Congress, Lobbying, NASA

Commercial space advocates regroup

Meteorologically speaking, this is a good weekend to get away from Washington, DC: Saturday’s high temperature is forecast to be over 100 with a heat index approaching 110. The heat’s also been turned up recently for commercial space advocates in Washington, who have seen Congressional committees slash the White House’s budget proposals for commercial crew development. That’s exemplified by the House Science and Technology Committee, which Thursday approved authorization legislation that provides only $50 million a year for commercial crew development plus $100 million a year for a new loan guarantee program—and even that was criticized by one member as “the epitome of socialism and corporate welfare.”

“I have never been so happy to get out of Washington, DC,” quipped Jim Muncy, president of PoliSpace and co-founder of the Space Frontier Foundation. He was speaking Friday morning in the cooler and friendlier confines of the NewSpace 2010 conference held by the Foundation in Silicon Valley. He and other speakers, while frustrated by the recent turn of events in Washington, sought to rally attendees to push for renewed support for the development of commercial crew transportation systems. “The good part is that the fight isn’t over,” he said. “And, arguably, the real fight hasn’t even begun.”

One reason Muncy said the fight hasn’t even begun was that the debate had been incorrectly framed into one of government versus commercial systems, and entrepreneurial NewSpace companies versus established “OldSpace” companies, when in fact both are needed. The real fight, he said, is between “a white-collar welfare state space program and a frontier-opening, settlement-enabling, future-changing space strategy.” Put another way, he said, “We can’t let this conversation be about SpaceX versus ATK, or how NASA astronauts get to space. We have to make it about the future of humanity.”

In a later conference panel on orbital spaceflight, Muncy addressed one element of the House authorization bill, the loan guarantee provision, which he called “a really bad idea”. Loan guarantees work, he explained, for projects like ships and buildings, where there’s something being built that, if the loan falls through, can be sold. “Using that to fund development is problematic in lots of different ways.” He also said he was puzzled by restrictions in Senate legislation that prevent NASA from entering into commercial crew service contracts in FY2011. “I don’t understand why, if you are worried about the gap in US human spaceflight and having to pay Russia for space goods and services,” he said, “you would say you can’t even start for a year.”

Muncy predicted that a final NASA appropriations bill won’t come until after November’s mid-term elections, meaning that the agency will run under a continuing resolution for potentially several months. “Hopefully the White House will engage in a more forceful manner in negotiations down the road,” probably after the elections, he said. “We will get some level of funding with some restrictions.”

170 comments to Commercial space advocates regroup

  • No one… I repeat NO ONE should count on those big bucks promised or offered by the Obama administration.

    When the non-starter budget proposal was dumped on us by the administration the NewSpacers went nuts “we’re rich!” but many of us said- “Don’t count that cash too soon.”

    Just one more in a long string of huge Obama pie-in-the-sky promises followed the let down of reality. There are far more to come… no matter how some posting here may try and spin it. Reality trumps spin.

  • GaryChurch

    “a white-collar welfare state space program and a frontier-opening, settlement-enabling, future-changing space strategy.”

    “We have to make it about the future of humanity.”

    Considering the problem of Radiation, and then the problem of propulsion, I do not see how New Space can “settlement-enable” or insure the future of humanity. I do not believe any for-profit enterprise can succeed.

    A few percent of the mind blowing U.S. defense budget would fund a real space program; in the guise of planetary defense. That is about the only path I can see to “settlement enable.” HLV’s like Sidemount are the first requirement.

  • CharlesHouston

    Does it seem odd that “commercial space” is counting on government spending?

  • Martijn Meijering

    HLV’s like Sidemount are the first requirement.

    Absolute nonsense. Cheap lift what is required. Without it, we will have nothing of significance. With it, we will have everything. It is the crucial thing we ought to be working on. But they chose pork instead.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Does it seem odd that “commercial space” is counting on government spending?

    Commercial Space isn’t a type of company – its an overall approach, which the government does play a role.

  • GaryChurch

    “Cheap lift what is required.”

    I would say that is nonsense. There is no cheap. Space flight is inherently expensive. The more tons get lifted per launch, the more the taxpayer comes out ahead in the deal. One heavy lift vehicle launch is worth several Inferior lift vehicle launches. It is the crucial point, not pork. You are choosing spin.

  • Dave C.

    These politics have made it such that working for NASA has become uncomfortably similar to working for a West Virginia coalmine company, or Enron, or BP. Senior center management does not want to hear about what they perceive as “uncomfortable” issues. They only want you to give them a pretty rock that they can in turn show to their management, so they can justify their salaries. Thanks to all the players on the political stage, the culture is now worse than pre-Columbia. I pray we move to the center soon.

  • amightywind

    The tug of war between new space and traditional NASA will continue. But a bipartisan consensus has now been reached in congress. It won’t easily be disrupted now. The crony capitalist era of Obama is coming to an end. America will not base its future or shower tax dollars on untested space technology new starts whose only credibility comes from their sponsors in the federal bureaucracy.

  • Ferris Valyn

    But a bipartisan consensus has now been reached in congress.

    It has? I am sorry, did Congress have a session, where a combined bill was passed by both sides of the Congress?

    America will not base its future or shower tax dollars on untested space technology new starts whose only credibility comes from their sponsors in the federal bureaucracy.

    That would be a Shuttle Derived Heavy lift.

  • Does it seem odd that “commercial space” is counting on government spending?

    It might seem odd, if that were actually happening.

    Commercial space is not counting on government spending at all. Certainly SpaceX isn’t. Commercial space will move forward regardless of what the government does, sort of outlawing it. Commercial space is simply pointing out the obvious to anyone who doesn’t have a dog in the fight of maintaining the pork — that if the government wants to accomplish its ostensible goals of space exploration (it doesn’t have any, really), it will do so much faster and more cost effectively if it utilizes commercial space.

  • Robert G. Oler

    CharlesHouston wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Does it seem odd that “commercial space” is counting on government spending?..

    no more so then the airline industry counting on government spending Robert

  • Sorry, that should have been “…*short* of outlawing it.”

  • GaryChurch

    “Cheap lift what is required. Without it, we will have nothing of significance.”

    You are taking the position of the canoe company telling the public that supertankers are expensive compared to what you charge. The last study done calls for a one thousand ton earth departure stage for a Mars mission. That is actually a very low number if radiation shielding is taken into account.

    That is why any human space flight beyond earth orbit requires HLVs to start with. I have to dispute your statement that HLV’s are “absolute nonsense.”

  • Ben Joshua

    The new performance based contractors will find their way.

    The old cost plus contractors will stay cozy in NASA’s pocketbook, courtesy of contractor owned and operated reps and senators, to the detriment of taxpayers.

    To what degree? The conferees will add some clarity there.

    The president proposed a loaf of change and got two slices, albeit important ones.

    At some point market forces will challenge the belief that launch to LEO must be ever more expensive and exclusive.

    The mid sixties were heady times at NASA, with essentially blank checks from the nation paying the way to Tranquility Base. Some continue to be unhappy with anything less than a blank check, sure that all things are possible with unlimited funds.

    Except of course for robotic exploration of the solar system, technology advancement and performance based contracting, all of which must be squashed like bugs on a windshield, to make way for awesome big rockets that cost more than anyone outside NASA will pay.

  • vulture4

    Heavy lift and Orion have the same problems as Constellation; extremely high cost, low flight rate and no mission of practical value. The Shuttle was working well and its current costs were lower than those of Constellation. It made sense to keep Shuttle flying until a replacement was actually operational. But the pro-Constellation forces fought to cancel Shuttle, and succeeded. With shuttle cancelled it makes no sense to pursue a “shuttle derived” system of any kind, since it would require expensive ground processing and maintaining the entire SRB manufacturing chain and Shuttle infrastructure for a very low flight rate.

    I would invite anyone who isn’t convinced the Ares is an order of magnitude too expensive to walk the ground processing flows for the Ares and Falcon. Compare the huge, complex VAB, mobile launcher platforms, crawlers, and the huge servicing tower for the Ares with the small hangar, horizontal integration, erector arm and about a hundred yards of ordinary railroad track for Falcon. Add up the number of people, the maintenance man-hours, the processing operations, the hazardous operations, the crane lifts, the overhead on the facilities and structures.

    Consensus in this case means that we will spend billions to provide jobs to powerful contractors and legislative districts while eliminating most development of new technology. Nelson’s support for this is inexplicable.

  • GaryChurch

    “At some point market forces will challenge the belief that launch to LEO must be ever more expensive and exclusive.”

    The market forces are for satellites, rides to a space station that may get abandoned after the next solar event fries all it’s electronics, and research probes. Billionaire tourist joyrides are not a growth industry.

    So the challlenge is actually the question, “is there really any market at all?”
    The profit motive is toxic to space exploration and human space flight.

  • GaryChurch

    “With shuttle cancelled it makes no sense to pursue a “shuttle derived” system of any kind, since it would require expensive ground processing and maintaining the entire SRB manufacturing chain and Shuttle infrastructure for a very low flight rate.”

    That low flight rate will lift more tons than inferior lift vehicles can approach with even a very high flight rate. None of these alternate vehicles has ever flown an astronaut while the shuttle hardware has flown hundreds.

  • But the pro-Constellation forces fought to cancel Shuttle, and succeeded.

    Shuttle was cancelled before Constellation existed. It became official policy to do so in January, 2004

  • Martijn Meijering

    Nelson’s support for this is inexplicable.

    Inexplicable or indefensible?

  • TrueSpace

    Ferris – “Commercial Space isn’t a type of company – its an overall approach, which the government does play a role.”

    Yes, its approach is corporate welfare for dot.com millionaires who are friends of Obama.

  • TrueSpace

    Rand – “Commercial space will move forward regardless of what the government does, sort of outlawing it.”

    Sort of outlawing NASA? But if Commercial Space outlaws NASA who will be funding it? Goofy.

  • TrueSpace

    Oops, Rand, didn’t see the correction. Sorry.

    But why would Obama outlaw Commercial Space? His dot.com millionaire supporters never approve it. Its the Republican run industries, like offshore drilling, he is trying to outlaw.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Inexplicable or indefensible?

    Do we have to pick one?

  • Coastal Ron

    CharlesHouston wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Does it seem odd that “commercial space” is counting on government spending?

    Lot’s of good comments about this already, and i’ll add my perspective too.

    I look at the equation from the opposite end. If the government wants to do more in space, they need to hand off the routine stuff, like cargo & crew transit to LEO, to entities that can do it cheaper than NASA.

    NASA’s charter is not to be a transportation company, but politicians see that part of NASA as a big money winner for certain states & districts. Let’s look at one example of what commercial could do, even if NASA built Orion.

    Orion was originally planned to fly on Ares I, which has about the same payload capacity to LEO as Delta IV Heavy. ULA has stated that it would take $1.3B to upgrade Delta IV Heavy for crew, and cost $300M/flight after that. Ares I has consumed almost $10B by now (as well as increased costs for Orion redesigns), and was projected to cost $1B/flight. The Delta IV Heavy upgrade could have been done by this year if it was awarded in 2006 (beginning of Constellation). I don’t think anyone doubts the ability of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to build a viable crew launcher, so this question is moot.

    The government could also very easily create a space transportation program modeled on the Military Sealift Command or the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to ensure their access to space regardless of the company or vehicle.

    In using Delta IV Heavy, NASA would have saved $8B+ in Ares I development costs, and would save $700M/flight going forward. Applying that towards other programs and hardware would have been a huge boost to NASA, and we would actually be flying hardware in space now instead of talking about salvaging it.

    Commercial space would be helping the government to lower it’s future costs, and provide services that the government is not designed to supply. What’s wrong with that?

  • Bob Mahoney

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    In using Delta IV Heavy, NASA would have saved $8B+ in Ares I development costs, and would save $700M/flight going forward. Applying that towards other programs and hardware would have been a huge boost to NASA, and we would actually be flying hardware in space now instead of talking about salvaging it.

    This was the original premise upon which the VSE was built. If one looks back and reviews carefully the introductory speech by Bush and Marburger’s later elaboration, there is no mention of NASA developing new rockets nor did there need to be. Dr. G introduced that little albatross and, sadly, the Bush admin. let him do it and then Congress put in their two cents to compound the problem.

  • Dennis Berube

    Here we are with the same mumbo jumbo. Quite possibly the private sector can reduce launch to orbit cost, however they have not demonstrated their ability to launch supply vehicles that can dock let along people. Im sure they will at some point. However until that point in time, our country must maintain a space presence, hands down.

  • [Muncy] said he was puzzled by restrictions in Senate legislation that prevent NASA from entering into commercial crew service contracts in FY2011. “I don’t understand why, if you are worried about the gap in US human spaceflight and having to pay Russia for space goods and services,” he said, “you would say you can’t even start for a year.”

    Because the porkers don’t give a damn about the gap, only directing socialist government jobs to their districts. They’ve known about the gap ever since 2004, when Bush cancelled Shuttle. The Bush administration told Congress right then and there that we’d have to rely upon Soyuz to reach ISS. They didn’t blink an eye, only provided just enough funding under a pork program called Constellation to create jobs in their districts without actually accomplishing anything.

  • I’m beginning to like the idea of NASA being funded with a continuing resolution until after the elections. Dems are poised to lose big and NASA can count on better conservative support, perhaps.

    This budget is short $2B a year. Cliche, “making the hard choices” when an entire industry could be stillborn by this congress. This economy needs a high tech driver and it is in our national interest (to the tune of a relatively paltry $2B a year) to provide that economic and educational driver.

    $21B in the hands of the arrogant fiscal conservative, Bolden, is an opportunity to motivate and inspire America for at least the next decade. That’s the compromise congress needs to make and the responsibility it needs to accept.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Quite possibly the private sector can reduce launch to orbit cost, however they have not demonstrated their ability to launch supply vehicles that can dock let along people. Im sure they will at some point. However until that point in time, our country must maintain a space presence, hands down.

    Why, in listening to you, one would think that orbital mechanics is an art, or some kind of “magic”, and that only the chosen few are allowed to know it’s mysterious ways. You are so funny!

    In the case of SpaceX, they have just about completed all of their COTS milestones from NASA to enable Dragon to rendezvous with the ISS. And since three vehicles other than the Dragon have already been certified to deliver cargo to the ISS (HTV, ATV, Progress), I don’t see this as a big stumbling block for crew.

    The whole point of having NASA help crew and cargo providers is to ensure that TAXPAYER PAID KNOWLEDGE is passed down to TAX PAYING COMPANIES to help NASA SPEND LESS MONEY. Sorry for the caps, but it just seems like some people just don’t get it…

    Oh, and while you think that you’re preserving our “space presence, hands down”, what you’re actually doing is continuing to give contracts to Russia to deliver out astronauts to the ISS. Now I like the Russians, and I trust their space hardware, but I personally would like other choices for crew transportation, and I think American companies are up to the job – don’t you? Or are you saying the Russians are better than us? Choose quickly – Congress is getting ready to fritter away a lot of money on an HLV that has no defined mission, and no defined payload. Ugh!

  • Martijn Meijering

    An HLV with no defined mission and no defined payload would be easier to get rid of, especially if it is overambitious and underfunded.

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    An HLV with no defined mission and no defined payload would be easier to get rid of, especially if it is overambitious and underfunded.

    Hmmm, maybe there is hope!

  • To Muncy, and his supporters, just keep on drinking that Kool-Aid…

    The rumor is that White House has ordered Bolden, Garver, and OSTP to get behind the Senate Bill because the White House knows it’s the best it can hope for. The challenge now is to keep the Senate Bill whole and not loose Florida in 2012. The prospect for either is low.

    Others here will disagree. But then, many of them were popping the Champagne and toasting to a “New Space” era last February. BTW, I’ve bought a few bottles. When the reconciled space bill is passed and signed, gonna crack that open and celebrate.

    I’ll guess that the House commercial provision will survive since it save money for NASA and should keep Musk & Co. busy trying to survive rather than poaching NASA’s traditional human space flight role. Shelby will insist on this during Conference. Republicans love it. Democrats can live with it.

    And the Senate’s HVL will survive. It’s a bigger program than Ares I, it is more open-ended, and doesn’t undo any existing constituencies. Think of it as the New Ares V. Call it Jupiter or Neptune V.

    I think so many who created and fought for this failed policy initiative will remember most the experience of being so close, yet so far, from the goals they sought to achieve. Sad, really…

  • Bennett

    Here we are with the same mumbo jumbo.

    Appropriate first sentence, given what follows it.

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Well said, it’s a shame Dennis has his fingers in his ears.

  • Bennett

    …rather than poaching NASA’s traditional human space flight role.

    Status Quo – Big Bucks, no Buck Rogers. Money for nothing.

  • common sense

    @ Jim Hillhouse wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Well if you get what you want you may even get a job with Shelby! Way to go!

  • common sense

    @ Bob Mahoney wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Since you are fully aware of the original intent of the VSE, why do you keep supporting POR, or son-of-POR? What do you think you have to gain doing so? Can you not see that all these schemes are losers? Come one!

  • Ferris Valyn

    sftommy

    I’m beginning to like the idea of NASA being funded with a continuing resolution until after the elections. Dems are poised to lose big and NASA can count on better conservative support, perhaps.

    Yea, because “Conservatives” and Republicans have been so great during the most recent discussion, and Democrats and liberals MUSt hate space. (God I am sick of that mem!)

  • Ben Joshua

    Senator Nelson’s support for HLV can be understood, if not justified, by his determination to keep the whole LC-39 operation and associated infrastructure and jobs going, by means rational or not, despite LC-39′s outdated inefficiencies and cost.

    In public, Nelson often speaks (in his gentlemanly fashion) not directly to an issue, but inferentially and obliquely. In this light, look at his talk to the Augustine commission, his choice of hearing witnesses and his hearing statements.

    In Nelsonese, he all but used neon lights to announce his support for an LC-39 class launch vehicle, Ares, SDV, sidemount, (anything but a next gen EELV which would not use the huge upgrade, maintenence and support staff needed to keep the antiquated LC-39 compound operational.)

    He even cautioned the Commission and the President to consider their decision “carefully” lest there be a strong reaction, in Congress and the NASA family.

  • Bob Mahoney

    @ common sense
    Since you are fully aware of the original intent of the VSE, why do you keep supporting POR, or son-of-POR? What do you think you have to gain doing so? Can you not see that all these schemes are losers? Come one!
    Where, pray tell, have I ever “kept supporting [the] POR”? Certainly not in the second half of my post…or did you misunderstand my literary reference to the albatross? If perhaps you are referring to my TSR essay on prognosticating NASA’s future, I advocated nothing therein, I merely outlined my expectations for where things are likely to go given the lay of the land.

    Or do you consider my underlying latent desire for a robust future for humankind in space to be “supporting the POR”?

    Call me to task if you must, but at least pay attention to what I actually write!

  • David C

    @ Bob Mahoney : “Call me to task if you must, but at least pay attention to what I actually write!”

    Reading ability and the use of common sense are not pre-requisits for posting comments on this site; a lack of manners / common courtesy, a healthy dose of political rhetoric and silliness is; oh, and a lack of spelling ability is an absolute must!!! Please use small words, long ones just confuse the fauna here!!

    Cheers, just dropping by for a daily laugh-in;

    PS the other Dave C is NOT me;

  • Coastal Ron

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    And the Senate’s HVL will survive. It’s a bigger program than Ares I, it is more open-ended, and doesn’t undo any existing constituencies. Think of it as the New Ares V. Call it Jupiter or Neptune V.

    And we’ll still have to buy rides from the Russians because the Congress designed spacecraft that NASA has to use to get to space won’t be done until who knows how long.

    No, I would rather “take a risk” on commercial crew than doom NASA to buying rides from other countries perpetually. Not that I don’t like or trust the Russians, but that I would rather spend the money in this country to develop more than one way to get crew to space. And Congress doesn’t have a clue how to do that…

  • GaryChurch

    “No, I would rather “take a risk” on commercial crew than doom NASA to buying rides from other countries perpetually.”

    Sidemount can be ready faster than SpaceX or the other two Inferior Lift Vehicles. It is what the STS should have been, or close to it, from the start, and after challenger, and after columbia…if there had been funding.

    With the 5 segment SRB’s, RS-82′s, and a J-2X upper stage, Sidemount can put huge payloads up. Those payloads are the only way to get humans beyond earth orbit. It’s all about the Radiation.

  • Gee, it’s so nice to be talked about…

    Seriously, Gary: What part of radiation isn’t solved by water-based shielding? And why does water have to be launched 100 MT at a time, instead of deposited into a big tank at a fixed price per barrel (or 100 gallons, or whatever) by whatever launch vehicle + tanker can make a buck doing it? Of course it’s heavy, and requires extra propellant or higher-ISP transportation, but propellant can be stored on orbit also.
    So why do we have to launch 100 MT at a time?

    And Mr. Hillhouse… I wouldn’t mind you drinking your Constellation koolaid if you weren’t making the rest of us pay the bar tab. Your posts here are not only ill-informed, but downright slanderous of very hardworking public servants, and you should be ashamed. I may disagree with others decisions, but I usually try not to personalize it.

    So I’ll just ask this: what professional experience/credentials do you have in space policy? And no, running your own blog doesn’t count.

  • Sidemount can be ready faster than SpaceX or the other two Inferior Lift Vehicles.

    Sidemount cannot provide safe abort for crew, and it risks damage to the crew module from insulation impact. It’s just a different form of the Shuttle.

  • GaryChurch

    “What part of radiation isn’t solved by water-based shielding?”

    Water in the thousands of tons will stop Cosmic Radiation heavy nuclei- and that water has to come from off-world. It will also provide for a closed loop life support for multi-year missions. What are you asking me?

    “So I’ll just ask this: what professional experience/credentials do you have in space policy?”

    Jeff does not require creds to post here and I do not recognize your authority to demand any from me. Ad hominem does not work here, sorry.

    “-it risks damage to the crew module from insulation impact. It’s just a different form of the Shuttle.” \

    Absolute nonsense. The LAS is a heavy duty cap and there are no wings or fragile heat shield to damage- the heat shield is protected and so is the crew module. You know this Rand, you are an engineer, right?

  • GaryChurch

    “So why do we have to launch 100 MT at a time?”

    Because launching 20 tons at a time….is a waste of time.

    How much does Dragon supply carry to the ISS at a time?

    I believe the figure for Sidemount is 60 tons. And not in a reusable capsule that has to be recovered and turned around. That was the Shuttle mistake and the cargo pod on Sidemount is expendable- as it should be.

  • Jim, awwwwwww.. but that’s the only qualifications I have :P

    But seriously, love your work.. I’m literally losing sleep to watch it.

  • GaryChurch

    “propellant can be stored on orbit also.”

    Good luck with that. You might get away with pumping some lower ISP propellants but nothing cryogenic. Zero G and cryogenic fuels like LOX and H2 are a tough combination to handle- the Centaur program found that out and it cost a pretty penny. Centaur is still expensive- hydrogen technology does not come cheap. You sound pretty qualified asking for other people’s creds but talking about orbital fuel depots like they are simple matters- does not reflect well.

  • red

    Jim Hillhouse: “I’ll guess that the House commercial provision will survive since it save money for NASA”

    No it wouldn’t save NASA money, unless you mean only buying Soyuz rides is cheaper than buying U.S. commercial rides, but would you be happy with that?

    Companies would most likely just ignore the House anti-commercial provision and refrain from attempting to solve NASA’s crew launch problem. The amount of money the House would fund is irrelevant to the problem at hand, and the loan guarantee provisions would prevent the companies from getting outside investment for the project, so they just wouldn’t deal with NASA for crew launch. Even if NASA built the HLV, which doesn’t look possible at first glance based on NASA’s history with similar projects, operating an HLV and Orion to get crew to and from the ISS would not save NASA money.

    Let’s suppose the companies did take the loan guarantees, though. Would that save NASA money? No. NASA will just have to pay it back later when they buy the crew transportation services, unless you think there will be a huge non-NASA crew market to absorb that cost, which from your post I suspect you don’t.

    “and should keep Musk & Co. busy trying to survive rather than poaching NASA’s traditional human space flight role.”

    This doesn’t make any sense. Is it your goal to keep the commercial crew companies on the edge of insolvency, and thus busy trying to survive instead of meeting milestones? Why would they take the deal if it puts them on the edge of survival? The COTS and CCDEV companies are Orbital, SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada, Paragon, and Blue Origin. Every one of these companies has lots of business and/or funding already. Why would they put that in jeopardy by taking a bad deal? I’m not sure why you’d want the commercial crew companies like Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada, Orbital Science, and so on to be in such bad shape.

    Also, why do you think Boeing, ULA, and so on are “poaching” NASA’s traditional human space flight role? The current commercial crew effort was generated by the old decision to shut down the Shuttle combined with the failure of Constellation. All of the reasonable Augustine Committee options featured commercial crew. These “Merchant 7″ companies like Boeing and Orbital Sciences that you seem to be against didn’t run the Augustine Committee.

    At the same time, the FY2011 proposal doesn’t remove NASA from its human space flight role. The Shuttle was already going away. Constellation’s failure caused it to go away. That’s a loss of responsibility for NASA. However, at the same time, FY2011 revived the ISS, since it was Constellation that was going to force the removal of the ISS. So, NASA lost 1 big HSF system but gained another. However, in FY2011 NASA HSF also gained lots of other items in exchange for Constellation: money to do much more at the ISS than just keeping it running, the Orion CRV which would eventually evolve into a beyond-LEO vehicle, various exploration in-space demonstrations such as a solar electric demo to Mars, an inflatable habitat demo at the ISS, a more or less operational space tug, a propellant depot demo, an aerobraking demo at Mars or Earth, a closed-loop life support demo at the ISS, smaller technology efforts in telerobotics, ISRU, fission propulsion, autonomous precision landing, and high-power electric propulsion, more such projects in later years, rocket engine development for affordable HLVs, other HLV work, numerous robotic precursor missions in the spirit of LRO/LCROSS for the Moon, asteroids, Mars moons, and Mars, a better-funded human research program … and NASA oversight of the commercial crew and cargo effort.

    With FY2011 NASA would be doing plenty in its traditional human spaceflight role.

    With the Senate plan, NASA will get little of this, and budget overruns in the HLV and Orion++ will likely wipe out the rest. It will be bad for NASA HSF for it to only be trying to develop a government HLV and spacecraft with little to no money for payloads or actual mission content for these items even if they somehow got built.

    “And the Senate’s HVL will survive. It’s a bigger program than Ares I, it is more open-ended,”

    Is that what you want? A bigger program than Ares I? A more open-ended program than Ares I? Why do you seem to be so delighted with these characteristics? A bigger program means it’s more expensive. Is that what you want? More expensive means more jobs. Maybe that’s what you want? It’s not clear to me what your goal is. Do you realize that NASA is getting less time and less money for this program that you’re saying is a is bigger program than Ares I? How do you think that’s going to work out?”

    “I think so many who created and fought for this failed policy initiative will remember most the experience of being so close, yet so far, from the goals they sought to achieve. Sad, really…”

    If that’s what happens, it will be sad, since the goals make sense. The VSE insisted on a strong line of robotic precursor missions, strong exploration technology development, and commercial participation. That got wiped out by Griffin and his Ares I/Orion. FY2011 put back the robotic precursor missions, strong exploration technology development, and commercial participation. The Senate seems to want to wipe out almost all of that, and probably all of it after HLV/Orion budget overruns happen. The House wants to essentially eliminate commercial crew, robotic precursor missions, and exploration technology development altogether (although the House does fully fund the general Space Technology line that contains SBIRS, STTRS, Centennial Challenges, smallsat demos, NIAC II, etc, at least in the initial draft I saw, which is significant and not often discussed).

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    The rumor is that White House has ordered Bolden, Garver, and OSTP to get behind the Senate Bill because the White House knows it’s the best it can hope for. The challenge now is to keep the Senate Bill whole and not loose Florida in 2012. The prospect for either is low. ..

    I have heard the same rumors around JSC as well, and they are as goofy as most of the rumors that the save shuttle/Constellation/our sacred NASA people float.

    Its just a lot of made up things strung together that sound good to politically naive people.

    First off space and human spaceflight have almost nothing to do with Florida and its end result in 2012. The folks who live “on the space coast” voted overwhelmingly for McCain and even if every single one of them who voted for Obama voted for his opponent in 12 it would not have tipped the election in 08…

    Worse for this “logic” who knows what the world will be like in 12. People who say “12 is going to be a GOP year” are functionally illiterate when it comes to politics. It is hard to predict what 10 will bring, much less 12. This time in 82 Walter Mondale was already figuring out his cabinet so certain he was of victory in 84.

    If things were so clear then the FL senate race would indicate it.

    Why are Bolden et al behind the Senate bill?

    Easy answer, it gives them everything that they want. It ends shuttle, Constellation, and the workforces associated with them. The Heavy wont be a SDV because all the infrastructure will be gone and there isnt enough money to do a SDV…

    and it gives them commercial.

    The deficit hawks will take care of the rest.

    you can believe what you want, the folks at JSC have this goofy idea for a solar power station that is nuts…but Bolden has won this one

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ben Joshua wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Senator Nelson’s support for HLV can be understood, if not justified, by his determination to keep the whole LC-39 operation and associated infrastructure and jobs going, by means rational or not, despite LC-39′s outdated inefficiencies and cost…

    it wont happen.

    there are ways to have preserved that capability and how the California Congressional delegation kept the B-1 alive during the Carter years illustrates it.

    Nelson is going to find that the heavy looks more like a Delta then anything else…and by the time it is done, he wont be able to do a darn thing about it…

    The shuttle infrastructure will already be gone gone gone

    Robert G. Oler

  • Brian Paine

    A week is a long time in politics, a year an eternity…The payoff will come when competitors for the space high ground start acheiving goals that the US cannot as a consequence of underfunding NASA…and it will be a political payoff, plain and simple. Arguments about systems and engineering, commercial vs government will not matter a damn when national pride is suddenly at stake, and wait for it that is when the real bad decisions will be made! Sigh, such is life…as Alice found out in wonderland “reason does not apply.”
    Coclusion: politicians make bad rocket science.

  • Gary Church wrote: “There is no cheap. Space flight is inherently expensive.”

    It is certainly inherently expensive the way NASA does it. However, liquid Oxygen costs the same as milk, and this old laptop of mine has more computing power than all of NASA combined in 1969. There’s nothing inherently expensive about it except the implementation. It’s only rocket science.

    You will not find a less expensive way of doing it if you keep doing things the way they have always been done.

    The 1000 tonne Mars mission you mentioned – would the entire thing be launched from the Earth as a single 1000 tonne payload? Or would there be multiple launches with rendezvous in orbit? And if you’re already doing multiple launches, why not use the rockets we’ve already got?

  • The current IMLEO for a Mars mission is about 12 ISS masses. The OCT wants to work to reduce that to about 2 ISS masses by developing:

    * Improved cryogenic boiloff reduction
    * Cargo aerocapture in Mars orbit
    * Advanced propulsion
    * Closed loop life support
    * ISRU propellants
    * Nuclear surface power
    * Maintenance and spares
    * Advanced avionics

    All sensible technologies that Mars advocates have been demanding for years.

    Current ISS mass is 369,914kg, so we’re talking ~750t. That’s the complete initial mass in LEO. Using Kirk Soreson’s fantastic additions to the rocket equation with ISP=460s, deltav=4000m/s, lamba=0.0322687 and phi=0.0099 (a single LH2/LOX stage), the total payload mass is 285t.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The current IMLEO for a Mars mission is about 12 ISS masses.

    Huh? Where did you get that number?

  • http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/457884main_OCT_town_hall_rev4.pdf

    Slide 4.

    It’s also in just about every NASA document these days and has been in the Mars DRM for the last oh, 10 years.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I thought the DRM 5 was supposed to require six Ares V launches or something like that, much less than 4500mT. This is a stupendously high number. I remember seeing a similar graph with smaller improvements, but that was probably based on NTR. What they are showing seems to be all chemical propulsion, propulsive insertion of MTV + lander + capsule into LMO, fully propulsive descent, no ISRU.

    Interesting to see how inefficient boil-off is. These numbers show that LOX/LH2 from LEO to LMO does you no good without depots. The impact of aerobraking is also very small, certainly not enough to justify a 70mT HLV. Of course I thought that was a politically inspired myth all along.

    Fixing boil-off seems to be the main issue when it comes to reducing IMLEO, although prepositioning propellant at L1/L2 (and in Mars orbit) by SEP and rendez-vousing with a reusable MTV in high Earth and Mars orbits as proposed by Huntress and Farquhar would help a lot too. And fixing boil-off can also be done by combined EOR and Lagrange point rendez-vous with storable propellant for propulsion beyond the Earth moon system.

    IMLEO is only one third of the problem though, launch cost/kg and production cost/kg are other big factors. And launch cost/kg is the only factor that will help LEO tourism, the most plausible near term market for commercial manned spaceflight.

  • To be fair, the DRM 5.0 numbers were thrown out there and are not to be taken seriously, since DRM 5.0 is not in a final stage. DRM 3.0 was the last DRM, “DRM 4.0″ was an addendum to DRM 3 with different technologies. The DRM 5.0 numbers were “unconstrained budget” fantasy talk. It’s not “one mission for 12 Ares V’s,” it has so much redundancy you could do [b]three[/b] missions.

  • BTW, I’d like to throw this out there, but SpaceVidCast has been covering New Space 2010 pretty comprehensively. Get it while it’s hot folks, it’s really the future. The Nelson Rocket will not fly.

  • GaryChurch

    “To be fair, the DRM 5.0 numbers were thrown out there and are not to be taken seriously”

    “unconstrained budget” fantasy talk.

    I do not think so. I do not think they think so. I do know why you want other people to think so.

  • GaryChurch

    “The impact of aerobraking is also very small, certainly not enough to justify a 70mT HLV. Of course I thought that was a politically inspired myth all along.”

    I do not think the justification for HLV is aerobraking. “Politically inspired myth”? What is that exactly? Can you explain that please?

  • Martijn Meijering

    The supposed need for 7.5m, 70mT heatshields or something like that.

  • GaryChurch

    “You will not find a less expensive way of doing it if you keep doing things the way they have always been done.”

    Propellants, materials, and the laws of physics are the way it has always been done- you are not going to find ways around these factors. It is not the airline industry. The space industry is a nulcear industry- any human space flight beyond earth orbit will require radiation shielding and chemical propulsion cannot push that mass around. Nuclear propulsion is not less expensive and does not go up in small payloads.

    These are the facts. There is no cheap. Throwing away NASA’s heavy lift infrastructure will cripple human space flight. HLV’s are a prerequisite for any beyond earth orbit human space flight. These are the facts. There is no cheap.

  • GaryChurch

    “or something like that.”

    uh huh. How about the need to launch as few a number of payloads as possible to assemble these battlestar galactica Mars or NEO missions? The inferior lift vehicles will require 4 or 5 launches for every HLV launch. So for a dozen launches to assemble an earth departure stage with an HLV it will require over 50 with Inferior Launch Vehicles. You cannot shoot 5O payloads to Mars and expect a mission to collect all of them.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Call it Jupiter or Neptune V.

    Or Melmak I…

  • GaryChurch, you can do three missions with DRM 5.0. Are you seriously suggesting that NASA should send enough redundancy to do three missions before sending one crew to Mars?

    Do you contest the fact that they have a lot of redundancy for those flights? Do you magically think that the direction our congresspeople are putting NASA on is going to reduce launch costs so much that said redundancy (12 flights for 1 crew) is even remotely economically feasible?

  • GaryChurch

    “Do you magically think that the direction our congresspeople are putting NASA on is going to reduce launch costs so much that said redundancy (12 flights for 1 crew) is even remotely economically feasible?”

    I do not “magically think.”

    I do not want to reduce launch costs- I want to increase them by expanding the HLV infrastructure to increase the flight rate.

    “Remotely feasible” is just more wailing and gnashing of teeth over a budget that is far too low. Consider the F-35 fighter; 335 billion dollars. For a cold war toy that is behind schedule and does not work right. The V-22, all the money spent on the B-1 bomber (for what?).

    Yes, I think it is feasible to advance Human Space Flight. The DOD is the evil empire- not NASA.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I do not want to reduce launch costs- I want to increase them by expanding the HLV infrastructure to increase the flight rate.

    Reducing specific launch costs, not necessarily total launch costs. And more importantly, launch prices. Judging from your posts you are either incompetent or deliberately missing the point. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  • Martijn Meijering

    So for a dozen launches to assemble an earth departure stage with an HLV it will require over 50 with Inferior Launch Vehicles.

    Fewer isn’t better, cheaper is better.

  • Martijn Meijering

    There is no cheap. Throwing away NASA’s heavy lift infrastructure will cripple human space flight. HLV’s are a prerequisite for any beyond earth orbit human space flight. These are the facts.

    No, these are not facts, they are myths. And in some cases self serving lies.

  • Robert G. Oler

    GaryChurch wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 10:45 am

    where the “thought” process you have sucumbs to logic is that you believe that bad spending in the DoD (of which there is some) makes bad spending in NASA OK just because NASA spending is “less”

    that doesnt make any sense

    Robert G. Oler

  • GaryChurch

    “Judging from your posts you are either incompetent or deliberately missing the point”

    Judge not, lest……..

    “Fewer isn’t better, cheaper is better.”

    Tons to orbit is best. Less is what you are talking about.

    “they are myths. And in some cases self serving lies”

    Prove it. Tell me how many launches it takes spaceX to deliver what Sidemount will do in one.

    “you believe that bad spending in the DoD (of which there is some) makes bad spending in NASA OK”

    No Robert, that is not what I believe. You may be a great pilot, but you are a poor psychic.

  • Ben Joshua

    There is an old saw about “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

    When an institution, or power, makes preserving an aging status quo more importrant than effectiveness, it is headed for a big stumble, in this case, on the taxpayer’s dime.

    The conferees have some basic, direction changing decisions to make, in a political environment. NASA’s leadership, like ‘em or not, will have to make some institutional sense of direction by committee.

    can you make a serious case that

    if NASA just gets its HLV foot in the door now, instead of a few years from now, Congress will have no choice but to pony up the missing funds and missions, in the current recessionary and deficit conscious climate?

    solids are the way to go, given advances in propulsion since the early 1970s, not to mention black zones?

    sacrificing robotics, tech dev and commercial, at the altar of big rockets, that maybe get flown a couple of times each year, in some vague way-off future year, puts our nation at the forefront of world space leadership?

    the institutional and budgetary NASA of shuttle, Venture Star and Ares, is well suited to the technical capabilities and opportunities of the 2010s and 2020s?

    that VSE and Constellation were somehow one and the same, consonant instead of contradictory? History is littered with missed opportunities, swept aside by power lumbering on to no purpose.

    Would our life really be technologically better if all our cars used rear wheel drive, vacuum tubes were the choice over solid state and wing warping had never been replaced by ailerons (feel free to make your own list)?

    If you want NASA to be an outsized relic of past modes, underfunded overpriced HLVs are the way to go. And future historians and writers of missed opportunity will look back and say, “If only…”

  • Gah, so annoying. ~750t is for DRM 5.0.. when someone provides a reference. GO READ IT. If you don’t wanna, shut up.

  • Dennis Berube

    Now I dont know what figures have been put forward for either a Mars mission or asteroid mission, but in either case, these will be expensive! We humans will be pushing the envelope again, as we attempt these types of missions, for the first time in history. They will be dangerous missions. Does that mean we shouldnt go? Of course not! We as exploratory creatures must go! We need the financing for these missions, and to date no private sector can handle those costs. Also these mission, especially Mars, should not be one time affairs, but a constant drive to actually in the end colonize that planet. One time affairs like the Apollo missions did not keep pushing the space envelope and techologies to continue further out into deep space. I suspect the first Moon base would be something like what is set up in Antartica, with supply runs and a small group of people! The same for a Mars base.

  • GaryChurch

    So do you think Sidemount has a chance?
    Please say yes.

    Justin Kugler wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    “I think any architecture with which NASA can close the business case – budget, schedule, and technical feasibility – has a chance. If sidemount can do that, I imagine it would be in the running.”

    I would venture that for a heavy lift vehicle Sidemount is the only chance to meet budget/time/feasibility requirements.

  • GaryChurch

    “Gah, so annoying. ~750t is for DRM 5.0.. when someone provides a reference. GO READ IT. If you don’t wanna, shut up.”

    Who are you telling to shut up Trent? And why? Calm down.

  • GaryChurch

    “Also these mission, especially Mars, should not be one time affairs, but a constant drive to actually in the end colonize that planet.”

    I don’t think Mars is the kind of place to raise a kid- in fact it’s cold as hell.

    I am not so hot on mars. I believe human beings will need 1G, no more, no less, to stay healthy, and to avoid the radiation living on mars would mean living underground. We can do that here so why go? Even the moon has a significant gravity well that costs energy to go into and rise out of.

    The Asteroid belt is where the low gravity easy resources are. Way out there.

  • GaryChurch, if you accept that the NASA budget isn’t going to be substantially increased (to do a 12 flight 1 crew mission), then you cannot contest the “unconstrained budget” characterization I made.

  • GaryChurch

    “you cannot contest the “unconstrained budget” characterization I made.”

    I am sorry Josh buy that is exactly what I am doing.

  • GaryChurch

    Jeff, I would really appreciate it if you would post my reply to Meijering and Oler. They are pretty much calling me a liar and I am not. Thank you.

  • GaryChurch

    “If you want NASA to be an outsized relic of past modes, underfunded overpriced HLVs are the way to go. And future historians and writers of missed opportunity will look back and say, “If only…”

    No, I have to disagree. Dismantling the HLV infrastructure will cripple our ability to loft the necessary payloads for BEO-HSF. The Inferior Lift Vehicles will cause the missed opportunity and are what historians will write about.

  • GaryChurch

    @ July 25th, 2010 at 10:54 am
    “Judging from your posts you are either incompetent or deliberately missing the point.”

    Judge not, lest……

    July 25th, 2010 at 10:55 am
    “Fewer isn’t better, cheaper is better.”

    More tons is better, you are talking about less.

    @ July 25th, 2010 at 10:56 am
    “No, these are not facts, they are myths. And in some cases self serving lies.”

    Prove it; how many spaceX dragon payloads will it take to equal one Sidemount to the ISS?

    @ July 25th, 2010 at 11:03 am
    “you believe that bad spending in the DoD (of which there is some) makes bad spending in NASA OK”

    No, Robert, that is not what I believe. That is what you believe.

  • Martijn Meijering

    They are pretty much calling me a liar and I am not.

    I deliberately offered no opinion on whether I think you are a liar. You are free to speculate of course.

  • Martijn Meijering

    More tons is better, you are talking about less.

    No. I’m talking about fewer dollars per ton. Or lower IMLEO for the same payload to its ultimate destination.

    Prove it; how many spaceX dragon payloads will it take to equal one Sidemount to the ISS?

    That’s the wrong question. It’s not about the number of flights, but about the number of dollars. It’s also not about SpaceX vs Shuttle it is about free competition between multiple simultaneous suppliers. And Dragon would be totally unsuitable as a propellant delivery vehicle.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “One reason Muncy said the fight hasn’t even begun was that the debate had been incorrectly framed into one of government versus commercial systems,”

    One of the reasons I think that the Administration won big time in the Senate is the disorganization of the “big government” people. When Whittington talks about “being thrashed” he is really responding to how badly the pro program of record people were tossed.

    Brother Muncy is pretty close to what I think is going to happen.

    In the end assuming the Senate bill is the direction (and I think it will be) the trick is going to be 1) for commercial to perform and 2) for NASA management to push the HLV into the direction of a Delta Super Heavy.

    If both those things work then the entire effort will have some value commensurate with cost.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ben Joshua wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    When an institution, or power, makes preserving an aging status quo more importrant than effectiveness, it is headed for a big stumble, in this case, on the taxpayer’s dime…

    I know you meant NASA but in fact this is the problem that the entire country has right now…we are addressing new and unique to history (as all problems are generation ally) in tired old ways because that is the essence of our politics.

    There was a recent post in the Houston Chronicle by a person who was giving a go at explaining why we needed to continually redo Apollo (or big government exploration)…when the reality is that was an answer to the problems of the 60′s which is not coherent today.

    Until and when that issue is addressed…well things will continue to get worse.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Brian Paine

    Regarding HLVs…There are economies of scale, and I take my hat off to those who constantly argue that there are none…that argument DOES NOT make sense when contained within a determined design model even considering the practical limits of existing technology. 50 launches against a maximum of 10 as a preffered option indicates an absurdity somewhere in the system.

  • Martijn Meijering

    50 launches against a maximum of 10 as a preffered option indicates an absurdity somewhere in the system.

    Not at all, since that is roughly the yearly flight rate an RLV needs in order to be economical. Reducing cost needs high flight rates. High flight rates are good.

  • rocketguy1955

    Boeing has the right idea, but NASA should expand upon it and complete the development of the Orion capsule capable of carrying 6 astronauts and use either the Atlas V or Delta 4 boosters. There is no need to develop a new launch vehicle when ULA’s Atlas and Deltas are proven and reliable. Then NASA can fly 2 US astronaunts and then invite all nations on Earth to participate in our space station program. They just have to pay for the seat on Orion and for time on the station. NASA comes out ahead and then they can put the profits to extending the ISS past 2020 or towards a HLV for deep space exploration if they really think they are going beyond the moon with in the next 40 years. Get real, no one is going to Mars or an asteroid anytime soon.

  • Reducing cost needs high flight rates. High flight rates are good.

    Well, yes, with the caveat that the marginal cost must be low (i.e., they are fully reusable, though even for expendables there are some economies of scale with flight rate).

  • Ferris Valyn

    rocketguy – Boeing’s capsule would be launched on an Atlas or Delta. Only its not Orion – its the CST-100

  • DCSCA

    “Thursday approved authorization legislation that provides only $50 million a year for commercial crew development plus $100 million a year for a new loan guarantee program—and even that was criticized by one member as “the epitome of socialism and corporate welfare.” <- It is. And a what's worse, in this era of U.S. history, it's literally money borrowed from foreign powers and laundered through the U.S. Treasury to finance it. They don't need a dime. The capital markets of the 'free enterprise' system they represent are the place to go to secure financing for their high risk ventures.

  • “One reason Muncy said the fight hasn’t even begun was that the debate had been incorrectly framed into one of government versus commercial systems, and entrepreneurial NewSpace companies versus established “OldSpace” companies, when in fact both are needed. The real fight, he said, is between “a white-collar welfare state space program and a frontier-opening, settlement-enabling, future-changing space strategy.”

    I think calling NASA a welfare state space program is framing the debate as government vs. commercial:-) There wouldn’t even be the possibility of private commercial manned or unmanned spaceflight if it weren’t for government investment in aerospace technology over the past 60 years. These commercial space advocates need to be thanking NASA for giving private companies money and NASA expertise to develop their own private space programs– just as Elon Musk did after he launched the Falcon 9 last month.

    The Senate’s support for a real heavy lift program and crew exploratory vehicle, instead of the Obama administration’s silly and fake R&D heavy lift program, will be the first step towards the Moon and beyond. And both public and private space programs and the US economy will be the long term beneficiaries.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    what NASA HSF did or accomplished in the past has nothing to do with its activities in the future.

    The goofballs dont get it. Go over to NASAspaceflight.com and see the nutty idea of spending oh 3-10 billion dollars (once one accounts for the flight and ground part) on a solar power demonstration that makes 1 to 25 KW.

    All it proves is that solar power is impractical and to expensive.

    Calling NASA HSF technowelfare is just labeling what it is. There really is no mission nor any real need for “human exploration” in an environment where the budget is about to collapse. It is like a family spending money on a vacation when they cant make the mortgage.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Boeing’s capsule would be launched on an Atlas or Delta.

    Or a Falcon 9.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 3:45 pm
    - It is. And a what’s worse, in this era of U.S. history, it’s literally money borrowed from foreign powers and laundered through the U.S. Treasury to finance it…

    what is your point? THE 10 billion or so spent on Constellation came from exactly the same place.

    try another talking point.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Well, yes, with the caveat that the marginal cost must be low (i.e., they are fully reusable, though even for expendables there are some economies of scale with flight rate).

    Sure, it’s a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. Another caveat is that the feasibility of RLVs has not been proven, though it is widely believed to be true, given sufficiently high flight rates. The fact that EELV and Shuttle costs are currently dominated by fixed costs is not disputed as far as I know. A higher flight rate might not reduce costs for expendables by an order of magnitude, but there would still be a significant effect. And Microcosm does believe an order of magnitude is possible with minimum cost design. All in all, plenty of reason to expect at least substantial improvement with less-than-humongous launchers and possibly a breakthrough. To good an opportunity to pass up.

  • GoNASASpace

    “The real fight, he said, is between “a white-collar welfare state space program and a frontier-opening, settlement-enabling, future-changing space strategy.”

    Yep, and the House and Senate bills will start reversing the Obamaspace’s white-collar welfare state “pork” programs for NewSpace companies in favor of preserving NASA’s frontier-opening space strategy. Go Orion and BEO HSF!

  • Dennis Berube

    Okay guys, do I have any investors. Lets develop a light weight dumb booster, mass produce them and lower cost to orbit. Assembly line all the way. Whos investing?

  • Martijn Meijering

    There is no demand for it. It’s not NASA’s job to create that demand – nor to keep its own demand for launch services off the market by building and operating its own launch vehicles. If NASA wants to explore, then it needs to launch a lot of propellant to orbit. It should channel that demand through the market, which will then invest the appropriate amount of money. Who puts up the money is irrelevant.

  • Martijn Meijering

    white-collar welfare state “pork” programs for NewSpace companies

    That is not what the Obama proposal was. It proposed free and fair competition, not cronyism. By contrast Nelson and Hutchison have now mandated a solution that intentionally all but guarantees a contract to a specific company, the United Space Alliance. If a corporate or government procurement officer was found doing this, he would be fired and would probably go to jail. The Senate bill is an outrage. You’d hope that something like this was unconstitutional, and maybe it is, not that it makes any difference.

  • GoNASASpace

    Martijn Meijering – “now mandated a solution that intentionally all but guarantees a contract to a specific company,”

    As if COTS wasn’t aimed specifically at SpaceX….

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    white-collar welfare state “pork” programs for NewSpace companies

    That is not what the Obama proposal was. It proposed free and fair competition, not cronyism. By contrast Nelson and Hutchison have now mandated a solution that intentionally all but guarantees a contract to a specific company..

    they think that they have I bet that they have not Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    It proposed free and fair competition, not cronyism.

    You call the Elon Musk/Obama lovefest free and fair competition? LOL! Obama snubbed every NASA facility, but found time to visit SpaceX’s launch pad. No, SpaceX cozy relationship with the Whitehouse and the NASA leadership (Garver/Bolden) stinks to high heaven, and it has made them a lot of enemies who will harm them in the long term.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    It proposed free and fair competition, not cronyism….

    goofy…starting with the quote. I didnt write that. I wish people like you would be more careful with people’s words. A theory of the right wing is that facts dont matter but they do.

    In my view point Obama snubbed every NASA facility because really there is nothing there but the past. NASA HSF is an organization/group that is a relic of all the things that have gone wrong in The Republic.

    Nothing special there.

    The problem with the GOP is that they have become “the old” party. Old solutions, old doctrine, old people.

    NASA HSF is old. SpaceX and other “new space” companies are the future.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    truth be told I can see how if you were not following the thread closely you might have thought I said that…I could have been clearer with the quotes…

    Robert G. Oler

  • goofy…starting with the quote. I didnt write that. I wish people like you would be more careful with people’s words.

    That’s pretty rich, coming from someone who can’t even be bothered to do so much as put quote marks around other peoples’ words.

    A theory of the right wing is that facts dont matter but they do.

    Can you provide a citation for that, or is just another fantasy about your scary “right wing”? It’s as bad as Whittington’s “Internet Rocketeer Club.”

  • red

    amightywind: “You call the Elon Musk/Obama lovefest free and fair competition? LOL! Obama snubbed every NASA facility, but found time to visit SpaceX’s launch pad.”

    The point of that was to emphasize the jobs that will be going to Florida because of commercial cargo, and eventually commercial crew. SpaceX is the tangible example of that in Florida right now. The point was not to dwell on the expensive Shuttle infrastructure that Bush rightly shut down. That Shuttle infrastructure was to be replaced with modern launch infrastructure to support commercial and Cape launches in FY2011.

    “No, SpaceX cozy relationship with the Whitehouse and the NASA leadership (Garver/Bolden)”

    Do we need to remind you again that the SpaceX COTS and CRS contracts were awarded under Bush/Griffin?

    Should we point out again that SpaceX didn’t win any of the CCDEV contracts under Obama and Bolden, and that Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, and Paragon?

    “stinks to high heaven, and it has made them a lot of enemies”

    Who are these enemies? Can you name them? Shelby keeps attacking SpaceX, and a lot of other commercial crew opponents attack SpaceX. That’s been happening all along. They think it’s a clever way to create confusion in those who don’t know what’s going on to equate SpaceX with the entire commercial space industry. So what? It’s at best an implied lie, and that strategy just makes them look like liars.

    As for Shelby, he will be against SpaceX and commercial space no matter what. He’s even against his own region’s United Launch Alliance. He doesn’t even want to fund robotic precursor missions and technology development that would happen at MSFC. He just wants MSFC to build unaffordable rockets. So what? In the long run, it’s a losing strategy. Eventually the failures and budget problems will catch up with them.

    “who will harm them in the long term.”

    No, they won’t harm SpaceX or general commercial space. Commercial space will do fine without NASA commercial crew funds. It’s NASA and the taxpayer that they will harm in the long term.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 25th, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I am trying to keep this on space policy and politics. On my facebook page I regularly bring up such issues (among pictures of my young daughter)…you are happy to join in

    Robert G. Oler

  • One need not speculate on facts, one can just go look them up. I provided a reference to the appropriate numbers and Martijn continues to speculate. As such, he’s either uninterested in the truth or he didn’t bother reading the reference.. either way, I think asking him to shut up is being nice.

  • DCSCA

    “NASA HSF is old. SpaceX and other “new space” companies are the future.” Nonsense, Waldo. But you go on believing it is. It’s amusing… or, as you’re fixated on a Disney fantasy figure, “Goofy” – as you like to say.

  • Whatta joke. All these compromises are going to do is kick the NASA can down the road until January 20th, 2017 for whomever is President on that date.

    Nothing will be built because the HLV has sucked all of the money out of the proverbial room by cost overruns and date slippages. Maybe a test flight or two by then.

    In the meantime there will be a couple of Bigelow stations in LEO and Bill White EML-1 and -2 stations in Lunar orbit being serviced by SpaceX or XCOR Dragon/Lynx shuttles.

    And the new President forming Augustine III or Greason I commissions asking why NASA doesn’t have that HLV.

    Wonders upon wonders.

  • Martijn Meijering

    “One need not speculate on facts, one can just go look them up. I provided a reference to the appropriate numbers and Martijn continues to speculate. As such, he’s either uninterested in the truth or he didn’t bother reading the reference.. either way, I think asking him to shut up is being nice.”

    Huh, what are you talking about?

  • Aggelos

    “NASA HSF is old. SpaceX and other “new space” companies are the future.”

    exploration of space will always be a goverment world..
    so nasa and all other goverment space agencies around the world ,will always explore the heavens..

    even in start trek the exploration fleet is run by goverment..

    goverments al over thw world must cooperate and explore space…
    and corporations will fill and work the space behind..

  • Martijn said “I thought the DRM 5 was supposed to require six Ares V launches or something like that, much less than 4500mT” .. the document I linked to indicates it is more like ~750mT. Do you see what I’m saying? I looks like you’re saying you disagree with a number because you remember it different.

    Anyway, enough said.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Trent, I wasn’t disagreeing with the number, I was expressing surprise and explaining where that surprise came from, DRM 5. And isn’t six Ares V launches on the order of 750mT? Anyway, I read your link and reacted to it. I’m sometimes amazed how much people’s interpretation of what I wrote differs from what I meant. I must not be communicating effectively. I used to think it was mostly the bad guys, but now it’s you too. I really don’t like it but I really don’t know what to do about that. Suggestions are most welcome, privately if necessary.

  • amightywind

    “goverments al over thw world must cooperate and explore space…
    and corporations will fill and work the space behind”

    Wrong. For too long the socialists in Europe and despots in the middle east and Asia have been getting a free ride in defense and in space. The state of the art will advance faster if we complete, like we used to. Superman needs to shake off the ragtag that dangles from his cape!

  • GaryChurch, you want to know the real reason DRM 5.0 required so much mass? Redundancy is one reason, but it’s also because they abandoned ISRU. They took the return fuel with them, which is basically two extra launches on top of the crew hardware. Why did they abandon ISRU? Well, it’s simple. Cx was focused on the moon, and Cx did not do any significant moon ISRU. It was an ISS 2.0 style modular plan, with no requirements to actually live off of the land. So if they’re not living off of the land on the moon, why would they on Mars? Here’s what DRM 3.0 looked like. Here’s what DRM 5.0 looks like.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 26th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    both 3 and 5 are amazing…there is no political support for the cost involved. none

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Bob Mahoney wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    “Call me to task if you must, but at least pay attention to what I actually write!”

    Indeed. I have misinterpreted your criticism of the new plan for a support of Constellation. (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1594/1)

    My apologies.

    Oh well…

  • GaryChurch

    Josh…..I cited the DRM as an example, not holy writ.

    You can study it and throw you criticism of it -at me- all you want. My point is that any Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit will require HLV’s. Not the particulars of any planned mission.

    As I noted, these plans do not really address cosmic radiation and solar events, which I believe are the real issues. The Radiation is what puts commercial space out of the race because it makes HLV’s a prerequisite for a number of reasons. And the HLV’s would required for dozens of launches for any chemical propulsion mission even without radiation shielding because ISRU is not a dream come true anymore than fuel depots are; water is about the only resource that can be processed without building chemical refineries. Storing and transferring cryogenic propellants is probably not going to work and storable propellants have a low ISP that increases the lift requirements even more. Nuclear Propulsion is what is required, not fuel depots. ISRU is not about fuel- it is simply about water for shielding and life support.

    Like I said, the space industry is a nuclear industry, not a tourist industry.

  • Vladislaw

    Dennis wrote:

    “Lets develop a light weight dumb booster, mass produce them and lower cost to orbit. Assembly line all the way. Whos investing?”

    Cailfornia was working on that with the Aquarius system. They were willing to accept a 1/3 failure rate for launching bulk cargo like food, water, oxygen as long as it mean’t a really high flight rate and economies of scale for production.

  • even in start trek the exploration fleet is run by goverment..

    I hate to break it to you, but Star Trek is fiction. They don’t have money in Star Trek, either.

  • Bob Mahoney

    common sense wrote @ July 26th, 2010 at 12:29 pm.

    Apology accepted. And do note in that article that up front I describe some elements of the new plan as good ideas even if I fear that as they’ve been proposed they may lead to human spaceflight fading away to nil.

    And if you go back further to http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1058/1 you’ll discern, mixed in around my criticism of the PR roll-out of Constellation, my serious concerns regarding it’s technical viability, in particular the questions I pose on the 2nd page about throwing away what we HAVE learned from shuttle operations (epsecially reusability) and the ESAS exclusion of any in-space assets as an apparent ground rule.

    Make no mistake, I DO believe that the Moon and lunar resources are the key to the rest of the solar system. But I was as worried about Constellation being an impediment to achieving (or at least evaluating) that first steppingstone as the new plan…the former too locked in to an unsustainable and constrained toss-away architecture, the latter too ambivalent about going any place in particular with dangers of ‘advanced studies ad-infinitum’.

    I find it fascinating, I must admit, that the Senate ‘compromise’ sounded an awful lot like the “Cancelling Constellation” scenarios I outlined in the original prognostication essay which you cited.

  • common sense

    @ Bob Mahoney wrote @ July 26th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    You know it has become really “hard” to discern the sincere worries from the politically driven anti-plan nonsense. I will admit that I myself have become quick(er) to react than might be reasonable to attacks to this new plan.

    I do not agree with the necessity of destination and timeline. They both have been proven ineffective for the VSE. And I think the ISRU driven plan provides some justification but the cost of the whole thing still is unclear to me and therefore is much more like wishful thinking. Good but no meat.

    I believe the new plan is like the VSE without the unrealistic timeline. We do need to develop advanced technologies but I think NASA cannot today promise to “build” any vehicle within a reasonable timeframe, not necessarily because of NASA but because of outside forces. You can now see a “design by Congress” HLV that will most likely be the final blow to NASA HSF for the lack of requirements. I very seriously doubt the viability of this “design”.

    As to Shuttle. It is indeed sad that we are unable to build on what we’ve learned. But to make full use of an RLV we must have a corresponding overall architecture. NASA does not have the funds to build such an architecture (space stations in orbit around earth, at way points, on the Moon, etc, serviced by reusable spacecraft – including deep space and/or reentry). My only hope today for such a thing to come to life if ever is that there is money to be made and that it will attract investors. The goverment funded plans have all proven failures since Shuttle.

    Life is hard but such is life.

  • GaryChurch

    “You can now see a “design by Congress” HLV that will most likely be the final blow to NASA HSF for the lack of requirements. I very seriously doubt the viability of this “design”.”

    Sidemount is the most probable outcome of the call for an expedited HLV.
    Sidemount was not designed by congress. Studies have been done on a HLV using shuttle hardware since the 80′s.

    “My only hope today for such a thing to come to life if ever is that there is money to be made and that it will attract investors.”

    Obviously this is the hope of all for profit new space fans. But life is hard and there is no market. The profit motive is toxic to human space flight.

  • Derrick

    @ Aggelos wrote @ July 26th, 2010 at 7:44 am …
    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ July 26th, 2010 at 1:34 pm …

    Sad statement but this is what most people’s opinions on space policy are based upon–sci fi.

    Take some time out to read up on what’s happening in the real world. Truth is always stranger than fiction–congress is proof of this.

  • GaryChurch

    “In the meantime there will be a couple of Bigelow stations in LEO and Bill White EML-1 and -2 stations in Lunar orbit being serviced by SpaceX or XCOR Dragon/Lynx shuttles.”

    Science fiction.

  • DCSCA

    @RandSimberg “I hate to break it to you, but Star Trek is fiction.” =yawn= Always amusing to see naysayers dissing imaginative thinking. So were desktop computer terminals w/voice response housed in off-grey casings; pocket-sized ‘communicators’ that could talk up to orbiting space vehicles or across town… among other things; all realities now but ‘star trek fiction’ a mere 40 years ago.

  • DCSCA

    ….”They don’t have money in Star Trek, either.” Neither does the United States Treasury.

  • Another Constellation hugger fib debunked … From Florida Today:

    http://space.flatoday.net/2010/07/gao-nasa-constellation-spending-hasnt.html

    NASA has not violated federal law or congressional guidance by taking actions to prematurely shut down the Constellation program, according to a legal opinion released today by the government’s watchdog agency.

    NASA is spending as much money as ever on the human spaceflight program that President Obama wants to cancel, Government Accountability Office attorneys found.

    And its assertion that contractors must set aside money to pay for the potential termination of contracts — a cost recently estimated at nearly $1 billion — does not violate federal law.

    Click here to read the GAO opinion.

  • GoNASASpace

    And don’t forget, the Star Trek culture that used the capitalist NewSpace model for space exploration, the Ferengi, were shown mostly as bad guys :-)

  • amightywind

    DCSCA wrote:

    “Always amusing to see naysayers dissing imaginative thinking.”

    Communicators, warp drive…all fine. The most imaginative thing about Star Trek was Kirk picking up alien chicks wearing tin foil bikinis.

  • red

    Jim Muncy: ““Hopefully the White House will engage in a more forceful manner in negotiations down the road”

    I sure hope so. The “compromise” doesn’t seem to have any compromise in it. For example, using

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/428837main_NASA_FY_2011_Congressional_Justificaton_Budget_Book_Rev-01_BOOKMARKED.pdf

    and

    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_reports&docid=f:sr229.111.pdf

    FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 FY2011 Senate
    Actual Enacted Proposed Appropriations
    Human Research 151.9 151.5 215 155
    Exploration Tech 264.1 283.4 652.4+HLV 150
    Robotic Precursors 56.3 19.1 125 45

    With the “compromise”, it looks like we’re right back where we were in the Constellation days, or worse! If this were a real compromise, the Senate numbers would be somewhere in the middle of FY2011 and the earlier ones, and the FY2012-2015 outlook for Exploration technology and robotic precursors would rise quite quickly, but not as quickly as the FY2011 proposal.

  • red

    more from

    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_reports&docid=f:sr229.111.pdf

    “The Committee recognizes that anticipated research, design, and construction, within all elements of the Exploration account, will continue to be needed for a successful exploration program. Therefore the Committee supports the following at the requested levels, $30,000,000 for the B–2 test facility, $12,000,000 for design and long lead items for the E-Complex at Stennis Space Center, and $64,400,000 for research, development, and continued construction of the A–3 Rocket Propulsion Test Facility of which $25,000,000 shall be for research and development.”

    Eat Mor Pork!

    “The Committee provides $1,900,000,000 to begin building an integrated heavy lift launch vehicle system. The system shall enable human transportation at the highest possible safety standards and lowest life cycle costs for beyond low Earth orbit and shall be designed, managed, and integrated by the Marshall Space Flight Center.”

    Lowest life cycle costs? Marshall Space Flight Center? Same sentence?

    “The program shall be managed under a strict cost cap of $11,500,000,000 through fiscal year 2017. Within 60 days of enactment,
    NASA shall report to the committee … As part of this report, NASA shall evaluate the preceding cost cap and validate the cap or provide a viable and validated alternative.”

    That should be interesting, especially if they kept the HLV performance numbers. (This report doesn’t go into that).

    If the cost cap through FY2017 is $11.5B, I wonder why the earlier Senate drafts started with SLS at $1.9B, $2.6B, and $2.6B from FY2011-13. That would give those initial 3 years $7.1B of the $11.5B, which is a pretty high percentage. Why front-load the numbers so much, when that will take funds from and therefore cause so much resistance from the technology, science, aeronautics, commercial, ISS, grass roots, and other interests? Do they not expect the high FY2012-13 numbers?

    “The Committee provides $1,100,000,000 for an Orion crew exploration vehicle that will enable human transportation beyond low Earth orbit. The vehicle shall be capable of being launched on the heavy lift launch vehicle
    and may also provide alternative access to low Earth orbit, including
    the International Space Station by fiscal year 2014. The program shall be managed under a strict cost cap of $5,500,000,000 through fiscal year 2017. Within 60 days of enactment, NASA shall report to the Committee … As part of this report, NASA shall evaluate the preceeding cost cap and validate the cap or provide a viable and validated alternative.”

    Again, the earlier plans, 2011 amount, and $5.5B cap figure don’t seem to match a reasonable funding curve.

    Is $5.5B for a beyond-LEO Orion by 2017 realistic? Didn’t LM just say they expect the CRV version of Orion to cost $4.5-$7B??! In that case how can they get a beyond-LEO version done for $5.5B?

    How are they going to get Orion to the ISS by 2014? What will it launch on if the HLV isn’t done until 2017? An EELV Orion launch might be part of a real compromise, but I don’t see any funding for an EELV Orion launch.

  • red

    “Robotic Precursor Program.—The Committee agrees with the proposed location of the Exploration Robotic Precursor Program at Marshall Space Flight Center to build upon the work done through the Lunar Precursor Robotic program. This proposed office will manage robotic precursor missions to the Lagrange points, nearby asteroids, Moon, Mars and its moons, and identify the hazards and resources that will determine the future course of human exploration into space. To best utilize existing talent and leverage resources of NASA’s various robotic precursor missions, NASA shall consolidate management of all elements of the robotic precursor program which shall be funded at $45,000,000.”

    So here we have Shelby’s MSFC raid on NASA Ames. California, are you awake yet? MSFC was given responsibility for large robotic precursor missions below $800M in cost ($2.6B over 5 years). Ames is responsible for small robotic precursor scout missions around $100-200M in cost ($400M over 4 years). These might be comparable to LCROSS. See

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/441800main_MSFC_Roll_Out_Final.pdf

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/442165main_ARC_Roll_Out_Final4-8.pdf

    The Senate is funding $45M for robotic precursors in FY2011, so it looks like the only robotic precursor missions will be a scout every few years. Because of this, it looks to me like MSFC should lose the robotic precursor responsibility, not Ames.

    If the funding goes up a lot closer to the FY2011 proposal, then MSFC could have its “big mission” role. In that case Ames should still be responsible for the scouts. They know how to do that sort of thing, and have since the Pioneer days.

  • red

    The 21st Century Launch Complex Modernization is being shifted from broad support of national needs (commercial, military/Cape, NASA, other agencies, etc) to mainly support for NASA’s missions to benefit NASA and its contractors:

    21st Century Launch Complex.—The Committee provides $453,600,000 for the 21st Century Launch Complex. This program is intended to revitalize the aging infrastructure at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA should place a priority on the use of funds to improve NASA-owned facilities for launch vehicles intended to serve NASA missions, including the heavy lift launch vehicle system. Additional funding of $25,000,000 above the request for the 21st Century Launch Complex shall be used at other NASA flight facilities that are currently scheduled to launch cargo to the International Space Station under the COTS program, to improve the launch infrastructure to improve efficiency and safety.”

  • red

    “Satellite Servicing.—Within the amounts provided, $75,000,000 shall be to continue efforts to use the next generation of human space flight architecture to service existing and future on-orbit observatory-class scientific spacecraft, as well as spacecraft owned by the Department of Defense and other Government agencies. The activities to be undertaken shall be a joint project of the space operations, science, and exploration mission directorates and shall include technology demonstrations for both robotic and human servicing.”

    This is part of the Space Operations budget. This could have a lot of value, depending on how it’s implemented, especially considering the Lagrange point emphasis in the Flexible Path and the emphasis in the earlier Senate drafts on cislunar space capabilities.

    I wonder where the money will fall? Will it go to Orion? Potential commercial satellite service providers – crewed or robotic? Will it fall mainly on the “servicing” side, or on the “serviced” side (i.e. the observatories)? It is interesting that it falls within Space Operations rather than Exploration technology demonstrations.

  • Aggelos

    “even in start trek the exploration fleet is run by goverment..

    I hate to break it to you, but Star Trek is fiction. They don’t have money in Star Trek, either.”

    Columbus was given goverment royal money in order to explore..

    no company can risk so much to explore and do science and discoveries there..

    thats the fact…

    no commercial company will go to Mars first..global goverments will go first..and commercials will follow..

  • Robert G. Oler

    Aggelos wrote @ July 27th, 2010 at 5:20 am

    “no commercial company will go to Mars first..global goverments will go first..and commercials will follow..”

    we can talk about Columbus…but this is the crux of the issue.

    I dont think that any group of governments are going to Mars for a very long time UNLESS the effort to get to Mars in terms of cost but also in terms of actual “hardness” is reduced by several orders of magnitude.

    There is no reason to go. (currently)

    Robert G. Oler

  • no company can risk so much to explore and do science and discoveries there..

    It can if the government pays them to. Anyway, no one is proposing that private companies “explore.” The policy is to provide taxi services.

    It’s really amazing how this new policy has brought out Usenet-levels of anonymous/pseudonymous idiocy from its opponents over the past few months.

  • amightywind

    “It’s really amazing how this new policy has brought out Usenet-levels of anonymous/pseudonymous idiocy from its opponents over the past few months.”

    The ISS commercial contracts aren’t new policy. They were established by President George W. Bush. The Whitehouse proposal to hand over NASA funding to Elon Musk was tentative and was decisively refuted. Consider the increased activity on this forum the ‘Tea Party’ effect of citizens voicing concern over corrupt and destructive proposals.

  • Major Tom

    “The Whitehouse proposal to hand over NASA funding to Elon Musk was tentative and was decisively refuted.”

    Where in the FY11 budget proposal does it state that it is going to “hand over NASA funding to Elon Musk”?

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    Ugh…

  • Martijn Meijering

    no company can risk so much to explore and do science and discoveries there..

    Adding to what Rand Simberg wrote:

    What if the Obama policy had been adopted and ten to twenty years from now commercial launch prices had dropped by an order of magnitude? Then we might actually see private exploration, say by the National Geographic Society, or the Discovery Channel.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ July 27th, 2010 at 10:48 am
    Consider the increased activity on this forum the ‘Tea Party’ effect of citizens voicing concern over corrupt and destructive proposals….

    At this point, and that is all it is, trends are still developing for the election, it is a valid assumption that the affect of the Tea party movement on the 10 elections might be vastly overstated.

    I do think that a battle is emerging over the deficit; but so far the notions of how to cut it as expressed by the GOP and in particular the tea party folks are not gaining traction. Indeed saying that the GOP and in particular the tea party people have notion of how to cut the deficit is simply being kind

    Robert G. Oler

  • John Malkin

    I think the “Tea Party” will go the way of the pet rock in few years.

    There are all kinds of better government not-for-profit organization with experts on government spending and conflict of interest issues. The “Tea Party” is a pop-culture version of these organization and it’s as shallow as all the other American pop-culture.

  • More from Florida Today on the FY 2011 NASA bill, more of an overview of the politics behind it:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100727/NEWS02/7270322/1007/Politics+guides+NASA+future

  • I do think that a battle is emerging over the deficit; but so far the notions of how to cut it as expressed by the GOP and in particular the tea party folks are not gaining traction.

    You are living in an off-topic fantasy world.

  • Robert G. Oler

    John Malkin wrote @ July 27th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I think the “Tea Party” will go the way of the pet rock in few years….

    that is a fairly good (in my view) analysis. The “Tea Party” is kind of like a homebuilt aircraft…a lot of parts flying formation with each other…and no regard to how they fit together.

    Coherent political movements require a defining message that has some action plan behind it and the ability to rally people across the spectrum to that message. The tea party doesnt have one. They could but it has instead become sort of a litmus test for “anti Obama”.

    If Charlie Crist becomes the next Senator from FL and Bill White the next gov from Texas…its more or less all over.

    Robert G. Oler

  • richardb

    Isn’t anyone bothered about how quickly the Obama team folded on “game changing” R&D?

    Or its willingness to accept rather large cuts in the Commercial crew budget? You’d think he would put up more of a fight for his own gaming changing policy proposals. Especially since the Dems have 100 seat margin in Congress and 59 to 41 in the Senate.

    What can we look forward too now that Congress is asserting itself, as was entirely predictable back in Feb 2010?

    Cuts in budget endlessly to the new SDHLV, schedule changes to the right and endlessly rising costs are the future but the thing will get built, much like Shuttle did in the recessionary 1970′s and 1980′s. The folks on the Hill aren’t stupid. They know the winds are blowing for a painful fiscal retrenchment after the 2010 election. Anything that Congress allows Nasa to do must take this into account. The wisdom of Congress at this point is their directive to get it built quickly by 2016. With that goal, some form of launcher using SSME’s, 4 seg SRM’s,
    current dev launch abort motor, uses current launch pads and mobile platforms and perhaps J2-X has to be Nasa’s new proposal.

    Shuttle-C anyone?

  • Major Tom

    “Isn’t anyone bothered about how quickly the Obama team folded on ‘game changing’ R&D? Or its willingness to accept rather large cuts in the Commercial crew budget?”

    No one from the White House has commented. Until we see their Statements of Administration Position on these bills, we don’t know where they stand.

    “the Dems have 100 seat margin”

    No, they don’t. They have a 70-80 odd seat margin.

    “The wisdom of Congress at this point is their directive to get it built quickly by 2016.”

    No, it’s not. Only the Senate bills state 2016. The House bills say 2015.

    Moreover, neither provides the necessary funding.

    “Shuttle-C anyone?”

    Falls far short of the payload targets in the Senate bill.

    FWIW…

  • The wisdom of Congress at this point is their directive to get it built quickly by 2016.

    That’s not wisdom — it’s insanity.

    With that goal, some form of launcher using SSME’s, 4 seg SRM’s,
    current dev launch abort motor, uses current launch pads and mobile platforms and perhaps J2-X has to be Nasa’s new proposal.

    If they use SSMEs (at horrific recurring cost) what would they do with the J2-X, for which there is no budget, and wasn’t expected to be ready before 2017? You are apparently as ignorant about launch system design as the rocket scientists in Congress.

  • amightywind

    richardb wrote

    Shuttle-C anyone?

    Yes, and it was discussed fully last week when news of the congressional compromises broke.. At least we are beyond Falcon 9 Heavy.

    Coherent political movements require a defining message that has some action plan behind it and the ability to rally people across the spectrum to that message.

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    The defining message is there. It is surprising you don’t grasp it, as you fancy yourself as being politically astute. Slash government spending drastically. Repeal Obamacare. Starve the Beast. The leadership is what is missing. Sarah “Mama Grizzly” Palin, and Michelle “My Belle” Bachmann come closest. But there is a libertarian streak in the Tea Party that make it difficult to coopt. The ‘Tea Party Caucus’ in the house is learning that. That is its weakness.

    I do think that a battle is emerging over the deficit; but so far the notions of how to cut it as expressed by the GOP and in particular the tea party folks are not gaining traction. Indeed saying that the GOP and in particular the tea party people have notion of how to cut the deficit is simply being kind

    This is leftist code for implying the deficit cannot be cut without tax increases. Pushah! Obama increased discretionary from 20% to 26% of GDP in 2 years. The GOP plan is to cut back to Bush levels, cut taxes, and raise the retirement age, and let economic growth do the rest.

  • GaryChurch

    “If they use SSMEs (at horrific recurring cost) what would they do with the J2-X, for which there is no budget, and wasn’t expected to be ready before 2017? You are apparently as ignorant about launch system design as the rocket scientists in Congress.”

    J2X is for the third stage that will put several times the number of tons up than anything commercial space has.

    The writing is on the wall; the NASA budget raiders are going to lose.

  • richardb

    Simberg said

    If they use SSMEs (at horrific recurring cost) what would they do with the J2-X, for which there is no budget, and wasn’t expected to be ready before 2017? You are apparently as ignorant about launch system design as the rocket scientists in Congress.”

    Speaking of ignorance, Rand doesn’t bother reading before ranting and that gives him a long lead for pointless posts here.

    I did say “and perhaps J2-X ” rather than “for sure J2-X”. I say “perhaps” because it occurred to me that they wouldn’t need it for LEO in the early years of a new HLV. But for BEO, they just might as in this fairly recent study.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/18029055/NASA-ShuttleC-Heavy-Lift-Launch-Vehicle-2009. No doubt nuance confuses you Rand, I’ll try to spell it out for you next time.

    As to the recurring costs, I’m sure you’re clueless on what they are, could be or should be. So best not to discuss it…again it shows your tendency for pointlessness. I’m sure some bright engineer at Nasa has even considered reusing the SSME. You know like they are today.

  • richardb

    Major Tom, are you sure about the shortfall of Shuttle C?
    The link I just posted claimed 78mt payload for Shuttle C. Development time of 66 months at a cost of about 10 billion.

    Now we can have dueling studies all you like. But I think neither you or anyone posting here can claim facts on what is possible or not from a systems point of view. We will have to let the studies play out to find out.

    What can be claimed as facts are that the Senate and House are running hard from FY2011 and have embraced using shuttle subsystems for a new launcher. Time is short should they prevail and we see no evidence the Administration is bucking Congress. No evidence that the Administration is fighting for “game changing” or commercial crew launch.
    By the way, has anyone heard a veto threat over recent Congressional bills? That’s right not at all. Not even for the House bill.

    Given the short time and tight money, Nasa has to propose a “no brainer” launcher. If Nasa fails again, it could be the end of the agency given the dire fiscal situation the Feds have created.

  • As to the recurring costs, I’m sure you’re clueless on what they are, could be or should be.

    Yes, you’re sure of lots of nonsense.

    I’m sure some bright engineer at Nasa has even considered reusing the SSME. You know like they are today.

    Many “bright engineers” at NASA (and at Rockwell — like me) considered such things in the Shuttle-C program, over two decades ago. It is not practical.

  • Major Tom

    “As to the recurring costs…”

    Your reference shows that sidemount recurring is going to be pushing $3 billion per year. For estimating purposes, that’s the same budget level that existing STS operations have been at for the past several years. No savings to open a budget wedge from which exploration hardware can be developed. Creates an HLV with no HLV payloads to fly. If we want to do exploration, we have to find something that’s substantially cheaper to operate than Shuttle, and we can’t do that with Shuttle hardware, contracts, and workforce. It’s like directing me save money on the gas I spend commuting so we can take a long-distance trip, but then telling me I have to drive a gas-guzzling Humvee to work every day. You can’t get there from here — does not compute.

    “Major Tom, are you sure about the shortfall of Shuttle C?
    The link I just posted claimed 78mt payload for Shuttle C.”

    Yes, see John Shannon’s (STS program manager’s) presentation to the Augustine Committee on sidemount. It’s 72.1 tons, not 78 tons, and like Ares I (or any LV development) performance will only go down from there, bringing into question the ability to meet the near-term 70-ton threshold set in the Senate legislation. And even with all the upgrades in the world, sidemount falls far short of the longer-term 100-ton+ threshold set in the Senate bills.

    The Senate bills are pushing an inline solution like DIRECT/Orion and the House bills are pushing old Ares I/Orion. No bill is pushing sidemount, although neither set of bills provides enough funding for any of these vehicles.

    “Development time of 66 months”

    That’s already six months late, per the 2015 deadline set in the House bills.

    FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    Development time of 66 months at a cost of about 10 billion.

    Are you not even slightly embarrassed that you are proposing wasting $10B on an unnecessary launcher that would compete unfairly with commercial launchers and would get in the way of RLVs, even though these could lead to a breakthrough in manned spaceflight, both commercial and publicly funded?

  • Martijn Meijering

    the dire fiscal situation the Feds have created.

    Irony overload. This dire situation was created by the same mindset that thinks it is OK to spend other people’s $10B to fund an unnecessary launcher after $9B has already been wasted on Ares-I I might add.

  • My latest thoughts at Popular Mechanics (in which I steal a table from Major Tom’s comments).

  • Major Tom

    “By the way, has anyone heard a veto threat over recent Congressional bills? That’s right not at all. Not even for the House bill.”

    Veto threats (or other White House demands) are transmitted in Statements of Administration Position, which either havn’t been sent yet or leaked yet on these bills.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “in which I steal a table from Major Tom’s comments”

    Gladly.

    FWIW…

  • Bennett

    Excellent job on the article, Rand. You hit all the points solidly.

    One of the “Related Stories” linked at the bottom of your piece was:

    Human Space Flight Needn’t Rely on NASA by Michael Belfiore from Feb 1. He hits the nail on the head wrt the proposed direction, back when most people were still trying to figure out what it meant.

  • GuessWho

    “Satellite Servicing.— … This is part of the Space Operations budget. This could have a lot of value, depending on how it’s implemented, especially considering the Lagrange point emphasis in the Flexible Path and the emphasis in the earlier Senate drafts on cislunar space capabilities.

    I wonder where the money will fall? Will it go to Orion? Potential commercial satellite service providers – crewed or robotic? Will it fall mainly on the “servicing” side, or on the “serviced” side (i.e. the observatories)? It is interesting that it falls within Space Operations rather than Exploration technology demonstrations.”

    This is pork earmarked for Goddard provided by Sen. Mikulski via backroom deals. Money will end up in the hands of the Hubble operations group that has been responsible for the various Hubble servicing missions thus the direction of the funds through SOMD.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 27th, 2010 at 9:34 am <- inaccurate. 'Governments' have been probing Mars for decades, albeit with instruments by extension representing the reach on Man. The physical touch will come in time, when government(s) launch an expedition.

  • DCSCA

    The policy is to provide taxi services. <- Never thought of Elon Musk as a Louie DePalma-type but there may be something to that after all.

  • DCSCA

    GaryChurch wrote @ July 24th, 2010 at 12:13 pm “There is no cheap.” ‘Cheap’ is a relative term. Applied to space operations the day may come when a cheap, ‘universal’ LV is pretty much a basic standard for lofting payloads of varying weigh classes. Doubtful the private sector will ever craft one as long as the market remains as limited as it is in this era. Expect one by the end of the century.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

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