Congress, Lobbying, NASA

More speak out about NASA authorization bill

As the House took up legislation other than the NASA authorization bill Thursday, others spoke out against plans to rush the bill through the House under suspension of the rules. Late Thursday The Planetary Society called for a more extensive debate about the bill: “The future of the space program is too important to rush through a controversial change in policy,” the organization stated. “Therefore, the Society urges the House leadership to wait until after the August recess to bring the bill to the House Floor, allowing a full and open debate and for amendments to improve the bill.”

Meanwhile, the DIRECT Team, a group that has advocated development of a shuttle-derived heavy-lift booster, called on the House to adopt the Senate’s version of the authorization bill instead. The Senate version calls for immediate development of an HLV not unlike what the DIRECT group has proposed, while the House calls for the initial development of a smaller crew launch vehicle similar to the Ares 1, deferring the HLV develop until later in the decade.

58 comments to More speak out about NASA authorization bill

  • GaryChurch

    The compromise will be Sidemount. Shannon has already given them an 8 billion dollar price tag that will decide the issue.
    Sidemount is on the way. It makes too much sense.

  • It’s simple, if you want to see American’s fly on a Russian rocket for the next decade, you’ll want the Authorization Act as it stands. If you want to see American’s fly on an American rocket within 5 years, you will tell your representative to fully fund COTS-D/CCDev immediately. It really is that simple.

  • GaryChurch

    It’s simple, if you want to see American’s fly Beyond Earth Orbit anytime in the next 15 years, you’ll want the Authorization Act as it stands. If you want to see Americans stuck in low earth orbit yet again for the next quarter century, tell your rep….well, you know. It really is that simple.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Josh – Actually, you should add Commercial Crew (since that’s the name of the program)

    Otherwise, I couldn’t agree more!!!

    Spot on!

  • Ferris, CCDev is the term NASA has been using for Commercial Crew Development. And of course, COTS-D is the Commercial Crew Demo option that SpaceX has, which could be initiated by next year if NASA had more margin in their Commercial Crew budget.

  • SpaceX seems to believe the Senate Authorization is the right road forward:

    From their press release dated July 20th:

    Hawthorne, CA – July 20, 2010 – SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) applauds the efforts of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for their unanimous, bipartisan approval of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This landmark legislation ushers in a new era in human spaceflight by embracing the commercial sector as a full partner and recognizing commercial crew services as the primary means of astronaut transport to the International Space Station (ISS).

  • Ferris Valyn

    Josh – Yea, I know all the terms. Here is the break down

    CCDev doesn’t continue, since it was an 09 program (Stim funds are 09, not 2010)

    COTS-D isn’t going to get funded, since it really should be competed.

    Its Commercial Crew.

  • Bill White, SpaceX is agreeing to the proposed bill made last week, they are not too happy about H.R. 5781. Sorry if I was not clear.

    Ferris, fair enough, thanks for any corrections.

  • DCSCA

    “Late Thursday The Planetary Society called for a more extensive debate about the bill…” <- What a surprise– Elon Musk is on the board of the Planetary Society as well.

  • DCSCA, you should check out SpaceVidCasts’ wonderful coverage of New Space 2010. These people care about space.

  • Ferris Valyn, you said COTS-D isn’t going to get funded. Who else can man rate a vehicle for $300 million? If it must be competed, that’s fine, but I don’t see anyone who can possibly come under $300 million. In any event, even if they could, we need as many launch providers as we can get, and it would only be $100 / year to fund COTS-D.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mrearl wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Old data Oler. Boeing is now looking at an 8m core for the Delta IV super heavy…

    nope Boeing has been (under DoD prodding) looking at the 8.4 meter core for a Delta Super heavy for a long time. But that is not an external tank as it is presently used AND just using someething that evolved from the ET is not a SDV.

    I frequently muse here about a 8.4 meter “‘core” with Delta engines on it…and a J-2x upper stage with Delta 4 cores (four) around it….that vehicle has been thought about for a long time.

    There is nothing shuttle derived about it. sorry do better homework

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    it is all some giant plot

    Robert G. Oler

  • SpaceX seems to believe the Senate Authorization is the right road forward

    No, SpaceX believes that it’s the best that it’s going to get out of this congress.

  • Even if CCDev is fully funded, NASA will be flying astronauts on Soyuz. Why? Because THAT’S THE DEAL. If NASA backs out of that deal relations with Russia will be severely strained. You think the station is segregated now? Wait until you start stealing offal out of the Russian cereal bowl, they’ll start building a Berlin wall between the east and west sides of the station.

    The argument *must* not be Soyuz vs CCDev.. don’t fight for scraps! Even at $50m/seat the retirement of the Shuttle’s standing army at $2B/year would mean 40 seats a year! Let the Russians have their 2 long term expedition crew flights a year out of that.

    But what you can’t do is maintain the Shuttle jobs program by employing them in a make-work HLV program.

  • Coastal Ron

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Ferris Valyn, you said COTS-D isn’t going to get funded. Who else can man rate a vehicle for $300 million? If it must be competed, that’s fine, but I don’t see anyone who can possibly come under $300 million. In any event, even if they could, we need as many launch providers as we can get, and it would only be $100 / year to fund COTS-D.

    FWIW, ULA said that they could man-rate Atlas V for commercial capsules for $400M. I didn’t see any breakouts for the proposed cost, but at least it’s close to the SpaceX number, and in some ways validates the single-core crew upgrade cost range.

  • Terence Clark

    “SpaceX seems to believe the Senate Authorization is the right road forward:”

    The Senate version strikes, in my opinion, a very sensible and workable middle ground. And I think that’s why Musk is willing to go for it. Ultimately he didn’t need quite the level of funding recommended in Obama’s FY2011 budget anyway, and neither did ULA or Sierra Nevada. Frankly, given that Obama knows how congressional sausage is made, he likely held no illusions that he was going to get his request 100%. I think it was intentional padding on his part. If he had proposed the Senate version he’d be guaranteed the House version or worse, no questions asked.

    The House version, on the other hand, pretty much completely retraces the steps back to Constellation, but still discards Cx itself. Even keeping Cx in its entirety (shudders) is better than the House proposal. There’s less money in there for Commercial Crew than there was for COTS. Unless your part of the Senator Shelby camp that believes commercial crew will never fly ever in a million years, that seems a little rash. And Shelby even voted for the higher levels in the Senate version.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    No, SpaceX believes that it’s the best that it’s going to get out of this congress.

    Certainly the lesser of two evils, and the Senate version gives more opportunity to come back next year and try again.

    Since SpaceX is perceived as the indicator of commercial space maturity (which ignores older companies like ULA and Orbital), if they can achieve their milestones with the next two Falcon 9/Dragon launches, the Administration might be able to get some further improvements for commercial crew funding for FY12 & on in next years budget battle. Still enough time for SpaceX to be ready for 2016 service, and maybe even ULA/Atlas V.

  • My personal opinion is that SpaceX likes the Senate bill because it authorizes $312M for commercial crew in 2011 and also prohibits NASA from entering into any commercial crew contracts in 2011. Well, SpaceX already has a contract – there’s nothing prohibiting NASA from executing the COTS-D option – they could have done it last year, and hey they’re asking ~$300M for it. So really, what isn’t there for SpaceX to like? Eh, joshcryer? :)

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    My understanding, and I’ll stand corrected, is that COTS-D isn’t funded.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    ULA said they could man-rate their launcher for approx $400m but that’s just the booster, what about a capsule to go with it? Presumably there’s Orion – cost in the $3 – 4.5 billion, CST-100 paper so far but seeing it’s being built by Boeing then would have to put it double SpaceX at least based on history of cost plus contracting.

    SpaceX have some upgrades to the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule but they said they could do that for under $300m, that’s capsule included so it puts the ULA statement a bit in the shade and also the Boeing proposal.
    Of course, in all fairness we don’t know what their pusher LAS technology looks like but they’ve been consistent with their numbers so you’d expect that they have a good idea of the development cost particularly given that they done pretty much all their development work in-house.

  • COTS-D hasn’t been funded.. The Senate bill includes $312M for “commercial crew” and also prohibits NASA from entering into any new commercial crew contracts.

    Ya know, read what I wrote.

  • Inda_Loop

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Ferris Valyn, you said COTS-D isn’t going to get funded. Who else can man rate a vehicle for $300 million? If it must be competed, that’s fine, but I don’t see anyone who can possibly come under $300 million. In any event, even if they could, we need as many launch providers as we can get, and it would only be $100 / year to fund COTS-D.

    You’re thinking logically, and funding COTS-D is political. The COTS-D contract is with one company, recompeting it at this point would, by definition, no longer be COTS-D. The ranking member of the Senate Approps sucommittee has an unreasonable dislike for SpaceX, and half of NASA has the same bias. So COTS-D will never be funded.

    SpaceX might get the funding to do the work they proposed in COTS-D through the new Commercial Crew program, but first the money has to be approved by Congress….

  • John Kavanagh

    Wait until you start stealing offal out of the Russian cereal bowl, they’ll start building a Berlin wall between the east and west sides of the station.

    Cancel a Soyuz contract and they’ll go Berlin Wall on us? Sure.

  • MrEarl

    Oler: First you send me info that is 5 years old that makes no mention of the 8.4m core now you say the DoD is pushing for an 8.4m core , “oh yea, but it’s not the same”. It seems to be strictly a matter of semantics. As TR said, you “would rather have anarchy than Tweedledum,” but “if I called it Tweedledee they would accept it with rapture.”
    As I’ve said numerous times, a Boeing move to an 8.4 m core would require new pads, service structures, manufacturing, ect.. All of that is available at complex 39 and Michoud. Any shuttle derived would use the Rs-69′s as the main engines as dose the Delta IV series.
    A NASA/Boeing partnership could bring about not just a single vehicle but a whole line of vehicles based off the 8.4 core and RS69. Congress would support it and if the DoD is interested, like you say they are, their funding can fill that gap that MT seems to think there is.

    If you haven’t read the Boeing presentation at the AIAA conference in May you should. It’s not very detailed but there is the seed of a very good idea there.

    I don’t care what we call it but a family of vehicles that can can lift from 18mt to 118 mt and evolve larger if need be, is a wonderful asset to this nations launch capabilities.

    I never said that heavy lift is “essential” for BEO but it dose make the job of the module/space craft designers easier and opens up more possibilities.

  • Trent Waddington, you put it more eloquently than me, yeah, SpaceX reads the Senate bill as basically assuring them COTS-D, and I honestly cannot see it any other way. By prohibiting commercial crew through 2011 they are basically saying “Here’s $312 million and SpaceX along with the 2010 contract winners (several CCDev contracts were signed in 2010, for instance, Dreamchaser) are the only ones who get paid any money.” Since of course SpaceX will not likely reach $312 million worth of milestones in one year, they can spread it out over the next three (SpaceX is giving themselves three years to man rate Falcon 9+Dragon). But it gives them a whole bunch of room.

    With regards to Soyuz, frankly, Soyuz is already tapped. The EU and Canada are flying people on it regularly (which will change as more nations want to fly), and the Russians are not for lack with regards to manned flight demand. The Soyuz contract should be greatly reduced after we have our own American manned flight. This is not a slight against Russian relations, none whatsoever. When the first Russian entrepreneurs fly on Falcon 9 everyone will be patting themselves on the back. Put it this way, there was only one American astronaut flown on Soyuz pre-Colombia. After Colombia NASA astronauts flew once per flight on Soyuz on average (just checked this on Wikipedia). But after STS retires, the average is bound to go up, to meet the requirement for a minimum of 2 NASA astronauts on board ISS at any given time, with as many as 3 or possibly even 4.

  • Martijn Meijering

    My understanding, and I’ll stand corrected, is that COTS-D isn’t funded.

    Over on NSF.com it has been argued that COTS funding can be used for COTS-D since it falls under the same line item and since it is an already negotiated option in SpaceX’s Space Act agreement. If true, this would seem to hold both for a CR and the Senate version. I’d love to know if it is in fact true.

  • byeman

    NASA is not going to enact COTS-D, period. It will have a new competition. The C3PO office has said this over and over.

  • Martijn Meijering

    The C3PO office has said this over and over.

    Thanks, I did not know that. Do you think they will stick by that if there’s a deadlock?

  • Martijn Meijering, the house version does not give COTS-D enough funding. Thus the worrying.

    byeman, where does C3PO say that it will not enact COTS-D? I need a hard link for that, because just a few months ago Gwynne Shotwell was discussing COTS-D initiation at the hearings.

    If true, and you have a supporting link, then the Senate bill would be denying America crewed launch for at least another year. This would be a disaster.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Martijn Meijering, the house version does not give COTS-D enough funding. Thus the worrying.

    Yeah, that’s true for the House version. If speculation on NSF is right then either the Senate version or a CR would be good enough. But byeman insists NASA wouldn’t go for that even if they could do so legally.

  • Jim

    “If true, and you have a supporting link, then the Senate bill would be denying America crewed launch for at least another year. This would be a disaster.”

    The senate denying crew launch has nothing to do with the contracting mechanism. If there is no money appropriated for the task, it doesn’t matter how many available contracts you have.

    NASA is going to hold new competitions for commercial crew launch. As far as they are concerned, COTS-D no longer exists.

  • Jim

    There is no “COTS-D”. There is only commercial crew services. None of the money in the president’s budget was going towards COTS-D.

  • Jim, you saw that I asked byeman for a source, so I would do the same of you. The thing is, given the language in the Senate version, which *would* fund COTS-D, if C3PO cannot going to fund COTS-D for another year, given the 2011 “no contract” clause. Basically you have commercial crew money with no ability to actually do commercial crew. It’s nonsense.

  • The COTS-A-D contract with SpaceX is still in effect until Dec. 31st at 11:59PM and 59 seconds. NASA is contractually tied to SpaceX with COTS-D, they merely have to initiate the option. I see no evidence that said option is fully off the table, and I would need evidence to that effect.

  • The COTS-A-D contract with SpaceX is still in effect until Dec. 31st at 11:59PM and 59 seconds 2011, I should have said.

  • Jim

    “Basically you have commercial crew money with no ability to actually do commercial crew.”

    A new contract would not happen in the first year anyways. There is a lot of work to define requirements.

    Also, the no contract clause would apply to COTS-D.

    I (byeman=Jim) have contacts in the C3PO office.

  • There were $50 million in CCDev funds contracted for in 2010, the release of those funds does not go into effect until 2011, that leaves $262 million for other contracts given the 2011 “no contract” exception. Unless you expect NASA to suddenly make up another $262 million worth of contracts between now and the end of the year, that money is not spent. Now I don’t know about you, but it has always been my impression that government agencies like to spend the money that they’ve been allotted (typically because it can be taken away just as quickly), and they don’t allot money that they aren’t expecting (so there won’t be any more CCDev contracts). The most logical and reasonable place to put that $262 million would be an escrow account to fulfill the COTS-D option (many milestones, of which, are simple funding assurances, ie SpaceX gets paid just for showing that they have money). The money would be “put away” and it would be very difficult to argue against $38 million more to finish up the COTS-D requirements.

    I see that you haven’t provided a link Jim (I realize now you are byeman), until it is provided I will take what you say with a grain of salt. I don’t care about your supposed contacts.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I don’t care about your supposed contacts.

    A good policy in general, but not in the case of byeman. I’d still love to see an official link.

  • Jim

    “reasonable place to put that $262 million would be an escrow account”

    Not possible and no such thing in the US gov’t. Since you don’t know what you are talking about, the rest of your post is meaningless and your logic is flawed

    Others will vouch for my word and insight.

  • Jim doesn’t have an official link because NASA will have the option to initiate until the date I said above.

    As far as an escrow, I was using “escrow” generally. NASA can’t spend that money on anything else because there are no other contracts in the books.

  • I just spent a bunch of time googling, and yaknow, Valin Thorn (C3PO lead) suggests that COTS-D wasn’t initiated because of lack of funds. Well, they will have $262 million to play with if the Senate bill goes through. $262 million that cannot go anywhere else.

    Feel free to have your source email me at joshcryer at gmail.

  • Jim

    That was the old reason. Thorn or Lindenmoyer recently said they are not doing COTS-D because there are other viable options that weren’t available 2 years ago

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:43 am <- Loosen the scarf and clean the goggles, Waldo. The primary objective of commercial space ventures is to return a profit for investors. Any effort to peddle another rationale is bogus press and a dishonest pitch to potential investors. But then, an aeronaut enthusiast such as yourself surely knows airlines were formed primarily to conquer the air– not make money. Good grief.

  • DCSCA

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:14 pm . They care about making money.

  • DCSCA

    “No, SpaceX believes that it’s the best that it’s going to get out of this congress.” <- and there you have the hypocrisy of 'commercial space'. Try the private capital markets, Elon.

  • Martijn Meijering

    and there you have the hypocrisy of ‘commercial space’. Try the private capital markets, Elon.

    How is that hypocritical?

  • Byeman

    The definition of commercial space has nothing to do with the source of the money. NASA buys commercial launch services, commercial cargo services, commercial payload processing facilities, etc.

  • What options exist that weren’t available 2 years ago? I spent two hours yesterday trying to find proof of your statement (and going out of my way to do this is nice of me, when if you had your source you could provide it). I cannot find any evidence that Valin Thorn has thrown COTS-D off the table, and I do not see any evidence that Bolden will not instruct the C3PO office to initiate it.

    2 years ago NASA was of the operating mentality that Ares I was flying our crew. This was true as late as a year ago. They did not consider private space for crew launch because the funding wasn’t there to do it. Indeed, you can find quotes by Lindenmoyer claiming that he was surprised that commercial space was getting so much funding in Obama’s original proposal (Obama’s original proposal would’ve funded 2-3 American crewed rockets).

    If it is not initiated then the Senate bill does not allow us to go forward with commercial crew in 2011 and it would be a very bad bill. Get rid of the “no contract” exception and let us start working on commercial crew! It cannot wait another year for no reason except bitterness about short term jobs.

  • NASA is not going to enact COTS-D, period. It will have a new competition. The C3PO office has said this over and over.

    I’m not letting this go because frankly this is the first I’m hearing of this, and I’m quite involved in space news. If this was true then there would be a source for it. I cannot find anything where C3PO makes this claim. All the articles I find is that, when asked about it, they say they don’t have the money to do it.

  • Byeman

    “All the articles I find is that, when asked about it, they say they don’t have the money to do it’

    All those articles are before the formulation of the new space policy and FY11 budget.

    “I’m quite involved in space news.”

    I’m quite involved in the space program. I have the insight and contacts and sometimes am a source. Take or leave it, but but not taking it means you will be wrong in any opinions formulated without the info

  • The info you’ve provided is secretive nonsense that can only be true if we assume that the new policy administrators are insane. That is, it would be insane to accept a contract clause that lets them spend only 1/6th of the money allotted to them. The Lindenmoyer statement about being surprised by the new direction was after the shift, of course. I cannot find anything else.

    Fact remains that the C3PO office has not “said this over and over.” It’s all “inside info” that you are asking me to believe despite that it goes against all logic and reason. I suspect that your “inside info” is wishful thinking on your part. We’ll see in around 6 months.

  • Byeman

    “The info you’ve provided is secretive nonsense”
    If you are looking for nonsense, go no further than your posts. I heard what I heard. Plain and simple, NASA is not going to enact COTS-D period, end of story. You can say what you want, but it isn’t going to change reality.

    “I suspect that your “inside info” is wishful thinking on your part.”

    Suspect all you want, but you will be still be wrong, along with your logic and reasoning.

    NASA wants to compete commercial crew services and it is not going to give Spacex a leg up, when its selection for COTS was in a biased competition.

  • Martijn Meijering

    NASA wants to compete commercial crew services and it is not going to give Spacex a leg up, when its selection for COTS was in a biased competition.

    Not even if that’s the only way they can fund commercial crew next year?

  • Coastal Ron

    Byeman wrote @ July 31st, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    NASA wants to compete commercial crew services and it is not going to give Spacex a leg up, when its selection for COTS was in a biased competition.

    I think you’ve alluded to this before. In what way was it biased towards SpaceX?

    BTW, I look forward to a good healthy competition for a commercial crew contract, and it will be interesting to see if they decide to choose one each high & low-risk winner. If they did that, then Boeing and SpaceX would probably battle it out for low-risk, and SpaceDev and ??? would be high-risk. Just my $0.02

  • Jim

    Development of a launch vehicle should not have be a priority or an added risk. Developing an ARDV is hard enough and there were many more players that were going to use existing launch vehicles, but the powers to be didn’t want to make Ares I look bad.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ August 3rd, 2010 at 2:46 am

    >== I look forward to a good healthy competition for a commercial crew contract,==

    ??
    Ah – Commercial crew was dumped from both the senate and house bills, and Obama backed off and went with their leed.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ah – Commercial crew was dumped from both the senate and house bills, and Obama backed off and went with their leed.

    Reread the Senate Bill.

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