NASA

Is a circumlunar mission in NASA’s plans?

After being interrupted by a protestor, the rest of NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s speech Friday night was a bit anticlimactic. That was, though, to be expected: it was unlikely the administrator would make any major announcements in a speech in Chicago that wrapped up around 9 pm CDT on a Friday night before a holiday weekend, with hardly any media in the audience. (But then, the White House announced Bolden’s nomination to be administrator early on the Saturday morning of last year’s Memorial Day weekend.)

“It’s actually been kind of a rollercoaster week for us,” Bolden said. “We’ve taken some lumps, and that’s okay. Like I tell people all the time, at least you’re not getting shot at.” The highs of the last week included the success of the STS-132 mission and near-completion of the International Space Station, also noting the award of the Collier Trophy to the ISS program earlier month. He added interesting note about that award: a key endorser of the ISS to the award committee was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “That says a lot about the International Space Station when the chief diplomat of the nation thinks enough to write a letter of recommendation.”

At the other extreme was the hearing Wednesday by the House Science and Technology Committee. “Some very high profile people are not seeing eye-to-eye with the president right now on the president’s new direction,” Bolden said, a reference to testimony in recent hearings from people like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. “But I personally believe the president’s fiscal year 2011 budget and the request that goes with it is good for NASA, because it sets the agency on a sustainable path that’s tightly linked to our nation’s interests.” After some applause, he added, “I also believe what the president has put forward is the most authentically visionary policy for real human space exploration that we have ever had since President Kennedy challenged NASA to send humans to the Moon and return them safely back to Earth in the 1960s.”

Much of what followed was a reiteration of arguments for technology development, commercial crew, and other key aspects of the agency’s proposed new plan. “We get criticized as though these ideas just hatched out of the blue, as if the president somehow disappeared into a bunker and emerged with these ideas that no one has ever conceived of before,” Bolden said. “The truth is, ever since the Apollo era ten national studies across the board, from the post-Apollo space board to Augustine, have identified the kinds of capabilities we would need if we truly intend to get beyond low Earth orbit.” And near the end of his speech: “This is a generational shift, and a big one, but in many ways this isn’t new. The only thing new is that we finally have a president who has proposed a budget with sufficient funding to support his vision.”

The one interesting, and relatively new, idea in his speech is that the first human mission beyond low Earth orbit might in fact be a return to Moon—or, rather, lunar orbit. “We have been criticized the last few months for not having destinations, for not having a timeline. In reality, we’ve always been, and still are, mission driven,” he said. “We plan to fly a crewed circumlunar mission by the early 2020s.” While that’s not the first time the idea that an Apollo 8-style mission might take place, he sounded a lot more definite than in his prepared testimony earlier this week, in which he stated that NASA’s plan for human space exploration starts “with crewed flight tests – perhaps a circumlunar mission – early next decade of vehicles capable of supporting exploration beyond LEO.”

107 comments to Is a circumlunar mission in NASA’s plans?

  • It would be nice if the Constellation huggers would admit that even its most fervent supporters in Congress have failed to propose increasing its budget by one penny this year so it can be finished sooner.

    Which is further proof that Constellation really isn’t a Moon program, it’s a jobs program.

  • Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 10:32 am
    Agreed and worse than that, a means by which the civilian space program would subsidise one of your less pleasant members of the military industrial complex. Does anyone monitor perchlorate levels in the Indian River? Is anyone allowed to fish there??
    Personally I’m holding out for KFBs (Kerolox Flyback Boosters) flying from KSC. Otherwise this Space Cadet will be very disappointed.

    As to the Moon Mission, under the FP that was always a given: Free Lunar return to get the kinks out. Then L1 and L2 with a serious photo-op from the latter. Perhaps a bonus mooch around L-4 and L-5; perhaps we’ll find some rocks there! Perhaps one of them will be big enough for a bootprint! Or a very small flag! Then a major step to SEL1/ 2 and a rendezvous with some of the hardware. Give the old James Webb Mirror a bit of a polish and then… the big leap to 1999 AO10.
    Phobos comes next.
    Meanwhile our ‘Bots will rove, research and rule the Moon!
    What’s not to like?

  • PHILLIP GEORGE

    Fly By by the early 2020..we can do so much better. If Kennedy had proposed a moon flyby by the mid ’70′s what would we saying that it is a good idea??? I do understand that we live in a different time and costs are different..but “promising” something over 10 years in the future and three different Administrations later is whistling in the sand. Promise a moon fly by the late ‘teens and that is something that I can get excited about. I am now 40..I do not want to be promised a moon flyby till I am at least 50!

    At least the Direct Team promises an early Apollo 8 style of mission this decade, if we decide to build a HLV now. When govt. promises that we study HLV for at least another 5 years..then you know all you will get out is other powerpoint studies and nothing being built. :-)

  • Mark R. Whittington

    This is, of course, the ultimate ‘look but don’t touch’ mission. The sad truth is that the current administration, while free with money on things like socialized health care, is very stingy when it comes to space. Hence, no money for a lunar landing or a lunar base. Probably no money for any of these pretend mission either. It’s Lucy with the football.

  • cy

    It is sad to propose the lunar orbit,but no landing, nothing new there. What’s more interesting is the budget request is truly NOT sustainable, everything being proposed will cost much more than they think. The incompetence continues.

  • Ben Joshua

    As I understand the circumlunar missions, they are close-to-home tests of an in-space only, eventually Mars capable vehicle, where a crew can live and operate for a longer term than allowed for by a re-entry capsule.

    Far from a reprise of Apollo 8, this is a qualitatively different mission, testing an entirely new capability – call them shakedown cruises, or proof of concept flights.

  • Vladislaw

    Well if you want the moon in 2017 just write your congressional representatives and tell them NASA should get 4% – 5% of the budget and it will be no problem. Once congress gives NASA that kind of budget they should be able to do all the things you want.

  • Doug Lassiter

    One might wonder whether a circumlunar mission would necessarily be an Apollo 8-type mission. A circuitous mission through and around the Earth-Moon L1 and L2 libration points would be a marvelous new feat, and would prove human space flight capabilities for those remarkably enabling regions. Now, such a mission might well need to be several weeks in length to do it thoroughly, but it would involve a brand new voyage.

    Although the touchy feely folks might not want to settle for anything less then wriggling their toes in the lunar dust, such a mission would conquer one of the “destinations” that has already been defined by the new exploration plan. It occurs to me that the vast majority of milspace is “look but don’t touch”. Those DOD folks sure are stingy!

    Now, an Apollo 8-like mission could be done on a free return trajectory, which would be attractive as a first step into deep space for a risk averse program. Insertion into a libration point orbit would not allow for free-return. But if you want to exercise some sophisticated in-space flight ops, the latter is the way to go.

  • Smokey

    So what are you going to do without a launch vehicle, what’s on the drawing board? Oh, I know! How about an old Soyuz. Isn’t that what will be used to get to the ISS when the shuttle it put to bed permanently?
    You need a vehicle guys. where is it?

  • Robert G. Oler

    I find projections of events 10 years or more away entertaining.

    Imagine its May 2000 (ten years ago).

    the Nation had a surplus in its budget, we were paying down the debt, we were at peace….

    who could have imagined that ten years later today would be today?

    (of course there is that Saturday Night live skit about Bush where everything is in flames!)

    We are sending to Afland people who were not even teenagers in 2000.

    Predicting the future is difficult

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “You need a vehicle guys. where is it?”

    It’s evidently sitting there in the early 2020s, when Bolden said we’d need it.

  • Fred Cink

    Hey Smokey! You are not allowed to ask those kinds of questions, it REALLY upsets the Obama Cheerleaders here. Major Tom will tell you, you made it up, Oler will tell you you’re not enlightened or visionary enough, Vladislaw will tell you there is no money, and besides, EVERYONE knows it’s ALL Bush’s fault.

  • Smokey

    Right on Fred. Constellation huggers out! Tree huggers in!

  • reader

    just write your congressional representatives and tell them NASA should get 4% – 5% of the budget and it will be no problem.

    just give us more money and everything will sort itself out. Honest ! Look at the history, it always has .. er .. wait.

  • reader

    I find projections of events 10 years or more away entertaining.

    Any planning beyond the current administration time line is hogwash and actually sounds arrogant. All NASA leadership in the history has been guilty of it, and they know it. Bolden should know better.

  • reader

    Another pet peeve : what do they actually mean by the word “mission” here ? We are on a mission to fly around a moon ? Wtf. You can have a mission to find life, or just find data or prove new scientific theories. You can be on a mission to seek out NEOs with useful resources, or on a mission to prove out new technologies.

    But “mission” to fly around a moon is not much of a “mission” really.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    From a purely engineering point of view, I think that an uncrewed lunar fly-around is a good way of testing Orion in its “intended environment”. Because the vehicle is on a free-return trajectory, you have only minimal issues about getting the vehicle back. You also get lots of data about the vehicle’s performance through the thermal and ionising radiation of BEO. It also means that you can test the LSS and other equipment without putting crew at risk. You also save the costs of actually flying a crew (training, food and other consumables).

    After that is done, you can carry out a more complex test – the crewed short-duration lunar orbiter. If you can’t do what Apollo 8 did, then you don’t have a BEO system worth the name. It’s a nice low-delta-v mission to test Orion’s propulsive capabilities near enough to the Earth in case of problems. It is even theoretically possible to rescue a crew in the highly unlikely event of a failure on the Orion MPS before ROI.

    Both of these missions should be within the range of the EELV-H/ACES system. If Orion and ACES were fast-tracked, it could be possible to have it ready by Apollo 8′s hemicenteniary in 2018.

    P.S.: Stephen C. Smith – I agree with you 100%

  • Once you’re in lunar orbit, and belchfire rockets are on their way to obsolescence for in-space propulsion, the interesting orbit-to-surface technology is by tether. You don’t need any anchor except the deployer, you rotate the end of it to match cross-surface orbital rate, and you lower your payload to a pure vertical descent to a zero-zero release. Kevlar is strong enough, mass of tether is approx 10 to 20 times mass of deployed (or retrieved) payload. Terminal nav is tricky so special new smarts are needed. You practice, robotically and with crew. You get good at it and you scale up. You learn the hard way to operate automata at VERY cold polar dark-crater-bottom temps (which I think will be a LOT harder to do than commonly expected). And later, when the mission requirements demand it, you send habitat modules down, and eventually, people. By ‘you’, I mean the second-level space semi-powers who don’t want to be out in interplanetary space with our teams.

    The big booster is the schedule driver, as well as the learning curve for applying twenty-first century technology to twenty-first century missions.

    That’s assuming current proposals aren’t actually a “Bolshie plot” (Smiley’s People citation)to doom the US space industry to terminal bickering and shameless porkery. I consider the chances of that to be greater than zero, but how much greater, I can’t tell.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “But “mission” to fly around a moon is not much of a “mission” really.”

    Is that so? Don’t apply for a NASA management position then. It is if you’re trying to validate engineering approaches and demonstrate competence in operations outside of LEO. That’s the mission, and it’s a good one. It’s been a LONG time since we’ve been out that far. The technologies that come to bear are largely different than they were. Go back and review the mission plan for Apollo 8.

    I guess your peeve is equally applicable to landing on the Moon … again. Is there a mission there? More footprints, I guess. Oh, but once we’ve relearned how to make footprints, there might be some useful stuff we could eventually do. I’m not a big fan of humans developing the Moon, but if you’re going to do it, then validating engineering approaches and demonstrating operational competence is essential.

  • richardb

    I think the odds of Congress ignoring ObamaSpace have gotten high enough that the WH is trying to offer some compromises, meaningless, vague offers of course since it’s years after his last day in office. If Congress comes to believe the WH is ignoring the letter of the law on how to handle Constellation, I think we might be surprised at how Congress reacts. For instance I noticed this quote in today’s NYT regarding the handling of Constellation and Hanley:

    “It’s enough for us to be extraordinarily concerned,” said a Congressional staff member, who was authorized to speak only anonymously. “It’s not the smoking gun, but it’s smoking. We just want the inspector general to follow the path and report back to us what he’s finding.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/29/science/space/29nasa.html

    Clearly Congress is now getting ready to settle some scores with the WH. Leaving Congress out of the ObamaSpace incubation was bad enough. Allowing 10′s of thousands of job losses in a election year makes it worse. Ignoring Congressional prerogatives in the process is asking for more trouble than Obama can handle.

    Bolden is right to be concerned that he is losing control of the agenda. He had better come up with better ideas since their ideas are dying in Congress. I think the unthinkable a month ago is now at least 50-50, Obama signs into law around the mid-terms a budget for Nasa fully funding Constellation, another year of Shuttle and none of ObamaSpace. Just because Congress wants to make a point and a continuing resolution isn’t saying it strongly enough.

  • The Obama budget already increases NASA funding by approximately $2 billion a year over the next 5 years over the 2009 budget.

    The newest NASA estimate for developing the Sidemount plus EDS stage is $7.8 billion (that’s a lot less than NASA’s original estimate of $9.4 billion). NASA also estimates that developing a DIRECT-like HLV with an EDS stage and 5-segment boosters is about $10.4 billion.

    NASA’s 2009 Constellation budget was $3.4 billion. You add $2 billion to that annually and it comes to $5.4 billion a year. So the heavy lift component of a lunar architecture is easily affordable.

  • Clearly Congress is now getting ready to settle some scores with the WH.

    Congress doesn’t give a rip. It’s just a few congressmen whose ox is being gored. This is a Democrat congress. It’s not going to “settle scores” with the White House.

    Obama signs into law around the mid-terms a budget for Nasa fully funding Constellation, another year of Shuttle and none of ObamaSpace.

    This is just idiotic wishful thinking.

  • Gary Church

    Brobof, I cannot argue that perchlorate is nasty stuff. But…..there is really only one alternative to SRB’s if you want a powerful first stage and it is not flyback kerolox boosters. This one alternative would definitely work- it was validated by several top think tanks and this was a big surprise at the time considering how “far out” it is. Just saying the name of the project makes peoples eyes roll back in their heads. But I will throw it out there and make this an interesting thread. Ready?

    Sea Dragon.

  • Gary Church

    “This is just idiotic wishful thinking.”

    The monkey crap slinger returns. What’s a matter Rand, got a hangover?

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I agree with you wrt Constellation – the congressional hearings have been pure pork politics. How much money can they save/get for their district (I have no space work in mine, so I can be cynical).

    For those that like the goal of getting to the Moon as the next objective, Constellation was the program to do that. However, Congress and President Bush may have agreed with the program in principle, but didn’t care to fund it properly. Any argument with it’s current state of affairs is with them, not the people saddled with salvaging something out of it’s over-budget/behind-schedule mess.

    I do like the proposed plan, mainly because it keeps us in space with the ISS (POR ended our occupation after 2015), and it provides funding for the basic technology we’re going to need to get back to the Moon and go beyond. There is some faith involved, just as there was when the transcontinental railroad was built. Look around at everyone commenting on these space blogs, and we all want to expand into space – we just don’t agree with where the next goal should be, but we think the U.S. should be expanding into space. I think that enthusiasm justifies the faith.

  • Gary Church

    I agree with you Ron. For once.
    And if anybody would like to see some really great video of SRBs putting up the tons, youtube shuttle launch many cameras and jump ahead a couple minutes to the launch. I despise the shuttle space plane concept but those SRB’s rock. They just need to be 260 inch submarine hulled monster strap-ons instead of those anemic railed in from Utah segmented models.

  • Vladislaw

    richardb wrote

    “Clearly Congress is now getting ready to settle some scores with the WH. Leaving Congress out of the ObamaSpace incubation was bad enough. Allowing 10’s of thousands of job losses in a election year makes it worse.”

    Congress is not a monolithic institution that you seem to paint it. Of 100 Senators it appears the only ones making any noise are ones with NASA jobs, tied to either the Shuttle or the failed Constellation program.

    Of the 435 members and six non voting members of the House of Representatives only about 27 have made any noise, again tied to jobs and spending in their districts. You seem to be operating under the false assumption that space matters. When you look at a pie chart of federal spending, NASA is lucky if it even gets an asterisk at the bottom. It is such a small portion of the budget it is only an after thought to most members of congress, again unless that individual is a space state with a lot of jobs on the line.

    If congress was indeed getting ready to do something Fox noise and MSNBC would be doing their dance with the back and forth. It isn’t happening because it is not much of an issue. It MIGHT become an issue after the last shuttle flight ….. maybe, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  • Gary Church

    From a story by Irene Klotz, june 2009 for discovery.com

    Preliminary NASA studies show that using the existing shuttle’s solid rocket boosters, fuel tank and main engines as a launch system, with some minor modifications, could be the foundation of an alternative launch system to the planned Ares rocket program currently under development.The side-mount shuttle system would be able to launch astronauts to the station or the moon inside Orion capsules, which also are being developed under NASA’s Constellation program.
    The capsules would sit inside a protective shroud that could fly the spacecraft away from the rocket in case of an accident. NASA used a similar escape system on its Apollo capsules and is developing one for Orion. Russian and Chinese crewed spaceships also have launch escape systems.
    The side-mount shuttle would be simplified to cut costs and increase its lift capability. The shuttle’s three hydrogen-fueled main engines, for example, would be not be reused, as they are today. The engines, along with the external tank and solid rocket motors, would be dropped into the ocean during the climb to orbit. Under the current configuration, the shuttle’s main engines are attached to the tails of the orbiters, which make piloted runway landings.
    “Reusability is a myth, in my opinion,” Shannon said, citing the cost of maintaining manufacturing capability, production of single replacement parts and the need for post-flight inspection and engineering assessments.
    A few new pieces of equipment would be needed to transition the shuttle into a new launch vehicle, including development of a payload fairing to protect cargo during launch, and a structure to bolt the main engines on to the fuel tank. It would use the same four-part solid-fuel booster rockets used today, with an upgraded five-segment system envisioned for future heavier-lift vehicles.
    Among the key advantages of the side-mount shuttle is that the flight software, launch facilities, manufacturing capability and 30 years of test flight history are already in hand.
    “The benefits are obvious. We basically have the parts to build everything,” Shannon said.
    The alternative NASA rocket could be ready for testing in about four and a half years at an estimated cost of about $2.6 billion.

  • Gary Church

    It sounds good to me; use a couple RS-68′s instead of SSME’s?
    The one thing I do not like, besides not having a return module for the 2nd stage engines, is it is not a wet workshop. When are we going to stop throwing the most important piece of the vehicle away? It is freak’in HUGE inside that tank. I know there is a problem with the insulation deteriorating in space but It would be nice to do something that would really make a big difference in the way we keep doing manned space; and the wet workshop is and should be that 1st big change.

  • Gary Church

    Oh, and I don’t think reusability is a myth.

  • Gary Church

    From the previous “Shame on you” thread.

    I like monkeys. Except the ones that sling crap. There are a couple of those who post here.

    Seriously…..VERY seriously, this is probably the single most important factor in HSF and it is just glossed over. It is very frustrating when you understand that all these people talking about missions to Mars seem to be completely ignoring the fact that the astronauts are going to be seriously exposed. Add to this the effects of zero gravity and the higher rate of mutation in pathogens in this environment and it becomes a suicide mission. I was very excited when water was discovered on the moon because radiation shield is mass and water makes a good shield; and it is alot easier lifting all those hundreds of tons needed to effectively shield a crew off the moon. Of course the second problem is how do you push all that mass around? The answer also involves radiation in the form on nuclear propulsion. I really wish all these space enthusiasts would understand some basic requirements and stop blabbing about mission BEO using unshielded chemically propelled spacecraft; it is just not going to happen.

  • Gary Church

    That’s four posts in a row and I am taking up almost as much space as Major Tom. Sorry everyone. I am going to a wedding now; I will be so interested to see how this thread turns out. Later.

  • Um, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) specifically cited the side-mounted vehicle design as the fatal flaw which led to the destruction of Columbia, and Challenger too, which is why they recommended the Shuttle program be terminated. It’s the reason why Bush cancelled Shuttle and proposed his VSE, which eventually evolved into Constellation.

    The side-mounted design led to fourteen astronaut deaths. NASA won’t repeat that any time soon.

  • Regarding the circumlunar idea, it makes the cost of the program a lot more affordable than trying to send humans to the surface and back. You have to build a lander, you have to get the humans to the surface, you have to return them, you have to do rendezvous. A lot more hazard, a lot more danger, a lot more equipment to lift which means a more powerful and expensive rocket.

    As many have pointed out over and over again, it’s nutty to think the federal government will spend hundreds of billions of dollars just to get more Moon rocks. We are in an era of trillion-dollar annual deficits for the foreseeable future. Congress will spend that kind of money just to get more Moon rocks. This is not 1961, we are not in a Cold War, there is no national urgency.

    I wish the Constellation huggers would get that into their heads. It’s the reason why Constellation is so far behind schedule, and it’s already gone over budget due to its inability to develop the proper technology. Congress will not give you the money you want. Even its most fervent supporters in Congress have failed to propose adding one penny to Constellation’s budget, which means the sole lunar flight that will come out of Constellation won’t be until 2028 if ever. Your precious publicity stunt is not going to happen, and your wasting tax dollars by insisting this futile jobs program continue.

  • Correction …

    Congress will spend that kind of money just to get more Moon rocks.

    Of course, I meant, Congress will NOT spend that kind of money just to get Moon rocks.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Certainly the saying “make do with what you have” is appropriate in these times.

    Mike Griffin never asked the aerospace community for their input on how to go back to the Moon. Now is the time to open up the floor to new ideas, especially ones that are more near-term than what Constellation would have been, and NASA is starting to do that.

    The ULA ACES proposal is a good start (Google “AIAA 2009-6567″ for the details), and because it’s based on existing hardware, it would be less expensive and quicker to deploy. Compared to Constellation, it would be Faster, Better and Cheaper.

    And I’m not a fan of NASA devoting it’s resources to re-doing Apollo, but any architecture that gets us to & from the Moon would also include components that are usable for robotic lunar exploration, and Lagrange/NEO human missions.

  • Rhyolite

    Circumlunar does not necessarily imply entering lunar orbit. Did Bolden’s comments specifically describe entering lunar orbit?

    If I remember correctly, the Soviets had intended to use Proton to send two cosmonauts on a free return trajectory around the moon in an attempt to upstage Apollo.

    We certainly have a launch capability today in excess of the late 1960s Proton. We could pull off this kind of mission with elements we have on the shelf or in development – no new launch vehicles necessary.

    It might be a good way of demonstrating aerocapture, which would be very useful for future exploration missions.

  • G Clark

    Mr Church:

    I’ll take you more seriously when you answer the questions I have asked of you (twice, if fading memory serves) and cease with the rather childish playground insults.

  • Vladislaw

    Mission Directorate: Space Technology

    Space Technology Research Grants

    Examples of the types of foundational space system research that may be performed through this project include:Computational Materials Design, Nanotube Based Structural Materials, High Bandwidth Communications, Lightweight Low Transit Volume Space Structures, Non-Chemical In-Space Propulsion, Coatings and Adhesives, Flexible Power Arrays, Microwave/Laser Power Transmission, Energy Storage Systems, Space Robotic Assembly and Fabrication, Formation Flying Spacecraft Systems (Swarm Operations), Orbital Debris Removal, Planetary Protection Techniques, Nonconventional Access to Space, Print Manufacturing and Rapid 3D Prototyping, Extreme Environment (Temperature/Radiation) Sensors and Mechanisms, Climate Sensors, Planetary Entry Decelerators, Reliable and Affordable Exploration Systems, Advanced Radiation Shielding Materials(Techniques and Systems), Safe Despin/Detumble Approaches for Large Non-operational Spacecraft, Material/Structural Concepts to Mitigate Impact of Small Debris, and Precision Timing and Navigation Using Only Celestial Objects.

    Mission Directorate: Exploration Systems

    Advanced In-Space Propulsion: NASA will work with partners in industry as appropriate, to conduct foundational research to study the requirements and potential designs for advanced high-energy in-space propulsion systems to support deep-space human exploration, and to reduce travel time between Earth’s orbit and future destinations for human activity. These technologies could include nuclear thermal propulsion, solar and nuclear electric propulsion, plasma propulsion, and other high-energy and/or high-efficiency propulsion concepts. One or more concepts may mature to the level of a demonstration on a robotic precursor or Flagship mission.”

  • Gary Church

    “The side-mounted design led to fourteen astronaut deaths.”

    Yes and no, mostly no. The shuttle had no escape system. An escape tower equipped capsule at the top of the stack is the best configuration, but one near the top of the stack would be effective also. The Challenger cabin was protected somewhat by the fragile heat shield and there is evidence three astronauts were conscious and able to activate their emergency oxygen units after the break-up. So a capsule with a tower also in a container designed to protect and expedite an escape would be a far better and more survivable design- even being side mounted. As for Columbia, it was foam degree striking the fragile heat shield- this would not happen with a capsule in a container. So you might want to reconsider the total accuracy of your statement.

  • Gary Church

    “I’ll take you more seriously when you answer the questions I have asked of you (twice, if fading memory serves) and cease with the rather childish playground insults.”

    I don’t care if you take me seriously or not and if I did not answer your questions that means I did not choose to. Who is being childish?

  • Derrick

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 29th, 2010 at 10:32 am …

    Yup. Follow the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

  • Ken

    I’m just glad they’re returning to the moon, period. Sure, it’s not exciting as an actual landing, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

  • If going to the Moon or to Lunar distance were the child’s play that the Obama-space supporters seem to imply that it is; how come NO OTHER NATION other than the U.S. has done it??! Simple: Going to Lunar Orbit or for a free-return Lunar Flyby is a vastly different ball-game!! The real cinch thing to do, the flimsily easy way out, has always been just staying in LEO, decade after decade. If we ever hope to venture to Mars or to the Martian satellites, there must be some technology demonstration flights dealing with a planetary body of significant gravity; and the Moon fits that bill perfectly, as our Gemini-type intermediate goal.

  • reader

    validate engineering approaches and demonstrate competence in operations outside of LEO. That’s the mission, and it’s a good one.

    Well, call it as such then.
    SMART-1 is an excellent example here, its “mission” was clearly articulated to be validation of several novel technologies and engineering approaches.
    It wasn’t ever sold as a lunar probe. Lunar science was its secondary objective.

    Saying, like Bolden sort of did, that we have a “mission” to fly humans around the moon by 2020 is just .. crappy PR, and gives your opponents a truckload of ammunition to shoot you down.
    Had he said something along the lines “by 2020 we will be far enough down the road in our technology development that we will likely be flying test flights with humans on board beyond LEO destinations, like on circumlunar flights” i’d have no gripes.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 1:49 am

    “If going to the Moon or to Lunar distance were the child’s play that the Obama-space supporters seem to imply that it is; how come NO OTHER NATION other than the U.S. has done it?”

    Until China had put humans in space, only us and the Russians had this ability. For the Russians, they did not have the money or a reason to send a cosmonaut around the Moon. They have talked about doing it for tourists, but they are still looking for funding. Even building their commitment for the ISS was a strain on their finances, and one of the many delays in the program was in waiting for the Russians to deliver their space hardware.

    For the U.S., it’s hasn’t been so much an issue of money as it’s been for lack of a “program”. For the U.S. to do human travel in space, you have to have a “program”, because only the government transports people to space. Since Apollo, the only programs that have been authorized by Congress and the President have been the Shuttle and the International Space Station. Only until the Constellation “program” did the U.S. decide to revisit the Moon.

    As far as capability, we have had a human occupied vehicle traveling in space since 2000 (the ISS), and we’ve had Centaur boosters that can provide the push from LEO to the Moon’s orbit – I’m sure we could have cobbled something together from ISS modules to make the trip. However, until the Vision for Space Exploration was announced in 2004, there was no authorized “program” to go to the Moon.

    So there you have it. Blame it on a lack of a “program”, not a lack of capability. You need congressional permission for humans to go anywhere in space, and until that changes (a commercial human space industry), we will be dependent on the desire of 536 people in the U.S. government for where we can go in space. Imagine if U.S. air travel operated the same way… ;-)

  • DCSCA

    After some applause, [Bolden] added, “I also believe what the president has put forward is the most authentically visionary policy for real human space exploration that we have ever had since President Kennedy challenged NASA to send humans to the Moon and return them safely back to Earth in the 1960s.”

    Hmmm. Perhaps Charlie should go back and read JFK’s full text of the section of that speech regarding space and understand the contect in which it was given. There’s little comparison to Obama’s KSC speech.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/Urgent+National+Needs+Page+4.htm

  • DCSCA

    contect=context. Sorry for the typo.

  • DCSCA

    “We plan to fly a crewed circumlunar mission by the early 2020s.” While that’s not the first time the idea that an Apollo 8-style mission might take place, he sounded a lot more definite than in his prepared testimony earlier this week, in which he stated that NASA’s plan for human space exploration starts “with crewed flight tests – perhaps a circumlunar mission – early next decade of vehicles capable of supporting exploration beyond LEO.”

    This administrator is an empty suit.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Hmmm. Perhaps Charlie should go back and read JFK’s full text of the section of that speech regarding space and understand the contect in which it was given….

    dont read it, watch it. It is so much better. JFK had folks (Ted Sorenson) who could not only write a speech, but JFK was superb at delivering it; with passion and flair and well….he is one of the few people when the movie about him (PT109) came out, instead of seeing Cliff Robertson, you saw “Mr. Kennedy”.

    problem is the context is the cold war. And a people unburdened by crushing federal debt, sadled with inept federal agencies, and trying to figure out how to hang on to their homes after the “elite” who have been given just about every federal break screwed them and still are doing fine.

    The legacy of Mr. Bush.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I would add this. There is no way President Obama could have given a “JFK” Rice style speech and be taken seriously, by anyone except the space junkies and groupies.

    There is no way that speech fits into the context of today; particularly with a NASA who is viewed as this one is; overhyping underperforming, and pretty big government.

    you might get excited by it. I dont think even the GOP would rally for the hundreds of billions this NASA would take to go back to the Moon.

    The really sad thing; is that I suspect going back to the Moon could be done for under 50 billion in about 5-10 years. Jeff Hanley’s NASA could not do it.

    They have spent 1/5 of that trying to build a sub orbital bottle rocket.

    Robert G. Oler

  • G Clark

    Mr Church:

    Hmmm…

    “Monkey Crap Slinger” = not childish.

    Got it.

    Thank you.

  • Gary Church wrote:

    So you might want to reconsider the total accuracy of your statement.

    Try actually reading the CAIB report, then reconsider the total accuracy of your statement.

    http://caib.nasa.gov/

  • Chris Castro wrote:

    If going to the Moon or to Lunar distance were the child’s play that the Obama-space supporters seem to imply that it is; how come NO OTHER NATION other than the U.S. has done it??!

    ??? Actually the people who hate Obama’s proposal are the ones who claim going to the Moon is easy. They’re the ones who want Constellation.

    As for why no one else has gone, that’s a point I’ve made many times. No one else is interested because there’s no particularly compelling reason to do it. And contrary to the myth circulated by Constellation huggers, the Chinese want to launch a Space Station in the early 2020s, not go to the Moon.

    It would be ludicrously expensive for any nation on its own to try to land crew on the Moon. The next human Moon mission will be a multinational effort with the costs shared by the world’s spacefaring nations. It won’t be any time soon, but when it does happen we will go as a species, not as one nation.

  • DCSCA wrote:

    Perhaps Charlie should go back and read JFK’s full text of the section of that speech regarding space and understand the contect in which it was given. There’s little comparison to Obama’s KSC speech.

    Perhaps you should go back and read the context in which JFK made the proposal and the speech. It was purely political. They have a recording of him telling NASA Administrator James Webb in November 1962 “I’m not that interested in space.” His sole interest was to show the world that American technology was superior to the Soviets’.

    In fact, his original so-called “Moon” speech in May 1961 was no more than a couple paragraphs in an address that was largely about a number of jobs programs he was proposing to end a mild recession. The moon stuff was near the end. By no means was it the main reason for the speech.

    The Rice speech in September 1962 was to help the local Democratic congressman get re-elected. Albert Thomas was chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee responsible for funding the space program. JFK was defending the wild spending Thomas was proposing for space. But he told Webb two months later, after the election, that he didn’t particularly care about space and was deeply concerned about how the NASA spending spree was wrecking the federal budget.

    I’ve written at length about this, in two blogs in particular:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/02/new-frontier-and-final-frontier.html

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/05/jfk-im-not-that-interested-in-space.html

    You should be factually accurate about history before you make unsubstantiated claims about Kennedy’s motivation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 9:35 am

    “As for why no one else has gone, that’s a point I’ve made many times. No one else is interested because there’s no particularly compelling reason to do it.”

    Spudis et al have come up with compelling things to do once one makes the decision to go back to the Moon, but the things that they have in mind are not a reason in themselves to go back to the Moon; until there is an infrastructure that needs such things and makes finding them affordable.

    What space groupies (and advocates) have gotten use to in human spaceflight is things being “unaffordable” and just being done to be done.

    This is why they always harken to JFK’s speech at Rice “why does Rice play Texas” (close probably an accurate quote certainly the context of it is)…so advocates argue “its on the schedule lets do it and what it cost and why spend the money well its on the schedule”.

    The “I dont care about the cost” is a hallmark of space efforts since The Rice speech…now Jack Kennedy could argue that cost had some context in the effort of the cold war…but that argument has long gone.

    So now we have the latent cold war argument of “American exceptionalism” or “The Red (chinese) scare” or other things as ephemeral as fog.

    There are no compelling reasons to go back to the Moon right now. There might be one day; but not now.

    Robert G. Oler

  • I’ll add here that I just found on NASA’s web site the entire transcript of the November 1962 meeting including JFK, Webb, Thomas, and a bunch of other folk:

    http://history.nasa.gov/JFK-Webbconv/pages/transcript.pdf

    … we shouldn’t be spending this kind of money because I’m not that interested in space. I think it’s good; I think we ought to know about it; we’re ready to spend reasonable amounts of money. But we’re talking about these fantastic expenditures which wreck our budget and all these other domestic programs and the only justification for it, in my opinion, to do it in this time or fashion, is because we hope to beat [the Soviets] and demonstrate that starting behind, as we did by a couple years, by God, we passed them.

  • amightywind

    Now Bolden wants to fly a circumlunar mission while at the same time destroying the tools to do it in Ares.. And by ‘the end of next decade’ too. Wasn’t Obama’s central argument, “we’ve already been there” with regard to the moon? Bolden is highly entertaining, like a sock puppet…

  • common sense

    The circumlunar exercise will be done by the private companies vehicles. NASA will operate the vehicles they buy. As I already said multiple times if your vehicle to LEO is a capsule it is not a major leap to make it capable of this. Anything else… This is why it is very smart to use a capsule to get going for the commercials: Cheap and versatile.

    One thing for sure though it will not be Orion, nor Orion-extra-super-duper-lite.

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Blah, blah, blah Obama. Look, I made as much sense as you do!

    Unless you’re willing to discuss details, you’re on the wrong blog.

  • Gary Church

    “problem is the context is the cold war. And a people unburdened by crushing federal debt, sadled with inept federal agencies, and trying to figure out how to hang on to their homes after the “elite” who have been given just about every federal break screwed them and still are doing fine.
    The legacy of Mr. Bush.”

    Well said, thank you Mr. Oler.

  • Gary Church

    “NASA spending spree was wrecking the federal budget.”

    NASA is not an evil empire wrecking the budget; try the DOD.

  • richardb

    Hey Simburg, in saying Congress might just pass another year of Constellation and fund the Shuttle one more year, you say that is nuts or stupid or something. You do realize that is exactly what Congress has done for the past 4 years?

    I’ll give you another reason Congress might disagree with you. This link(at the bottom) reports on the financial mess that is known as Elon Musk, that’s right the same guy you hero worship daily (well after finishing your own ritual hero worshipping).

    Did you know he has filed court papers declaring he is broke?
    Did you know he’s in a messy divorce right now?
    Did you know he has stated he’s living off of loans from personal friends?
    Did you know the only thing he has of any financial value is grants and loans from the US Government to the tune of $465 million dollars?

    Your heart throb is a financial wreck and is heading for bankruptcy. That is unless the vaunted Bolden Miracle kicks in with a bailout.

    Such is the commercial launch business in the US….beholden to USG welfare. Rand, don’t click on this link for the details cuz it might just break your heart. For the other less deluded folks out there, check it out.

    http://www.forbes.com/2010/05/28/elon-musk-broke-tesla-business-autos-musk.html?boxes=Homepagechannels

  • Robert G. Oler

    richardb wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    LOL

    my saintly father is one of the best lawyers in Dallas…he has a great line about going into a divorce….”make sure you have little cash on hand”

    get a life

    Robert G. Oler

  • Gary Church

    Gary Church wrote:
    So you might want to reconsider the total accuracy of your statement.

    Stephen wrote: “Try actually reading the CAIB report, then reconsider the total accuracy of your statement.”

    Cmon Stephen, don’t play this game.
    The foam hit the wing. A container with a capsule in it has no wing. It is not quite as good as on top of the stack, but it still has an ESCAPE SYSTEM and can be built within 5 years for far less money than what just got cancelled. And it can lift all those tons the shuttle wasted on wings, airframe, and landing gear. It removes all the weight restrictions that were crippling the Orion capsule and can put up a hundred tons as an unmanned cargo vehicle. It is not perfect…but what it is?

  • Did you know he has filed court papers declaring he is broke?
    Did you know he’s in a messy divorce right now?
    Did you know he has stated he’s living off of loans from personal friends?
    Did you know the only thing he has of any financial value is grants and loans from the US Government to the tune of $465 million dollars?

    I only know the first three. The last is nonsense. He has significant equity in his companies. He is “broke” only in the sense that he has no liquid assets (probably deliberately, as part of the divorce negotiations). The only way that he could go bankrupt is if all of his businesses fail. There are no signs of that yet. And Congress is, and will remain, completely indifferent to his finances.

    And the only way to fantasize that Elon is my “heartthrob” is to be an ignorant idiot. And one who can’t even spell the name of the person that he’s pathetically attempting to insult.

  • Coastal Ron

    richardb wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    You might also want to read the quote from SpaceX, where they state “We have been financially stable with no investment from our CEO for many years”.

    With a backlog of $2B in orders, and cash coming in from milestone payments and launch deposits, they don’t need outside money for their current family of products (Falcon 1 & 9, and Dragon cargo).

    richardb also wrote:

    “Such is the commercial launch business in the US….beholden to USG welfare.”

    I think you’re thinking of Constellation, where every overrun was fine, and every schedule slip was greeted with a shrug. There is no accountability with massive government programs, and because they are built to utilized as many congressional districts as possible, they are looked at as pork entitlements instead of on their merits.

    For commercial companies, it’s pretty easy. On COTS, SpaceX and Orbital only get paid when they complete items specified in their contract. They don’t perform, they don’t get paid. There is a huge incentive to not only perform the service, but to do it reliably and at the least practical cost. The same is true for other launchers, where they get paid to put a product into space – if they fail, they don’t get paid. Big incentive to do it right.

    NASA does a lot of things well, but building and running a transportation system is not one of them.

  • richardb wrote:

    Did you know he has filed court papers declaring he is broke?

    Totally irrelevant. SpaceX’s finances are separate from Musk’s. SpaceX has nearly 1,000 employees and is financially healthy. The same papers you cite also show he draws a salary of about $1,690/month from SpaceX.

    The Constellation huggers have reduced themselves to personal smears about the man because they have no logical arguments to defend their boondoggle program.

  • http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100528-expect-longer-wait-between-spacex-demo.html

    Williams said SpaceX’s progress on flight hardware is unaffected by the personal finances of the company’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, who told a California divorce court in February that he was out of cash and had resorted to borrowing money from friends to cover monthly household expenses.

    “SpaceX is a company of 1,000 men and women developing and producing highly reliable and low cost space transportation systems. We have been financially stable with no investment from our CEO for many years,” [SpaceX vice president of strategic relations Larry] Williams wrote in a May 28 e-mail. “SpaceX has well over $2 billion under contract … Therefore, any momentary illiquidity that Elon may be experiencing is completely irrelevant to the company and our future.”

    Williams said that although Musk remains SpaceX’s largest shareholder “he is only one of a number of investors at this point.” Other large investors, he said, include Menlo Park, Calif.-based Draper Fisher Jurveston and the Founders Fund, a San Francisco firm managed by one of Musk’s former PayPal partners.

  • Gary Church

    Let’s take it easy on Musk. He is not Satan or the second coming. He may be a symbol of Space X, but he is not the company. They might put some satellites up cheap and make money. I just do not like them pretending to be providers of HSF. Can we talk about something else?

  • I just do not like them pretending to be providers of HSF.

    I suspect that those in denial will continue to say things like this even after SpaceX and Bigelow are sending tourists on trips around the moon.

  • Gary Church wrote:

    I just do not like them pretending to be providers of HSF.

    Just how are they “pretending”?

    You can see photos and specifications of their vehicle at:

    http://www.spacex.com/dragon.php

    Honestly, you Constellation huggers don’t seem capable of uttering one single truth to support your position.

  • Gary Church

    Give me a break Stephen. Did I hurt your feelings or something?

  • Gary Church

    “I suspect that those in denial will continue to say things like this even after SpaceX and Bigelow are sending tourists on trips around the moon.”

    And I suspect you are so full of it that you can’t sling crap at other people fast enough to keep up.

  • Gary Church

    By the way, where is the escape tower on that dragon?

  • By the way, where is the escape tower on that dragon?

    It probably won’t have a tower. They’ll probably have a pusher instead. They’re still doing the trades.

  • Gary Church

    And Stephen, I am not a constellation hugger. Or an apollo worshiper. And I do not have any homoerotic feelings for musk like so many people posting here do.

    I am however, coming around to the idea of that sidemount HLV someone mentioned. I posted an excerpt from that 2009 article; that might be the vehicle Obamaspace is after. If so, I have to say it looks good enough for government work. It does not have the capsule and tower at the top of the stack but it has the people in a container that can be designed to enhance the escape tower sequence- and the heat shield on the capsule is protected. I watched a movie the other day that is probably the best space movie ever made. It is a great reason to pursue a government funded HSF program with heavy lift vehicles. It shows better than any other movie I have ever seen why the survival imperative is the reason for HSF- not tourism. The movie was “The Road.” I strongly suggest you watch it, keeping in mind what happens when things that are just a little too big do not explode high in the atmosphere, but make it all the way down.

  • Gary Church

    “They’ll probably have a pusher instead.”

    I am throwing the B.S. flag on that one.

  • I am throwing the B.S. flag on that one.

    Who cares? You’re not the referee.

    You asked a question, I answered it. It’s not our fault if you’re too ignorant to understand it.

  • Rand Simberg wrote:

    You asked a question, I answered it. It’s not our fault if you’re too ignorant to understand it.

    Yeah, I’m –>this<– close to filing Gary Church with amightywind on my "automatically scroll past" list. You and I disagree from time to time, but at least we cite facts supporting our positions. These guys just make things up.

  • Bennett

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Files thus long ago.

  • Gary Church

    Oh NO! Don’t ignore me, please, please! This site is not an infomercial for “commercial crew.” The people threatening me with the horrible consequences of giving back insults as good as I get are ignorant of that fact. Bennet, Rand, Captain Tom, Coastal Ron, Stephen Smith; I will make a deal with all of you- stop lying, insulting, misrepresenting, and being jerks whenever someone criticizes your commercial space cheaper is better fantasy football world- and I will be play as nice as do. Tit for tat.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Gary Church,

    Re.: Dragon LAS system.

    Actually you are wrong. SpaceX are proposing a pusher LAS. It will be a set of high-thrust hypergolic motors around the circumferance of the capsule itself that will use the fuel system for the Draco RCS system for propellent. Administrator Bolden made some offhand comments confirming Mr. Musk’s earlier statement on this matter.

    I suspect this might reflect a desire on SpaceX’s part to make the Dragon capsule (which contains most of what a service module would have too) reusable. It’s early days yet but I understand that SpaceX have applied for CCDev money for the LAS system. It should be interesting what they come up with.

    FWIW, I personally think that developing such a mold-breaking system is a big risk for SpaceX to take. SRM-powered escape towers have a 50-year heritage and are known to work (I believe that Soyuz-18 is the only operational usage of such a system but there are dozens of tests). Frankly, the solid LAS from the COTS-D video would be a lower-risk option.

  • Bennett wrote:

    “filed”

    You’re right. Filed.

  • Ben Russell-Gough wrote:

    It will be a set of high-thrust hypergolic motors around the circumferance of the capsule itself that will use the fuel system for the Draco RCS system for propellent.

    Thanks for clarifying. Personally, I think it’s a cool idea, although I’m not an engineer so I can’t judge its wisdom. It would seem to me it’s safer for the crew than a rocket tower jerking away a crew at Mach 12 or whatever. I’m looking forward to seeing it tested (not with a live crew, of course).

  • I suspect this might reflect a desire on SpaceX’s part to make the Dragon capsule (which contains most of what a service module would have too) reusable. It’s early days yet but I understand that SpaceX have applied for CCDev money for the LAS system. It should be interesting what they come up with.

    Actually, it’s for reduced cost and increased performance (the system is useful on a nominal mission, and not just parasitic cost and weight, as a tractor is).

  • Gary Church

    OK Rand, I am all for any escape system after the shuttle fatalities. But hypergolics do not have alot of thrust. An escape tower can be jettisoned after second stage ignition and recovered at sea by parachute- and reused. And as for my criticism of the Falcon; if it had a single million pound thrust engine in the first stage I would have far less to criticize. I do not believe the complexity of 9 engines justifies making it to orbit if one fails. With an escape system you escape and try again another day.

    See? I am not such a bad guy.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Did you know he has filed court papers declaring he is broke?”

    Ah, good reason to have the U.S. government be responsible for human space flight. Unlike Musk, we would never do deficit spending. But I guess we don’t have to file court papers when our country is broke. We just print more money.

  • But hypergolics do not have alot of thrust.

    Hypergolics have as much thrust as you want them to have. And without a large solid first stage beneath you that you can’t shut off, you don’t have to get away as fast.

  • Gary Church

    Hmmm. I am having trouble imagining a hypergolic motor or set of motors that can put out like the solid ones on the escape tower systems. And with any stage beneath or beside or wherever you do need to get away as fast as the human body can withstand it. I believe that figure is 16G’s.

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Church wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Please excuse my using dialog from “The Office”…

    * Un-shun *

    Gary Church said: “Bennet, Rand, Captain Tom, Coastal Ron, Stephen Smith; I will make a deal with all of you- stop lying, insulting, misrepresenting, and being jerks whenever someone criticizes your commercial space cheaper is better fantasy football world- and I will be play as nice as do.”

    During the last exchange I had with you Gary, I was engaging you about these two comments you made:

    ” I am not damning more than one engine- you are lying”.

    After which, in the same post, you said –

    “I am damning 28, I mean, 27.”

    Many of your replies to my statements have been for you to call me a liar, and that’s even when I’m presenting public facts. The above exchange came after I pointed out that the Saturn V used a cluster of five engines, and aerospace engineers must not share your concerns. You can certainly disagree with my statement, and with the preposition that one is better than nine, but the reality is that real engineers and real companies are fine with using multiple engines. Call me a liar if you will, but that doesn’t change reality.

    Let’s look at a current topic and see how you handled an exchange with Rand Simberg:

    Gary said: “By the way, where is the escape tower on that dragon?”

    Rand responded: “It probably won’t have a tower. They’ll probably have a pusher instead. They’re still doing the trades.”

    Gary responded: “I am throwing the B.S. flag on that one.”

    See, that was insulting. You asked a question, and Rand responded with a fact. If you would have looked into it, you would have found that there is such as thing as a pusher escape system being discussed, and that Blue Origin was awarded $3.7M by NASA in part to fund additional work they have already been doing on a pusher system.

    Do you plan to apologize to Rand?

    You are knee-jerk reacting to what people say instead of evaluating and investigating. For instance, you have been putting up lots of opinions about Bernal spheres, radiation shielding, Sea Dragon and so on. Even though the topics are probably judged way out there for solving current needs, no one is “throwing the B.S. flag” on them.

    You have to learn how to play well with others.

    * Re-shun *

  • DCSCA

    @StephenSmith- This writer has maintained accuracy and to accuse otherwise betrays your own feeble efforts to mislead visitors to this blog. My reference was specifically to Bolden’s simplistic effort to compare Obama’s KSC speech to JFK’s 1961 speech. Not any other Kennedy comments. Those of us who actually are familiar with that early history of the space program and were alive during that period are quite aware of the political motivations behind the early space efforts. It was no secret but apparently this is fresh news to you. Furthermore, you’ll note President Kennedy delivered the 5/25/61 speech in a highly public forum– to a join session of Congress (if memory serves, it was televised to the nation) while Obama’s little speech was delivered to a pre-selected audience on CAFB with follow up from proponents. There’s little comparison between the two, dummy.

  • DCSCA

    And for the benefit of the lazy, the young, the lazy young, weak leaders and misleaders who cannot see or comprehend context, the following, from May 25, 1961:

    “Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

    I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

    Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

    I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:

    First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

    Secondly, an additional 23 million dollars, together with 7 million dollars already available, will accelerate development of the Rover nuclear rocket. This gives promise of some day providing a means for even more exciting and ambitious exploration of space, perhaps beyond the moon, perhaps to the very end of the solar system itself.

    Third, an additional 50 million dollars will make the most of our present leadership, by accelerating the use of space satellites for world-wide communications.

    Fourth, an additional 75 million dollars–of which 53 million dollars is for the Weather Bureau–will help give us at the earliest possible time a satellite system for world-wide weather observation.

    Let it be clear–and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make–let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62–an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.

    Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.

    It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.

    I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.

    This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.

    New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further–unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space. – JFK, 5/25/61- Section IX, Special Message to Joint Session of Congress

  • Gary Church

    “You have to learn how to play well with others.”

    E.O.N. Musk. the new smell of waste. Enemies Of Nasa odor. You people are out to corner a market and tear down a government agency that has previously had that corner. I do not have to play well, apologize or do anything except try and expose your “commercial crew” scam for what it is. You are out to screw things up just like all greedy con artists so you can walk in and pick pockets. We need a HLV and hopefully Obama will come through on it and it will be the Side Mount with an Orion version. Then your precious commercial crew can be consigned to where it always belonged; where smelly things should be disposed of.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Well done, Mr. Church. You have just consigned yourself to the pit of trolls and everyone will know to ignore you. Your anger and ad hominem attacks show that you have no facts to support your position.

    BTW – Orion on the sidemount has already been dismissed as technically impractical. A combination of distribution of weight and the hypersonic slipstream around the side-mount mission pod would make a safe LAS abort of any kind impossible.

  • DCSCA

    Orion on the sidemount has already been dismissed as technically impractical. A combination of distribution of weight and the hypersonic slipstream around the side-mount mission pod would make a safe LAS abort of any kind impossible

    NASA will not used a side-mount design manned spacecraft again.

  • richardb

    The point of the Forbes story isn’t that he is in divorce and whether he is playing games with the ex-Musk. The point is Musk is failing as a businessman despite his great gifts as businessman, visionary and salesman.
    Like it or not, his failures do very much impact Space X. After all, who wants to invest their own money with a broke man? Some here evidently would.

    But not people with any sense.

    You’ve got the Obama plan dying politically. You’ve got Musk with grave financial problems only cured by government handouts in pursuit of a highly doubtful IPO. These are the people we entrust the future of HSF for America? More likely it’s the future with no HSF.

  • DCSCA wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 9:46 pm
    “Obama’s little speech was delivered to a pre-selected audience on CAFB with follow up from proponents. There’s little comparison between the two, dummy.”
    Er it was delivered to the world via NASA TV. I know because I live in the World and I watched it! Your MSS may have covered it but probably didn’t as the bulk of their viewers couldn’t give a flying fig about HSF. Given the quality of debate from some commentators on this and other threads, I’m not surprised. Case in point: your last word. Uncalled for.

  • Coastal Ron

    richardb wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 8:16 am

    People get divorced all the time, and though it may affect them personally, it’s usually not a big deal professionally (unless you’re a politician).

    “After all, who wants to invest their own money with a broke man? Some here evidently would.”

    All he said was that he was out of cash, which is the liquid part of his wealth. He is still the largest single shareholder in SpaceX, as well as having investments in many other companies, so he is still a wealthy person (even after the divorce). Besides, he has not added to his investment in SpaceX in a number of years, and the company is operating off of it’s current cash on hand and payments from completed COTS milestones ($200+ so far) and launch deposits.

    As another poster has pointed out, it’s not uncommon for rich people to “run out of cash” prior to a divorce preceding – you want to be as “poor” as possible when you’re dividing up the assets with your ex.

    Post divorce, he’ll still be far richer than I’ll ever be.

  • Coastal Ron

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Concur on all points. It’s too bad – he seemed like he was becoming lucid and willing to engage… :-(

  • Vladislaw

    Gary Church wrote:

    “Enemies Of Nasa odor. You people are out to corner a market and tear down a government agency that has previously had that corner.”

    Since when is the Federal government tasked with trying to “corner a market” to keep that market away from private enterprise? The job of the government is to create the opportunity for American BUSINESS to corner markets FOR increasing our federal tax base. NASA can NEVER fullfill that role. It is expressly ordering not to.

    The business of America is business, not to establish stalinist government monopolies.

  • It’s too bad – he seemed like he was becoming lucid and willing to engage.

    I suspect that it has something to do with his meds, and when and how much he takes them. We had someone on sci.space.* a few years ago who was bipolar, and you could tell which pole he was on from the latest posting. In fact, some of us tried to find out if he had family or anyone taking care of him when it seemed to get worse. You can also occasionally see people exhibit symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia on line. It’s very sad.

  • DCSCA

    @brobof- The comment was referenced to Smith, not you, and he earned the rebuff based on his own misleading and self-serving commentary.

  • DCSCA

    @brobof- FYI, not everyone in the United States (who pays for this space program and NASA TV, not the ‘world’) watches NASA Select nor has routine access to it. Furthermore, the point was, Bolden tried to weight Obama’s speech at KSC before a prescreened crowd in a CAFB hanger ( with follow-up comments by proponents of the plan hardly) with equal importance to JFK’s Special Message to a joint session of Congress, (the elected appropriators) that was televised to the nation in 1961. There is virtually no comparison.

  • Gary Church

    It is sad huh? You stink Rand, you are pathetic. Your whole “regular” crew is a bunch of con artists playing space fantasy football. Space clowns with no money.

    “Orion on the sidemount has already been dismissed as technically impractical.”

    Really? Where did you hear that?

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