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When is the right time to start heavy lift?

One area of debate about NASA’s proposed new direction that has gotten less attention than the future of Constellation or commercial crew is development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle. The proposed plan would defer a decision on an HLV until as late as 2015, while working 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 2011, in part to serve as “a contingency capability to the ISS” in some manner.

In a brief white paper released Wednesday, Marshall Institute president Jeff Kueter examines this issue. While he calls the administration’s approach “reasonable enough”, he notes the criticism that it “lacks focus” and has uncertainties and potential delays associated with any such effort, as well as the impact of a delay on the industrial base. “The risk with the current approach is that the U.S. will be left without a viable program for deep space exploration in the latter years of this decade and the early 2020s,” he writes. He suggests something of a middle ground: don’t pause the development of an HLV, but also continue the R&D program proposed in the new plan in some form in parallel, acknowledging that “cuts to existing programs, reallocations from new initiatives, or new funds will have to be found to accommodate it.”

The Planetary Society, which has endorsed the administration’s plans for NASA, also addressed the HLV question this week as part of a broader update on the FY11 budget proposal, but doesn’t take a strong stand one way or another. “We at The Planetary Society strongly support a heavy-lift (deep-space) rocket, but should it be funded now, five years before we really need it, given that there are no funds yet available to build the spacecraft that will use heavy-lift?” they ask. “Both sides of this argument have merit.” However, one of the society’s board members, Neil deGrasse Tyson, endorsed an accelerated HLV development in a letter to Congress last month “provided it does not compromise the budget projections the White House has given for the agency.”

Eric Sterner, in a Space News op-ed posted online Wednesday, sees the HLV strategy as part of a broader lack of direction, and potential lack of funding, for the agency’s proposed exploration plans. “It’s like deciding you’re going to begin studying the internal combustion engine so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase a car five years from now with the expectation that you might then use the car to go someplace interesting, without committing enough resources to complete your studies,” he writes.

One issue, though, is often overlooked in the debate about when to start development of an HLV: what, exactly, is a heavy-lift launch vehicle? Is it something similar to the Ares 5, designed to carry as much as 188 metric tons to LEO? Or would something smaller—125 tons? 100 tons? 50 tons?—be sufficient, given that a smaller vehicle would presumably be less expensive to develop and operate? While, as Kueter notes, five years’ worth of technology development might not develop a propulsion breakthrough (getting an American equivalent of an RD-180 engine might be more realistic), technology demonstrations elsewhere could affect the sizing of an HLV. For example, as others have noted, on-orbit propellant depots could eliminate the need for an Ares 5-class vehicle entirely since propellant could be launched by smaller vehicles and transferred to a spacecraft headed beyond Earth orbit, rather than launched together with the spacecraft on a single HLV. Of course, that depends in part in knowing exactly where you’re going beyond LEO, and how.

158 comments to When is the right time to start heavy lift?

  • Mark R. Whittington

    On the other hand propellant depots and heavy lift would enable a lot of things. That would especially be true if the propellant depots were created using lunar water. Of course, that would involve returning to the Moon and, as the President said, that is not necessary since Buzz Aldrin has already been there…

  • Once again, completely lacking from the conversation is cost… the reason why the NASA administration is saying “not without further study” with a time limit on how long that study can continue (2015) is because heavy lift without further study is just too expensive to develop and unsustainable to operate.

    To those who want to start heavy lift development in 2011, I have two questions: how much will it cost and how are you going to achieve that?

  • It is possible to develop a directly derived STS based HLV with a Delta Upperstage for BEO missions and still fit the budget.

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

    We even have a modest two year STS extension in the mix given the ISS a logistics and spares push to 2020. Plus we still get to a similar run rate contained in the FY11 proposal on the Advance Tech/Pathfinder Missions line items in the 2015 time frame. Also SpaceX doesn’t need $6 Billion dollars to turn Dragon into a LEO crew capsule. The budget above effectively doubles the amount of money Elon said he needed to do this. With the Beyond LEO Orion as the back up that should be more than sufficient.

    So under this plan we won’t destroy a $40 billion dollar industrial base, decimate the workforce, abandon our international partners or the $100 billion dollar ISS investment. America will have two domestic independent access points to LEO Falcon9/Dragon with Jupiter-130/Orion as the BEO capable backup. Orion would no be much safer and lower cost with land landing and reusability.

    Also the Jupiter-130 is really a STS/ULA hybrid, both industrial base and workforce. Plus there is absolutely no reason that it can’t be procured under the same ‘commercial’ contracting vehicle used to fund SpaceX. The risk is a lot lower than what SpaceX assumed because all of the difficult schedule/budget killers (ie SRB, SSME) are already done.

    I’m sure using a little imagination we can think of a number of manned and unmanned missions, impossible today, that the Jupiter-130 can do in 2015-2020 time frame. At two launches per year, $750 million total cost per launch, we will have about eight launch slots for civilian/military/commercial.

    For those that say the price premium of about $500 million per launch over Delta V heavy (5m, 25mT, non-mandated) vs. Jupiter-130 (10m, 75mT, man-rated) is not worth it, what do you say about the cost overruns now running in the billions of dollars for JWST and MSL largely traceable to trying to put 10lbs into a 5lb box? The cost overruns on these two programs alone would have funded half of the Jupiter-130 development cost. It often pays to use the right tool for the job.

    These are not isolated events but will continue because it’s hard to justify any new mission, manned or unmanned, that just duplicates what we did the last time. The launch capacities we have had to live within over the last fifty years have enabled us to do some really exciting ground breaking missions but we are now hitting our head on those limits. With any luck fifty years from now we will feel that the Jupiter-130 capabilities are now limiting us.

    Given that America spends more on Space than any other nations combined doesn’t it make sense to once and a while fly missions that have a little more capable than all other nations?

  • Stephen, those numbers are exactly what I mean when I say heavy lift isn’t affordable to develop or sustainable to operate. Get some perspective, $750M is ~6 Delta V Heavy launches or ~14 Falcon 9 launches. And we haven’t even looked at your development costs or the incredible cost of maintaining the shuttle standing army.

  • GeeSpace

    Determining the size of a heavy lift vehicle is determined by the uses and/or destinations for which such a vehicle will be used. That is one of the reasons that specific destinations should to be established. Also, another factor would be if the HJV has enough fuel to get anywhere after re-fueling at an orbital propellant depot.
    If a study or review is made by NASA tiger teams, I would hope that the cost of building, re-fueling, and maintaining orbit depots would be considered in any comparison of smaller HLV with orbit depots and a larger HLV.
    As for those folks who want to know how a HLV, I would suggest that the Obama Administration find an additional $500-750 million or look at certain parts of the proposed NASA 2011-15 plan that could be pushed to a later year or eliminated such as the funds to renovate KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station 21st Century Launch Complex
    Also I believe nuclear power rockets should be considered.

  • Edgar Zapata

    Trent is somewhat on the mark…to add to this -

    The question of “when to start a heavy lift program” is a question that requires some clarification. If the question means when to set in stone most of the design and definition of the heavy lift then the answer is actually not very difficult. You start a heavy lift program when the confidence is high that the recurring cost to produce and operate the system will be no more than a certain amount per year, coupled to equally high confidence in the productivity, as in yearly flight rate.

    The reasoning for this is as follows. If there is not much confidence the recurring cost of a heavy design as defined will be X amount per year for Y productivity then that’s a way of saying that costs are being left to be a consequence, a result, not something managed, controlled, defined or driven. That means that future programs and projects, and R&D, and future goals and objectives will be hit by this largely unknown recurring cost. This makes a premature decision to build a heavy lift, or to say the same, to give a go-ahead for a program formulation to become an approved program, simply a deferral of a problem now into the future.

    There is a reason we are in the straits we are in. Too often the agency has been able to gather up enough funds only to get-there, to build something, without thought to future operational costs. Later when those costs are high the vicious cycle ensues, whereby the ability to improve the product, to develop new products, or to perform basic R&D suffers from budgets consumed by recurring manufacturing and operations. This makes the next cycle ever so much harder. And here we are.

    This is what the “R&D” nature of the budget is spelled out. A heavy “program” will be formed once there is confidence that the recurring manufacture and operations are an amount that does not sacrifice on-going R&D, future test and demo even after the new heavy is flying, such as for RLVs or Hypersonics, and other technology such as in-space systems, or other Enterprises such as Science or Aeronautics.

    The matter to proceed on a heavy is when such a program is confident it adds-up, and fits into a future consistent with other investments in making access to space lower cost, more reliable, (safer), and more routine. Until then the “program” works to develop the means to achieve such confidence, such as through R&D, demonstration, and other investments. These become the information that feeds into program definition, for confidence in the recurring picture down the road. Eventually this “confidence” is mathematical, involving independent reviews, as one ingredient, supporting a 65% or higher confidence level in recurring metrics inclusive of manufacturing and operations cost and schedule.

    And that’s when you start a heavy program, when it gets it’s go ahead to be a “real program”.

  • Also the Jupiter-130 is really a STS/ULA hybrid, both industrial base and workforce. Plus there is absolutely no reason that it can’t be procured under the same ‘commercial’ contracting vehicle used to fund SpaceX. The risk is a lot lower than what SpaceX assumed because all of the difficult schedule/budget killers (ie SRB, SSME) are already done.

    Looks nice on paper, but wouldn’t ULA try to close a business case first?

    And we haven’t even looked at your development costs or the incredible cost of maintaining the shuttle standing army.

    Bingo. Also goes to closing the business case.

    The space industry needs to be “right-sized” big time. Then and only then can discussion of economical HLV and BEO exploration begin.

  • amightywind

    Needless hand wringing! The solution to America’s manned launch and heavy lift is already under development with Ares I and Ares V. Heck, Ares I has already flown! The Ares V (10m, 440,000lb) is big enough for any mission. It is already well under development. These would be tremendous national assets if the President and congress would stop kibitzing and get out of NASA’s way!

  • Will

    Fantastic, amightywind! Please show us proof of these amazing developments! :-)

  • I guess my frustration here is that especially for cislunar, NEO, and even Phobos/Deimos missions (ie the only ones that are even anywhere near a realistic planning horizon), you really don’t need or even want an HLV if you develop depots. For any of those missions, HLVs are actually detrimental.

    Sure they allow JSC and MSFC to design bloated landers in inefficient manners. They also allow you to launch more of the separate components that need to be able to operate separately on a single launch. And it allows NASA to avoid putting serious R&D money into a couple of key areas that could really reduce the cost of in-space transportation. But those are bugs not features. HLVs are a crutch that allow NASA to put off actually developing the technologies and processes necessary for us to become a spacefaring society.

    With depots and existing launch vehicles, you can do as much or more than you could do with HLVs alone, and you actually have money left over to research things like improved aerobraking/capture, in-space reusability, lunar/NEO/Ph/D ISRU. You also provide the kind of large, divisible, steady demand necessary to close the business case for orbital RLVs.

    But hey, why the hell invest in the future when we can continue shoveling money into repeating the past? That’s not inertia boys and girls, that’s leadership. Yeah right.

    ~Jon

  • Fantastic, amightywind! Please show us proof of these amazing developments!

    Hmmph…abreakingwind must travel to a parallel Earth on a daily basis.

    Do they have unicorns there?

  • Trent, you might want to take a look at what the DOD is actually paying for ULA launches. I assure you they are paying a lot more than $750 million dollars for 6 Delta-Heavy launches based on actual budgets divided by the number of launches.

    Many on this board continue to ignore three very critical issues.

    One , volume/mass limitations ‘drive’ the overall program life cycle cost ‘not’ the launch cost. Point of fact is that launch services industry represents is less than 20% of the life cycle cost of most missions, civilian/military/commercial.

    Two, there is a zero percent chance that a brand new modern day Saturn V class HLV will be less expensive than simply using the HLV industrial base and workforce we already have. Again the HLV flight rate will naturally be limited by the amount of spacecraft/missions we can afford to fly (ie the other 80% of the life cycle cost). So any recurring cost savings associated with destroy our existing HLV industrial base only to recreate a new HLV industrial base will ‘never’ generate a positive rate of return ‘even’ if the operational cost of said HLV was zero. Further the budget will simple not support any brand new HLV development effort five years from now especially once we have 1,000 little iron rice bowls spread across all fifty states under the FY11 R&D plan.

    Three, the political realities of decimating the existing contractor workforce and scattering this hard won experience to the wind is not only politically unsupportable but a very bad idea all by itself.

    I agree strongly with Edgar that we absolutely cannot let any HLV operational cost consume so much of the budget that we can’t also afford a robust R&D program and the missions need to leverage this modest HLV capability. Which is why I have been a steadfast opponent of the POR which utilized nearly zero of the existing HLV base in a vain budget and policy busting attempt to produce a launch system 50% larger than the Saturn V with a price to match.

    The Jupiter-130 is a bare bones HLV based on existing paid for assets (STS + ULA) and shouldn’t cost more than $1.5 Billion per year to fly two missions per year. With this capability we can also hopefully shift the cost paradigm driving a number of missions (ie the other 80% of the cost) outside of their budgets. So it is more than possible that the slight premium we may be paying above the existing yet limited launch systems will more than be made up in the form of lower overall mission costs with more far reaching capabilities than possible today.

  • John Malkin

    I agree with Trent Waddington that there is no rush for heavy lift. I don’t think it makes sense as a “backup” to LEO. Ares I/Orion were originally not meant to go to ISS. Originally the space station wasn’t seen to fit into the VSE for the long term except as a stepping stone to the moon. That changed quickly and Orion was changed to be a taxi vehicle in the first phase.

    Heavy lift is useful. Space station could have been completed in 5 flights with an Ares V class vehicle. I think it’s attractive to have an in space refueling and heavy lift. It makes all kinds of things possible for both HSF and robotic. Of course we will need the power to go with it which is nuclear. Meanwhile we can use medium sized systems to do a lot of early demo work. So we can see results and actual hardware in space. Pushing for heavy lift now would hurt early developments in technologies we need to make a solid infrastructure. Let walk before we leap into a huge heavy lift development. Let’s focus on a heavy lift we can afford.

  • Ben Joshua

    When scaling an HLV, where does the development and operational cost curve rise sharply? Is there a cost sweet spot? For example, is an Ares V class HLV more or less expensive per payload pound (or kilo) than a Saturn V class, or a Jarvis class HLV?

    Is a mammoth HLV too big to cancel, given sunk costs, or is it too big to sustain, given ongoing costs vs. justifiable payloads per year?

    Or is it more a question of design philosophy – degree of complexity, size of the manufacturing and support base, solids vs. kero-lox, reusability, and ease or difficulty of pre-launch procedures?

    In other words, is it just a matter of identifying the most appropriate payload size and mass to orbit, or do the other approaches to design and scale make or break an HLV concept?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I see Trent has dealt with your numbers. I will deal with your justification.

    “I’m sure using a little imagination we can think of a number of manned and unmanned missions, impossible today, that the Jupiter-130 can do in 2015-2020 time frame”

    in other words lets build the vehicle (for reasons that have nothing to do with the vehicle…like the industrial base and the jobs etc) and then come up with some missions for it.

    No thanks.

    Aside from the “model rocket” nature of the Jupiter effort the “weak link” as they say has always been that it is a rocket without a mission. Oh you work hard at one. At one point you were claiming that the DoD was really interested in such a rocket and had lots of missions for it, but you couldnt say what they were because well they were hush hush. Truth is they dont exist.

    Just as there are no civilian government missions for them. Oh one can say “lets have a thought experiment and what would you do with a (insert metric ton here) launcher” but then of course we need money to build our dreams and operate it…and money to launch it…

    It is the tail looking for a dog to wag it.

    Sorry Stephen one reason that human spaceflight is in such a mess is that 1) we have built launch vehicles (the shuttle comes to mind) without a clear understanding of what it cost to launch it, 2) launch vehicles that we invent missions for them to do, so we can justify having built them (shuttle station) and then 3) we have people who come on and say “if we dont keep funding this we waste everything we have done in the past” as if wasting money in the future justifies something in the past.

    You hit all three points.

    F minus

    Robert G. Oler

  • Colorful Metaphor

    Heck, Ares I has already flown!

    Can you repeat that over and over again a little louder, please, the villagers just aren’t getting inflamed enough, and they’re anxious to put those torches and pitchforks to use on all those elite liberal intellectual college professors.

  • MrEarl

    Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift. The Augustine Committee realized this and included it in the option that the Obama administration seems to be following. Steve is absolutely right about the volume/mass issues that need heavy lift.
    The need for heavy lift is the classic chicken vs egg. If an HVL can be done for approximately the same price per ton as other available launchers it will find a market.

    Something that everyone ignores it that we ALREADY HAVE an HLV. It consists of 2 SRBs, an external tank and 3 SSMEs. That configuration can take at least 75 mT to LEO. The Direct team and Boeing have shown not just a single vehicle but a class of vehicles in the 50mT to 119mT range that can be created using existing components.

    So the real question is, How do we cut development and operation costs?

    I want to try to kill one misnomer about the “STS Standing Army”. Over half of that standing army is for orbiter refurbishment. Each orbiter has it’s own army from TPS techs to engine techs and so on. Each orbiter has it’s own launch crew! A good management team could cut that standing army by 2 thirds and a better one can cut it by 3/4.

    One way to get that “better team” may be to privatize the shuttle stack. Contract with an entity like ULA to provide launch services for a SDHLV at a fixed price per launch. It would most likely need to include money for development of the thrust structure and fairings, along the lines of a 50/50 split. Allow them to market the various configurations to private companies in need of launch services.

    What do we get by waiting 5 years? Just the good possibility that nothing will be built.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Trent, you might want to take a look at what the DOD is actually paying for ULA launches. I assure you they are paying a lot more than $750 million dollars for 6 Delta-Heavy launches based on actual budgets divided by the number of launches.”

    but you assurred us, then would not offer proof that the DoD had a use for Jupiter.

    “The Jupiter-130 is a bare bones HLV based on existing paid for assets (STS + ULA) and shouldn’t cost more than $1.5 Billion per year to fly two missions per year.”

    it is cute how you are trying to suck ULA into this. anyway 1.5 billion for two flights.

    You have no data that the cost would be that. In fact it will be a lot more. John Shannon has said on this forum that the shuttle infrastructure cost 200 million to sustain. That alone is 2.4 billion dollars and one has not flown or built or done anything but keep the lights on.

    To get anywhere near the cost of 1.5 billion for two flights one is going to have to make the cuts on the shuttle infrastructure that NASA has never been willing to make…and they are pretty substantial cuts. There is no real path to doing that and there would be no political support for seeing Henry the floor sweeper at USA go out the door…after all he is essential to HSF and has worked all his life to get that job.

    Robert G. Oler

  • John, I disagree concerning your assertion that we can wait for HLV. We have an HLV industrial base and workforce right now. Given the fiscal environment clearly ahead we will ‘never’ have the money to recreate this capability in the next two decades at least. Either we get going on heavy (and more importantly high volume) lift today or we abandon it indefinitely, there is no third choice.

    Okay, the next question is how heavy is heavy enough? I would suggest that instead of coming up with our heavy lift ‘requirements’ (an approach that caused the POR to go off the rails) we work backwards from the budget and policy this time around.

    The HLV specification needs to be based on cost not performance requirements. We need to be able to afford the development cost now plus arrive at an operational cost that doesn’t ultimately crowd out the money needed for R&D and the money to fly the missions now possible with said HLV.

    Layered onto that budget reality needs to be the political reality since any development budget is a product of the political process. So the HLV that is politically viable that also fits within a comprehensive budget plan containing other important activities is by definition heavy enough. The future missions will then need to work within whatever HLV capability falls out of the sausage making process above.

    My primary concern is that we finally get going on modest bare bones HLV like the Jupiter-130 and various forces start back up adding a ton of new ‘performance improvements’ that once again blow the schedule and budget out of the water (i.e. the POR). We absolutely have to very deliberate this time in minimizing any new stuff or adding performance enhancements as tempting as they are. Just getting the basics together will be expensive and time consuming enough and I really don’t see any mission limitations in the next ten to twenty years that would exceed the basic capabilities of a Jupiter-130 with a Delta Upper stage.

    If I’m wrong and the money is available we can basically double the Jupiter-130 capability by going to a Jupiter-241 Heavy Stretch (i.e. basically an Ares-V Classic from ESAS). So this path is not limiting in terms of how heavy we could go. Add propellant depots and TMI mass of over a 100mT are possible.

  • Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift.

    This flawed and unexamined assumption doesn’t become valid through repetition.

  • John Schilling

    The right time to develop any sort of launch vehicle, is when you have a market for at least a hundred launches. “Market” doesn’t necessarily mean commercial, but it does mean demand + funding. If all you’ve got is a wish list of things you’d like to do with a hundred heavy lifters, and a reasonable expectation that Congress might actually pay for twenty of the things, you’ll almost certainly get more results for less dollars with a hundred existing medium-lift launchers.

    Congress is not actually going to pay for a hundred heavy-lift launch vehicles, until far enough into the future that anything we start building today will be laughably obsolete. Or, worse, not obsolete because the HLLV program sucked up all the money that might otherwise have gone to advance the state of the art in launch vehicles generally.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “The future missions will then need to work within whatever HLV capability falls out of the sausage making process above.”

    ah you have just described the shuttle system.

    that turned out so well.

    at least you admit that there are no current payloads or missions for your pretend make work rocket.

    seesh no wonder you are losing the political battle.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift….

    I am not convinced of that any more. I once was, but that was 20 years ago and before ISS assembly proved on orbit “put together”.

    There is an argument that things need to go up in chuncks bigger then what ISS went up with…but the “Skylab” approach seems to not be all that useful a model.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Land-Locked Reginald

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    “Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift.”

    If NASA had opened up a competition to find out how the space industry would use existing launchers to expand our presence beyond Earths orbit, they would have received ideas like the ULA proposal for “A Commercially Based Lunar Architecture” (http://www.unitedlaunchalliance.com/site/docs/publications/AffordableExplorationArchitecture2009.pdf)

    Using existing launchers and near-term technology improvements of other existing space hardware (Centaur, etc.), ULA has devised a plan that would create a sustained presence on the Moon, with crew rotation every 120 days, and with lots of assets to serve as backups. The cost of just the launchers for the first two years would be ~$15B using man-rated Delta IV Heavy ($300M/launch per ULA).

    This proposal, produced by our two most experienced aerospace companies, shows that alternatives to HLV are not being promoted or discussed.

    We already have a family of space hardware that fits on our existing launchers, and any enlargement of that hardware means more money diverted to R&D instead of launching real hardware.

    Does anyone think that our current 5m diameter space hardware is too small? I was watching the NASA channel last night, and they were showing a recent ISS feed, and the astronaut was swimming in the available space. I don’t know what a larger diameter would offer.

    Until we demonstrate a need for either A) larger diameter structures or B) single mass payloads exceeding our current capabilities, an HLV is a luxury, not a necessity.

    My current example is of this is when someone decides to build the next “Tallest Building In The World”. They don’t go out and build larger trucks, they just make more deliveries with the trucks they already have. Same thing in space.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    John, I disagree concerning your assertion that we can wait for HLV. We have an HLV industrial base and workforce right now. Given the fiscal environment clearly ahead we will ‘never’ have the money to recreate this capability in the next two decades at least. Either we get going on heavy (and more importantly high volume) lift today or we abandon it indefinitely, there is no third choice.

    You are describing a jobs program. If demand existed for an HLV, then industry would be pushing for it – no one is.

    SpaceX thought they saw a market for small, medium and med-heavy launchers that were priced lower than the current market. As it turned out, their gamble paid off for the medium launcher, but not for the small (one could argue it was a side product to the Falcon 9 development). The -Heavy is planned, but with no public schedule yet.

    The market for the Delta IV Heavy has been pretty small so far, and there has not been enough demand for larger payloads to justify ULA finishing the development of the Atlas V Heavy (larger payload than Delta IV Heavy). Where is the demand for the larger payload to justify a government jobs program on an HLV?

    Why should the government support the continuation of a product that does not have a market demand?

    NOTE: My previous post was under the name of “Land-Locked Reginald”, a holdover from a conversation with Goofy-Junior-Gary last week. My apologies for the confusion.

  • Interested Observer

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

    You DIRECT fanboys need to just give it up, the White house science advisor has declared that SRB’s are off limits for future launch vehicles.

  • MrEarl

    Rand wrote:
    “Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift.

    This flawed and unexamined assumption doesn’t become valid through repetition.”
    Prove it.

  • “Prove” that a flawed and unexamined assumption doesn’t become valid through repetition?

    It seems like a pretty obvious statement to me. It’s basic logic.

  • @Trent Waddington

    The reason the Obama administration wants to delay building a heavy lift vehicle is because they don’t really want to build a heavy lift vehicle. They want Space X to build a heavy lift vehicle and for NASA to rent it out. That’s why they’re obsessed with a hydrocarbon rocket because that’s the type of rocket technology Space X uses.

    NASA already presented its May 20, 2010 report on the cost of developing various heavy lift vehicles ‘Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Study’– including a hydrocarbon HLV. If anyone doesn’t have a pdf copy of this NASA document, then they can email me at newpapyrus@yahoo.com.

    HLV has been studied to death over the past 20 years. Now its time to finally build something!

  • Bob Mahoney

    Robert Oler : …is because 1) we have built launch vehicles (the shuttle comes to mind) without a clear understanding of what it cost to launch it, 2) launch vehicles that we invent missions for them to do, so we can justify having built them (shuttle station)…

    You occasionally make valid points, Robert, but these two items are, respectively, a cherry-picked distortion (at least regarding the shuttle) and a gross misrepresentation of the history of the development of the space shuttle and space station.

    If you cite history to defend your positions, the least you can do is try to be close to accurate when you do so.

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    The time and effort needed to construct the ISS proved to me that HLV IS needed. You can construct a house using the cargo capacity of a station wagon, It’s going to take a lot of time and trips to do it but eventually it will get don. Or you can buy prefab modules and have it build in 2 to 3 trips.
    Also, the figure that Shannon quoted was for extension of the shuttle-orbiter not an SDHLV. Privatizing the LV could be a way to get the thos costs much, much lower.

    Ron:
    If you want to see volume, look and the Skylab video.
    I saw the ULA proposal an while it will allow boot print and flags on the moon serious resurch facilities and later flights to asteroids and Mars will require heavy lift.

    Interested Observer:
    I don’t know the WH science adviser’s bonifides for his decision on SRBs but he neglects the fact that since 1988 and for over 200 flights, the SRB’s have preformed wonderfully. My suspicion is that it’s to preclude a SDHLV.

    John:
    With most of the LV already developed and NASA to pony up some of the final development costs, the whole thing becomes much more economical for the company and fare more capable than a hundred medium lift vehicles.

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    Prove that serious BEO will not need heavy lift.

  • Coastal Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    HLV has been studied to death over the past 20 years. Now its time to finally build something!

    If we haven’t been able to define a product and a business case during the past 20 years, I don’t think that means it’s time to build something.

    The question is not whether we have the ability to build an HLV, the question is what is it needed for, and what capacity will it have?

    Can anyone identify a real payload that requires the Atlas V Heavy (64,820 lb to LEO)? No? Maybe that’s why ULA has never launched one, and that’s also why the lack of an HLV has not held us back from doing anything in space yet.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    The time and effort needed to construct the ISS proved to me that HLV IS needed.

    The first of any product is always the most expensive, and not a gauge of the cost of the nth version. Just like in manufacturing (my background), repeated assembly of a structure in space using modular segments will tend to fall in price the more you build. Econ 101.

    The other thing to consider is that we already have the designs and ability to manufacture 5m modules, and the costs and safety are already known. Any HLV that increases the final assembly size is going to require a new set of designs, fixtures, testing, certification and all the other things that go along with new production lines.

    Then the question becomes do you have enough demand to justify the larger assemblies? Could you have done the same task with the 5m assemblies, and at a lower cost.

    So far it’s clear to me that we don’t have enough demand for larger structures to justify a whole new family of products. And who is going to pay for all of this new product? Who is the customer?

  • Colorful Metaphor

    Prove that serious BEO will not need heavy lift.

    A simple three variable polynomial equation should suffice.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Rand:
    Prove that serious BEO will not need heavy lift.

    MrEar, you have already acknowledged that the ULA proposal (using existing launchers) will get us to the Moon, so that already shows that HLV is not needed for BEO.

    We have no idea what will be required to go beyond the Moon, so it’s a false argument to say that only an HLV can satisfy the lift requirements.

    I think it’s funny that HLV supporters will not even look at the capabilities of our current industry. They think that money grows on trees, and that somehow “Bigger is Better”.

    Maybe you need to explain better why our astronauts need a 7.5 or 10m diameter spacecraft to explore space, and why a 5m spacecraft is too small. I’m not getting it.

  • Paul D.

    Prove that serious BEO will not need heavy lift.

    Generally it’s up to those asking to consume tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to justify themselves, not for their critics to prove them wrong.

  • The volume issue is often overblown. Sure, if you’re obsessively looking beyond the mark at manned Mars missions, and aren’t willing to invest in better EDL technologies, having a huge fairing is critical. But for almost everything else the most you would ever need is to do the 6.5-7.5m hammerheaded fairings the EELV guys have offered to do. And really, even those aren’t that necessary. The volume of existing EELV fairings is really quite amazing as-is. If you do a sensible depot-centric mission, and aren’t trying to focus on what we might possibly need 30 years ago, the volume limitations are really not there.

    You can do missions much bigger than ESAS capability levels with LVs and upper stages and fairing sizes that are similar to what exists of the shelf today.

    The only real itch that immediate-HLVs scratch is keeping jobs in certain political districts. I’d rather see a much smaller NASA than one that has most of it’s money in the form of a gold-plated ball and chain or a platinum coated albatross.

    ~Jon

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    There is a serious discussion going on (and disclosure my company and I have done some work in this area for a “agency”) looking at the optimal mass “bites” in terms of building a modular vehicle on orbit.

    It is not just “mass” or “size” but there are a entire series of “things” that bias the number one way or the other. For instance…if you put all the “bites” on one large vehicle 1) you have to have them all manufactored and checked out at the same time (that works the cost/schedule) 2) if you lose it then these items (which are probably unique) …..there are a whole host of things..

    For instance “checkout time” in LEO for crib deaths is enormously important.

    I dont see the US (or any country) launching 1) an Apollo style effort where the whole effort is in little expendable bits or 2) a Skylab one giant toss effort ever again. What I see, if there is a future for human exploration is deep space vehicles assembled in some “bites” at a Space assembly station, tested, fueled and then sent on their way.

    There is some “bite” of lift that is important because it will be shared with commercial groups who will do things like assemble comsats in LEO and “Vasimer” them to GEO…but what that bite is is still in the air.

    As for “Also, the figure that Shannon quoted was for extension of the shuttle-orbiter not an SDHLV. Privatizing the LV could be a way to get the thos costs much, much lower.”

    and SDHLV probably has as high launch cost as the shuttle. The orbiter processing would be replaced by payload processing and the rest would stay the same. It is the “method” that is important here.

    As for privatizing it. That is not possible with a shuttle derived anything. at least if “possible” is affordable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    You occasionally make valid points, Robert, but these two items are, respectively, a cherry-picked distortion (at least regarding the shuttle) and a gross misrepresentation of the history of the development of the space shuttle and space station. ………….

    how?

    When shuttle was built as the development got harder and harder and the budgets tighter…the assumptions to make the “launch cost” numbers work got more “fantasy”.

    As for the station. It has always been captive to what the lift products were of the shuttle. The super lightweight tank is an excellent example. (but not the only one)

    Robert G. Oler

  • Interested Observer, who is more powerful, the Whitehouse Science advisor or the Congress? I’m placing my bets on Congress, especially given the current popularity of the President. Seems like everyone that agrees with him is being shown the door by the voters so far and its not even November yet.

    You may have not have been paying attention but we had added a few more new and significantly more power members to the fan club lately. The little ADA maneuver backfired big time. After all a crisis is terrible thing to waste.

    Rand, there it is again, the complete and utter lack of spacecraft and mission design knowledge shining through. It’s indeed fortunate that you are a self proclaimed x-aerospace engineer. We just can’t afford the amateur hour thinking that goes with continuing to attempt to stuff 10lbs of stuff into a 5 lb box.

    The cost overruns of JWST and MSL would have paid for half of the Jupiter-130 development cost. What part of that fact don’t you understand? It almost as if you have zero spacecraft/mission design experience.

  • Vladislaw

    MrEarl wrote:

    “Prove it.”

    Proof

  • MrEarl

    Ron:
    Those 5m modules were flown up piratically empty and than outfitted by additional shuttle flights. The next structures built will not have the capabilities of the shuttle to help with construction. Also we have the designs and ability to construct 5m modules to fly in a shuttle cargo bay. The price of modification will be close to what a new 10m design will cost.

    But lets say we stick to 5m. Each 5m module will need at least two medium launches, one to get it up and one to outfit it. One heavy can launch 2 to 3 fully outfitted, fully integrated modules saving a number of EVA’s .

  • Stephen,
    If volume constraints were really what were holding JWST and MSL back…don’t you think they would’ve gone to ULA about that PLF upgrade by now?

    ~Jon

  • Alan

    MrEarl . . .
    Or you can buy prefab modules and have it build in 2 to 3 trips.

    So we can build a space station with pre-fab BA-330′s and connector modules launched on 2-3 Atlas, Delta or Falcon 9 launches.

    Thank you for making the point so well that we don’t NEED any SD/Direct HLVs.

  • Vladislaw

    “But lets say we stick to 5m. Each 5m module will need at least two medium launches, one to get it up and one to outfit it. One heavy can launch 2 to 3 fully outfitted, fully integrated modules saving a number of EVA’s .”

    Increased launches means higher flight rate, higher flight rate means lower prices.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Interested Observer, who is more powerful, the Whitehouse Science advisor or the Congress? I’m placing my bets on Congress, especially given the current popularity of the President. Seems like everyone that agrees with him is being shown the door by the voters so far and its not even November yet.”

    that is such a poor political judgment it is laughable.

    Congress is going along with Obama’s space plan. Period

    There are no if ands and buts about that.

    there are several reasons for it, most historical but in this case it is a product of no coherent opposition that is credible.

    AS for being shown the door…I am not sure who and what you mean. Blanche Lincoln just survived a tough primary challenge…your rocket science is no better then your politics

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Robert?
    How would orbiter processing be replaced by payload processing? The shuttle also carried payload and it’s processing is only a small part of costs.
    The thing to look at here is, Do we need the standing army? I don’t think so for the reasons I gave before and no one has been able to come up with any type of rough figures to show otherwise.
    I just explained above how even 5m structures would benefit from HL.
    I would agree that that there is risk of losing a much bigger “bite” if there is a failure of the HVL but there is there is generally greater risk that something will happen over the course of say 2 flights as opposed to 1.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Ron:
    “Those 5m modules were flown up piratically empty and than outfitted by additional shuttle flights. The next structures built will not have the capabilities of the shuttle to help with construction. Also we have the designs and ability to construct 5m modules to fly in a shuttle cargo bay. The price of modification will be close to what a new 10m design will cost.”

    the shuttles capabilities have been not relevant…or more correctly they are easily acquired on orbit.

    “But lets say we stick to 5m. Each 5m module will need at least two medium launches, one to get it up and one to outfit it. One heavy can launch 2 to 3 fully outfitted, fully integrated modules saving a number of EVA’s”

    As I noted earlier there are problems with launching “2 or 3″ at the same time…the fully outfitted is nice but a Delta IV Heavy or equivelent can deal with that.

    As for EVA. My prediction is that it is going to get easier and easier over time.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Robert?
    “How would orbiter processing be replaced by payload processing? The shuttle also carried payload and it’s processing is only a small part of costs.”

    If the payload is a stand alone like Skylab it is going to be as difficult to process as the orbiter…if it is not there is going to be “something” that handles the modules before they are attached to whatever they are attached to…and it will require processing. It wont be a trivial device either.

    “The thing to look at here is, Do we need the standing army? I don’t think so for the reasons I gave before and no one has been able to come up with any type of rough figures to show otherwise.”

    and no one has been able to come up with rough figures as to how to reduce the standing army. you may think it is possible (so might I) but there seems to be no path to do it. Constellation had it.

    “I just explained above how even 5m structures would benefit from HL.”

    that is not a shared opinion. there are few operators who are looking for larger structures. Not the DoD.

    Robert G. Oler

  • The time and effort needed to construct the ISS proved to me that HLV IS needed.>

    If so, you need to take a course in logic. That’s called the fallacy of hasty generalization.

  • MrEarl

    Vlad:
    I read the report you referenced, it’s from the Augustine committee hearings last year around this time. It’s an interesting proposal and while doable it’s not practical to have all those launches. While generally it is true that increased production leads to efficiencies, that is negated quite a bit by the complexities of putting together a space craft. Don’t forget, the ULA also said it would be 4 years and X amount of dollars to man-rate one of the EELVs. An SDHVL of any size would be man-rated from day 1.

    Alan:
    READ my full post again. Sure we could put a BA330 on an EELV and put it in orbit then have it open beautifully. Now, what’s inside? Nothing! There’s only air! You still need at least one more flight to equip each of the BA330′s and at least a couple of EVA’s to connect each one. I was talking about fully equipped and integrated modules 3 at a time. Can’t do that in one shot with an EELV or Taurus or Falcon9, etc….

  • Kelly Starks

    > MrEarl
    > The time and effort needed to construct the ISS proved to me that
    > HLV IS needed. You can construct a house using the cargo capacity
    > of a station wagon, It’s going to take a lot of time and trips to do it
    > but eventually it will get don. Or you can buy prefab modules and
    > have it build in 2 to 3 trips.

    A couple details here.
    ISS real time and trouble problems (other then the issues and cost explosion of integrating international politics and bureaucracies in a program) was due to shuttles slow flight rate. Originally they were going to fix the servicing issues no the stuttle (metal clad tiles like for the X-33, removable panels to allow quicker servicing access, etc) and save a order of magnitude of time and money per flight. The problem with that was — it would save a order of magnitude of time and money per flight. Congress LOVED the standing army and high costs per flight of Columbia. It allowed them to spend more per flight, so it was more “efficient”. Otherwise they’d have to approve some big new program to justify more flights to get the same dollars per districts per year.
    A review of the DC-X program will show they found it was REALLY easy to lower labor hours per flight about a 1000 fold with a rework. Most of the design tricks would work as well in a 1+ orbiter like config.

    Second the orbiter was comparably cheap. About 15-20% less in same year dollars then Orion, 10% less then Apollo’s CM/SM. Presumably similar development cost ratios would show up with a commercial orbiter to commercial capsule program comparison.

    So a rapid flight rate, with a reusable craft, would allow you to build the station in months not years. If you can stay in orbit and support the first module for a week until the second orbiter comes up with its peace, and that orbiter stays until the third orbiter comes up, etc. You don’t have the issue of having to design the station so that each stage of construction assembly was an autonomous station. And obviously the ELV HLVs folks are talking about were going to be very low flight rate, so flying tens of flights a year with 25 tons of cargo, gets a lot more lifted then a handful of HLV flights. Likely at lower total costs.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Those 5m modules were flown up piratically empty and than outfitted by additional shuttle flights.

    According the ESA’s website, Node 3 (Tranquillity) had a launch mass of 15,500kg, and they added 3,500kg to outfit it. Why is that a problem? Also, there may have been structural considerations that played into this, such as the added structural mass needed to hold the 3,500kg during launch. That would have been unneeded mass in space that you have to re-boost for the lifetime of the structure. No matter which launcher you use, that would be a consideration. Bigger is not necessarily better.

    Let’s also look at the cost of sending more Node 3 type assemblies to the ISS. This size payload would require a -Heavy version of Delta/Atlas/Falcon. For Delta IV Heavy, ULA has quoted $300M for a man-rated version. It has enough leftover capacity to add a maneuvering module to deliver it to the ISS (HLV payloads would need the same).

    For Falcon 9 Heavy, if we say that the -Heavy is 3x the -9 price, then the same payload could be launched to LEO for $168M, and there would be about 20,000 lbs of additional payload you could add to the launch (70,548 lbs total capacity to LEO).

    For Delta IV Heavy, the payload costs would be about $8,800/lb. For Falcon 9 Heavy, they would be about $5,000/lb.

    Considering that price is a huge factor in whatever we want to do in space, how much would it cost to launch a Node 3 on an HLV? What would the equivalent $/lb be?

    If you can show that HLV launch costs are the same or less than current generation med-heavy launchers, then you could make a good argument that they should be built. Can you make that argument?

  • An SDHVL of any size would be man-rated from day 1.

    This is nonsense. There is nothing intrinsic to an SDHLV that “man rates” it. The Shuttle isn’t man rated.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Don’t forget, the ULA also said it would be 4 years and X amount of dollars to man-rate one of the EELVs. An SDHVL of any size would be man-rated from day 1.

    Ok, let’s have a race. If ULA were to get funding to man-rate the Delta IV Heavy, and you got funding to build a man-rated HLV, who would win?

    ULA says that it will take a total of $1.3B to man-rate the Delta IV Heavy, and upgrade their facilities. How much do you need to design, build and test an HLV?

    Oh, and Delta IV Heavy has already launched four times (and will launch more times in the next 4 years), so we know it’s reliable, and we would expect the HLV to launch at least four times before we put a human on it.

    Delta IV Heavy could be ready to launch crew to LEO in 4 years, and cost $1.3B in non-recurring.

    When could you launch crew to LEO, and how much would it cost in non-recurring?

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    While generally it is true that increased production leads to efficiencies, that is negated quite a bit by the complexities of putting together a space craft.

    How is docking in space a complexity? We’ve been doing it for 50 years, and I’m not aware of any inherent issues that are affecting us today (ISS generation only). In fact, with the cargo arms we routinely use on the ISS, docking has become less complicated.

    Do you have any specifics to back up this assertion?

  • He doesn’t even know how to “man rate” an SDLV, let alone do it faster or cheaper than getting crew up on a Delta. He, like most people who use the phrase, doesn’t even understand what it means.

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    You talk an average game but it’s obvious why NASA fired you years ago.

  • MrEarl

    Ron, I was talking about building a space craft on the ground from scratch.
    If docking is so easy than why dose the WH wand to spend millions on docking demonstrators?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ed Beach (a submariner and author of several good sub books including Run Silent Run Deep) tells the story of how Admiral H. Rickover would interview potential sub captains…and in Beach’s case Rickover asked him the question “How would Nautilus have changed WW2?”

    Most people on this thread, and most space advocates cannot grasp the reality of the Falcon9 and the Iridium contract.

    The 9 flying indicates that Musk and his company have figured out how to make the technical and corporate processes work in terms of DEVELOPING LOW COST rocketry.

    That is a tremendous achievement. It is hard to overstate it. I am sure there are some teething problems, but the 9 promises to be the DC-3 of space…meaning it is the pivot point where cost start lowering instead of going up.

    Second the Iridium contract shows that MUSK actually believes his cost numbers.

    This is another tremendous achievement. I recall all the cost figures that were tossed about concerning shuttle…and it didnt take much to pull back the curtain and see that those were complete fiction. Musk inked a contract that obligates him to those numbers. IF he doesnt make them, he goes out of business.

    So all the talk about heavy lift, is just that “talk”. This is an excersize in terms of how federal dollars are going to be spent and some folks at NASA kept busy…but the next round of the space race…is going to be seeing if Musk makes his cost and reliability numbers…

    and if he does then just as the Ford Trimotor passed into history…the current way of doing things in both crewed and uncrewed lift…is over.

    and all the arguments meaningless.

    Robert G. Oler

  • You talk an average game but it’s obvious why NASA fired you years ago.

    How could NASA “fire me” when I never worked for them?

    Why do you make things up about people?

  • Interested Observer

    Interested Observer, who is more powerful, the Whitehouse Science advisor or the Congress? I’m placing my bets on Congress, especially given the current popularity of the President. Seems like everyone that agrees with him is being shown the door by the voters so far and its not even November yet.

    You have got to be kidding. Congress, with a 21% favorability rating over a president with two more years in office? The congressional salad bowl is going to be completely revamped this November with deficit hawks gaining all the power. You clowns are wanting the government to spend billions of dollars on your rocket that NASA is not touching with a ten foot pole?

    Your statement here makes as much sense as your conspiracy mongering talk in Huntsville to the Augustine commission did.

    It is far more likely that NASA’s budget is going to be cut significantly because the idiots at the centers are too busy trying to save their own salad bowls to understand that their is going to be a huge reduction in the amount of salad available. With NASA under a CR probably until this time next year, you can guarantee that Constellation is a dead letter.

    You have made a lot of claims (none supported by facts) that you have NASA’s engineering cadre behind you or this or that congressman supporting you. Looks like none of that power has translated into even one positive thing for your DIRECT effort.

    The proof is in the pudding, and your fanboy group has no proof behind your work and Shannon shredded on both your technical and financial points.

  • Jon Wrote: “Stephen, If volume constraints were really what were holding JWST and MSL back…don’t you think they would’ve gone to ULA about that PLF upgrade by now?”

    Jon, good question. Initially both programs thought they could cheat the density law, they were wrong but now it’s too late. Lesson learned for some, but not all (ie Rand). Second, nobody wants the total cost of the requalification to be added to their program cost but with 20/20 hindsight they would have still saved money had they done that. Also in the case of JWST they would need to have ESA upgrade their in kind cost (ie the launch system) they offered as part of the international effort.

    My basic point is that in order to do more than the last mission we need a bigger container at this point as all the easy inexpensive methods of packing stuff and getting rid of mass have been exhausted. I would also add that manned spacecraft tend to have an even lower density than unmanned spacecraft due to the fact that astronauts cannot be crammed in the same we do the inards of the spacecraft.

    Our past approaches (very innovative/creative yet costly) to work around this has costs us a lot more money than just eliminating the constraint. Inflatable habs, propellant depots, all good but at the end of the day it’s hard to beat the cost, robustness and weight effectiveness of ground integrated/tested spacecraft launched as one piece. The basic breakup of the mission spacecraft package can then follow the mission architecture.

    I would also suggest the heavier more robust spacecraft enable in space reuseability which along with ISRU is key to getting the cost down. A great deal of the cost of Apollo was that we chucked the very expensive delicate spacecraft after each mission, not the SaturnV. Having an Earth-EML1 crew transfer system in combination with an ISRU refueled lander would significantly lower the cost of Lunar access. Ditto deep space cyclers etc.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    “A great deal of the cost of Apollo was that we chucked the very expensive delicate spacecraft after each mission, not the SaturnV.”

    that is a hoot and like so many of your claims not supported by any facts.

    The reality is that the systems on Apollo, had they been made reusable would have been far more expensive.

    “Inflatable habs, propellant depots, all good but at the end of the day it’s hard to beat the cost, robustness and weight effectiveness of ground integrated/tested spacecraft launched as one piece.”

    and the data points here are?

    the only thing consistent in your post is the logic of “I think it so it must be accurate”.

    that is why DIRECT is DEAD

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kelly Starks

    > Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    >== The reality is that the systems on Apollo, had they been made
    > reusable would have been far more expensive. ==

    Would they? That’s never happened in practice. The system have to be about the same either way. (Its not like crews breath more or maneuver the ship more in reusable craft then expendable ones. Reusable don’t subject you to more launch G’s etc to withstand.) And again, the full reusable orbiters cost LESS to develop adapter flight, then the expendable Apollo and or Orion capsules.

  • Interested Observer, if that is your real name :), I’m glad that you are interested in this national debate but I’m very gratefully if you are just an observer. Based on your exceedingly imperfect understanding of the reality going on right now behind the scenes (and even in full public view) along with the facts I have lived through first hand, you are most definitely ‘only’ qualified to be an observer.

    So observe away, we both don’t have to wait more than year to find out whether your bead on reality or mine is closer to the truth. Then again truth is stranger than fiction so given the irrational behavior by both extremes I have observed in this debate anything is still possible.

    One should never underestimate our ability to take a really bad situation (PoR) and make it even worse (FY11 Proposal). At this point almost nothing would surprise me. The various NASA decisions beginning with Griffin and the policy sausage making process going on now, both of which I have observed and even participated in first hand would make a great sequel to Alice in Wonderland.

    In the end its not what you or I want but what the Congress and President agree upon, at which point all of us will need to put this chapter behind us and push as hard as we can to make whatever program falls out as successful as possible.

  • eh

    It’s a hard call. There are arguments for HLV now and HLV later.

    My concern is that there are few opportunities for serious R&D at NASA. But HLVs have many supporters. It’s the easiest thing to fund for many political reasons. I just don’t see how R&D is going to ever get much funding if we build an HLV now.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    I can see making the CM “reusable”…but the SM would have required on orbit servicing, something it was not designed for…and same with the LM…I dont know how one would service the descent stage?

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Interested Observer, if that is your real name :) , I’m glad that you are interested in this national debate but I’m very gratefully if you are just an observer.

    as are you, as we all are right now.

    It is basically over. Nelson tossed in the towel with his letter. Direct is Dead and all the folks over at NASAspaceflight.com can start the crying.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bob Mahoney

    Robert,

    Carefully selected pieces of history presented without proper and full context are wont to be distorted or employed in dishonest ways. Your initial wording painted a broad damning brush across the shuttle and station history that mischaracterized the entire body of facts comprising their approval, development, and implementation. Your comments offered in reply to my post picked and chose particular aspects of that larger history without providing the background necessary to properly qualify the details you cite.

    One could just as easily defend truly terrible actions taken in the past (Hitler’s Germany comes to mind) by picking and choosing particular facts connected to those actions, or condemn worthwhile triumphs in the past (the victory of the US Revolutionary War, for example) by doing the same. I would hardly call either process legitimate.

    Regardless of the points you were trying to make, I’m just imploring you to be honest—completely honest—with your historical facts.

    Now, if what you have written regarding shuttle/station is what you genuinely believe to be the reality of the past—the complete reality, that is—then I can only suggest that you dig a little deeper and so gain a better, more complete understanding of that which you apparently do not fully know or comprehend.

  • Regardless of the points you were trying to make, I’m just imploring you to be honest—completely honest—with your historical facts.

    In my experience (going back a couple decades) you’re asking far too much of him.

  • Ferris Valyn

    MrEarl

    2 points

    1. So, when we actually get around to doing space habitats and the like, are we gonna just launch our Nexus & Sea Dragon rocket to put them up?

    2. The ONLY demonstration that is actually about docking purely is for an automated rendevous & docking. Demonstrating on-orbit construction methods doesn’t mean you know exactly how to do on orbit propellant transfers & the like

  • Ben Joshua,

    The first question should be: “How heavy is the biggest assembly you truly need to launch and what are its maximum dimensions?” If I recall correctly, members of the Augustine Committee concluded that the maximum weight was seventy metric tons and the maximum diameter was 7.5 meters.

    The answer to your question is, yes, smaller heavy lift boosters can be build as multi core derivatives of the existing Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9. That would be the cheapest option. Developing a modified fairing seven meter fairing should cost less than $200 million. With a modified fairing that can get you to somewhere in the 6.5-7.5m fairing diameter. The U.S. has this capability now and would give a good booster with hardware heritage for assemblies in the 25mT – 35mT range.

    The next step up in cost and throw weight and volume is sharing the tank production line, engines, and avionics with other boosters already paid for by other users. The phase II upgrade to Atlas V falls in that category. It shares engines and avionics with Atlas V and tank production with Delta IV. That would boost about 35 T on a single core and about 70 T in the three core variant with a maximum fairing diameter of 7.5 meters. Operating cost is essentially unchanged from today but needs about $3,000 million in development cost.

    The next step up in cost, and throw weight and volume, is to make custom tanks and a custom production line but use engines and avionics from other boosters paid for by other users. Several have been proposed, one is an all-hydrogen based on RS-68′s and Shuttle tank tooling, which lofts 50 tons single core in a 8-10m fairing; another is the phase III Atlas with RD-180′s and ET tooling that lofts 90-110 T. Development cost for those is a guess. Partisans of different systems calculate wildly different numbers. A rough order of magnitude would be $10,000 million. In principle, this could be done without supporting a large standing army but in practice it might not be, which makes the operations cost anyone’s guess. It’s clear that a booster like that can be done with reasonable operations costs but it is NOT clear that it would be.

    Any more specialized development than that and there appears little chance of avoiding capture by the standing army; development cost becomes unlimited on the high side and operations cost will be unchanged from past NASA practice. Keeping the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters or space shuttle main engines in production is VERY expensive and appears to give no value for the expense.

    Kerosene designs would logically use the reliable high performance RD-180, if low cost is important. If politics makes that unworkable, add the multi billion dollar development and production cost for a large U.S. hydrocarbon engine.

    Since there appears to be no critical application that demands pieces heavier than 70 T or fairings larger than 7.5m, I just don’t see the interest in going further up that rising cost curve — unless your motives for doing so have to do with factors other than cost-effective launch.

  • Coastal Ron

    MrEarl wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    If docking is so easy than why dose the WH wand to spend millions on docking demonstrators?

    Why spend money on something we’re already doing – the ISS is a great example of docking spacecraft and modular assemblies in space.

    We also have four different cargo modules that will resupply the ISS over the next five years, and they all rendezvous with the ISS in the same way we could deliver large modular sections for in-space assembly. This is a mature procedure that will only get more reliable over time.

    Next hurdle please…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Robert,

    Carefully selected pieces of history presented without proper and full context are wont to be distorted or employed in dishonest ways. …

    that is a true statement, but in no way did I do that with shuttle and station.

    It is a very accurate representation of the shuttle to say that the launch cost were “entertaining fiction” even before it flew. To get to the dollars per launch needed the flight rate had to be first one a week, then one every two weeks (as the cost went up) then…it finally got down to crowing about 7 in a year.

    A “bend over backwards and present the decision making in the best light possible” shows that serious decision makers KNEW that the shuttle cost projected even in the early 70′s era were fantasy. Bush the last when he was DCI more or less wrote a letter (or had it written for him) that stated the obvious.

    As for station. It is clear that in the post challenger era there was no real reason to continue flying the shuttle other then to deploy the station (and service Hubble). there were a few shuttle specific payloads left but the station is a tribute to what can be carried up and flown on the shuttle.

    In other words post Challenger the two programs because mutually supportive.

    You repeat things over and over but in the end you have not pointed out a single event of shuttle/station history that I have taken out of context or misrepresented.

    If you want to give it a try do so. Otherwise

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I just noticed this comment you made:

    Okay, the next question is how heavy is heavy enough? I would suggest that instead of coming up with our heavy lift ‘requirements’ (an approach that caused the POR to go off the rails) we work backwards from the budget and policy this time around.

    Work backwards from the budget? This is implying that any HLV you can fit into a “budget” is the correct size. How does that meet the needs of the customer?

    Call me old fashioned (or a free market supporter), but I think the marketplace should dictate the needs of an HLV. The problem is that NASA is pretending to be a launch supplier, and it’s screwing up the marketplace. How can commercial firms compete with the government?

    If the U.S. Congress wants the U.S. to be a player in the HLV market, then they should do a COTS-like competition for a firm number of government guaranteed HLV launches. Let the U.S. space industry decide on the best technology solutions. Maybe it will be Direct or SDLV, but I would bet it would be a derivation on the current launcher technologies in use by ULA and SpaceX.

    And really, who cares what the launcher technology is, as long as it’s reliable and ultimately lowers the costs to put mass into space?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    One could just as easily defend truly terrible actions taken in the past (Hitler’s Germany comes to mind) by picking and choosing particular facts connected to those actions, or condemn worthwhile triumphs in the past (the victory of the US Revolutionary War, for example) by doing the same. I would hardly call either process legitimate. ……………..

    actually both illustrations you pick are ones where a singular event in those two courses makes the point that they were either evil or inspired.

    Once one gets their arms around Hitler’s “final solution” NOTHING else justifies it or explains it or says “wow that had some merit”. Likewise once one understands the basis of The American first civil war (which we call The Revolution), the concept that all men have rights by their creator…then almost everything else about it that is bad (and there were somethings) are (to quote Brinkley) “Pushed aside by the result”.

    Once one understands that by the mid 70′s the compromises that were made by the shuttle system had already ended its ability to be “cheap access to space” then one understands a lot about the futility of the last 30 years.

    I dont get the direction of your post(s).

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kelly Starks

    > Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    > == One should never underestimate our ability to take a really
    > bad situation (PoR) and make it even worse (FY11 Proposal). ==

    Stephen, that absolutely is the quote of the day.

    ;)

    And yes, that’s where we are – going from the unbelievably bad PoR, to some finding a way to go to something even worse.

  • Bennett

    Lee Valentine wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Well done. Clear reasoning and fact based commentary. Thanks!

  • Bennett

    Off topic, but this quote from Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium on the $492 million launch services contract he signed with SpaceX:

    “We are proud to be partnered with SpaceX, and want to congratulate Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team on its successful inaugural Falcon 9 launch. Hands down, SpaceX offered us the best value coupled with an unwavering commitment to flawless performance and reliability. SpaceX has combined the best of aerospace and commercial best practices to design reliable and cost-effective access to space, and Iridium will be the beneficiary of that effort.”

    I would hope that those who claim that SpaceX isn’t really a commercial launch company would take notice. Like Robert noted earlier in the thread, this is one of the most profound events in the history of space flight. No matter your political persuasion, if you want to see advancements in HSF, you should get behind both SpaceX and the FY2011 NASA budget.

    I think things are finally starting to move in the right direction.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Robert G. Oler wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    > I can see making the CM “reusable”…but the SM would have
    > required on orbit servicing, something it was not designed
    > for…and same with the LM…I dont know how one would service
    > the descent stage?

    You can design them to be recovered. Integrate the SM and CM into a singe re-enterable unit like it is on the orbiter.

    For the LM, in the ’90′s they designed a system that would fit i the shuttle bay, could fly from there to the lunar surface and return intact to redock with a orbiter and be landed and re serviced. It would work better if the LEO-Luna “shuttle” could refuel in orbit, or if the surface to LEO orbiter could be refueled and boost to lunar orbit and return with the lander in it. All this would be cheaper to develop then the fully expendable Constellation configuration.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 7:01 pm
    >
    > Call me old fashioned (or a free market supporter), but I think
    > the marketplace should dictate the needs of an HLV. The
    > problem is that NASA is pretending to be a launch supplier,
    > and it’s screwing up the marketplace. How can commercial
    > firms compete with the government?

    It actually gets worse then that.

    NASA as a agency is supposed to be space ship developer – specifically next generation technology demonstrator. Course politically they may need to use older design’s and tech to maximize their use of established politically popular vendors — and keep the head count up. And of course — it is the market, its nearly half the free world market for heavy lift (the DoD is most all of the rest). So its designing missions, to develop cargo types, to develop a LV for — with the need to adjust the design to fit current political districts needs.

    No, this does not seem like a good way to develop a useful LV.

    ;)

  • Robert G. Oler

    Bennett wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    thank you.

    Iridium went bankrupt due to launch cost…to have worked the 1/2 billion to get launch money means that they can compete at those numbers in the second gen system…

    it is the first lowering of the “launch bar” that we have seen.

    it wont go unnoticed by others (including the DoD) that a constellation can go up for less then 1/2 billion.

    this is a pivot event in space history. It has to come true but the odds seem good

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    NASA as a agency is supposed to be space ship developer…

    Not specifically a spaceship developer, just a technology developer. Or, as stated by Congress:

    “Sec. 102. (a) The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.

    ( c) The Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (as established by title II of this Act) seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

    My interpretation of this would be that NASA should do the hard stuff, the stuff that commercial companies are not capable of doing yet. Typically this would be the the kind of things that have not been done before, so we don’t have a firm set of plans that can be handed off to the space industry – R&D and developmental type stuff, but not routine products and operations.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    >> “NASA as a agency is supposed to be space ship developer…”

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 9:21 pm
    > Not specifically a spaceship developer, just a technology
    > developer. ==

    Realistically you can’t develop a technology without building a craft that uses it. Now it would work better if NASA did do more of the tech and commission industry to do the prototype craft, especially production prototypes. Say have NASA underwrite a vendor or two developing and fielding a cutting edge craft. NASA gets a platform to field test the new systems in a craft that then can go on to be a first gen version of that class of craft – which gives the US industry a market edge (general welfare of the United States stuff) — etc.

    It would advance tech faster and much cheaper — but congress isn’t really interested in that, and wants jobs in the right districts and all the other overhead that buries gov dev programs. And again – NASA (and DOD) are about the only current market. So they need a program, to justify the ship, to justify the development program, to supply the jobs in districts.

    If they don’t do that, they can’t get the votes. Its to cheap to be worth Congresses political effort to get the approval in congress.

    I.E. NASA budget really isn’t in dollars – its in votes. More expensive programs are easier to get enough support to get the funds for.

    Welcome to engineering in Oz.

  • Moron

    So after reading through all this my summarized version will look like this:
    HLV now, isn’t really necessary as there are many ways to build an “in Orbit” spacecraft the same way we build ISS with a LV. So basically the equation computes likes this:

    HLV now=delicious “Porkchop” ;D

    Did I got it wrong again folks?

  • Ferris Valyn

    It would advance tech faster and much cheaper — but congress isn’t really interested in that, and wants jobs in the right districts and all the other overhead that buries gov dev programs. And again – NASA (and DOD) are about the only current market. So they need a program, to justify the ship, to justify the development program, to supply the jobs in districts.

    Not really true – there are more than a few agencies that utilize launch vehicles, even if only for things like Comm sats. And there is the tourism market – all of those are proven, existing markets, right now.

    If they don’t do that, they can’t get the votes. Its to cheap to be worth Congresses political effort to get the approval in congress.

    I don’t believe it has to be that way. Thats the fundamentally problem here – the idea that the only way to fund spaceflight & development is about spreading enough pork around, and hoping something works.

    I.E. NASA budget really isn’t in dollars – its in votes. More expensive programs are easier to get enough support to get the funds for.

    not really. If that were TRULY the case, then NASA would’ve had more than enough money to do Constellation right. The simple fact is that, using the old system, (IE its all about pork, and is entirely government-centric) there is enough money for some program, and that program has to keep people employed. That doesn’t mean there is ENOUGH money to actually do something, such as actually develop & fly an HLV. There is enough money to start pushing drawings around, but thats good enough for certain Congress people (and apparently certain space “supporters”)

  • Rhyolite

    There is lots of interesting discussion about HLVs here but it largely puts the cart before the horse. The need for an HLV (or lack thereof) should derive from the mission.

    What is really needed are a set of comparable design reference missions done with and without an HLV and with and without technology insertion (propellant depots, ISRU, etc.).

    Lifecycle cost will be the most important differentiator but we also need to consider:

    Schedule – The use of existing components allows us to start planning missions sooner.

    Risk – The more development required, the more potential for overruns and schedule slides.

    Policy – How is the launch market existing users of space (communications, navigation, reconnaissance, weather, etc.) affected?

  • red

    Mark Whittington: “On the other hand propellant depots and heavy lift would enable a lot of things.”

    But from the political point of view is it possible to develop propellant depots while at the same time developing heavy lift? Griffin seemed to think that propellant depots are a solution without a problem because Ares V was so huge. Why develop propellant depots and pay for the rockets to supply them when that would just take away the need for, and funding for, the monster rocket?

    “Of course, that would involve returning to the Moon and, as the President said, that is not necessary since Buzz Aldrin has already been there…”

    No, here’s what he said:

    “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.”

    He said we shouldn’t go to the Moon first, not that we shouldn’t go to the Moon. The Augustine Committee showed why that’s the case. I think there’s another approach to the Flexible Path that puts the Moon a bit earlier in their sequence than they outlined, while making the most of the early Flexible Path destinations, but even in that scenario you wouldn’t go to the Moon first for the reasons the Augustine Committee explained.

    NASA officials have said again and again that the Moon’s surface is in their plans. They have technology demonstration and robotic precursor work for the Moon in the budget proposal and RFIs (eg: lunar ISRU). They also want to go other places, too.

    GeeSpace: “As for those folks who want to know how a HLV, I would suggest that the Obama Administration find an additional $500-750 million or look at certain parts of the proposed NASA 2011-15 plan that could be pushed to a later year or eliminated such as the funds to renovate KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station 21st Century Launch Complex”

    Actually the NASA 2011-2015 plan already has about $3B for heavy lift work. It’s just not called “heavy lift development”. I think they should just change the name of at least part of that work to “heavy lift development” to satisfy people that want immediate heavy lift development since they plan to develop a rocket engine that would be used on a heavy lift rocket (and others). That’s a lot closer to actual heavy lift development than what Constellation is doing.

    Also, given all of the job implications I doubt they would go after the KSC upgrade money, even though that might sound like a budget area that should be near the front of the trimming list (at least certain parts of it).

    amightywind: “Ares I has already flown!”

    Wow! I must have missed that! Who flew on it? What did they think of the ride? And here I was thinking along with the Aerospace Corporation and Augustine Commitee that Ares I was almost a decade away from flying.

    amightywind: “The Ares V (10m, 440,000lb) is big enough for any mission.”

    Wow! That’s huge! How expensive is it to develop? Tens of billions? How long will it take? Until 2028? How expensive will it be to launch? How will you be able to pay for an actual mission after paying for that?

    amightywind: “It is already well under development.”

    Wow! Really? I hadn’t heard that! Where is it? Are there any pictures?

    amightywind: “These would be tremendous national assets if the President and congress would stop kibitzing and get out of NASA’s way!

    But NASA doesn’t want to build them! They’re too expensive, and don’t allow NASA to do it’s actual missions!

    MrEarl: “Any serious exploration effort beyond Earth orbit will need heavy lift.”

    I guess it depends on what you count as serious. You can do an awful lot with depots, assembly, and docking. You can also do an awful lot with modest and more affordable forms of heavy lift.

    MrEarl: “The Augustine Committee realized this and included it in the option that the Obama administration seems to be following.”

    That’s true, but the Administration didn’t give NASA as dramatic a budget boost as Augustine said would be needed. Also, the $6B boost NASA did get was accompanied in the budget by repair of a number of budget areas that had been raided by Constellation in previous years besides HSF (the scope of the Augustine Committee’s budget idea). So … we can’t afford everything Augustine wanted, and even the Augustine idea didn’t have everything happening right away.

    Mr Earl: “The time and effort needed to construct the ISS proved to me that HLV IS needed.”

    ISS isn’t necessarily exactly how future stations would be built. A lot of the ISS work was done by the Shuttle, which as we know has a number of issues (eg: long time stretches with no missions). An HLV would simplify building a space station. An affordable HLV would be a useful tool; I don’t argue that it wouldn’t be. However, there are other ways of going about it. For example, you could try smaller but more affordable and reliable (in the sense of a train arriving on time) rockets that aren’t crewed for much of the work. You could use inflatables and other technology to lower mass/volume needs. You could go for HLV, but at a modest scale. Also note that ISS had operations that needed supplies during construction.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Ferris Valyn wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    >> It would advance tech faster and much cheaper — but congress
    >> isn’t really interested in that, and wants jobs in the right districts
    >> and all the other overhead that buries gov dev programs. And
    >> again – NASA (and DOD) are about the only current market. So
    >> they need a program, to justify the ship, to justify the
    >> development program, to supply the jobs in districts.

    > Not really true – there are more than a few agencies that utilize
    > launch vehicles, even if only for things like Comm sats. And
    > there is the tourism market – all of those are proven, existing
    > markets, right now.

    Yeah, but they are tiny compared to NASA and DOD, most especially in large cargo.

    Look at it this way. Shuttle lifted 2/3rd’s of all the people in history who ever made it into orbit, and half of all the tonnage of cargo. The vast bulk for NASA own programs.

    So NASA was THE commercial customer for launch services, but now that Market is virtually completely gone.

    >> If they don’t do that, they can’t get the votes. Its to cheap to
    >> be worth Congresses political effort to get the approval in congress.

    > I don’t believe it has to be that way. Thats the fundamentally
    > problem here – the idea that the only way to fund spaceflight
    > & development is about spreading enough pork around, and
    > hoping something works.

    Its a given for all federal programs – for NASA, with no critical mission with much intrinsic support (especially after Apollo) they REALLY need the pork to get interest in the programs.

    >> I.E. NASA budget really isn’t in dollars – its in votes. More
    >> expensive programs are easier to get enough support to get
    >> the funds for.

    > not really. If that were TRULY the case, then NASA would’ve had
    > more than enough money to do Constellation right. ===

    What would “right” mean? Constellation was a design for pork configurations. A almost laughably bad and overpriced system. Dwarfing the costs for no greater capacity then systems developed in the’60s. For far less you could develop a fully reusable, far more capable, system – and build a HUGE lunar infrastructure closer to the base in 2001 then the VSE pod on the moon. But that wouldn’t get the diverse sets of political supporters needed to get funded.

    Griffen pushed it to far, but congress was still willing to increase budgets to fund Constellation — not enough to use it, but enough to build it.

    Constellation didn’t do enough for enough congressman, to get the votes to fund it. Doesn’t mean that a lower cost system wouldn’t be FAR harder to get funding for. Trust me when I was in NASA HQ for a while their worst fear was a CATS system.

    Congress might fund a HLV program — though this years to far along for this congress to get the bills past.

    Until a real non gov market of some scale develops in the world – don’t expect launchers to not be developed for political goals.

  • BlueMoon

    Stephen Metschan wrote:
    “…what do you say about the cost overruns now running in the billions of dollars for JWST and MSL largely traceable to trying to put 10lbs into a 5lb box? The cost overruns on these two programs alone would have funded half of the Jupiter-130 development cost. It often pays to use the right tool for the job.”

    What?
    You think that if you give NASA a 10lbs sack vice a 5 lbs sack that they won’t immediately try to put in 15 lbs rather than 9.99 lbs??? If you think that, you do NOT understand the NASA mentality. Mass, volume and cost over-runs will occur no matter what size sack you give them if the current processes and mentality continue.

  • @Coastal Ron

    NASA is not a business. Its a government agency designed to advance manned and unmanned space travel and to pioneer the solar system. Its not designed to make a profit.

    NASA is also not a burden on the US economy. In fact, studies have continuously shown that it helps to grow the US economy.

    And there would be no Space X without the US governments investment in space travel and space technology over the last 60 years.

    Government space programs and private space programs are mutually beneficial to each other.

  • Rhyolite

    I should also say that the policy issue of how existing launch markets are affected is as important as any of the other issues I listed.

    To be brutally honest, HSF is a vanity project for the major powers and will remain for the foreseeable future.

    The real bill payers in space are communications, navigation, reconnaissance and the like missions that have become integral to the modern world. Making future launch vehicle procurement decisions that lower the cost of these missions is a greater national interest than anything that happens in the HSF world.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Yeah, but they are tiny compared to NASA and DOD, most especially in large cargo.

    Not in the dollars sense. The majority of the money, spent on space stuff comes from the private sector. The issue is that most of the launch stuff for private firms goes outside of the US, due to ITAR and export controls (and, to be fair, its also been cheaper too)

    Its a given for all federal programs – for NASA, with no critical mission with much intrinsic support (especially after Apollo) they REALLY need the pork to get interest in the programs.

    It doesn’t have to be this way if you can develop industries that are entirely private that utilize humans in space. Once you do that, there will be another source of funding for this development (and an additional argument for how better to determine what priorities are

    What would “right” mean?

    Huh?

    Constellation was a design for pork configurations. A almost laughably bad and overpriced system. Dwarfing the costs for no greater capacity then systems developed in the’60s. For far less you could develop a fully reusable, far more capable, system – and build a HUGE lunar infrastructure closer to the base in 2001 then the VSE pod on the moon. But that wouldn’t get the diverse sets of political supporters needed to get funded.

    I agree it was a bad system. But the point is that, according to your logic, (and I’ll quote you again here)

    I.E. NASA budget really isn’t in dollars – its in votes. More expensive programs are easier to get enough support to get the funds for.

    By that logic, then NASA should’ve gotten plenty of money, more than enough, to do Constellation (lets ignore whether it makes sense or not). Because it was a more expensive program, it should’ve gotten plenty of votes, and therefore plenty of money. It didn’t get it. That tells you something about that logic.

    Griffen pushed it to far, but congress was still willing to increase budgets to fund Constellation — not enough to use it, but enough to build it.

    No, they really weren’t. What they have been, and are willing to do, is let the budget run out long enough that, eventually, something might get built and something might fly. But thats not the same thing as saying there is enough to do the program in the time it was suppose to be done.

    Until a real non gov market of some scale develops in the world – don’t expect launchers to not be developed for political goals.

    Again, I cite comm sat market. More importantly, this should be our overriding goal for what we do in space – lets spend the money on developing the market & the tech associated with developing the market.

  • red

    Stephen Metschan: “Also SpaceX doesn’t need $6 Billion dollars to turn Dragon into a LEO crew capsule. The budget above effectively doubles the amount of money Elon said he needed to do this. With the Beyond LEO Orion as the back up that should be more than sufficient.”

    I think this is a big flaw in the Compromise budget plan (at least the version I saw a few months ago). It pretty much wipes out the commercial crew effort that is already under way with CCDEV. There is no competition – just funding SpaceX, which all of the 2011 budget opponents say is too inexperienced. At the same time, Orion is funded, which should give SpaceX reason to consider walking away since, even if it costs more to get to the ISS, Orion could be political competition.

    I think you probably need a compromise option that keeps the commercial crew effort in some vigorous form. You might have to drop Orion and any related work on the rocket side for crew support to do that, or scale Orion back to the CRV. That would be a closer to a compromise when viewed from the point of view of the Administration side. You’d still be scaling back a number of other Administration priorities (at least from the version I saw a while ago) – some general space technology, technology demos, and robotic precursors, for example – but maybe some of those items wouldn’t be hit too hard because they could get a ride or 2 on Jupiter-130.

    I’d take a strong look at DIRECT cargo-only HLV options. I also think you need to have a clear argument why DIRECT would be picked over the Administration’s preference (using rocket infrastructure that’s already used for other jobs) or sidemount in cargo-only options.

    “Two, there is a zero percent chance that a brand new modern day Saturn V class HLV will be less expensive than simply using the HLV industrial base and workforce we already have.” … “John, I disagree concerning your assertion that we can wait for HLV. We have an HLV industrial base and workforce right now. Given the fiscal environment clearly ahead we will ‘never’ have the money to recreate this capability in the next two decades at least.”

    It may be true that a clean-sheet Saturn V class rocket won’t happen, but what if that’s not what’s planned? What if we’re faced with smaller options like EELV Phase I or II, or sidemount (which would use the same HLV industrial base and workforce you mentioned)?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    In fact, studies have continuously shown that it helps to grow the US economy…..

    no they have NOT

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ferris Valyn

    Quoting red

    I think this is a big flaw in the Compromise budget plan (at least the version I saw a few months ago). It pretty much wipes out the commercial crew effort that is already under way with CCDEV. There is no competition – just funding SpaceX, which all of the 2011 budget opponents say is too inexperienced. At the same time, Orion is funded, which should give SpaceX reason to consider walking away since, even if it costs more to get to the ISS, Orion could be political competition.

    Um, huh?? That wasn’t the plan at all for Commercial Crew. The plan & reason for $6 B wasn’t to dump it all into Dragon (which, is why COTS-D has been superseded with Commercial Crew) – Rather, they were going to build on the COTS & CCDev work, with a new bid, designed to bring in a bunch of new people, with the hope of getting a minimum of 2 bids. Now, odds are pretty good one of those bids would be SpaceX, but there is also the SNC Dreamchaser, the Boeing CST-100, the Cygnus, and Blue Origin Capsule (or someone else). If they really just wanted to give the money straight to SpaceX, they could do it via COTS-D.

    The whole reason for Commercial Crew is because they don’t want to give it all to SpaceX

  • red

    Lee Valentine: “The answer to your question is, yes, smaller heavy lift boosters can be build as multi core derivatives of the existing Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9. That would be the cheapest option. Developing a modified fairing seven meter fairing should cost less than $200 million. With a modified fairing that can get you to somewhere in the 6.5-7.5m fairing diameter. The U.S. has this capability now and would give a good booster with hardware heritage for assemblies in the 25mT – 35mT range.”

    I tend to be on the “we don’t need an HLV now” side, but I could go for something like this as a compromise (failing my “call the 2011 budget HLV work ‘development’” compromise proposal).

    “The next step up in cost and throw weight and volume is sharing the tank production line, engines, and avionics with other boosters already paid for by other users. The phase II upgrade to Atlas V falls in that category. It shares engines and avionics with Atlas V and tank production with Delta IV. That would boost about 35 T on a single core and about 70 T in the three core variant with a maximum fairing diameter of 7.5 meters. Operating cost is essentially unchanged from today but needs about $3,000 million in development cost.”

    That’s not bad, since the 2011 budget has about $3B for HLV and propulsion work. A “start HLV development now” approach that does something like this might be able to fit the budget, especially if it can be done gradually (eg: in a Phase I followed by a Phase II). Alternately, we could have a compromise where the $3B from that budget line is completely tapped for this work, and the rest of the propulsion work is absorbed in the 2011 budget’s Space Technology line.

    I also don’t mind the approach that tackles the RD-180 replacement as the 2011 budget proposes to do, but any of these options sound productive and affordable. Compromises like these are fine with me.

  • red

    Ferris: “The whole reason for Commercial Crew is because they don’t want to give it all to SpaceX.”

    Yes, I think the biggest problem with Stephen’s DIRECT compromise plan (at least from a few months ago; I didn’t recheck his budget spreadsheet) is that it cuts the $6B Commercial Crew effort to something much smaller (I think under $1B) set aside just for SpaceX (presumably extending their COTS deal).

    In case it’s not clear the quote you have from me is about Stephen’s DIRECT compromise plan. I agree with you that Commercial Crew should be implemented the way you described. That’s why I’m suggesting Stephen look somewhere else for that money (eg: Orion in his plan).

  • Ferris Valyn

    gotcha – didn’t realize that was the DIRECT plan you were referring to

  • Coastal Ron

    Lee Valentine wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    The answer to your question is, yes, smaller heavy lift boosters can be build as multi core derivatives of the existing Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9. That would be the cheapest option. Developing a modified fairing seven meter fairing should cost less than $200 million. With a modified fairing that can get you to somewhere in the 6.5-7.5m fairing diameter. The U.S. has this capability now and would give a good booster with hardware heritage for assemblies in the 25mT – 35mT range.

    Just to provide some details, according to the ULA “Atlas V Launch Services User’s Guide”, payload fairings as large as 7.2m (283 in.) in diameter and up to 32.3m (106 ft) in length have been considered. Atlas V Heavy has a payload to LEO capacity of 64,820 lbs (29.4 mT), although that may be reduced by the larger fairing.

    For comparison, that’s about the same length cargo space as on Ares V, although far narrower. That cargo diameter gets bigger if they upsize the Atlas V to a 5m tank design (one of the Augustine discussions). But, just like the HLV discussions, there is no demonstrated need for cargo that big yet.

  • Coastal,
    If 7.2m diam x 32.3m long is what Atlas V could be upgraded to, that would be enough volume to fit over 8 school buses or “40ft intermodal cargo containers”, with plenty of volume left over. I think that’s pretty darned big too. :-)

    Even a 5m diameter fairing is pretty big. I think my tour of SpaceX was the first time I had actually seen a fairing that big. Just made me scratch my head on why people think you need that much volume.

    ~Jon

  • Gary Church

    SIDE MOUNT.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Where does anyone get the idea that SpaceX has received or had ‘set aside’ any money at all for crew development? No funds were provided for COTS-D and the so called $6B for crew development is just pie in the sky stuff so far. The only funded stuff for crew development has been the Orion capsule (initial plus now lite) so source(s) please?

    The only money that SpaceX has received is for the COTS-C (cargo to ISS) demo’ missions and some advances on the cargo to ISS contract. Nothing there for crew development. They’ve done that with there own funds as they did on the intial Dragon development.

    Cheers.

  • Martijn Meijering

    To actually answer the question ‘When is the right time to start heavy lift?’:

    When the market decides the time is right.

    We already have the launch vehicles we need to go to the moon, NEOs, Phobos and Deimos. Mars itself may be trickier, but not because of EDL (I really get tired from that myth being repeated by people who do or should know better), not because of the volume inside a payload pairing, not because of throw weight, but because of the total amount of mass that can be put in orbit per unit of time.

    But even with that caveat the launch vehicles are not what’s holding up Mars. It’s uncertainty associated with long term exposure to GCR and microgravity, but most importantly and bleepingly obviously: MONEY. As a wise man once said, we need cheap lift more than we need heavy lift. Much more.

    There are idiots who think a launcher has to do two things: be loud and go up. With that kind of thinking we’re never going to get to Mars or even get more than a handful of government employees into LEO each year.

  • red

    From Eric Sterner’s article: “[Bolden] continued, “We plan to fly a crewed circumlunar mission by the early 2020’s; an asteroid rendezvous with a human and robotic crew by 2025; and a crewed trip to orbit Mars by [the] early 2030’s followed by an actual landing of humans and their robotic companions.” Whereas the President wanted to start with an asteroid rendezvous mission, having adopted the view that Apollo missions had exhausted exploratory options on the moon, the administrator wants to begin with a lunar orbital mission.”

    Sterner has Obama’s quote right above this section: “Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. … [followed by asteroids, Mars orbit, and Mars]”

    Sterner is saying that Bolden gave one set of destinations and Obama gave another. Given the context of the Augustine Committee report and its description of the Flexible Path, it was clear to me at the time that Obama’s set of crewed test flights include Bolden’s circumlunar flight. These are the same as the early Augustine Flexible Path missions.

    From “U.S. Human Spaceflight: The FY11 Budget and the Flexible Path
    A Space Policy White Paper” by Edward F. Crawley and David A. Mindell

    http://web.mit.edu/press/images/reports/space-report.pdf

    “The Augustine report envisioned initial test flights within the Earth-Moon system and then operational flights that include visits to “near earth objects” (NEOs, asteroids and spent comets), Mars flybys, Mars orbital flights and eventually exploration of the lunar and Mars surface. … The proposed FY11 budget for human spaceflight largely chooses from among options enumerated in the Augustine report and embraces its fundamental vision while adjusting it to budgetary realities. It embodies a Flexible Path strategy for spirited, cumulative human exploration of space to inspire a generation. … Destinations in the Flexible Path have a logical progression. The Augustine report suggested that astronauts might first test the new systems in Earth–Moon space by traveling to lunar orbit and to the Earth-Moon Lagrange points (where the Earth and Moon’s gravity balance each other). Astronauts will then visit Earth-Sun Lagrange points, NEOs, Mars orbit and that of its moons, demonstrating new capabilities for servicing, repair, and construction along the way. These destinations and their value propositions are outlined in Figure 3.5.2-1 of the Augustine report. Additional destinations possible on the Flexible Path are geosynchronous Earth orbit (another place to demonstrate servicing) and eventually asteroids in the belt or Venus orbit.”

    This is consistent with what Administration and NASA officials have been saying all along. I don’t see the confusion about the Flexible Path and NASA’s policy that Sterner sees. There’s a logical sequence with some flexibility (for example, you could do E-M Lagrange point missions mixed with lunar orbit and GEO missions first, or skip some of those). The specific details will be chosen by a later Administration, since the current effort is absorbed with technology development to make any and all of the destinations affordable, ISS support and use, repairing the Constellation damage, crew access to space, scouting HSF destinations with robots, and so on. There are multiple destinations, and Sterner says Congress considers that to be unfocused, but I don’t see anything wrong with having multiple destinations as long as they’re affordable, achievable, and useful.

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  • Kelly Starks

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 10:30 pm
    >> Yeah, but they are tiny compared to NASA and DOD, most especially in large cargo.
    > Not in the dollars sense. The majority of the money, spent on
    > space stuff comes from the private sector. ==
    Not ni launch – especially launch of large cargo – especially anything HLV (say 100 tons) scale.
    >> ==
    >> Its a given for all federal programs – for NASA, with no
    >> critical mission with much intrinsic support (especially
    >> after Apollo) they REALLY need the pork to get interest
    >> in the programs.

    > It doesn’t have to be this way if you can develop industries
    > that are entirely private that utilize humans in space. ==

    Very true = but no such industries exist now, and even if they will it would only hurt NASA.

    For example. Shuttle was designed to be a workhorse for space development and launch services. Yes political games shoved it into a high cost mode, but its intent was space truck. Griffin saw that as crippling NASA and tried to move it back to a extremely high cost per flight (even by shuttle standards) and few, spectacular flights per year. Bigger more glorious flags and footprints, and space spectaculars. The reason being if there is a major commercial sphere in space – NASA is not real special. Its amount of jobs per district would be to small compared to the major industries – so it would be he feared, politically irrelevant.

    >> What would “right” mean?
    > Huh?

    You said it wasn’t the right design – but that depends no what it was designed for. It was NOT designed to be the most capable craft for the money, or to be as safe as previous craft like shuttle. It was…
    >> Constellation was a design for pork configurations. A almost laughably
    >> bad and overpriced system. Dwarfing the costs for no greater capacity then
    >> systems developed in the’60s. == But that wouldn’t get the diverse sets
    >> of political supporters needed to get funded.

    > I agree it was a bad system. But the point is that, according to
    > your logic, (and I’ll quote you again here)

    >> I.E. NASA budget really isn’t in dollars – its in votes. More expensive
    >> programs are easier to get enough support to get the funds for.

    > By that logic, then NASA should’ve gotten plenty of money,
    > more than enough, to do Constellation ==

    I said easier, not a shoe in. Congress waas still funding constellation, still boosting NASA budget to keep it going — but there are other deals in Washington, adn with trillion dollar pork bills going through congress, Constellations kinda small.

    Also they were not happy with NASA’s constant bad press over Constellation being a Turkey. Worse – iot was to damn slow – with first operartion flights not until 20177 or ’18, who’d care with a 2 and 4 year election cycle.

    And then there was Obama..

    >== What they have been, and are willing to do, is let the budget
    > run out long enough that, eventually, something might get built
    > and something might fly. But thats not the same thing as saying
    > there is enough to do the program in the time it was suppose to be done.

    That doesn’t mater. The program never intended to do anything in a timeframe of any value to congress. So it was only the continued building of it now, and the impression congress was dealing with the gap, that was of value. So future congress in 10 years could decide if they wanted to use it.

    >> Until a real non gov market of some scale develops in the world – don’t
    >> expect launchers to not be developed for political goals.

    > Again, I cite comm sat market. ==

    To small and declining. [Fibers eating their lunch.]

    >== More importantly, this should be our overriding goal
    > for what we do in space – lets spend the money on
    > developing the market & the tech associated with developing the market.

    I’d agree – but gov isn’t great at that – and theirs no political interest in DC (which means the voters) to do that. Again, its the politics of what gets congressman reelected, that drives the goals. If voters screamed for a space industry development program, or a deep space program, or whatever – congress would fund it to get their votes. But voters only care about the prestige of the US having a NASA and it being prestigious, and pork in their districts.

    Its a democracy – voter whims rule.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Jonathan Goff wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 1:12 am

    > Even a 5m diameter fairing is pretty big. I think my
    > tour of SpaceX was the first time I had actually seen
    > a fairing that big. Just made me scratch my head on
    > why people think you need that much volume.

    Lots of things don’t fit in smaller spaces. ISS modules look kind of cramped at that size, Hubble could certainly have used a bigger lens, etc. And deep space maned craft tend to get realy big.

    Even on Earth most things could fit in smaller craft, but they are carried in 747’s and 18 wheelers – or ships that sometimes dwarf aircraft carriers.

    You comment reminded me of folks who figured we’ld never need planes bigger then DC-3s, ot computers with more then 4K of memory.

    ;)

  • Kelly Starks

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 5:12 am

    > == We already have the launch vehicles we need to go to
    > the moon, NEOs, Phobos and Deimos.

    How do you do that with EELV? It would take a lot of flights to support each flight to the moon, much less the others. To my knowledge EELV etc arn’t designed to fly that often? I mean we could do it with Shuttle – especially if you fixed something’s to quicken servicing, but with the existing ELV fleet?

    Granted its a moot point since no ones working toward those missions, and the launcher wouldn’t take any longer then several other critical path items toward such missions. So the time wouldn’t necessarily be until you started toward such goals – but I was wondering how you expected it could be done without either a high flight rate craft (presumably RLV) or a HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    EELVs were designed to fly 20-40 times a year, but the current maximum is lower than that because some of the production capacity was consolidated after the creation of ULA and because there is currently no need for multiple shifts. All that could and would change if NASA were to procure the launch services it needs for exploration the same way it does for science missions. No need for the government to get involved with detailed planning , let alone new launch vehicle design. If and when launch demand warrants it, and depending on the level of competition from other suppliers and potential new entrants ULA will develop EELV Phase 1 and maybe even Phase 2 on their own dime. How that will be financed would be their business.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    > EELVs were designed to fly 20-40 times a year,==

    ??
    You sure abuot that? I mean they have only flown about 20 over the last 9 years, adn I can’t see why the production capacity would have been built to build 40 a year — much less the launch teams adn facilities?!

    >== All that could and would change if NASA were to procure the
    > launch services it needs for exploration the same way it does for
    > science missions. No need for the government to get involved with
    > detailed planning ==

    Thats a real big if – adn kinda eliminates the utility of a NASA.

    Ignoring that – they don’t have any mission needing that much lift no the horizon. And at 40 EELV launches a year – that would be a crash a year, which is really bad PR.

    ;)

  • Martijn Meijering

    Yes, there is a lot of excess launch capacity in the market and adding another government funded launcher would make that worse.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    ULA has averaged one launch per month, of either Atlas or Delta, for over the past 40 months.

    Per the ULA proposal for a permanent Moon colony (Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009), they would need something like 52 launches over a period of two years (1st year to preposition assets, 2nd year to land & rotate crew + resupply). If you used the man-rated Delta IV Heavy price of $300M, that would cost about $15B. That price would drop if Falcon 9 Heavy were used.

    Part of the money in the proposed budget would go for range improvements and KSC infrastructure to make it easier to launch at a higher rate.

    With enough notice, ULA (Atlas/Delta), SpaceX (Falcon 9) and even ESA (Ariane 5) could ramp up their production rate to support multiple launches per month. Right now the leadtime for a new Atlas or Delta is around four years, mainly due to the engines (heard that in testimony somewhere), but that is for steady-state production rates. Production facilities can be expanded, and leadtimes reduced – these are the good kind of problems that companies like to have (rising demand).

  • Martijn Meijering

    That price would drop if Falcon 9 Heavy were used.

    Costs would also drop simply because of flight rates going up and competition would ensure prices would drop too.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Ignoring that – they don’t have any mission needing that much lift no the horizon. And at 40 EELV launches a year – that would be a crash a year, which is really bad PR.

    The other day I saw that a gasoline tanker crashed on the freeway and burned. The gas company sent another to replace it, and no consumers ran out of gas.

    With frequent and routine deliveries to space, failed launches do not endanger a mission or outpost. As Martijn Meijering mentioned above, it’s about cheap lift, not heavy lift. Right now EELV class launchers are the cheapest $/lb, and with frequent launches of modular assemblies, you can recover from failures much easier and quicker than if you lose the cargo of an HLV.

  • Lee Valentine wrote @ June 17th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Lee, your proposal of evolving an HLV over time using the existing ULA assets is certainly a technically and budgetary viable approach. I’m pretty sure this was the intent behind Augustine option 5B which is what Norm told Congress was closest to the FY11 proposal. Though he did correctly cite that the significant difference (5B vs FY11 Proposal) is that the Commission unanimously recommended that we begin HLV development and construction immediately on all options. The other unanimous recommendations were that we extend the ISS to 2020, push forward on Commercial Crew to LEO, and cancel the Ares-1. The three policy variables were Moon First vs. Flexible Path, STS Extension or Not and which industrial base to build the HLV from, Ares, STS, ULA, SpaceX. The DIRECT proposal as presented to the Commission is actually a blend of the first three BTW. With a little work we could even incorporate SpaceX.

    Regardless of how this all shakes out though, my primary concern is the ‘evolve’ part of the FY11 proposal. In the tight fiscal environment clearly ahead I fear that these ‘upgrades’ will just be push off year after year. In mean time the smaller thousands of R&D rice bowls spread amongst fifty states will fill the budget vacuum at which point we will never have even the modest level of money to increase the capacities beyond what we have. At which point we will be breaking the bank and blow schedules out of the water to fit existing containers optimized for military satellites.

    Costal Ron: “And really, who cares what the launcher technology is”

    Congress cares because different launcher technologies have different impacts to the existing workforce. If the Space industry were a truly private industry that was self-sufficient and independent from the government than we wouldn’t need political approval. Further the reason space doesn’t have more commercial applications is not due to governement meddling nor the the high launch costs (20%) but due to the high spacecraft/mission costs (80%). Ironically largely launch systems launched at low launch rates do in fact increase the launch cost $/kg slightly, but I believe that increase will be more than offset by lowering the spacecraft/mission cost.

    Blue Moon, I certainly wouldn’t disagree that if we had a 10m 75mT capability that NASA and others would eventually try to stuff more and more into the fairing and we would get the same kinds of cost overruns we are seeing now. I just think it will take a few decades, just like the last time, before this happens. In addition, it’s a problem I would like to have some day because we already know what the cost effective solution is.

    Ferris Valyn, I think your answers to Red’s question about our compromise budget in the context of the FY11 proposal is correct. At the same time it makes zero sense to just walk away from the progress that has been made on Orion by Lockheed despite having to reset the design three times due to the $#!!!$%% Ares-1.

    The Jupiter-130 will enable higher mass margins and Reuseability that will both speed up the development and lower the overall life cycle cost of Orion. Gee it’s amazing what higher margins can do to spacecraft development cost. Also I think SpaceX is more than capable of bringing in a safe, reliable LEO crew capsule based on Dragon for about double what they received to get the Dragon flying.

    Under our compromise budget the money for the BEO crew capsule stays in the Orion development as currently planned, though I would suggest phasing the Service Module would be a good idea (ie LEO at fist with an ability to place the TEI long duration BEO SM below that). What we have added over the PoR is that SpaceX is now the prime supplier for LEO/ISS crew with BEO capable Orion as the backup.

    “As Martijn Meijering mentioned above, it’s about cheap lift, not heavy lift.”

    No it’s about lowering life cycle cost of which launch cost is only 20% of the equation. Mucking up the spacecraft or mission efficency in attempts to shoe horn it into the limitations of the launch system is a great way to step over dollars in order to pick up dimes. Why not just reduce the scope of the spacecraft/mission? Well what do you think we have been doing the last fifty years? Problem is that we have run out ‘new’ missions that can still fit this limitation.

    Sorry sports fans space is expensive because of the spacecraft not the launch system.

    Facts are stubborn things.

    In the end the perfect HLV is one that leaves enough budget for R&D and ground breaking missions using said HLV while at the same time is politically acceptable. Whatever the capacity is of the HLV that falls out of the process above is by definition the best HLV because it’s the only one we are going to get for few decades given the fiscal enviroment.

  • Martijn Meijering

    No it’s about lowering life cycle cost of which launch cost is only 20% of the equation.

    Only with expendable spacecraft, which is incredibly wasteful.

    Mucking up the spacecraft or mission efficency in attempts to shoe horn it into the limitations of the launch system is a great way to step over dollars in order to pick up dimes.

    Compromising the spacecraft is what you always end up doing when you launch it fully fulled, because it won’t fit comfortably on even the biggest HLV. By contrast a dry-launched vehicle will fit easily on even an EELV Medium.

    The facts are precisely the opposite of what you’re claiming, but then you weren’t trying to be objective were you, you were just promoting the interests of the Shuttle workforce.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:43 am

    > ULA has averaged one launch per month, of either
    > Atlas or Delta, for over the past 40 months.

    Really? I did a search online this AM and I kept get 21 launches of all EELVs since they started in ’02? Given there are only about 50 launches globally a year – 12 for EELV would be very surprising?

    > Per the ULA proposal for a permanent Moon colony
    >(Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009), they would
    > need something like 52 launches over a period of two
    > years (1st year to preposition assets, 2nd year to land
    > & rotate crew + resupply). ==

    Intersting thats about 1300 tons to LEO if I’m remembering EELV cargo cap?

    Have to look up the proposal.

    >== If you used the man-rated Delta IV Heavy price
    > of $300M, that would cost about $15B. ==

    $8B a year?

    Still at 1/20th Constellations total cost, not a bad cost to start.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:55 am
    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 9:26 am
    >> “Ignoring that – they don’t have any mission needing
    >> that much lift no the horizon. And at 40 EELV launches
    >> a year – that would be a crash a year, which is really bad PR.”

    > The other day I saw that a gasoline tanker crashed on the freeway and burned. ==

    Not the same politically, and obviously tankers usually don’t crash, space craft do with extremely high rates. So a crash will likely shutdown the program for years while congress holds hearings and tries to find some good sound bytes.
    And of course the ships will conspire to crash when your flying something irreplaceable – or at a critical assembly point.

  • No it’s about lowering life cycle cost of which launch cost is only 20% of the equation.

    You keep repeating this as though it’s a) some kind of iron law and b) has anything at all to do with human trips beyond earth orbit.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    I did a search online this AM and I kept get 21 launches of all EELVs since they started in ’02? Given there are only about 50 launches globally a year – 12 for EELV would be very surprising?

    I stated that “ULA has averaged one launch per month, of either Atlas or Delta, for over the past 40 months.”. I didn’t break out the specific models, but my point was that they have a steady tempo that they are achieving with the workforce, and that we could expect the same level of success if they increase their launch rate. Boeing & Lockheed-Martin know how to build lots of complex flying systems, and I’m sure they would love the problem of having to double or triple their launch rate… ;-)

    Wikipedia has lists of the Atlas and Delta launches that have occurred, and what are planned:

    For 2009, Altas launched 5 times, and Delta 11 times.

    For 2010, Atlas has 6 launches planned, and Delta has 5 planned. That averages about one a month for 2009/10.

    $8B a year?

    For Delta IV Heavy, 52 launches would cost $15.6B
    For Falcon 9 Heavy, 52 launches could cost ~$8.7B

  • Martijn: “Compromising the spacecraft is what you always end up doing when you launch it fully fuelled, because it won’t fit comfortably on even the biggest HLV. By contrast a dry-launched vehicle will fit easily on even an EELV Medium”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong Martinjn,

    What is density? Answer: Mass/Volume. Offloading the very dense propellant does what? Answer: Reduces the Mass significantly. What does that do to the density? Answer: It reduces the density significantly. You can’t ‘fit’ bigger spacecraft by offloading the dense propellant, the exact opposite is true.

    BTW all spacecraft usually reserve a large portion of their total launch mass for station keeping using highly dense fuel for maneuvering over their life time. Which in turn makes the density of a dry spacecraft even lower than what the EELV kg/m^3 is optimized to deliver. The lift capacities and the volume of existing launch systems was not arrived at arbitrarily but tuned to the military satellite market, which includes on orbit maneuvering propellant. Off loading the propellant doesn’t solve the volume problem it makes it worse. We need a more volume.

    So in summary if you flip your statement around you are right. Heh it must be opposite day.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Not the same politically, and obviously tankers usually don’t crash, space craft do with extremely high rates. So a crash will likely shutdown the program for years while congress holds hearings and tries to find some good sound bytes.

    The problem is only political because NASA has owned the launcher and spacecraft. If ULA has a problem with an Atlas, it doesn’t go in front of Congress, they fix it internally, and then show their customers the next launch will be a success. As long as NASA is a owner/operator (like Ares V or DIRECT), any failure could shut down a program. Yet another reason to move to commercial transportation.

    And of course the ships will conspire to crash when your flying something irreplaceable – or at a critical assembly point.

    Thank you! This is exactly why you need to have modularized construction – building block assembly units that can be reconfigured as needed. If you lose one, no big deal, because you can either make do without it, or ship a replacement up on the next launch. This is exactly the approach that ULA has proposed in their “Affordable Exploration Architecture 2009″.

    The argument that HLV’s would lift customized assemblies also means that they put their programs at a higher level of risk when there are launch failures. A Jupiter 130 launch loses a lot more than a Falcon 9 Heavy launch. EELV class launchers, because of their higher launch rate, could also be argued to be the safer launch vehicle, since their strengths and weaknesses have been analyzed over a much larger number of launches.

  • BTW all spacecraft usually reserve a large portion of their total launch mass for station keeping using highly dense fuel for maneuvering over their life time.

    Please stop attempting to extrapolate comsat metrics to human exploration. You’re simply making yourself look foolish.

  • Rand, that cost relationship was true for Apollo as well, or don’t you consider that a BEO manned mission. The fact is that the entire worldwide space industry is about $250 billion per year. Launch services is about $20 billion per year. Instead of these blanket statements do the math for once in awhile. You do know how to do division don’t you?

    Oh and if you really want to go up a level in math you can try and figure out why it is that launch services cost more from a life cycle cost stand point than the numbers above would lead you to believe. Hint: it has something to do with time value of money.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Re: Launching spacecraft with fuel

    Two examples:

    1. Launch a spacecraft without consumables onboard. This craft needs to be built strong enough to survive the stresses of launch, but not for the additional stresses of unneeded mass (supplies, fuel, etc.). This also minimizes the amount of unneeded mass that the spacecraft has to lug around for the rest of it’s life in space. Unneeded mass = wasted fuel.

    2. Launch a spacecraft with consumables onboard. Besides the weight of the consumables subtracting from the potential spacecraft size, you now have to build the spacecraft stronger to survive the launch stresses. This further reduces your potential spacecraft size at launch, and it increases the amount of unneeded mass you have to lug around in space for the rest of it’s life. Unneeded mass = wasted fuel.

    Regardless of what launcher you use, sending a spacecraft into space loaded with consumable subtracts from the potential function of that spacecraft. If you want to maximize the function of a spacecraft, then launch it without consumables, and add them in when it is in space.

  • Rand, that cost relationship was true for Apollo as well, or don’t you consider that a BEO manned mission.

    I don’t consider it an affordable or sustainable one.

    The fact is that the entire worldwide space industry is about $250 billion per year. Launch services is about $20 billion per year. Instead of these blanket statements do the math for once in awhile. You do know how to do division don’t you?

    And none of that is affordable human spaceflight.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What is density? Answer: Mass/Volume. Offloading the very dense propellant does what? Answer: Reduces the Mass significantly. What does that do to the density? Answer: It reduces the density significantly. You can’t ‘fit’ bigger spacecraft by offloading the dense propellant, the exact opposite is true.

    I was talking about mass, not volume, but volume is not a problem with EELVs either. If you have dense propellant (something I’ve advocated, though not as a top priority), then volume isn’t a problem to begin with. If you don’t, then crasher stages, inflatables etc will solve your problem. Neither the payload mass not the volume of even existing EELVs and existing fairings are necessary, though EELVs can in fact support very large fairings (>7mx30m). That’s *huge*.

    Your proposed launcher isn’t necessary by any strech of the imagination, unless the goal is to serve the interests of the shuttle supply chain and the local economy in Brevard County. Pourquoi mourir pour Titusville?

  • Rand, the density of dry Apollo spacecraft is much lower than it is for dry satellites. Once again your notions of reality are completely the opposite of reality. You’re the one looking ridiculous, all because you obviously know absolutely zero about actual spacecraft design.

    Then again you’re right I shouldn’t be comparing satellites to Apollo, because the density issue for manned spaceflight beyond LEO drives us to even higher volumes. So in summary you are right yet wrong at the same time. Thanks for your help in refining my argument, we need even more volume than I thought.

    Once again, for a satellite designer the order of importance goes, diameter, volume, mass.

    I really don’t know what its going to take to explain this too you. I feel like I’m talking to rock at times. With Robert he is rock darn near 24/7 so his collective opinions make sense in whatever alternate reality his mind exists in, but you are on the ball on so many other national issue which I strongly agree with you on. Which makes you’re thinking regarding this one ancillary national debate, all things considered, so confusing.

  • Costal Ron: “Regardless of what launcher you use, sending a spacecraft into space loaded with consumable subtracts from the potential function of that spacecraft. If you want to maximize the function of a spacecraft, then launch it without consumables, and add them in when it is in space”

    Ron, you are having the same problem with basic math that Martijn is. Both of you make a lot of great points on how to lower the per launch mass of individual elements but all this does is lower the spacecraft density which in turn drives you to higher volumes in order to take full use of even existing launch system’s lift capacity.

    I’m at a loss as how to make this any simpler. Both you and Martijn, defeated your own arguments in your follow-up statements above based on simple math and logic in combination with what definition of density is (ie Mass/Volume).

  • Once again, for a satellite designer the order of importance goes, diameter, volume, mass.

    We aren’t designing satellites. And we aren’t redoing Apollo. You are stuck in the past.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 12:51 pm
    >> “Not the same politically, and obviously tankers usually
    >> don’t crash, space craft do with extremely high rates. So
    >> a crash will likely shutdown the program for years whil
    >> congress holds hearings and tries to find some good sound bytes.”

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 2:24 pm
    > The problem is only political because NASA has owned the
    > launcher and spacecraft. If ULA has a problem with an Atlas, it
    > doesn’t go in front of Congress, they fix it internally, ==

    Tell that to SeaLaunch. :(

    Besides right now the gov about the only customer for HLV, so any gov program that loses a launcher regardsless of contracting codes will go through the ringer. Worse, the industries high profile enough that whoever loses one, even if they are fully commercial, will trigger the congressional witch hunts.

    >> “And of course the ships will conspire to crash when your flying
    >> something irreplaceable – or at a critical assembly point.”

    > Thank you! This is exactly why you need to have modularized construction ==
    Doesn’t mater. even in modularized constructions – some modules have more critical systems in them. You can’t afford to duplicate everything critical on all modules. Something’s aren’t even practical to duplicate on a reasonable sized project.

    > The argument that HLV’s would lift customized assemblies
    > also means that they put their programs at a higher level of
    > risk when there are launch failures. ==

    Yes and no. The downside of a construct that needs a lot of launches, is you run the chance that if any of the parts fail to launch, the whole is useless. Like Constellation moon flights. If both Ares don’t launch on time and meet in a week, the missions a write off. Deorbit whatever did launch as scrap.

    And of course the odds of losing a flight (or mission given design variences) go way up as the flight number increases a lot. For 52 flights of a EELV, your virtually assured your going to crash one

    A exception of course is fuel or liquids which are completely interchangeable.

  • Martijn Meijering

    As a maths major with a lot of experience in simulation (multiphase flow and heat transfer of hydrocarbon-water mixtures, thank you very much) I don’t think I need maths lessons from an SDLV salesman. Neither throw weight nor volume are a problem with EELVs, as I explained above.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Launch services is about $20 billion per year <

    And thats worldwide, no wonder US industry is writhing over losing a couple billion a year with the loss of shuttle, and now with Constellation pretty much dead, a bigger hit and not much on the horizon to compensate.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    …the density of dry Apollo spacecraft is much lower than it is for dry satellites.

    You’re comparing 1960′s sedans with modern cars. It’s apples and oranges. Apollo is not like the Shuttle, and the Shuttle won’t be like Dragon or CST-100. Throw the ISS in this too, since technically it’s a maneuvering spacecraft. All of them have different purposes and missions, so making assumptions about the future based on Apollo, or making assumptions about manned spacecraft based on satellites, are bad assumptions.

    Space tugs, fuel depots, space taxi’s, modular spacecraft – these are all game changers, and they will end up redefining the designs of everything we have been sending into space so far, regardless of the launchers we use.

    Some in and out of Congress may only be concerned with where to spend U.S. tax dollars in space (Moon, Mars, NEO, etc.), but the commercial space industry is focused on Earth’s orbit, and how they can lower costs and increase services.

    Outside of government funding, Earth’s orbit is where the money is at, and that’s why being able to get to and operate in LEO is so important. Ask the public if they care more about Galaxy 15 interrupting their World Cup coverage, or that we might do ISRU on the Moon. Follow the money…

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Besides right now the gov about the only customer for HLV

    And you don’t see that as a problem?

    Until now, HSF in the U.S. has been a “program”, subject to the whims of congressional funding. Until that changes, it will always be on the edge of cancellation, reduction, or some crisis.

    We have lots of successful commercial transportation models that we can model our future on, and none of them has the U.S. government running things. NASA’s charter is not to be a transportation company, and trying to force them to do so is stupid.

    If there is a demand for an HLV, let the market build and operate one. The government can be part of that demand, but why should it own the system? SpaceX has found a market for medium sized launchers, so we know a complete newcomer can even get into the market.

    And the argument that we should build an HLV to employee/retain aerospace workers is really silly. Expand the commercial marketplace, and those workers will find new jobs. In the meantime, give them unemployment benefits. Heck, I would create a government temp agency, and rent them out to fledgling space companies for a discount. That will create more value than funding and building a government launcher without a payload.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 3:07 pm
    >> “Besides right now the gov about the only customer for HLV”

    > And you don’t see that as a problem?

    At least its a market – there are fewer and fewer in aerospace.

    > Until now, HSF in the U.S. has been a “program”, subject to
    > the whims of congressional funding. ==

    True – no viable market for human space flight has developed. With no market, no development of systems for it. So, as its been for 50 years, commercials sell HSF to NASA – or you get out of the business.

    We could discus ways NASA or the gov could help open up markets, but that’s not on the table – instead NASA cutting orders to commercial space systems by at least a factor of 10, possibly more. Hence one reason given for ordering a HLV now – is in 5 years their may not be anyone left to order it from..

    >== We have lots of successful commercial transportation models ==

    All commercial transportation models start with finding a existing demand and taking part of it, and then expanding that market. Horse and carts took market from folks walking carrying trade goods. Cars and trains took market for them. Planes etc. No one goes to space – never have. So there’s no existing market to tap to start up.

    >== NASA’s charter is not to be a transportation company, and
    > trying to force them to do so is stupid.

    NASA isn’t a transport company, its a transport consumer. They are the secound biggest contractor for launch services. DOD is first. They don’t fly shuttles, Saturns, etc. Didn’t build them, don’t service them, etc.

    >== SpaceX has found a market for medium sized launchers, so
    > we know a complete newcomer can even get into the market.

    Yeah, but we don’t know if they can make a go of it. Commercials have served that market for most of half a century. Maybe Musk can make a go of it with his new entry – or he could go broke.

    > == And the argument that we should build an HLV to
    > employee/retain aerospace workers is really silly. Expand the
    > commercial marketplace, ==

    How other then buying products from them? HLV is a big contract for a new product.

    >== In the meantime, give them unemployment benefits. ==

    The you lose the launch industry, and you won’t get it back if you want it later – at least not without a generation to rebuild it.

    > Heck, I would create a government temp agency, and rent
    > them out to fledgling space companies for a discount.

    There fledgling because they are broke and can’t find any market.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The you lose the launch industry, and you won’t get it back if you want it later – at least not without a generation to rebuild it.

    Excuse me, what about ULA, Orbital, SpaceX?

  • Kelly Starks

    >> The you lose the launch industry, and you won’t get it back if
    >> you want it later – at least not without a generation to rebuild it.

    > Excuse me, what about ULA, Orbital, SpaceX?

    I was talking about ULA (Ie Boeing adn L/M). Who do you think flies all NASA ships now? As well as trains theircrews, plans the flights, runs mission control and staffs it, etc?

    Orbital and SpaceX are Minor niche players. If the big guys die – its unlikely they can survive without the support companies that need the big players.

  • Bob Mahoney

    Robert Oler: I dont get the direction of your post(s).

    Apparently not. But others did.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I was talking about ULA (Ie Boeing adn L/M). Who do you think flies all NASA ships now? As well as trains theircrews, plans the flights, runs mission control and staffs it, etc?

    A lot wrong with that statement – maybe you should use wikipedia more… ;-)

    ULA is a launch company using rockets like Atlas & Delta. Their charter with their parent companies (Boeing & Lockheed Martin) is for launch services only.

    United Space Alliance (USA) is the prime contractor for NASA in processing the Space Shuttle and ISS. They also do training and other tasks for NASA, as contractors always have, it’s just that USA has consolidated a bunch of separate contracts & contractors under one entity.

    NASA astronauts fly the Space Shuttle and take turns commanding and operating the ISS, not contractors. Where did you get that idea?

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    We could discus ways NASA or the gov could help open up markets, but that’s not on the table – instead NASA cutting orders to commercial space systems by at least a factor of 10, possibly more. Hence one reason given for ordering a HLV now – is in 5 years their may not be anyone left to order it from.

    Weird. “NASA cutting orders to commercial space systems by at least a factor of 10, possibly more.” Are you saying that NASA is taking away business from commercial launchers by flying the commercial payloads themselves? If so, that is not even close to correct. Do you have anything to substantiate your claims, including the ” factor of 10, possibly more”? Maybe I’m missing something…

    Then you said “Hence one reason given for ordering a HLV now – is in 5 years their may not be anyone left to order it from.”

    That statement is a sales gimmick, not a reason to spend $50B+. Convince the U.S. public that they NEED to spend that much money. It can’t be a nice to have, but a real need.

    Also, last I looked, the space industry has plenty of capacity to work on future launcher projects. Here’s a snapshot of part of the space industry.

    - Boeing has 158,000 employees
    - Lockheed Martin has 136,000 employees
    - ULA has 3,900 employees.
    - Orbital Sciences has about 3,600 employees, including 1,830 engineers and scientists.
    - SpaceX has nearly 1,000 employees, including disciplines in structures, engines and operations, since they build the vast majority of their own products.

    NASA has 17,900 employees, across 20+ facilities, few of which are dedicated to designing or building spacecraft. Why is it that only NASA can build an HLV?

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 6:17 pm
    >>
    >> “I was talking about ULA (Ie Boeing adn L/M). Who do you think flies
    >> all NASA ships now? As well as trains their crews, plans the flights,
    >> runs mission control and staffs it, etc?”

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 10:56 pm
    > == ULA is a launch company using rockets like Atlas & Delta. Their
    > charter with their parent companies (Boeing & Lockheed Martin) is for
    > launch services only.

    ULA is a subsidiary of B and L/M, hence me i.e. statement. Boeing and L/M generally absorbed al the companies that train crews,, plan the missions, build and service the craft, do all the mission control and KSc launch control, etc function. [Flying was a misstatement – your right the crew on shuttle are NASA directs – though obviously many (most?) of the or launches aren’t crewed.

    > — Where did you get that idea?

    I was one of the contractors supporting JSC flight planning and control, and later other places up to NASA HQ.

    ;)

    Surprisingly few NASA direct employees at NASA centers, so I always found the statement that only NASA personnel can do space flight suspicious.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ June 18th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    > Weird. “NASA cutting orders to commercial space systems by at least
    > a factor of 10, possibly more.” Are you saying that NASA is taking away
    > business from commercial launchers by flying the commercial payloads themselves?==

    No I’m referring to NASA reducing by a factor of 10 apparently, the amount of money they are going to launch service companies. Shuttles ending, Constellations ending, at best Commercial crew will be 10 simple flights CC over the next 10 years compared to over 40 shuttle flights per decade on average. No big complex missions to develop things for (Hubble construction or servicing, station development, Constellation dev program (it crappy – but their was money in it), so less to train for, nothing much launching out of KSC, etc. So commercial launch services companies market with NASA is falling off a cliff. Oh they may(though unlikely) get more notoriety with the commercial crew program – but the money to support the industry is gone.

    Companies not making money in industries – get out of them. In the last 30 years we’ve gone from 30-40 major aerospace firms able to do anything from fighters, to spacecraft, etc – to 2 or 3. The loss of all the supporting companies that make the subsystems for aerospace has been more like 99%. So…

    >> “Hence one reason given for ordering a HLV now – is in 5 years there may not be
    >> anyone left to order it from.”

    Theres serious fears in aerospace that the industry could be lost completely in the US in 5-10 years. It’s a industry the US really should try to keep.

    > — last I looked, the space industry has plenty of capacity to work on
    > future launcher projects.

    Way to much for the future market – hence the layoffs of tens of thousands projected over the mext2 years with shuttle and constellation shuttling down. Worse the staffs are getting old, ave age is over 50. Its hard US students aren’t that interested in aerospace (or engineering) in the numbers needed.

    > NASA has 17,900 employees, across 20+ facilities,==

    and up to90% of the staffs at centers are contractors

    > ==Why is it that only NASA can build an HLV?

    That’s my point!! NASA has never built a HLV or any major spacecraft. They buy them!! Now they aren’t going to be buying them, or buying services to fly them, or much of anything else, in the projected future. When the buyers go away, so do the sellers. And for an industry like this – it takes a long time build a new one.

    So NASA will fly astronauts on Soyuz, and Boeing will have the 787 and future airliners built mostly by non US suppliers, and the fighter industries pretty much over – and now India and Russia’s joint fighter can outperform the F-22 we thought was to advanced to bother with, and a larger fraction of employees I see at US aero firms I contract to are non US citizens, or at least foreign born and thinking about going back.

    ..So I’m not seeing this as the start of a golden age of expansion for US aerospace, and seeing commercial crew as a big step forward for commercial launch services is a bad joke.

  • Martijn: “As a maths major with a lot of experience in simulation (multiphase flow and heat transfer of hydrocarbon-water mixtures, thank you very much) I don’t think I need maths lessons from an SDLV salesman. Neither throw weight nor volume are a problem with EELVs, as I explained above.”

    You are so wrong at so many levels, from basic math to fundamental low cost satellite design. I guess you should ask for a refund from whatever school you got your math degree from plus hopefully nobody takes your advice concerning satellite design for minimizing cost. Fortunately those that wrote the simulation tools you use did know math so you can appear to at least know what you are talking about. So plug and chug away and stay in that field.

    Concerning EELV, yes we are facing limits for future missions, it’s an absolute fact. The work arounds we are forced to use are many times more expensive than the launch cost itself a clear sign that we need more volume. Their wasn’t a market for the 747 either until it was built.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Their wasn’t a market for the 747 either until it was built.

    Well there was a big market for air cargo and passenger transport. So at least you knew scaling up from a 707 was likely to work.

    Though a big question is since we have virtually no market or transport now, and we all think that there’s a huge potential market, one could argue that if someone (like NASA) skipped ahead and developed not a crappy HLV – but a adaptable high quality craft, say a CATS safe RLV, in MLV or HLV –could that crafts low costs and availability jump start new space industries?

    To break the chicken and egg trap of space industrialization, would be a solid justification to build the craft?

  • Their wasn’t a market for the 747 either until it was built.

    Yes, there was. Boeing wouldn’t have built it without a commitment from Juan Trippe to buy a number of them.

  • Coastal Ron

    Stephen Metschan wrote @ June 19th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Their wasn’t a market for the 747 either until it was built.

    Actually Pan Am pushed Boeing to build the 747 because they were running into congestion problems at airport terminals, and the CEO of Pan Am saw that there was a market for a larger capacity transport.

    We don’t have this problem yet for launching cargo or crew, but that would be an excellent justification for an HLV – when we get to that point, which we’re not.

    I’m not against HLV, I’m just against spending my tax $$ on an HLV until there is a defined need, and then only to use my $$ to assist the industry, not be the owner/operator.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ June 19th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    If you were a contractor at NASA, then you would know that all the processing for space related stuff at NASA is done by United Space Alliance (USA), not United Launch Alliance (ULA).

    United Launch Alliance (ULA) only builds and launches products owned by Boeing & Lockheed Martin (Atlas & Delta). No processing or facilities support.

    This information is on their respective websites, so I don’t know why you keep insisting otherwise. I know this is a small thing, but because you state that you were a contractor working at NASA, you should know who was paying who.

    The other number that bugged me is when I stated “NASA has 17,900 employees”, and you said “and up to90% of the staffs at centers are contractors”. Being a former manager, I know the difference between an employee and a contractor, and you’re implying that the U.S. Government only has 1,790 NASA employees on the payroll across 20 centers, and that the rest of the bodies are all contractors – that does not pass the smell test.

    Maybe you meant to say that NASA has 17,900 employees, but that they also have a lot of contractors at the same facilities doing contract work. That I could believe, but that’s not what you said.

    Words matter, especially when you are trying to persuade others.

  • DCSCA

    Their wasn’t a market for the 747 either until it was built.

    Actually, there was. Review the context of the times and the competing aircraft in development at the time- namely the SST/Concorde projects. The decision to move mass numbers of people at once aboard slower aircraft (when jet fuel was cheap) was more economical. Hence, today you still see 747s in the skies and Concordes in museums.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Kelly Starks wrote @ June 19th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    > If you were a contractor at NASA, then you would know that
    > all the processing for space related stuff at NASA is done by
    > United Space Alliance (USA), not United Launch Alliance (ULA).

    Hey it was McDonnell Douglas when I was in MOD at JSC. I’ve been a contractor at other places for some time.

    The point was – its not being done by NASA. So saying say Shuttle is done by NASA and Commercial Crew (say EELV based) would be commercial – when it would just be a different contract structure to the same master companies, is a bit misleading.

    > The other number that bugged me is when I stated “NASA
    > has 17,900 employees”, and you said “and up to90% of
    > the staffs at centers are contractors”. [are] you’re implying
    > that the U.S. Government only has 1,790 NASA employees
    > on the payroll across 20 centers, ==

    Actually I was assuming you were saying that? A quick Wikipedia check
    KSC alone has over 13,500
    JSC 3,200civil servant 15,000 contractors
    etc

    (down a lot since I was there)

    > Words matter, especially when you are trying to persuade others.

    now a days, no one listens anyway.
    :(

  • Martijn Meijering

    You are so wrong at so many levels, from basic math to fundamental low cost satellite design. I guess you should ask for a refund from whatever school you got your math degree from plus hopefully nobody takes your advice concerning satellite design for minimizing cost.

    You are completely misrepresenting my position and your gratuitous insults say more about your character than they do about me. I said exploration could be done with existing launchers and you stated that would compromise the spacecraft. This is total nonsense. If you are thinking of the old Altair design, then there are a whole host of solutions that are both technically superior and will fit inside a standard EELV fairing, dual thrust axis landers and crasher stages being prominent among them.

    As for satellites, which you brought up, not me, there is currently no demand for the wider payload fairings that are possible on EELVs. That should tell you something.

    There is no need for an HLV, and SDLV would be a completely uneconomical HLV if one was needed.

  • Norm and the Augustine Commission plus Commissions going back two decades disagree with you Martijn concerning HLV. Apparently they also know more about spacecraft design than you do as well.

    My main problem with your position is that you think you can solve the volume problem by offloading mass, that is utter nonsense based on the definition of density (i.e. mass/volume). At times you also suggest that we don’t have volume problem at all, which is also utter nonsense. What part of the serious cost overruns and schedule delays mostly due to packing issues with JWST and MSL don’t you understand?

    There are a number of new ground breaking missions I am personally aware of in both civilian and military applications that we just can’t do constrained to 5m cans, hence they don’t even get out of the concept stage. Sure even with the Jupiter-130, +80% of missions won’t need the diameter, volume or mass but nearly 100% of the truly ground breaking missions will. Without the Jupiter-130 we will just get more of the same or marginally better missions at a significantly higher life cycle cost.

    Assuming 2 Jupiter-130 launches per year at $1.5 Billion results in cost per kg to orbit of about $10K/kg. It gets much lower if you assume more launches but I don’t think we will have the money to fly more than about 75-150mT of dry spacecraft a year anyway. Assuming that smaller launchers produce a cost of about $5K/kg at a launch rate much higher than today means that we are paying a premium of about $750 million per year to have an HLV. Given how much of the overall launch industrial base is a shared between ULA and SDHLV the premium is about half of that or about $400 million per year. A reduction in the cost of spacecraft/mission of just 10% would more than offset this difference. Right now with JWST and MSL we are looking at cost overruns that are many multiples of launch cost. So all the fundamentals point to a lower life cycle cost with a modest HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Regarding the Augustine commission: there was a lot of politics.

    My main problem with your position is that you think you can solve the volume problem by offloading mass, that is utter nonsense based on the definition of density (i.e. mass/volume).

    Your major problem is that you’re seeing things. I never said you could solve the volume “problem” by off-loading propellant, I said you could solve the *mass* problem by off-loading propellant. Simple really, but you apparently prefer to conclude I’m a moron instead of concluding I meant mass not volume.

    At times you also suggest that we don’t have volume problem at all, which is also utter nonsense.

    We do indeed not have a volume problem. Tell me, how is 7mx30m a problem? And why is it nobody has ever asked ULA for such large fairings? Also, I was talking about exploration hardware not commercial payloads, which wouldn’t be allowed to fly on an SDLV anyway. Not that it matters.

    What part of the serious cost overruns and schedule delays mostly due to packing issues with JWST and MSL don’t you understand?

    I’ve seen experts deny this has anything to do with the launch vehicle.

    So all the fundamentals point to a lower life cycle cost with a modest HLV.

    EELV Phase 1 and maybe even Atlas Phase 2 would be a modest HLV. And note that so far no one has ever bought an Atlas V Heavy launch.

  • John

    Actually a 4 x F-1A, 2 x J-2X configuration would satisfy the HLV 75-100mt requirements. You want to minimize hardware requirements, maintain reliability and control any unnecessary costs and weight to the pad. Restarting the F-1A would get the most flak from ULA who believe their hardware could be modified for both crew as well as HLV. That would come at a very high price. The only argument for a Shuttle derived is just to keep ATK in the game. The only arguments against the F-1A is “old tech” and “low lsp”. A modernized F-1A would get the job done in all respects instead of trying to jerry rig a Delta or Atlas just for the contract.

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