NASA

Rallying the troops

Saturday’s luncheon at the National Space Society’s (NSS) International Space and Development Conference (ISDC) in Chicago was something of a homecoming for its speaker, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, who was executive director of the organization for a number of years. “I grew up in NSS,” she said. “Perhaps no other speaking engagement so far has really seemed like coming home.”

Her speech, though, was not designed to reminisce about the good old days of the NSS, but instead lay out the administration’s plans for NASA and seek support from, and action by, the audience of space advocates, to the point of offering to make available the slides from her presentation on the NSS web site (which have not been posted as of Sunday) to aid in outreach efforts. She argued that it’s particularly important to reach out beyond the space community to the broader public. “We have to connect to a public that doesn’t understand how NASA is helping them.”

Part of that effort, it would seem, is to make the case of how NASA fits into the bigger picture. “We really need, during times when our government is clearly going to have to focus on those things that help develop the economy, to be a part of the national agenda,” she said. Later, she said, “We need to address actual things we can contribute to the nation and the world.” That led to a discussion of “potential grand challenges”: projects that NASA would lead or be a part of that would provide that value to larger audiences. Some of the ideas are very space-specific, such as looking for life beyond Earth and making space access economical; others appeared to leverage NASA technologies or capabilities, like “carbon-netural mobility”.

She acknowledged, though, that there are skeptics about the plan at ISDC, and part of her speech made the case that the agency’s proposed new plan was surperior to continuing on the program of record. “People have made a lot of rhetorical statements that this plan kills human spaceflight; in fact, it does the opposite,” she said, citing problems with cost and schedule of Constellation.

She later added that even though the new plan does not explicitly include a lunar landing, “we are not giving up on the Moon.” She said under the program of record we weren’t going to the Moon in the foreseeable future anyway because of those cost and schedule issues, and that the plans for lunar return that did exist were regressing to “flags and footprints” missions rather than something sustainable. The capabilities that would be developed in the new plan “will allow us to go back to the Moon and stay much earlier than the program of record.”

However, she noted that it’s been a difficult battle so far winning over those skeptics. “Change is hard,” she said. “This is a paradigm shift. We know it’s not popular now because you can’t make these artificial claims we can get you somewhere we cannot.” And, she added, “It doesn’t take much to recognize that we’re not getting out message out well.”

“The space community should hopefully see that this our time,” she said near the end of her talk. “The President of the United States has taken a stand—very difficult and maybe not immediately politically beneficial—on the importance of expanding the human presence into space.” At the end of her speech Garver got a standing ovation from the ISDC luncheon audience, although it remains to be seen if they were simply saluting one of their own or were inspired to to take up the call to advocate for the new NASA plan.

77 comments to Rallying the troops

  • Bennett

    Even without the benefit of hindsight, there are many here who would have been great at helping write the President’s HSF speeches, catchphrases, or to better prepare the roll out of the FY2011 budget, myself included (ex PR type).

    I cringe at the memory of the “been there, done that” dismissal of lunar missions, as it could have been said so much better. I think it would have made the job of countering the POR Huggers’ distortions easier, and alienated less of the space community. But even without the gaffs there would be a hue and cry from those involved with Cx, which is understandable. In the end it just won’t matter if the promised paradigm shift comes to pass.

  • Bennett wrote:

    Even without the benefit of hindsight, there are many here who would have been great at helping write the President’s HSF speeches, catchphrases, or to better prepare the roll out of the FY2011 budget, myself included (ex PR type).

    I don’t think it would have made a difference. Challenging the space-industrial complex is like challenging the military-industrial complex. There are many special interests at work, none of which give a damn about what’s best for the country.

    I don’t think there’s anything Obama or Bolden or Garver could have said that would have changed the minds of the Constellation huggers. They want Constellation because it means jobs and fat contracts and perpetuates the delusion that we’ll have a permanent lunar base. None of those people particularly care about what’s best for the nation, whether the nation can afford it.

  • Gary Church

    If that HLV turns out to be the side mount concept, using shuttle components and the orion capsule escape tower in a container for HSF- and an unmanned 100+ ton cargo version- I will sign on. But the “commercial crew” part of Obamaspace is a mistake. That is my opinion. A mistake. But a mistake I can live with if there is a back in the form of an Orion capable “Side Mount.”
    No insults, no surly arrogant pontificating, obfuscating, out of context jibes; just my opinion. Can anyone respond without slinging monkey crap all over the screen?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Gary,

    Not really, since its your personal opinion. Its kind of like discussing what you want your wedding colors to be. A co-worker of mine said that her cousin wants a pink, lime green, and taupe. Personally, that doesn’t do much for me, but its her wedding, and thats fine.

    Now, if you want to have a discussion about reasons and justifications, thats a different discussion. But that isn’t what you said. So….

  • Bennett

    Stephen, All that you write is true. There are those that would have fought against change no matter the goals or presentation. These folks live in their own profit oriented world and I pity them for their selfishness.

    But for those of us that want to see real progress, having a President willing to take the advice of a group like the AC is amazing. I have to give our ex-Prez credit for doing something similar, the VSE was a wonderful vision until it got lost in Cx. Flex Path is that vision restored and expanded.

    The salesman in me would have had the President say:

    “About a lunar mission, let me be frank. When we return to the moon it will NOT be just for a short visit costing billions of dollars. When we go back it will be in a ship capable of exploring in ways only dreamed of by the crews of our Apollo Program. We will use robotic devices to explore and return samples for study, and only when it is necessary will we risk the lives of our brave astronauts in a lunar landing. We WILL return to the moon, but it won’t be the first, or the last, destination under my proposed direction for HSF.”

    Or some such…

  • Gary Church

    What does my wedding colors have to do with this? Ferris, your analogies are….I am trying not to express myself explicitly and start another cycle of monkey crap slinging. So fine. Let’s discuss Ferris.

    My reason for a back up vehicle in the form of a Orion/Sidemount are that I do not have much faith in commercial crew. The ramifications of Falcon or any other of these HSF providers failing are too severe. Constellation is very expensive and Ares1 may very well be a lemon- I will not argue that. But the Sidemount has been studied for a long time in the form of shuttle C and in my opinion could be developed in the time they are claiming (4.5 years) and for far less than constellation.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Gary,

    What I was trying to get at with my original post was that you didn’t express yourself very clearly, as to your issues with it. You just said “I don’t like it”, which makes it hard to argue.

    In any event….

    There are 2 underlying questions in what you are raising.

    1. Do we need a backup?

    2. Does it have to be a traditional NASA backup (IE using all of NASA’s traditional contracting mechanism, and the traditional methods of oversight)?

    I will stipulate that 1 is probably a good idea (although I point out that we didn’t have a backup for Shuttle, or Gemini and so forth), and so would agree with it (IE we need a backup)

    The question I want to know is, why does it have to be done in the traditional NASA method, using SDLV?

  • Gary Church

    Because that is all we have that works. The shuttle system works- it was just the space plane part of it that failed. The SSME’s might be just too damn expensive to expend and this was resolved in some versions of shuttle C by having an “engine return module” with an ablative shield and parachute into sea recovery- which I think is the best idea. They are awesome engines and we spent a vast fortune on them already. The escape system for Orion works and the Side mount would remove all the weight restrictions that have been dogging it.

    If they develop the Side Mount we can lay constellation to rest and move on and get to work launching things like the Webb telescope and also have an option that is near and dear to my heart in the form of an external tank wet workshop. It kills so many birds with one stone.

    People cry about the Saturn V being retired but in fact we always had a Saturn V in the shuttle all these years; we just screwed up by using all that lift putting an airplane into orbit so it could come right back. With the side mount we will have the capability back everyone has cried about for so long. With the man-rated version we will have something with an escape system that has already been tested.

  • Gary Church

    Oh, and about those SSME’s; if they want to expend something they could possibly mount a couple RS-68′s in their place on the Side Mount. They are awesome engines and designed to be thrown away.

  • cy

    It’s funny they think they can get beyond LEO Faster and cheaper, in the end it will be even more expensive and no more faster.

  • Bennett wrote:

    I have to give our ex-Prez credit for doing something similar, the VSE was a wonderful vision until it got lost in Cx. Flex Path is that vision restored and expanded.

    Well, I have to disagree with that, because my research showed that within days of Bush’s January 2004 speech analysts were already saying it would siphon money away from other NASA programs and would be underfunded.

    I also found this on C-SPAN’s site:

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/180283-1

    It was a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on January 28, two weeks after Bush’s speech. They were already saying it would cost too much and that the Administration’s cost estimates were too low.

    I wrote this blog on April 26 that also addressed the matter:

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/04/when-bush-cancelled-space-shuttle.html

    I was looking at the days after Bush’s speech to see if there was any outrage over his cancelling Shuttle. There wasn’t. One big reason was that his proposal was in response to the CAIB report which concluded Shuttle was fundamentally flawed (with the crew vehicle on the side) and should be retired.

    Sean O’Keefe was asked what would happen to those thousands of Shuttle jobs. He just said it would have to be dealt with at the time Shuttle shut down.

    But in the Florida Today report the day after Bush’s speech, it specifically said, “… the order to overhaul the agency and shift money to the moon project indicates existing programs could be canceled and some NASA centers could be closed.”

    Florida Today on February 1 published an opinion article by former NASA historian Alex Roland, who wrote:

    The problem, of course, is that [Bush's] successor will inherit a gutted agency, with the failed detritus of the shuttle and space station visions still limping toward some unspecified denouement, and public expectations of mission impossible on the moon and Mars barely begun.

    Roland called it, more than six years ago.

  • Bennett

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Very interesting stuff. I was somewhat out of the loop at that point and didn’t follow VSE developments or critiques in detail. I stand corrected.

  • Bennett

    Stephen, By the way, I agree with the gentleman whose comment encouraged you to turn that post into an article for publication. The research you did was great and should be shared with a wider audience.

    http://spaceksc.blogspot.com/2010/04/when-bush-cancelled-space-shuttle.html

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “We really need, during times when our government is clearly going to have to focus on those things that help develop the economy, to be a part of the national agenda.”

    That would certainly be a change of policy for this administration. The stimulus package, health care reform, and virtually every other initiative has been an economy killer.

    “She later added that even though the new plan does not explicitly include a lunar landing, ‘we are not giving up on the Moon.’ She said under the program of record we weren’t going to the Moon in the foreseeable future anyway because of those cost and schedule issues, and that the plans for lunar return that did exist were regressing to ‘flags and footprints’ missions rather than something sustainable. The capabilities that would be developed in the new plan ‘will allow us to go back to the Moon and stay much earlier than the program of record.’”

    One wonders how any human being can lie like that with a straight face. When are we going back to the Moon under Obamaspace and in what fashion? How is the space exploration portion of Obamaspace not “flags and footsteps?” I cannot believe that anyone can take that woman seriously.

  • One wonders how any human being can lie like that with a straight face.

    It’s not a lie. It’s reality.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Gary,

    As I suggested in the other thread, its not the only thing we have – we have Atlas V and Delta IV

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 30th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    the problem (sigh) is that Garver is correct and you are wrong, and dont have the horsepower to admit it.

    In the end the program that Bush the last laid out probably at the start but certainly after Griffin got hold of it, had no chance of doing much of anything but being a typical NASA program such as the shuttle and station and all the other ones that just never made it into hardware.

    But like Iraq and just about everything else Bush the last did; you cannot see past the initial ‘grand scheme” and into the actual execution of the effort.

    IN fact you are completely blind along those lines…you have entered into enormous self delusion

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “My reason for a back up vehicle in the form of a Orion/Sidemount are that I do not have much faith in commercial crew.”

    Per NASA’s FY 2011 budget, “plan B” is to contract with a second crew provider (or more).

    Plus there’s Soyuz.

    At some point, we have to ask how many backups we really need or whether we’re just trying to identify figleafs for Shuttle jobs.

    “… if there is a back [sic] in the form of an Orion capable ‘Side Mount.’”

    Unaffordable.

    The side-mount SDHLV that John Shannon presented to the Augustine Committee was at least $6.6B to develop.

    nasa.gov/pdf/361842main_15%20-%20Augustine%20Sidemount%20Final.pdf

    That’s $600 million more than our primary ETO path. We could wipe out the $6 billion commercial crew budget, and we still couldn’t afford to develop a side-mount SDHLV.

    And that’s just for the launcher. We havn’t paid for Orion development yet. Based on the FY 2010 budget runout for Orion, that’s another ~$7.8 billion (FY 2011-2015) at least.

    nasa.gov/pdf/345955main_8_Exploration_%20FY_2010_UPDATED_final.pdf

    And that doesn’t include Orion’s share of program integration, outyear development beyond FY 2015 (Orion readiness had slipped until at least 2017), or Orion mods to accommodate a sidemount SDHLV (big LAS bucks).

    So we could wipe out the $6 billion commercial crew budget twice over, and we still be billions away from affording to develop a side-mount SDHLV and Orion.

    And we havn’t even gotten into operations, yet. The Augustine Committee pegged Orion’s per flight costs at $1 billion. Add that to the Shuttle program’s annual carrying costs, and we’re probably looking at an operating budget that’s at least as big as, if not larger, than the Space Shuttle. Without operational savings from shutting down Shuttle, NASA’s human space flight programs won’t be doing much more than running an ISS trucking business. No commercial crew, no technology demonstrators, and no exploration.

    That’s not a backup plan. That’s an egregiously bad use of limited taxpayers dollars.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “When are we going back to the Moon under Obamaspace and in what fashion?”

    Sometime after the first human exploration mission, just like the President said in his KSC speech.

    Duh…

    “How is the space exploration portion of Obamaspace not “flags and footsteps?’

    Because unlike Constellation, NASA’s FY11 budget would actually develop capabilities to exploit lunar resources, like the:

    “ETDD Demonstration Project for Lunar Volatiles Characterization

    This demonstration would verify the presence of water and other volatiles on the Moon by direct in-situ measurements of the lunar regolith. The project would build upon recent field tests of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology by demonstrating operation of a prototype ISRU system in a thermal vacuum chamber. A flight experiment to demonstrate lunar resource prospecting, characterization, and extraction would be developed for testing on a robotic precursor mission in 2015.

    • Top-Level Requirements:

    – Locate sub-surface areas of elevated hydrogen bearing compounds
    – Acquire sub-surface samples for analysis
    – Analyze soil samples for mineral composition, volatile content, and
    bulk regolith characteristics.
    – Demonstrate the potential for volatiles and regolith utilization.
    – Must be capable of flying on a variety of lunar lander precursor
    missions in a polar location.”

    nasa.gov/pdf/457438main_EEWS_EnablingTechnologyDevelopmentandDemonstration.pdf

    Duh…

    Lawdy…

  • Fred

    Gary Churxh said:
    “No insults, no surly arrogant pontificating, obfuscating, out of context jibes; just my opinion. Can anyone respond without slinging monkey crap all over the screen?”
    Saturn V was the heavy lift we already had, but it was cancelled because it was unaffordable.
    Shuttle wasn’t really heavy lift, but it looked and felt (and costed) like one. The end result was it sucked up so much money ($1.3B per flight over it’s lifetime) that it effectively ensured we didn’t go beyond LEO or develop systems that could.
    The Augustine figures show that ANY heavy lift was going to be very expensive and thus severly limiting. Look at any of the options that involve heavy lift. in the Augustine final report. Even assuming larger budgets doesn’t help any of the options actually achieve anything in any reasonable time frame.
    Sure, we are might need a HLV someday, but the simple truth is any HLV in the short term doesn’t help. It only sucks all the money away from everything else.
    The real answer – and this is the genius of the FY2011 proposal, is to avoid heavy lift in the short term. Build out the technologies that will help us get beyond LEO and get us established in Cislunar space, and THEN work on a heavy lift if we need it.
    After all the US has 4 suitable LV’s either in service or soon to be in service.
    Atlas V, Delta IV, Falcon 9 and Taurus II.
    Columbus didn’t go down to the harbour and say to the shipwright “Build me a Humongusly Large Vessel” He just took 3 existing ships that happened to be floating around the harbour at the time.
    We’ve been sitting in the harbour for 40 years waiting for someone to build a HLV. It hasn’t happened. I think it’s time to see how far we can go on what we’ve got.

  • Gary Church

    “Sure, we are might need a HLV someday, but the simple truth is any HLV in the short term doesn’t help. It only sucks all the money away from everything else.’

    Actually you have it backwards. We need an HLV now and using less capable vehicles sucks money up trying to do more with less.

    “We’ve been sitting in the harbour for 40 years waiting for someone to build a HLV. It hasn’t happened. I think it’s time to see how far we can go on what we’ve got.”

    We have had an HLV for 40 years- but it was made cheap and could only lift a 100 ton spaceplane (actually a spyplane) to LEO just so it could come right back. We have the components to make the shuttle into the HLV it should have been in 4.5 years. We are not going anywhere with what we’ve got. This is the big lie commercial crew supporters are pushing; they do not mention the humungous size of the chemical stages required to go anywhere BEO. The tourist mobiles are not good enough. I do not think they are even good enough for LEO.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Rand, Oler, “Major Tom”, let us return to what the President actually said at KSC a month and a half ago:

    “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do”

    The Moon has been specifically excluded from the Obama space exploration time line.

    Therefore, I have to ask, in what sense can what Garver said at ISDC be true?

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 1:47 am

    “The Moon has been specifically excluded from the Obama space exploration time line.”

    This gets back to the inelegant phrasing that Bennett was talking about. If you look at what NASA has in it’s proposed budget, you will see that it includes components of space flight that CAN be used to get us back to the Moon, but that NASA would devote it’s next exploration effort to a place other than the Moon.

    It’s a matter of what you see as NASA’s role in space. I think we all agree that NASA is the right group to be the first to attempt the hard stuff, such as it has done with sub-orbital, orbital and lunar missions. These all required ground-breaking R&D, but the missions that followed did not require the same level of effort.

    We remember Armstrong & Aldrin, but who remembers who landed on the Moon with the Apollo 12 mission? How about Apollo 14, 15, 16, 17? We know how to do this – sure we can improve upon it, but that is the role of private enterprise. After all… we are not Communists (Godfather reference).

    NASA explores, and with the knowledge gained and passed down, the commercial sector exploits.

    Just like the government still explores the Earth, NASA will be involved with exploring places off the Earth. However, the next NASA researcher on the Moon will travel on commercial transportation, at least part of the way.

    “Obamaspace” is keeping NASA focused on developing the technology that others can use to follow. We can repeat what we did 40 years ago, but we already know how to do that. I think once someone launches their entry to win the Google Lunar X Prize, people will understand.

  • J201

    I agree with Mark: the moon was, and still is, the logical first step and proving grounds for any future BEO mission. If we can learn to not only survive on the moon, but exploit the moon’s resources, then we can do it anywhere in the solar system, including and especially NEOs & mars. The moon can open up countless new frontiers for us just as a practice ground.

    And I know I’ll get flack for this.

    This is what perplexes me about ObamaSpace and it’s supporters, and it’s been bugging me since feburary 1: how do you expect to embark on month-long voyages to an asteroid or mars when we can’t make it three days to the moon? How do you intend to pay for a mission to an asteroid or mars when a moon mission is unaffordable?

    History has proven that goals are best achievable when they are actually defined in time and space. In order to get to your destination, you need an actual destination, a vehicle that can go the distance, and a plan to get there. In that respect, flexible path fails.

  • Coastal Ron

    Gary Church wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 12:51 am

    You seem to have calmed down your tone, so I’ll engage you on this topic.

    “Actually you have it backwards. We need an HLV now and using less capable vehicles sucks money up trying to do more with less.”

    I look at things from a supply and demand standpoint. This is the basis for any good business plan – determine if a market exists, quantify it, and develop a product that addresses the need.

    We have two existing launchers (Atlas/Delta) that are used by DOD and commercial companies for their most valuable cargo. So far, there is no cargo projected that does not fit on one of these launchers. Atlas V Heavy, which has a potential to put 64,820 lbs into LEO (10,000 lbs more than the Shuttle), but so far no one has contracted for it’s services.

    United Launch Alliance published a study last year called “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″ (AIAA 2009-6567) that proposed a system of spacecraft that could be used to land on the Moon using Atlas/Delta/Falcon 9 launchers. We can get there faster, cheaper, and with the same capability (if not more).

    Regarding Shuttle-C, the Shuttle production line started shutting down two years ago, and the program will have flown it’s last flight before anyone in Congress would be able to insert funding for a Shuttle-C. The Shuttle-C is build-able, but it suffers from the same cost issues as the Shuttle (plus program restart costs), as well as lacking an identified cargo. What is the business case for it? What is the cargo?

    I like to compare choices, and so my favorite way to do it is to see how much we could launch to LEO with an existing launcher instead of spending money on a new launcher. If it took $5B to get a Shuttle-C to the launchpad (a number I made up, but probably low), instead we could use the same money for Atlas/Delta Heavies to put 833,333 lbs into LEO, which is about the mass of the ISS. That would be the trade-off.

    Many of us think we have not maxed out our capabilities with the current generation of launchers, and the ULA study confirms that we are not being held back by them either. It’s cheaper to use what we have, with the advantage of not having to wait.

    You may like Shuttle-C, but you’re competing with the Ares V and Direct folks with your arguments, as well as those like me that don’t see a business case for any HLV yet. Better sharpen your pencil (and not your tongue) if you want to start getting converts… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    J201 wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 3:12 am

    “This is what perplexes me about ObamaSpace and it’s supporters, and it’s been bugging me since feburary 1: how do you expect to embark on month-long voyages to an asteroid or mars when we can’t make it three days to the moon?”

    Constellation was specifically to land on the Moon. The new plan excludes the Moon landing, and continues on to destinations beyond.

    “How do you intend to pay for a mission to an asteroid or mars when a moon mission is unaffordable?”

    The first step is not to build the Ares I or Ares V. Both were very expensive to develop, and expensive to put mass into orbit. Instead we utilize current launchers, and build incremental technology improvements through the commercial space industry. NASA is not a cheap entity to run a transportation company, and eliminating that responsibility/overhead frees up money that can be used for actual space missions.

    “History has proven that goals are best achievable when they are actually defined in time and space. In order to get to your destination, you need an actual destination, a vehicle that can go the distance, and a plan to get there. In that respect, flexible path fails.”

    Many of us saw Constellation as the inflexible one. It was purpose built for one mission, and at the end of the mission, you wouldn’t have any reusable hardware for going someplace else.

    WRT having goals, it’s one thing to have goals, but it’s another to achieve them. Constellation was the program of the future, and would always be (i.e. it would keep slipping & slipping). The new plan provides modular systems that can be repurposed without having to create Constellation sized “programs”. It’s time to transform our efforts in space from a “program” and into an industry.

  • J201

    I think you might be right: at least part of Constellation is inflexible. But both Orion and the Ares V were originally intended to be utilized for various missions, including those to the moon, asteroids, and mars. I think it is Ares I and Altair that are more mission specific to LEO and the moon, respectively. Ares I was also to serve as a testbed and demonstrator for hardware to be used on Ares V. And the moon just happened to be the first and most pressing destination.

    The only reason Constellation kept slipping was because Congress refused to fund it properly, although Cxp is still within it’s original budget profile. This condition is easily fixed. It’s not like the current administration is afraid to spend money.

    The irony is that if ObamaSpace gets rejected, or if Congress can find some happy middle ground between the administration and Constellation, we may have the first fully funded manned spaceflight program in 40 years.

    As for the industry thing, you need a market bigger than government contracts and a few rich astronaut wannabees to sustain it. You need a destination that can provide capital return, and not just in terms of money. We just don’t have that yet. Until we do, a market big enough to support multiple commercial companies without major government intervention will never materialize.

  • DCSCA

    “‘They’ want Constellation because it means jobs and fat contracts and perpetuates the delusion that we’ll have a permanent lunar base.”

    Delusion to the private enterprised, quarterly profit fueled toy rocketeers who cannot yet raise enough capital in the risk averse private sector. A challenging engineering goal for a grown-up, government funded and managed manned space program where profit is not the motivator.

    Obama does not display the curiosity, passion and vision of a space enthusiast or a technologist. He’s a lawyer. His recent comments on the oil spill in the Gulf were delivered in a lawyerly fashion and indicates how he approaches complex problems – engineering or otherwise. He just reads what bureaucrats hand him. Just as he did at KSC. Or as he did regarding Afghanistan. Space exploration was not really a part of his formulative years. He is not another JFK or LBJ.

    Bolden is an empty suit administrator. Sad really. And Garver is nothing more than creature of Washington aerospace lobbying and not a friend of NASA. She is no Von Braun. And she has had friction with anything Griffin for years. Indeed during her NSS days, this writer, who was an early NSS member when Von Braun created it and left it in Garver’s era, personally traded words with Garver regarding her voiced opposition of investing in a return to the moon program, advocating the ‘make-work’ projects of the ISS program instead. This writer told her the nation already had a space station in orbit– the moon, just waiting for exploration and exploitation and an ISS-sized project has no business being afloat 300 miles above the Earth but firmly anchored to the floor of the Ocean of Storms.

    “Obamaspace” will be rejected by Congress and key elements of Constellation will continue to be funded, in this weak economy. Jobs are critical. The oil spill in the Gulf helps the rationale for politicians to support it as many aerospace contractions are based that region. It keeps people working and paying taxes, not on the dole, in an area that appears fated to years of worsening conditions more dour than the poor economy the rest of the nation is facing.

  • DCSCA

    @CoastalRon:”We remember Armstrong & Aldrin, but who remembers who landed on the Moon with the Apollo 12 mission? How about Apollo 14, 15, 16, 17?”

    How about them, indeed. From my aging memory, Conrad & Bean on 12 in the Ocean of Storms; Shepard & Mitchell on 14 at Fra Mauro; Scott & Irwin on 15 near Hadley rille; Young & Duke on 16 at Descartes; Cernan & Schmitt on 17 at Taurus-Littrow.

    “We know how to do this – sure we can improve upon it, but that is the role of private enterprise. After all… we are not Communists (Godfather reference).” A private sector space company has one goal- profit for its shareholders and investors. Profit comes before opening the new frontier of space exploration. Look at BP and you see how a private space company will operate in an unforgiving frontier. Profits first and foremost.

    And the ol’Commie Soyuz is all that will be left flying people up to space. Ironic to any Corleone fan. And, uh, nobody is stopping the private sector from raising investment capital, building the infrastructure, communications and control centers, service facilities, spacecraft, train crews, recovery teams, etc., Go for it. On your own dime, not on the back of the taxpayers. The movies have shown us a business plan– watch Destination: Moon.

    “NASA explores, and with the knowledge gained and passed down, the commercial sector exploits.” Fine, go raise investment capital in the private sector, build rockets, spacecraft, space centers and all the infrastructure necessary and go fly. You don’t need NASA for that. And BP should be a pathetic example of how the commercial sector exploits in a forbidding frontier and when it screws up, needs the government to step in.

  • DCSCA

    re- Alex Roland. He’s been opposed to manned spaceflight for over 35 years.

  • DCSCA

    [Garver] later added that even though the new plan does not explicitly include a lunar landing, “we are not giving up on the Moon.” She’s a liar.

  • DCSCA

    @MarkRWhittington: Obama read, “Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there. There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do.”

    Uh, Buzz Aldrin was ‘there’ about 21 hours and outside walking around ‘exploring’ roughly 2 of those hours. Good Lord. This is probably the most ridiculous statement on space policy a president has ever made. He read what the bureaucrats handed him to say. A visit to the LRO website with recent photos of the six manned moon landing sites shows, in spite of the technical triumph of their era, just how puny those few days of stay in the lunar dawns truly were in terms of exploration. Columbus made four voyages to the Americas for Portugal and stopped exploring. Budget battles again. That worked out well… for Great Britain.

  • Vladislaw

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Columbus made four voyages to the Americas for Portugal”

    Search for backers

    “In 1485, Columbus presented his plans to John II of Portugal, the King of Portugal. He proposed the king equip three sturdy ships and grant Columbus one year’s time to sail out west into the Atlantic, search for a western route to the Orient, and return. Columbus also requested he be made “Great Admiral of the Ocean Sea” (for they called the Atlantic the Ocean Sea), appointed governor of any and all lands he ‘discovered,’ and given one-tenth of all revenue from those lands.”

    But John II didn’t fund Columbus. So he tried again:

    “According to Columbus’ contract made for the expedition commission by Queen Isabella for Castile, if Columbus claimed any new islands or mainland for the Crown, he would receive many high rewards. In terms of power, he would be given the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and appointed Viceroy and Governor of all the newly colonised lands. He had the right to nominate three persons, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. He would be entitled to ten percent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity; this part was denied to him in the contract, although it was one of his demands. Additionally, he would also have the option of buying one-eighth interest in any commercial venture with the new lands and receive one-eighth of the profits.”

    To try and compare NASA exploring the moon to Columbus is silly at best. CC was after land and profits. PERIOD! He wanted a government to help fund the venture. If you TRUELY want America to approach lunar exploration like Columbus then you are looking at the wrong actor, NASA can never fill the shoes.

    A better comparison would be:

    Texas Firm Draws up Plans for Orbital Gas Station

    “A Texas-based firm has drawn up plans for a manned expedition to the Moon to seek out the raw ingredients for what amounts to an orbital gas station for future spacecraft.

    Under the plan, from Bill Stone of Austin’s Stone Aerospace, Inc, a vanguard team of industrialists would explore the Shackleton Crater at the Moon’s south pole to determine how much, if any, frozen water and other materials sits locked beneath the lunar regolith [image].

    If enough resources are found, they could then be processed into spacecraft fuels and hauled into low-Earth orbit (LEO) for propellant-thirsty spacecraft at one-tenth the cost of launching them from Earth, according to the plan.

    “Once initial funding is received to initiate the detailed planning effort, we expect to be open for business in LEO in the 2015 timeframe,” Stone said in a statement, adding that the ambitious plan would likely cost about $15 billion and require significant international partnerships. “Only by operating commercially will this enterprise be successful.”

    To that end, Stone has formed Shackleton Energy Company (SEC). He discussed his plan in a March 10 presentation at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference in Monterey, California.”

    Now if you want the Federal Government to fund this it would be a better comparison to Columbus, but you would have to let them actually make land claims on the moon.

  • Coastal Ron

    J201 wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 4:40 am

    “The only reason Constellation kept slipping was because Congress refused to fund it properly, although Cxp is still within it’s original budget profile.”

    Actually Constellation now far exceeds it’s originally budget profile. With schedule slips, you’re still accruing the overhead, but you’re not accomplishing the tasks the overhead supports. You can’t make that up, and the only way to get back on track schedule-wise is to dump a lot of money into the program. No one is going to do this for Constellation, as it’s public support is tepid at best (most space programs are).

    “As for the industry thing, you need a market bigger than government contracts and a few rich astronaut wannabees to sustain it.”

    Bigelow is going after the foreign government market for long-term research, and SpaceX and Orbital are building their LEO services by doing it the old fashioned way – service contracts for the government. How do you think the defense industry survives – by selling handguns to grandma?

    In this case, instead of the government building and running their own transportation system, they would contract with the commercial space industry. NASA does not know how to run a transportation company, and we shouldn’t force it to. Boeing & Lockheed Martin have more experience than NASA at doing this, and they have the facilities and workforce able to perform the job.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 7:06 am

    ** Sigh **

    Some people can only see in absolutes. In this case, “Moon First” people think that if you go anywhere else first, then you’ve given up on the Moon forever.

    I look forward to going back to the Moon, but after 40 years of not doing it, I don’t see the national imperative to send people right away. We have wonderful robot explorer technology we’ve developed for Mars that can be used on the Moon first (and it’s in the new budget).

    With the Moon being so close, that means you can land larger and more capable robots, and the feedback loop (communications) is seconds instead of minutes. We have many things that we can get done with robots ahead of time, so when we do send humans to the Moon, we’ll know what they face and what they’re needed for.

    For those of us that see the new space plan as opening up space to multiple missions (i.e. the Flexible Plan), the Moon is a huge place of interest. However we don’t see it as the first priority for NASA’s efforts. In that context, we see that Garver was being truthful about NASA’s intentions for the Moon.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 1:47 am

    “Therefore, I have to ask, in what sense can what Garver said at ISDC be true?”

    I am uncomfortable “speaking” for Lori Garver in particular in this event since I have not heard her complete presentation…but I am comfortable speaking for what I think that the Obama plan does and enables.

    If the Moon (or anyother place) is included or excluded from future plans depends in large part on how “one” sees those future plans being implemented.

    In your world from your full throttled attack on the Obama plan and likewise full throttle defense of the Constellation program; it is fair to conclude that the way you see the future unfolding is a lot like the past. Government officials and administration set specific goals (go to the Moon and return, build a space transportation system, build a space station…to name the three goals that actually got accomplished) and then spend federal funds accomplishing them with little else to show for it other then merely accomplishing the task. That is the model that Constellation is based on (no matter what the VSE was) and that is the model that is “in play” if it continues.

    You need a goal and a date and little else. We do the goal on the date (or somewhere on the long side of it) and you are happy. Move on to the “next logical” goal and date.

    In my view that is an unreasonable set of plans. I am concerned with what the federal dollars enable once they are spent. We have (to paraphrase the scriptures) spent a lot on the STS and station and it has profited us little.

    What I perceive the Obama plan as allowing is the development 1) of a market in human spaceflight and 2) technologies which once they are in hand then 3) allow some future decision maker to decide to bundle those technologies to accomplish some specific goal that has relevance to that time and place in some reasonable time period.

    A big problem with the Apollo project (and why its public support fizziled) is that the notion of racing the Soviets had great appeal to 1962 America, but little to 1968 America.. history does not tarry very long in modern America and unless things can be accomplished in a reasonable period of time and for reasonable dollars the people move on. You might be excited about going back to the Moon…polls show few Americans are.

    If by 2014 we have 1) on orbit prop resupply capability, 2) some notion of the Vasimer working or not working, and 3) some concept of lift that is not the sole step child of a government agency…then we are on a solid road to doing in the future things which today will take another two decades (going back to teh Moon). Things which can be done is some “short life”…

    I dont think he did, but even if Obama was saying “no Moon in any Presidency” I would argue it doesnt matter. There wasnt going to be one under Constellation in either his two (or one) term. Had McCain been elected, gotten two terms and kept the POR and it stayed on track (a lot of maybes) there wasnt going to be “the Moon” in his Presidency. There wasnt going to be one in any Presidency until 2024 or 28!

    What the POR put NASA on was the track to in 2020 be flying the most obsolete vehicle in the US. at the cost of over 30 billion dollars.

    That is the plan you support. There was “no Moon” in that timespan.

    Robert g. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 1:47 am

    The Moon has been specifically excluded from the Obama space exploration time line.

    - – -
    To Mark and others who built on Mark’s misreading of what the
    President said:

    WRONG. Going there FIRST has been specifically excluded.

    Why? Because developing launch vehicles and spacecraft and landers AT THE SAME TIME is too expensive. Read the freaking Augustine report. Look at Crawley’s program funding sand charts. Better yet, read any of the writeups on Jeff Greason’s various presentations.

    The issue is NOT should we try to expand humanity to Mars (and other places) WITHOUT ever practicing on a planetary surface 3 days away. Of course we will. What the President (and many others) was saying is that we won’t go back to the Moon with humans BEFORE we do other BEO missions.

    - – -
    Please, stop shadowboxing with phantom arguments that are not part of Obamaspace.

    – Jim

  • DCSCA

    “A big problem with the Apollo project (and why its public support fizziled) is that the notion of racing the Soviets had great appeal to 1962 America, but little to 1968 America.”

    This is nonsense, of course, as world interest and national pride in Apollo 8 demonstrated – it literally saved 1968 and remains a historic spaceflight on a par with Apollo 11. And, of course, there were only two Apollo flights in 1968 — Apollo 7 in October and Apollo 8 in December.

    “History does not tarry very long in modern America and unless things can be accomplished in a reasonable period of time and for reasonable dollars the people move on.”

    Uh, the Apollo program achieved its goal ahead of schedule and under budget. Not bad for government work. And the generation that initiated it paid for it. The reasons for waning support for Apollo, which was a finite program, are multiple- not the least of which was waning media coverage in the United States as the Vietnam catastrophe peaked and collapsed. There was a 19 month gap between and relevant televised coverage of lunar surface activities – over a year and a half. July, 69 to Feb., ’71. 12′s color camera burned out after about 20 minutes. It is folly to underestimate the importance of media coverage for any of these programs and NASA learned that the hard way.

    “You might be excited about going back to the Moon…polls show few Americans are.”

    Polls show a majority of Americans believe aliens are alive among us along with Elvis as well. Few Americans are leaders. Most are followers.

  • DCSCA

    “We have (to paraphrase the scriptures) spent a lot on the STS and station and it has profited us little.” This is disingenuous nonsense.

  • DCSCA

    “To try and compare NASA exploring the moon to Columbus is silly at best.” Making four trips and quitting was the point — and if you insist on focusing pn the profit motive, he blew that as well, to the benefit of Great Britain. Good grief.

  • DCSCA

    What I perceive the Obama plan as allowing is the development 1) of a market in human spaceflight and 2) technologies which once they are in hand then 3) allow some future decision maker to decide to bundle those technologies to accomplish some specific goal that has relevance to that time and place in some reasonable time period.

    Hmmmm. Don’t recall the U.S. government investing trillions into creating a Federal highway system in 1900 so the plethora of fledgling profit-driven automobile companies (one of which was named Moon BTW) could develop and perfect their ‘Tin Lizzys’ to make a buck.

  • Uh, the Apollo program achieved its goal ahead of schedule and under budget.

    Can you provide a citation for that? Of course you can’t, because Apollo had no budget — it was nothing but schedule. The motto was “waste anything but time.” Apollo was horrifically expensive. Constellation would have been as well. We can do much better.

  • DCSCA

    @CoastalRon- You miss the point. A return to the moon isn’t just an end to itself. It is a worthy if not inspiring challenge for a fresh generation of engineers willing to look beyond the mundane confines of LOE activities. Ask any Apollo era engineer if going in circles with Skylab was as challenging as going out to and back from lunar distance. But lets understand what’s in play here- the goal of conservatives peppered throughout Federal agencies is to privatize as much government operations as possible and eliminate government agencies. NASA has always been a prime target. Remove the core of the human spaceflight program from NASA and America’s civilian space agency is doomed. Any proposed paper projects in out years can and will be torn up by politicians as budgets tighten and entitlements claim more of the shrinking pie for discretionary spending. And NASA is clearly a luxury item a cash-strapped nation can do without. NASA’s remaining assets along with any esoteric research underway can easily be folded into existing agencies- FAA, NOAA, DoD, etc. The AF, with its bloated budget, can launch satellites and astronauts in the future as NASA has in the past. The rationale for keeping NASA is what’s at stake here and if Obama’s plan is adopted, the civilian space agency will, for all intents and purposes, disappear ‘by the end of the decade.’ And the rationale will seem perfectly sound to do it.

  • DCSCA

    @RandSimberg -”Seamans reminded the committee that Webb had told them only the day before [Gagarin's flight on April 12, 1961] that the cost of Apollo, without a crash program, would be between $20 billion and $40 billion over the next ten years. With an accelerated program, that figure could go even higher.” – source, Chariots For Apollo

    And, uh, July, 1969 is, was most calendars, ‘before the end of the decade.’ Check any history book not printed in Texas.

  • That was a WAG from people who didn’t even know how it was going to be done at the time (which is why it had such a huge range). It ended up costing about twenty-five billion, which was five billion more than the lower estimate. But an estimate is not a budget, and the fact remains that it was a huge amount of money, and it would never have been done simply to go to the moon. And the fact also remains that Constellation is pretty much the most expensive way conceivable to get back to the moon (because that’s essentially all it does — redo Apollo, including the expensive manner in which it was done).

  • But lets understand what’s in play here- the goal of conservatives peppered throughout Federal agencies is to privatize as much government operations as possible and eliminate government agencies.

    Yes, that must be why the appointees of the most left-wing president we’ve ever had proposed it.

    [rolling eyes]

    The AF, with its bloated budget, can launch satellites and astronauts in the future as NASA has in the past.

    The Air Force has never found a use for human in space commensurate with the cost. NASA’s only chance to continue to get astronauts to space is with the new plan. It couldn’t afford to build a new NASA-only system that would have cost hundreds of millions per ticket for the astronauts.

  • DCSCA

    “Yes, that must be why the appointees of the most left-wing president we’ve ever had proposed it.” Nonsense. FDR holds that distinction to righties. And midlevel rightist bureaucrats haven’t been purged from government agencies. The Obama appointees support expanding aerospace contracting, not manned space exploration. Garver is one of them. Bolden is an empty suit. Obama isn’t Stalin. Hopefully, you’re smarter than this.

    “The Air Force has never found a use for human in space commensurate with the cost.”

    Hmmmm. They got a budget for this gem and spent it: In the U.S., the Air Force-run program was officially known as the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. The public was informed only that the project involved placing military astronauts in space to conduct scientific research. But in reality, their actual mission was far different. In fact, MOL was designed to be an orbiting spy station, with two astronauts operating an array of intelligence-gathering instruments, including a telescope capable of resolving objects on the ground as small as three inches. The U.S. Air Force-run program, Manned Orbiting Laboratory, had more to do with astro peeping toms than lab work. In the mid-sixties, when the program began, the public was told that the project was to place military astronauts in space to conduct scientific research, when in reality MOL was designed to be an orbiting spy station, complete with two astronauts manning intelligence-gathering instruments like a telescope that could focus on a three-inch blip back on Earth.”

  • DCSCA

    “It ended up costing about twenty-five billion, which was five billion more than the lower estimate.” Or $15 billion less than the top estimate. Good Lord.

    Just go raise your capital in the private sector, design and assemble your rockets and spacecraft, construct your infrastructures for control, communications and flight operations, go fly and make a quarterly profit for the investors, shareholers and stockholders. Who or what is stopping you? Apparently today the risk-averse free market is. You don’t need the governments help to fly people in space to LOE. You need to develop the confidence with investors that you can do it on schedule and make money at it. A step in that direction is for SpaceX to get Falcon and Dragon operational.

  • FDR holds that distinction to righties.

    Not any more.

    Just go raise your capital in the private sector, design and assemble your rockets and spacecraft, construct your infrastructures for control, communications and flight operations, go fly and make a quarterly profit for the investors, shareholers and stockholders. Who or what is stopping you? Apparently today the risk-averse free market is. You don’t need the governments help to fly people in space to LOE. You need to develop the confidence with investors that you can do it on schedule and make money at it. A step in that direction is for SpaceX to get Falcon and Dragon operational.

    This is a complete non sequitur to my point that Apollo was outrageously expensive, and couldn’t have been justified outside the context of the Cold War..

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “@CoastalRon- You miss the point. A return to the moon isn’t just an end to itself. It is a worthy if not inspiring challenge for a fresh generation of engineers willing to look beyond the mundane confines of LOE activities. ”

    who cares? People who are engineers are inspired by lots of things…and the ones that take a technowelfare lunar program to be inspired…well go on the unemployment line

    as for the USAF and MOL…they never flew a crewed one.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @RobertGOler- “who cares? People who are engineers are inspired by lots of things…and the ones that take a technowelfare lunar program to be inspired…well go on the unemployment line”

    Clearly you don’t. And successful, past and present aerospace engineers have voiced their preference.

    re MOL- ahhhh, but they spent the $, didn’t they – and were well along with prototypes and test vehicles. If the funding continued, it would have flown.

  • DCSCA

    @RandSimberg- Nobody said Apollo wasn’t expensive, and JFK made that point clear in his very public 5/25/61 address to Congress, (unlike Obama’s address to a pre-screened crowd on CAFB). An it was Congress which voted appropriations for Apollo. A great deal of that cost was spend on infrastructure as you surely know. And this entire line of conversation stems from your own posting dissing this writer’s reference to Apollo coming in ahead of schedule, under budget and paid for by the generation(s) who initiated it. Which it did and was.

    “FDR holds that distinction to righties.”

    “Not any more.” IYO. Suggest you revisit the FDR years and reassess your personal conclusions. Otherwise, alert Fox – Rand Simberg is now the official voice of the Far Right. Of course, that very statement makes no sense as your perceived ‘far left’ president proposed a plan for a space program that would stir the bones of Ronald Reagan and pleased the sour likes of Newt Gingrich.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    “Hmmmm. Don’t recall the U.S. government investing trillions into creating a Federal highway system in 1900 so the plethora of fledgling profit-driven automobile companies (one of which was named Moon BTW) could develop and perfect their ‘Tin Lizzys’ to make a buck.”

    no it started in the 50′s with the Ike Highway System…and the traveling public, transportation of goods etc has never been the same. Same (grin) with DARPANET, the ATC system, various water projects…want me to go on?

    This is what a federal government does

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    “Clearly you don’t. And successful, past and present aerospace engineers have voiced their preference. ”

    sure…doing technowelfare projects that have no time schedule, year after year budgets, no requirement to actually produce anything of value is easier compared to you know accomplishing something.

    I dont really care what those engineers care about, we dont do technowelfare to excite them…as I noted they can go on the unemployment line, see how they like that.

    As for MOL…it never flew, they stopped spending the dollars.

    like “space is dangerous”…not so much

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “You miss the point. A return to the moon isn’t just an end to itself. It is a worthy if not inspiring challenge for a fresh generation of engineers willing to look beyond the mundane confines of LOE activities.”

    First of all, are we in space solely to inspire the engineers that build the systems? That seems a little weird to me, and very much like a jobs program.

    Second, let’s ask the astronauts living on the ISS if what they are doing is “mundane”. I suspect they would say no, and that the construction of the ISS has been a big challenge. Going forward, doing research in zero-G environments is something that a lot of scientists would love to do in person, so I don’t think they would call LEO “mundane”.

    “Ask any Apollo era engineer”. Why don’t we ask the secretaries, and the machinists, and the baggers at the grocery store. Why do the opinions of an engineer matter any more than any other U.S. taxpayer? Silly argument.

    “Remove the core of the human spaceflight program from NASA and America’s civilian space agency is doomed.” Show me in the NASA charter where it says that NASA is responsible for launching cargo & crew to space? In fact the VSE specifically states that NASA is not to compete with commercial companies. You are imprinting you own wishes onto NASA, instead of looking at what it is supposed to do.

    “The rationale for keeping NASA is what’s at stake here and if Obama’s plan is adopted”. Yes, and the Constellation program was destroying the core of NASA, and the Obama plan returns it back to what it should be doing.

    I liked the future that the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey envisioned, where we could fly to space on Pan Am spaceliners – we won’t get there while the U.S. government is the only option to get humans to orbit.

  • DCSCA

    @RobertGOler- as usual, you missed the point. The automobile industry was estasblished decades before the IHS was begun (with Defense Dept. funding BTW) on the premise of transporting troops and military equipment across the country, not to expand commerce.

    “like “space is dangerous”…not so much”. It is. But you can do your own homework on it. You’re smarter than this.

    Re- MOL– The point was, the AF spent the $ and would have flown it if the funding hadn’t dried up.

    “I dont really care what those engineers care about, we dont do technowelfare to excite them…as I noted they can go on the unemployment line, see how they like that.”

    You’ve made this clear. Better to have smart people at work paying taxes than on the dole.

  • A great deal of that cost was spend on infrastructure as you surely know.

    Yes, infrastructure that guaranteed that space would remain expensive to this day.

  • DCSCA

    @CoastalRon-”Why do the opinions of an engineer matter any more than any other U.S. taxpayer? Silly argument.” Speak for yourself. Don’t see many secretaries and grocery baggers in wet suits out trying to plug oil leaks. But you go on planning a private enterprised space venture with design plans from Piggly-Wiggly workers and typists over aerospace engineers. That’ll build confidence with investment capitalists for sure. Goof grief.

    “I liked the future that the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey envisioned, where we could fly to space on Pan Am spaceliners – we won’t get there while the U.S. government is the only option to get humans to orbit.”

    Pan Am went out of business– bankrupt. Part of the downside of the private sector. But there is a resuable spacecraft named Orion in work, isn’t there, for the government funded and managed space program. Nobody is stopping the private sector from flying. Nobody is preventing them from generating investment capital for a risky venture if they can show a profit for those investors. Go for it, just not at NASA’s expense. But your business plan is less 2001: A Space Odyssey and more akin to Destination: Moon.

    As noted on another thread, these politicians, particularly Republicans, are not going to kill Constellation in this economy. Not in an election year. There are too many jobs at stake in areas where the economy remains weak or is weakening further (the Gulf coast) — jobs that are relatively high-tech and related to the technological base of the nation. Better to have them working and paying taxes than on the dole. Not to mention the famed ‘Cernan intangibles’ wrapped in the emotional cloth of national pride, human curiosity and so on. Without doubt, Constellation needs reworking. No argument on that. But a general purpose space vehicle (Orion), fully funded and in the pipeline for NASA makes sense. Flying it atop existing LVs for LOE activities seems a logical progression and worth the investment. Ares less so. But a heavy lift LV family, (revive the clusters) a lunar lander and long stay lunar facility is the logical step outward and worthy work for a fresh generation of engineers. Leave the profit-centered efforts with the private sector. Nobody is preventing them — or you– from generating investment capital for a risky venture. Show you can turn a quarterly profit a profit for those investors and you’re gold. Go for it, just not at NASA’s expense. And that seems to be the stumbling block– private industry can’t generate the confidence of venture capitalists to invest in such a high risk enterprise today. They couldn’t 30 years ago. It’s a bigger problem for the private rocketeers than getting off the ground, but it would help if, for instance, SpaceX met a schedule and got Falcon and Dragon operational.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    @RobertGOler- as usual, you missed the point. The automobile industry was estasblished decades before the IHS was begun..

    if that is your point then it is a failed one.

    The launch industry in the US is as “established” as it is going to get. Only NASA uses their own vehicles.

    We are at the time in development of launch vehicles where under the current system they cannot go forward unless they are treated like all other aspects of American infrastructure.

    As for MOL…they gave up on it when it got to expensive and the uncrewed vehicles had similar capabilities. whats you’re point?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    You’ve made this clear. Better to have smart people at work paying taxes than on the dole….

    but hsf as practiced by NASA is “the dole”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    @RandSimberg- Then go build and fly your own in the private sector. What’s stopping you? Go build your own private-sectored space program. Seems the cost and a guaranteed return on the investment for the investors are bigger hurdles than crafting the technologies themselves.

  • Bennett

    DCSCA wrote “Go for it, just not at NASA’s expense.

    Keep repeating this if you like, on every post.

    Not only do I think it’s not short enough for a bumper sticker, I think it misses reality by a long shot. I pay taxes so that the range is there to be used by anyone who builds a rocket that will provide access to orbit and jobs for those “smart folks” who want to see our species expand beyond Earth.

    We agree on a lot of things, but not on a NASA LV that plies LEO.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    “But you go on planning a private enterprised space venture with design plans from Piggly-Wiggly workers and typists over aerospace engineers. That’ll build confidence with investment capitalists for sure.”.

    You missed the point DCSCA – those people ARE the investors! And you don’t think the U.S. Taxpayers opinion is worthy of consideration? King DCSCA has spoken, and he knows better than the people.

    “Constellation needs reworking.” No kidding. And that’s why it’s being cancelled, and the necessary pieces being developed separately, and in some cases being transferred to the private sector.

    “But a general purpose space vehicle (Orion), fully funded and in the pipeline for NASA makes sense.”

    Yes, and it only costs the U.S. $4B for it. Instead, we could pay SpaceX 1/10 that amount to add crew capability to their Dragon capsule. Same capability as Orion for far less cost – why wouldn’t the American Taxpayer be happy with that? I don’t understand the desire for Constellation lovers to spend so much money for so little…

  • DCSCA

    @RGOler – The point seems quite clear– plenty of start-up car companies tried to deliver a reliable product and turn a profit. Some made it, some didn’t but the fellows who developed reliable products and delivered them via a successful business plan w/profitability excelled and didn’t need the crutch of the government to build an IHS first. Private sector rocket companies can do the same if they can provide a reliable, cost-effective service and turns a quarterly profit for investors. Apparently low if not wary confidence in this keeps investment capitalists balking. Overcome this and capital will flow in w/o the help of government or at the cost of NASA projects.

  • DCSCA

    @CoastalRon— Uh, Constellation has not been cancelled. It is up to the Congress. If you want to argue that SpaceX is a viable replacement for NASA activities, go for it. But that’ll never fly– figuratively and literally.

  • Bennett

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Falcon 9, Atlas V, and Delta IV ARE a replacement for NASA LEO LVs, get used to it.

    …and they do fly. Whereas Ares 1 or 9, will never fly. Get used to that too.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett- “I pay taxes so that the range is there to be used by anyone who builds a rocket that will provide access to orbit and jobs for those “smart folks” who want to see our species expand beyond Earth.”

    Who says? Apply for a permit if they issue them for risky ventures but taxpayers have no business subsidizing private rocket companies that scare off capital investors in the private sector due to risk of return on that investment. Socializing the risk isn’t very popular now. And as for ‘the range’… plenty of California developers would salivate at the opportunity to turn Camp Pendleton’s miles and miles of beachfront property into something other than a government military installation, too. The ‘range’ is gov’t property and government managed for government missile work. Plenty of islands in the Caribbean for Musk-types to buy and build a privately financed rocket range. But we most likely agree on Ares being a less than stellar choice. It’s a politically dirty bird, literally and figuratively. NASA can do better. But this writer fully supports efforts in the private sector to go fly. Go for it, just not at the expense of NASA’s lunar program.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett- We agree on Ares.

  • DCSCA

    @Bennett- Not Space X. It is not viably operational. Musk best get Falcon & Dragon flying.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    at least you are not just cut and pasting.

    nothing you say negates the point. The auto industry would not be where it is today without the IHS.

    Commercial lift changes the launcher equation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ May 31st, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    “Apply for a permit if they issue them for risky ventures but taxpayers have no business subsidizing private rocket companies that scare off capital investors in the private sector due to risk of return on that investment.”

    Apparently you don’t pay attention to the world. SpaceX has attracted outside investors, and is fully funded specifically because they are going after the commercial launch market. And the government has issued permits and leased them a launch pad, which SpaceX has spent money on to upgrade.

    The difference between Orbital/SpaceX, and U.S. Government run launch systems is that Orbital/SpaceX don’t get paid if they don’t deliver. The U.S. Government has no such incentive to provide a service on-time, and within a specified budget. Blow up a launcher – no big deal, the U.S. Taxpayer will just pay for another.

    I find it hard to understand how you can be so against free market solutions, regardless of your political leanings (whatever they may be). Commercial launch providers already exist, and they provide all of the launch services for the DOD. NASA also uses commercial launch services for all non-Shuttle launches, so all that is happening is expanding the range of launch services to include crew. United Launch Services is already responsible for crew launches with the Shuttle, so commercial firms have proved that they are capable of doing what is needed. Where’s the beef?

  • “The ramifications of Falcon or any other of these HSF providers failing are too severe.”

    I know this is going way back to the beginning of the thread, but this argument is totally bogus. The entire point of doing commercial manned space flight is to get inexpensive, redundant systems so that if one fails, you still have options. Even if we only get two, that’s still a big improvement. And in the event that we’re stuck with only one privately-owned craft and we have a failure, who’s to say the government can’t buy it off their hands or contribute funds to rework it? That would leave us with pretty much the same situation we’d be in if NASA did a standard Saturn or Shuttle-style program, with government owned vehicles, but we would have still saved a small fortune on development costs.

    If NASA builds it’s own system and backs off of the funding currently slotted for private and there’s a failure, then what? Two years of nothing. No flights, no ISS, and certainly no grand lunar trips. How do I know this? It happened twice with STS. And both times we were forced to retool the STS system for continued use instead of switch to plan B, because there was no plan B. And so long as NASA is the only game in town, we will never get a plan B. Congress will never, and I repeat never, allocate funds to build a manned space system to completion while we have one flying already. It’s not a politically tenable situation. It’s what kept STS flying until 2010 (now likely 2011) though we’ve acknowledged it’s faults and have been trying to replace it since the early 90′s.

    The only way the above statement holds is if we end up with one or zero functional providers, and I find that a highly unlikely scenario.

  • Gary Church

    “And both times we were forced to retool the STS system for continued use instead of switch to plan B, because there was no plan B.”

    Ahhh, but there was a plan B, both times a side mount capsule version of the shuttle was proposed, just like last year. It would have been what the shuttle should have been; a heavy lift vehicle instead of a heavy space plane lift vehicle. In my opinion most of the blame can be laid at the feet of the defense industry. No politician was willing to give up a single defense job if it meant trading it away for a space job. So there was never any money to fix the shuttle by getting rid of the orbiter; which we were stuck with in the first place because they wanted to save money by getting rid of ocean recovery. But with funding cuts the military became involved and they turned it into a spyplane; there is no other reason for the crossrange requirement and the huge cargo bay. Unfortunately the railed in from Utah (more politics) SRB’s were not powerful enough to launch into a polar orbit for spy missions. In an effort to get to this polar spyplane orbit the orbiter was built as light as possible; without any escape systems at all. In a nutshell, that is what happened to America’s space transportation system. Nickel and dimed to failure. We could have fixed it after challenger and after columbia and even last year with the Side mount; but the politicians and the DOD won’t give up a nickel.

  • Gary Church

    “I find that a highly unlikely scenario.”

    A provider of what? HSF?
    I have very little faith in SpaceX and their custers last stand no escape system dragon touristmobile.
    The Delta and Atlas are not manrated and putting a capsule on top is a whole new project that would take years.

    So how is it highly unlikely? Just use Soyuz? Because they are all that is left, unless you count the chinese.

  • Gary Church

    That would cluster’s last stand, not custers. sorry. Those 9 engines are just an accident waiting to happen.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>