly going places just to explore and plant flags and then saying “We’ve been there before!”, under my scenario we’d go to Mars and to the moons of Mars to stay just as we should return to the Moon to stay!

  • LOW EARTH ORBIT: WE’VE BEEN THERE ALREADY!!! Let’s NOT send up another station module NOR another astronaut there, ever again!!!

  • Jamey

    “Double-Crossers, Cross-Dressers & Cross-Bashers”

    This would be a super great title for any future book about the Obama regime!

    (For more Obamania, Yahoo “Obama Avoids Bible Verses,” “Obama Supports Public Depravity” and “David Letterman’s Hate, Etc.”)

  • NASA Fan

    Robert Oler wrote: :I don’t suggest that human spaceflight be curtailed. I see a robust future for it. I don’t see one for exploration that has no connection with The Republic.

    Robert, I usually agree with you; however, I think eventually NASA HSF will end. Not sure how, not sure when, not sure by whom; but it has never had a real benefit to the republic to justify its existence. So, when NASA HSF ends, and I am ‘making stuff up here’, do you still see robust future for commercial HSF? And why?

  • red

    Marcel: “ISS funding in 2008 was $1.6 billion and for 2009 it was $2.06 billion. The Obama administration would like to raise ISS spending up to $3.2 billion a year by 2015. But I would cap ISS funding at $2 billion a year. There’s no logical reason to increase funding for the ISS above the $2 billion a year level.”

    My figures aren’t the ISS budget from 2008 or 2009 during construction. I’m talking about future plans for when the ISS is built, and it’s time to really use the ISS. The 2010 budget outlook, before the major changes in the 2011 budget request, was:

    2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
    International Space Station 1,685.5 2,060.2 2,267.0 2,548.2 2,651.6 2,568.9 2,405.9

    These levels were considered by many to be inadequate to maintain the ISS and use it at an appropriate level … so the new budget has an increase. You might disagree with that assessment, but it seems to have a lot of political backing, if nothing else. There’s a lot of political controversy over some aspects of the budget, but not this one. So, to see how your proposed funding wedge for exploration craft would work out, I picked a figure somewhere between the 2010 and 2011 budget outlook for these later years – $3B/year. It, along with the various other items in the budget that I didn’t think you could skip (like communications and navigation), resulted in you not having enough (in my opinion) to implement the items on your list. You could shave off more than I did here and there on those budget items, but I suspect that you still won’t get there.

  • Robert G. Oler

    NASA Fan wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Robert, I usually agree with you; however, I think eventually NASA HSF will end. Not sure how, not sure when, not sure by whom; but it has never had a real benefit to the republic to justify its existence. So, when NASA HSF ends, and I am ‘making stuff up here’, do you still see robust future for commercial HSF? And why?..

    I think that NASA human spaceflight as we know it (ie a program oriented thing that last decades and then doesnt do much) will end. My belief is that NASA has in its current form lasted just about the right amount.

    The question that has to be asked is “what does NASA human spaceflight, in its current form do?”

    The answer is that it preserves a job base and industry that have demonstrated over and over that they have no real commercial application…and now have gotten so expensive that they are almost impossible to afford for the government.

    How I see things going, if nothing changes is that eventually as very hard choices come to get the budget in line, human spaceflight will be one of the first things to go. BUT if we have a few years (ten or so) transition to where there is a commercial interest in human spaceflight AND that begins to take root as a function of the actions of both government and private industry…then at some point I see some agency (maybe NASA ) putting together the “Pieces” and then embarking on some human exploration.

    The question that everyone who supports the program of record has to answer (and usually doesnt) is how long that they think a program that is going to cost about 6 billion a year and HAS ZERO link commercially or otherwise with the rest of The Country…can continue.

    If Human spaceflight exploration were cheap on the line with say South Pole stuff then it could go on forever. Sadly it is not

    I see that at some point as we transition from human spaceflight run by government to one where government is a customer…that the reasons for human spaceflight will continue to grow and so will the activity base…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett wrote @ April 30th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    That was a solid rebuttal from Marcel (May 1st, 2010 at 2:15 am ) to your statement that Obama isn’t against the lunar program and the long dreamt of goal that all space fans have of finally getting a real outpost, some settlement on another world. For those of us who haven’t read the entire volume, can you say why we’re misrepresenting FP as something that’s only going to possibly maybe give us an asteroid in 2025 and maybe possibly perhaps bring something to Mars later (and likely just bring a total shut down of NASA hsf over the years as other commenters are discussing, the likely ulterior motive to the proposals).

    NASA Fan wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 7:30 am….. “I think eventually NASA HSF will end. Not sure how, not sure when, not sure by whom; but it has never had a real benefit to the republic…”

    Wtb?

    Sorry, but why is your handle “NASA Fan?????” I guess we can go back in history on this matter too. Eisenhower regarded manned space flight as something like theatrical stunts. And I had mentioned how Weisner kept fighting hsf all the way through Kennedy’s Administration.

    The answer to all these debates came with resounding finality in ’69 when the entire world stopped to see an event that indeed changed the world forever and (as it says on wechoosethemoon) brought immeasurable advancement and world preeminence to the United States. Rutan said it better about driving awarded stem degrees upwards, just as it drove such interests in our school classrooms as well. But for the value of hsf in energizing and advancing a nation just listen to JFK’s rice speech. If only we had a President now that would take the leap and push our nation forward with a powerful and enrgizing goal as did Kennedy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    do you really think JFK’s speech would resonate today? Robert G. Oler

  • Oh totally, absolutely, Robert. Perhaps it could resonate eternally, he had the power to energize people and the thoughts on adventure, exploration, motivation and reaching heights in the Rice U speech are definitely timeless. And yes, there are those of us who now choose to go to the moon.

  • googaw

    Eisenhower regarded manned space flight as something like theatrical stunts.

    He was and is hardly the only one. A wise man, President Eisenhower was.

  • Perhaps it could resonate eternally, he had the power to energize people and the thoughts on adventure, exploration, motivation and reaching heights in the Rice U speech are definitely timeless.

    It’s only inspiring if you don’t actually think about it. “Because it’s hard” is a dumb reason to do something.

  • Robert G. Oler

    kelly wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Oh totally, absolutely, Robert…

    I dont think it would. The speech was given with the backdrop of Soviet success(s) in space and an American public scared to death of Soviets rockets…

    I dont see that same set of circumstances working now

    Robert G. Oler

  • Rand Simberg wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Rand, then just do things that are easy

  • I guess that won’t give you many challenges thoug.

    Googaw, just stay on the one rock then.

  • Robert…

    William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

    If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred.

    The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

  • Rand, then just do things that are easy

    You miss the point. Doing useful things is often hard, but that’s not the reason to do them. If you can accomplish the same thing in a cheaper, easier manner, why make it harder than necessary?

    William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

    That still doesn’t say that we should do things because they’re hard. It would be hard to move Mt. Whitney from California to Florida, a lot harder than going to the moon. So by your logic, that should have taken a higher priority.

  • Sorry, forgot quote marks. This is quoting from John Kennedy’s words. a little more…. “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?…

    “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

    “The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

    “…And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel…

  • Just a little more… “To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money… Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

    “But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon…a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall…capable of standing heat and stresses…fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch…and then return it safely to earth…causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

    “…I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade… It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

    “Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.”

    “Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it..

    “…and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”

    Uh oh, Robert! There’s another funny thing! “Because it’s there.” Well, other parts of the speech are excellent. I see your point about the backdrop with the Soviets. But still, just the science and exploration parts (and of course the delivery) are all rousing. Could a President declare and an hsf moon goal in more modern times? One did, and (this is one of the things I was going to ask jf about) it carried twice in Congress when different sides of the aisle were controlling. It would be great if Obama came around and shared this type of excitement.

  • googaw

    If you can accomplish the same thing in a cheaper, easier manner, why make it harder than necessary?

    Oh Rand, haven’t you heard? It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs! The more jobs we can create that accomplish less, the more union people that can be employed at the Cape and Houston, the more money going into the politicians’ re-election coffers. Do things more cheaply and easily? That destroys jobs! That ruins election campaigns! Get with the program!

    And my pet project, which we all should be forced to do, is very difficult and awe-inspiring indeed. It can employ as many contractor and union cash contributors as a Senator could ever dream of. Kennedy was a chump. Send humans — only the finest astronauts, no robots or nerds allowed! — on the greatest, grandest heavenly pilgrimage the universe has ever seen, a trip to Alpha Centauri, where they will stop off to refuel, and then they will ascend in a blaze of light to the highest layer of heaven: M81! There our seven insterstellar sojourners in white will recreate the entire earth’s economy from scratch, so that the human race will survive the disasters that will ensue if you do not fund my pet projects which obviously every human being ought to be working to fund to his and her utmost. The big problem with the world is that people are too greedy and shortsighted to spend the trillions needed to make my economic fantasies come true.

    Our heroes need to be launched on the biggest rocket ever made and arrive at their destinations exactly a year before election day 2012 — astronauts bless our union and contract contributors — or the world will be destroyed by greedy humans who would rather buy lipstick and satellite TV than pay taxes for these grand space adventures I dream of that are of the utmost importance to the human race and, best of all, of the utmost difficulty. Colonize the universe by 2012 now!

  • Robert G. Oler

    kelly wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    times in history are different. A lot of people use to compare 9/11 with Pearl Harbor…it wasnt even close.

    The vote on “the vision” was nothing compared to the blank check (more or less) that the Apollo effort got (mostly after JFK’s death).

    The JFK speech was in the context of a difficult international situation and it had the effect/affect of rallying the public toward an effort that was designed to counter that political situation…and it did.

    Bush’s speech could not even rally NASA. That is not Bush fault…but if NASA had gotten as geared up as NASA did in the 60′s…then the entire effort would have been focused on achieving results by a specific date and that would have governed the choices made (just as it did in Apollo where LOR became the operative plan). If the effort then would have had any comparable affect today then Griffin eet al would have figured out how to make things happen with what they had (given that the notions have advanced since 1960) and we would have been on our way. Not launching test rockets at 1/2 billion a pop.

    Sorry, the beauty of the speech never dies, but The Republic has changed.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Well, when I myself listen to JFK’s Rice speech, it moves me, here in the 21st century. It moves me with a passion for exploration and science. You sure are right, though, the republic has changed. But (and I don’t want to defend constellation-ares) I just wish we’d restore the moon2020 language, to get a little nasa base camp up there and see the nation come around to the miracles of space and then see commercial open up and see those davinci wing flyers in the vast bigelow dome :)

  • googaw

    Kelly reminds me of a crucial point, namely the vast economic wealth that follows like a law of physics, as night follows day, from my glorious project which all must fund. The Moon will make us wealthy, but Alpha Centauri will end poverty as we know it. Once our Intrepid Seven set up their base on Alpha Centauri, commerce in the whole near-Sol interstellar region will boom. We will have grand depots, big rockets, magnificent Star Trek replicators in every part of this arm of the Milky Way! You have to invest trillions but trust me it will pay back the investment many times over. Because me and the NASA managers know all about the hidden sources of Helium 3 and Platinum Group Elements in the Alpha Centauri system, and we secretly know how much the world craves Helium 3 even if this leaves peons like you scratching their heads. Trust me, I’m a NASA scientist: Helium 3 will make you rich. These bountiful resources will revolutionize everything because we are not just going to LEO we are going to the stars baby!

    Government must lead the way, because those profiteering private entrepreneurs are too greedy and shortsighted to set up a grand base and depot in the Centauri system without government help. And I mean lots of government help. More jobs than you can imagine. Unemployment will be zero. Congress and NASA management thinks ahead, it sees the future that the rest of us except me are too narrowminded to see, and with Alpha Centauri as our goal government planners will be thinking way way ahead. Government leads, astronauts inspire, and if private enterprise does not want to follow our heroes to the stars they are just a bunch of selfish greedy SOBs!!! But with the wise leaders of the District of Columbia in the lead those profiteering bastards will step into line and invest the trillions we need to make my daydreams come true. Or the human race will die of our own shortsighted consumption of lipstick and satellite TV! You have been warned! Join the greatest adventure of all time! Colonize the universe by 2012 now!

  • Well, when I myself listen to JFK’s Rice speech, it moves me, here in the 21st century. It moves me with a passion for exploration and science.

    That’s because you don’t think about it — you only feel about it. Quoting large portions of the speech doesn’t somehow magically make it make more sense. It remains dumb to do things simply because they are hard.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly wrote @ May 1st, 2010 at 10:44 pm ..

    as I said it is a powerful speech, but speeches are a product of their times and address their times…and other then the prose and the ideas, they dont translate into history with the same power to move events outside their era.

    JFK could come alive today, be President and give the speech and if nothing else had changed, the speech would be a flop (and JFK would for that matter not give it or care all that much about human spaceflight).

    Americans “throw their hat over the wall” almost every day. Marines and Sailors did it in Iraq, emergency response people are doing it right now in Times Square…it is just that spaceflight no longer has the power that it had on that hot summer day at Rice University

    Robert G. Oler

  • Jack

    In my view there is another important element in the speech of JFK, and that is the courage to do something new. Something that has not been done before. Instead of trying to equal what the Russians had done, or only just bettering that, Kennedy set us a much higher goal.

    It seems that today many do not dare to step of the path of the Apollo way of doing things. And many say that commercial HSF to LEO may happen someday, but not now, because we’re not ready yet.
    Well, the same could have been said when president Kennedy gave his speech. Alan Shepard had just made a 15 minute suborbital flight, no more. And yet, Kennedy wanted us to go to the moon.

    What has happened to our spirit? Why do we desperately cling to the old way of doing things and are afraid of doing something new? In this case, a new approach.

    Setting up a more affordable commercial routine access to LEO and creating the ability to travel across our solar system impresses me far more than just focussing on Apollo take II.
    And yes, we may fail. We are taking a risk. It won’t be that easy. It will be hard for some. But if it works it will be very worthwhile and useful.

  • Setting up a more affordable commercial routine access to LEO and creating the ability to travel across our solar system impresses me far more than just focussing on Apollo take II.

    I agree, but we should do it not because it’s hard, or because it’s new, but because it offers much better prospects for progress in space.

  • Jack

    “we should do it not because it’s hard, or because it’s new, but because it offers much better prospects for progress in space.”

    I agree, Rand.

  • Robert G Oler: “[DIRECT] a plan which has completely faded from discussion.” April 30th, 2010

    Yep, I guess your right, it’s been almost a week since it was discussed by Boeing in an AIAA paper prepared for the Space Ops (AIAA-2010-2370-460).

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=20475.1695

    Amightwind: “One of the things that opened the door to the Obamaspace visigoths was the damaging civil war between Ares and Direct. The insurrection was managed poorly by Mike Griffin. Had a compromise on Ares I design been made and NASA engineers were unified in the approach, Garver and Holdren would have had less of a wedge to propose their unicorns.”

    Mike Griffin’s promotion of the Ares-1, first over the objections of the Engineers on the ESAS team, and then throughout the last four years over objections by Engineers at NASA, NASA Grey Beards, and Experienced Contractors, is what has lead to the current problems. That and completely ignoring the Aldridge commission’s recommendation, the letter of the NASA 2005 and 2008 Authorization Acts and an OSTP/Congress divided between those who put their complete trust that Mike wouldn’t lead them astray and those that could care less.

    Blaming the DIRECT team makes about as much sense as blaming the fire department for fires. DIRECT remains even now a viable way to put out the fire caused by too much steroids and not enough Engineering, Budgetary and Political common sense.

    BTW, which side was it that told Congress in 2007 that the Jupiter defied the laws of physics again? An assertion that is not shared by ESAS appendix 6a, the Aerospace Corporation, the Augustine Commission and now Boeing. What a tangled web we weave.

    Concerning the ‘insurrection’ do you mean it was poorly handled in that he didn’t manage to get all the thinking Engineers within NASA removed or that he didn’t listen to his Engineers? Of course both could be true at the same time so consider the question a multiple choice. I mean why should he listen to us lesser engineers when he is clearly the “smartest engineer in the room”?

  • The Man

    While the Boeing presentation is an impressive bit of artwork and physics and engineering approximation and estimation, feel free to SHOW ME THE MONEY, and explain to me where reasons, logistics, flight rates and costs are discussed , let alone any near term payloads for such frankenmonsters.

    Inquiring villagers with torches and pitchforks want to know.

  • The Man,

    The policy is discussed, here

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1571/1

    and a detailed budget that implements that policy is presented, here

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

    Hopefully, both will be reflected in the FY10 Authorization and Appropriation bills shortly.

    Boeing’s paper helps complete the technical portion of the triad (i.e. Technical, Budget, Policy)

    Flight rate is assumed to be 2 Jupiter-130 flights per year between 2015-2020 roughly split between ISS and Beyond LEO missions with the ISS mission dominating early followed by the Beyond LEO missions dominating as we approach 2020.

    Following the completion of the EDS and the International Deep Space Hab 2020 we can do a number of manned Mars precursor missions 2020-2025. Following this would be the propellant depot opening up the roll out of the manned Mars surface missions 2025-2030 time frame. The Moon would be potentially used as resource base and equipment test bed over the entire 2015-2025 time frame.

    Meanwhile we still have a robust advanced technology budget with a run rate of $3 over billion dollars per year in total in the 2015 time frame to feed precursor missions to the Jupiter-130 in the near term and hopefully ‘change’ the game based on our current understanding of how to accomplish the Mars objective above if forced to used existing or near term proven approaches.

    The budget is balanced among Breakthrough R&D (5-20 years out), Adding New Capabilities (under 5 years) and Ongoing Missions (now). We need a balance of all three life cycle phases just like what the Aldridge Commission recommended.

  • The Man

    Flight rate is assumed to be 2 Jupiter-130 flights per year between 2015-2020 roughly split between ISS and Beyond LEO missions with the ISS mission dominating early followed by the Beyond LEO missions dominating as we approach 2020.

    I guess the thousands of civilian space passengers by 2020 thing is off then.

    Ditto profitable space industries, economic and technological development and hundreds of thousands of jobs too I guess. Great job, Stephen et al.!

  • The Man,

    Which tens of thousands of jobs are you referring too? The tens of thousands jobs lost under the PoR or tens of thousands of jobs lost under the Feb 1st proposal?

    The die was cast in the Spring of 2005 when Mike told us that any ESAS result that didn’t include the Ares-1 was a non-answer. Doug Stanley admitted (Nov 2009, AIAA Senate Presentations) that the 2xSDHLV approach was far and way the leading option of ESAS until that little discussion. As result the best option (so good that is still better than any other option even five years later) was conveniently locked away in ESAS Appendix 6a leaving the field to the ugly step sisters, by far the worst of all options.

    And Mike even got a high six figure salary as far as the eye can see out of this little miscarriage of engineering good judgment. IMHO, I think your anger is bit mis-directed, no pun intended.

  • The Man

    Which tens of thousands of jobs are you referring too? The tens of thousands jobs lost under the PoR or tens of thousands of jobs lost under the Feb 1st proposal?

    Actually, I was referring to the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of jobs that would be created by 2020 with a vibrant suborbital and low Earth orbit space flight industry and numerous other industries waiting in the sidelines for lower cost space access enabled by a new direction in US national space policy. But I do know how Mars is so important to space addicts.

    By the way, you Direct fanboys can call me by my other name – ‘Whoever’.

    And I’m not angry at all. It’s was my space policy and I got what I wanted. And I’m certainly intending to fight like hell to keep it – trust me on that.

    Delicious. Simply delicious.

  • The Man, aka whoever

    Are you suggesting that the creation of 100,000 new jobs is possible based on ‘existing’ technology?

  • The Man

    Are you suggesting that the creation of 100,000 new jobs is possible based on ‘existing’ technology?

    No, you are the one trying to save just a few thousand jobs with existing technology at a price (development and operational) ten times the current and anticipated future commercial rates, in a timeframe far beyond anything that can still be considered as reasonable for extrapolating costs.

    As a simple analogy, you are still advocating mainframes when the PC people are blasting past you. It’s far worse than that, you are still proposing building magnetic ferrite memory using discrete logic when we are attempting to move lithography out of the labs and into the fabs. Even modern supercomputers now use microprocessors, or haven’t you noticed.

    Creating jobs with existing technology is easy as well; you either increase demand or lower costs. You and NASA are doing neither, in fact you are proposing the opposite. The commercial space sector is pursuing both.

    The Obama/Holdren/Whoever approach is eminently rational, and we have an awfully deep hole to dig ourselves out of – that you guys created. And we don’t attempt to predict future industries, we are just trying to nurture the ones we have trying to get started, and we do know that future job creating industries will involve both astrophysics and quantum physics at the macro and micro levels, and something in the middle commonly referred to as ‘biology’. You know, the planet and stuff. The planet you live and/or depend on – you and soon to be nine billion other people all trying to squeeze oil and fresh water out of it like a wet decaying sponge.

    Techniques and goals you propose to solve that problem are laughable.

  • Kelly wrote:

    “But for the value of hsf in energizing and advancing a nation just listen to JFK’s rice speech. If only we had a President now that would take the leap and push our nation forward with a powerful and enrgizing goal as did Kennedy.”

    Um, that speech isn’t what you think it is.

    I did some research, which is posted here on my SpaceKSC.com blog.

    The famous so-called “Moon speech” to Congress was actually a long boring speech mainly proposing job programs to get the economy out of a recession. At the end of the speech, one of the many programs he proposed was the Moon program. It was no more than a couple paragraphs. So the speech wasn’t about the Moon, it wasn’t about the space program, it was about creating jobs.

    As for the Rice speech, that was in the context of a Congressional election. The local Congressman was a Democrat who was chair of House committee responsible for the NASA budget. JFK came to Houston to help out the Congressman by justifying for him the huge expense of the Moon program.

    In 2001 a tape was released in which Kennedy said, “I’m not that interested in space” to NASA Administrator James Webb. Kennedy was using NASA for purely partisan political reasons.

    If you look at the National Aeronautics and Space Act, nowhere does it say that NASA is supposed to own its own rockets, fly its own astronauts into space or explore other worlds. NASA was created primarily to push the technological envelope. It was hijacked by JFK for political reasons, and we’ve been paying the price ever since.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Give commercial a seat (or two or three) at the table? Absolutely yes. Just not the entire table.

    In other words give the shuttle people a guaranteed place and let everybody else compete for the crumbs that remain. If the shuttle people want a place at the table they should earn it, just like anybody else. There should be no place for special privileges. The fact that you are arguing for special privileges suggests you know the shuttle stack cannot compete and you have to rig the game to have your favourite team come out on top.

  • The Man,

    I think we are in closer alignment than you think. I’m very supportive of advanced technology development that if successful could lead to the ‘true’ commercialization of space by significantly lowering the entire lifecycle cost. At which point the dominate use of space would be by for profit commercial businesses in which the government becomes just minor (ie 20% or less) customer.

    Unfortunately, ‘commercialization’ has been confused with trying new government contracting methods. An excellent outline of which is discussed in this weeks Space Review article “Looking for a Silver Bullet” by Daniel Handlin.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1619/1#idc-container

    Nothing would make me happier to see something like the Bussard IEC Fusion rocket come into reality (BTW a technology I think should be investigated under the new plan). I would be the first one to man the wrecking ball against any HLV if this technology or some other enabled its cost effective replacement.

    But as an engineer I’m also driven by the practicality of not basing future plans on wishful thinking. As Carl Sagan once said, “The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition”. We may in fact live in a universe where something even remotely close to our science fiction dreams is simply not possible.

    The key in the end is striking a funding balance between existing operations and approaches while attempting to also find new lower cost more effective approaches to the same.

    The PoR represents one extreme in which every dollar plus some is used to scale up existing technology enabling zero funding for advanced technology and new approaches. The Feb 1st plan represents the other extreme in which we scrap everything that works (as expensive as it is) in favor of wishful thinking and chasing rainbows.

    DIRECT attempts to strike a balance between the two extremes currently dominate this debate. The problem is when you attempt to break up a dog fight you are likely to bitten by both dogs.

  • The Man

    I think we are in closer alignment than you think

    Then go for it, because I have already laid the groundwork and foundation for you guys to compete with the rest of us on a very level playing field.

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34019

    Looks like they finally got my memos. Delicious. Simply delicious.

    Nothing would make me happier to see something like the Bussard IEC Fusion rocket come into reality (BTW a technology I think should be investigated under the new plan)

    My suggestion to you is to stay far away from crackpot ideas like that. But it’s too late, you just stuck your foot in your mouth. Good luck with the RFI.

  • The Man,

    Okay, let see if I get this straight, you’re against using existing technologies and you’re against trying to see if truly game changing technologies could work.

    So just how is it you are going to get ‘hundreds’ of thousands of new jobs generated by the Space industry again?

    The RFI specifically ‘requires’ a new Kero/LOX engine of at least a 1 Mlbs which would effectively replace the 9 Merlin 1a engines used to by the Falcon 9 with one engine.

    So the ground rules of this so called ‘competition’ are pre setup to compete the development of domestic RD-180 (ie Atlas) vs needed improvements to the SpaceX Falcon 9. In fact going from nine smaller engines to one may be absolutely critical depending on the whether the significant base heating issues of the Falcon 9 rear their ugly head when they final get around to flying it.

    Overall, despite the fact that the RFI eliminates from consideration all SDHLV options, I could certainly see this leading to a better state of affairs all things considered than the PoR. You must keep in mind though that DIRECT was intended to balance all three forces of technical, budget and politics. Congress has yet to act in this whole debate. Only time will tell just how strong that political force will be ultimately. If they can get their act together they could completely reverse the President’s plan if they wanted to.

    Right now my primary concern is that the anger with how this policy came out and the political force behind the PoR within Congress may be so strong as to actually be able to resurrect the PoR pretty much as is, thereby sucking the life out of the commercial and advanced technology initiatives wisely called out in the President’s budget proposals. A possibility which I think we would both agree is the worst of all possible futures?

    DIRECT retains enough of the PoR technical and political inertia but keeps its budget within bounds by using what we already have thereby enabling both the commercial and advanced technology initiatives room within the overall budget. Politics in the end is the art of possible. Until the Space industry primary customer is not the government politics will be an important force to reconcile with regardless of what the physics and budget tell us engineers to do.

  • [...] “sees a lot of potential” in Falcon 9 and commercial space. Spencer, as you may recall, wrote a letter to President Obama in late April, also signed by former NASA JSC director Chris Kraft, asking for the shuttle program to be extended [...]

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