Congress, Events, NASA

Briefly: Bolden, Dutch, and Garver

In case you missed it: the Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday that NASA administrator Charles Bolden is being investigated by the agency’s inspector general for a potential conflict of interest regarding a biofuels research program. Bolden reportedly sought the advice of officials at Marathon Oil, a company whose board Bolden previously served on, about a NASA Ames project to develop biofuel from algae, then concluded that the project in question was “not a good investment in research dollars at this time” for the agency. NASA’s general counsel reviewed the consultation and found no conflict of interest, but the issue is under review by the inspector general.

Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD), in a visit to Huntsville, said that he wants a “roadmap” of the country’s long-term goals for space exploration over the next 10-15 years. He appeared concerned that without an aggressive space exploration plan, “it gives a head start to a lot of our competitors, especially the Chinese.” However, as the video accompanying the article reveals, Ruppersberger is not necessarily advocating a complete restoration of Constellation and an increase in NASA spending. “Let’s be perfectly clear: the president canceled the program, so we have to build upon where we are,” he said. “And again, the issue of cost is there, especially in this economy.”

At 2:30 pm this afternoon Space News is hosting a live webcast with NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver titled “NASA’s New Direction: An Update from the Top”.

59 comments to Briefly: Bolden, Dutch, and Garver

  • Robert G. Oler

    The Bolden story is much ado about nothing (it is humerous to read those whose politics is so nutty that they are claiming that Bolden is on his way out).

    I wish that we would stop talking about our “competitors” there seems to be none

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    The OMEGA “issue” on algae culture is laughable. Whether or not Bolden is being influenced by Marathon, biofuels research is not, in fact, a good investment for NASA dollars at this time. It’s a wonderful investment for U.S. dollars, but not NASA dollars. That is, I think, what Bolden is saying. Correct me if I’m missing something, but I can’t really conceive of any connection between biofuel research and what one could even generously consider NASA’s mission. As soon as NASA’s mission becomes “doing good stuff for the country, and all that”, you can kiss space exploration goodbye. I find it especially bizarre that Pete Worden can’t see this. His situation at Ames must be a lot more desperate than I had assumed, or there must be some real fear there that NASA’s mission can’t be fulfilled.

  • amightywind

    Cronyism in Obama’s NASA, in the ‘green technology’ area no less. Shocking. The Obama regime is coming apart at the seams.

    Let us hope that the Space News webcast will be covering Lori Garver’s resignation.

  • I wonder if they’re attempting to tie this into the “green aviation” funds that Ames is supposed to be getting, trying to make synthetic kerosene.

  • Oh, here we go with the Red baiting again … The Chinese human spaceflight program is about where we were in 1965. They have no Moon program. Their hope is to launch their own space station in the early 2020s, but they’re already in talks to join the ISS consortium.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Oh, here we go with the Red baiting again … The Chinese human spaceflight program is about where we were in 1965.

    I actually dont think that they are that far along. The Chinese seem to be approaching human spaceflight the same way that they are “upping” their military…ie instead of innovative “leaps” they are merely trying to redo what other powers have done.

    It is not a very impressive performance so far.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    “they are merely trying to redo what other powers have done.
    It is not a very impressive performance so far.”

    Kinda like SpaceX.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I wrote:
    “they are merely trying to redo what other powers have done.
    It is not a very impressive performance so far.”

    You replied:
    Kinda like SpaceX…………..

    I dont know any organization that claims it can launch as cheaply as SpaceX. They might not do it. But if they meet their cost figures, then that will be a massive pivot point.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    ‘pivot point’

    Bull**** Bingo!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space Cadet wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 am

    From another thread.
    @ Robert Oler:


    I agree NASA is inefficient. I’m still curious about your point of view on valuation: when you wrote “Look the conversation about HSF exploration would be quite different IF … the cost to do human exploration of space were an order or two of magnitude cheaper then what it is,” were you suggesting that human exploration of space *is* worthwhile if it costs say, 0.02 % of the federal budget, but *not* worthwhile if it costs 0.2% ??………………..

    yes I am suggesting that.

    First off Constellation is NOT exploring space. What it is doing is providing jobs on Earth building hardware that at some point and hundreds of billions from now, might send a few astronauts on some modest voyages to the Moon. This fails the exploration test in a few ways but to your central point.

    NASA funding has been sort of consistent since the early 1980′s (if we stay in “current dollars”). There is little or no appetite for any additional spending at NASA or HSF by human spaceflight..but I could make a political argument to a new administration that if “X” can be done instead of “Y” and it cost the same amount of money then the change could be done with little or no adverse politics and the change itself might when it is accomplished be viewed as a positive.

    If one is going to spend more money then one needs to have a reason for it. If one is going to spend the same amount of money redirecting it is not all that hard…as current events illustrate

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 9:58 am

    we will see.

    If SpaceX meets its cost to orbit then the debates about HLV etc are over…done, its the end. And the “American ” model of infrastructure development take over. There will be some companies that exist as dying groups for a bit…but the rest (and new ones) will seek to imitate the product and refine it and the cycle starts. I recall when a 20 mb MFD hard drive was 400 or so dollars. Now…

    If SpaceX fails then the European/Chinese/Russian/NASA model of HSF (and non human) take over and we are going to settle for the level of space “exploration” we have now. The world economy is probably not going to regroup as a lot of people have hoped and start growing again. If the legacy of the Bush/Obama economics handling is stagnation (or worse) then what we have is what we get.

    I am hoping SpaceX works. I know people like you and Whittington love your big government.

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    RGO

    In all honesty I wish SpaceX well. But compared to other NASA contractors Lockmart, Boeing, ATK, Northrup, etc. they don’t even merit a place at the table. If they perform on their ISS contract they certainly will. But any talk of them taking over commercial space at present is absurd.

  • Ferris Valyn

    abreakingwind – again,that is a relevant point, except it ignores the fact that Boeing would be a likely competitor, as would ULA, in the Commercial crew program, and can be a part of commercial space.

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    You keep using analogies to space flight that simply don’t fit. That same 20Mb MFM could be put on a RLL controller and presto, 30mb. This was truly fledgling technology, rockets are not. The principles are well understood. There’s always room for refinement but to expect performance gains and/or cost cutting by orders of magnitude is naive.
    I also hope that that SpaceX can deliver at the price they quote but we’re still early in their cycle and things can change quite a bit. This company still has had only 2 fully successful launches in 5 attempts. Until July of 2009 the company was cash strapped despite what investors in the company were saying about profitability and cash flow. SpaceX is hitting it’s milestones about 2 years later that initial estimates which is about par for the industry. Musk himself stated that the $350 million estimate for a Dragon lifeboat for the ISS was “naive” . They’re learning as they go and finding out they’re inital estimates are a little too rosy. I think the true price of a Falcon 9 launch will most likely be 1.5 to 2Xs what the company is quoting now which is still a huge improvement over what’s available today.
    As for Dutch, he’s a great guy and takes his job seriously. He was our county executive and I can tell you the county was never run so well before or since. He’s a smart man and I’m sure he has read and understands the NASA budget.
    Whether you believe that the FY2011 budget lays out a road map for the future of HSF it’s obvious that that fact is not communicated to the senators and congressmen in the committees that matter much less to the congress in general or the public at large. I believe that the road map is not clear because there is no road map.
    If there is a way forward for NASA HSF or even US HSF than Bolden needs to stay in town and communicate that instead of trying to blow sunshine up everyone’s a$$ at committee hearings and appearances.

  • This company still has had only 2 fully successful launches in 5 attempts.

    They have had three consecutive successful launches in six attempts, and the first three failures were in flight test. So your comment is both wrong, and misleading.

    I think the true price of a Falcon 9 launch will most likely be 1.5 to 2Xs what the company is quoting now

    Is there some reason we should care what you think?

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    “Is there some reason we should care what you think?”
    No more than your idiotic and ill conceived thoughts.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 11:08 am


    Robert:
    You keep using analogies to space flight that simply don’t fit. That same 20Mb MFM could be put on a RLL controller and presto, 30mb. This was truly fledgling technology, rockets are not. The principles are well understood. There’s always room for refinement but to expect performance gains and/or cost cutting by orders of magnitude is naive.

    that is where we differ.

    A few points.

    In the history of technology the word “innovative” is defined not by companies that invent “new” technology but by those who take mostly current technology and innovate how it is used.

    When Boeing put together the Model 299 (or Douglas the first three DC series) it was not about finding “new technology”…all the parts; the motors, airfoil etc were all quite available to almost anyone. It was about how they were married. The result was “innovation”.

    Most (all) of American rockets and even the human part of the spacecraft are “legacy” systems which trace their development and technology to trends which started 50 plus years ago.

    What SpaceX seems to have done (again they have to meet their cost figures) is the same thing Boeing and Douglas and Beech and North American did with their “innovative” programs…they just put the parts together uniquely, all with an eye toward cost.

    to NOT think that this was possible in the rocket equation I think is naive…and to expect it was not possible in “the spam in the can” was really bizarre. A human spacecraft is really no more compliated then a modern jet fighter or commercial airplane. And space is no more a deadly environment then other environments that we routinely send “affordable” vehicles into.

    There is a reason the Cougar was so much better and actually was built and the Lockheed (whatever they call it now) equivalent is still on the drawing boards.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 11:08 am


    I think the true price of a Falcon 9 launch will most likely be 1.5 to 2Xs what the company is quoting

    sorry I didnt preview the other post all that well…I probably will re post and even hit spell check (sorry dealing with baby some).

    if the FAlcon 9 is 2 times what is advertised Musk is out of business.

    Its that simple I bet it is 1.1 or 1.2 to start and goes back down as things pick up …maybe even drops to .8 or so after 5 or so years.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 10:39 am

    In all honesty I wish SpaceX well. But compared to other NASA contractors Lockmart, Boeing, ATK, Northrup, etc. they don’t even merit a place at the table. If they perform on their ISS contract they certainly will. But any talk of them taking over commercial space at present is absurd.

    since the other companies you mention have almost no “commercial space” then I am not sure why you mention them. Absent government dollars none of them exist.

    SpaceX with the Iridium contract has “more” commercial space then ULA has.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    SpaceX’s “innovation” is running a lean and mean operation, something Boeing and LocMart tried to do with the ULA but were not too successful. The technology that SpaceX is using is also legacy, I think parts for the Merlin came from the LEM descent engine.
    As for space craft being no more complicated than today’s jet liners you neglect one very crucial component. Today’s fighters and commercial jet liners have a whole stratosphere to work with to pressurize the cabins, oxidize the engines and hold them aloft. Space craft have to carry their oxygen with them which makes it that much more difficult to get the lift and speed they need to “hold them aloft” so to speak. Also aircraft only have to do this for hours at a time. Space craft have to do their jobs for days, weeks or months. Then there’s the whole problem of re-entry that aircraft don’t have to face. Space craft and planes are really not much alike, that’s what makes the shuttle such a complicated and extraordinary vehicle.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “I wonder if they’re attempting to tie this into the “green aviation” funds that Ames is supposed to be getting, trying to make synthetic kerosene.”

    Yes, that occurred to me. But investment in propellant manufacture is kind of a stretch, and much better suited to DOE research than for NASA. This isn’t an aeronautics R&D issue, but an energy issue.

  • mark valah

    Speaking of SpaceX costs, the Iridium contract of roughly $500M is for how many launches? Iridium has contracted 72 sattelites with Thales Alenia (can’t remember if this number includes the back-up units, I think not, all of these 72 are to be launched) that comes to about $7M per unit satellite as launching costs, I wonder what is the margin for profit in this contract. I remember reading Edison made a first contract on electric bulbs at a loss per unit but caught up and made good profits by lowering the costs down the road significantly. Is that a SpaceX approach well?

  • The technology that SpaceX is using is also legacy, I think parts for the Merlin came from the LEM descent engine.

    No, it doesn’t use any “parts” from anything else.

  • MrEarl

    Mark:
    That would be my guess. You lose a little on each sale but you make it up in volume. :-)

  • Gary Church

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,825826-1,00.html

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4286114&c=FEA&s=TEC

    Here are a couple interesting articles guys- the first from 1959 and the second more recent. A few of you who perhaps actually read some of my posts know I am fascinated by really big SRB’s. I believe they are one of the “keys to the kingdom.” Unfortunately perchlorate is nasty and though as simple as simple gets, solids have drawbacks. But what is perfect?

    I am not a big fan of the shuttle SRB’s. I believe they underpowered the shuttle and the segmented design is flawed and monolithics are what should have been used. But give me an example of an engine with basically no moving parts that puts out 3 million pounds of thrust and is (somewhat) reusable.

    And if the Ares1 has vibration problems, fine, goodbye. (before anyone tries to excoriate me as an ares worshipper- I am not)

    Go Sidemount!

  • Breaking news … United Launch Alliance announced it’s joining the Commercial Spaceflight Federation supporting Obama’s proposal to migrate human LEO access to the private sector:

    http://flametrench.flatoday.net/2010/06/united-launch-alliance-joins-commercial.html

    One big nail in the Constellation coffin.

    With the biggest aerospace consortium supporting Obama’s proposal, that leaves no one other than the employee unions to bribe the bloviating politicians into supporting Constellation.

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    “The pintle injector at the heart of Merlin was first used in the Apollo Program for the lunar module landing engine, one of the most critical phases of the mission.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin_%28rocket_engine%29

    Nothing wrong with building on success. When you finally succeed at something you’ll know what that means.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I dont agree with either of those two points

    SpaceX’s “innovation” is running a lean and mean operation, something Boeing and LocMart tried to do with the ULA but were not too successful.

    that is close, but does not tell the entire story.

    SpaceX “innovation” is designing a product that allows a “lean and mean” operation. The technology is “legacy” (as I noted they are not inventing a lot of technology) but it is technology which avails itself to “automation” and “reliability”. Much has been made of “9″ engines. If you can have 9 engines for much less then the cost of two or one large one then take 9. This is exactly the logic that Piper used when they pushed through the Twin Comanche as an “upgrade” to the Comanche 180 and 250/260…they also went the other extreme, the -400…which was not a great sales product.

    The trick at saving cost is looking at every process that is repetative and seeing if you can save some “here and there” and those add up. This is exactly how Southwest airlines has the highest paid people in the 737 fleet…but has some of the cheapest cost. Its “the process stupid” (not referencing you of course…clearly you know the phrase).

    As for space craft being no more complicated than today’s jet liners you neglect one very crucial component.

    not so much. The “we have to carry our own O2″ has an influence in the rocket equation, but once one gets into orbit it doesnt matter all that much. Nor really does reentry (the issues are well understood). All “life support” systems have their challenges (pressurization was hard on the B-29 but they made it work) to current technology but maturity comes. We have flown pressurized vehicles in space now for over 50 years…and have an excellent record of keeping people alive in them.

    The trick again is “the process”. I’ll give you an example (but not the only one).

    I have no dollar amount, but it is a lot that NASA could have saved by automating the shuttles landing completely. Even had they reserved the notions of gear extension and steering on the deck (and braking) for the “humans”…the rest of it from deorbit to nose gear touchdown IF they had pushed the automation would have saved them over 30 years millions, maybe hundreds of millions. There is zero reason for the pilot to take control for the last “little bit” of flight. But yet that maneuver drives training cost out the roof. Same with docking.

    Airlines face but make similar decisions. One can hand fly Cat2B autoland. But so can the autopilot. It cost another two to three simulator periods (and some actual flight time) to qualify a pilot to hand fly Cat2B. most dont do it. If they have 2B they have it “autopilot only”.

    Perfectly safe.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Steve:
    Not a surprise. At the Augustine hearings last year they were ready with proposals to launch the Orion on an EELV and Boeing has designed a capsule that they’ll most likely enter in any competition for commercial HSF.

  • “The pintle injector at the heart of Merlin was first used in the Apollo Program for the lunar module landing engine, one of the most critical phases of the mission.”

    They don’t mean that literally. They just mean that both engines use pintle injectors.

    “SpaceX Merlin engine was developed internally at SpaceX, but drew on pintle injector concepts developed at TRW for the lunar module descent stage engine.”

    [rolling eyes]

  • Gary Church

    Correction; Rockets DO NOT land back. Unless it is the engine recovery module being proposed for the Sidemount that will recover the engines- which is what should have been done on the original shuttle except it was nickel and dimed out of the design just like the escape system. There is no cheap.

  • MrEarl

    Robert:
    The whole shuttle program is rife with, “if only they…., then it would have saved soooo much money in operations”. Originally the shuttle was to ride into space on a manned booster that would land like a plane. Just like with the autopilot there was no money to develop it. In the mid ’70′s when the shuttle was designed there were no autopilots that could land a plane so training to do so was a cost of doing business. Even if the technology was available and implemented no one would have sent 7 astronauts into orbit and rely solely on an autopilot to bring them back, so there would have been training. When the shuttle finally started docking with space stations in the mid 90′s, again, no money to develop the auto-docking. The Russians, who have had auto-docking for years are still trained to do it and have done it on occasion. There was a remote docking of a progress ship by the Russian commander recently on the ISS.
    Yes, “lean and mean operations” is about processes but it still remains to be seen how much automation can be brought to bare in rocket technology especial on the HSF side.

  • Just like with the autopilot there was no money to develop it.

    It had nothing to do with money. The computers and software were and are and always have been perfectly capable of doing the whole job. All that had to be done to implement it was to add actuators to the brake pedals and the landing gear drop, so that astronauts’ hands and feet weren’t necessary. The only reason that it wasn’t done is because the astronauts wanted to retain their role as pilots, and they didn’t want a vehicle that could be flown unmanned, because they feared that it would be.

  • MrEarl

    The point is Rand, it’s all built on legacy technology, incremental improvements.
    [rolling eyes more at your lack of understanding of simple concepts]

  • [rolling eyes more at your lack of understanding of simple concepts]

    I am quite aware of the “simple concepts.” Your statement that Merlin used “parts” from the LEM was factually wrong. As was your comment that Shuttle doesn’t autoland due to “lack of money.”

  • MrEarl

    Rand;
    Your lack of understanding of the shuttle is astounding.
    There are actuators in the shuttle control surfaces and the shuttle is on autopilot during most of the decent. Read my full post to get a little history of the shuttle. You may find it interesting and learn something too.

  • Gary Church

    They are right MrEarl- why do you keep trying to play a game they are past masters at? They are the ones who twist the facts so well and when are called on it resort to more sophistry, then denials, and when that does not work they go to insults, and if you just will not allow them to get away with it they tag team and dogpile. They are an infomercial TEAM and you are stupid to imitate them. Take a break and think about it.

    I read all the shuttle needed was one switch to auto land and though no one would own up to it- it is obvious why it was not put in. “Parts from the LEM”? There is nothing new in rocket engines just like their is nothing new in steam engines. Thermodynamics and Materials are what they are. Merlins are probably good engines. They are just too small for lifting any worthwhile payload without resorting to clustering and that has drawbacks.

  • There are actuators in the shuttle control surfaces and the shuttle is on autopilot during most of the decent.

    Of course there are. But there aren’t any to drop the gear or steer the nose wheel. That has to be done manually. It’s not a software problem.

    Read my full post to get a little history of the shuttle.

    You have nothing to teach me about the Shuttle. I was a manager at the Rockwell division that built it for years.

  • Gary Church

    Anyway, rockets do not need a second engine to land back with because they do not land back. Going with clusters of small engines violates the KISS rule. It is a poor argument to say that if 9 is cheaper than one or two go with 9. SpaceX fans are……not too bright to keep arguing in favor of clusters.

  • MrEarl

    I miss-stated about the part. I was thinking technology but re-reading the post I can see how someone of Rand’s intellect could take it as actual parts.
    As I said before, and I think it was you who took much exception to the term, it is mental masturbation but it helps when I talk to Duch, senator Mikulsky and others who can make a difference, to get all my facts straight and message clear.

  • MrEarl

    Rand said:
    “You have nothing to teach me about the Shuttle. I was a manager at the Rockwell division that built it for years.”
    YIIIIEEEEKS!
    Obviously you had had good people under you to cover your butt. :-)

  • I was thinking technology but re-reading the post I can see how someone of Rand’s intellect could take it as actual parts.

    Right. You mean someone whose intellect would cause them to read the word “parts” and think it actually means “parts.” And you continued to think it was “parts” until I showed you that it was “concepts.”

  • The Buran flew on unmanned auto-pilot for its sole mission. I’m sure if the Soviets could do it, we could do it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Just like with the autopilot there was no money to develop it. In the mid ’70’s when the shuttle was designed there were no autopilots that could land a plane so training to do so was a cost of doing business. Even if the technology was available and implemented no one would have sent 7 astronauts into orbit and rely solely on an autopilot to bring them back, so there would have been training

    that is completely inaccurate.

    The shuttle system would have “done it” from landing number 1. Everything was there. I dont recall anymore the various “scrubs” that eliminated somethings in the old computers and I think that part of it was taken out over time, but maybe not. The gear has to be dropped (or actuated) manually and the vehicle has to be steered/braked manually. That is by design not lack of money or lack of faith in the autopilot system. The shuttle depends on the autopilot system to “fly” the reentry including the transition “to flight” which is the most difficult part of the reentry.

    The shuttle has never been autolanded because of the Astronaut office insistence on the “manual” landing part of the reentry which is “not very long”. Rand is absolutely correct on the reasoning. Eliminate the landing and the need for “pilots” with “pilot skills” goes down a lot. Docking can be taught to anyone.

    Going to autoland would have saved ENORMOUS amounts of money and any future vehicles will clearly do that. It was solely a political decision to do this. (and it killed things like “the long duration orbiter”).

    If you dont believe that autolandings are “safe” well 1) they do it on CVN’s now and 2) airliners do it routinely (including the airplanes that get the title Air Force One).

    One other point. The first autolanding was done by the TriStar (L-1011) in 1969 as part of Certification. How the avionics and flight control people pulled it off was at the time “novel” because it was all “analog” and required some unique changes to get the spoilers to do the roll control (pitch was pretty easy).

    The C-5A and Boeing 747 demonstrated autolanding in the early 1970′s. I dont recall the year frame, but I do recall Nixon was still President…because AF1 had its autopilot “updated” to that capability early on. And Nixon was the first POTUS to have an “autolanding” done.

    So the other statement you make is equally “non operative”.

    sorry

    Robert G. Oler

  • Obviously you had had good people under you to cover your butt.

    Yes, I worked with good people, but I didn’t need them to “cover my butt.” And I’ve forgotten more about the Shuttle than you’re ever likely to know.

  • MrEarl

    Alright, the whole autolanding thing is getting stupid. Since Rand was a Rockwell manager working on the shuttle, for the sake of argument, lets say the astronauts were were over ridden and the Shuttle was completely outfitted for full automatic operations. How would that have saved money and what was thee point you were trying to make in relation to SpaceX?

  • Ben Joshua

    The green program at NASA, as I understand it, began as a way to produce oxygen dyuring a prolonged flight. The hydrocarbon by-product is a challenge to the program (what do you do with this stuff on board a spacecraft?), but as an earthbound source of non-petroleum fuel, it’s intriguing.

    Where should research take place when it benefits the goals of more than one agency?

    If Congressman Ruppersberger favors a more aggressive space exploration program, then he should publicly commit to an increase in the NASA budget that supports such a program. Otherwise, he is just stirring the broth.

  • Atkins

    The main problem wuth the “new vision”: no transition plan, except to throw a grenade into a major part of NASA. No way to run a railroad, much less NASA.

    Bolden said that when Bush unveiled the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004, it “was almost identical to what President Obama is advocating now, but because the administration chose not to fund the program fully, then the destinations withdrew and it became the Moon.”
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/06/16/battling-for-constellation-and-looking-beyond/
    Then why not redirect Cx and fund it? We’ll never know.

  • William Collector

    Then why not redirect Cx and fund it?

    Because Constellation was a colossal financial, technical and management failure, perhaps? Given multiple previous blessings by congress no less.

    Just sayin.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    for the sake of argument, lets say the astronauts were were over ridden and the Shuttle was completely outfitted for full automatic operations. How would that have saved money and what was thee point you were trying to make in relation to SpaceX?

    well I thought I made that point in my initial post. But perhaps I was not clear.

    The essence of any cost effective operation is to design a process that allows the entire operation to be done “lean and hard”…ie with a look at everything that can save money and make the operation more efficient.

    If you are SWA and only have three planes but need five to make your schedule to actually compete…how do you do it? By making 3 do the work of 5. So instead of a 1 hour turn where cleaners come on the plane and do their stick, you get the flight/cabin crew to “tidy up” the cabin between flights and only have the cleaners come on every 5 cycles instead of every one.

    If you are NASA and you need to make the shuttle system more efficient, you have autoland. Then you dont need the MASSIVE simulator time dedicated to the landing process (for both pilots) nor do you have the STA where the pilots practice those “last few steps” to land the shuttle…that means you are not for 7 crews (it was going to be more when the thing was going to fly 51 or 24 or 12 times a year) 14 people going through almost endless training cycles.

    (and that cost a ton of cash)

    Second now you can have the long duration orbiter. Without the autoland the problem was how long could both pilots stay current on the “landing”. There have been some “laptop” solutions to this problem but they were completely unneeded if you just did autoland.

    It is a mindset that one gets into. (or stays out of).

    As I pointed out the airlines go through this all the time. There use to be an approach called “a circle to land”. Most airlines never train this and just wrote it out of their ops specs…pilots even get licenses now that has the “no circle to land” limitation on it. Why? It cost to much money to spend the sim time (which is cheap compared to the STA …shuttle training aircraft)

    NASA has developed a neat sort of circular logic to defend all this. Something like this “spaceflight is expensive so any steps we take on earth to practice make it less likely to fail…” of course that adds to the expense of spaceflight.

    I DONT know if this is still accurate because I have been “out” of the loop for a decade on shuttle flight training…but when I left it was taking longer (in terms of training hours) for each astronaut/pilot to qualify for the non autolanding part of the flight profile, then it was to take a Student Naval Aviator through the aircraft carrier landing/catapult metric.

    There are so many other things that using autoland would have changed in terms of crew ops and cost…but as one “mythic hero” stated in response to autoland “what do you think I signed up for, to let a (blank) computer have my moment of glory?”

    Yes

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ben Joshua

    Atkins wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    “The main problem wuth the “new vision”: no transition plan”

    Don’t you mean, “no ‘smooth’ transition plan” as the main problem?

    Vested interests opposed smooth transitions to commercialization and lower costs every step of the way for decades.

    NASA’s leadership since 2004 could not navigate a “smooth transition” once shuttle was canceled.

    Any direction taken by the new administration would have meant rough waters, given the unavoidable gap and the prohibitive budget and development timeline of Ares.

    A few years from now, when at least one of several companies is servicing the ISS, launching for the private sector and contracting with Bigelow, things will look less dire and more sustainable.

    Ares plans may end up in a file cabinet (or hard drive) but human spaceflight will continue to advance. I wish it could have happened in the 1970s, but perhaps the next generation will reap the benefits of the current shift in approach.

  • Stephen C. Smith, you left out half of the story:

    We, the undersigned space leaders, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to both (1) fully fund the commercial crew to Space Station program proposed in the President’s FY2011 budget request for NASA, and (2) accelerate the pace and funding of NASA’s human space exploration projects beyond Earth orbit.

  • silence dogood

    FYI, the algae project came into existence at Ames long before Bolden was in the picture.

    Of course, there are some of you who would argue deep dark nasties are afoot. They are, just not in this case, circa 2008.

  • DCSCA

    @MrEarl wrote @ June 22nd, 2010 at 1:41 pm Rest easy. History is not his strong point.

  • red

    “Bolden said that when Bush unveiled the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004, it “was almost identical to what President Obama is advocating now, but because the administration chose not to fund the program fully, then the destinations withdrew and it became the Moon.”

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/06/16/battling-for-constellation-and-looking-beyond/

    Then why not redirect Cx and fund it? We’ll never know.”

    There are a few reasons for this:

    - The Vision for Space Exploration didn’t have a government rocket like Ares I. In the VSE NASA was supposed to acquire crew rides, not build and operate them. Thus it’s difficult to transition the Ares I piece back to a VSE-like approach.

    - The VSE didn’t necessarily have an HLV – it would only have it if NASA’s plan required it. Only possibly having an HLV is pretty far from Constellation’s definitely having a monster Ares V. So, it’s pretty tough to transition what little work was done on Ares V to a VSE-like approach.

    - As things stand now, the VSE is gone. Constellation wiped it out. Now we have an expensive transition to go through. Because of that, we don’t have the money to do it all, so the beyond-LEO crew vehicle gets shrunk to a CRV, at least for now. We get some transition here, but not as much as many Constellation interests want.

    - A lot of the VSE pieces are nothing like Constellation’s Ares rockets and similar components, so it’s not easy to transition to them back to a VSE-like approach. The VSE’s robotic precursor missions, strong use of commercial space, and technology development and innovation all appear in the new NASA plan, but it’s difficult to transition Constellation to them, since Constellation is so different from these VSE items.

  • red

    “He appeared concerned that without an aggressive space exploration plan, “it gives a head start to a lot of our competitors, especially the Chinese.””

    If he wants a more aggressive space exploration plan, he should push for more NASA funding within the context of the 2011 NASA plan. That plan includes all sorts of aggressive work towards affordable space exploration, as well as other important aspects of civil space work. I’m going to cut and paste some examples from neilh at NASAspaceflight.com:

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22070.0;all

    “Laurie Leshin from ESMD recently gave a presentation which gives target dates for many of the exploration-specific items, although I’m sure much of this is still in the planning stage. Trade studies and finalization of development plans is set for FY2010. Also note that this doesn’t include non-ESMD space technology, aeronautics, or science:”

    … (neilh includes some links) …

    “I’ve typed out the dates and technology/demonstration/mission items below.

    (Also, I think this is the first mention I’ve seen that the plan is to have one flagship technology demonstrator mission launching each year starting with 2014)

    Acronyms:
    FTD: Flagship Technology Demonstration
    ETDD: Enabling Technology Development and Demonstration
    RP: Exploration Robotic Precursor Mission
    HLPT: Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Program
    HRP: Human Research Program
    C3PO: Commercial Crew and Cargo Program
    Orion: Orion Emergency Rescue Module

    2011: human robotics interfaces (ISS) (ETDD)
    2011-2016: 3 SpaceX demos and initial 12 operational cargo flights (ISS) (C3PO)
    2012: ALHAT (autonomous landing and hazard avoidance) (ETDD)
    2012: biomed tech demo (ISS) (HRP)
    2012-2016: 1 Orbital demo and initial 8 operational cargo flights (ISS) (C3PO)
    2013: radiation risk model (HRP)
    2014: advanced in-space propulsion mission (FTD)
    2014: closed-loop ECLSS (ETDD)
    2014: high-energy systems (ETDD)
    2014: NEO robotic precursor (RP)
    2014: performance health tech demo (ISS) (HRP)
    2014: commercial crew demo flights (ISS) (C3PO)
    2015: Lunar lander robotic precursor (RP)
    2015: advanced in-space propulsion (ISS) (ETDD)
    2015: advanced in-space propellant transfer and storage (FTD)
    2015: LOX/methane or LOX/H2 in-space engine demo (HLPT)
    2015: another biomed tech demo (ISS) (HRP)
    2015-2020: commercial crew missions (ISS) (C3PO)
    2015-2020: Orion Emergency Rescue Module missions (ISS) (Orion)
    2016: lightweight/inflatable modules and closed loop life support (ISS) (FTD)
    2016: ISRU (ETDD)
    2016: Mars robotic precursor (RP)
    2016: LOX/RP prototype engine (HLPT)
    2016: further radiation risk model (HRP)
    2017: aero-assist/entry, descent, and landing with inflatable aeroshell at Mars (FTD)
    2017: performance health suite demo (ISS) (HRP)
    2018: EVA demo (ISS, maybe for suitport/suitlock tech) (ETDD)
    2018: another Mars robotic precursor (RP)
    2018: Mars Medical Suite demo (ISS) (HRP)
    2019: another NEO robotic precursor (RP)
    2020: LOX/RP operational engine, thrust >= 1M lbs (HLPT)
    2020: nuclear thermal propulsion (ETDD)

    (I’ll also add the caveat that some of the later items, like nuclear thermal propulsion, are contingent on the results from earlier efforts.)

    In addition to the items above, I’ll also add the following list of separate Space Technology items to be initiated just in 2011 (not counting later years):”

    … (another link from neilh; see NASAspaceflight.com if you want it) …

    “200 Space Technology Research Grants
    • 500 Space Technology Graduate Fellowships
    • 20 NIAC2 Phase I Awards
    • 125 Center Innovation Fund Awards
    • 400 SBIR/STTR Phase I Awards
    • 50 SBIR/STTR Phase II Awards
    • 5 New Centennial Challenges
    • 6 Game Changing Development Awards
    • 2 Small Satellite Technologies
    • 3 Technology Demonstration Missions
    • 1 Edison Small Satellite Missions
    • 40 FAST Awards
    • 2 CRuSR Award”

    I should point out that neilh’s list is not comprehensive. It doesn’t include all of the valuable new NASA space work in the new plan, or even all of the valuable new NASA HSF space work, or even the valuable new NASA HSF exploration space work, in the new plan. For example, there are more robotic precursor missions planned – some “mission of opportunity” robotic precursor instruments hosted on science missions, and some “small scout” HSF robotic precursor missions. The small scouts:

    2014: xS1 (robotic precursor Scout 1)
    2016: xS2 (robotic precursor Scout 2)
    2018: xS3 (robotic precursor Scout 3)

  • Like Earl, I too hail from Baltimore County though I have a slightly different opinion of Dutch Rupersberger as County Executive. However, Rupersberger is generally known as a moderate who pretty much tows the party line. So I take this as an indication that NASA/Bolden/Obama is not being very clear to Congress as to its direction. Several hard line Democrats that aren’t from states deeply affected by FY2011 want more details. This isn’t just a Dem/Repub thing. When dyed in the wool Democrats like Rupersberger, Mikulski, and even Democrat John Glenn have issues with this plan, I think that says something.

  • Robert G. Oler

    test post sorry for the bandwidth

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