Congress, NASA

The outline of a Senate NASA authorization bill forms

In a letter Monday to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), chair of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, outlined the key aspects of a NASA authorization bill his committee his drafting. The key elements of that bill, as described in that letter, include:

  • Support for extending operations of the ISS to at least 2020;
  • One additional shuttle mission (the “Launch on Need” contingency mission for the last currently-scheduled mission), which would fly only after “successful completion of an independent safety review”;
  • A “walk before you can run” approach to commercial crew transportation, funding additional risk reduction activity patterned after the current Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program as well as completion of “a number of studies, assessments, and milestones”;
  • Mars as the long-term goal for human spaceflight, but with NASA working with international partners “to define near-term missions in the lunar and high-Earth orbits of space” that would include development of new capabilities and infrastructure;
  • Begin development of a heavy-lift vehicle in 2011 that would support exploration as well as “serve as a contingency capability to the ISS”; and
  • Direct NASA that the heavy-lift vehicle and crew exploration vehicle “leverage the workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities of the Shuttle, Ares I, and Orion efforts.”

These provisions are not surprising, based on what Nelson has said in the past: he has specifically mentioned, among other things, adding one (and only one) shuttle flight and beginning immediate heavy-lift vehicle development, as well as expressing skepticism that commercial providers could provide crew capabilities in the near-term. He mentioned in the letter that these elements are based on discussions he has had with other committee members, including ranking subcommittee member Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and the chairman and ranking member of the overall committee, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), to create a “bipartisan foundation” for the authorization bill.

One thing the letter does not mention is how much funding the committee would authorize for these programs or the agency in general. Continuing heavy-lift vehicle development in parallel with commercial crew programs, as well as the additional funding needed to maintain shuttle operations at least through mid-2011 (the likely launch date of the additional shuttle mission) will put a squeeze on other NASA programs unless the authorizers add to the NASA budget proposal—and even then, there’s no guarantee that Sen. Mikulski’s appropriators would follow suit.

Update: Sen. Mikulski did have a response to Nelson’s letter: as reported by Space News she said that Nelson’s plan was “an alternative framework for NASA’s human space flight program that could snap us out of the ‘stagnant quo.’” She added that she looked forward to additional details and promised to work with Nelson as they worked on their respective appropriations and authorization bills.

101 comments to The outline of a Senate NASA authorization bill forms

  • Martijn Meijering

    Walk before you can run? When it comes to launch vehicle design ULA has been running for quite a while, SpaceX and Orbital have started to walk and today’s NASA is still in the crawling stage.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Part of this draft consists of the other shoe dropping on commercial space. By pitting private space against space exploration, Obama has empowered Congress to perform this move. The focus on “look but don’t touch” as opposed to a lunar return is also a big problem with this.

  • Let’s see FL – KSC, LA- Stennis, WV-IV&V Facility, TX-JSC. How did they miss Alabama? I read the third bullet as “slow down the commercial companies as much as you can, hoping either they give up or you catch up.”

  • amightywind

    Heavy lift and the anachronistic ‘crew exploration vehicle’. I love it. It is 2004 again. This should quiet the SpaceX din. Why don’t they just reinstate Ares and have an end to the discussion? If we don’t in 5 years SpaceX will be launching chimps, and the zealots on this site will be cheering wildly.

  • eh

    Developing an HLV and a capsule now will eat the budget up. This would be the end of any serious technology effort.

  • Major Tom

    “Part of this draft consists of the other shoe dropping on commercial space.”

    No, it doesn’t. Nelson’s own spokesman, Dan McLaughlin, confirmed that:

    “there is ‘no intent to cut [commercial crew]; the $6 billion is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.’”

    blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/06/nelson-maps-a-road-forward-on-space-without-constellation.html

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • Major Tom

    “I read the third bullet as ‘slow down the commercial companies as much as you can, hoping either they give up or you catch up.’”

    It’s not. See post directly above. It’s just CYA language.

    FWIW…

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    Martjin, the ‘walking before you run’ comment isn’t directed at the launch vehicle. That is (relatively) easy. It refers to commercial companies desinging, building and operating a crewed spacecraft independent of NASA. There appears to be little or no confidence amongst the political leadership that commercial providers could offer NASA a service better than it could produce for itself and do so sooner. Whether that belief is justified in engineering terms is not relevent for this specific discussion. Political perceptios are what count here and, I’m sorry to say, the commercial guys have failed to convince those in charge of the purse strings.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martjin, the ‘walking before you run’ comment isn’t directed at the launch vehicle. That is (relatively) easy.

    Not for NASA apparently.

    It refers to commercial companies desinging, building and operating a crewed spacecraft independent of NASA.

    All US manned spacecraft to date have been built by the private sector. NASA has involvement with SpaceX today. The argument doesn’t hold water.

    Political perceptios are what count here and, I’m sorry to say, the commercial guys have failed to convince those in charge of the purse strings.

    Of course, all Nelson cares about is pork. The walk before you run language is a (false) rationalisation of pork.

  • eh

    Convincing congress was impossible because they exist to provide local pork. More jobs = more pork. So the least efficient solution is best.

  • Major Tom

    “Developing an HLV and a capsule now will eat the budget up. This would be the end of any serious technology effort.”

    It depends on what is meant by “develop”. If it means run a PDR or CDR, settle on an HLV design, and start bending lots of metal with a big, expensive workforce starting in 2011, yes, that would eat the budget. But if it just means ramp up HLV development work towards a design decision later in the decade, well, NASA’s FY11 budget request was planning to do that anyway, especially with regard to developing a big kerolox engine to support an HLV design decision circa 2015. Anything could happen in the final authorization bill, but I seriously doubt it’s going to direct NASA to pick an HLV design in 2011. Nelson’s language seems pretty consistent with NASA’s FY11 request, or certainly wide enough to accommodate it.

    Nelson’s letter says nothing about the timing of crew exploration vehicle/capsule development, so there’s no budget threat there. However, an Orion CRV as proposed by the Administration could turn into a big budget threat.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Political perceptios are what count here and, I’m sorry to say, the commercial guys have failed to convince those in charge of the purse strings.”

    No. Per Nelson’s own spokesman, Dan McLaughlin:

    “there is ‘no intent to cut [commercial crew]; the $6 billion is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.’”

    blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/06/nelson-maps-a-road-forward-on-space-without-constellation.html

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “The focus on ‘look but don’t touch’ as opposed to a lunar return is also a big problem with this.”

    Why? If Mars is the ultimate goal, and it appears to be the ultimate goal for Nelson, Hutchison, Vitter, and Rockefeller, why should they divert billions of taxpayer dollars to a lunar lander?

    Duh…

    Read, comprehend, and think before you post.

  • Major Tom

    “Heavy lift and the anachronistic ‘crew exploration vehicle’. I love it.”

    Then why don’t you “love” NASA’s FY11 budget request? It accelerates HLV development by years over the POR — several billion for actual kerolox engine development instead of $20 million per year for paper studies — and now includes an Orion CRV that’s essentially a Block 1 CEV. You’re endorsing an FY11 authorization bill outline that endorses the President’s FY 11 budget request for NASA, plus or minus an extra Shuttle flight.

    Don’t you think at all before you post?

    “It is 2004 again.”

    Yes, after years of detouring down the ESAS and Constellation dead-end, we’re back at the VSE again.

    “This should quiet the SpaceX din.”

    Here’s a hint — per Nelson’s own spokesman, Dan McLaughlin:

    “there is ‘no intent to cut [commercial crew]; the $6 billion is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.’”

    blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/06/nelson-maps-a-road-forward-on-space-without-constellation.html

    “Why don’t they just reinstate Ares”

    Because Ares I/Orion for ISS will cost ~$35B (various NASA managers’ estimates) up to $50B (GAO) to finish, compared to $6B for the commercial crew development budget.

    Duh…

    “…the zealots on this site will be cheering wildly.”

    Yes, namecalling really enhances your argument. I’m completely convinced now.

    Ugh…

  • Wendy Craft

    I wonder which type of HLV they will be able to start on so soon rather then the same Cx derived vehicles…

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Major Tom,

    My understanding of this (clearly different from yours) is that commercial crew is going to be the follow up to flying something on an HLV. The “walk don’t run” comment, as I understood it, was referring to not relying on commercial providers until they have had a chance to prove their safety and quality without the desperate rush proposed in the President’s plan.

    Ultimately, commercial cargo and crew will be vital, of course. NASA’s budget cannot possibly afford in-house ISS support and BEO exploration. However, at least at first, Nelson’s plan seems to propose that NASA handle ISS support until commercial providers are able to take up the slack.

    As I have repeatedly said, that is my understanding of this. You obviously have your own.

    @ Martjin,

    Private companies build, yes, but only under quite close NASA direction (to the point where I understand a significant amount of NASA’s personnel budget is eaten up by oversight staff). A pure-commercial crew vehicle, with minimal oversight, is a new beast and, as ULA’s failure to grasp the recently offered opportunities seems to show, the various companies may not be entirely prepared for the new mind-set that the proejct would require.

  • eh

    Nelson’s letter and his aide’s comments are at odds. It may be that he walked it back via the aide so that later he can play “shocked” when Mikulski doesnt fund commercial crew well. This gives him some cover when he goes begging SpaceX for more Florida jobs.

  • MrEarl

    This is just as much as a mess as Obama’s “plan”. All I see is a jobs retention bill. But what can you expect from an entity with 100 chiefs.
    I’ll reserve final judgment till more details are released.
    Give me that agency and I’ll have it back on track in 60 days.

  • If we don’t in 5 years SpaceX will be launching chimps

    No, they’ll want test subjects much smarter than you.

  • @Wendy Craft

    I suspect the intended HLV is the Jupiter 130.

    Maybe just let Boeing operate the Jupiter 130 using the same contracting framework intended by the commercial space advocates for EELV and SpaceX.

    Take the proposed EELV CCDev contract forms and use the “cut-n-paste” function in Word to swap in Jupiter 130 for EELV, insert Boeing as prime, adjust the price and performance targets as needed, and we’re good to go.

    Stagnant quo resolved. ;-)

    I am also pleased that Senator Bill Nelson explicitly mentioned the Lagrange points as a potential place to deploy infrastructure to facilitate follow on BEO missions.

  • PS — Jupiter 130 should be operated in parallel with SpaceX with the intention being that SpaceX take over ISS logistics as soon as possible to allow immediate NASA transition to BEO missions, rather than waiting until 2025 for the first NEO mission.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The reason one goes to the Moon first before Mars is that it is easier, sustainable, cheaper, and makes going beyond the same. Obama and Nelson seem to either not realize this or don’t care.

  • Mark,

    Genuine EML infrastructure (a true Gateway) will facilitate going everywhere — lunar surface, Phobos, NEOs, Mars — everywhere.

    Genuine EML infrastructure will also facilitate the emergence of LEO depots, which will facilitate the emergence of RLVs.

    Genuine EML infrastructure will also facilitate lunar ISRU by providing a ready market for lunar LOX and/or cracked lunar water.

    By suggesting Lagrange point infrastructure, Nelson could be offering a way out of the stale “Moon -vs- Mars -vs- NEO” stagnant quo.

    Lagrange point infrastructure is also launcher neutral and offers the same benefits regardless of how we choose to travel from Earth to LEO.

  • Major Tom

    “My understanding of this (clearly different from yours) is that commercial crew is going to be the follow up to flying something on an HLV.”

    Nelson’s letter doesn’t say that. In fact, it states that HLV is a backup (contingency) to commercial for crew transport.

    “The authorization bill will direct NASA to initiate development of a heavy-lift vehicle in fiscal year 2011… and to serve as a contingency capability to the ISS.”

    spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=34305

    Based on that language, I don’t think commercial crew versus HLV for ISS crew transport is really open to interpretation. Nelson’s letter is very clear that HLV is just a backup for ISS transport.

    FWIW…

  • Ben Joshua

    Senator Nelson has been posturing and negotiating to retain shuttle workforce and infrastructure, in the form of a Jupiter style vehicle.

    How much influence he has with the appropriators remains to be seen.

    Given that a new kero/lox based HLV will be less expensive to operate than either Ares V or Jupiter, and gets us away from SRBs and dependence upon Russian engine technology, Nelson’s plan could be seen as a step backward. More money for fewer flights per year.

    The key to FY11 seems to be commercial (ULA as well as SpaceX, et al) and COTS type contracting, which sets the stage for a reduced gap, and frees up NASA to get on with new tech and new capabilities.

  • Major Tom

    “I suspect the intended HLV is the Jupiter 130.”

    Some congressmen may have preferences, but I’d be very surprised if the bill dictates a particular design. Congress rarely steps that deep into execution, at NASA or elsewhere.

    Hutchison’s draft authorization bill asked NASA to study Shuttle-derived HLVs, but it didn’t dictate a particular HLV design or even dictate Shuttle-derived. Nelson’s letter appears to be a step back even from asking NASA to study certain designs. It only asks NASA to maximize the use of the existing Shuttle/Constellation workforce.

    FWIW…

  • J201

    Major Tom wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    a lunar return may not only be beneficial, but necessary for several reasons:

    1) It would get the public excited and interested in space again. The inspirational value alone of a lunar return is priceless.

    2) The moon is an excellent approximation of the Martian environment, making it the perfect proving ground for the equipment, technologies, and techniques that a mars mission would require.

    3) The moon has valuable resources that will be useful for a sustained long-term presence in space, specifically the hundreds of millions of tons of water ice at the poles. The moon is the ultimate orbital fuel depot.

    4) It’s close (relatively): the moon and its resources are far more accessible, and thus better for sustained exploration/exploitation, than any asteroid or Mars.

    5) The gravity well: the moon’s gravity is 1/6 of Earth standard, which makes it far easier to launch raw materials from the lunar surface than from Earth. It will be expensive, but beneficial in the long run.

    The moon may well be worth the detour.

  • eh

    We can’t afford a moon lander. That’s what Flexible Path is all about. It calls for focusing on our BEO ship first. You can’t do Mars without that and it’s the cheapest thing to work on right now.

  • Robert G. Oler

    J201 wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    1) It would get the public excited and interested in space again. The inspirational value alone of a lunar return is priceless….

    everytime people like you say that I laugh…there is no data to support that…there is no public excitment about going to the Moon. Where do you make this up from?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “The reason one goes to the Moon first before Mars is that it is… sustainable…”

    Why? How?

    “…and makes going beyond the same.”

    Why? How?

    Even in the very best case scenario from the latest measurements, the water content of the Moon is only 5 parts per million.

    spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=31039

    Assuming the best case based on what we know today and assuming perfect capture techniques, to get 1 kilogram of water, we’d have to process at least 200,000 kilograms of lunar rock. To get 500,000 kilograms of water — an amount nearing the propellant mass in one Shuttle External Tank — we’d have to process at least 100,000,000,000 (a hundred billion) kilograms of rock. And we’d have to do it in a 1/6th g, alternately freezing/boiling, vacuum, dust-laden environment. That’s insane. Shipping the water (or LH2 and LOX propellant) from Earth is going to be orders of magnitude cheaper that the cost of developing and putting in place the infrastructure necessary to process that much lunar rock.

    Maybe someday we’ll identify some highly localized sources of lunar water ice or another resource that will make the Moon an attractive element of a sustainable solar system exploration plan. And the exploration robotic precursor missions in NASA’s FY11 budget request may just do that.

    But until that day comes, only a fool would bet the farm on the Moon based on what we know at this point.

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    It is interesting that the commercial effort is greatly de-emphasized in the democrat proposal, not that it will stop all of you from mindlessly blowing your vuvuzelas for SpaceX. Aside from that it is more rockets designed by congress. They’ve done such a fine job with everything else.

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is the END of the anti Obama program effort.

    What is impressive about Nelson is that everything he has done to save Ares has floundered. Remember that extra 1 billion or so he was going to get for another test flight of Ares? I doubt he will even get the extra shuttle flight.

    In the end Obama will get just about everything and all the money he wants. The walk dont run thing is nonesense…and the HLV is going to be a Delta/Atlas knock off just like what the DoD wants.

    SDV are toast. After the last shuttle flight goes “wheels stop” the shuttle infrastructure (including the pork jobs) will fade out, the infrastructure mothballed or AIP and that will be the end of leveraging that work force. As Ares cancellations happen…that will be the end of that.

    By this time next year the space policy of The US will have made a major swing toward free enterprise. The big government supporters will be nashing their teeth.

    Dont worry Mark, the Chinese will always be there for you to fear!

    Robert G. Oler

  • Major Tom

    “1) It would get the public excited and interested in space again. The inspirational value alone of a lunar return is priceless.”

    There’s no evidence for this. As NASAWatch recently pointed out, outside the few news outlets associated with NASA’s field centers, there’s no public hue and outcry, or even discussion, about the cancellation of Constellation and the lunar activities that were suppossed to follow.

    nasawatch.com/archives/2010/06/why-isnt-the-re.html

    Maybe, with lots of Google Lunar X PRIZE activities and teleoperation that gets the iPod generation directly involved, it would happen. But even then, that’s robotic levels of money — tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. It doesn’t justify the billions of dollars needed to support a human presence.

    “2) The moon is an excellent approximation of the Martian environment, making it the perfect proving ground for the equipment, technologies, and techniques that a mars mission would require.”

    No, it’s not. The gravitational (1/6th versus 1/3rd), atmospheric (vacuum versus fractional), thermal, and solar environments are totally, even radically, different. Not to mention the dramatic differences in trip time (days versus months), total radiation exposure deriving from those trip times, and communication lags (seconds versus 20-40 minutes). Even the poisonous threats (lung scarring versus hexvalent chromium) are very different.

    If you want to go to Mars, you test human operations at increasingly distant locations. You don’t keep puttering around in a backyard gravity well with a radically different environment.

    “3) The moon has valuable resources that will be useful for a sustained long-term presence in space, specifically the hundreds of millions of tons of water ice at the poles. The moon is the ultimate orbital fuel depot.”

    See above. The best case evidence today is that lunar water is a very rare resource that would require an almost unimaginably expensive infrastructure to extract a useful amount. Shipping consumables from Earth, even with today’s launch costs, remains orders of magnitude cheaper. Maybe future discoveries will change that — and that research is worth pursuing — but we can’t bet the farm on it today.

    FWIW…

  • J201

    eh wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Like I said in my first post, the moon is good practice for Mars. The experience we could gain from working with a lunar lander could easily be applied to a Martian lander. It would be worth the investment.

    As for a BEO ship, I haven’t seen or heard anything about that in the budget.

  • Ferris Valyn

    J201 – Its called the Orion Phase 0 Crew return vehicle. Its starts with that (although thats NOT the entire vehicle)

    The next 2 pieces are a propulsion module & an inflatable habitat

  • Martijn Meijering

    Private companies build, yes, but only under quite close NASA direction (to the point where I understand a significant amount of NASA’s personnel budget is eaten up by oversight staff).

    NASA can supervise things if it wants to. I doubt it has any special expertise (I suspect that resides with the contractors), but let them try. That’s still no excuse to go build an HLV, let alone one by a design team that is still learning to crawl. Especially if a single test flight costs more than it took SpaceX to get where it is today. So even if Nelson’s concerns are sincere (which I doubt), the proposed course of action is an illogical one.

  • Major Tom

    “It is interesting that the commercial effort is greatly de-emphasized in the democrat proposal…”

    It’s not a “democrat” proposal. Hutchison and Vitter are both Republicans, and per the letter, it “will form the bipartisan foundation of a NASA authorization bill.”

    Don’t make stuff up.

    And commercial cargo and crew are not “de-emphasized”. Per the letter, HLV is only a “contingency capability to the ISS” and per Nelson’s spokesman, “the $6 billion [for commercial crew] is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.” And that’s on top of commercial cargo language in the letter.

    Stop making stuff up.

    “not that it will stop all of you from mindlessly blowing your vuvuzelas for SpaceX”

    No one here is from South Africa, and you’ve mentioned SpaceX literally twice as many times as anyone else on this thread.

    You’re arguing with yourself. You don’t need to litter this forum with the discussions between the voices in your head.

    “Aside from that it is more rockets designed by congress.”

    No, the letter doesn’t dicatate any HLV design, or even any class of HLV design. The letter indicates that the authorization bill will only ask NASA to maximize use of the Shuttle/Constellation workforce in HLV development. That’s actually a step back from Hutchison’s draft authorization bill, which directed NASA to study SDHLV.

    For the umpteenth time, stop making stuff up.

    Lawdy..

  • Robert G. Oler

    J201 wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    eh wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Like I said in my first post, the moon is good practice for Mars. ………….

    the only thing that the Moon would be a good practice for Mars is if NASA and the US change completely the “method of exploration” that is done…if that occurs then the Moon becomes vital.

    Go look at NASA plans for the Altair missions to the Moon and what you see well is Apollo redux. Heavy ground control, heavy “OK Fred you need to put three turns on Screw Alpha Charlie and Two and one fourth turns on Screw Charlie Alpha, Bill you need to take two steps bearing 180 degrees and we would like you to collect that sample, wow the folks in the back room are just jumping up and down”

    There are endless “abort to home” scenarios etc.

    If NASA were to use the Moon (or the space station) as a method of evolving from the Apollo “command and control” mentality where the astronauts were more like intelligent robots to a more “autonomous” mode of operations, there would be some good lessons.

    As it is the Moon being only 2 and 1/2 light seconds or so away will tempt NASA as it stands now to do spaceflight like it does now “OK Sally would you check off that Fred has moved the screw Charlie Alpha 2 and 1/2 turns, outstanding all done at 17,500 mph wow”

    Robert G. Oler

  • eh

    @J201

    “As for a BEO ship, I haven’t seen or heard anything about that in the budget.”

    Yeah, the budget plans call for research into BEO tech followed by manned BEO missions by the early 2020s….using, get this, a spacecraft. You may not like the plan, but that’s no reason to be obtuse.

  • MrEarl

    eh:
    You are the one being obtuse. The budget only extends to 2015 and makes no mention of development or study of a BEO spacecraft. That has been one of it’s biggest faults.

  • eh

    If you refuse to look at the first budget in the context offered by NASA and the WH then you can do that.

    Did the first budget proposal for CxP budget every screw and widget 15 years into the future? Or did you accept their general timelines?

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    The place to “fix” that mindset and train the astronaut corp is through the management team on earth while conducting missions on a moon base 2.5 light seconds away if needed not 30 light minutes away.

  • J201

    “Major Tom wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:51 am
    “1) It would get the public excited and interested in space again. The inspirational value alone of a lunar return is priceless.”

    There’s no evidence for this.”

    Of course there’s not. It hasn’t happened yet. If NASA wants public attention, it needs to do something worthy of it. A return to the moon fits the bill perfectly. What is exciting for the space community and what is exciting for the average American are two very different things, though they do occasionally overlap.

    ““2) The moon is an excellent approximation of the Martian environment, making it the perfect proving ground for the equipment, technologies, and techniques that a mars mission would require.”

    No, it’s not. The gravitational (1/6th versus 1/3rd), atmospheric (vacuum versus fractional), thermal, and solar environments are totally, even radically, different. Not to mention the dramatic differences in trip time (days versus months), total radiation exposure deriving from those trip times, and communication lags (seconds versus 20-40 minutes). Even the poisonous threats (lung scarring versus hexvalent chromium) are very different.”

    Maybe I should put it a different way. The moon is a better approximation of the Martian environment than anywhere else between Earth and Mars. If anything, the lunar surface is even more unforgiving with it’s higher radiation exposure, micrometeorite storms, corrosive dust, extreme temperature swings, and nearly nonexistent atmosphere. Something designed to withstand those conditions would certainly survive in the comparatively mild Martian environment of slightly lower radiation exposure, corrosive dust, and somewhat less extreme temperature swings.

    As for mission duration and communication lag, the ship can stay in lunar orbit for 3 months. And it wouldn’t be difficult to simulate a time lag with the right software.

    As for lunar ice, we have no way to know for sure until we go and take a look for ourselves. Robots can only do so much. All the more reason to go look and see for ourselves.

  • MrEarl

    eh:
    The budget that the WH offered, (NASA was not involved) is a totally different way of doing things. Coming from a candidate that when he need money for education decided to delay the moon mission by 5 years to use that money, a president that says, the moon? been there done that! then yes I need more than smoke blown up my a$$ with talk of flights to asteroids and Lagrange points for me me to make the ASSUMPTION that a BEO spacecraft is in the offing.

  • eh

    It sounds like you have a problem with staying on topic and not introducing red herrings.

  • Bennett

    “outstanding, all done at 17,500 mph, wow”

    You have your funny moments, Robert. ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Robert:
    The place to “fix” that mindset and train the astronaut corp is through the management team on earth while conducting missions on a moon base 2.5 light seconds away if needed not 30 light minutes away….

    I concur, but the problem is that like a fat person dealing with donuts in the refrigerator as long as NASA can do spaceflight like it does spaceflight it will do it. They have to find work for all those people.

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Malkin

    Commercial Crew and Flexible path are a good options because it gets us to LEO quicker. The moon base will utilize the same “Commercial” concept as Commercial Crew thus making it much cheaper for Universities and Research Centers to take advantage and not to be totally dependent on NASA. NASA took so long to build the Space Station that some scientist had to look for other avenues for their research. I’m sure some even retired in that time.

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    Seems to me that the MCC needs Jillian from the Biggest Looser! :-)

  • Wendy Craft

    Ben Joshua wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    The key to FY11 seems to be commercial (ULA as well as SpaceX, et al) and COTS type contracting, which sets the stage for a reduced gap, and frees up NASA to get on with new tech and new capabilities.

    I do in some point agree with this statement, NASA need to switch from routine stuff to R&D

  • MrEarl

    eh:
    No red herrings. When intent is not clear, and it’s not with this budget, than we have to look back at previous statements.
    I believe that the first, unguarded mention of a subject by a candidate is usually their true belief. That would be Obama’s statement about trading Constellation for education. Next I look for statements that show that the person has done some resurch, especially since this president seems to do a lot of resurch on things he cares about. The statement of, been there done that, about the moon tells me he hasn’t taken an interest.
    Talk is cheep, lets see the plan. It’s been 5 months and nothing concrete, or semi-solid, has turned up to augment what the FY2011 budget says.
    Oh, by the way, OMB has just asked all discretionary agencys to come up with 5% in cuts to their current budget, the same amount of the much touted top line increase that NASA received in FY2011.

  • John Malkin

    I haven’t heard a single person on any of the Committees talk about cutting the NASA budget from FY11, if anything they will increase it.

    Am I wrong?

  • I believe that the first, unguarded mention of a subject by a candidate is usually their true belief. That would be Obama’s statement about trading Constellation for education.

    There’s no reason to think that that was Obama’s statement. It was just something on a campaign web site by a clueless education staffer. I doubt if Obama was even aware of it until it caused an uproar. Space has never been very high on his priorities (nor has it been for any other president, either).

  • amightywind

    “nor has it been for any other president, either”

    Kennedy/Johnson put 4% of GDP on it, genius. Now we have more important work, like paying public employee pensions.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Robert:
    Seems to me that the MCC needs Jillian from the Biggest Looser!..

    yeap that would work…or MCC could have the Salahis…

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    J201 wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    “Of course there’s not. It hasn’t happened yet. If NASA wants public attention, it needs to do something worthy of it. A return to the moon fits the bill perfectly. What is exciting for the space community and what is exciting for the average American are two very different things, though they do occasionally overlap…..

    and what makes you think that the two overlap here? what do you base this viewpoint on?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kennedy/Johnson put 4% of GDP on it, genius.

    Just for a few years, while we were trying to beat the Russians to the moon, moron. The space race is over (and it never really was a space race). Kennedy himself told Webb that he didn’t care that much about space.

  • eh

    “…I believe that the first, unguarded mention of a subject by a candidate is usually their true belief….”

    Reading tea leaves to divine the intent of a single President is irrelevant here. NASA is developing a flexible path timetable based on these budget proposals and direction. They will pursue whatever details Congress authorizes and then in 2014 or 2018 a new administration will offer their budget direction. It’s not up to Obama to get us all the way to a BEO mission. He cannot do that.

  • Ben Joshua

    Bravo, eh! Very nice kernal of truth.

    Obama cannot wave a magic wand and Pfff! There goes the gap (though his plan will probably shorten it). Pfff! Increase NASA’s budget by 25% (though he is increasing it). Pfff! Erase the missteps and detours of the past, let’s pretend they never happened (though he is setting the policy stage and clearing a budgetary path for a sustainable and achievable direction).

    And thank you, Wendy Craft, R&D may seem nebulous, but can lead to phenominal new capabilities, industrial processes and economic growth.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “I believe that the first, unguarded mention of a subject by a candidate is usually their true belief.”

    That belief is simplistic, but probably has some merit. It was always remarkable to folks in Texas that, when W was governor there, he never visited JSC, and at many opportunities when he could have referred to NASA, did not, and seemed uninterested in space exploration. Not really an “unguarded mention”, but perhaps an indicator of what would eventually happen to VSE under his watch.

    In some sense, Obama is, in fact, trading Constellation for education. But the education we’re talking about is technological smarts rather than K-12 smarts. Both can be considered a long term investment in the capabilities of the nation.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Regarding Obama’s statement on education/Constellation.

    Which one would you pick if you were in charge of The Republic? Which one changes the lives of more people?

    Constellation as it is RIGHT NOW is a clusterfrack. I dont care how many people like Whittington and all the other Bush defenders spin it, we have spent 10 billion dollars on it and have NOTHING it will take 30-50 billion more to get to something that other rockets can do…LEO access…and Only The Creator knows for darn sure how much it would take to get 3, 4 or 6 NASA astronauts back to the Moon…sometime when my two month old daughter is 20ish.

    give me a break.

    We dont have all that much money anymore. Bush saw to that as he bankrupted the country (yes I know Obama is spending but we were in financial meltdown when he came on the deck)…Bush came into office with surpluses.

    The days of spending on projects that are good is rapidly over…but the ones that cluck are or should be toast. All those people who worked on those projects sorry but the gravy train is ending.

    Of course any sane person would chose educating our children over 3, 4 or 6 NASA astronauts blowing soap bubbles on the Moon (or doing whatever they are going to do 20 years from now).

    Robert G. Oler

  • Vladislaw

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “That belief is simplistic, but probably has some merit. It was always remarkable to folks in Texas that, when W was governor there, he never visited JSC, and at many opportunities when he could have referred to NASA, did not, and seemed uninterested in space exploration. Not really an “unguarded mention”, but perhaps an indicator of what would eventually happen to VSE under his watch.”

    With a 200 billion dollar surplus when he office, if he would have been truely serious about space he could have fully funded it and would have had a ‘mandate’ for it from both houses if he would have pushed it.

  • red

    Mark: “Part of this draft consists of the other shoe dropping on commercial space.”

    Major Tom: “No, it doesn’t. Nelson’s own spokesman, Dan McLaughlin, confirmed that:

    “there is ‘no intent to cut [commercial crew]; the $6 billion is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.’”

    blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2010/06/nelson-maps-a-road-forward-on-space-without-constellation.html

    Don’t make stuff up.”

    The Sentinel article makes it sound a bit murkier than that:

    “According to the letter, Nelson says his committee … Supports funding for private space companies to fly both cargo and humans to the space station, but proposes a slower approach along the lines of NASA’s current $50 million Commercial Crew Development (CCDEV) Program to help companies build “capabilities” for flying astronauts;

    … Nelson’s proposal to follow the CCDEV approach for private rocket companies could mean that the White House plan to allocate $6 billion over the next five years to drive a new “commercial” model of human spaceflight is going to get severely cut. McLaughlin said that there is “no intent to cut; the $6 billion is needed to get us off reliance on the Russians.”

    But the letter suggests otherwise.”

    Of course if this is just their interpretation of the letter, and doesn’t include any additional information we don’t have, it doesn’t mean much, since we can see for ourselves what the letter says.

  • Bennett

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    In some sense, Obama is, in fact, trading Constellation for education. But the education we’re talking about is technological smarts rather than K-12 smarts. Both can be considered a long term investment in the capabilities of the nation.

    That’s a really good observation, Doug.

  • red

    Major Tom: “It depends on what is meant by “develop”. If it means run a PDR or CDR, settle on an HLV design, and start bending lots of metal with a big, expensive workforce starting in 2011, yes, that would eat the budget. But if it just means ramp up HLV development work towards a design decision later in the decade, well, NASA’s FY11 budget request was planning to do that anyway, especially with regard to developing a big kerolox engine to support an HLV design decision circa 2015.”

    From the Orlando Sentinel article:

    “Nelson proposes to start the development of a new heavy lift rocket next year, and not by 2015 as Obama proposed.”

    The Sentinel is contrasting the 2011 development date with the 2015 post-R&D HLV development date, so their interpretation seems to be it’s the more expensive form of development. I don’t know if that interpretation is informed just by the letter or by that and additional information.

    The part of Nelson’s letter about

    “both the heavy-lift and crew exploration vehicles leverage the workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities of the Shuttle, Ares I, and Orion efforts”

    also seems to point towards a more near-term development effort. You can’t use the Shuttle workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities much if you don’t go into development override until several years after the Shuttle is shut down.

    I would have liked to see more hints about the technology plans, especially considering KSC’s technology role in the 2011 budget proposal.

  • kert

    “leverage the workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities of the Shuttle, Ares I, and Orion efforts.”

    In other words, the HLV must be pork-rated

  • Dave C

    Robert, Mark, Eh, Wendy, etal,
    It really warms the heart of this old man to see the young people of America sticking together and forming a consensus and compromise with such colourful language (moron???), to know that the future of Human Space Flight is in the hands of such a capable generation is making my senior years so much easier; if the Aliens are watching, they must be laughing their heads off, at the antics of the monkeys trying to get off this ball of mud;

  • J201

    I never said that they overlap now, just sometimes. If it came accross as otherwise, that was not my intention.

  • amightywind

    “at the antics of the monkeys trying to get off this ball of mud;”

    Oh no. SpaceX won’t get to the point where they can launch monkeys for three years. But you can bet the troglodytes on this forum will be cheering them on anyway.

  • Space Nerd

    In other words, the HLV must be pork-rated

    Funniest space politics post ever.

    Great job, people, you are performing a vital service to space geeks the world over. Now you have to admit whether you thought that up yourself or heard it elsewhere. Quickly now, only the truth – billions of lives are at stake!

  • Michael Kent

    amightywind wrote:

    Oh no. SpaceX won’t get to the point where they can launch monkeys for three years.

    Wrong again. SpaceX will be able to launch monkeys* to the ISS in about a year. Part of the commercial cargo they’re slated to launch is live plants and animals for experiments. It’s launching humans that will take them three years and $300 million, according to Elon Musk.

    This compares with nine years and $43 billion to launch humans on an Ares I / Orion.

    You already know these figures. Why do you persist with the snark?

    Mike

    * Though the capability to launch monkeys will be there, I believe there are no concrete plans to launch any animals larger than rodents.

  • Dave C

    There you go Amightywind, SpaceX can launch you to the ISS next year, as a methane experiment in support of the upper stage for a future HLV, to be developed in 2015; perhaps they will let you return before then; I am sure there are other members of this thread who are equally qualified to join you;

  • Wrong again. SpaceX will be able to launch monkeys* to the ISS in about a year. Part of the commercial cargo they’re slated to launch is live plants and animals for experiments. It’s launching humans that will take them three years and $300 million, according to Elon Musk.

    Hey, good new for “abreakingwind.” It doesn’t have to be as smart as a chimp to go, and go soon. Though it seems a waste of good payload space.

  • Francis Louis Charbonneau Jr

    By the way, given that there has been little action by the Congress over the past several days over the invocation of the Anti-Deficiency Act by the incompetent bafoon Charles Bolden, I am beginning to realize that Constellation is dead. I would like to launch at salvo at each and every one of you traitors who voted for Obama because you were angry at Bush and didn’t like McCain. I would like to have you Republicans lined up and cracked across the face with stern gauntlet. You were the idiots that believed Obama’s Joseph Goebbels Propaganda in the first place and helped to make him President. I hope that you’re all satisfied. Now, I am not denigrating the Democrats here because they were going to vote for Obama regardless of how good or bad the GOP candidate was. You Republicans are totally to blame who voted for Obama. You know who you are and that your family members were sooooo angry at Bush….waaaaa!! waaaaaa!!!! Oh I am soooo broken up over how bad President Bush was. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Thanks for nothing!!!

  • red

    amightywind: “Oh no. SpaceX won’t get to the point where they can launch monkeys for three years. But you can bet the troglodytes on this forum will be cheering them on anyway.”

    The Associated Press, 6/15/2010: “SpaceX has signed a $492 million deal with a satellite phone company to launch a fleet of next-generation commercial satellites aboard its Falcon 9 rocket.

    Satellite phone company Iridium Communications previously announced plans to launch six dozen next-generation satellites between 2015 and 2017 to replace its current satellite network.

    Neither company would say how many Falcon 9 launches would be required …”

    SpaceX press release (June 14, 2010): “Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and the National Space Organization (NSPO) have signed contract for the launch of NSPO’s Earth Observation Satellite, Formosat-5. …”

    Why not cheer them on? The U.S. is back in the global launch business. Would you prefer the alternative?

    Not only that, but they’re we’ll on their way towards helping NASA with their ISS cargo needs. What’s wrong with that?

    As for the crew transport controversy, I don’t see SpaceX being a big influence in that debate. The central points in that debate are that NASA simply can’t afford Constellation or anything like it, as we have seen demonstrated so clearly over the last few years, and that Atlas V and Delta IV exist.

    The choice isn’t NASA government rockets or SpaceX. It isn’t even NASA government rockets or Atlas/Delta/SpaceX/Taurus/NewSpace. The choice is commercial crew or Soyuz.

  • Moron

    kert wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 6:57 pm
    “leverage the workforce, contracts, assets, and capabilities of the Shuttle, Ares I, and Orion efforts.”

    In other words, the HLV must be pork-rated

    whahaha..love this one!

  • Moron

    Space Nerd wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 7:35 pm
    Quickly now, only the truth – billions of lives are at stake!

    Hi Nerdy,
    I really lost you there-I’m a Moron you know me..;)
    But, are you talking about the oil spill or Cancellation, sorry I mean Constellation??

  • Moron

    Francis Louis Charbonneau Jr wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    …how pathetic..and I thought I was the only Moron here…

  • Rhyolite

    kert wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    “In other words, the HLV must be pork-rated”

    Is there a MIL standard for that? ;)

  • Moron

    A good illustration of The Constellation way of travel to BEO/Mars in capsule rides:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?=fADJUVsWIoI&feature=player_embedded#!

    ladies/gents,
    This is the future of space travel. yippie! :D..LOL!

  • Rhyolite

    “Kennedy/Johnson put 4% of GDP on it, genius.”

    That’s wrong. Kennedy/Johnson put around 4% of the federal budget on it, not GDP. Less than 1% of GDP.

  • I would like to launch at salvo at each and every one of you traitors who voted for Obama because you were angry at Bush and didn’t like McCain.

    I didn’t vote for Obama. I think that he’s the worst president in American history (and that’s saying something, in the context of Pierce, Wilson, both Roosevelts, and Carter), but this is the best space policy we’ve ever had, if you actually care about getting large numbers of humans into space.

  • but Rand, that’s not partisan! How dare you suggest that the party you oppose could have some good policies! With that sort of madness you could end up having to balance your interests and choosing a candidate based on actual track record of achieving the things you care about.

  • “I would like to launch at salvo at each and every one of you traitors who voted for Obama because you were angry at Bush and didn’t like McCain.”

    Sorry, but most Americans were not going to place a right wing religious nut case like Sarah Palin just a heartbeat away from controlling nuclear weapons!

    Nelson is right. Start building a shuttle derived HLV now!

  • Marcel, even when I agree with you that Palin is a religious nut, I have to disagree with you that Americans are not going to put her in power. Check out the defense of Palin in this thread on Rand’s website. http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=27390#comments including the comment by Rand, “Just for the record, I think that Sarah Palin is not only sane, but the most qualified candidate of the four on the ticket (in that she would have made the best president). That is, of course, damning her with faint praise.” She’s a female George W. Bush and there’s going to be a desire to recapture the Obama magic of “a President like we’ve never had before”.

    And just like Rand can dislike Obama’s politics while liking his space policy, I can dislike Rand’s politics while liking his space policy.. the difference is, I’d never vote for a nutjob like Palin no matter how good her space policy was :)

  • Will

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 16th, 2010 at 12:35 am

    “I didn’t vote for Obama. I think that he’s the worst president in American history (and that’s saying something….”

    Yes, Rand, it is saying something …. about you. ;-)

  • Debating Obama over and over at this point is a waste of time.

    People need to stay focused on the topic-space.

    As far as that goes, I’m not sure how this would work, but it may be that congress will make a move to block the NASA layoffs before July 1. All I know for sure is that people are working on it.

    Regardless of what you think about CxP, the ADA squeeze that forces a significant number of contractor layoffs in a couple of weeks is a bunch of bull. It’s the admin and congress’s job to agree on what NASA should be doing and they should handle it logically.

    It took time and money to get NASA centers back into design work that they were not doing 5+ years ago. NASA is not going away. They will be doing something once the admin and congress settle things. Those people will be needed to do it. It makes no sense to scatter the workforce over a political feud.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Spase Blahger – if you want logic, don’t look to politics, particularly as it relates to Congress & the president

    As for NASA – no one is saying they are or should go away. The relevant question is whether they should be doing design/development work on stuff we are pretty good at, or whether they should be working on harder stuff

  • Martijn Meijering

    or whether they should be working on harder stuff

    If they don’t even know how to do the supposedly relatively easy stuff, what makes you think they are the right set of people to do the hard stuff?

  • R7

    @will
    @Trent Waddington

    Unfortunately the Presidential Election of 2008 was a choice between two religious nuts. One was a christian and the other was a transnational progressive. Given that crappy “douche and turd” choice, I prefer the christian nut as the lesser evil since she doesn’t deny human nature in practical matters. The philosophy of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama is demonstrably false and dangerous.

  • reader

    In other words, the HLV must be pork-rated

    Funniest space politics post ever.

    Great job, people, you are performing a vital service to space geeks the world over. Now you have to admit whether you thought that up yourself or heard it elsewhere.

    Came out of conversations over at NSF. I cannot take the credit.

  • DCSCA

    @RandSimberg- “I didn’t vote for Obama. I think that he’s the worst president in American history…” Hmmm. Apparently you missed the GOP GWBush years. But your comment would make one family happy- the descendants of GOP train wreck, Herbert Hoover.

  • DCSCA

    @RobertGOler”J201 wrote @ June 15th, 2010 at 11:22 am
    1) It would get the public excited and interested in space again. The inspirational value alone of a lunar return is priceless….
    everytime people like you say that I laugh…there is no data to support that…there is no public excitment about going to the Moon. Where do you make this up from? Robert G. Oler

    “Gallup Poll Finds Americans Overall Strongly Support Space Exploration

    A new Gallup Poll shows more than two-thirds of respondents support the nation’s stepping-stone approach to space exploration, which includes flying the space shuttle to complete the International Space Station, building a replacement vehicle for the space shuttle, returning humans to the moon, and exploring Mars and points beyond. (Respondents support this approach if NASA’s budget does not exceed 1 percent of the federal budget.)

    More than 60 percent believe the U.S. should continue to fund space exploration either at its current level or an increased one. Currently, NASA’s budget is less than 1 percent of the federal budget, or approximately 15 cents per day for the average, tax-paying citizen. In addition, 69 percent of all respondents surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight.” 9/27/06 =sigh=

  • DCSCA

    “As it is the Moon being only 2 and 1/2 light seconds or so away will tempt NASA as it stands now to do spaceflight like it does now “OK Sally would you check off that Fred has moved the screw Charlie Alpha 2 and 1/2 turns, outstanding all done at 17,500 mph wow”

    Hmmmm. Given the price of unique equipment, the harsh environment and the extreme risks and costs of failure, that seems to be prudent methodology. But then some believe private sector management of complex engineering enterprises can do it better and safer without concern for the consequences of error — let’s ask British Petroleum about it.

  • [...] on technologies that could either be utilized by it or otherwise affect such a vehicle. However, in the outline of the authorization bill being contemplated by the Senate Commerce Committee, development of an HLV would be moved up to [...]

  • But your comment would make one family happy- the descendants of GOP train wreck, Herbert Hoover.

    What a stupid comment. Hoover created the depression. Then FDR came along and made it Great. Obama is determined to follow in their footsteps.

    And I’m not a Republican.

  • brobof

    DCSCA wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Ah this one I believe:
    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Gallup_Poll_Finds_Americans_Overall_Strongly_Support_Space_Exploration_999.html

    Note the falling support tho… And that the poll was taken before the financial turmoil. One wonders what the result would be now.

    Oh look: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/06/01/new-poll-on-space-spending/
    The comments are particularly good :)

    I believe that most polls support some form of almost any Program providing ‘I’ don’t have to pay for it.
    BTW BP isn’t British. It hasn’t been since 2001. It’s only “British Petroleum” to those that can’t face the real culprits. Hint: Mirror.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:11 pm “What a stupid comment.”– Hmmm. And yet you continue to post them. “Hoover created the depression. Then FDR came along and made it Great.” Hmmm. Your weak knowledge base of contemporary history is a source of endless amusement.

  • puzzled

    Man, the more I read here… PDS, BDS, ODS, even Roosevelt DS. No wonder I am puzzled…

  • [...] The outline of a Senate NASA authorization bill forms – Space Politics [...]

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