NASA, Other

Augustine in Huntsville; CAGW cheers Constellation’s demise

Norm Augustine wasn’t expecting a warm reception when he spoke at an AIAA luncheon in Huntsville on Monday; in fact, he was expecting “deep concern, even hostility”, the Huntsville Times reports. He reassured the audience that the Marshall Space Flight Center “is going to be having a very big role” no matter what happens with the proposed FY11 NASA budget. Asked about whether he thought NASA should continue with a series of Ares test flights, he begged off: “I don’t really have an opinion,” Augustine said. “It comes down to money.”

One organization that would be perfectly happy with never seeing Ares fly again is Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), who released an “issue brief” about Constellation this week. The document mostly reviews the history of the Vision for Space Exploration and Constellation, from the Vision’s origins in 2004 though the Augustine Committee and NASA FY11 budget request. CAGW backs the White House’s proposal to end Constellation: “The Administration has taken a step in the right direction by proposing to cancel the unsustainable Constellation Program in favor of looking to increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration.”

CAGW also took aim at Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the leading supporters of Constellation, for his effort to put language into a supplemental spending bill restating an existing provision that keeps NASA from terminating Constellation contracts this fiscal year. Noting Shelby’s penchant for earmarks, CAGW states that “it is no surprise that he is abusing the appropriations process by slipping the Constellation program into the emergency spending bill.” (Constellation, it can be argued, isn’t being “slipped into” the bill; the provision is designed to ensure that money already appropriated for Constellation this year is spent on it.) CAGW, though, isn’t fond of spending money in general, or at least on software licenses: the footer of the report includes the line: “You created this PDF from an application that is not licensed to print to novaPDF printer.”

39 comments to Augustine in Huntsville; CAGW cheers Constellation’s demise

  • Robert G. Oler

    What is impressive to me is how many of the pro Constellation people use to be the “anti government waste” GOPers..

    Robert G. Oler

  • GeeSpace

    The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), I believe, is against any federal expenditures for any space activity. Yes. CAGW is for private companies to do space activities but only with their own money. No federal funds to private companies for the purchase of manned and unmanned service to ISS, to companies developing suborbital spaceplanes, or any other payment for space activities.
    I doubt the endorsement from the Citizens Against Government Waste of the Constellation program will benefit in the discussion

  • amightywind

    As I sit and watch the last landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on a picture perfect day in Florida I realize how far we have fallen. We are like squatters in dark ages Rome living next to the ruins of a greater past. We squabble over the marble facades of grand architecture so we can build shacks. 10′s of millions live on the government dole and we can’t afford decent space launch? The end of the shuttle era with no concrete program to follow is a total failure of democrat leadership.

  • Major Tom

    “The Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), I believe, is against any federal expenditures for any space activity.”

    That’s simply not true. If you actually bothered to read their issue brief, you’d see that the CAGW endorses the approach being taken to civil human space exploration in the FY 11 budget:

    “The Administration has taken a step in the right direction by proposing to cancel the unsustainable Constellation Program in favor of looking to increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration. With changes in procurement practices and increased competition driving innovation up and prices down, the United States should finally get its human spaceflight
    efforts back on schedule and within a reasonable budget.”

    Let’s read and comprehend before we comment.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “10’s of millions live on the government dole and we can’t afford decent space launch?”

    Sure, NASA can afford to spend $5 billion per year on Space Shuttle operations. But those operations alone will consume more than half of civil human space flight budget, and they don’t include the billions of dollars needed to bring back the contractor base and certify/upgrade Shuttle systems for years of more flights. If NASA is still flying Shuttle, the human space flight program won’t be able to afford much else beyond ISS operations, and it will be stuck with a vehicle that can still only go to LEO.

    The U.S. has “decent” (more than adequate) — and much more flexible and affordable — launch capabilities in the form of Atlas V and Delta IV, with Falcon 9 and Taurus II coming online. There’s no good reason for the nation’s civil space R&D agency to still be running the nation’s oldest and by far most expensive space trucking business.

    “The end of the shuttle era with no concrete program to follow is a total failure of democrat leadership.”

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why does NASA have a solicitation on the street for commercial crew?

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34159

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why does NASA have a solicitation on the street for missions to demonstrate 30kW-class SEP, in-space cryo transfer and storage, inflatable mission modules, closed loop life support, and aero-assist/aerocapture?

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34126

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why does NASA have a solicitation on the street for development of lunar ISRU, mW-class EP, and a 40kW space nuclear reactor, among other systems?

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34056

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why are big and small companies in the space industry expressing interest in and making partnerships to win these solicitations?

    “Jayne Schnaars, vice president of business development for space exploration at Boeing, reiterated the company’s support for commercial crew development during a panel at a Women in Aerospace (WIA) conference in Washington last week. ‘We want to become the Boeing Commercial Airplanes of commercial space exploration,’ she said.”

    thespacereview.com/article/1633/1

    “XCOR Aerospace and Masten Space Systems, two of the leaders in the New Space sector, have announced a strategic business and technology relationship to pursue jointly the anticipated NASA sponsored unmanned lander projects. These automated lander programs are expected to serve as robotic test beds on Earth, on the lunar surface, Mars, near Earth objects and other interplanetary locales, helping NASA push the boundaries of technology and opening the solar system for future human exploration.”

    spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30887

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why did the GAO just issue a decision that the 13,000 hours of NASA staff time spent to date planning the follow-on program is not unlawful?

    blog.al.com/space-news/2010/05/gao_report_says_nasa_didnt_bre.html

    If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why did the CAGW endorse the follow-on program in the issue brief that was the topic of Mr. Foust’s original post?

    cagw.org/assets/reports/through-the-looking-glass-reports-and-issue-briefs/2010/constellation-5-24-10-with-cover.pdf

    Don’t make stuff up.

    FWIW…

  • GeeSpace

    Major Tom. just to discussion one of your bullet points–”If there’s no concrete follow-on program, then why does NASA have a solicitation on the street for commercial crew”

    This “solicitation” (in a way misnamed) is — ‘This is a request for information only. It is not a procurement commitment Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by NASA to form a binding agreement or contract. NASA is under no obligation to issue a solicitation or to enter into any agreement or award any contract on the basis of this RFI. ‘

    So with this type of information NASA will or will not do anything to develop a commerical crew support program. In all likelihood, NASA will eventually develop some type of program if they get the additional $6 billion over the next five years.

    A lot of us see a generalized program and/or funding source and believes that such a program or funding perfectly matches what we think is the ‘correct’ way to go.

    Unfortunately, sometimes our hopes and dreams are not based on reality.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “So with this type of information NASA will or will not do anything to develop a commerical crew support program. ”

    Yes, that’s true, these solicitations are just RFIs and not actual procurement solicitations. But let’s be fair. Congress has specifically prevented ESMD from starting new projects using the Constellation funds. In fact, it took a legal opinion from the GAO just to counter Senator Shelby’s rant about the study teams that issued these RFIs.

    There isn’t a “concrete follow on program” because Congress has not allowed the establishment of any such program. This are however, abundant plans that are quite exciting. If the agency gets its footing, and control of its money, I think we’ll see some impressive accomplishments.

  • Major Tom

    “In all likelihood, NASA will eventually develop some type of program if they get the additional $6 billion over the next five years.”

    I’m not trying to be mean, but what’s your point? Of course NASA has to have the funding necessary to release the follow-on solicitations to the RFI.

    The earlier poster claimed that there was “no concrete follow-on program”. These solicitations plainly show that NASA does have a “concrete follow-on program” (actually, several).

    “A lot of us see a generalized program…”

    It’s not a “generalized program”. The CCT RFI comes with a 42-page “Commercial Human-Rating Plan”. How much more specific can it get?

    nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid=231308/Commercial%20Human%20Rating%20Plan%20Draft.pdf

    If folks want to debate the merits of the new plan versus the old based on the actual specifics from both sets of programs, go for it. But let’s not make statements out of ignorance about programs being “generalized” when they clearly are not or make up lies about a suppossed lack of a “concrete follow-on program” when there are in fact multiple, very concrete programs moving forward.

    Let’s have a good debate whether NASA’s published commercial human-rating plan checks the right boxes or whether a 40kW nuclear reactor is the right size of demonstration.

    Let’s not have a stupid debate over whether these plans and programs exist at all when they obviously do.

    FWIW…

  • MrEarl

    MT:
    As GeeSpace mentioned about the solicitation for commercial crew, all the other solicitations you mention are Requests For Information.

    XCor and Masten’s business ant technology relationship is for an “anticipated” NASA project. Nothing even close to a concrete program there.

    As for the GAO report it references planning for a program that was done AFTER the budget was announced in February. It’s not a program. Nothing has been announced yet so there is still no program

    The CAGW dose not endorse a program but the cancellation of the Constellation program.

    So in fact there is no concrete follow-on program.

    You are the one who needs to read and better comprehend what you have read.

  • By the way, Rand gets credited in a footnote on the last page for his National Review article.

    I love this line in the conclusion:

    “For the National Review and the Washington Post to agree, something must be seriously off-track.”

  • Of course, there’s a lot of healthy disagreement within the National Review. My piece was in fact a response to an earlier one by Bob Costa bemoaning the new policy.

  • Rand Simberg wrote:

    My piece was in fact a response to an earlier one by Bob Costa bemoaning the new policy.

    Yeah, but Costa didn’t get quoted by CAGW. Neener-neener. :-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34187

    From NASA watch. Jeff Hanley is out

    Robert G. Oler

  • Yeah, but Costa didn’t get quoted by CAGW.

    Well, he didn’t say what they wanted to hear. ;-)

  • Elsewhere, Florida Today reports that Constellation manager Jeff Hanley has been reassigned:

    http://flametrench.flatoday.net/2010/05/nasa-ousts-constellation-program.html

    NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden acknowledged the change when confronted by questions from U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a congressional hearing on human spaceflight this morning.

    “We would replace him with someone who is incredibly competent,” Bolden said.

    I wonder what the context of that statement meant …

  • Rand Simberg wrote:

    Well, he didn’t say what they wanted to hear.

    Which is why Glenn Beck is on Fox News and Keith Olbermann is on MSNBC.

    Off to the movies …

  • Major Tom

    “all the other solicitations you mention are Requests For Information.”

    Combined, those RFIs are scores of pages long covering a dozen or so projects, all with specific technical requirements involving many billions of dollars.

    It may be bad. It may be good. But under what definition is that not a “concrete” program?

    “XCor and Masten’s business ant technology relationship is for an ‘anticipated’ NASA project. Nothing even close to a concrete program there.”

    Yeah, nothing concrete like the definition of the “Terrestrial Free Flyer Test Bed” in the ETDD RFI that XCOR/Masten are teaming to bid on:

    “Terrestrial Free Flyer Test Bed

    A terrestrial free flyer test bed is desired with the following attributes:

    Payload capability of at least 100 kg for a NASA sensor and electronics package in addition to the mass required for the GN&C system and a power storage and distribution system capable of providing 500 W average power for 15 minutes.

    Operational envelope of at least one kilometer in altitude with the capability of translating up to two kilometers laterally between the take off and landing locations.

    Capability of approximating a range of lunar descent and landing trajectories. The reference trajectory is defined in terms of an approach phase with a flight path angle of ~30 degrees, an initial slant range of one kilometer, and a maximum horizontal velocity of 20 m/s followed by a vertical, or near vertical, terminal descent phase beginning at an altitude of ~30 m to 50 m.

    Minimum flight time of 210 seconds while carrying the maximum payload.”

    Duh…

    And it’s XCOR, not XCor.

    Double duh…

    “As for the GAO report it references planning for a program that was done AFTER the budget was announced in February. It’s not a program.”

    If 13,000 NASA workforce hours have not been expended planning a “concrete” program, then what have these NASA civil servants been planning?

    A royal wedding for Prince William?

    Duh…

    “Nothing has been announced yet so there is still no program”

    Nothing expect the three aforementioned solicitations.

    And the heavy lift solicitation:

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34019

    And the robotic precursor solicitation:

    fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=5abf5d261182c876cdb40b330113a877&tab=core&_cview=0

    And a presentation to industry by NASA’s Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems on the FY11 plan and programs:

    nasa.gov/pdf/457412main_EEWS_ANewSpaceEnterprise.pdf

    And presentations to industry by his lieutenants on:

    Heavy Lift
    nasa.gov/pdf/457440main_EEWS_HeavyLiftandPropulsionTechnologies.pdf

    Major Demonstration Missions
    nasa.gov/pdf/457439main_EEWS_FlagshipTechnologyDemonstrations.pdf

    Robotic Precursor Missions
    nasa.gov/pdf/457443main_EEWS_ExplorationsPrecursorRoboticMissions.pdf

    Exploration Technology
    nasa.gov/pdf/457438main_EEWS_EnablingTechnologyDevelopmentandDemonstration.pdf

    and Commercial Crew
    nasa.gov/pdf/457442main_EEWS_CommercialCrew.pdf

    Duh…

    “The CAGW dose not endorse a program but the cancellation of the Constellation program.”

    No, the CAGW explicitly endorses “increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration”, a clear reference to the FY11 plan and programs.

    Duh…

    “So in fact there is no concrete follow-on program. You are the one who needs to read and better comprehend what you have read.”

    Yes, I’m the one who hasn’t read the 42-page “Commercial Human-Rating Plan”. Yes, I’m the one who doesn’t comprehend concrete definitions like 30kW SEP stages or 40kW space-rated nuclear reactors. Yes, I’m the one who didn’t even bother to read to the end of the CAGW issue brief that’s linked at the top of this very thread.

    Oy vey…

    Again, let’s have an intelligent debate about the specifics of the actual plans and programs, not a stupid debate over whether these plans and programs exist at all when they obviously do.

    Sigh…

  • MT, yer da man!

    Let’s see if you get a “response” from your doppelganger “abreakingwind”, er..”mightywind.” LOL

  • Robert G. Oler

    “We would replace him with someone who is incredibly competent,” Bolden said.”

    as I a have said all along to know what Charlie is saying you have to understand “Marine Speak”….when Charlie stood up and said “he is doing what I told him to do”…you knew Hanley was toast. (and he should be).

    What Bolden is saying here is the Marine equivalent of “I have lost confidence in Hanley’s ability to command”…meaning he has not done a very good job…and in that I concur as well.

    To be fair to JH, the bad decisions were made by Griffin…but after that Hanley has refused to focus the program so that it could function inside available resources and meet reasonable dates. The Ares 1X test flight was the worst appropriation of resources (for the value received) that I have seen in a long time. The test flight should either have been cheaper…or not at all. It proved almost nothing consequential and cost 1/2 billion dollars.

    the rest of the program is going along about like that.

    Hanley’s inability to define “risk/cost” or have his staff do it is stunning.

    He is just operating several pay grades to high. Now he can go invent Warp drive. He is lucky at any private company he would be out the door.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 26th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I have found that a day without my “fix” of Glenn Beck is a day without sunshine. About 5 minutes of “lonesome” going on about some subject for which he has a Palinesque understanding of and in tears is nice.

    As for Keith O…I can usually take him for about two segments and thanks to TIVO I have some judge as to which ones

    it is so exciting

    Robert G. Oler

  • “XCor and Masten’s business ant technology relationship is for an ‘anticipated’ NASA project. Nothing even close to a concrete program there.”

    I think this statement misses a critical issue. Even in the absence of actual dollars on the table, XCOR and Masten, companies with not much room to take on projects that stand little chance of happening, are getting together on the project. They certainly believe there’s a good chance at real money there. And given the plain English statements in FY11 about robotic scout missions, and the followup comments from Bolden, et al, as well as the solicitation, I think they’ve got a pretty good case for expecting a funded program to come to fruition.

    If it’s torpedoed, it sure as heck won’t be because Obama wasn’t planning to do it. I think everything we’ve seen is good evidence that he and Bolden plan on going forward once they have funds available. It’ll be because congress has forced our hand and caused us to take the big leap backwards into the spruce goose Cx system.

  • Gary Church

    “CAGW, though, isn’t fond of spending money in general,”

    Not unless it is for the companies they work for.

  • Gary Church

    “the big leap backwards into the spruce goose Cx system.”

    Not fair to use the term torpedoed and spruce goose in the same paragraph like that. When the goose was being built a couple ships a day were going down in the Atlantic- courtesy of German torpedoes. It was a valid response to a threat and only became a political football after that threat was removed.

  • Robert G. Oler

    aremisasling wrote @ May 26th, 2010 at 4:38 pm ..

    excellent point. this is an excellent response to those who say the Obama effort is not “commercial”

    nicely done

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler wrote:

    As for Keith O…I can usually take him for about two segments and thanks to TIVO I have some judge as to which ones

    I’m a Rachel Maddow fan myself … and Stephanie Miller on the radio in the A.M.

  • Gary Church

    So what is this “Church Ship” everyone is talking about? I heard the chinese might be building one.

  • amightywind

    Well, it was a long day enhancing shareholder value, but I’m back…

    Hanley is out in a naked power play. How can Garver and her sock puppet Bolden possibly succeed in their nefarious plans they have to get rid of all opposition. I would do it too. But they are in a fight for their professional life. In a few months time the worm will turn. A GOP congress will be calling for the heads of the current junta. One has only to look at the glum faces and empty press room on the shuttle post flight news conference to see that NASA is horribly divided and utterly moribund.

    As for Minor Tom’s lengthy post. If NASA paper pushing impresses him, he will love this regime.

  • Well, it was a long day enhancing shareholder value

    Hard to believe that you are capable of doing that.

  • Gary Church

    “A GOP congress will be calling for the heads of the current junta.”

    We did the GOP congress thing and they stole till there was nothing left. Never again.

  • Major Tom

    “As for Minor Tom’s lengthy post.”

    Yeah, jabs about other folks’ screennames are so effective when they come from a poster whose screenname is the title of a mockumentary about lame folk music.

    “If NASA paper pushing impresses him, he will love this regime.”

    That “paper pushing” is being performed by the same leadership (Cooke, Guidi, etc.) that ran (and in some cases still run) Constellation.

    Think before you post, genius.

    Ugh…

  • Rhyolite

    I am glad to see CAGW pick up on this.

    Spending taxpayer funds to build a new medium lift launch vehicle, Ares I, from scratch when two medium lift launch vehicles are already in service and a third is in development is a clear example of government waste.

    Spending 10 times as much as was spent developing similarly capable medium lift launch vehicles pushes Ares I into the category of the $600 hammer.

    Ares I deserves a Golden Fleece Award.

  • Gary Church

    The V-22 is my favorite; hard to find anything that holds a candle to that monstrosity. I kind of liked the Ares 1 configuration except that not enough of it was reusable or usable as a wet workshop. But if it is gone, it is gone. Hopefully the money was not a complete waste.

  • DCSCA

    With a weak economy and further economic damage to the Gulf region from the oil spill, there’s no way they’re going to cancel Constellation in an election year with so many jobs in that area already lost. Better to keep’em working and paying taxes than idle and on the dole.

  • Major Tom

    “With a weak economy and further economic damage to the Gulf region from the oil spill, there’s no way they’re going to cancel Constellation in an election year with so many jobs in that area already lost.”

    How many Constellation jobs are on the Louisiana/Alabama coastline?

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    Hmm. Interesting. Don’t you usually start with RFIs before issuing RFPs?

    I had predicted the demise of the CxP management, you know those who thought Congress would protect them… Next: most likely Coats and eventually Shannon. But Shannon at least has Shuttle to terminate. Coats will go back to LMT and lobby for cash on the new Orion-extra-lite vehicle…

    It really is a good idea people to publicly fight your boss. Not sure what management rules you need to learn but yeah go on just go on at least some have nothing to lose. There will be ice melting monitoring to do soon with the new budget.

    Anywho…

  • “Not fair to use the term torpedoed and spruce goose in the same paragraph like that.”

    I hadn’t even noticed the connection in my post. Thanks for the history refresher. I hadn’t meant any offense.

    “nicely done”

    Thanks. I really appreciate that.

    “A GOP congress will be calling for the heads of the current junta.”

    Political buzzwords aside, it aint’ gonna happen. The GOP certainly isn’t positioned to gain the house and the senate is an unlikely win. They will gain ground, for sure, but even the conservative talking class isn’t hanging too much hope on completely taking it back. Furthermore, the recent special elections and primaries have taken a lot of wind out of the sails of the ‘GOP landslide’ theory, if not outright refuted it. The GOP will gian seats, I’m not delusional, but I think they lost enough ground in ’06 and ’08 that the Dems will at least be narrowly in the majority until 2014.

    What’s got me interested is the run to the wings in the primaries. It’s looking like an ideological battle come November. And I think the victor will actually be the party that stays closer to center field. Party loyalists love a purist candidate, but moderates and independants don’t have much of a taste for them. If you don’t believe me, look to see how many national level politicians have been members of a third party. Even the independants are essentially refugees from their caucusing party.

  • Major Tom

    “‘A GOP congress will be calling for the heads of the current junta.’

    Political buzzwords aside, it aint’ gonna happen.”

    If it does happen, it actually reduces the chances for reviving Constellation or extending Shuttle. Getting the deficit under control is one of the handful of major issues upon which Republicans are running. If the Republicans gain control of the House (or Congress) based on promises of deficit reduction, the last thing their leadership is going to want to do is provide a $3-5 billion per year increase to a low priority like the NASA budget, especially for a Constellation program that has been roundly criticized for enormous cost and schedule growth by the GAO, CBO, a blue-ribbon White House panel, and now the CAGW. They’d be massacred by the White House and in the press. The same largely holds true for a few billion per year increase to extend Shuttle operations.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    The Republican leadership wouldn’t be “calling for the heads of the current junta”. They’d be thanking them for taking the bullet.

    FWIW…

  • Gary Church

    “Thanks for the history refresher. I hadn’t meant any offense.”

    None taken at all….you are one of the few who post here who has not insulted, mocked, or called me a liar. Thank you.

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