Congress, NASA

Wolf makes few predictions about the NASA appropriations process

Senate appropriators have already taken a position on NASA funding with an appropriations bill that cleared the committee last Thursday. House appropriators, though, declined to take a stand on NASA’s human spaceflight program last month, deciding to defer to authorizers. Now that the House Science and Technology Committee has approved its own authorization bill, different from what’s under consideration in the Senate, what will the committee do? One key member didn’t provide many firm predictions Tuesday.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, didn’t predict what the committee would do when he spoke at a Space Transportation Association luncheon on Capitol Hill. “We were sort of just waiting to see what the authorizers have done,” he said. “I’m not going to predict completely where we will go or what will happen.”

Asked if he had a preference between the House and Senate versions of the bill (having previously endorsed the Senate version of the NASA authorization bill), he declined to play favorites, although he indicated both were an improvement over what the White House requested in its original budget proposal in that they kept “America number one” in space. “They’re both good,” he said. “I don’t think that I’m going to get involved in the two authorizing bills.” He added, though, that the Senate bill “fairly tracks the compromise in the letter that was sent”, referring to a letter to the president that about 60 members of Congress, including Wolf, signed last month asking for immediate development of a heavy-lift vehicle. “Maybe there’s a way to blend them together,” he concluded.

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), ranking member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, was in attendance at the luncheon and provided his own insights on the differing bills. “We’re hoping to sit down with the Senate at some point” and work out a compromise. That won’t come until after the August recess, as Olson also noted that it was unlikely the full House would take up the authorization bill this week as some proponents had hoped. “We need it, if we possibly can, to get it to pass on its own” rather than get crammed into a larger omnibus bill.

On the timing of an appropriations bill, Wolf said it was likely there would be some kind of continuing resolution (CR), although he wasn’t sure how long would run. “I think a lot will depend on what will happen in the elections,” he said. He thought there was a “reasonable chance” that the CR would extend into January and a new Congress, one that Wolf believes, at least on the House side, will be in the hands of the Republican party. He was particularly wary of anything done by a post-election “lame duck” session in November or December, including passage of an omnibus bill that wraps up multiple appropriations into a single bill. “I think the less that happens in a lame duck session the better.”

138 comments to Wolf makes few predictions about the NASA appropriations process

  • GaryChurch

    The writing is on the wall, sidemount is on the way.

  • Gary, mark my words: if NASA develops a heavy lift rocket, shuttle derived sidemount or otherwise, then there will be no money left in NASA’s budget for anything else. No more technology development. Handing off the ISS to the international partners in 2015. No lunar lander, no Orion, no more robotic missions, all of it will be sucked up in the drive to build a heavy lift rocket. There won’t be any payload to put on top of it because NASA will have to shut everything else but the launcher program down. Cassini? Voyager? Hubble? Chandra? Gotta shut all those teams down too, there won’t be money in the budget for them either.

    But sometime in 2025 NASA will be able to launch 70 tonnes into space all at once. Hooray!

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Second that Ed. NASA has ably (cough) demonstrated that they can’t get a reasonably efficient replacement for the Shuttle to the launch pad and whether that’s management or their procurement processes or what, the results the same.

  • Curtis Quick

    I agree with Ed that NASA is going to have to close down almost every current program to be able to afford the development of an HLV, and that is probably is what will happen. However, I don’t think that an actual HLV will be built. Billions upon billions will be poured into it (which still won’t be enough by a large margin) and schedules will slip, while the cost will go through the ceiling (this won’t be a COTS program, but cost plus, so the vendors actually building the system (ATK, Boeing, LM) will not be eager to keep costs down).

    Meanwhile (say around 2015) commercial will have crew and heavy lift vehicles flying as well. Then the next Administration or Congress will find the schedule slippage and cost increase to be the perfect reason to shut the whole thing down to help cut deficit expenses. They, or their opponents, will point to commercial as the only reasonable way to go. The jobs-program that NASA became to build the HLV will need to be either closed or radically restructured to call it back to the original space act that defined its role as a primarily space research and exploration agency instead of a space launching company.

    The great pity is that by going down this road, countless billions will be wasted, the HSF gap will be lengthened, and a lot of good exploration will be cancelled along the way. Legislators who insist that this road leads to keeping the US number 1 in space are actually leading us to fall further behind where we could be if only NASA was directed to help stimulate a commercial space infrastructure that would actually produce a thriving space industry which would become the support for a whole new generation of HSF that would stretch beyond LEO as far as the eye could see.

    Instead, we will get a jobs bill to nowhere, until it gets shut down. But, I suspect, that is all it was ever supposed to be anyway. Legislators make old aerospace happy with cost plus contracts, get re-elected with jobs bills, and nothing really changes for us on main street.

    Fortunately, for US$15 I can still go to outer space via Hollywood when the next Sci-Fi movie comes out. For all that comes out of both investments, I get more out of the latter than the former.

    Curtis Quick

  • It’s like a wreck on the side of the road.. you don’t *want* to see a head roll out but you can’t look away either.

    I honestly do hope that NASA starts being remotely relevant to the burgeoning space industry, but if Congress continues to go down this path of dictating that NASA do worthless rocket building to keep jobs, all I can hope for is such spectacular failure that no amount of denial of reality can keep their funding.

  • Sadly I have to agree with Ed, Beancounter and Curtis; This is a jobs program to Purgatory. A blackhole in which all funding from other areas will be sucked into.

    NASA HLV jobs program will never be properly funded to finish the product, only enough to fund the inevitable cost-plus contracts and overruns.

    In the meantime, commercial companies will take the lead. Maybe it’s better that way.

  • Aggelos

    “commercial will have crew and heavy lift vehicles flying as well. ”

    commercial heavy lift launchers?
    sounds like sci-fi..

  • The “NASA is just a jobs program” meme is getting old.

    There are a few problems with it-

    -If you consider the funding for HLV development and non-shuttle manned vehicle projects (since Shuttle is going away), the bulk of the money is going to pay prime contractors, not NASA employees and support contractors. So why don’t people call it a “private contract program?”

    -Why is this any different than DoD projects that fly, spy and/or explode? I don’t see too many people dismissing those things as “jobs programs,” but they work the same way and eat up many times more money.

    -The jobs program argument tries to make it sound like the people are not doing anything useful. Bridge and highway building were called “jobs programs” too, but you still get bridges and roads. NASA is NASA. It’s government. Big deal. If we didn’t have NASA, commercial space would not have NASA money, resources, technology, and experience, and there would be little or no commercial space.

  • Ferris Valyn

    -If you consider the funding for HLV development and non-shuttle manned vehicle projects (since Shuttle is going away), the bulk of the money is going to pay prime contractors, not NASA employees and support contractors. So why don’t people call it a “private contract program?”

    Because the stuff being paid for is both too expensive, and too unwieldy to be sold in the private market. Its stuff developed for NASA, by NASA, and private industry can only play in the sand box if it serves NASA entirely.

    -Why is this any different than DoD projects that fly, spy and/or explode? I don’t see too many people dismissing those things as “jobs programs,” but they work the same way and eat up many times more money.

    Because the website is called spacepolitics, and we therefore tend to discuss NASA. Think that might have something to do with it?

    -The jobs program argument tries to make it sound like the people are not doing anything useful. Bridge and highway building were called “jobs programs” too, but you still get bridges and roads. NASA is NASA. It’s government. Big deal. If we didn’t have NASA, commercial space would not have NASA money, resources, technology, and experience, and there would be little or no commercial space.

    Except that, NASA has failed to deliver working vehicles MULTIPLE times. If they had delivered a completed vehicle, there might be a point to what you said. But since history is littered with Shuttle follow-on vehicles, none of which have actually flown, one has to ask how this has actually produced anything?

  • G Clark

    Spase Blagher:

    Pointing out bad behavior does not justify bad behavior.

  • amightywind

    Ed Michau wrote:

    Gary, mark my words: if NASA develops a heavy lift rocket, shuttle derived sidemount or otherwise, then there will be no money left in NASA’s budget for anything else.

    That’s a good thing. NASA is engaged in many science activities that are more logically funded through the NSF. Let’s hope the need for HLV funding will finally force the US to abandon that financial blackhole, the ISS. The modest station plans by Boeing and Bigelow make a lot more sense.

  • Alan

    commercial heavy lift launchers?
    sounds like sci-fi..

    Have you looked at ULA’s growth path for Delta IV Heavy and the 7m or 8m Common Booster Core for the Delta IV Super Heavy. ULA states that current projected top-end performance of three 8m CBCs with GEM-80 solids is 150 tons . . .

    I’d call that a commercial heavy-lift launcher, double the lift of Sidemount. There’s even a variant (with 7m CBCs) that lifts 70 tons.

    I’m not even mentioning what SpaceX could do in the future, I’m just referencing published plans.

    You should be familiar with the market before you make an ill-informed comment.

  • Justin Kugler

    What good does it do to spend all of NASA’s money on an HLV if it doesn’t have payloads to lift or a destination to send said payloads to?

    Sucking all of the oxygen out of the room will just suffocate everyone, in the end. This is the exact same problem Constellation ran into. I believe there is a term for doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

  • amightywind

    Alan wrote:

    I’d call that a commercial heavy-lift launcher, double the lift of Sidemount. There’s even a variant (with 7m CBCs) that lifts 70 tons.

    I’d call it a techno-fantasy spun by a company eager to expunge America’s memory of the prolonged and expensive EELV development fiasco.

    I’m not even mentioning what SpaceX could do in the future, I’m just referencing published plans.

    I never cease to be amazed that the power of Elon Musk man love that causes grown men to hype a company with a 40% success rate.

  • Space Cadet

    @ Space Blagher

    “The “NASA is just a jobs program” meme is getting old.

    There are a few problems with it-

    -If you consider the funding for HLV development and non-shuttle manned vehicle projects (since Shuttle is going away), the bulk of the money is going to pay prime contractors, not NASA employees and support contractors. So why don’t people call it a “private contract program?”

    > What difference does it make if the jobs are civil servants or contractors. The point is that the purpose of the authorization bill is to keep them employed regardless of whether what they are doing is useful.

    -Why is this any different than DoD projects that fly, spy and/or explode? I don’t see too many people dismissing those things as “jobs programs,” but they work the same way and eat up many times more money.

    > It is no different. Many DoD programs are preserved by Congress primarily to provide jobs (e.g. advanced submarines to fight the rusting Soviet Navy), some for weapon systems that DoD doesn’t even want. This doesn’t mean it’s a good use of taxpayer $.

    -The jobs program argument tries to make it sound like the people are not doing anything useful. Bridge and highway building were called “jobs programs” too, but you still get bridges and roads. NASA is NASA. It’s government. Big deal. If we didn’t have NASA, commercial space would not have NASA money, resources, technology, and experience, and there would be little or no commercial space.”

    > Building bridges and roads produces something useful while also creating jobs. Though there are exceptions to the usefulness (e.g. Alaskan bridge to nowhere). Spending $ Billions on a heavy lift vehicle that will never be completed, would cost too much to operate if it was completed, and has no payloads is not producing something useful.

  • Space Cadet

    The WH budget had the same total budget and therefore supported the same number of jobs, but under the WH budget they would be doing something useful. The problem was the jobs would have been in the ‘wrong’ states: California, Maryland, & Ohio for example; rather than Utah and Alabama.

  • Since the NASA budget will not be approved until after the election and the new congress takes over, all the decisions made in the Appropriations committees is probably window dressing.

    Get an agreement to put SDHLV in the NASA budget coming out of Committee, get reelected, squawk when it gets taken out of the final budget, hope the voters forget before the next election.

    If you don’t get reelected it your opponent’s fault that the program was cut. If you do get reelected and the voters remember you blame colleges you are out to get at the time.

    Brilliant political strategy. Horrible trick on the NASA contractors.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The “NASA is just a jobs program” meme is getting old.

    Does your paycheck depend on it? Just wondering.

  • Brian Paine

    Presumably the Delta heavy lift booster and super heavy lift booster come with fixed price tags? If they do not then the end result will be no different to DOD projects and (this being the most likely scenario) all arguments supporting the new commercial space initiative will prove to have been rather nieve.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Presumably the Delta heavy lift booster and super heavy lift booster come with fixed price tags? If they do not then the end result will be no different to DOD projects and (this being the most likely scenario) all arguments supporting the new commercial space initiative will prove to have been rather nieve.</blockq

  • Ferris Valyn

    Crap, hit enter too early. Trying this again.

    Presumably the Delta heavy lift booster and super heavy lift booster come with fixed price tags? If they do not then the end result will be no different to DOD projects and (this being the most likely scenario) all arguments supporting the new commercial space initiative will prove to have been rather nieve.

    That was the whole idea. Instead of a sole-source, cost-plus contract, the idea was to compete for a fixed-price contract, for HLV.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Trent Waddington wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 5:32 am
    >
    >
    >== I honestly do hope that NASA starts being remotely relevant
    > to the burgeoning space industry, ==

    Other then being its major market?

    Face it – this whole argument is about just about your favored companies arn’t getting the pork.

  • red

    Space Cadet: “The WH budget had the same total budget and therefore supported the same number of jobs,”

    I’ll even take that a step farther. The White House budget would have supported even more jobs. Direct NASA funding would result in about the same number of jobs in either case. However, with the “skin in the game” provisions in COTS-style contracts, commercial companies would be obliged to pitch in more funding, resulting in more space jobs. In addition, the goal with efforts like commercial crew and some of the R&D work was to jump-start self-sustaining businesses with markets outside NASA, which again would have resulted in more jobs.

  • red

    amightywind: “NASA is engaged in many science activities that are more logically funded through the NSF. Let’s hope the need for HLV funding will finally force the US to abandon that financial blackhole, the ISS. The modest station plans by Boeing and Bigelow make a lot more sense.”

    Are you sure you aren’t Dr. Griffin? Let’s see … get rid of the ISS, get rid of Science … should I assume you want to get rid of Aeronautics and Space Technology as well? Why do anything but build giant rockets?

    Should I also assume that when Science moves to NSF, the NASA Science budget moves there too?

  • Martijn Meijering

    Face it – this whole argument is about just about your favored companies arn’t getting the pork.

    Irony overload. It’s about not having favoured companies at all.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Spase Blagher wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 7:44 am
    >
    > The “NASA is just a jobs program” meme is getting old.

    To be fair its one of the two big sources of public support for NASA.

    But when used around here …. its just “my buddies arn’t getting the pork”, and some act of faith that in the great .

    As to your other points.

    Bingo!

  • Martijn Meijering

    its just “my buddies arn’t getting the pork”

    Projection. The pro-SDLV side is all about pork, the commercial side is about competition and results.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    >> The “NASA is just a jobs program” meme is getting old.

    > Does your paycheck depend on it? Just wondering.

    Ad hominum attacks, validity.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly Starks wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Other then being its major market?..

    that is a reasonable first step.

    Look I realize that there are folks outthere like you and Whittington and Almighty wind and lots of others who think of NASA in a 1960′s mold. IE that what it did or does has value simply for doing it; not what the thing actually accomplishes. The Apollo model was neat. Go to the Moon and come back and spend a lot of money in the process and for most of the program no one ask any serious questions about “why’ other then the politics of beating the Soviets.

    But “conservative” government doctrine is that the government should do things for the governed that has value for the dollars that the govern pay in taxes.

    I think that the ATC system could be done more efficiently; but in the end whatever dollars are spent on it at least keep the airline and aviation industry “humming” along in The Republic. I am pretty sure that there is waste fraud and abuse in medicare/medicad but the person down the street who spent four years in Iraq with his guard unit, lost his job in the process well I dont have a problem with him and his wife having their child on the taxpayer nickle.

    There is an argument to be had about what government does.,..but the folks who are supporting the NASA of the 60′s are simply good with it doing something…in this case having a program to explore. They dont seem to give a frack about government doing something that actually enables the governed to get value from the cost.

    If as a given we are not going to abandon HSF because of the “great power” implications of it…then when HSF can do nothing else of value for the dollars spent…it should at least create private infrastructure which has at least a chance of eventually growing to be used by folks outside the government.

    Or even better seems to actually do things that are positive; like lowers the cost of access…even if that is only for the government.

    I think it is about whose contractors get the money. It should be contractors that are thinking about how to use the capability expertise and infrastructure in a way outside of the government nickle. It should be about using ones that do things efficiently; that try and get more bang for the buck…

    instead it has become in HSF but also in things like the banking industry etc about preserving legacy contractors and companies who have made one fracken bad decision after another in terms of accomplishing things. Now in HSF I have no problem saying that NASA management has contributed to the “Malaise” it has. But that is the game and they played it.

    They shouldnt be rewarded for it; just because the music has stopped and now there are other players at the table.

    The given in this debate is that there is NOTHING THAT HSF DOES THAT JUSTIFIES ITS COST NOW.

    Nothing is coming back from the space station that is justfiying the billions spent there; the shuttle has done nothing that justified its billions…

    but if the given is that we are going to spend that money anyway…it should be done efficiently and in a manner that perhaps opens the door to something different.

    Or are you just for doing the same darn stupid thing every year and then having that epiphany at the end of the year “wow nothing has changed”? It is goofy thinking like that which has kept us in Afland for what 9 years now.

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    Space Cadet: “Building bridges and roads produces something useful while also creating jobs. Though there are exceptions to the usefulness (e.g. Alaskan bridge to nowhere). Spending $ Billions on a heavy lift vehicle that will never be completed, would cost too much to operate if it was completed, and has no payloads is not producing something useful.”

    The “rocket to nowhere” is even worse than the “bridge to nowhere”. At least the bridge would have actually gone somewhere useful. It would have gone to an island with only a few dozen people living on it. However, there’s also a bigger town on the other side, and on the island is the airport the town uses for transportation. The airport is on the island because of nearby mountains. The island was planned for more development, too.

    A good use of money? I’d say no, they can get by with a ferry. The bridge was too expensive for the amount of traffic expected. However, it would have at least had a use.

    The “rocket to nowhere”, under the current plan, really is a rocket to nowhere. It’s hard to see it getting built if it has to be Shuttle-derived, given the expense of the Shuttle infrastructure. Even if you combine the $11.5B, KSC upgrades, and various test stand funds the Senate wants, it’s still probably too expensive to develop and operate. Even if it gets built, what would we put on it? There’s no funding to speak of for technology demonstration or robotic precursor payloads. The Senate’s Orion is also underfunded for that kind of contract. It will probably also be late and over budget. There is no funding for things for Orion to actually do except kind of go around places. One thing it could do if built is compete with commercial providers for ISS business, but that’s counter-productive.

    If Orion is going to have BEO missions, it needs additional capabilities, or to be able to connect to additional capabilities, to do things like satellite servicing, lunar observations, lunar sample return pickup, telerobotics, technology demonstrations, lunar landings, BEO space station work, or NEO missions, and such capabilities aren’t funded. As it stands, if built Orion would be able to do BEO missions eventually, but those missions would just be “making an appearance”. They wouldn’t achieve anything concrete. With Orion and HLV operational costs, we wouldn’t be able to add those capabilities later, either.

    I guess amightywind will have to rely on his favorite international partners to supply actual content to the HLV/Orion missions.

  • Bennett

    Irony overload.

    Perfect response to anyone who thinks that the Augustine/Obama Path is a way to kill HSF, yet wants SDHLV, Constellation, or any other huge NASA rocket.

    Why can’t they see how blind they are?

  • red

    Kelly Starks: “Face it – this whole argument is about just about your favored companies arn’t getting the pork.”

    The commercial crew and similar efforts enable competition. They don’t select particular favored companies ahead of time. That’s the opposite of the SDHLV and Orion effort, which does select particular favored companies in particular favored Congressional districts ahead of time.

    I don’t have personal favorites for the commercial crew business. The winners could be from the Merchant 7 (Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, Paragon, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences). They could be other companies altogether. As long as they have solid technical and business plans, significant “skin in the game” with the seriousness of mind that goes along with such investments, and other attributes that contribute to success and safety, I’ll support the selections.

  • MrEarl

    There are components of pork in ALL government spending. Why was Boxer fighting for the amendment to return money to commercial? Not because she has a great belief in commercial space, it’s because it benefits SpaceX in her state.
    Space Cadet: “The problem was the jobs would have been in the ‘wrong’ states: California, Maryland, & Ohio for example; rather than Utah and Alabama.”
    Chairwoman of the appropriations committee is Mikuski from Maryland.

    It seems clear that what’s going to come out of this mess is going to look a lot like the senate authorization. So we can debate this endlessly, with neither side winning over the other, or we can find common ground, which there is plenty, and move forward to bring about the best outcome.
    Has anyone really looked at the DeltaIV super heavy? Proposed 8m core, RS69′s. Something like that would require new launch pads and support facilities, something that already exists at Pad39. It would need the ability to build 8m cores, something that already exists at Michoud. Also looks a lot like Shuttle derived. SRB’s for cargo, liquids for manned. NASA teaming with ULA could build a family launchers taking advantage of the facilities that NASA has and the managerial expertise of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
    The senate bill still has a good deal of money in it for commercial crew. Let’s get the restriction against rewarding a contract in ’11 stricken and start competition for commercial crew contracts. Award two contracts, one to a “New Space” company and one to a “traditional” company.
    Orion is the only vehicle in development that can support any type of BEO missions. It’s important to bring that project to completion. With a better more capable launch vehicle coming out of a NASA/ULA partnership the job becomes easier but not easy.
    R&D takes a hit, no doubt about it, but with NASA showing that it can be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money it may be easier to get or maintain appropriations during the upcoming lean times. Also, the faster that the launchers are developed the faster that money can be diverted to R&D, lunar and other BEO projects.

    This is definitely time to work together or everything will be lost.

  • John Malkin

    Why can’t they see how blind they are?

    Because it’s emotionally driven not logically driven.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    There are components of pork in ALL government spending. Why was Boxer fighting for the amendment to return money to commercial? Not because she has a great belief in commercial space, it’s because it benefits SpaceX in her state….

    The founders purposely built the Republic’s form of government so that local officials would fight for the good of their states (or districts) IN NATIONAL PROJECTS. This is why the “build” that resulted in The USS Constitution, had ships built in southern shipyards (even though the ship turned out to be built with inferior materials).

    The trick is to mold local needs into national priorities. What separates “pork” from “political horsetrading” is the overall national goal of the effort.

    The Delta IV super heavy is a good move. If there is going to be a HLV, actually be one…that is what it will be.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Martijn Meijering

    Has anyone really looked at the DeltaIV super heavy?

    Just another very expensive HLV without payloads that gets in the way of RLVs. Not much better than SDLV. Atlas Phase 2 (built with existing Delta tooling) would be considerably better, but it would still be an HLV that gets in the way of RLVs. EELV Phase 1 would be nice, but not urgent. Launch vehicle decisions need to be left to the market if we want to have any hope of reducing launch prices.

    To explore, we need spacecraft. We already have launch vehicles.

  • The underlying problem is NASA is being underfunded.

    It is being asked to meet perceived national priorities, justified or otherwise, without the $$$ to make the efforts successful and pitting friends as adversaries in so doing.

    Making the “Hard Choices” is always false economy with NASA. Fund NASA at $21B and create a new commercial industry, invest in new technologies, inspire, innovate, build the heavy lift now if you have to.

    Imagine if Congress members could go home for reelection saying I’ve helped build a new great American Industry, not just sent out unemployment checks but created new hi-tech jobs and all the peripheral jobs that will come with that. That they built the framework for a great decade in American space history, in American history.

    A “New Space Age” ?
    Congress isn’t getting the message!

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 11:54 am

    >> its just “my buddies arn’t getting the pork”

    > Projection. The pro-SDLV side is all about pork, the commercial side
    > is about competition and results.

    No, no more competition. Just who gets the money. is it a standard main aero company to get SDLV, or EELV based, or whatever — or hte new space guys get a handfull of launches.

  • Curtis Quick

    Bennett wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I suspect that either of two reasons would keep someone from seeing reality for what it is. The first reason would be that they have a vested interest in big NASA projects and old aerospace cost plus contracts and preserving that goal outweighs the reality that such programs will actually sink the ship.

    The second reason is that they see the success of Apollo as primarily a vindication of big government programs to develop HSF. In reality Apollo was most successful as a tool in winning the cold war and not much else, at least as far as HSF is concerned. Apollo did not usher in a new age of HSF that would change our lives much as aviation did at the begining of the 20th century. Simply put, no cold war – no Apollo. If it were not for Yuri Gagarin, we would not know the name Neil Armstrong. But they don’t realize that without a cold war you cannot support big government space programs to show off national presteige. You simply don’t need it. And without that necessity, the return is not worth the investment, at least to the legislators that must fund such an expensive program.

    Apollo on steroids is not the answer to how we can open up space for future generations to benefit. All it does is waste billions and delay us from seeing that day come when space makes a difference to the common guy on the street. The only reason it gets funding for now is to get votes in the fall. In the spring, the funding will dry up. But Wind, Gary, Aggelos, and others simply cannot see this. I suspect they are either insincere, or sincerely wrong.

    Curtis Quick

  • Martijn Meijering

    There would be more competition because there would be multiple simulataneous suppliers of launch services. EELVs would likely play a significant role, as would SpaceX and Orbital (given that they aklready have contracts). You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

  • Tom D

    Badmouthing DOD projects to excuse NASA mediocrity looks pretty lame to me. Sure there have been bad or useless DOD projects, but eventually they run into reality checks. They have to actually be *useful* and possibly even *effective* for defensive (or offensive) warfare. Most DOD projects can be fairly easily compared to what competitors are doing. NASA projects do not have as many reality checks.

    The goals of the DOD are fairly clear: defend the nation and project force. For the most part they are defined by the need to meet external threats. The goals of NASA are not so clearly defined, nor are they as urgent. It’s not like the Martians or the Russians are going to claim all of the good real estate if we don’t hurry.

    I’d like to see the solar system settled, but that goal has not been agreed to by all and it is hardly even alluded to by the President or Congress. In the meantime NASA muddles ahead on the last dregs of momentum from Apollo and increasingly blatant pork-barrel spending.

  • Robert G. Oler

    sftommy wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    The underlying problem is NASA is being underfunded…

    no.

    it is about like saying “the federal government is underfunded”.

    The problem at NASA particularly in HSF is that it has, like a lot of the rest of the government gotten bloated. We have all these new tools like computers etc which are designed to aid productivity; but they are being used merely to supplement old process and activities.

    NASA HSF needs to be cut down to a manageable core group, individuals empowered with responsibility and held accountable for their decisions.

    if SpaceX can develop a launch vehicle with less total employees then (insert a lot of NASA sub groups) then NASA should be able to do that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • GaryChurch

    “that day come when space makes a difference to the common guy on the street.-others simply cannot see this. I suspect they are either insincere, or sincerely wrong.”

    I suspect the whole commercial space mantra is just profiteering in the guise of space exploration- when in fact, it will cripple human space flight.
    I believe this sincerely by examining three facts that SpaceX sycophants reject completely because it ruins their fantasy of saving up their pennies and buying a ticket for a space vacation.

    1. It is not about the economy, it is about the radiation. Cosmic Radiation requires massive shielding. Send two people to Mars, or anywhere BEO for an extended mission without protection, and one will die. The other one will suffer from the effects for the rest of his or her life.

    2. To push this mass of shielding around requires Nuclear Propulsion. Fuel depots and other such schemes relying on chemical propulsion are hopeless. The space industry is a nuclear industry. Nuclear is not cheap.

    3. The Radiation and Propulsion problems require HLV’s to put up the tons necessary for any Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit. It is not an airline, and it is not a tourist destination. Space flight is inherently expensive- there is no cheap.

    The crusade against NASA and HLV’s is about a for profit enterprise and has nothing to do with reality. The private space fans have either been conned, or trying to con others.

  • Martijn Meijering

    if SpaceX can develop a launch vehicle with less total employees then (insert a lot of NASA sub groups) then NASA should be able to do that.

    Why? Why not hire SpaceX instead?

  • All the shoulds and should nots crash against the wall of political expediency. If it isn’t there politically or can’t be made to happen politically it becomes polite conversation.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Reading the comments here and elsewhere on the Internet, I have come to some conclusions.

    There are still a lot of people who do not understand the political process and how it works. Here is a hint. Not even Obama, who promised to stop the seas from rising, can suddenly tell the Congress that it has to cancel a program around which some hard won political consensus had formed and go with an ill considered plan developed in secret and sprung at the last minute.

    The real purpose of the regime was not to improve the US civil space effort, but to hobble it. It does not believe that the ballyhooed commercial initiative will work as advertised. NASA’s purpose will solely be inspirational and diplomatic, hence the Mission to the Muslims. It will certainly not be about exploration, hence the cancellation of Constellation.

    The regime was surprised at the vehemence and the near universal opposition to their plan. Hence the mad scramble for a fake exploration program last April 15th.

    “Pork” does not translate into “Spending I do not like.” And yet many people think this is so.

    The Congress seems to understand what needs to be done. It does not understand that jamming a 22 billion dollar program into a 19 billion dollar budget does not work. Of course the regime could fix that with a little leadership and dipping into the stimulus package.

    A lot of what we laughingly call “space activism” still has not a clue about what happened, why it happened, and what is likely to happen next. A lot of the bloviation I see is based on ego rather than sober analysis.

    Commercial does not equal magic.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I wrote:
    if SpaceX can develop a launch vehicle with less total employees then (insert a lot of NASA sub groups) then NASA should be able to do that.

    You replied
    Why? Why not hire SpaceX instead?……………………

    my reply:

    yes exactly

    Robert G. Oler

  • Kelly Starks

    > red wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    >== The commercial crew and similar efforts enable competition.
    > They don’t select particular favored companies ahead of time.==

    Really? Do you seriously think that?

    > I don’t have personal favorites for the commercial crew business.
    > The winners could be from the Merchant 7 (Boeing, United Launch
    > Alliance, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, Paragon, SpaceX, Orbital
    > Sciences). ====

    No, There’s Boeing (CST-100) or L/M (Orion) or the two (ULA). SpaceX is REALLY a outside shot — I mean it is REALLY hard to see how they swing even crumbs out of commercial crew. Boeing and or L/M have about a half century of maned space flight and space flight experience. SpaceX has a couple years, 5 launches, 3 made orbit – and 1 made orbit with a capsule that could be maned. No congressmen is going to buy into that kind of bad political PR.

    As for Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, Paragon, Orbital Sciences … they don’t have anything even intended to be maned flying.

    So Boeing and or L/M are the potential winners.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    babble and your viewpoints masquerading as fact.

    You seem to be one of those people who understand how the political process works. Ares is gone, Shuttle is gone, the Heavy is not an SDV some may wish it would be, and it is not even clear that the LON flies… (assuming the Senate bill is the model for the law)

    the second paragraph is just your viewpoints..

    this is typical

    “It does not believe that the ballyhooed commercial initiative will work as advertised.”

    there is no data to support that analysis…only your paranoid right wing viewpoints.

    “Commercial does not equal magic.” only you are saying that.

    Commercial does equal the foundation of The Republic built on free enterprise…and the efforst you support have nothing to do with free enterprise.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly Starks wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    you seem hung up on corporate experience.

    When the British approached North American aviation to build a fighter under license from Curtiss, NA had only built the T-6 (or Slow Navy Jet as we like to think of it)…they went on to build, at first cut, the premier fighter of the war for land base ops.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    @ Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    “Reading the comments here and elsewhere on the Internet, I have come to some conclusions.”

    You shoud have said “profound” conclusions…

    “The Congress seems to understand what needs to be done.”

    Is this a true statement for say healthcare? Or did they just have an epiphany for NASA HSF?

    “sober analysis” Sober? Yeah right…

    “Commercial does not equal magic.”

    Unlike Constellation supporters no commercial supporter ever said so that I read anyway.

    Oh well…

  • GaryChurch

    “Why not hire SpaceX instead?”

    Cheap and nasty and going nowhere except LEO, that’s why. It’s a ripoff.
    It is your space agency, it is not your SpaceX.

    I agree with Mark. All of you are clueless.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    > you seem hung up on corporate experience.

    Politically, theres no way Congress could transfer astronaut carry to to a firm with no experience over companies with generations of experience.

    Also the big firms – have big political connections via everything from senators, unions, local employee voters.

  • Bennett

    Curtis Quick wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks Curtis, great answer.

    Martijn asked: Why? Why not hire SpaceX instead?

    This is the question that needs to be asked over and over until we get an answer. It could be phrased to include ULA for LVs, Boeing for LEO Capsules, and many other companies that have proven they can do the job by building rockets and related hardware for NASA for decades. It’s a good time to question authority.

    Karen Cramer Shea wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    That is a razor sharp view of what may eventually happen.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Kelly Starks wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Politically, theres no way Congress could transfer astronaut carry to to a firm with no experience over companies with generations of experience….

    that is not going to matter all that much. Events are going to overwhelm that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    “No, There’s Boeing (CST-100) or L/M (Orion) or the two (ULA). SpaceX is REALLY a outside shot … As for Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, Paragon, Orbital Sciences … they don’t have anything even intended to be maned flying.”

    Maybe it will work out that way, maybe not. Let’s see the competition happen. I wouldn’t take it for granted that Boeing, LM, and ULA will be the winners, or the only winners, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they were there (especially ULA given that their rockets are in so many of the choices). They didn’t win either round of the COTS competition.

    Orbital is considering moves with Taurus II that might position them better for commercial crew. Both Orbital and SpaceX should have a lot more experience in relevant ISS operations by the time all of this happens. I’m sure any winner will have to demonstrate consistent safe operations to/from the ISS before they put NASA astronauts in the ships, which will favor them if they do well in COTS. Paragon is a life support system company, so they could play a role in just about any winning system. Sierra Nevada won the biggest chunk of CCDEV, so they must have something going for them, and they’ll have a chance to show some progress with that work. Blue Origin is secretive, so I can’t comment much, but it would seem that Jeff Bezos would be in a position to give them financial backing, which is important. A lot of the competition might revolve around credible financial investment required to make safe systems, and some companies may be more willing to invest big than others. There may also be interesting combinations of big/small or old/new companies in partnerships. For example, a newer company might make a spacecraft that launches on an EELV, or a system might have subsystems built by small and big companies.

  • common sense

    @MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Much more reasonable, thank you. However anything you mention will be competed so I don’t think they can procure a vehicle with a new and one with an old space partner. What they may do is change the requirements so that only either can possibly win but leave the competition open.

    “Orion is the only vehicle in development that can support any type of BEO missions.”

    I do not believe it is a true statement any more. It was supposed to be but I believe its current design is much more focused on LEO which makes it a competitor with the other commercial designs.

    “This is definitely time to work together or everything will be lost.”

    Not a done deal it seems when reading some posts here… But you’re going in the right direction, I think.

    Oh well…

  • Martijn Meijering

    They didn’t win either round of the COTS competition.

    Ah, but that was probably because Griffin saw SpaceX and Orbital as lesser threats to Ares.

  • HLV accounts for about 10% of NASA’s total work force. Maybe 15% if you’re being generous. So why should that 10-15% get the vast majority of funding from NASA? If we’re concerned about jobs and all. It is about jobs, though, and the perception of jobs. If you closed Ames and MSFC down tomorrow you’d lose as much jobs as if you shut down the whole Shuttle program. Only the Shuttle program has a lot of soon-to-be-retirees, and Ames and MSFC have a lot of new graduates trying to get in to the space business. Then there’s Langley, Glenn, Goddard, JPL, and Dryden, not to mention the thousands of support personnel carried by NASA grants (who are not necessarily related to a NASA center, but many of the universities in the country).

    Anyway, Martijin Meijering, if Griffin didn’t think SpaceX was a threat to Ares he would have initiated COTS-D funding a long time ago. The reason Boeing and Lockheed didn’t win any bids is because they weren’t willing to provide low cost access to space. They were both going to use EU and Japanese transfer vehicles respectively. SpaceX and Orbital both proposed building their own transfer vehicles (Dragon, Cygnus), thus putting them ahead on merit alone.

  • MrEarl

    CS:
    When the first licenses were awarded for cell phone service in the early ’80′s there were two awarded in each city, one had to be go to the land line provider.
    In a commercial crew competition, it would be smart to award one contract on price and innovation that would likely go to a New Space company and the other on shown abilities like Boeing or LocMart. But what ever, I just want to get moving forward.
    I don’t see the point to this whole pissing contest. What difference dose it make who’s idea is the most perfect if we continue to undercut everyone else so nothing gets done? Dose it matter that much if the first stage of this launcher uses kerosene or H2? Congress will fund H2 shuttle derived so go with the funding. Solids or not? Solids have been safe and reliable for over 20 years. And the bible according to Augustine call for HLV’s for BEO so can we please stop the logic acrobatics for getting anywhere past LEO without it.
    Commercial crew to LEO makes sense. To go to LEO is to boldly go were many have gone before, use the money on BEO and than bring commercial along once they have something to make money on. Bigalow and SpaceX say they’ll move forward without government funds. Lets be realistic, there may be plenty of interest in their services but not a lot of money coming their way. That is especially true for Bigalow.
    NASA, established space companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and “New Space” need each other. It’s about time we admit the truth, put our ego’s away and find a way to make this all work.

  • Gary Church:

    1. It is not about the economy, it is about the radiation. Cosmic Radiation requires massive shielding. Send two people to Mars, or anywhere BEO for an extended mission without protection, and one will die. The other one will suffer from the effects for the rest of his or her life.

    Radiation shielding is a given. Why do you keep bringing this up as though nobody ever thought of this before?

    2. To push this mass of shielding around requires Nuclear Propulsion. Fuel depots and other such schemes relying on chemical propulsion are hopeless. The space industry is a nuclear industry. Nuclear is not cheap.

    Are you under the impression that all the radiation shielding and engines and fuel and people and life support and everything else has to all be launched from Earth’s surface at the same time on one vehicle? Or would we perhaps use multiple launches of smaller already-existing vehicles and use the hard-won ISS orbital assembly experience to assemble a BEO mission in orbit?

    3. The Radiation and Propulsion problems require HLV’s to put up the tons necessary for any Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit.

    Again, do all those tonnes have to be put up all at one time on one vehicle, or can we use smaller launch vehicles and orbital assembly?

    It is not an airline, and it is not a tourist destination. Space flight is inherently expensive- there is no cheap.

    Not as long as you insist on doing things the most expensive way possible.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    “In a commercial crew competition, it would be smart to award one contract on price and innovation that would likely go to a New Space company and the other on shown abilities like Boeing or LocMart. But what ever, I just want to get moving forward.”

    I am not saying it is a bad idea. I am saying I doubt they’ll be able to legally do it unless they taylor the requirements to each company’s strengths…

    “Dose it matter that much if the first stage of this launcher uses kerosene or H2? ”

    In this particular case it does matter for the overall cost at least.

    “Solids have been safe and reliable for over 20 years.”

    It does not matter. It matters that in the big picture they are not safe for crew. They cannot be made safe for crew. Read Justin’s comments 1 or 2 threads below. He worked on abort sims with Ares I. Remember that NASA wants a LAS, right or wrong…

    “Commercial crew to LEO makes sense.”

    Yes absolutely, originally envisionned in the VSE but not applied within Constellation.

    “To go to LEO is to boldly go were many have gone before, use the money on BEO and than bring commercial along once they have something to make money on.”

    That’s the idea. Yes.

    “Bigalow and SpaceX say they’ll move forward without government funds. Lets be realistic, there may be plenty of interest in their services but not a lot of money coming their way. That is especially true for Bigalow.”

    That is plain speculation or plain wrong. But no need to argue now.

    “NASA, established space companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and “New Space” need each other. It’s about time we admit the truth, put our ego’s away and find a way to make this all work.”

    I am with you. Let’s wait what the others have to say.

  • GaryChurch

    “Why do you keep bringing this up?”

    Why do you keep ignoring it?

    “would we perhaps use multiple launches of smaller already-existing vehicles?”

    No way- it is already hard enough to do with HLV’s; the inferior lift vehicles make it impractical. No HLV is a showstopper. Despite the optimistic pronouncements of private space fans, 50 to a 100 launches a year to assemble tinker toys in orbit is not going to work.

    “you insist on doing things the most expensive way”

    I am not insisting on it- physics is at work here. It is the only path and not very flexible.

  • Martijn Meijering

    if Griffin didn’t think SpaceX was a threat to Ares he would have initiated COTS-D funding a long time ago.

    I didn’t say he didn’t see it as a threat, just as a lesser threat. And he was not allowed to kill COTS, whereas he was allowed to delay COTS-D. It’s possible the aerospace majors would not have been able to compete on cost, but they certainly could have on risk. All I’m saying is that the fact that Old Space didn’t get any COTS/CRS money is not a strong piece of evidence either way.

  • GaryChurch

    Anyway, thank you Ed for at least asking- the private space fans usually just ignore it or blah blah about fuel depots or so other technobabble.

  • MrEarl

    When I say, “use the money on BEO and than bring commercial along once they have something to make money on.” I mean NASA goes to the moon, establishes bases and bring in commercial companies to transport crews and supplies to those bases, just like it would be doing for the ISS.

    I believe that NASA will always be procuring space craft like the navy procures ships.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I think we agree overall.

  • DCSCA

    “Commercial does equal the foundation of The Republic built on free enterprise…and the efforst you support have nothing to do with free enterprise.” – Robert G. Oler

    All the more reason to zero-out any government financing/funding for any free enterprise, commercial space ventures of any sort.

  • MrEarl

    @CS:
    I’m Jiggy with that :-)

    My teen age daughter just cringed.

  • And the bible according to Augustine call for HLV’s for BEO so can we please stop the logic acrobatics for getting anywhere past LEO without it.

    The Augustine report is not a bible. Some of the panels members disagreed that HLV is necessary for BEO, but they had to put out a consensus report. No “logic acrobatics” are required to make the case for BEO sans HLV. In fact, they’re required to argue that it is essential.

  • GaryChurch

    “No “logic acrobatics” are required to make the case for BEO sans HLV. In fact, they’re required to argue that it is essential.”

    Science Fiction. The whole fuel depot smaller cheaper is better is a joke. No cryogenic fuels have ever been stored or transferred in space- and hypergolic storable fuels have such a low ISP that the mass requirements compound into a ridiculous size- and number of launches. It is all advertising for the public.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    See? How good it feels when the battle nears the end, especially if we can put some good ol’ common sense in there ;)

  • DCSCA

    “But “conservative” government doctrine is that the government should do things for the governed that has value for the dollars that the govern pay in taxes.”

    Conservative ‘value’ across the board has been rejected as askew to what the majority of Americans ‘value.’

    “There is an argument to be had about what government does.,..but the folks who are supporting the NASA of the 60′s are simply good with it doing something…in this case having a program to explore. They dont seem to give a frack about government doing something that actually enables the governed to get value from the cost.”

    Don’t seem to ‘give a frack’?– Hmmmm: “I think we’re going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don’t think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job.”- JFK, Speech on space policy, Rice University, 9/12/62

    Strange babbling from a fella who clings to the halcyon days of aviation, circa 1903- 1953 as an era to be valued above the progress seen in the Space Age. Lots of waste and questionable costs from the heyday of aviation. You seem to be at odds with what Americans ‘value.’ In the 21st Century, it’s the promising future of manned spaceflight, not the antiqued past of biplanes and wingwalkers, Waldo.

  • Paul Bryan

    As a British citizen looking in on the shenanigans involved in trying to get this NASA bill through Congress I have to admit to suffering from a cocktail of befuddlement, disappointment and a growing sense of anger.

    Of course, it’s hard for me to take the moral high ground here, coming as I do from a country that gave up on space in the 1950s. While the combined might of Europe (ESA) is still to commit to developing the rudimentary ability to send an unmanned probe back to earth.

    For those of us who love everything about space, the USA remains for better or worse our great hope. Which is why it is so frustrating to see corrupted ninnies like Shelby running rings around the administration and destroying our hopes for a generation.

    How can it be, that the President commissions a report from august space experts, accepts its recommendations, works with NASA management to publish a plan, which is then completely subverted in Congress to become its very opposite? I understand that a parliament can reject a bill put forward by a governing party/president. What I don’t understand is why the onus is not then put back on the proposer to put forward another bill? How can Congress take a bill, utterly reject it and pass their own?

    Forgive my ignorance but does the President have the power to reject the bills put forward by Congress and tell them to have another go?

    As a writer I can’t help thinking there is wonderful screenplay waiting to be written about the tragedy of the US space program.

  • MrEarl

    Rand:
    Many on your side, MT being the most prolific, treat it as if it were the definitive word on space travel. It is far from it.
    I wouldn’t argue that HLV is essential but it dose make the task easier and opens up more possibilities.

  • byeman

    “Anyway, Martijin Meijering, if Griffin didn’t think SpaceX was a threat to Ares he would have initiated COTS-D funding a long time ago. The reason Boeing and Lockheed didn’t win any bids is because they weren’t willing to provide low cost access to space. They were both going to use EU and Japanese transfer vehicles respectively. SpaceX and Orbital both proposed building their own transfer vehicles (Dragon, Cygnus), thus putting them ahead on merit alone.”

    Wrong.

    1. Low cost had nothing to do with it and it was not a requirement for the selection

    2. Those were only Boeing and Lockheed’s proposals, there were many other spacecraft proposals that used ULA’s launch vehicles. These other ones were more viable than Kistler.

    3. Yes, EELV’s were not selected because of the threat to Ares I

  • I wouldn’t argue that HLV is essential but it dose make the task easier and opens up more possibilities.

    It only makes the task easier if it exists, and is affordable. The belief that we need it s the roadblock to space, because we continue to waste money on it and starve the things that we actually do need.

  • “Why do you keep bringing this up?”

    Why do you keep ignoring it?

    Radiation shielding material: water
    storable in tanks in orbit in liquid or gaseous form: check
    can be launched on existing rockets: check

    There. Problem solved. Now we don’t need HLV.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Polyethylene slabs can also be launched separately. Then on orbit assembly becomes more like interior decorating.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It only makes the task easier if it exists, and is affordable.

    And without having propellant transfer as well, it doesn’t make things all that much easier. Even if you didn’t care about opening up space you’d have to choose propellant transfer over HLV if you could only have one of the two.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I think the main concern ought to be that Congress is not apt at designing an HLV. Yet they told NASA to do so following some requirements that are based on nothing. Hence the HLV will be a total failure.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Hence the HLV will be a total failure.

    That’s the redeeming feature of this plan.

  • Martijn Meijering

    All the more reason to zero-out any government financing/funding for any free enterprise, commercial space ventures of any sort.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • MrEarl

    Congress told NASA to use shuttle components. Studies for a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle have been around as long as the shuttle itself. Most recently NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and Boeing have both issued studies on the matter. The SSP report is more detailed while the Boeing report offers a variety of configurations. A NASA/Boeing partnership would bring about a family of shuttle derived vehicles that could be very successful.

  • MrEarl

    As I said in my first post, that’s the vehicle that congress will pay for. Let’s find a way to make it work.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Congress told NASA to use shuttle components…

    not really…”practical” was all over the place. It just wont be

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Paul Bryan wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:04 pm As an American citizen based in Britain during the Apollo days, this writer concurs with your assessment of British interest in spaceflight activities. Britons make great cheerleaders as long as they don’t have to pick up the tab for it. Sir Bernard Lovell, then running the Jodrell Bank complex, embraced Soviet space activities early on until the West began to move ahead; the BBC pre-empted Apollo spaceflight activities to air scheduled children programmes; and during 1969, as the United States marched to the moon, Britain was pre-occupied with their flight testing of the costly Anglo-French Concorde, which was all but economically obsolete within a year as PanAm’s Boeing’s 747 lumbered in over the skies of London from New York around 7 AM, headed for Heathrow.

  • DCSCA

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:38 pm <- It must sting being consistently wrong for 80 years.

  • Dennis Berube

    I think it is pretty set. Orion will be built and a HLV. The Orion design is set and construction underway. The HLV will probably follow a shuttle C or similar configuration. It will work. What Orion will belaunched on, still remains unclear.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    “Congress told NASA to use shuttle components. ”

    The main problem.

    “Studies for a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle have been around as long as the shuttle itself. Most recently NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and Boeing have both issued studies on the matter. ”

    You should know that Boeing as a loyal servant but not only Boeing will do what the customers want them to do. It is a fact. Whether it makes sense or not Boeing will give you any study you like. The success of any vehicle is based on its ability to verify the requirements it was built for. In that particular case: Use Shuttle. Then yes it will be successful if ever built. As for any other requirements, there are none to this day.

    @MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    “As I said in my first post, that’s the vehicle that congress will pay for. Let’s find a way to make it work.”

    Putting the carriage before the horse will never help. If they want a big rocket they may end up with one. But this rocket will serve no purpose since there is no requirements for it, nor payload for it. Such is life.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Let’s find a way to make it work.

    If you want to reduce launch prices by an order of magnitude because you believe that’s the only way to see commercial development of space then it’s much preferable if the SDLV does not work. You may not share that goal, but for those who do Congressional support is not a deciding argument.

  • Dennis Berube

    I understand the shuttle itself can fly in a completely automated mode. Therefore shifting the stack to an HLV configuration should not take that much time, especially as a side mount.

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    You’ve been soooo off base on this whole thing your “insights” are useless.
    and to beat you to the punch, just like my understanding of autoland.
    Happy?

  • DCSCA

    Forgive my ignorance but does the President have the power to reject the bills put forward by Congress and tell them to have another go? <- Basically, yes, he can veto a bill but Congress can override the veto. But the bills are seldom 'clean.' But there's lots of ways the executive and the legislative can work around each other.

  • Major Tom

    “Many on your side, MT being the most prolific, treat it as if it were the definitive word on space travel.”

    No, I don’t. I disagree with most of the options presented in the report (Augustine & Co. shouldn’t have bothered presenting them), I think they should have put some emphasis on more novel means of getting large amounts of propellant to orbit besides HLVs (gun launch, Aquarius concept, etc.), and I think they could have more clearly delineated the critical technologies for deep human space flight.

    But in terms of official plans, it is the most non-partisan, unbiased, well-researched, and (I would argue) original plan for the civil human space flight program to date. I would certainly take the data, analysis, options, and recommendations in the Augustine report over, say, the unsubstantiated and contradictory claims about the affordability of Shuttle/Constellation-derived vehicles/schedules/requirements/technical elements/contracts/workforce that have been dictated in the congressional bills.

    “I wouldn’t argue that HLV is essential but it dose make the task easier and opens up more possibilities.”

    History shows this not to be true. Saturn V was so hard that its operations proved to be unaffordable and unsustainable. The Soviets gave up on N-1 before it entered operations.

    Although not Saturn V-class HLVs, other heavy lift vehicles, like Titan IV, have also fallen by the wayside. Attempts to make HLVs more affordable through reusability, like STS and Energia, have also failed.

    Now maybe this is because these vehicles have all had to bear the costs of a unique and very expensive production line, launch and operations infrastructure, and workforce. Delta IV Heavy seems to indicate that maybe HLVs and their low flight rates can be supported if they heavily leverage the production lines, launch and operations infrastructure, and workforce of smaller LVs — spreading costs across more customers and flights. So maybe an HLV built on EELVs or Falcon 9 could make fiscal sense. Personally, I’m skeptical of HLV costs in general, but that approach, which was embodied in Option 5 in the Augustine report and NASA’s FY11 budget request, is a lot more promising than just repackaging the same Shuttle infrastructure, production lines and workforce that have proven so unaffordable for doing anything beyond LEO for decades now, most recently in the Constellation debacle.

    FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    But in terms of official plans, it is the most non-partisan, unbiased, well-researched, and (I would argue) original plan for the civil human space flight program to date.

    Not compared to OASIS or Huntress’s study.

  • Major Tom

    “Studies for a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle have been around as long as the shuttle itself.”

    And the fact that no one has found these vehicles affordable enough to implement — from Shuttle-C/Z to ALS/NLS to SEI to Constellation — all these decades should tell you something.

    “A NASA/Boeing partnership would bring about a family of shuttle derived vehicles that could be very successful.”

    What “partnership”? Boeing hasn’t said anything about putting skin in the game or working fixed-price on SDLVs. It’s the same old taxpayer-assumes-all-the-risk/cost-plus government/contractor relationship. No sane contractor wants to assume responsibility for the aging and fragile Shuttle infrastructure and large and expensive Shuttle workforce, especially when there is only one customer for that infrastructure and workforce. Even with the new congressional bills, USA is still shedding Shuttle workers as quickly as possible.

    The only human space flight system Boeing has indicated it’s willing to partner on is CST-100 (the Bigelow capsule). In fact, they’re already cost-sharing on their existing CCDev work.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Not compared to OASIS or Huntress’s study.”

    OASIS was a NASA study, so it’s arguably prone to NASA biases (although certainly not anywhere near the degree that ESAS was). And most of the “new” ideas in OASIS really originated in DPT.

    Huntress’s IAF study is the precursor to Flexible Path and certain Augustine options (and elements of DPT). Certainly unbiased and original, but arguably part of the same line of thinking.

    Very few know that there was a precursor to Huntress’s IAF study that was also led by Huntress when he was the science AA, at the request of a White House office in the Clinton Administration.

    FWIW…

  • Martijn Meijering

    Interesting, I didn’t know that. Still, I would say that both are far superior to what the Augustine commission came up with. That in turn was still a lot better than Constellation of course, but that’s not saying much.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    whatever you want to believe. arent you the person who thinks Heavy lift is essential?

    The reality is that a SDV is not going to happen. The layoff notices continue as the shuttle infrastructure shuts down. As that happens the ability to “derive” a vehicle from shuttle systems is going to get harder and harder.

    Second NASA couldnt build a shuttle derived vehicle for the dollars that are envisioned if the agencies future depended on it. They simply cannot. Worse there are no payloads for a SDV.

    What can occur is that the Delta can be pushed…and there are payloads for that vehicle (at least DoD ones).

    The budget realities are about to end hsf in terms of exploration…its been over for sometime but the budget realities are about to end even the effort to try and do it. People like you who want to see NASA type HSF exploration are out of luck for a at least a decade maybe more. I would argue you have been out of luck for well now 4 decades as we have done nothing but plan for the effort. But even that is about to end

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    So the pissing match continues.
    The Obama FY’11 NASA budget is dead. Even the administration has abandoned it preferring instead to work with the Senate version. No one here is really interested in making the best of it and finding the best course forward for everyone involved because they’re too wrapped up in there own preconceived notions of how things should get done.
    Congress want’s to fund an HLV and the administration will not fight them on it.
    Now get over it and start finding ways to make it work or become irrelevant.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Obama and those of us who like his plan got 90 or more precent of what we want in the Senate bill.

    I am FOR an HLV that is Delta IV heavy derived. That is what is going to happen (if any heavy does)

    get over it. HSF in terms of exploration is dead. get over that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • MrEarl

    Keep that spin goin’ Oler.
    “I am FOR an HLV that is Delta IV heavy derived. That is what is going to happen (if any heavy does)”
    Then you’re FOR Shuttle Derived because that’s what a Delta IV super heavy is.

  • Major Tom

    “Even the administration has abandoned it preferring instead to work with the Senate version.”

    No one from the White House has said such. The Statements of Administration Position for these bills have yet to be transmitted (or leaked). We don’t know what the White House thinks yet. And absent a leak, per Rep. Wolf’s STA comments, we probably won’t know until a new Congress is seated next year.

    “No one here is really interested in making the best of it and finding the best course forward for everyone involved because they’re too wrapped up in there own preconceived notions of how things should get done.”

    I can’t speak for everyone, but several of us (and former astronauts and other public experts) have pointed out here and in other forums that the House and Senate bills are dramatically underfunded for vehicle requirements, schedules, technical elements, contracts, and workforce dictated in those bills.

    It has nothing to do with preconceptions. Forget what we like or don’t like. NASA’s engineers could have godlike powers, and they couldn’t find a design that fits the boxes that the House and Senate are putting them in.

    If the House or Senate bills added $3-5 billion per year to NASA’s budget (or relaxed the requirements, schedules, technical elements, contracts, and workforce dictates), then we could argue about alternatives. But they don’t.

    The complaint isn’t that the bills don’t pursue the most cost-effective, logical, or best options. The complaint is that the options in the bills aren’t workable. Period. They’re setting NASA up for another Constellation-like failure 2-6 years down the road, not to mention years and years of U.S. reliance on foreign systems for ISS access, continued deferrel of civil human space exploration, and more tens of billions of wasted taxpayer dollars.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Then you’re FOR Shuttle Derived because that’s what a Delta IV super heavy is.”

    No, it’s not. Delta IV evolves to 100 tons (Saturn V equivalent) without any Shuttle elements. See pg. 51:

    boeing.com/defense-space/space/delta/kits/d310_d4heavy_demo.pdf

    FWIW…

  • Ferris Valyn

    MrEarl
    - Let me offer my 2 cents

    1. It is VERY clear, from reading the bill, that the Senate would really like a cost-plus based SDLV for HLV, not a commercial based HLV. However, it has added enough caveats that, should the administrator push, he could avoid doing that, if he demonstrates that its not practical.

    If the administrator decides it MUST be SDLV, then the odds are VERY good that it will eat up most of NASA budget. Both on the development side, and the operations side.

    2. Regarding CC – a few points:
    First, under Obama’s budget, it is entirely possible that there would’ve been enough money for more than 2 Commercial Crew providers. It would be really great to see us get 3 or more providers, and with the reductions in funding, that may not happen. And having 3 or more human capable vehicles would’ve been truly impressive, IMHO
    Second, the restrictive langauge, such as the provision from spending in 2011, the human-rating requirements, and the like – that frankly, needs to come out, or it will destroy commercial crew. If you insist the only way to do fill up your car with gas is to replace the fuel tank & engine, you’ll find your car gets very expensive.
    Third, the odds are also good that you’ll end up spending more money on the Russians, and require an extension of the Iran Non-proliforation Waiver. Thats not small potatoes.

    3. The real tragedy is what it does to the tech development budget. And yes, I know everyone says you can’t protect pure R&D – I don’t buy that, and don’t believe it needs to be the case, partially because by going to a more commercial approach, you are likely to have a better handle on costs.

    More importantly, the stuff that would’ve made it much cheaper to do exploration was in the Technology budget. Things like Propellant depots, and the like. Its pretty clear that the closer you get to the Apollo method of doing spaceflight, the more expensive its likely to be, which means its less likely you can actually continue to do exploration.

    The question is this – is there enough money in the Tech development budget to allow exploration to actually happen? Because if Tech development doesn’t happen, there isn’t enough money to do exploration Apollo style.

    And this has nothing to do with whether we want it enough or not

  • red

    MrEarl: “It seems clear that what’s going to come out of this mess is going to look a lot like the senate authorization. So we can debate this endlessly, with neither side winning over the other, or we can find common ground, which there is plenty, and move forward to bring about the best outcome.”

    The problem with the Senate compromise is that it’s not really a compromise. It might form the foundation for one if the White House negotiates, but as it stands it isn’t one.

    It includes the larger ISS, Science, and Aeronautics budgets the Administration wanted. However, those were never really up for debate, so they aren’t really part of a compromise. It’s no surprise that a Democratic Congress and Administration will fund more environment monitoring and green aviation work. It’s no surprise that Hutchison supports more ISS funding as much as the Administration, since there’s lots of ISS work at JSC.

    In the areas under debate, there’s no real compromise. All that we get are broken programs, just like under Constellation. We get:

    - a HSF robotic precursor program that will not work. It only gets $45M in FY2011, and maybe $100M in FY2012-13. The precursors were divided into big MSFC missions and small Ames missions, but now they would all be run by MSFC. MSFC can’t develop small missions like that. The precursors are dead under the ‘compromise’.

    - a Space Technology line that’s cut to the point that it’s not too different from what we had under Constellation

    - an Exploration Technology line that’s cut to the point that it’s not too different from what we had under Constellation

    - a commercial crew line that has numerous roadblocks placed in its way, that has only a small fraction of the intended funding, bigger responsibilities (i.e. Crew Rescue), and investor-scaring competition from HLV/Orion

    - a switch from Ares I to a brand new and bigger Shuttle-derived HLV that gets less funding but has a tighter schedule

    - a switch from the LEO Orion to a BEO Orion that gets less funding but has a tighter schedule

    - a new Shuttle mission when the Shuttle is well along the way to closing down

    In other words, the ‘compromise’ leaves every one of these elements in ruin. None of them are sustainable. What will most likely happen if this plan goes forward is that the SD-HLV and Orion will show massive budget and schedule problems as soon as NASA or some external auditor takes an impartial look at them, and then the budget raids will start on the remainder of commercial crew, robotic precursors, space technology, exploration technology demonstrations, science, and aeronautics. It will be like picking up where we left off with Constellation.

    The big HSF components are less impossible to do than the full Constellation package was, but we have added ISS, science, and aeronautics work. I think those are good things, but they offset the improvement as far as the viability of HLV/Orion are concerned.

    During the months from Feb 1 to now, we discussed various compromises here. We discussed various versions of Shuttle-derived HLVs, Orion, and Shuttle extensions with parts of NASA’s FY2011 proposal. My take-away from those discussions is that a viable compromise could include 1 of those things (i.e. SD-HLV, Orion, or Shuttle extension) and actually deliver on that component while still leaving viable commercial crew, technology, and robotic precursor elements. That isn’t bad – for example, you could afford a SD-HLV, and make all sorts of Congresspeople happy, if you can give up on more Shuttle missions and Orion. What the Senate tries is the SD-HLV, Orion, and a piece of Shuttle extension, and that’s way too much. It just won’t work with the available budget. The Senate needs to give up at least 1 of the 2 big elements (or severely limit their content or extend their schedule) to make the others (and at least a couple of the FY2011 items) work.

    If negotiations allow a compromise like that (or more funding appears out of nowhere), it could make sense to support it, but it doesn’t make sense yet. I’d be glad to support a compromise that makes sense, even if I have to give up a lot of what I think are the priorities.

  • Ferris Valyn

    A question for Major Tom, or anyone really

    If you assume an SDLV for the HLV, what are the recurring costs for keeping the SRB production line open, between the last shuttle flight and first HLV launch?

  • Congress goes to war on Constellation:

    http://space.flatoday.net/2010/07/supplemental-war-bill-includes-nasa.html

    The $59 billion war spending bill Congress approved this week includes a provision that prevents NASA from cancelling any Constellation program contracts in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

    The paragraph in a 92-page package of Senate amendments reaffirms previous congressional direction saying NASA must have approval before ditching Constellation, as President Obama’s 2011 budget proposes to do.

    The Senate approved the language in May, according to SpacePolicyOnline.

    That was well before this month’s passage by Senate authorization and appropriations committees of NASA legislation for the 2011 fiscal year that would keep parts of Constellation while incorporating the president’s desire to fund commercially rockets and spacecraft.

  • DCSCA

    “”HSF in terms of exploration is dead.” -RobertGOler.”

    Nonsense, as usual. But your ‘goofy’ 1+1=11 assertions remain amusing.

  • Major Tom

    “And yes, I know everyone says you can’t protect pure R&D”

    That statement (by others) is simply not true. The National Science Foundation and dozens of other basic R&D agencies have existed for decades throughout the federal government. Heck, when Congress debates NSF’s budget, they debate options like putting NSF on a path to double its budget over a five-year period.

    aps.org/publications/apsnews/200210/senate.cfm

    If you want NASA to have broad support in Congress (and the White House), such that you can have conversations about major increases to NASA’s budget, then you have to orient that budget towards the kind of basic R&D that creates substantial breakthroughs in capabilities and economies. If you just keep spending most of NASA’s budget polishing the same Shuttle infrastructure, then the best you can hope for is to keep NASA’s budget static through the parochial support of a few congressmen, as we’ve seen with the recent bills.

    FWIW…

  • DCSCA

    There is zero rationale for American taxpayers to fund another small, elitist group of for-profit, commercial space ventures (using borrowed money from foreign powers no less) who’ll socialize losses and privatize profits. Private sector capital markets are available to tap for investment in these ventures and assume the high risks, absorb the losses or reap any reward. Nothing is stopping commerical space from soaring-except the very limited market their free enterprised, profit driven projects want to service. That’s why governments do it.

  • DCSCA, can you explain to me how private industry would socialize losses? Are you arguing against nuclear power here? Because that’s a canned response from certain liberals who do not think nuclear power is worth the “risk.” Bernard L. Cohen will tell you and those “liberals” that nuclear power is economical with proper regulations and proper government initiation. But it needs a jumpstart because the technology is just so hard. Nuclear engineering and rocket science is hard. And failures with both in the private industry are not going to be “socialized.” Bolden’s early statements about not allowing the private industry to fail was a worst case scenario, and it was designed to appeal to those liberals in the audience who look at private industry and don’t consider it up to the task of providing safe, low cost access to space. If anyone looks at the recent successes of private industry and if anyone is a proper capitalist they know that it isn’t as prone to fail as government is.

    You are arguing for the direct socialization of the rocket industry. Indeed, your argument is tantamount to arguing for a socialized nuclear power industry. Sadly America is looking more and more like China, with even conservatives calling for the socialization of public goods (space should be a public good anyway).

  • Mike Snyder

    The hubris and assumptions on display here simply are astonishing.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 6:20 pm


    Then you’re FOR Shuttle Derived because that’s what a Delta IV super heavy is.”

    are you having one of those autoland moments?

    As my saintly father use to say when my sisters and I were children, when we said something “goofy” …”well now I wouldnt say that”.

    And youshouldnt either

    http://boeing.com/defense-space/space/delta/kits/d310_d4heavy_demo.pdf

    your homework assignment, and it will help you learn something, is to read the above with emphasis on page 51.

    now try and find the shuttle derived hardware there.

    LOL you really dont know what you are talking about here do you?

    A Sarah Palin moment

    Robert G. Oler

  • amightywind

    DCSCA wrote:

    There is zero rationale for American taxpayers to fund another small, elitist group of for-profit, commercial space ventures (using borrowed money from foreign powers no less) who’ll socialize losses and privatize profits.

    True. Note how anxious the capital markets are to fund SpaceX (crickets). No, SpaceX relies on good old pork dollars, but unlike Boeing and Lockmart, bristle at NASA oversight. Such is the sad state of crony capitalism in the Age of Obama.

  • Ferris Valyn

    unlike Boeing and Lockmart, bristle at NASA oversight

    Is that why Lockmart was talking about less oversight, for delivering Orion?

  • red

    amightywind: “SpaceX relies on good old pork dollars, but unlike Boeing and Lockmart, bristle at NASA oversight. Such is the sad state of crony capitalism in the Age of Obama.”

    SpaceX got its government funding from Bush, not Obama. It looks like the Bush Administration’s SpaceX choice is working out pretty well so far. SpaceX won its COTS funds in a competition. It didn’t get them from a sole-source contract or any other porkish method. It gets paid only when it meets pre-defined milestones, not just for punching a clock.

    Again, the commercial crew competition will be to solve NASA’s ISS access problem. NASA can’t afford to do the various things people here want it to do (explore beyond LEO, demonstrate useful space infrastructure and applications, etc) if it’s spending billions of dollars each year on Ares I/Orion or HLV/Orion missions to the ISS. Even if it could afford such operations, NASA won’t be ready with those systems for many many years.

  • A Sarah Palin moment

    I think you mean an off-topic idiotic Oler moment.

  • Major Tom

    “There is zero rationale for American taxpayers to fund another small, elitist group of for-profit, commercial space ventures (using borrowed money from foreign powers no less)…”

    Yes, instead of putting the U.S. taxpayer $6 billion more in debt to develop two domestic providers of crew transport, we should put the U.S. taxpayer $35-50 billion in debt for one.

    C’mon, let’s engage our brains before we post.

  • Major Tom

    “Note how anxious the capital markets are to fund SpaceX (crickets).”

    Space X has had two rounds of private financing totalling tens of millions of dollars.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “No, SpaceX relies on good old pork dollars, but unlike Boeing and Lockmart,”

    A fixed price contract where the contractor gets paid only after they produce and invests private dollars alongside taxpayer dollars in the system development is not “pork”, or anything like typical cost-plus/taxpayer-assumes-all-the-risk contracts that most aerospace contractors are used to.

    “bristle at NASA oversight.”

    SpaceX is designing (has designed) to all of the following NASA standards:

    NPR 8705.2B: Human-Rating Requirements for Space Systems
    NASA Std 3000: Man-Systems Integration Standards
    SSP 50005: ISS Flight Crew Integration Standard
    SSP 50808: ISS-COTS Interface Requirements Document
    SSP 50809: ISS to COTS Interface Control Document
    NASA STD 5001: Structural Design and Test Factors of Safety for Spaceflight Hardware
    SSP 30559: ISS Structural Design and Verification Requirements (ISS document which is often more strict than human-rating documents)
    NASA Standard 3000
    NASA Standard 5007
    NASA Standard 5017
    SSP 30233
    SSP 30550, Rev C
    SSP 30560, Rev A
    SSP 30558, Fracture Control Requirements for Space Station
    SSP 41000
    SSP 41004, Rev H and J (Parts 1 and 2)
    SSP 41167, Rev G
    SSP 42004, Rev H
    JSC 28918
    NASA PRC-6506
    NASA STD-5012 -Strength and Life Assessment Requirements for Liquid Fueled Space Propulsion System Engines
    JPL-D-8545 Rev. D (EEE Derating Standard)
    NASA-STD-8739 (harnesses, soldering, staking etc.)
    GSFC Supplement S-312-P003 (Printed circuits)

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “Such is the sad state of crony capitalism in the Age of Obama.”

    SpaceX has won no awards since the President took office.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    Sigh…

  • Rhyolite

    amightywind wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 8:49 am

    “…a company eager to expunge America’s memory of the prolonged and expensive EELV development fiasco.”

    EELV fiasco? If the Ares I procurement had followed the same time line as the EELV, it would be operational today. ATK would have footed most of the bill. And the country would be $6 to $7 billion less in debt.

  • Rhyolite

    “There is zero rationale for American taxpayers to fund another small, elitist group of for-profit, commercial space ventures (using borrowed money from foreign powers no less)…”

    ATK, Lockheed, Boeing and the other constellation contractors stand to make more profit from bringing a single crew launch vehicle into service than the total price to bring a commercial provider to market.

    Standard profit margins on cost plus contracts are 7% to 8% so $50 Billion in development funds will yield $3.5 to $4 Billion in absolutely risk free profit. If anything goes wrong in the development, they only make more money.

    The commercial program would pay for two providers for $6 Billion so the price for one – $3 Billion – would be less than profit guaranteed to the contractors under constellation. The contractor eats any overruns. That’s a much better deal for the tax payer.

  • Aggelos

    ” switch from Ares I to a brand new and bigger Shuttle-derived HLV that gets less funding but has a tighter schedule”

    brand new?
    brand new is the new kerolox hlv bolden wants to build..thats brand new..
    sdhlv is not brand new..

  • Aggelos, why does everyone assume “hydrocarbon = kerosene”? or more often, RP-1. There’s other hydrocarbons… not the least of which is methane. It’s the best of both worlds: thrust like RP-1 and performance like LH2.

  • Frediiiie

    To throw in a quoe with reguard to SpaceX funding

    To correct the quote Musk says he has spent about $500M to date. Even so you might be forgiven for being boggled.
    Compare the above to the Constellation costs (around $10B for no results).
    How can anybody seriously argue for cost plus government against commercial?

  • Frediiiie

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19228.2565
    Post by SpaceXULA
    “If that is total money spent, that’s an amazing amount of stuff built for only $350 Million.
    -Vandenburg LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready.
    -Kwajalein LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready.
    -Slick 40 LLV launch facility, up to the point of flight ready
    -2 production facilities in California, 1 in El Segundo, 1 in Hawthorne.
    -1 former Beal Aerospace Testing facility refurbished, and utilized.
    -2 known Falcon 1 Test Articles 5 flight articles
    -3 known Falcon 9 Test Articles 1 flight article
    -2 known Merlin 1A test articles, 2 known flight articles
    -1 known Merlin 1B test article (uncompleted)
    -11 known Merlin 1C test articles (might have overlapped), 30 flight articles
    -1 known Merlin 1Vac test article, 2 flight articles
    -1 known Kestrel test article, 5 flight articles
    -Unknown numbers of Draco flight and test articles
    -2 internally developed Avionics sets, 1 set of ISS comunication equipment, and who know what else internally developed.
    -3 known Dragon test articles, 1 known flight article (COTS F1 dragon complete besides NASA testing).
    All that +labor, +leases, +normal costs of business? for $350 Million? It boggles the mind. ”
    Musk says spent about $500M to date

    Sorry the quote vanished
    Any way to repeat the point
    To correct the quote Musk says he has spent about $500M to date. Even so you might be forgiven for being boggled.
    Compare the above to the Constellation costs (around $10B for no results).
    How can anybody seriously argue for cost plus government against commercial?

  • Bennett

    I wonder what the politics would look like if Musk had built (or occupied) his primary production facility in Shelby’s home turf?

    Would the level of hypocrisy have risen to the challenge?

  • amightywind

    Minor Tom wrote:

    Space X has had two rounds of private financing totalling tens of millions of dollars.

    Oy Vey!

    Have you no mind? This refutes nothing I said. SpaceX expects the government to capitalize development of a manned spacecraft. Hard to see the commercial in that.

    Lordy!

  • Major Tom

    “This refutes nothing I said.”

    Yes, it does. You wrote:

    “Note how anxious the capital markets are to fund SpaceX (crickets).”

    And the fact remains that the capital markets havn’t been anxious to fund SpaceX at all. SpaceX has already received two rounds of private financing.

    Don’t repeat stupid statements out of ignorance, especially related to what you wrote in your very own posts.

    “SpaceX expects the government to capitalize development of a manned spacecraft.”

    No, they don’t. SpaceX has proposed that the government pay part, specifically $300 million to accelerate launch abort development, of the total cost of developing a crew transport capability. The rest of the development is paid for by SpaceX.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “Hard to see the commercial in that.”

    Even if SpaceX never launches another commercial payload — which isn’t going to happen since the majority of their manifest is commercial payloads — even an idiot would take an ISS crew transport capability that costs the U.S. taxpayer $300 million to develop over one that costs the U.S. taxpayer tens of billions of dollars to develop.

    Think before you post.

    “Oy Vey!

    Lordy!”

    Can’t come up with anything original?

    Sigh…

  • Aggelos

    “Aggelos, why does everyone assume “hydrocarbon = kerosene”? or more often, RP-1. There’s other hydrocarbons… not the least of which is methane. It’s the best of both worlds: thrust like RP-1 and performance like LH2.”
    ok..but its still a new rocket..

  • even an idiot would take an ISS crew transport capability that costs the U.S. taxpayer $300 million to develop over one that costs the U.S. taxpayer tens of billions of dollars to develop.

    Apparently, “abreakingwind” isn’t smart enough to be an idiot.

  • GaryChurch

    “methane. It’s the best of both worlds: thrust like RP-1 and performance like LH2.”

    Have to throw the B.S. flag on this one. Methane has about the same ISP as RP-1. Hydrogen is the lightest molecule and has the highest velocity with oxygen and is the most powerful and practical fuel. There is no substitute for Hydrogen in upper stages but it is expensive. The turbopump for a hydrogen fuel engine has to be about 10 times a powerful as one for the denser fuels like RP and Methane. SpaceX suffers performance losses by using RP in the upper stage but they are going cheap and have to accept it.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:36 pm
    >> Politically, theres no way Congress could transfer astronaut carry to
    >> a firm with no experience over companies with generations of experience….

    > Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 1:47 pm
    >
    > that is not going to matter all that much. Events are going to overwhelm that.

    What events could possibly do that?

  • Kelly Starks

    > Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    >> if Griffin didn’t think SpaceX was a threat to Ares he would
    >> have initiated COTS-D funding a long time ago.

    > I didn’t say he didn’t see it as a threat, just as a lesser threat.
    >And he was not allowed to kill COTS, whereas he was allowed to delay COTS-D.

    Also COTS was seen as spare cash for Orion/Ares after it failed. It was far to little money to support anyone developing anything to meet it – but their plan was fueled up since SpaceX was building something like that anyway – so it didn’t mater if they could pay for the program with COTS.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Paul Bryan wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    > As a British citizen looking in on the shenanigans involved in
    > trying to get this NASA bill through Congress I have to admit to
    > suffering from a cocktail of befuddlement, disappointment and
    > a growing sense of anger.

    >===
    > How can it be, that the President commissions a report from
    > august space experts, accepts its recommendations, ===

    He actually did..

    >=== works with NASA management to publish a plan, which is
    > then completely subverted in Congress to become its very opposite? ==

    He proposed a plan/bill to them – they rejected it. Without their approval no proposal can be funded. They can – and often do – create their own autonomous budget bills. If more then 2/3rds approve it it goes into law without the Pres needing to support it. Less then that he has to sign it, or it doesn’t get approved as law.

    >==
    > Forgive my ignorance but does the President have the power
    > to reject the bills put forward by Congress and tell them to have another go?

    Yes but if 2/3rds of congress approves – they can override the Presidents veto.

    One big question is why is the Senate and congress making such a big deal out of NASA? They have rolled over on career killing bills Obama was pushing. So why grow a spin no this?

    - Does NASA really touch a nerve for folks?
    - or is it some kind of stunt?

    Likely the former – since they are getting bipartisan support for shooting down Obamas proposal. Though Obama was curiously politically clueless over the way he did this. No prepping the political ground.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Major Tom wrote @ July 28th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    >> “Studies for a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle have been
    >> around as long as the shuttle itself.”

    > And the fact that no one has found these vehicles affordable
    > enough to implement —

    Ah that was never shown – nor was it ever relevant then or now.

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>